À la modal : how these little nuancing verbs can fix your fluency

Modal verbs can lend colour to your speech (image from freeimages.com)

I have a nerdish love of verbs. For me, it’s where it all comes together in language. They are sentence glue. Conjugate them, and you can hang the rest of the sentence from them like on the branches of a… Continue reading

Evernote : Language Hero Sidekick

Elephants (not the Evernote elephant)

Think language learning apps, and all the specialist ones tend to come to mind first: Duolingo, Babbel, Memrise and so on. But there are a couple of general tools I use all the time in my language learning. In particular, Evernote… Continue reading

Pot pourri : my week in languages

Pot pourri

Pot-pourri is a lovely French term, usually applied to a mixture of herbs and spices, or fragranced wood chips. I’ve appropriately appropriated the French for this week’s blog post, which is a bit of a mixed bag. The past seven… Continue reading

Blinkist : one-stop knowledge shop with some language-learning gems

Blinkist offers condensed summaries of hundreds of books.

If you use any social media platform, you can’t have missed them lately; those bold and brash ads, featuring ever-so-slightly smug millennials stating “I read four books a day” and similar. Yes, Blinkist has been on a marketing offensive in recent… Continue reading

Metalanguage : learning to talk *about* your target language

Metalanguage helps you to talk about the cogs and wheels of language

One of the biggest challenges for language students is to maintain a 100% target-language environment during lessons. Holding everyday conversations is one thing. But when it comes to discussing the language itself, we often lack the tools. We need metalanguage.… Continue reading

Coaching and languages: the travelling partner you need?

Language learners are used to working with others. These tend to be language specialists: teachers, conversation exchange partners or fellow students. But support in learning languages does not have to be in the target language. Not convinced? Well recently, I’ve… Continue reading

Language idols: inspiration amongst friends

Surround yourself with symbols of your target language culture, like the cherry blossom of Japan

Sometimes there are people who happen upon a language learning system that just works. Sometimes it’s planned, sometimes it’s accidental. But those people are great sources of inspiration and ideas for people like us. As an example, I’ve always been… Continue reading

2000 words and still not fluent? My Polish Anki experiment 🇵🇱📱

Polish words in a dictionary

Would you be impressed if I told you I know over 2000 words in Polish? What about if I told you that I still can’t actually speak Polish? As crazy as it sounds, it’s true. At least, it was true –… Continue reading

Google Sheets magic tricks for language learners

Data laser

The best language partners not only open your eyes to new words, but to new techniques. It is always the case with excellent iTalki teacher and polyglot friend Marcel Balzer, for example. Never short of fantastic tips, he recently shared a… Continue reading