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

Last Minute Gifts for Language Learners

Christmas is coming! Make it a language learning one.

Yes, Christmas is just around the corner! And, if you’re anything like me, you enjoy a healthy (and very human) mix of perfect prep and last-minute lunacy. However well I plan, there are always a couple of things that sneak… Continue reading

Five ways to maintain variety in your language learning

Variety adds a bit of a colour to your learning. (Image from freeimages.com)

Routine and regularity are cornerstones of language learning. But if your structure is too rigid, you might find yourself tiring of the same old, same old. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to work some variety into your language learning plan… Continue reading

Doric Scots: Treasure Trove of Nordic Gems

Shipwrecks in Scotland (from freeimages.com). Perhaps Doric was spoken aboard these vessels?

As language learners, we often focus on cultures that are far-flung. With our eyes and ears fixed on the far away, any richness around us can end up playing second fiddle. But occasionally, when you take a moment to pause,… Continue reading

Children’s books for linguists: creative ways into languages

Colourful balloons

Being a linguaphile and a bibliophile often go hand in hand. I love languages and I love books. Both of these passions go straight to the heart of what it means to get creative with words. Certainly, tapping into creativity… Continue reading

Time to learn? Fitting languages into busy lives

Time is precious

As a language geek, I’m often asked: “how do you find the time?”. My answer: most of the time, I don’t. Most self-directed learning is an imperfect process. Adults don’t have time to subdivide their day into neat lesson-shaped slots,… Continue reading

Dialect deviants? Celebrating linguistic diversity

Dialektboka (The Dialect Book) from Norway

Spoiler alert: the language you’re learning probably isn’t the language people are speaking. Thanks to dialect, you might be surprised when you chat with your first native speaker. If you’re not prepared for it, the surprise can be disconcerting at best, and demoralising… Continue reading

Context has your back: Why it’s OK not to understand everything

Context can help language learners in familiar situations abroad, like the coffee shop

I have a confession to make. I failed miserably in my foreign language last weekend. But it was still fine. Context had my back! Before you feel sorry for me, it’s not as bad as it sounds. We fail in our native… Continue reading

Change, society and the language learner

Change may be accelerated by societal pressures.

Language never stands still. As learners, we study a moving target. The only constant is change. It’s something that hits you when you learn from old textbooks. Many old, forgotten language courses still have mileage in them, especially if you like… Continue reading

Speaking tips from the emergency room

An ambulance attending an emergency; driver speaking in the window

There’s no doubt about it: speaking can be hard, especially when you’re beginning in a foreign language. You have all the usual mental juggling of remembering vocabulary and grammar. But on top of that, there’s the social pressure of performing live. In… Continue reading