Monday, January 15, 2018

How to Memorize Words in a Foreign Language by Amber Wilson

While learning a new language is always good for you, it can turn out to be a daunting task. Sometimes it feels like there are just too many words and they seem to go in in one ear and out the other.

So, what can you do to make those words to stick to your mind?

Professional dissertation writer Joanna Satchett says that concentration is key to learning new words and phrases. 

Here are some interesting ways and useful techniques that can help you boost your memory and become the polyglot you always wished to be. 


It might sound like a bad idea to listen to music while trying to concentrate. However, it all depends on what type of music will you listen while you study.

It is scientifically proven that certain kinds of music may send you into a state of meditation and relax your brain that way which will help you concentrate and stay focused. The important thing with this technique is that you listen to instrumental music at a reasonable volume. Classical music is one of the best genres for this.


Another scientific fact is that some foods can have a good influence on your mental state and improve your brain functions.

Nuts are great for improving concentration. It doesn’t matter which ones you prefer they are rich in omega-3, zinc, and iron, which will help you concentrate and memorize those foreign words and phrases. A handful should be enough.

Caffeine is also good for concentration. It enhances certain memories and its effects  can last for up to 24 hours. This can  help you spend more time studying. Caffeine also has a calming effect on your mood which will make you more enthusiastic towards studying.

If you don't like coffee, don't worry, there are plenty of products containing caffeine like black tea or dark chocolate.

Interesting fonts

You should use unusual fonts when printing your study material. If you make words you're trying to learn harder to read, you'll make them more memorable. Try using different fonts or colors and make these words bigger than the rest of the text.

Mental Associations

This technique requires from you to make mental associations to the words you wish to learn by using images or other words. For example, draw a simple picture of a house or your street and on every object on that picture you can write a word that is used for it in a foreign language. This can make the words far more memorable.

You should take time to learn vocabulary as it's a crucial part of understanding foreign languages. These techniques should  improve your concentration and help you study. Whether you are a college student, an interpreter or just willing to learn a new language, improving your concentration will pay dividends next time you study.

Amber Wilson is a content strategist and a technical writer with more than 10-year experience as a thesis editor. She is an expert in educational technologies and game-based learning.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Languages Online: The Best of December 2017

Happy new year, everyone! We're back this year with a look at the very last month of last year. As per usual, we have our monthly look at our 10 favourite articles, posts, or news stories from around the web. Let's get to it!

Given that it's January, you might have a resolution to learn a foreign language (or another!). With this in mind, 5 Minute Language put together a list of great advice for you.

9: A totally tubular guide to the language of Stranger Things on Oxford Dictionaries

If, like me, you watched the second season of Stranger Things, you'll have no doubt picked up on some of the interesting slang and vocabulary they used throughout the show. In this article by Oxford Dictionaries, you can see just where some of the series' most important vocabulary and expressions comes from.

8: 23 Fun German Interjections: from Ätsch to Igitt! on Fluent on 3 Months

Whether you're learning German or already an expert, it never hurts to learn how to express interjections for joy, surprise, or happiness and this article has a good selection of them!

While we often say that languages are dead or living, you probably wouldn't think that biology could help that much, right? Wrong! There's an argument for using 'evolutionary trees', a tool from conservation biology, to help us save languages that would otherwise be on their way out.

6: Language of the Rohingya to be digitised: 'It legitimises the struggle' on The Guardian

The stateless Rohingya people in Myanmar cannot use digital communication in their own language since there's no digital version of their writing system (unlike the Latin alphabet you're reading now). However, plans to give them a digital script of their own could greatly help them as well.

5: 14 of my Favorite Quotes About Language on Eurolinguiste

If you've just started learning your first foreign language, this is one post that you should definitely consider looking at. If you're struggling with the language that you're currently learning, take inspiration from some of these great quotes.

4: Learn a Language By Reading: 5 Easy-to-Follow Steps on Fluent in 3 Months

If you're an avid reader, here's some great information for how you can use reading materials in order to help you learn a language.

There are a lot of language learning resources out there. Luckily for you, this article on Eurolinguiste has advice on choosing the right ones.

2: The battle to make French a “gender-neutral language” is emphasizing the country’s inherent sexism on Quartz

The debate on whether the French language needs a gender-neutral form rages on and shows no signs of slowing down. Now people are wondering just how sexist France is a result. An interesting read.

1: Wales launches strategy to double number of Welsh speakers by 2050 on The Guardian

Our top article of the month focused on the Welsh language and efforts to make this minority language more widely-spoken as part of a number of government programmes in the UK.

If there were any great articles or or resources we missed, feel free to tell us about them in the comments below.

Monday, December 18, 2017

10 Resources for Improving Your Language Learning Productivity by Chris Richardson

When learning a new language, you have several essential skills to improve. Most of all, you’re focused on reading, writing, listening, and speaking. That’s what all language learning programs revolve around.

What about productivity? It’s an aspect of the language learning journey we often tend to ignore. We expect the structured program to give everything we need to learn the language. However, the effort we put into this goal on a daily basis is crucial for developing all language skills. 

Productivity is all about learning more in a shorter period of time. How do you boost it? Here are 10 resources that will get you on the right track.

1. Forvo

With Forvo, you listen to the way words are pronounced in your target language. The recordings are by native speakers.

How does this improve your productivity? Forvo gives helps you understand the genuine speech. With regular practice, you’ll master the foreign language much more effectively.

2. Couchsurfing

You will truly become a fluent speaker of a foreign language when you hang out with natives.

Thanks to Couchsurfing, traveling doesn’t have to cost much. You can connect with people from your country of interest as well as welcome other travelers into your home. They will help you learn some of their language, too.

3. Google Calendar

You’ll become a fluent speaker only if you turn language learning in your daily routine. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a student or a worker; you can always find some space for this practice during the day.

Use Google Calendar to plan each day really carefully. You'll need at least half an hour for learning new words, phrases, and grammar rules every single day. This practice should also include writing, listening, and speaking.

This is a book that every foreign language learner should have in their home library. It helps you develop a strategic approach towards this process. The author explores the most common issues that language learners face and provides effective solutions.

5. Amazon

Speaking of books, you have to read more of them. Start with children’s books in your target language. These can help you boost your vocabulary and master grammar in its most essential form. From there on, you can continue with books written by local authors. This can help you understand the culture of the country, too. Where do you get these books? Amazon is the answer.


What about the writing part? How do you get more productive? If you work with professional writers, you’ll understand the essay format easily. Plus, they can clarify grammar and vocabulary issues for you. Essay Geeks puts you in direct contact with talented writers. 

7. Skype

What if you can’t afford to travel? Well, there’s another way to connect with native speakers. Use Skype! Your friends online can make you a more effective learner by correcting your mistakes. You can listen to proper pronunciation and practice with them. Practice is the best way to improve how quickly you learn. 

8. Italki

Do you find it difficult to connect with native speakers via Skype? Are you too shy to introduce yourself and start a conversation? This is where italki can help. This is a platform where language learners from all around the world come together to connect with native speakers. You’ll still use Skype to talk, but connecting with new people is much simpler.

In addition to native speakers for practice, you can also find native language teachers on italki. They will give you one-on-one lessons, which will definitely make you more fluent in your target language.

The Internet is a source of endless distractions. Instead of spending half an hour learning, you end up scrolling through Instagram for an entire hour. That has to stop!

Strict Workflow is a Google Chrome extensions that will block all distracting websites for 25 minutes. You’ll use those 25 minutes for learning. Then, you’ll get a break of 5 minutes. You can use it to scroll to Instagram or do whatever you want before you get back to learning.

10. Duolingo

Duolingo is both a language learning and a productivity tool. When you’re learning a language on your own, you absolutely need a structured program. Duolingo gives you that structure. You get learning modules and practice sessions. It encourage you to work every single day, too. That’s how it makes you a more productive learner. 

Have you ever wondered how your productivity affected the language learning process? It’s crucially important! Your approach helps you learn the language faster and more effectively. Fortunately, there are tools that will amplify your productivity. Have you tried some of them? Do you have another tool to suggest? Share your ideas!                                                                                                           

Chris Richardson is a journalist, editor, and a blogger. He loves to write, learn new things, and meet new outgoing people. Chris is also fond of traveling, sports, and playing the guitar. Follow him on Facebook and Google+.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Languages Online: The Best of November 2017

Here are our favourite stories about language from last month. Let's dive straight in...

10: 6 Steps To Listen Your Way To A Better Accent In Any Language on I Will Teach You a Language

If you're struggling with accurately replicating the accent in your foreign language, this article shows you how to do it by just listening. While it only features 4 steps when we first published it on our Facebook Page, two more steps have been added. This article just keeps on giving.

9: Kazakhstan Is Changing Its Alphabet - Here's Why on The Independent

This article covers the news that Kazakhstan is looking to adopt the Latin alphabet. While the country has traditionally used the Russian Cyrillic script, decisions have been made to use the same alphabet as many countries in the West do in order to improve the country's global integration.

8: J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' Translated To Scots, Marking 80th Language on NPR

Harry Potter fans north of the border (if you're in the UK) should rejoice at the news that the first book has been translated into Scots. You should listen to the interview on NPR to hear a sample of it.

There's been a lot of buzz about Google's headphones and how they'll do away with translators by giving everyone access to live interpreting wherever they go. However, as Business Insider found out, they're not ideal.

While you wouldn't say that the Latin alphabet and the Cyrillic script are the same (Kazakhstan is looking to change from the latter to the former, after all), there are a number of characters in both that have very common roots. In this article, you'll find out why there are so many similarities between human writing systems.

5: No more middots: French PM clamps down on gender-neutral language on The Guardian

The French language's latest controversy comes in the form of gender. French is now trying to include gender-neutral versions of words to rectify the problem with middots, a punctuation mark that looks like a full-stop but in the middle of a line. Traditionalists, including the French PM, are not happy.

4: Five languages Brexit Britons should learn on Financial Times

Without trying to speculate on the future of the UK, it's fair to say that it probably wouldn't be able to survive as an isolated nation like North Korea. This means that languages are still going to be useful in the future and here's an interesting article on which languages might be useful for those in the UK.

If you're like me and you hate business English, you should definitely check out this article. Unfortunately, it looks like the ridiculous use of English employed in offices and boardrooms around the country isn't going anywhere, though.

Which is the most spoken language in the world? Should you just count native speakers or should you consider how many people speak it as a foreign language? What about those who learn the language as a foreign language? There are a lot of questions to answer just to answer a seemingly-simple question. This article aims to address a few of them.

1: A ‘critical juncture’ for language learning in the UK on Times Higher Education

Our most popular article this month was on the future of learning languages in the UK. As you may have heard, the UK is leaving the European Union. With a potentially-massive political shift occurring, the UK has a lot of questions to answer about how it's going to conduct itself in the future and how it teaches foreign languages is one of the biggest questions.

Were there any great language articles in November that we missed? Feel free to tell us and our readers about them in the comments below.

Monday, December 4, 2017

How to Get Better at Speaking a Foreign Language by Brenda Berg

Learning a foreign language can be difficult at the best of times and it’s thought that the older we get, the harder it gets. However, thanks to the internet, there are tonnes of resources readily available at the click of the button that can help us learn a new language in ways that was never before possible.
To help you get started, here’s everything you need to know to help you improve your ability to speak a foreign language.

Practice, Practice, Practice

As with anything in life, the only way you’ll be able to learn to speak a language fluently is to set aside the time to practice. This means practising every day, even if it’s only for half an hour some days. Any practice is better than no practice.

Video Conferencing Software

Programs like Skype have never been more accessible to people all over the world so why not use this to your advantage? By using social media and video chat, you can connect with like-minded people from around the world who may speak another language and want to learn yours.

“This is a great way to learn as you can then speak to each other, teaching each other the language as you go. This is a great way to learn about someone else’s culture, and you might even make a new friend!” Martin Dulmer, language tutor at Academized.

Smartphone Apps

To list all the language learning smartphone apps for both Android and iOS would take all day (although the best are listed below). However, there's definitely an app out there that that'll work for you.

Simply head over to the Play Store or the App Store, search ‘language apps’ and simply see what comes up! You can start with the best and easy apps such as HelloTalk and Memrise. But that’s not all great apps you can find.

Watch Foreign Media

Thanks to the internet, you can now have access to all kinds of films, movies and TV series from around the world, directly to your computer. By streaming them to your TV, you can learn how to speak a foreign language.

Imagine watching Spanish TV all day every day instead of English TV? It’s actually a great way to learn, especially if you’re watching something that you know in English because you already know what they’re talking about. With YouTube you can even choose what to watch.

Using Conversation Clubs

Much like searching for an individual online to speak to or using social media, forums, and chatrooms, you’ll also be able to find lots of conversation clubs that you can join to chat with locals from all over the world.

These can be a great way to meet other people, make new friends, learn about a new culture and learn a language!

Using Tools & Resources

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of resources online to make speaking a new foreign language as easy as possible. Here’s a few to get you started.


This is a comprehensive language learning website with 12 unique languages to get you started. In addition to speaking help, you’ll also be able to practice reading and writing.


Babbel is home to over 15 language training programs and is very heavily in the visual learning styles, using pictures and photos to help you remember words and sentences.


This is a free blog you can use to improve your grammar in English and other languages.


With over 26 languages available, DuoLingo is one of the most popular learning platforms and is used by people all around the world. You can even learn on the go while using the app.

Flashcard Apps

There are plenty of flashcard apps and websites out there that can help you to learn how to speak a language quickly and fluently with flashcards. Write down a sentence that you want to remember or learn and then writing the English version on the other side, making it super easy to have all the information you need in one place.

As you can see, there are so many options available to you when it comes to improving your language speaking skills when using the internet. All you need to do is find the one that works best for you.

Brenda Berg is a professional with over 15 years of experience in business management, marketing and entrepreneurship. Consultant and tutor for college students and entrepreneurs at Oxessays and Paper fellows. Brenda is also a part-time educator and Editor in Chief at Big assignments
She believes that constant learning is the only way to success. You can visit her personal blog at

Monday, November 27, 2017

How Social Media Can Help with Learning Languages by Rachel Summers

No matter how old you are, learning a second language is one of the most valuable things you can do. Having a second language can enrich your life, improve your job prospects, and even put you in touch with more friends around the world.

However, these days it feels as though you just don't have enough time to keep up with a new language skill. There is a solution though, in the form of social media. Here's how it can make learning a language much easier and convenient for all kinds of learners.

Why Use Social Media?

Think about why you haven't learned a new language yet. You probably thought "I just don't have enough time in my day to properly study a language". However, how much time every day do you spend on social media? The answer, probably, is a lot.

That's not to say that you should quit social media to focus on your studies. There's a lot of benefits of using it to stay connected with your loved ones. Did you know that you can use it to stay connected with your language studies too? It's a lot easier than you'd think.

Which Social Media Sites Should You Use?

OK, so you can use social media to keep up with your language studies. Which networks should you use? Here's a shortlist of the platforms you should be looking into:

Facebook: Facebook is the platform that most people use, so there's a lot of learning opportunities there. If you're a teacher, you can create a page that your students can 'like', and then update it frequently in your chosen language.

Youtube: This popular video hosting platform has a huge amount of resources already on there that you can use. There's teaching videos that will guide you through different aspects of the language, and there's also videos by 'vloggers' that you can watch to get a feel of how the language is spoken naturally.

Tumblr and other blogging sites: Blogs are a great way to learn more about a language. Tumblr is one of the best platforms to use, as you can read blogs in a bite sized. There's lots of language blogs, such as Omniglot and State Of Writing, that you can follow too to learn more.

Pinterest and Instagram: These image-based sites are some of the best ways to use flashcards and other visual learning aids. If you learn better with visual tools, then this could be the best way of learning a language with social media.

What Are the Benefits of Using Social Media?

There's a lot of reasons why social media can be a great way of learning a new language. As you've seen above, you have a lot of choice when it comes to the platforms you use and the way you learn. It's not just this that makes it a great way to learn, though.
"Using social media makes you accountable for your learning. You'll be showing others online that you're learning, and they'll see if you fall off the wagon. If you're the kind of person that's motivated this way, then it's a great way to learn." - Liam Orwell, Author at Reviewal 
As well as this, you'll be able to easily document your learning with social media. This is especially true if you use a social media platform that allows you to organise your writing with hashtags or other organisational tools. If you want to go back to something later, it makes it very easy to find it.

Finally, social media, of course, helps you connect with other people. That's its primary function, after all. The best way to learn any language is connect with others who speak that language. Social media makes it easier than ever to connect with people all over the world, so take advantage of this.
As you can see, social media is one of the best ways to learn a new language online. Start looking for resources on your preferred platforms, and you'll see that you're picking up new vocabulary in no time at all.

Rachel Summers is a freelance writer whose passion is helping students get the most out of their learning journey. She started out as a writer and journalist in the newspaper industry, including Best British Essays, before breaking out to go freelance and follow her own passions. Her writing is designed to help you get the most out of college. You can find her blog here.

Monday, November 20, 2017

How to Learn Languages with Super Mario

Since I love both games and languages, I've often tried to bring the two together. When I was teaching English, I always ensured that my classes played as many games as possible. In this article, I'm going to talk about how games influenced how I planned my lessons and how Chinese poetry influenced these games.


Let's start with Kishōtenketsu. This is a type of narrative structure mainly used in Chinese poetry which includes four parts: Introduction (ki), development (shō), twist (ten), and conclusion (ketsu).

In the first part, you introduce the characters, setting, and any other important information. This information is developed in the second part without introducing any major changes. Something unexpected happens in the third part of the narrative before the conclusion wraps everything up with the ending or resolution to the story.

Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World | Nintendo

Kishōtenketsu's narrative structure was highly influential when it came to level design in Super Mario 3D Land, which was released in 2013 on the Wii U.

The game's director Koichi Hayashida stated how he'd used Kishōtenketsu to influence how levels were designed in the game. Every time a level included something a player had never seen before, they'd need to learn how the mechanic worked. However, Hayashida didn't want to explicitly tell the player what they needed to do with boring text boxes and tutorials, he wanted them to learn what to do. Games are supposed to be fun, after all.

In short, a level introduces a new mechanic to the player. The player then gets to play around with the mechanic in a risk-free environment. After all, you don't want to punish a player for doing something wrong when they don't yet know how to do it!

Once the player is familiar with the mechanic, they're given a chance to prove they understand it with a challenging twist before finally given a chance to reach the flag and generally show off their new skills.

If you'd like to see how this applied to the game, I'd recommend watching this video on it:

Language Lessons

When I heard this, I was inspired by the method they used to teach players and thought I could apply it to how I taught my classes. There were two main rules that I applied to the lessons based on this design philosophy: focus lessons on one concept and always follow the four steps.

The first rule ensures that students have a clear goal that they can be tested on at the end of the lesson. Never introduce multiple grammar points in a single lesson! You can still use grammar points and aspects from previous lessons, though.

The second rule means that students are introduced to a new concept, can then play around with it (without any risks), are tested on the concept, and then given an opportunity to show off what they've learnt before they go home.

Here's an example of how a lesson would go:

1: Introduction: Quickly establish what the focus of the lesson is going to be. While you can explicitly tell the students what it is, I preferred giving students an example and letting them identify the focus of the lesson themselves.

2: Development: This is when the students are given an activity to practice the new grammar point. I often enjoyed doing this with pair work where students are free to make mistakes in a safe environment and don't feel pressured about getting it wrong.

3: Twist: Now's the time to test the students. This doesn't mean that you actually have to give them a test, though. As I said earlier, I loved playing games in class which can be just as effective at challenging students to think about the objective as well as verifying whether or not they've assimilated the new knowledge.

4: Conclusion: As the class finished, things became more relaxed. This was our "flag" moment. I'd give the students opportunities to use what they'd learnt in the lesson just before they left the class. This was great because it would boost their confidence and have them leaving with the objective they'd just achieved fresh in their minds.

I guess all that time spent playing Mario wasn't completely wasted!