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

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

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

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