How Many Languages Should You Learn At Once? [Spoiler: it’s up to you!]

How many languages should we learn at once? How many pieces of the jigsaw do you need? Image by Gary Fleischer on freeimages.com.

Every so often there is a ripple in the polyglot ocean, and that old, bebarnacled behemoth “how many languages should you learn at once?” rises to the surface again. A couple of social media posts on that perennial debate caught… Continue reading

How polyglot brains handle cross-language interference

Meta-learning - know your brain (Image from freeimages.com)

Paranoid polyglots beware. After years of brushing off comments like “don’t you ever get mixed up with all those languages?“, it happened to me recently: I noticed a significant interference from one language to another. The pernicious pair of languages… Continue reading

Battleground Duolingo : Sun Tzu’s Art of Language Learning

The Terracotta Warriors would no doubt fare very well on the Duolingo leaderboards.

Duolingo aficionados cannot have not have failed to miss the recent frenzy over competitive leaderboards. Perhaps you have – no doubt luckily – escaped the red mist and hidden sensibly away from the hordes. Instead, you might have recognised it… Continue reading

Achievement on our terms: language learning as the joy of exploration

Clontarf, Dublin: achievement is often about the journey, not the destination.

If ambition drives you to excel in a field as (traditionally) academic as languages, chances are you are achievement-oriented. Striving for success – however we choose to measure it – is part and parcel of loving the polyglot craft. Achievement… Continue reading

Personalise your vocab routine with Tatoeba custom lists

Printing letters. Image from freeimages.com

Often, on a learning journey, you find your way back to a trusty old path travelled a while back. And recently, I have found my way back to the mass sentence site Tatoeba in order to solve a very particular… Continue reading

Vocabulary cross-platforming : make your DIY language learning data work harder

A computer screen (image from freeimages.com)

A major feature of language learning in the digital world is the abundance of tools for building and testing your own vocabulary banks. Anki, Quizlet, Educandy, StudyBlue, Cram… There are all sorts of platforms for collecting and drilling the words… Continue reading

Five Ways to Stick to Language Learning Resolutions

A new calendar means new language learning resolutions. But how to stick to them? (Image from freeimages.com)

We are well into the New Year now, and – if you are like me – you probably have a list of language learning resolutions as long as your arm. But doesn’t cold, damp January feel like the longest and… Continue reading

Shy Polyglot : Oxymoron, or the Perfect Blend?

Shrinking violet? You are not alone as a shy linguist! Image from freeimages.com

A shy polyglot – that should be an oxymoron, right? All those languages, and too much of a shrinking violet to speak them? Well, the more linguists I meet, the more I realise that it is a hugely common experience.… Continue reading

Managing Anki decks with options groups

Keep your language learning colourful - change things up from time to time.

Well, the football didn’t go England’s way this week. Commiserations, fellow polyglot fans who were also hoping. But when anticlimactic gloom ensues, sometimes you’re motivated to very productive distractions. I’ve spent a useful chunk of time this week optimising my Anki… Continue reading