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

iTalki Isolation Blitz? Here’s how to make the most!

Three plush monkeys in the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil poses. Image by freeimages.com

Armed with a bunch of loose ends and a clutch of free evenings, I have been spending quite a bit of time on iTalki over the past few weeks. In order to avoid bankruptcy, I tend to go for community… Continue reading

Learner Isolation : Rethinking Language Strategies in Difficult Times

A picture of a window taken from inside. Two houseplants sit in pots on the windowsill. Isolation needn't be limiting. Picture from freeimages.com

What a week. It is no longer a distant item on the evening news. Everybody is starting to feel the impact of Covid-19 containment and delay measures. And as language learning can be such a social activity, the isolation blues… Continue reading

Time for some adverbs – fluency hacks for fast-paced chat

A pocket watch with the time showing as quarter past three. Image from freeimages.com.

I’m a big fan of the speaking bingo sheet for conversation prep. I try to make use of them whenever I have an iTalki lesson, for example (as well as the time to prep one beforehand!). One of the most… Continue reading

Great accent, shame about the rest!

Accent - sometimes you can be too good! Image by Betty Miller from FreeImages.com

How is your accent in the language you’re learning? I’m pretty pleased with mine. In fact, I think it might be a little too good. Before the eye-rolling starts, let me explain. This isn’t an embarrassing lapse in modesty and perspective.… Continue reading

Speaking without foundations (and putting it right)

Speaking is like a skyscraper. Aim high, but watch your foundations too! Image by createsima on freeimages.com.

As I sit at the station tapping away at Anki, I’m impressed at the level of the vocabulary I’ve reached: interactive, futurism, equality… All those lovely advanced words! I enjoy a moment of language learner pride, before I remember that… Continue reading

Rolling with It as a Language Learner in a Random World

Fluffy dice in a car. Picture from freeimages.com.

Ever noticed how life throws opportunities at you as a language learner – just not always the ones you had imagined? So it transpired again at this year’s Language Show Live. The long-running show is an annual outing for the… Continue reading

Speaking Bingo Sheets for Snappy Active Vocab Recall

Bingo could be good for your speaking, too! Image by Michiel Meulemans on FreeImages.com

When it comes to making vocabulary stick in memory, there are few more effective methods than actively working new material in your speaking practice. Regularly engaging with new words and phrases in a foreign language is constructive recycling. They gain… Continue reading

Disembodied Voices : Using TTS as a Native Speaker Boost

TTS can lend your learning some robotic voice magic. Image by Oliver Brandt on FreeImages.com

Native speaker modelling is a prerequisite for learning to speak Modern Foreign Languages. But when listening materials are scarce, or you struggle to find exactly the material you want to learn, then text-to-speech (TTS) can lend a helping hand. Text-to-speech… Continue reading

Staying Accountable as a Lone Language Learner

You can still be accountable even as a lone ranger. Photo by Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo on FreeImages.com.

How do you stay accountable in your solo language learning? I know I sometimes find it difficult as an individual learner. It’s an important consideration for anyone studying on their own. But there’s a clue: one answer is to aim for… Continue reading