Singlish: The Singaporean English creole [video interview]

singapore

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 […]

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 […]

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How To Read The Russian Cyrillic Alphabet In Just A Few Hours

rp_Cyrillic-Alphabet-nails-300x213.jpg

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 isimplylovelanguages.com. She’ll show you that it isn’t […]

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 isimplylovelanguages.com. She’ll show you that it isn’t […]

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Russian: Why it’s easier than you think, and should be your language of choice, now more than ever!

russian

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 […]

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 […]

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Is Japanese Hard? Why Japanese is easier than you think!

japanese_hard

“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.

“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.

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English is tough stuff! Tricky English poem read aloud with IPA indications, and with funny images

toughstuff1final

This video is entirely in English (I haven’t done such a thing for a half a year!) and is very simply just me reading a poem. But this is no ordinary poem! It was written (not sure by whom) to demonstrate the weird spelling convention that English follows, and is incredibly difficult to read without practising it a lot in advance!

I used to offer the best students in my classes (when I was an English teacher) €100 if they could read the entire thing without slipping up. Considering that I couldn’t even do this myself (I slip up once in the video even this time, and probably pronounce one or two words wrong), I knew that the money was safe!

This poem is generally used to prove that English is the “hardest language in the world” (I shit you not; as I always say every language makes this claim), so I’ve decided to hijack any searches people make for this poem, to add some humour to a normally dull and discouraging concept, and then add some encouragement of my own at the end!

This video is entirely in English (I haven’t done such a thing for a half a year!) and is very simply just me reading a poem. But this is no ordinary poem! It was written (not sure by whom) to demonstrate the weird spelling convention that English follows, and is incredibly difficult to read without practising it a lot in advance!

I used to offer the best students in my classes (when I was an English teacher) €100 if they could read the entire thing without slipping up. Considering that I couldn’t even do this myself (I slip up once in the video even this time, and probably pronounce one or two words wrong), I knew that the money was safe!

This poem is generally used to prove that English is the “hardest language in the world” (I shit you not; as I always say every language makes this claim), so I’ve decided to hijack any searches people make for this poem, to add some humour to a normally dull and discouraging concept, and then add some encouragement of my own at the end!

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Learn Modern Standard Arabic or dialect first? I say dialect and here’s why [video]

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.

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.

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How to speak French like a Quebecker – Le québécois en 10 leçons

alexandre

As you all know, I’m a huge fan of Quebec and especially of its French dialect (here’s a video of me in French, interviewing a Quebec girl about the differences) and the wonderful people there. Because I genuinely tried to speak like them while living in Montréal, rather than rigidly sticking to the French I […]

As you all know, I’m a huge fan of Quebec and especially of its French dialect (here’s a video of me in French, interviewing a Quebec girl about the differences) and the wonderful people there. Because I genuinely tried to speak like them while living in Montréal, rather than rigidly sticking to the French I […]

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Interact with your teachers and ask them questions. You can get “lectures” for free on Youtube (example: hundreds of thousands of hours of French!)

french

I think the potential of learning online from what most consider something that you must go to classes for, was recently excellently demonstrated by Scott Young, as he successfully learned MIT’s Computer Science four year course in one year without actually going to MIT.

If it’s a generic course material style learning environment, then getting a private lesson is a waste of money. And if it’s in a classroom environment, then it’s still hard to see why you have to even physically be there. In this day and age more material is being offered completely for free that you can access from home, and this Youtube channel is an excellent example of that.

(If you know of similar channels and resources for other languages, feel free to leave them in the comments. If I find others, I’ll be sure to share it on my Facebook page etc.!)

I think the potential of learning online from what most consider something that you must go to classes for, was recently excellently demonstrated by Scott Young, as he successfully learned MIT’s Computer Science four year course in one year without actually going to MIT.

If it’s a generic course material style learning environment, then getting a private lesson is a waste of money. And if it’s in a classroom environment, then it’s still hard to see why you have to even physically be there. In this day and age more material is being offered completely for free that you can access from home, and this Youtube channel is an excellent example of that.

(If you know of similar channels and resources for other languages, feel free to leave them in the comments. If I find others, I’ll be sure to share it on my Facebook page etc.!)

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Interview with DuoLingo (and Captcha) creator Luis Von Ahn, in Spanish (with Eng/Spa subtitles)

duoimage

If you are learning Spanish try to watch them without subtitles, or just with the Spanish subtitles enabled. Luis is from Guatemala and speaks a very clear and easy to understand Spanish.

Luis and I got in touch and I invited him to sit down with me over Skype and talk about the new language learning system that had a lot of buzz about it over the summer, and that he introduced to us in a TED talk (in English and in Spanish). You can also read a detailed review of the system in a blog post here.

If you are learning Spanish try to watch them without subtitles, or just with the Spanish subtitles enabled. Luis is from Guatemala and speaks a very clear and easy to understand Spanish.

Luis and I got in touch and I invited him to sit down with me over Skype and talk about the new language learning system that had a lot of buzz about it over the summer, and that he introduced to us in a TED talk (in English and in Spanish). You can also read a detailed review of the system in a blog post here.

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Interview in Irish (as Gaeilge): Raidió na Life, modern Irish use and how I got into the language myself

rnal

[Quick reminder: the next language mission will be announced in the Language Hacking League email list next week! Enter your email in the top-right of the site to find out in advance of the blog announcement] Check out today’s video interview with Diarmuid Ó Mathúna from Raidió na Life, and don’t forget to click Youtube’s […]

[Quick reminder: the next language mission will be announced in the Language Hacking League email list next week! Enter your email in the top-right of the site to find out in advance of the blog announcement] Check out today’s video interview with Diarmuid Ó Mathúna from Raidió na Life, and don’t forget to click Youtube’s […]

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Video in ASL: Gallaudet university, city of American Sign Language and Deaf culture

gallaudet

Check out today’s video, entirely in American Sign Language. There is no sound at all in the video, but (as always) you can click “CC” to read captions of everything in English, if you don’t understand ASL.

Last year I spent a month in Austin (TX) (excluding time spent at the SxSW festival, I had about two intensive weeks learning this language) and had learned enough to make a multilingual music video in ASL, but not enough to record a video interacting with someone.

This time (as part of my summer mission to improve each of my languages) I made it a major focus to improve my ASL to a level where I could interview people to share Deaf culture and more about ASL and how it works with the world.

So, I got some Skype based lessons in June to get back up to the level I was before, and then I went to the best place in the world to immerse in ASL and really use it; Gallaudet University!

Check out today’s video, entirely in American Sign Language. There is no sound at all in the video, but (as always) you can click “CC” to read captions of everything in English, if you don’t understand ASL.

Last year I spent a month in Austin (TX) (excluding time spent at the SxSW festival, I had about two intensive weeks learning this language) and had learned enough to make a multilingual music video in ASL, but not enough to record a video interacting with someone.

This time (as part of my summer mission to improve each of my languages) I made it a major focus to improve my ASL to a level where I could interview people to share Deaf culture and more about ASL and how it works with the world.

So, I got some Skype based lessons in June to get back up to the level I was before, and then I went to the best place in the world to immerse in ASL and really use it; Gallaudet University!

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Interview in Mandarin with TV presenter and Chinese teacher Yangyang

Time for another video in Chinese! This is actually part of the summer project of improving many languages, and as such it is the first in a series of many interviews with natives of the languages in my list of 10.

I hope you like the new graphical intro! (Feedback appreciated: should I use a different musical intro, do you like the pop sounds, does the overall video look good?)

Yang Yang works as the Mandarin speaking presenter for the TV show “Hello Hollywood”, speaks on YoyoChinese lessons (a paid membership site where she teaches beginner Chinese), and also does her own videos on her Youtube channel. We had a couple of chats on Skype and she helped me with some problems I was having, and was happy to record our last conversation.

Time for another video in Chinese! This is actually part of the summer project of improving many languages, and as such it is the first in a series of many interviews with natives of the languages in my list of 10.

I hope you like the new graphical intro! (Feedback appreciated: should I use a different musical intro, do you like the pop sounds, does the overall video look good?)

Yang Yang works as the Mandarin speaking presenter for the TV show “Hello Hollywood”, speaks on YoyoChinese lessons (a paid membership site where she teaches beginner Chinese), and also does her own videos on her Youtube channel. We had a couple of chats on Skype and she helped me with some problems I was having, and was happy to record our last conversation.

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Why learning vocabulary in Chinese is easy

terracotta

As a prequel to this article, I’d highly recommend you read my much more detailed article about many other aspects of Chinese: 8,000 words on why Chinese is easier than you think. In that post, I went into great detail about nonsensical comparisons with European languages, the existence of tones, and how much easier it […]

As a prequel to this article, I’d highly recommend you read my much more detailed article about many other aspects of Chinese: 8,000 words on why Chinese is easier than you think. In that post, I went into great detail about nonsensical comparisons with European languages, the existence of tones, and how much easier it […]

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What makes learning Polish so easy?

Today’s guest post is along the lines of my own posts that Chinese, Hungarian, Turkish, Czech etc. are easier than you think, from someone with good experience learning the umpteenth “world’s hardest language“, Polish! It turns out that it’s not that bad after all! The Polish language can certainly be as hard or easy as […]

Today’s guest post is along the lines of my own posts that Chinese, Hungarian, Turkish, Czech etc. are easier than you think, from someone with good experience learning the umpteenth “world’s hardest language“, Polish! It turns out that it’s not that bad after all! The Polish language can certainly be as hard or easy as […]

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Esperanto video and how useful the language can be: Interview with a Buddhist monk and tour of monastery

Fun video to share with you today… in Esperanto! Click “CC” to activate subtitles in English (as well as original Esperanto), or if you’re in China (and not using VPN software to circumnavigate the “Great Firewall of China” as I’m clearly doing to be able to use Youtube) then check it out on Youku. I […]

Fun video to share with you today… in Esperanto! Click “CC” to activate subtitles in English (as well as original Esperanto), or if you’re in China (and not using VPN software to circumnavigate the “Great Firewall of China” as I’m clearly doing to be able to use Youtube) then check it out on Youku. I […]

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