As is EuroTalk tradition, we celebrated the spookiest day of the year (a day early) with fancy dress, pumpkin carving and other Halloween-themed fun.
We also took the opportunity to put together this little video of Halloween-themed English idioms, starring members of the (endlessly talented, we’re sure you’ll agree) EuroTalk team.
We’re expecting our Oscar nomination any day now.
We really hope you love this video as much as we enjoyed making it. If so, please share it with friends, and let’s keep the madness going 😉
And we’re always open to suggestions, so if you have idioms – English or other languages – that you’d like to see immortalised in video, we’d love to hear them!
You may have seen on the uTalk app that you can now search for words in any of our languages by using emoji. With emoji becoming the fastest growing language in Britain, we have decided to make it our language of the week!
If you’re anything like me, the most frequent way you choose to stay in touch with friends and family is by text messaging. If I think about it, I don’t even know what my ringtone sounds like, and I only answer my phone if I’m expecting an important call, otherwise, everyone that knows me just sends a text.
Furthermore, I overheard this conversation the other day:
‘So he called me in the middle of the day and I thought, omg, what a freak, why can’t he just text me?‘
Okay, I was part of the conversation, but anyway you get the idea.
Nevertheless, sometimes it can be quite challenging to express your exact feelings or tone in a text, and so you risk being misunderstood by the recipient or worse – come off as too serious when you’re actually joking. So at some point in the past, the techies have come up with this brilliant way to make our text conversations more fun and emotive: emojis!
Now, some of you may not know what they are and that’s okay – my boss didn’t know either, until a couple of days ago when our app was updated with this brilliant way of searching for words by using emoji. I admit – I love emoji! They’re cute and funny and a great way to interact with your friends without using actual words.
Did you know?
- The word emoji comes from Japan, with the ‘e’ meaning picture and ‘moji’ meaning character or letter.
- There are more than 6 billion emoji sent worldwide everyday, with more than half of these being smiley faces.
- Some emoji are confusing…
- Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby Dick has been translated into emoji; the book was released with the title Emoji Dick.
- Many celebrities love emoji, with Roger Federer recently tweeting his whole day in emoji during Wimbledon. And in April, Andy Murray tweeted his wedding day in emoji:
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) April 11, 2015
- Even Australia’s Foreign Affairs minster, Julie Bishop gave the first ever political emoji interview on Buzzfeed.
So go ahead and see which ones have been matched with which uTalk words by our brilliant developers! Which is your favourite emoji? We love to hear from you, so please do join in the conversation here on the blog, or on Facebook or Twitter.
Ioana and Alex
So we’re now a few weeks into 2015, and chances are all the resolutions we made in a fit of great excitement on January 1st are a dim and distant memory. If one of your goals for this year is to learn a new language, here are a few tips to help you stick at it, even when real life gets in the way, and your motivation starts to fade…
Make it fun
You’re far more likely to learn if you’re enjoying yourself. Of course, the best way to pick up a language is to take a trip to the country where they speak it, but that’s not an option for most of us, particularly so soon after the expense of Christmas! So instead, get yourself an app like uTalk or pick up some Flashsticks to post up all over your house (and office, and car…). Or if you’re on a budget, make up your own game. There is no right way of learning a language, and everyone’s different – but wouldn’t you rather be having fun while you study than poring over a grammar book trying to memorise verb endings?
Make it a competition
I’m currently learning German, and know for a fact I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the uTalk challenge. I don’t really need to learn German – I’m not going to Germany in the immediate future, nor do I have a German mother-in-law to impress – but I fancied trying something new and different. The problem with learning a language just for fun, though, is that it’s very easy to give up without a pressing reason to keep going. The uTalk challenge gave me that reason; I’m a very competitive person, and I wasn’t about to let my colleagues beat me (well, except Nat, who destroyed us all). Knowing that I had to come into work each morning and update my score on the board has kept me motivated, and as a result I now know probably several hundred new words that I didn’t know before.
Focus on the end goal
While there are many people who, like me, decide to learn a language just for the fun of it, there are many more who do it for a specific reason. So if you feel your enthusiasm starting to wane, focus not on learning the language, but on what it’ll mean when you’ve learnt it. Maybe it’s a new job, a new relationship or a forthcoming trip. If you concentrate on what you’re getting from knowing a new language, suddenly putting the time in to study won’t seem nearly such a chore.
Reward yourself regularly
Remembering your ultimate goal is important, but that can sometimes seem far, far away. If you were about to climb Everest and didn’t plan to stop till you got to the summit, you’d probably never start (and who could blame you). So make sure you set yourself achievable ‘in-between’ goals, and reward yourself appropriately when you get there. Personally, I find chocolate to be an excellent incentive. Or you could allow yourself an episode of your favourite TV show, or a shopping trip. Whatever works for you and will keep you motivated to press on.
Set aside time
Life can be incredibly busy, and often it feels like there isn’t enough time to do everything, so learning a language can slip down the to-do list behind other, more pressing tasks. To combat this argument, try setting aside a fixed amount of time each day, or a few times a week, which is only for language learning. Where that time fits into the rest of your schedule is up to you, but the important thing is that nothing else gets in the way. And if you can make use of ‘dead time’ like your daily commute, so much the better – that way you’re not using up hours that would ordinarily be used for other jobs.
Tell other people
I’m a great believer in this one. Tell friends and family that you’re learning a language, and chances are at some point, they’re going to ask you how it’s going. And if they don’t, ask them to. If I know that at any moment someone’s going to demand that I say something in another language, I’m much more likely to keep learning it, just in case. (Of course, when they do ask me to say something, my mind will instantly go blank – but that’s another story.)
Don’t give up, even if you slip up
As with any goal, there are going to be pitfalls along the way. You’d have to be incredibly determined (and slightly superhuman) to never have an off-day or consider giving up. And that’s ok, but the important thing is to pick yourself up after this wobble and keep going. Knowing you’ve overcome a few obstacles is only going to make the moment you have your first conversation in another language that much sweeter, because after all…
Good luck (or should I say Viel Glück)!
We’ve got a bit of fun for you today, as it’s the wind-down to Christmas… Amy’s put together this tricky language crossword (you can click on the puzzle to make it bigger and print it out) – how many answers can you fill in before you cave and turn to Google?! 😉
Let us know how you got on in the comments!
(NOTE: There was a mistake in the original crossword. This is the corrected version. We’re very sorry for any confusion!)
How much do you know about languages? Try our quiz to find out!
The top reported score so far is 11 – can you do better? Let us know how you got on in the comments 🙂