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Now that the summer has wrapped up, it’s time to dive back into language learning, and let’s start with some thoughts on non-European languages! For that, my hyperpolyglot friend Judith Meyer is back and has written up this excellent post for us.

I met in Esperanto gatherings and always see her busy answering Quora questions, writing new language learning books, blogging and doing many many things to help the language learning community grow.

Right now her passion is to launch LearnYu – a free Chinese learning interface, and she’d appreciate any help people can give with that Indiegogo campaign. Over to you Judith!

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After learning some Spanish and dabbling in Esperanto, you probably feel ready to tackle your long-term love, Japanese/Chinese/Arabic/Hebrew, etc.

A lot of people are attracted to these more exotic languages, which evoke pictures of foreign lands and fascinating cultures. I have studied Chinese, Swahili, Arabic, Japanese and Indonesian, to varying degrees, and I’m here to give you some tips, because studying these is not quite the same as studying a European language.

Beautify the Writing Experience

For me, Chinese characters were the biggest reason to learn Chinese. They seemed so beautiful and full of secrets! (Having learned 3500 characters, I can tell you that you won’t be disappointed.)  If you are planning to learn a language that uses another writing system, take the time to research it and appreciate the beauty. Read the Rest!

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How’s your summer been? I have been (and still am) travelling almost every single day to encourage language learners one-on-one, but I know a lot of you have had your own language projects to keep you busy!

Since you may not have been browsing the Internet as often with so much sunshine to soak up, I thought I’d catch you up on some of the language news from the blogosphere and elsewhere that you may have missed over the last months.

Luckily Fluent in 3 Months team member, Joseph, scours the web for the best blog posts, apps, tools, news and language encouragement every week to add to links I send to over 60,000 people in the weekly newsletter. Make sure you’re signed up to not miss a thing.

Among our discoveries this summer we have… Read the Rest!

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As a fun change in pace, today we are sharing three stories from people who are in the middle of their 3-month language learning journeys. We’ll catch up with each of them in a month to see how they are doing :)

First, I’ll hand the blog post over to Brian Kwong, who has orchestrated the Add1Challenge that has been the support network for these and many other learners. Over to you Brian!

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”

-African Proverb

What is collaborative language learning?

If you have done any kind of team sports like basketball, football etc or even an individual practice like yoga, the experience of practicing by yourself compared to practicing with a cooperative learning group of people is like the difference between night and day.

There is magic that can’t be explained in words when we’re learning something together as a community.

This magic is exactly why the Add1Challenge, where we learn a language together as a community, while striving for the goal to hold a 15 minutes conversation with a native speaker in 90 days, works.

About 30 days ago, we started the #Add1Challenge 4 (#A1C4) and this is by far the most engaging, inspiring group that is producing the most results so far.

Why?  Because many of the participants came from Benny’s Fluent In 3 Months blog who’d just completed the “Speak in a Week” crash course.

The “Speak in a Week” course takes away many of the common myths and breaks down your first conversation into small parts so it’s not so intimidating and overwhelming.

This places language learners in a great starting position and if you actually want to speak your target language, striving for the goal of holding a 15 minute conversation with a native speaker in the Add1Challenge; its a very natural progression.

In the past 30 days, we have had many challengers who have taken the leap of speaking with a native for the very first time. Some have kept their consistent learning even on their vacations and some have even met their 90 days goal in 30 days. For example, Brendan, who spoke with his grandmother for the first time in Spanish for more than 15 minutes!

Below there are 3 real life stories from 3 different Add1Challengers on what they’ve learned in the Add1Challenge so far.

You will hear from them again on their 60 and 90 days update on Fluent in 3 Months so you can follow their language learning journey.

Emily

Emily

My name is Emily Corral. I’m 24 years old and I’m from Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the United States.

Emily drawingI’m learning Spanish so I can communicate with my friends in Spain and Mexico better.  I love to travel and hope to make a solo trip to a Spanish speaking country one day! And I hope to become fluent in Spanish.Before the Add1Challenge, I thought I didn’t have enough time to study another language. I found out that I was wrong! Breaking my study time into five 30 minute sessions a week was just what I needed to stay focused.

The Add1Challenge has taught me that language learning should be FUN! I love the study and accountability learning groups. My language buddies Erinn, Nina, Brad, and Nancy have been so helpful by keeping me on track and sharing their favorite resources.  My new favorite app is Memrise.

After 30 days, my routine is to switch up the way I study. Three days a week I play Spanish games, study vocab, watch Youtube videos, send WhatsApp messages, and write letters. Twice a week I use iTalki to practice speaking Spanish.  Speaking on iTalki was scary at first, but I’m so glad I took the leap. I love trying out new tutors and making friends. Follow me on iTalki!

Emily, draw to learn spanishThe next 30 days I will continue switching things up since that seems to be working.  I hope to download podcasts to listen to in the car during my 20 minute commute to work.  My favorite podcast series is called Coffee Break Spanish! I also plan to start a blog called Travelling Tulsan in which I document my traveling and language adventures. Currently, I am on vacation in the beautiful state of Maine.  In this post you can see some images of me studying 1,762 miles from home :)

Ken

Kenneth Lawrence

Bună ziua, mă numesc Ken și sunt din Birmingham, Anglia. (Hello, my name is Ken and I’m from Birmingham, England.)

I began learning Romanian a short while ago to communicate with my friends – rather than them having to revert to English to communicate with me – I have tried books, CDs, Skype, face to face, all with little success. After the Speak in a Week challenge I am now participating in the exciting Add 1 Challenge.

We are now nearing the end of our first 30 days; this first stage is about finding a routine and experimenting with learning styles. Three weeks down and I was ready to throw in the towel; just before the challenge began, my workplace received new ownership, with limited resources, stress was at an all time high, week two and my grandfather passed away, week three and I was coming down with the flu as well as the funeral and family to see. All this time there was more going on at home. To re-encourage myself I tried to meet up with my friends, yet they had returned home to see their own families.

Kenneths HandwritingDespite this I did not want to let my team down in the Add1Challenge so I ensured I got my daily practice in, Anki deck on the go, and a few language partners to talk to.

I felt excited when I reached a point I was able to understand words on a Romanian radio station, I was Shazam-ing songs I liked the sound of and downloaded the whole album later that day. A sound I could never understand before, Â, has no English equivalent, within one week of my approach, I could not only hear the sound but also pronounce it!

However, during Week Four, I reached out to Brian asking for advice as I felt ready to call it quits.  My achievements were exhilarating, but I did not know how to cope with all these things that are happening in my life and my brain was fried. Brian then shared how he dealt with difficult situations while learning a language in his life and how it is completely up to me how I react to hardships.  I then realized that language learning was not an additional stress, yes it takes time and effort, but learning Romanian by burying myself in Anki, listening to the radio, singing songs and exploring Habiticacan can actually be a relief!

I suppose the moral of this story is that whatever language you are learning, and whatever gremlins are in your closet, you can do it! My first 30 days has not been easy, but it has been a massive success, to all outward appearances I have not made much progress, but internally I have learned more in the last 30 days than in the previous year of on-and-off study.

Without Brian’s (and the team members) continued support, I don’t know if I would have still been here to type this post, so a big Thank You! Well, thanks for reading, until next time and you can still follow my journey at www.thesilentharp.co.uk

Kevin

Kevin And BrokenDoll

Hi, I’m Kevin Richardson, 45 years old, I currently live in England and I’m learning Japanese.

My story begins in 1998; I’m in Japan, sitting on a train heading towards Narita airport. I made a promise to myself that, “I will return to live in Japan.” However, there was one small caveat; “I would not live in Japan unless I could speak Japanese.” Some 14 years and many excuses later, I was still living in England and my dream had all but faded into a distant memory.

I finally started learning Japanese in the spring of 2012, but didn’t make much progress for the first year and a half. I didn’t make a plan, didn’t learn with any consistency, but above all else, I held a misguided belief that if I “studied” the language long enough the “fluency fairy” would eventually come to visit me.

Kevin-Dressed4iTalkiOf course, the “fluency fairy” never called, but having found myself at the Fluent in 3 Months website, discovered that in reality, this roving Irishman was the closest thing to a “fluency fairy” I was likely to encounter. So I decided to try doing things his way instead.

It was at that point that I read about the Add1Challenge and wanted to get on board. I’m now an Add1Challenge veteran; having participated in all four Add1Challenges thus far. This was my video introduction to the latest Add1Challenge:

After the first Add1Challenge, I came away having learned how to be successful at learning a language and my dream to live in Japan came flooding back. I was so confident that when an opportunity to take redundancy from my job arose, the most difficult thing was to refrain from showing my true excitement!

I entered the second Add1Challenge and spent a whole month immersed in Japanese. During that time, I fine-tuned my routine to the point where I knew that I could now learn any skill this way.

Kevin-noEnglishMy routine consists of spending half an hour in the morning using Memrise to learn vocabulary. I use textbooks to plan a study curriculum to force myself into unknown territory. I usually have around three one hour Skype sessions with italki tutors each week where I crash around in the language; throwing new vocabulary into a context to see whether the tutor needs to correct me or not.

This is what I love about learning on Skype with an italki tutor; they type out the corrected way of saying something and we quickly move on. That’s ideal for me because I find I get into a flow and don’t worry at all about making mistakes. I know I’ll just review the chat-box later at my own pace.

On this Add1Challenge, I’ll be moving to Japan a week after the 60 day mark and will have been living in Japan for nearly a month when it finishes. Success means that I will be able to do what I dreamed of in 1998. Yay! Let’s see where this rabbit hole leads!

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This is just a glimpse of how far we could go and what’s possible if we learn a language together in the Add1Challenge as a community :)

The Add1Challenge is by application only. This is to ensure everyone who enters the community is serious about learning and speaking their target language.

If you like to be notify when the next Add1Challenge opens up for applications, you can sign up here.

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While my book tour continues, I’m happy to welcome another guest post about a concept in language learning we’ve all looked into at one time or another – using children’s books to learn foreign languages! Let’s see what Tim from www.theLanguageBear.com has to say on this!

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There are a several language learning methods that allow us to simulate immersion in one way or another, and are much easier to achieve compared to actually going to the country (which isn’t all that great).  Using video conferencing, which is getting easier everyday and generally very cost effective, it’s not difficult to put yourself across the table from a native speaker (as Benny illustrates for us here).

In addition to that, video lessons are becoming more and more accessible and are a brilliant way to effectively immerse yourself in a language, at least for short stints. Read the Rest!

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Cyrillic-Alphabet-nailsSince Lauren is learning Russian and had started with the Cyrillic alphabet first, we can see how important this is to begin on so that you can boost the rest of your progress. As such, it was great to get this guest post from Dani, who writes at isimplylovelanguages.com.

She’ll show you that it isn’t as bad as you think! Take it away Dani..

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When somebody asks me what my major at university is and I tell them that I study Spanish and Russian, they often reply “What? Russian? Isn’t that difficult? They (the Russians) write differently!!”.

There are some tricky things about Russian and the script is definitely not the hardest part of the language. But it’s the first difference to our own language we come across when we get in contact with this language. And since the script is (somehow) unknown to us, it gives us the impression that Russian is difficult.

But once we get familiar with the unknown script and get over this first barrier, we can dive into the language and enjoy it like every other language. In this post I want to give you some bits of advice about how you can easily tackle this barrier and get familiar with the Cyrillic script.

By the way, you don’t need to speak Russian to make use of these tips!

Is it important to learn the Russian cyrillic script?

This question always comes up when a language is written in a script other than the Latin one. Of course, learning the script is an extra effort and everybody needs to decide if it’s necessary to make this effort to reach his or her personal goals.

In my opinion it’s important to learn Cyrillic script when you learn Russian (or any other language using this script). Even if you only focus on speaking, then the script could still be important to you. There are some phrasebooks available that provide a transcription for all words and phrases, of course, and you could learn from these. But when you are serious about Russian I guess it will be very difficult to avoid the script completely. Most dictionaries or grammar books don’t offer a transcription and I don’t know any Russian publications that use the Latin script instead of Cyrillic.

Also, if you plan to visit Russia as a traveller, it could be very helpful to know how to read the script. Even in the big cities, you often find Cyrillic street signs only. When I was in Moscow last year, I met many travellers at a hostel who complained that the underground stations are written in Cyrillic only. Many of them regretted that they hadn’t learned a bit of the script because Moscow is an international city and they feared that the “script situation” might get worse once they travel to smaller towns.

arbat street in cyrillic alphabet

So even if you don’t plan to learn Russian itself, I highly recommend getting familiar with the Cyrillic script if you plan a trip to Russia. All you need is a rainy weekend and a positive mood!

It’s all about the letters

Read the Rest!

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The Fluent in 3 Months road trip is in full swing now! We’ve already done official events in the UK, Ireland, Amsterdam, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, and in the last couple of days I’ve zoomed through Vermont and New Hampshire!

The west coast and Canada trip has been a huge success with standing room only in pretty much every single venue! Many languages were practised and a lot of people have told me that they felt inspired to finally dive into their own languages. I even got some emails after the event that they’ve had their first Skype conversation in the language :)

But what is the Fluent in 3 Months road trip all about? Since our US East Coast / Midwest / South tour has begun, I thought it was the best time to address that!

You are all welcome to come along and get the best language learning encouragement you can imagine! It doesn’t cost a cent to attend - you are welcome to get your book signed, but you can come along even if you don’t have a book or aren’t buying one.

What happens at Fi3m events?

Read the Rest!

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In today’s guest post, Kerstin from fluent language shares her thoughts on learning new vocabulary. Enjoy!

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My name is Kerstin and I’m a dictionary fiend. Learning new words and figuring out how they’re related to other languages is one of my favourite parts of language learning.

The following bits of advice about vocabulary learning are based on what works well for me, and even more on research into learning and teaching that I’ve done over the last year. Vocab is such a big topic that I found it was worth combining all the advice in a guide – my cookbook!

The whole process of building your vocabulary can be divided into four key stages: acquiring new words, memorizing them, revising and recalling. Read the Rest!

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Just Don't Do It

Let me ask you a question:

If you really wanted to learn a new language, what would you be doing right now to make that happen?

The thing with language learning, and really with any goal or desire we have in life, is that we spend a lot of time thinking about what we want and talking about what we want, but way less time actually doing anything to get us towards that goal.

This isn’t news. People want a lot of things that they never do anything about. We all want to be in better shape. We all want to start eating healthier. We all want to learn new languages. So we start crafting these plans in our minds to start these projects “soon” or “tomorrow” or “next year” or “when we go to Paris” … and what ends up happening is that this mental process of “planning” actually tricks us into thinking that we’re on track towards our target, when in reality we have not yet taken a single step. Read the Rest!

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