What’s your inspiration for learning a language? Today we’re hearing from Jack, a student and blogger at LangLearningBlog, on how he got addicted…
What inspired you to start learning French?
I never really was fond of languages, and I only studied French at school for a GCSE in a language – but bear with me! Soon I became almost addicted to language learning and I actually started enjoying learning completely alien and new vocabulary. Some thrive from obsessing over football fixtures and their league tables, others however (us!), are addicted to language learning. Let them obsess over futile fixtures. Meanwhile, we can be learning all the words a language holds!
What gives you motivation to continue learning?
Getting yourself motivated to learn new vocab or review flashcards is so difficult (especially when they’ve been stored at the back of a drawer for a few months!!).
My main motivation hack is that I keep my learning sessions short but regular. Not five minutes, but never over one hour, I find vocab literally pours into my brain doing regular learning sessions. Obviously there’s been days where I’ve done little or no vocab learning or reviewing, a.k.a ‘forgetting days’. Short bursts or an adrenaline-kicking 30 minutes are definitely my way forward to keeping motivated.
YouTube definitely helps, personally I think the short TED Talks speeches are great. They cover a huge range of topics, including language learning, and are never too lengthy. Beware though, or before you know it you’ll be watching pandas falling down slides and dogs dancing – one could say I have some experience getting distracted by YouTube.
What’s your biggest language learning challenge?
My learning routine has always been split into two halves: school and home independent study. School would give me the content, and my vocab learning at home would help me consolidate this and go further. Harder in practice though. One of the biggest challenges I had was the content that GCSE French covered. There was no ‘off the cuff’ speaking, nor conventional speaking topics (except food). The course seemed to shy away from practical topics that I’d actually need in France, like ordering bus tickets. So doing online reviewing programmes and not being able to translate some really simple stuff, it felt like learning the language was a waste.
What’s your favourite French expression?
On my visit to St-Etienne, France, I did work experience in a primary school. One night, some of the students on the work experience and teachers at the school went to a restaurant, and were all sat around this square table. Conversation slowed and we divided into two groups: English natives and French natives. It then turned to ;it’s raining cats and dogs’, then soon after all the students attempting to explain other idioms too. Trying to decode the French idioms to English was hard. I did manage to glean from the French idiom conversation ‘manger les pissenlits par la racine’. It translates literally as ‘eating the dandelions by the roots’, roughly meaning ‘pushing up daisies’. Obviously my favourite French expression to date – not because it’s unusual, but because it still reminds me of some of the French native’s facial expressions it got in return.
What do you find to be most rewarding about language learning?
Having the chance to visit the country is definitely the most rewarding thing about the entire years-long learning process. Before I knew it I was conversing with a bookshop assistant asking them to recommend books, and where I’d find them. I was explaining tasks to groups of primary school children and earwigging into conversations on the plane (apparently some French people really like TK Maxx).
After years of learning what felt like an artificial language, as I’d never heard it in action, all this learning had finally paid off, allowing me to not only have some great conversations, but also food – French crêpes and cheese cannot be described in words.
If you, like us, are now dreaming of crêpes (and cheese), and you’ve been inspired to learn some French, visit our website to see how we can help. Or download uTalk for iOS and start learning for free!
Meet Will. He’s the writer and adventurer behind travel blog The Broke Backpacker, and he just embarked on an epic two-year journey from home in the UK to Papua New Guinea.
The twist? He’s not taking any flights. Oh, and he’s travelling on a daily budget of $30.
Will’s been on the road already for two weeks, and is currently making his way through Europe. Over the next two years he’ll be visiting 30 countries, including Turkey, Pakistan, Myanmar, Tibet, and Indonesia, and sharing his adventures along the way.
Why are we telling you this?
Well. When we heard what he was planning, we figured Will might find himself in need of an app that includes over 120 languages from all across the world, which would enable him to talk to people wherever he goes.
Fortunately, it just so happens we have an app like that. So we’re very excited to announce that uTalk is the official language sponsor of Will’s adventure, and he’ll be using the app on the road to learn and speak everything from German to Tajiki, Albanian to Khmer. He’ll even be able to greet people in Tok Pisin on his arrival in PNG.
Will’s been travelling for seven years, and knows how important it is to speak a bit of the local language: “Learning a new language is hands down the best way to make new friends and peek behind the curtain. uTalk helps me to break down barriers, learn the local lingo and make friends in the most unexpected of places.”
We can’t wait to follow Will as he makes his way across the world, visiting some fascinating countries and meeting loads of interesting people. And we’re looking forward to hearing him speak all the languages 😉
Today’s guest post is from Sian, a British ex-pat living in Turkey, who has some advice for anyone considering moving abroad.
Merhaba. Last year I made a life changing decision and decided that, at the age of 42, I wanted to leave the UK and move to Turkey. After much research, a lot of visits to the vets to ensure my two elderly cats could come, and a lot of packing and sorting out, the day finally came and on April 15th this year I moved lock, stock and barrel to Fethiye (you can follow my story on my blog, To Fethiye and Beyond).
Have I regretted it? Absolutely not. Would I advise other people to give it a try? Oh yes. Is it hot? Like you wouldn’t believe. Would I suggest that they learn some of the language before they came? Definitely. Unfortunately I didn’t follow my own advice and barely learnt more than 3 or 4 words before coming out here. Luckily for me, I armed myself with a EuroTalk Turkish DVD before I left so, yes, I do know a lot more Turkish now than when I arrived – although I still sometimes struggle with the simplest of words, the main one being teşekkürler, which means thanks – for some reason I keep thinking of it as ‘testicular’ which is not going to win me any friends (well, not the right sort anyway!).
Not only is the Turkish language very hard, what with its ‘i’ with a dot that is pronounced like ‘ee’, its ‘l’ without a dot (that isn’t an L) that is pronounced like a ‘u’, its ‘c’ that is pronounced like a ‘j’, while the ‘j’ is pronounced like an ‘s’ (seriously, who thought up this language!)… but the local people here also love to practise their English. You may start with every intention of saying something in the local language but as soon as they spot you they say hello, how are you and your brain just goes to mush and you respond in English.
Mind you, something must be sinking in as I did actually manage to have a conversation in Turkish just the other day. Admittedly it wasn’t the longest of conversations but we’ve all got to start somewhere, haven’t we?
I absolutely refuse to be a parody of a Brit abroad and spend the rest of my life speaking v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y in English to the locals in a slightly patronising manner so I am going to keep on going with the EuroTalk DVD and hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be able to manage an even longer conversation!
And on that note I’ll say görüşürüz and wish you all a pleasant day.
Are you moving abroad? Let us know! We’d love to help you start learning the basics of your new country’s language.