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.