Intonation Training: From Yam-Yam to Yia Sou

Intonation adds a thousand different colours to speech. Coloured glass. Image by Simon Jackson on FreeImages.com

When you meet me, one of the first things you notice is probably my accent. Despite being embedded in Scottish life for over a decade, there’s still an unmistakeable Midlands lilt that persists. The vowels have flattened out to something… Continue reading

Avoiding the Translation Crutch in Language Learning

A page from a German dictionary with the translation of various words. Image from freeimages.com.

I was on a mission this week: to minimise the interference of English translation in my language learning. You are probably familiar with the scenario – that slow, faltering, stoppy-starty feel to conversation in a language you are learning. In… Continue reading

Task Logging: Realise You’re Smashing It

Shooting Stars : Logging can help you reach for the skies with your language learning! Image from freeimages.com

If only we’d all be a little kinder to ourselves. I read it all the time on social media: fellow language learners beating themselves up for not studying harder, longer, more often. It seems like everybody feels they’re not doing enough.… Continue reading

Language Lessons from a Song [Eurovision 1993 : Cyprus]

Eurovision Cyprus 1993 - the song Μη σταματάς

Bravo, inventor of the three-minute, throwaway pop song. Not only does it provide a little well-needed escapist entertainment, but it also doubles as a fantastic little language learning tool. I’m far from the first language learning aficionado to use music… Continue reading

Unhiding African Languages : Redressing the bias

Kigali Conference Centre. Image by By Raddison - https://www.radissonblu.com/en/hotel-kigali, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74779948

It is fairly uncontroversial to state that we live in troubled times right now. Try as many of us might to separate languages and politics, it is impossible to keep our neat, studious worlds sealed from the social shifts taking… Continue reading

The Power of One Deep Breath

Sunlight through the clouds. Image from FreeImages.com

Content, content, content. So often, the sole focus is on what we study. We hear a lot less about the setting, the timing and the flow. But these can have a huge impact on learning success. And something as simple… Continue reading

Social Bookending : Scripting conversation start and end points for better flow

A row of old books. Image from freeimages.com

Tim Burton tells us that every story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Or was it Jean-Luc Godard – or even Aristotle? Anyway, whoever – and whenever – it was, they had a pretty solid, if obvious,… Continue reading

Eating my way back to Greek

The Parthenon at the Acropolis, Athens. Image from freeimages.com.

Sometimes an old, long-neglected language project will rise up and demand attention again. “Remember me, old friend?” The reasons can be many. But the call can be hard to resist. Over the past few weeks, my former passion for Greek… Continue reading