How I prepared for the French C1 exam


How can you master French? One way is to set yourself the goal of reaching C1 or C2 level. I’ll explain more about that in a moment. So far on this blog I’ve usually written about how to get started in language learning. Getting started is one of the biggest hurdles for many language learners, […]


My system for learning the Russian cases (with examples)


Today’s post is from Lauren, updating you on her plans for her Russian project, and discussing how she’s planning to start learning the Russian cases.  Over to you, Lauren! —— It’s been well over 3 months since I started the Russian project, so it’s time for me to regroup and reflect. In the end, I […]


5 Steps to Become Conversationally Fluent in Spanish


Spanish is the language that started off my lifelong obsession with language learning, so it holds a special place in my heart. Thanks to Spanish I was able to discover what what holding me back from becoming fluent in any language. My road to fluency in Spanish was messy, full of false starts and bad […]


Italian: Imperfect Tense Language Hacks

Why Italian is Easy

This is an altered extract from my new language hackers’ guide, Why Italian is Easy. Want to hack Italian so you can learn it fast? Find out more at the end of this post. Thanks to Transparent Language for the examples we’ll use in this post! Confused by the past tenses in Italian? There are two main ways […]


Why Chinese is Easy: The Smart Way to Learn Chinese Tones


Tones. A huge issue people have when learning Chinese is the fact that it’s a tonal language. Let’s start with the bad news. If you don’t get tones down well, it will be really hard for native Mandarin speakers to understand you. Now for the good news. Getting tones right isn’t nearly as hard as […]


Learn to Speak Persian: Your Complete Guide


Not to be one to neglect languages that don’t get so much exposure (regardless of number of speakers), I wanted to invite someone to give us a detailed overview of Persian, how to learn it, and why it’s easier than you think it is.  So I invited Tom Allen of Tom’s Bike Trip to come to the […]


How to Remember Difficult English Spellings

London woman holding shopping bag near Big Ben

Do you struggle with English spelling? You’re not alone. English, for various historical reasons, has borrowed words from many other languages. As a result, its spelling and pronunciation is a bit… all over the map! Unfortunately, English doesn’t have a simple list of rules to follow that helps you pronounce any new word that you […]


Why French Is Easy: How to Understand Spoken French

France - french flag woman by Eiffel tower, Paris

Learning French can be easy, fun, and fast. Though it took me a while to discover that. French was the third language I tried to learn, after Spanish and Italian. You would think that by the time I got to French, things would have been easy and I’d breeze through the language in no time. […]


How I got over my fears to finally speak Russian


Today’s post is by Lauren, my partner on the blog and in life! After successfully learning Esperanto last year to get her started in language learning, she has decided to make Russian one of her goals for 2015. She had a false start at first, that I’m sure many of you can relate to. But […]


What can you do in 4 hours? Benny’s first Indonesian class


Inspired by Moses McCormick’s unfiltered uploads, I’ve decided to share an unedited crucial moment in my language learning processes; both the first time I’ve ever spoken the language and my first ever class. What I did was study four hours over 2 days last week, starting from absolute scratch, and then on day 2 of studying […]


Singlish: The Singaporean English creole [video interview]


For the next few days, I’m in Singapore to host a language lab to train people to speak their target language on day one, and to sign copies of my book. I’m also using this visit to a country that speaks English as an official language, to investigate its other unique linguistic opportunities. In this […]


How to learn the Russian Cyrillic alphabet in just a few hours


Since 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 She’ll show you that it isn’t […]


Why Russian is Easier than You Think


Can you believe I haven’t had a blog post about Russian yet? Very timely with how much it’s in the news lately, David, who has his own travel blog where he documents his and and his Russian girlfriend’s travel adventures, wrote me to write some encouraging words about this language. On a fun side-note, someone […]


Is Japanese hard? Why Japanese is easier than you think


“Japanese is really freaking difficult.”

“Japanese is really freaking vague.”

“Japanese is really freaking illogical.”

These statements have three things in common:

They are widely believed by many would-be Japanese learners.
They get in the way of learning the language.
They are completely bogus.

To succeed in your Japanese mission, you must ignore the cynics, defeatists, killjoys, naysayers, party poopers, pessimists, sourpusses, and wet blankets. Japanese is not nearly as challenging as the Debby Downers would have you believe, and is in fact easier in many key ways than supposedly “easy” Romance languages like Spanish.


Standard Arabic or Local Dialect – Which Should You Learn First?

Image with nevein 1

Probably one of the most frequent comments I’ve received on my videos over the last months, usually from people in Arabic speaking countries that are not Egypt, or from elitist academics, all of whom ignored my travel-in-Egypt focus, has been “You should be learning Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)! It’s much better than dialect!”

Now that I’m actually using what I spent months preparing for, in the country itself, I can confirm that learning a dialect is far superior to learning MSA if you plan to speak the language.