It was all going smoothly until language number seven came along. This time was different. The “method” that I’d applied so well up until this point was suddenly no use to me. I felt like a fraud. The language: Cantonese (the Chinese dialect of Hong Kong). The place: Doha, Qatar.MORE
Wednesday was my one month point in the three month Japanese challenge, so to really make my mark I wanted to record one last video with a prepared script before I get into recording spontaneous Skype (or in person) chats for the next two months. To really make it count, I decided to record a music video!
This video is quite an oddity because it is entirely in Japanese… and yet many of you who will have never learned any Japanese will understand quite a lot of it even without reading the lyrics that are edited into the video. And that’s because the video is made up entirely of words Japanese has borrowed from English, but said as closely as possible to the Japanese pronunciation (written in the Katakana script every time).MORE
Back in May I was asked to speak at the Polyglot Conference in Budapest, and since there were pretty impressive polyglots there with huge numbers of languages under their belts, excellent accents in their target languages, mastery level in a bunch of languages, and lots of people with inspirational stories, I had to decide what message I could uniquely give, and the one I went with was this idea of How to go Viral without being a Virus.
I wanted to be able to help other polyglots to help spread their own language learning encouragement better, based on what I’ve learned in doing it pretty much full time for the last four and a half years. I also thought they would be interested in understanding how my site and audience have grown so much in just a few years.MORE
A little tradition I’ve kept up since starting the blog, is to give you a video tour of almost every place I temporarily call home! For instance, in English I showed you my penthouse in Rio, my lovely flat in Medellín, the flat around the corner from the Danube in Budapest, and the beach cottage […]MORE
In a change from my initial plan to wait a month before uploading conversations, here is my 10-day update in Japanese. This video is entirely in Japanese, and absolutely and utterly non-scripted (apart from the intro). I messaged my Facebook page, targetting just those in Japan, and Junpei offered to let me record a chat […]MORE
One thing I love about this blog is that when people see me struggle as a beginner learner, it reminds them that I’m not in this to present myself as a “guru” or language ninja, but that it’s all about trying to get people to be OK with struggling themselves. If an experienced language learner […]MORE
As you know, earlier this week I started my project to try to reach fluency in Japanese in 3 months! As promised, I am going to be uploading very regular updates of my progress, and when better to do that than by recording my first attempt at a Japanese only video, just three days after […]MORE
While proving that “virtual immersion” is indeed possible, and while I do genuinely hope to inspire language learners over the coming months, no matter what language you are learning, what will be motivating me to keep going on a day to day basis will be the fact that I’m going to travel Japan next year.MORE
Now, I knew everyone wouldn’t want it to say “Cunning Linguist”!! That’s just too cheeky for a lot of people (if you don’t get the joke, then say it quickly and you’ll notice it sounds like something else…), especially since a linguist isn’t the same as a language lover. Despite this, I have to say that in some places, especially in English speaking countries where people get the joke, I’ve had so many complete strangers come up to me and compliment me on the hilarious play on words.
But since that may be too risqué for many, I made sure that the options “Language Lover” (generally more understandable) and “Polyglot” (more specific and accurate, even if a less known word in English.. for the moment 😉 ) were available instead, also in the same dialogue world bubble.MORE
Today you get two fun videos about my very tiny American accent project! And tons of audio files (scroll down to hear) to show my actual attempts at an American accent 🙂MORE
Next week, I’ll announce my next huge 3 month project in the email list (sign up on the top-right of the site to find out before I announce it on the blog or elsewhere), and you’ll see plenty of language learning updates as I start from scratch, share my struggling progress, and hopefully reach my […]MORE
The decision I made seven years ago to study Chinese at university changed my life. Right from the beginning I decided that I didn’t just want to learn some Mandarin, I wanted to be proficient. I wanted to speak the language to an advanced level and be able to read a newspaper and write characters with ease. It’s fair to say that I got stuck in immediately, and got completely immersed in my studies!
Seven years later, I can’t say that I’m perfect and don’t make any mistakes, or that I understand and know how to say everything. There’s still a lot of room for me to improve, but I have achieved my original goal. I can speak Mandarin fluently, and I know all the simplified and traditional characters other than the really rare ones. I speak and use Chinese every day, and it has really become a part of my life and a second language to me now.MORE
Today’s guest post is from Mariola Czupowska, who blogs at the Language Wanderer. She is from Poland and was recently inspired to learn Norwegian! She set herself an interesting challenge of recording videos in the language, and used a trip to Oslo to motivate her to make even more progress. I found her story interesting […]MORE
Today, July 10th, is my 31st birthday! It is also the day that I decided, exactly 10 years ago, to set off on my travels with no definite date to return “home”. Home is now wherever I lay my hat at the end of the day.
To celebrate this “travelversary” I have created a video that I can truly be proud of, to represent those 10 years, which you can see above.
As you can imagine, this is the long-awaited follow up to my 29 life lessons learned in 8 years post, that has been read almost 2 million times, which I wrote 2 years ago at my 8 year travelversary. These 10 lessons are (mostly) different though, so definitely check it out! To make it much more interesting, I had help to edit it professionally and included the absolute best videos and photos from my entire time on the road!MORE
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!MORE