Stupid Questions : Learn to Love Getting Stuff Wrong

Lots of question marks. Don't be afraid to ask questions! Image by Kerbstone, FreeImages.com

“There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers.” That nugget of wisdom, often attributed to Carl Sagan, reminds us to keep seeking knowledge, even if we make (sometimes very public) mistakes. And nothing feels more public and exposed than whole… Continue reading

Language Love in Times of Covid : Authentic Resources in Translation

An image of someone washing their hands by maripepa m, freeimages.com. Authentic resources on health topics are easy to come by in times of Covid-19.

Authentic resources in the target language are vital exposure to improve your skills. And during a public crisis, it just so happens that topical materials are even easier to come across. Namely, there is an abundance of brief, to-the-point and… Continue reading

Perfectionism and the Control Monster

Perfectionism pushes us to strive for order, but perhaps a little chaos is sometimes helpful. Image from freeimages.com

Perfectionism is a wily demon. And it stalks the language learning community with a particularly bloodthirsty enthusiasm. Halloween seems the perfect time to address this perfidious little monster lurking in our midst. For while it can tempt us to embrace… Continue reading

Everyday Triangulation : Three Sides to Every Language Story

Triangulation - a polyglot approach to language learning. Image by Nils Thingvall, FreeImages.com

A study colleague popped up in our group forum this week, sharing an interesting resource. It was a set of quiz flashcards for the current term’s Swahili vocabulary. But it came with a triangulation twist. It was a Swahili-Spanish set,… Continue reading

Building Blocks for Faster Fluency

Building Blocks. Image by Jeff Prieb, FreeImages.com.

The highlight of my language learning week was a short, spontaneous dialogue in Swahili. Before I get too big for my boots, I should add that it was about buying bananas, and wasn’t based on fact. Rather, it was invented on… Continue reading

Battle of the Owls: Duolingo vs. Glossika

Owls chatting. Photo by Ross Dismore, freeimages.com

You have to hand it to the owls. For a start, they’re wise. And they love learning. Well, at least in educational lore, having long been considered symbols of all things academic. They make very apt representatives for our language… Continue reading

Swahili Safari: First Steps on a Brand New Language Journey

Northern Rift Valley, Tanzania. Swahili is one of Tanzania's national languages. Picture by Barbara Schneider of freeimages.com

I’ve been saying for a while that it’s high time I diversified my language outlook. And as of on cue, the chance fell into my lap this month. My MSc Linguistics programme includes a 20-credit introductory Swahili module. Asante! Swahili… Continue reading

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