zondag 18 december 2016

Language learning tip - for any language!

One of the problems language learners often face, is a lack of motivation. Especially when they have reached, through a lot of hard work, a basic level of their target language. This is one of the usual effects of going to language classes: you learn a lot about a language, but you don't speak it.

Whenever you're confronted with someone who speaks your target language, you have two options. If you go for the courageous way, you try in your target language. But what do you do when the person replies in your original language? Well, the answer is in the video below...

More tips in my book and don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

dinsdag 27 september 2016

Free Dutch course online!

Interested in learning the Dutch language? Here's you way to do it for free.

In over 40 lectures, you'll learn the basic grammar and over 300 Dutch words!

Start with the introduction to the course, so you can start learning Dutch in 7 different sections:
  • Section 5: how to ask questions, how to use diminutive and when to write capitals
  • Section 6: the numbers and pronouns
  • Section 7: bonus lectures and extra resources
Dutch learn
Try my 50-pages book!
Enjoy the course and let me know what you liked and liked less!

Here's the full description of the course:

Learn Dutch - this is the place to start learning Flemish online!
This is your opportunity! In this course, we start from zero. Indeed, zero. No previous knowledge needed. No expensive study books. We build on our way to learn Dutch, step by step. Learn at your own pace to translate Dutch, you can review the videos and redo the exercises any time, as much as you want! Learn Dutch online!
What can you expect?
Learning Dutch is difficult. Yes. So no unnecessary, 10-minute long Dutch grammar lessons with all the rules. Only what you need to know. Tips where you can find more Dutch language. Over 300 Dutch words to use in your everyday life. An interactive quiz at the end of each section, also about the Dutch vocabulary. Culture to understand Dutch better.

For who is this course?
You don't understand Dutch, or barely. And you want to know how to speak Dutch. And it's taught for you. Ready to start? 
The level is Dutch A1 to Dutch A2.

zaterdag 30 juli 2016

Free language courses - links

Interested in some free language courses? Udemy has everything you want! Check those ones out, they're all for free! Also check Coursera, Alison and Futurelearn for other courses.

Englishpoliteness​, Easy English​, punctuation​, writing​ courses (see other ones​).
Spanishlearn quickly​, for beginners​, verb basics​, the alphabet​ courses (see more​).
Germanalphabet​ and the most-used verbs​ courses.
That's 'Hi' in many languages ©
Frenchconversations & stories​, more stories​, speaking​ and advanced​ courses.
Japanese: for beginners​, understanding​ courses.
Brazilian Portuguese: for advanced students​, beginners​, vocabulary and expressions​ and another beginners​ courses.
​Mandarin Chinese: for beginners​, spoken Chinese​, for travellers​ courses (see more​).
Russian: for beginners​, reading and writing​, for beginners​ courses (see more​).
Hebrewcrash course​ and alphabet​ courses.
Other courses: Italian​, Swedish​, Norwegian​, Ukrainian​ and Turkish​.

dinsdag 19 juli 2016

Flirting and compliments - a great way to learn languages!

Dating is one of the best ways to learn a language. You're motivated. Every day. Every text message. Every phone call. You'll do anything to prove your counterpart you're learning his/her language for him/her. How great.

Show you care - give a compliment in his/her language! ©
To help you in your dating life, I've made online videos in German, French and Dutch to find your loved one. Sure it will help you, whether you're flirting or in a relationship. Isn't it great if your loved one would give you pet names in your language? Or saying someone has beautiful eyes?

On the other hand, knowing how to give compliments in the language you're learning will help you in many other ways. You'll be more respected, you'll make more native friends and you'll have more to talk about. It's the total opposite of swearing (well, even some can appreciate that). Being nice is not a crime, believe it or not.

However, don't start over-complimenting people. Only give genuine, sincere compliments.

My video about Dutch compliments and flirting:

My video about German compliments and flirting:

My video about French compliments and flirting:

donderdag 7 juli 2016

Learn languages with YouTube

Have you ever thought of YouTube as a way to learn languages? Sure, there are many more videos on the platform. But here are a few tricks to get the most out of YouTube's language resources.

First. There are many language channels, mostly on one language (mine is on more than one). Just type in 'learn Spanish' if you're learning Spanish in YouTube's search function. Check the names of the channels. Click and subscribe on those that contain the words Spanish. Also view some videos, and see if it's still being updated.

YouTube teaches languages! ©
Second. Remember that YouTube isn't a good place to teach anything. Making money isn't easy on YouTube. That's why better teachers stay away from it, or use it as a way to get clients to their websites. On their website, you can buy their products.

Third. Search for single topics. If you're struggling with the Greek alphabet, search for 'Greek alphabet'. You will find many videos. Don't expect that there are well-structured quality courses on YouTube, especially not for smaller languages.

Fourth. Thought of language learning tips? YouTube is full of videos (this one is good) with ways you haven't thought of learning languages.

Fifth. If you're advanced in a language, why not change the language settings of YouTube? It's just two clicks away, on the bottom left.

Sixth. Into academics? There are many academic language lessons on YouTube about how people are learning languages. Take the title of one I uploaded: Language lecture: authenticity and legitimacy in Multilingual second language acquisition (SLA). Good luck with that one!

Get your free copy of my book for more language learning tips!

Online publishing: beware of publishers!

Thinking about writing a book yourself? While publishing my previous book on learning languages, I looked on the internet for a book publisher. Beware. Many online book publishers try to make money out of unsuspecting first publishers.

Let me tell you how I published my last book. I wrote the content myself, proofread it after printing, lay-outed in Word, made a cover image using copyright-free pictures and free editing service Gimp and uploaded it all on Amazon. I didn't pay a single cent to publish my book.

Research your publisher before you publish! ©
Now, not paying at all may not be the best option. You may look for a company to proofread and layout if you don't have experience with it - I do. A cover image is also done best by a designer. If you do it yourself, keep it simple.

However, there are many online services that promise they will do it all for you. In addition to the usual services like artwork and proofreading, they will write press releases, produce videos, arrange public appearances... The more you get, the more they'll charge.

Read some testimonies about the publisher you want to go with. An easy search on Google might also help. There is also an organisation that protects writers against scams, so you can ask them too.

And myself? I almost went with a publishing service - offering everything for free - and did a last Google check which landed me to this page. That's how I discovered it was just an ordinary scam. The website gave me many tips, so read them too.

Maltese grammar book: learn Malta's language easily!

My new book!
Need to understand Maltese grammar easily? Thank heavens, I've just published a book.

Understanding the Maltese verbs can take years. The conjugation of the verbs are based on Arabic, which makes it very difficult to understand. The book covers easy tricks to see how tenses really function in Maltese, without going into too much detail.

Also covered: pronunciation. Same approach here: only the difficult and essential letters are explained with clear examples. It goes as well for nouns, the article, adjectives, adverbs and the particularly difficult prepositions and attached pronouns.

Prepositions, like 'with' or 'in', are very complex in Maltese. They are added to the article. Imagine reading 'withthe-man' (mar-raġel in Maltese). That's how it is. With pronouns, it's 'withhim' (miegħu). And we haven't talked yet how Maltese letters change in the process.

Other topics like numbers and counting are covered as well. There are two bonus sections: Maltese cities' names explained and further resources to study more Maltese.

Don't forget to try my free Maltese course and here's the complete course.

donderdag 30 juni 2016

New German language course for English speakers - learn German for free!

The German language is crucial for doing business in Europe. About 95 million speak the language as a native tongue. When Germany played in the 2016 European Football championship, McDonalds advertised with 'Ich liebe es' instead of I'm loving it. So why not give it a try and do my new, free online course?

The German language is very close to the English language, so it's relatively easy for English speakers to learn it. Mann means man. Haus means house. Kommen means to come. The general structure of the sentences is also very similar to English.

Do you speak German? ©
However, the German grammar can be very challenging sometimes. English doesn't have cases, its verbs have only two conjugations for its pronouns, and the genders are not as important as in German.

That is why it is important to practice while learning. If you're in Germany, it's easy. There's German all around. If not, look on Facebook if there's a German expat community around your town. Connect to the German embassy, or the Austrian one. See if they have any events or know any organisations or teachers.

Practice can't be overestimated. Speaking, and writing, are essential to learn German. It takes the learners outside of the study books, ridden with rules. If one focuses too much on the rules, one will fear to make mistakes while speaking. So speak!

Try my free German online course.
More free language tips here.

zondag 12 juni 2016

Learn languages with Udemy - a good idea?

Learning languages online is a challenge, as there's almost no social pressure to attend classes and to ask for your groceries in the language you're learning. That's one of the reasons why many learners prefer to learn languages online.

One of the platforms offering courses is Udemy. That's where I also teach courses. There are many other language courses though, ranging from Chinese to German via Arabic. Let's put some pro's and con's of learning with Udemy next to each other.

Pro: it's cheap. Maximum price is 50$ and there are many free courses available. It's easy. You can learn anytime, anywhere. You can also review any of the lessons anytime, without having to pay. There are different levels, from beginners to experts. You can ask questions to your teacher. There are certificates.
Learn languages online with Udemy ©

Con: no face-to-face contact with your teacher. Some students pay but never start the course. Not all teachers reply to questions (I do!). There are not many options for 'smaller' languages. And, the quiz system is not made for language courses.

Despite these caveats, I still think it's a valuable way to learn a language. Especially if you need to repeat more often than other students. Or if you find a course that really suits your needs.

Some best practices: always check if there are free previews available. Most teachers give some of their content away so students know what to expect. Also, see how many and which ratings the courses have. Udemy strictly checks if those are fraudulous, so you can trust these ratings are right. 52 reviews and a 4.7 rating on a course is better than 2 5-star ratings.

Finally, buying a course is more like a stepping stone: it's the beginning. Many teachers include links to more materials, so use those links!

And don't forget to get 100+ language tips in my free ebook!

zondag 5 juni 2016

Facebook helps you learn languages - secret way

Facebook can help you learning languages. The easiest way is to subscribe to language learning groups and like the related pages. There are thousands of them. The trick here is to find those groups and pages which are at the level of the language you're learning. Automatically, the posts will appear on your main page.

Are you an advanced student? Find the groups and pages that interest you in the language you're learning. Say, you're learning Spanish. Interested in news? Subscribe to El Pais. Like to cook vegetarian? Like the page 'Recetas Veganas & Vegetarianas'.

But here's the secret: if you're really into learning a language, just switch your Facebook language to the language you're learning. You can do so by clicking on the icon on the right above.
step 1

Than, click on settings and then languages.

step 2

step 3

You can choose to show Facebook in another language, and even translate the news on your feed into another language.

Don't forget you can do the same for your smartphone, your laptop and many other electronic devices!

Happy learning! Find more language learning tips in my free ebook!

Note: pictures' copyright: Facebook

dinsdag 31 mei 2016

Language learning with internships and volunteering

Think to combine language lessons with an internship or volunteering? Great idea! To be a volunteer or to do an internship changes your life. And learning a language is good for too many things to name here.

Volunteering makes you happy! ©
However, beware of internships for profit. Some very intelligent businessmen sell internships and voluntary work at very high prices. Want to intern in China for a month? Language classes, transport and accommodation included? The bill is $5000 (4500 euro), without flights. Volunteering a week in South America, same conditions? Please pay $900 (800 euro). Well you have to pay extra for the language classes though.

So before you book any programme: check the cheaper alternatives. A good indication is the quality of the website: the better looking, the more money they put into marketing. And the more money they want to make from you. One tip: Go Overseas compares programmes in a more or less decent way. And here are my favourite ways or tips:

The European Voluntary Service (EVS) has non-EU destinations as well. It takes some time to figure things out, but what you need is a local ngo and an ngo abroad where you can volunteer. Usually, you'll get accommodation for free, some pocket money and free language classes. Flights are also paid. One thing though: you have to be between 18 and 30 years old.

Youth organisation AIESEC has 100 000 members in over 130 countries. You can even find paid internships all over the world in the sector of your choice. It focused mainly on youngsters studying economics or business, but there are many other options. However, language classes are not guaranteed.

Did you think of doing an internship at one of your embassies? You'll have to figure a lot of things out yourself, like accommodation and transport. One advantage: usually embassies don't charge any fees for their interns.

How about contacting an ngo yourself, directly? Search for a list of ngo's in the country of your choice on the internet and ask if you can work there for a few weeks. They might even teach you their language for free.

And many international organisations have some kind of language classes for their interns. A number of them even pay their interns.

donderdag 19 mei 2016

Learn the Maltese language: the present continuous

Let's attack the present continuous in Maltese, after the past, the present and the future!  For this tense, you'll need to be able to form the present tense as well. So when you're done with that, let's look into the present continuous!

The easiest way to form the present continuous is to put 'qed' (remember the q is barely pronounced!) in front of the verb in the present tense. So for 'to work' that is:

  • qed naħdem (I am working)       
  • qed taħdem (you are working)                                              
  • qed jaħdem (he is working)                                               
  • qed taħdem (she is working)                                           
  • qed naħdmu (we are working)                                              
  • qed taħdmu (you are working)                                              
  • qed jaħdmu (they are working) 
That's easy! Now, don't get excited too quickly! There's exceptions. If the subject of the verb (like I, you,...) is in the singular male, you can also say or write qiegħed (pronounce ie-ed). And if it's in the single female, it's qiegħda (some people pronounce it e-da). In the plural, it's qegħdin. So alternatively, you can use:
Here's a motivational picture! ©
  • qiegħed/qiegħda naħdem (I am working)       
  • qiegħed/qiegħda taħdem (you are working)                                              
  • qiegħed jaħdem (he is working, mind it's he only)                                               
  • qiegħda taħdem (she is working, mind it's she only)                                           
  • qegħdin naħdmu (we are working)                                              
  • qegħdin taħdmu (you are working)                                              
  • qegħdin jaħdmu (they are working) 
I advise you to use the first one, which is much easier. However, keep in mind that other persons might use the second conjugation.

More grammar in my book!
Here's my free Maltese course, my paid course and some extra resources to further learn Maltese. And check my book on the left.

Maltese verbs: learn the future tense!

Maltese verbs can be tricky, since they're based on Arabic. For Arabic speakers, Maltese is more or less a simpler version of Arabic. That's not good news for non-Arabic speakers: they'll have to learn it.

So how is the future tense formed in Maltese? Well, you take the present tense of the verb and put either ħa or se in front of the verb. Don't attach the verb though, keep a space in between the two. So for 'to work', that's:
This is where Maltese is spoken. ©
  • se/ħa naħdem (I will work)       
  • se/ħa taħdem (you will work)                                              
  • se/ħa jaħdem (he will work)                                               
  • se/ħa taħdem (she will work)                                           
  • se/ħa naħdmu (we will work)                                              
  • se/ħa taħdmu (you will work)                                              
  • se/ħa jaħdmu (they will work) 
If you know the present tense already, it's the most easiest tense to learn!

There are two exceptions though: to be and to have. Here they are:

To be
I will be: (i)nkun
You will be: tkun
He will be: ikun or jkun
She will be: tkun
We will be: (i)nkunu
You will be: tkunu
They will be: ikunu or jkunu

Mind the i is, where indicated, put if the previous word ends with a consonant. The conjugation is similar to the present tense.

To have
I will have: ikolli
You will have: ikollok
He will have: ikollu
She will have: ikollha
We will have: ikollna
You will have: ikollkom
They will have: ikollhom

The ending is the same as for the present tense of to have, except the second is -ok instead of -ek.

More grammar in my book!
Here's my free Maltese course, my paid course and some extra resources to further learn Maltese. The past tense is explained here.

Maltese verbs - learn the past tense!

The Maltese past tense is a little trickier than the present tense. There are also more exceptions. But let's wait no longer and see how to form this past tense.

As a basis, you need the verb stem or mamma of a verb. For 'to work', that's ħadem. That's the third person in the past, meaning 'he worked'. You will need to study as well a second verb stem (that's not the official name). For 'to work', that's ħdim.

You can form the past like this:
Malta, paradise but also home to the Maltese language ©

(I) = verb stem 2 + t
(you) = verb stem 2 + t
(he ) = verb stem 1
(she) = verb stem 1 + et
(we) = verb stem 2 + na
(you) = verb stem 2 + tu
(they) = verb stem 1 + u

Now let's do the conjugation of to work in the past:

ħdimt = I worked
ħdimt = you worked
ħadem = he worked
ħadmet = she worked
ħdimna = we worked
ħdimtu = you worked
ħadmu = they worked

That's it for most of the verbs! Notice as well that if there's a consonant just behind a vowel in the mamma, the consonant eats the vowel before in the third person female and the third person plural. So ħadem + et becomes ħadmet and ħadem + u becomes ħadmu. However, this is not for verbs with one syllable.

With this in mind, you only need the 2 verb stems and you can try to form this with any verb. There's one big remark though: many, many verbs have exceptions. For example, quite a few verbs add the w instead of the u in the third person of the plural. But these are the basic rules behind the verb in the past in Maltese.

Here's more grammar in my book!
Here's my free Maltese course, my paid course and some extra resources to further learn Maltese.

woensdag 18 mei 2016

Maltese verbs - learn the present Maltese tense!

Learning Maltese verbs can be quite complicated, especially since they're based on Arabic. Here's how you can understand how Maltese verbs are conjugated in the present tense. So that's the tense for what's happening now.

First of all: Maltese verbs don't have infinitives. They have mamma's. And that doesn't have anything to do with their mother. The mamma, or verb stem, is the third person of the past tense. However, you don't have much use to it for the present. Let's take the example of to work

Here's a picture of Malta to motivate you  ©
The mamma is ħadem. The ħ is a hard h. So ħadem means: he worked. To form the present tense, you need to study the imperative. There's a single and a plural imperative for each verb. For to work, that's aħdem (single) and aħdmu (plural). Usually the plural ends with -u. If the single imperative ends with a vowel (e in this case) and than a consonant (m), the vowel (e) is eaten and the -u is placed at the end.

To form the conjugation of most of the Maltese verbs, you have to put the following letters in front of the imperatives: N T J T for the single and N T J for the plural.

So here's the conjugation of to work in the present tense:
  • naħdem (I work)       So that's a combination of N - aħdem
  • taħdem (you work)                                              T - aħdem
  • jaħdem (he works)                                               J - aħdem
  • taħdem (she works)                                             T - aħdem
  • naħdmu (we work)                                              N - aħdmu
  • taħdmu (you work)                                              T - aħdmu
  • jaħdmu (they work)                                             J - aħdmu
It looks complicated, but it isn't. N is for the 1st person (in the single and the plural), T for the 2nd person (again, single AND plural) and J for the 3rd person (single and plural). The female form in the third person is exactly the same as for the second person - so if you say you work or she works, that's the same in Maltese.

Another difference with English: you has a single and a plural form. Just think of it as you're speaking to one person or to more than one person, that's the difference. 

Exception 1: plural ends with -w. Some verbs, usually shorter ones, have a plural that ends with -w, as in 'to see'. Let's see the conjugation (imperative ara, araw):

  • nara (I see)
  • tara (you see)
  • jara (he sees)
  • tara (she sees)
  • naraw (we see)
  • taraw (you see)
  • jaraw (they see)

Apart from the -w, it's a regular verb.

Exception 2: to be and to have. Those verbs are quite different, so you need to learn them by heart.

  • Jien / jiena (I am)
  • Int / inti (you are)
  • Hu / huwa (he is)
  • Hi / hija (she is)
  • Aħna (we are)
  • Intom (you are)
  • Huma (they are)

For to be, note that before and after the '/' can be used interchangeably. For example you can either use jien or jiena to say I am, there's no difference. Mind as well that the conjugation of to be is the same as the pronouns. Only if you want to stress the pronoun, you'll use it. For example, if it's important that I see something, you'd say jien nara.

  • Għandi (I have)
  • Għandek (you have)
  • Għandu (he has)
  • Għandha (she has)
  • Għandna (we have)
  • Għandkom (you have)
  • Għandhom (they have)

More grammar in my book
To have changes at the end, not at the beginning.

There are some more exceptions to the rule. However, it's important to know: you only need to learn the single and plural imperative, and apply the NTJT - NTJ rule. Plus, learn to be and to have by heart. And that's it!

Interested in the other Maltese tenses? Learn the past, the present continuous and the future!

Here's my free Maltese course, my paid course and some extra resources to further learn Maltese.

dinsdag 17 mei 2016

Conversations in any language for everyone! The future of languages... or not?

The future of languages is there: the Pilot. It's a small piece of technology you can put in your ear, and in the ear of the person you're speaking to (don't force it!). And when you speak to that person, it will automatically translate into that person's language. So you can have conversations with anyone around the world in any language. Potentially. It's produced by Waverly Labs, whose website crashed because of the high demand after its release.

Here's the promotion film:

Have you seen Her? It's a beautiful movie about a futuristic society, where everyone has a personal assistant in an earplug. The character falls in love with the earplug during the movie. What does the movie has to do with the Pilot? It's one of the reasons why I overall don't support the product: it's very impersonal. Of course, the original goal, a world without language barriers, is very promising.

But imagine. Most of the persons who speak to you in another language, you're not going to listen to their voice anymore. If you don't both have the plug, what are you going to do? And when your battery is empty? And if you're in the middle of a crowd? And if you make mistakes in your own language? How is it going to translate sensitive issues? What about sayings and dialects?

Is the the end of foreign conversations as we know them? ©
Who will buy those things (they're priced at 250-300$)? People who need them: migrants/expats, travelling businessmen, persons working in customer care or in multinational environments. Except those that came into those businesses for learning languages. And for free, you'll lose the personal touch.

I see only two viable potential markets: emergency situations (e.g. tourists in hospitals) and to replace interpreters at conferences. And the people that don't want to do the effort of learning a language, like tourists - not sure if they will do the effort of putting earplugs in the ears of everyone they want to talk to. Well, maybe I'm wrong - the website crash suggests it. But let's see how it goes in the future.

Funny thing: the inventor came to the idea when he met a French girl. I wonder how you could communicate intimately: 'kiss me in the neck', says a generic voice in his earplug after a few seconds. Very romantic.

maandag 9 mei 2016

Language learning hack: the 100 most used words

How do you start to learn a new language? There's many ways to start:

  • Learn how to introduce yourself: that sounds very logic, since you start speaking by introducing yourself
  • Pronunciation: important, especially for languages that are very different from your own
  • My favourite: learn the in the language. By learning those words, you will already understand a good part of the language. Below are a few links to the most used words in the most spoken languages of the world. 
  • Find other tips here.

1. English. Oxford Online did a research on what the 100 most written words were. Here's the list. If you prefer them in a video, here it is. For the spoken words, check the Reading Teachers Book of Lists, here are the 100 most spoken words.

2. Mandarin Chinese. Chinese is a little different. So you can learn the 100 most used characters. Or, you can learn the 100 most common phrases or words. And you might want to check out this website, which has a number of core words. There are pronunciations and explanations as well.

3. French. Here you'll find the 100 most common French words. Plus translations. Alternatively, you can follow this course on Memrise. And there's core words on the same website as for Chinese.

4. Spanish. The easiest list can be found here. Would you like to hear them all in one video? Click here. You can also look for 100 words you need to know here. They're not the most used, but handy anyway. For the 100 most used phrases and words, click here. For the verbs, here. And this blog claims you know half of the language with the 100 most used words.

5. Portuguese. It's a little more complicated to find a top 100, but you can start with the 1000 most common ones. Pronunciations are also available on this website. And here are the core 100 words.

6. Arabic. Arabic signs are different from Latin ones used in English, but here are the most common used words written out for you. Here are the top 100 verbs and you can listen to those on YouTube.

Beware though: languages change. So those lists are approximately the most used words in the respective languages.

Did I already tell you I wrote a book with over 100 language learning tips? Get your free copy here!

Polyglot shares language learning tips - without leaving her country

Ever wonder how polyglots learn languages? Here there's one that shares her secrets... She learned many languages, including English, French, Turkish and Hindi. Without leaving her country.

And don't forget: get your free copy of my Ebook: 100+ tips to learn any language.

woensdag 4 mei 2016

Free language learning website

In our quest to learn languages, we're always on the lookout for free materials. Now, I've found a great website that has a wealth of links, phrases and more than you can imagine. I'm very happy I found this little treasure to learn a language. Or two.

However, there's one thing: the homepage looks a bit scary. There's loads of Constructed Scripts, Astrolinguistics, and other Secani's. They are no animals, to my surprise, but subjects related to language.

The easiest way to find learning materials for the language you're studying, is like this: find your language on this list, and scroll down below to the learning materials, phrases and other websites where you'll find way more information, such as online language courses and learning websites.

Happy learning!

Learn French online: French lessons

How about learning French online? Start with this course. The French lessons cover the basics of pronunciation, the verb to be and how you can meet someone. A number of exercises are added, and there's a quiz at the end to test if French is really your destiny. And the best part is: it's entirely for free.

You'll start with 'bonjour' (it means hello), and before you know it, you'll be fluent! One important aspect is to practise the French language. Find yourself a language exchange partner for free, and start practising.

Oh yes - there's 29 countries that have French as an official language. So it's a great way to choose some of your travel destinations. Europe, Africa and Canada are the usual suspects. But did you know there's many little paradises near the East coast of Australia where French is spoken? As well as in Vietnam and 2 of its neighbours?

Also, check out some resources to learn French here. And don't forget that there's a full French course waiting for you here. Other free online language lessons are here.

dinsdag 3 mei 2016

Languages of Game of Thrones

Fan of Game of Thrones? Did you ever wonder where the successful series' languages came from? Excellent question. The series are the brainchild of George R. R. Martin. However, he did not create whole new languages. In preparation of the TV series, David Peterson was asked to further develop the languages used in Game of Thrones.

There are two families of languages spoken, besides English. The first family is the Valyrian family, and the second one is the Dothraki family. Dotrhraki is spoken by the inhabitants near the Dothraki sea. These were very prominent in the first seasons of Game of Thrones. It sounds like a mix of Arabic and Spanish, but it's an entirely other language. There's even a blog about it. Fans submitted some poetry, meaning there's a community to join if you're interested.

Valyrian, on the other hand, has many dialects. There's High Valyrian, spoken by the elite, and some other, less developed and derived languages. Even for this language, certain fans submit poetry. And of course, you can follow some language lessons to become fluent.

It's interesting to see that persons find time to learn fictional languages rather than real ones. Once the series will end, it's not like you're going to be able to do order food in the supermarket with it. Or anything else. Except watching the series again. I'll stick with the subtitles. You?

If you feel the urge to learn the series' languages, this website is your way to go! And on Facebook, it seems only few pages exist... Except this one.

maandag 2 mei 2016

Learn Maltese online for free!

Learn Maltese online for free!

Did you always want to learn Maltese? Well, here's your opportunity. I just published a full course on Malta's beautiful language.

Maltese originally comes from Sicily, as settlers came from there around the year 1100 in Malta. Nowadays, it is a mix from mainly Italian, Arabic, English and some French. Those influences can clearly be noticed when learning the language. Knowing any of those will help you a lot. Maltese became the official language, together with English, in Malta in 1934. It is the only semitic language written with Latin letters. Maltese is as well closely related to Tunisian Arabic.
Around the world, there are around 500.000 native Maltese speakers. About 400.000 of them live in Malta. The others live mainly in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Due to the accession to the European Union, many Maltese immigrated to Brussels in Belgium.
The Maltese language is regulated by the National Council for the Maltese Language (Il-Kunsill Nazzjonali tal-Ilsien Malti, that’s not so difficult isn’t it - ilsien means language). The Council was created in 2005. Its task is to promote the use of standard Maltese and to regulate the new words coming into Maltese (words like mowbajl - which means cell phone, you guessed it right).

Here's the playlist on YouTube. You will find exercises here. And a 4-hour course is available here. Other resources to learn Maltese are here.

dinsdag 29 maart 2016

Maltese: now with an official dictionary!

There are many reasons why translating Maltese is just a little more difficult than other European languages. It's mostly spoken, it has vocabulary based on Arabic and Maltese includes some Arabic grammar as well. To strengthen the Maltese language, the Malta Communications Authority published a dictionary.
public domain

The first official dictionary. It recognises the words you type in. It even has an automatic panel to write the letters that are typically Maltese: the ħ, for example. However, no translation is given. So you need to know the word you're looking for. So it will function as a reference dictionary.

On the one hand, this new dictionary will help Maltese in the first place, to find the correct spelling online. On the other hand, foreigners wishing to translate are better helped with this dictionary or this one.

An interesting exercise is to translate Maltese news articles into English. And advanced students can always translate from English to Maltese. For instance on TVM, with this article in English and in Maltese. And TVM has an English and a Maltese version, so students can translate as much as they like!

Studying Maltese? Follow my course! Over 200 students already enrolled!

woensdag 16 maart 2016

17-years old polyglot shares his language learning tips!

In need of inspiration? Why not check out this interview with a teenage polyglot. He shares some of his tips to learn his new languages.

Don't get demotivated though! You can learn any language anytime, it only takes some effort and a right state of mind! No need to start as early as this talented teenager.

Teenage hyperpolyglot
Timothy Doner, an enormously accomplished language learner at age 17, talks with us in French, Mandarin and Russian, explains how each language "feels" to him, and shares some of his tips
Posted by The Economist on Wednesday, 16 March 2016

donderdag 3 maart 2016

Grammar nerd test

Check which kind of a grammar nerd you are with this fun quiz from grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker. To my opinion, you should only learn the grammar you need to. First talk, read and write. If you need to check some grammar, do it. If not, don't. Anyway take the quiz!

maandag 29 februari 2016

5 best language learning websites

Which websites are the best ones to study a language? Here's 5 to start with:

Remarkable design, easy use. The website teaches you languages by inviting you to write, listen and read sentences. It's very interactive and ideal for on smartphones. The biggest advantage is that the website is completely free.


Want to practise all your skills? Here's your way to start! Busuu covers over 35 languages and does so with so many tools! You can connect with teachers and other students. But... you have to pay to get access to more materials.

Over 6 million users - connect with those you want to. Very flexible. Live classes. Free and paid services. You can 'earn' new classes by teaching others. Loads of people are there, so make sure to select the right ones!

Fun and learning combined. About 15 languages are available. The site offers an app as well, and, very surprisingly, there's a speech recognition software. So get ready to speak!

My Language Exchange
Very accessible and with a variety of options. It really helps to connect with other students. Try the pen pal option, there are 1 million persons waiting for you from over 100 countries.

Of course, there's many other websites that offer language games and lessons. Many of them focus on just one language. Make sure to check them out!

See also:

zondag 28 februari 2016

Language jobs in Europe - update

Which countries in the European Union (EU) need foreign languages? That's the key question the European Commission asked in a report published on 26 February 2016.

Not surprisingly, the different countries have different needs. But the main conclusions were quite surprising. The needs are very high: about one quarter of our jobs need a good level of knowledge of a foreign language. The higher the position, the higher the need.

English is not necessarily the most needed second language. Languages spoken by neighbour countries and non-English trading partners are needed as well. Business doing international trade are more demanding for foreign language skills, as well as the manufacturing sector and in the industry.

However, public services seem not to be needing languages. Strange, since the globalisation certainly has an effect on local governments. Businesses do not seem to find foreign language skills essential for new employees, compared to other skills.

And lastly, persons speaking several languages definitely have an advantage over those who only speak one language, since it is believed export will grow if the number of multilingual persons at a company increases.

Great findings! It should encourage you to study some more languages!

Executive summary
Picture's public domain

How close are European languages?

An interesting study checked how close European languages are. Main ones are Germanic, Romance, and Slavic languages. However, there's no Maltese on the chart. And that's definitely a European language.

See the map here.

donderdag 18 februari 2016

English 500 years ago - what a difference!

English 500 years ago - that's quite some time. Check out this poem 'Speke Parrot' read like it was read half a millennium ago. The introduction is in Latin though.

If it teaches us one thing, it's that languages evolve. Some languages evolve more than others. Especially those that are not or barely written evolve quickly. Because of technological developments, but also because people just invent new words. Languages live. So we need to know new words like telegraph or MP3, but also for new forms of organisations and functions like NGOs, or president.

Public domain picture
If you're interested in keeping up with the latest developments, usually a central language institute regulates the use of the language. The most funny way they do so, is by changing the dictionaries. New words are now included, and old words disappear. Make sure to check these language institutes.

More information on the poem? Well, check out the website.