Spotlight on Language Skills: Speaking

There’s something so satisfying about being able to speak confidently and making yourself understood in a range of settings using the language(s) you’re learning. You might need to request something in a shop (without having to resort to wild hand gestures), or hold your own in a heated debate at a more advanced level.

These spontaneous interactions in another language can be exhilarating, but it can also be a bit nerve-wracking to be put on the spot! So, how can you practise expressing yourself verbally in a way that improves your confidence and fluency? Below are some tricks I’ve used over the years to work on my speaking skills, even in situations where I’ve felt out of my depth. Try them out and let us know how you get on in the comments below!

Before you begin, it’s worth remembering that to be considered fluent in a language, you don’t have to speak it perfectly or without any mistakes (even native speakers can’t always manage that!) but the main focus should be on being understood in a variety of contexts, as per the Common European Framework Levels definition at C2 or ‘proficient user’ level.

1. Learn to sing a song in the language you speak – this will make learning the pronunciation much more fun and allow you to practice wrapping your tongue around the sounds without anyone listening in (depending on how loudly you sing along of course..!) Set up a playlist for the language(s) you speak and focus on basic nursery rhymes or chart topping hits depending on what level you’re at and what genre of music you’re into. It’s also a great way to discover more about the culture and will give you lots to talk about in conversations with native speakers!

2. Ask a native speaker or teacher to help with pronunciation snags – I found this very useful when struggling with the French pronunciation of the sounds ‘boule’ and ‘bulle.’ A French friend of mine spend a good half an hour coaching me how to say it properly and eventually I got it!

3. Write down some regular phrases and practice them aloud – these might be common phrases when ordering food in a restaurant, or even phrases about yourself that might come up when meeting people such as where you work, why you’re learning the language etc… Practising them like a script will help you sound more natural as you won’t be struggling to recall words or phrases, so will improve your conversational flow.

4. Use online apps and tools to practise on your ownDuolingo has incorporated speaking practice for certain sentences and this is a good way to practice and improve confidence without an audience.

5. Use online apps and tools to practice with other people – I use Lingora which is a free platform where you can record and upload clips of you speaking and native speakers offer constructive feedback within 48 hours. Discover Lingora through our recent blog post. I also use the paid platform italki for live conversations with qualified language teachers and informal discussions with native speaking language partners.

6. Speechling – this is a great website for practising speech, recording pre-set phrases and then getting feedback. You can monitor your progress and re-record as many times as you want until you feel happy with your pronunciation and intonation. Use the code ‘LINGUA’ to sign up!

7. Attend Mundolingo or meet up groups for face to face speaking practice – Mundolingo is an informal gathering where learners of any language can meet to speak and attendees wear stickers to show which languages they speak. Discover more in our blog post on Mundolingo. There are also plenty of Meet Up Groups that focus on a specific language. Some that we’ve tried in London include a Russian pub social meet up and a French board games meet up. You’ll be sure to find like-minded people and lots of opportunities to practice!

8. Practice describing things – this may sound quite simple, but the chances are that in some circumstances you may not know the word for the item or concept you want to talk about, so you will need to find another way to convey it. For example, you might want to say ‘elephant’ but you don’t know the word in the language, so you would need to describe it as ‘an animal that is large and grey with four legs and large ears and long nose’ hopefully at this point a native speaker will step in and provide the word you need. This is a great way to strengthen your language-learning muscles as it forces you to think outside the box and use what vocabulary you do have to convey the idea you want to express. Chances are, you’re more likely to remember the word next time too!

9. Have a translation app open on your phone or laptop when conversing – when practising online with conversation partners, I often have Google Translate open on my screen so that I can quickly translate any key words I need and can’t describe. In face to face situations I have the Word Reference app open on my phone just in case there is a word that causes a stumbling block in the conversation.

10. Keep Calm and Carry On!  Being put on the spot to speak a language can be an anxious experience and it is well documented that stress can raise cortisol levels and affect memory and recall. If you’re going to be put on the spot speaking a language, the best thing you can do is prepare using the steps above and remember that most native speakers are very patient and understanding when they know someone is learning their language.

Good luck practising your speaking skills and let us know how you get on in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram !

Keep your Language Learning on Track in 2019 with Lingua Centra’s Language Practice Tracker

Have you made a new year’s resolution to learn a new language and not sure where to begin? Are you a seasoned learner, but losing momentum in your journey towards fluency?Lingua Centra logo

We know it can be difficult to keep your language learning on track while working full time or juggling professional, personal and family commitments. We had a whirlwind year in 2018 buying our first home, renovating, starting new jobs and getting married, and we noticed our language learning was taking a real back seat.

This was really disappointing for us as we are super passionate polyglots, so we tried to find a way to make it easier to work our language learning into our lives by breaking down learning into smaller, more manageable chunks. This led us to design our own Language Practice Tracker that works really well for us that we want to share as it might be helpful for you too! By following this tracker, we’re feeling more confident with our French and can see how much progress we’re making in a way that fits in around our busy lives.

So how does it work?

We found it was so much easier to break down language learning into a few fun chunks that you can embed into your everyday routine that, (when followed consistently) will give you a varied exposure to the language and help you on your way towards fluency. Check out the Lingua Centra Language Practice Tracker here as a PDF:

Lingua Centra Language Practice Tracker 2019

We created this tool to help keep up with our French, which we speak at advanced level, so you may see some of the tasks as more challenging. This is true, but some tasks can be adapted if you are just starting out with a language as a beginner. The main aim is to provide a range of activities you can complete each month to help you work language learning into your daily routine. The practice tasks we’ve included are based on key areas of language learning such as receptive listening and reading tasks, productive speaking and writing tasks, vocabulary acquisition and grammar tasks.

We’ve tried to include a real mixture of activities, with some tasks being independent and others involving communicating with others online, certain tasks being via video call or phone and some being intensive and extensively focused.

Download the chart above to kick start your own learning journey this year and use it to keep your momentum up with your language learning in 2019. Give it a go and let us know how you get on in the comments below or our social media channels!

Christmas Gifts for Language Lovers

Struggling to find the perfect gift for friends, family or colleagues this Foreign language DVDsChristmas? If they have an interest in language learning, chances are you’ll find something on our list of top gifts below they’ll like!

A Film on DVD – a film that has won an award in the language they speak or films with well-known actors that speak that language would be a good option.

Music album either on CD or itunes in the language they’re learning or speak

Subscription to a newspaper or magazine in the language they’re learning

Classic novel or their favourite book in translation – my sister bought me a first edition Harry Potter novel in translation as a gift and I was touched by how thoughtful it was

Fridge magnet poetry in the language they’re learning – we have this in French and it’s a really fun way to play with the language!

Board games that encourage use of the language such as scrabble, articulate or trivial pursuitFridge Magnets

Empires of the Word by Nicholas Ostler is a really interesting read as talks Trivial Pursuit Frenchabout the evolution of languages throughout history

Prodigal Tongue by Lynn Murphy is great for anyone interested in the English language as compares British and American English grammar and etymology

Mug or t-shirt printed with a quote on in the language they’re learning such as a quote from a famous film, line of a song or silly quote as in the photos featured below…

Buy them an online or overseas course – you can find lots of language schools that offer online courses on the Lingua Centra Language School Directory

Along with these we have a lot of other ideas on the Lingua Centra resources page. Let us know how you get on with your language gifts in the comments below!

Keep in touch on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Happy holidays!

 

Lingora – feedback from native speakers at your fingertips

If you haven’t tried Lingora yet, it’s definitely time to add it to your language learning toolkit. I signed up to Lingora to practise my French (advanced), Russian (intermediate) and Portuguese (beginner) and am so glad I’ve discovered this fantastic platform where a community of native speakers review my writing and speech and give feedback for free!


What does the feedback cover?
 So, there are 2 sets of criteria depending on whether it’s a written text or a spoken audio clip and native speakers can leave comments and rate your post on the following:

Audio files: Accent, fluency, pronunciation, intonation.
Written texts: Grammatical Accuracy, punctuation, spelling, style

So how does it work? It’s very simple and it’s completely free! You just:
1. Sign up on the Lingora website
2. Select the language(s) you’re learning and your level
3. Write a short text or record an audio clip of you speaking the language (there are really useful prompt topics and ideas to start you off)
4. Post your text or audio clip to the platform and wait for feedback to come flooding in from native speakers!

Watch our walk-through and review of Lingora:

Lingora is a great tool for your learning no matter your level – I tested it in French, Russian and Portuguese that I speak at very different levels and here are some practical tips and examples of how Lingora can help you improve at any level:

Beginner – post audio clips of basic sentences to get feedback on your pronunciation, intonation and stress. Or post short written sentences to get feedback on spelling and syntax (word order).

Intermediate – post written texts or audio files on specific topics to receive feedback on fluency, grammatical accuracy and style.

Advanced – find native speakers and use the chat and audio function to share more complex messages and set up tandem language exchanges.

Another fab feature is that each time you post, you earn Lingorocks that can earn you discounts on classes in the Lingora store. You can also earn Lingorocks by giving feedback on other people’s posts in your native language.

Lingora stands out from a lot of other language learning platforms because it gives you access to thousands of native speakers who can provide detailed, honest and constructive feedback for you on the written texts and speech snippets you share.

The best thing about being able to ‘prepare before you share’ any audio files or written texts is that you can check through your grammar and re-record sections until you’re happy to share the final result, unlike many live chat platforms where you can often feel under pressure to get everything 100% accurate first time.

Lingora provides a relaxed platform to improve your speaking, writing, pronunciation and grammar and you can be sure to get some really useful feedback too – within just 24 hours I had received 3 pieces of feedback from different native speakers on each of my posts!

Sign up to Lingora for free today and let us know what you think in the comments below and share with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram !

(You can discover more Lingora features like lessons, podcasts, and amazing Lingorock discounts here on the Lingora website FAQs)

Language learning laid bare – what happens when life gets in the way?

Our more regular readers might have noticed we’ve been a bit quiet recently, but don’t worry, we haven’t given up on our language learning challenges! As with so many hobby projects, the twists and turns of life have got in the way so we’ve slowed down our learning pace a bit and I wanted to share our

Learning a language can feel like a roller coaster of highs and lows, jump on and enjoy the ride!

experience with you of approaching language learning as more of a marathon than a sprint. There are lots of bloggers and language learning gurus guiding people on how to speed up the learning process and achieve fluency in just a few months, which is refreshingly daring but not always realistic for people working full time and can leave learners feeling a sense of failure when three months is up and they’re still working on conjugating the past tense!

After reading Benny Lewis’ Fluent in 3 Months last year, I was inspired to launch my own crusade for fluency in Portuguese in 3 months back in September 2017. Shortly afterwards Iain and I got engaged (cheesy photo featured) I started a new, busy full time job and then in early in 2018 bought and moved into our first home together, which needed some renovation work doing. Needless to say, alongside a full time job and trying to maintain friendships, hobbies, housework, wedding planning and sleep, my Portuguese quest has definitely suffered!

However, I want to say that THIS IS OKAY. Most of us will pick up a language at a much more leisurely pace over time through classes, meet up groups and holidays that fit in around their other commitments, in fact, that’s how I learnt French and Russian. Rather than the route towards fluency feeling like a swirling, gushing waterfall, I prefer a more meandering, smooth pace. I believe that as language learners, we should focus on the journey towards fluency and how it enriches our lives and experience of the world, other cultures and throws open new aspects of ourselves that we had never before been able to express. So, I’m here to say that whether you learn over three months or three years, the learning journey never ends and we should be more focused on communicating successfully than the time it takes to do so.

Portuguese map puzzle
Portuguese is an official language in 10 countries

I have now picked up my Portuguese studies again and am giving myself until the end of the summer 2018 to feel confident communicating in Portuguese and holding a basic conversation. I have recently bought a new grammar book and have picked up daily Duolingo sessions for fun and to maintain momentum. Duolingo has recently introduced the new club feature and levels to keep it interesting. Clubs allows you to chat with other learners, take part in mini challenges and use the language in a fun way. Opening up levels keeps

the variety interesting and also allows me to focus on particular aspects that I want to work on. Watch this space!Duolingo logo

Tell us – have you had a similar experience with language learning? Do you prefer a sprint or a marathon pace of learning? As always, share your story below and join the conversation on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages

 

Learn a Language for Less – expires 31st January 2018

Our followers are pretty special to us and we want to give a little something back for all your support over the last year, so we’ve linked up with Routledge to offer you a 20% discount on language learning books and resources!

Routledge offers a range of learning materials such as frequency dictionaries, language course books and specialist linguistic research textbooks in a broad range of languages. Iain and I have both purchased a French fequency dictionary and beginners Spanish and Portuguese course books and have been really impressed with the quality and accessibility of the content.

 

The offer expires on 31st January, so click the link below to download your discount voucher – but don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram first!

https://www.routledge.com/collections/12633?utm_source=Routledge&utm_medium=cms&utm_campaign=171010495

Hope this helps you with all your linguistic new year’s resolutions for 2018 and Happy New Year from us both!

Vocabulary learning made easy

A polyglot friend (7 languages and counting) once told me that there is no point knowing the rules of Russian grammar inside out and theoretically how to ask for a loaf of bread if you don’t know the word for bread (хлеб). I found this reassuring as personally I don’t find grammar rules absorb as naturally for me as vocabulary!

If, like me, you are a fan of vocab lists and learning quirky new words and phrases in the language you’re learning then read on as I share some other learning approaches that, if applied appropriately, can really accelerate your learning and speed up your journey towards fluency.

Chunking & Collocations

This might sound like an anti-diet regime, but it actually makes language learning a lot lighter! The idea is that words rarely exist in isolation but co-exist in quite predictable patterns alongside other words, so if you learn the ‘chunks’ of words, you will sound much more fluent. Equally, it can be useful to learn a phrase such as ‘where are the toilets’ without knowing much of the grammar of the sentence, because certain elements of language are made up of fixed chunks.  Similarly to chunking, collocations are words that frequently appear next to each other and there is usually a fixed expression such as ‘a round of applause’ or ‘nooks and crannies’ or ‘to err on the side of caution’ where if one word were changed it might sound odd to a native speaker such as ‘to err on the side of care.’ You can see some good examples of collocations here: https://www.englishclub.com/vocabulary/collocations.htm

Cognates

As words that share a root or similar construction to lexical items in your first language. This makes them much easier to remember as they are so similar! This can be a good place to start when you are trying to get to grips with a new language and you will find some cognates cross many languages, such as ‘taxi.’

Frequency Dictionaries 

Sometimes the colossal task of learning all the vocabulary in one language can seem a bit like trying to gather all the grains of sand on a beach into your hands; the more you try to cram in the less likely it is to stay. And where do you start? I find using a trusted and reliable frequency dictionary is a good place to start, especially when you have mastered some of the basics as it gives you focus and you can rest assured in the knowledge that you are learning useful words you are likely to encounter in everyday situations because they are based on frequency in live usage across a range of settings. 

Iain and I use the Routledge frequency dictionary series for French, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese and would highly recommend them as they are clearly laid out and very accessible for all levels of language learners from beginners to advanced. If you want a real challenge, you could even take a word a day from the book to learn to build up your vocabulary more consistently. We have teamed up with Routledge to offer Lingua Centra readers and subscribers a 20% discount on all frequency dictionaries in any language you might be learning – great for your language learning kit or to give as a gift for the language lovers in your life!

 

Post it notes

I’m a self confessed sucker for colourful things and am a visual, kinaesthetic learner, so find post it notes a great way of incorporating colour into my language learning! Think of ways you can use the colours to your advantage such as different colours for singular and plural versions or genders of nouns or topics. It is worth placing them strategically where you know you spend a bit of time each day in your home – for me this is the bathroom mirror so I can read them all through as I brush my teeth! 

Write, cover, repeat 

Probably the oldest method in the book and sometimes this works well for people. I find it useful to have a list of up to 20 words a week and read them through each day originally from the target language to English and then in reverse as I become more confident. At the end of the week make sure you test yourself or get others to test you.

Learning synonyms and gradations.

Sometimes we assume we have a concept or word all sussed out and so our learning slows and our language progress plateaus. Learning synonyms is an easy way to combat this and expand your vocabulary beyond your usual ‘safe phrases.’ Looking for alternative ways to express familiar concepts keeps your learning and speech in the language fresh and flexible. For example ‘good’ could instead be: great, wonderful, excellent, brilliant, fantastic, amazing. Or ‘hot’ might become: boiling, piping, scalding, roasting.

Hobby related jargon.

Being able to associate a word with an experience has been for me the most effective way at memorising a word or phrase. One of my hobbies is dining out and I once confused the French for pineapple with ‘pamplemousse’ (grapefruit) when ordering in a café on the Champs Elysée in Paris and I can’t stand the bitter taste of grapefruit so will never make that mistake again! Equally, if you have a hobby or a passion, why not watch tutorials on YouTube on your favourite subject as you will have something to relate it to and will be able to discuss your passions with native speakers much more easily.

Mnemonics.

This is when you associate a story with the word you want to learn to conjure up the word if you are finding it tricky to remember or recall. I was, until recently, very cynical about mnemonics as an effective way of memorising a word. That was until I created a mnemonic to remember the Portuguese word for ‘boyfriend’ (namorado) by thinking of Iain rescuing me from doing difficult sums on a computer, hence ‘no-more-add-o’ making it much easier to remember ‘namorado!’ 

Duolingo.

This is a free app that uses gamification as a language learning tool through repeated interval exposure to words and phrases so that you gradually come to recognise the word and internalise it. There is both written and spoken content so you have a chance to learn the sounds of words as well as the written form.

Using the vocabulary (writing and speaking).

For most of us, the main aim of learning a language is to communicate, so make sure you are using all the words you learn either by writing a letter, journal / diary or shopping list or slipping them into conversations you’re having with native speakers.

Good luck with your vocabulary acquisition – let us know how you get on in the comments below and keep us posted on your vocabulary successes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter too!

Portuguese Fluent in 3 months – 1 month progress report

I feel like I’ve covered a lot of ground in the last five weeks and have had a couple of opportunities to put my Portuguese to the test in conversations as well, which has been entertaining..!

This month I have added to my vocabulary by learning:

  • Time phrases
  • Numbers
  • More present tense verbs
  • Colours
  • Animals
  • Food
  • furniture
  • Introducing people
  • Basic phrases about my life such as where I live and work

I took a 30 minute italki lesion with a Portuguese teacher to try to practise a few phrases, ask about vocabulary and pick up some basic grammar. I had by ‘language stabilisers’ on by having tabs for wordreference and Google translate open. This really assisted with speedy translations to keep conversation flowing in Portuguese! We spoke probably 75% in English, but the teacher was great at correcting my pronunciation as I still have quite a way to go with some aspects such as vowel sounds and pronunciation of the consonant ‘s’.

Portuguese map puzzle
Portuguese is an official language in 10 countries

I was also chuffed to be able to have a short conversation with a colleague in the facilities cleaning team at work mostly in Portuguese as she is also in the early stages of learning English. We spoke about 80% in Portuguese and I managed to explain in very basic terms that I had just got engaged, which I was very happy with having been learning for such a short length of time!

My main reflections from the last month are:

  • Thank goodness I’m learning a romance language! So much of the vocabulary resembles French, which I speak fluently, and the grammar and syntax is typical of a romance language such as French with subject-verb-object word order it has made it much easier to pick up
  • Duolingo is great for vocabulary. Duolingo has without a doubt been my best tool in picking up Portuguese vocabulary so far as the mini modules are broken down into manageable chunks with frequent repetition and a range of tasks, so I am able to retain much more of the vocabulary than by using a simple list-based approach.
  • Italki is fantastic for time with teachers if you have specific questions. The 30 minute session I had with a teacher on italki was great and very focused. Before the lesson I specified that I wanted to focus on a few specific verbs and also pronunciation and the teacher was great at keeping us on track. She was also very patient and suggested some great resources for me a this A1 level I am currently speaking at.
  • Speaking is quite intimidating, but finding a patient native speaker to listen and iron out any errors in a positive way is essential. This is something I am now doing with a colleague at work who is in the facilities team and is not much further ahead in speaking English as it’s great to get to know her and also motivates me to keep on learning. I would definitely recommend finding a tandem language partner at a similar level to yourself as you can really empathise with where each other is at in the language learning journey.
  • Finding time for structured study is a bit more challenging. I work full time, so am struggling to squeeze more study time into each day. At the moment I am doing one Duolingo module on the way home from work and listening to one or two sections of the Teach Yourself Portuguese lessons. Occasionally in the evenings I am also writing key vocabulary on post-it notes and putting it round the flat so that I can see them while brushing my teeth or preparing dinner. 

I was on holiday last week, so my routine has slipped a bit, but to get on track my main targets for the month two are:

  1. Take another italki lesson
  2. Focus a bit more on understanding grammar
  3. Purchase an A1 – A2 study guide to support with grammar
  4. Try Memrise as another free platform for vocabulary learning
  5. Try to hold two more conversations predominantly in Portuguese at work and at Mundo Lingo
  6. Learn conjunctions and linking phrases to keep a conversation flowing
  7. Learn how to ask questions
  8. Practise my pronunciation through free online drills
  9. Learn vocabulary for countries, languages and nationalities
  10. Consolidate grammar in particular articles and gender agreements

Wish me luck for the next month..!

Are you learning a language or taking a fluent in three months challenge? Let me know how you’re getting on in the comments below or on our social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Fungarian Hungarian Frolics in Budapest

No romantic city break in Budapest is complete, in my humble opinion, without a foray into the almost unfathomable Hungarian language and so, on our recent trip, Iain and I booked a one hour introduction class with Miklos, Director of Fungarian (as seen on Channel 4 Travel Man).

Iain and I had high hopes for our hour with Miklos looking to master some essential Hungarian survival phrases and we were not disappointed. Miklos has been teaching English since the 1980s and in the last decade has been teaching Hungarian to enthusiastic language lovers through Fungarian and, more recently, is offering language and cultural tours of Budapest that link to the school curriculum for students through Ed Tours Hungary.

I admit I was very apprehensive attempting to speak what is considered by many as one of the most difficult languages to learn, but Miklos put us at ease, reminding us that ‘Budapest is an open air classroom’ and teaching us some of the basics to get by. 

During the hour we learnt that Hungarian:

  1. Is a Uralic language.
  2. Is a phonetic language.
  3. Does not have genders.
  4. Is agglutinative.
  5. Has 18 noun cases.
  6. Uses gemination, or consonant elongation with pairs of short and long vowels.
  7. Has vowel harmony with rules over which group of vowels can be used in the same word
  8. Always has stress on the first syllable
  9. Puts important information at the start of a sentence or phrase as in “English I am” so good for channeling your inner Yoda.
  10. Talks about people as having one eye, one ear, one hand and one leg. To hear something with ‘half an ear’ is to hear a rumour.

We quickly discovered that vowel length can be a bit of a minefield and that there are some ‘false friends’ that can cause some blushes / giggles when misused by the unsuspecting foreigner. We have it on Miklos’ good authority that the following words are always tricky for native English speakers:

  • Busz (English: bus) pronounced with a short vowel means “f**k”
  • “Pussy pussy” is used by some women when greeting each other to mean “kiss”
  • “Egeszsegedre!” (English: cheers!) can be transformed into “to your whole arse” if your vowels are out of place!

With all this fun, how much Hungarian did Iain and I actually manage to learn in an hour? Quite a good amount and I now feel I can confidently say the following key phrases below. Check out videos of us speaking some Hungarian on the Lingua Centra YouTube channel.

  1. Szia = hi!
  2. Jo Napot! = hello!
  3. Köszönöm = thank you
  4. Kösz = thanks
  5. Igen = yes
  6. Nem = no
  7. Út = road
  8. Utca = street
  9. Busz = bus
  10. Angol vagyok = I am English
  11. Skot vagyok = I am Scottish
  12. Clare vagyok = my name is Clare
  13. Magyar = Hungarian
  14. Hol van a mosdó = where is the toilet?
  15. Egészségére = cheers!
  16. Nem értem = I don’t understand
  17. Beszélsz angolul = do you speak English?

Both Iain and I really enjoyed our time with Miklos learning Hungarian outside the Great Synagogue in central Budapest and our only regret is that we didn’t have more time to spend getting to grips with those vowels!

We would highly recommend a Fungarian session to any language lovers visiting Budapest, so make sure you book your session today!

Keep in touch on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and share your Hungarian language experiences.

Learning Spanish – 2 weeks in

It’s been 9 years since I last attempted to start a new language; it was Russian and I had just started studying it at university. Only now, I have decided to pick up another language – Spanish.

When people ask me, “why Russian?”, I can never really answer. I think there was a little intrigue involved, but mostly I just revelled in choosing a slightly obscure and more-difficult-than-average language. This time, at least I can say “because Spanish is the 2nd most (natively) spoken language in the world”!

Spanish graffiti

The plan

So far, I have started myself off easily by choosing Duolingo as my main source of linguistic learning. I say easy because it’s fairly simple to fit 15 minutes’ worth of language into the working (and non-working) day.

However, I know, as a seasoned language-learner, that I’m going to have to ramp things up a bit a lot, if I want to progress at any real rate. Especially as I, like Clare, am going to try to keep to the “fluent in 3 months” challenge. No pressure!

So, progress so far…

2 weeks in

Duolingo logoWell, Duolingo tells me that I’m 32% fluent. Result! … Erm … not quite. I see what they mean, in that I’ve so far learnt basic grammar and vocabulary that may well recur 32% of the time in spoken and written Spanish, but I think I’ll take it with a pinch of salt!

My thoughts so far on learning Spanish in this way are:

  1. It’s handy to know French, as there are often comparable (and therefore memorable) similarities between words and sentence structure;
  2. Duolingo is awesome for working language-learning easily into your day;
  3. But it has quite a heavy focus (at least at this stage) on receptive language and multiple-choice questions – this means that I feel that I can often deduce the answer, rather than having to produce it;
  4. Having already learnt how to learn languages, I feel a real desire to do certain things, such as:
  • Learn pronouns (subject and object) and possessive pronouns
  • Learn verb conjugation in a more systematic way
  • Flash cards!! Both for grammar and for vocab. Clare, as always, is already ahead of me with this! 😉

This fortnight

I’ll be acting upon my urges by covering those 3 things. I’m really enjoying Duolingo, so I will continue with that, but it’s time to diversify…