20 keywords to get you speaking your target language from day 1…

My goal is to speak as much of my target language as possible during language tutorials, right from my very first lecture! This post looks at the basic phrases one should learn before your first language tutorial.

I’ve included translations for  Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and French. Chinese is a tonal language, check out my post on The Layman’s Guide to Mandarin Tones.

So let’s get started on these keywords…

1. “Hello”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Nǐ hǎo
  • Spanish: Hola
  • French: Bonjour

2. “How are you?”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Nǐ hǎo ma?
  • Spanish: ¿Cómo estás?
  • French: (formal) Comment allez-vous ?  (informal) Ça va ?

3. “I am good”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Wǒ hěn hǎo!
  • Spanish: Bien!
  • French: Ça va bien!

4. “Thank You”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Xiè xie
  • Spanish: Gracias
  • French: Merci

5. “You’re welcome”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Bù kèqì
  • Spanish: de nada
  • French: Il n’y a pas de quoi

6. “I don’t speak…”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Wǒ bù huì shuō pǔtōnghuà
  • Spanish: Yo no hablo español
  • French: Je ne parle pas français

7. “How do you say …… in ……”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Nǐ zěnme shuō… Yòng pǔtōnghuà
  • Spanish: Cómo se dice en inglés
  • French: comment dit-on en français

8. “Sorry, I don’t understand”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Wǒ tīng bù dǒng
  • Spanish: Lo siento, no entiendo
  • French: Je suis désolé, je ne comprends pas. (masculine) Je suis désolée, je ne comprends pas(feminine)

9. “I understand”

  • Mandarin Chinese: wǒ dǒng
  • Spanish: entiendo
  • French: je comprends

10. “I am…”

“I am” gives you a much broader range of topics to choose from. Such as name, nationality, job etc, etc.

  • Mandarin Chinese: Wǒ shì…
  • Spanish: Soy…
  • French: Je suis…

11. “I’m sorry”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Hěn bàoqiàn or duì buqĭ
  • Spanish: Lo siento 
  • French: Je suis désolé (masculine), Je suis désolée (feminine) or pardon

12. “Yes”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Shì *There is no word for “yes” in Mandarin, but in many cases ‘it is’ works well. Otherwise, just repeat the verb of the question.
  • Spanish:
  • French: Oui

13. “No”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Bú shì  *There is no word for ‘no’ in Mandarin. You need to place the meaningnot” before the verb in question.
  • Spanish: No
  • French: Non

14. “Repeat Please /Say That Again”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Máfán nǐ zài shuō yībiān
  • Spanish: ¿Disculpa?¿Perdón? or ¿Cómo?
  • French: Répétez s’il vous plaît

15. “Speak more slowly, please”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Gèng màn, qǐng
  • Spanish: Más despacio por favor
  • French: Plus lentement s’il vous plaît

16.  “Please write it down…”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Máfan nǐ xiě yīxià, hǎo bù hǎo?
  • Spanish: por favor escribelo
  • French S’il vous plaît écrivez-le

17. “I’d like…”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Wǒ xiǎng yào… 
  • Spanish: Me gustaría…
  • French: J’aimerais…

18. “I don’t like…”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Wǒ bù xǐhuān…
  • Spanish: No me gusta… 
  • French: Je n’aime pas …

19. “See you next week”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Xià zhōu jiàn
  • Spanish: Te veo la proxima semana
  • French: À la semaine prochaine 

20. “Goodbye”

  • Mandarin Chinese: Zàijiàn
  • Spanish: Adiós
  • French: Au revoir

People will always appreciate the effort you have made to speak to them in their own language. Don’t worry about making mistakes as it is how we learn. The more we speak in our target language the better we will become.

Are there any phrases you think should be added to this list or a language you would like me to include? 

Let me know in the comments section below

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Trisha Tests: Language Learning with Sound Fluent

Anyone can learn a second language. It’s not about intellect or having special ‘DNA‘ as the CEO of Sound Fluent, Christine Hammond explains…

Audio Interview with CEO of Sound Fluent

What inspired the creation of Sound Fluent?


Christine Hammond, CEO Sound Fluent. 

My own experience of learning languages. Feeling like there must be a way to get the benefits of immersion faster. This led me into doing a whole lot of research, lots of experiments and refinements. Now I’m launching the first version of the method in Chinese and French. I’m inspired by the idea that anyone can learn to speak a language, and it doesn’t need to take months or even years to start having conversations.


Language Learners Journal Feedback on Sound Fluent

Trisha Collins-Dunbar, founder of Language Learners Journal.

“The method works with the way your brain learns naturally, so language learning flows with ease. I have found myself learning Chinese much faster with this method. The language is imprinting in my brain and I am more successful at recalling it in comparison to other similar methods, such as Glossika and Pimsleur. It takes practise, consistance and perservance to learn a new language.”

Please note I am not receiving any payment for this post. I used the product as part of the ‘Step Up Language Learning Program‘ and was so impressed with the results I was getting I wanted to share it with others.

You can check out the Sound Fluent website at:

Top 10 Language Blogs for 2017

When learning a new language it is very important to surround yourself in supportive and informative communities. I am a firm believer that you learn not just from your teachers, but the peers who surround yourself with. For example, want to play the guitar start hanging around with other guitar players or in my case I dream to one day be a polyglot so I start learning from those that do it best. These sites are my personal fave blogger sites for 2017. It was a hard choice whittling down to just 10 as there are about 20 sites that I regularly follow. So in no particular order here they are…

1 Fluent in 3 Months 


I am vertically challenged and having to jump to get to the French books at my local bookshop I accidentally knocked this on to my head! I am not sure if it was the injury to my head all the book itself, but I can now get by in about 5 languages. I am still a regular in the forums and love how the book links to the site for a more interactive feature.

Language Hacking

Check out his hilarious YouTube channel: Irishpolyglot

2 I Will Teach You a Language


And this dude certainly lives up to his promise of teaching you a language! 😊 I love this site and I am a big fan of his podcasts His videos are rather entertaining too especially when he is just walking around town and chatting. I often find myself saying to the screen “look left and right when you cross that road, Olly!“.

Check out the post: 6 Destructive Language Learning Excuses 

3 Polyglot’s Diary 


This blog is created by Kamila. She has learned multiple languages from scratch and is still learning languages. On her blog, she answers questions from other language learners, shares her experiences and tips. I simply love this clean, crisp blog and I always find it fascinating to hear about the language learning experiences of polyglots.

Check out her story on how she became a polyglot: Become a polyglot

4 My Polyglot


There is just so much on this site and so many languages too. Check out his amazing and very supportive community on Facebook 

Check out his post: Steps to learning a Language with books

5 Lindsay Does Languages 


I wish I had found this site sooner. Lindsey is just an amazing teacher and her videos are hilarious. Her site is warm and vibrant and she makes language learning fun. I am super excited that she now offering language coaching for teachers too.

Check out her post: 8 Free Japanese Learning Resources

6 French Lover 


I LOVE FRANCE and when I am there I like to speak French. So I always brush on my French before I go and this site offers lots of language tips and even language coaching too! Recently whilst doing my family tree I discovered a Huguenot connection and my ancestors who lived in London were Dapreau, Dew and Gaucheron!

Check out his post: Finding time for language Learning.

7 Multicultural Living


This blog is focused on raising children who are multilingual.  Her posts are always encouraging and full of valuable advice.

Check out her post: What Bilingualism is NOT

8 Actual  Fluency


It is a really interesting site run by Kris Broholm and he is on a mission to speak 10 languages in 10 years. He does regular podcasts with polyglots who share their inspirational advice.

Check out his post: Why Language Learning Sucks in Schools 

9. Language Learning Library 


Packed with thousands of different language learning resources this site is always my first point of call when learning a new language. Plus I have an awesome guest post on this site that focuses on the First Steps to Language Learning 😏

Check out his post: How long does it take to learn a language 

10 Hacking Chinese 


This site is primarily aimed Chinese language learners. However, some of his posts can be very helpful for language learners no matter the language.

Check out his post: 10 Ways to Use Games for Language Learning!

There are so many awesome language learning blogs out there that also deserve some recognition. Language Learners Journal is all about positivity and togetherness in learning. Has a blog really helped you? If so share some blogging love and nominate your favourite sites. For more information click here.

What is your favourite language learning blog, apart from Language Learners Journal of Course? 😏


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