How to Remember Difficult English Spellings

London woman holding shopping bag near Big Ben

This article is an extract from my forthcoming guide, Why English is Easy. Sign up to my email list (at the end of this article), and you’ll be the first to know when the guide is launched. Do you struggle with English spelling? You’re not alone. English, for various historical reasons, has borrowed words from […]


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.


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


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 […]


How to Get Free French Classes on YouTube


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.!)


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


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.


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


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!


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.