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!

Monday, November 13, 2017

5 Reasons You Have to Learn French!

While I've never stopped loving the French language, a recent trip back to Paris has has made me somehow love the language even more. If you're thinking about learning to speak French, here are my 5 reasons why choosing to study French is a decision that you'll never regret.

1: It's a Beautiful Language

While this isn't the reason that French is known as a Romance language, it definitely should be! Searching for "the most beautiful languages in the world" will very show you pages and pages of results in which French tends to come out on top.

Furthermore, the French language is made to sound beautiful. When you ask French speakers why there are certain grammatical rules and exceptions, they'll often tell that it's because it would sound "ugly" otherwise. They're seemingly obsessed with ensuring that their language remains number one!

2: It's a Popular Language around the World

French is only the 18th most spoken language in terms of native speakers but it jumps up to 10th place when you account for total speakers. This means that by learning the language, you're opening up a whole world of francophones to speak to in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

Additionally, there's a wealth of French-language cinema, music, and literature for every budding francophone to sink their teeth into. You'll never be bored on rainy days with French!

3: It's a Popular Official Language

While learning to speak the world's 10th most popular language mightn't appeal to you, you should never underestimate how widely French is actually spoken. French remains relevant in the modern age thanks to just how many groups and organisations with French as an official language. The French just love setting up clubs!

In addition international union organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, every sporting federation seems to have French as an official language. If their name begins with an "F" like FIFA (football), FIBA (basketball), FIA (motorsports), FIDE (chess), expect to see French as an official language!

If you decide to learn French, you'll be creating opportunities to work at so many different companies and organisations!

4: It's a Language that's Widely Taught

Since French is still one of the world's most popular second languages, there are classes almost  everywhere. In the UK, for example, it's still the most popular language at GCSE. However, fewer and fewer students are opting to study it. This means that if you're from the UK and you decide to learn French, you'll be joining an increasingly exclusive club!

Furthermore, there are French language resources almost everywhere! It's not hard to find websites and books for learning French and there are plenty of places where you can get classes, too!

5: It's an Important Language

While some people may disagree, there are plenty of indicators that the French language is still important and will remain to be for the foreseeable future. The British Council sees French at the 3rd most important language for Britain's future (after Spanish and Arabic). Learning French could do wonders for your career, too!

What do you think? Do you have any other reasons you should learn French or do you think there's another language we should be learning? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Our 5 Favourite Ways to Learn Languages Outside of the Classroom

Lessons can be a great way to learn a language. However, if you're like me, you may struggle in traditional learning environments such as a classroom. This doesn't mean that you should just give up on learning a language altogether. There are plenty of ways to learn a language outside of a traditional classroom environment and in this article we'll have a look at a few of our favourite methods.

1: Self-Study

Even if you struggle to learn in a classroom, you can still use all of the resources you'd find in one. You could always sit down with a grammar guide and go over the rules of your new language without the pressure or stress some students can feel when surrounded by other students. You might respond better to using the resources in the comfort of your own home or in a cafe you like.

2: Apps, Websites, and Games

If you're looking for a different way to learn languages, apps, websites, and games are an interesting approach. While it's unlikely that you'll become fluent just by using these types of resources, they can be useful for learning the basics and gaining enough language skills to start conversing with real people.

3: Language Exchanges

Language exchanges are when two people that speak different languages meet up to help each other learn a foreign language. A native English speaker who'd like to learn French could meet up with a native French speaker who wants to learn English, for example.

You can go for lunch, a coffee, or even a beer (if you're old enough!) and spend half your time speaking the language you want to learn and the other half speaking the language your partner wants to learn.

4: Private Tuition

You can hire a private language tutor to help you learn a new language. There are many students who struggle while learning in a normal classroom alongside other students but excel when given one-on-one tuition.

You're much less likely to feel silly asking a question when you're the only student in the class. A private tutor can also customise every lesson to your needs and will work with your strengths and weaknesses in order to get the most out of your potential.

5: Immersion

Our final and favourite method for learning a language is probably the most obvious one. If you're constantly surrounded by people speaking the language you want to learn, you'll inevitably pick it up. Rather than studying for a few hours a week in a classroom, you can turn every minute of every day into an opportunity to improve your language skills.

Do you have any suggestions for learning a language outside of the classroom? We'd love to hear them! Tell us your favourite methods in the comments below!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Languages Online: The Best of October 2017

Let's have a look back at the best stories from around the month of October.

Why is Argentine Spanish seemingly so different to a lot of the other dialects of Spanish? It might have something to do with Italian. Find out more in this article.

If the first article in this list whet your appetite for learning Italian, you should have a look at this article on learning Italian. The article covers the different approaches to learning Italian and the best ways to tackle it.

8: 6 Epic Translation Fails on BBC

We can't stress enough how important getting a good translation is. However, if you feel like having a laugh at when it goes wrong, you should read this article.

7: Why We Hate the Word 'Moist' on SciShow Pysch

This video on psychology has a look at the reasons behind most people's aversion to the word "moist" which regularly tops lists of the most hated words in English.

6: Mimic Method Review: Will You Sound More Like a Native Speaker? on Fluent in 3 Months

If you're thinking about trying the Mimic Method, you should read up on it on in this article. It comes highly recommended!

5: Professional translators aren't worried about Google's language-translating headphones on Business Insider

Following the news that Google's pixel buds can translate between a number of languages, it turns out that most translators and interpreters aren't starting to look for new jobs.

4: An argument over the evolution of language, with high stakes on The Economist

There are plenty of linguists who agree on when human languages developed. However, there's one who completely disagrees and says that languages evolved at the same time as humans did around 1.9m years ago.

For those learning French, this is an article you have to read. There are plenty of tips and tricks for those wanting to improve their accent.

2: Google’s translation headphones are here, and they’re going to start a war on The Guardian

With Google's new translating headphones, there's the risk of translation errors cropping up. What's the risk when this happens? This opinion piece on them has the answer.

1: 30+ Blogging Vocabulary Terms in French on Eurolinguiste

Our most popular language piece of the month comes from Eurolinguiste. If you're into French and would like to learn more about the terms they use for blogging, you should definitely give this article a glance.

If there are any other articles or links that you think we should have included, feel free to tell us about them in the comment below.