What I have learned in my decade plus of studying languages…

Language Learning Goals for March

In March I’ll be continuing with Italian and Mandarin.

I’ll also be sharing the tools, techniques, and resources that I’m using to help me achieve my goals in language learning this month.

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I’ve been learning languages for a good few years now and if you count the time spent on learning French at school that would be well over a decade (or 2 hence the plus 😀) of language learning. I feel that the most important aspects of language learning are consistency, perseverance, and patience. Not giving up when things seem impossible to achieve, and having a good, regular study routine in place that includes a whole range of sensory resources.

Language learning takes time and effort it doesn’t happen overnight – was Rome built in a day?

Optimising your brain for language learning is really important if you want to enhance your ability! If traditional language learning methods are not working for you then maybe it is time to open your mind and try a more holistic approach to language learning! This includes paying attention to your mindset and physical wellbeing. Looking at environmental factors and social implications.

This month I am officially launching my brand new Udemy course on how to apply a more holistic approach to learning. The course is ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Holistic Learning’In addition to this, I am releasing a series of blog posts on Lingohut regarding how I have applied the holistic approach to my own language learning.


Tools and Resources I plan to use for Learning Languages in March…

italki – Private Tutoring

italki is an excellent tutoring resource and I have used this to learn Chinese-Mandarin, Spanish, German and Italian. You can book sessions to suit that can last as long as 30, 45 to 60 minutes. 

Cost: Can vary depending on tutor, time and type.


LingoHut  – Vocabulary

LingoHut is a great site offering 12 languages.

Cost: Free


Speechling – Pronunciation

Pronunciation is really important if you want to be understood! I must admit even in my native language I do mispronounce words, because of my British accent and context used people tend to work it out, but a mispronounced word with a thick foreign accent can be difficult. Don’t get me wrong  I LOVE accents and it makes me sad when I read about people trying to ‘loose’ their accent, but pronunciation is really important and shouldn’t be neglected.  

In my personal view, Speechling appears to be the best on the market in terms of recording yourself and getting quick feedback from a tutor on your pronunciation. It helps you learn with useful sentences and phrases or you can create your own! 

Cost: Premium version $19.99, free version available. 

Referral Code: TRISHA


Studying in Germany – Blog on Learning Germany

This blog is packed solid with articles and videos to help with learning German.

Cost: Free.


Memrise – PC, Tab & Mobile Learning

Memrise has courses in a multiverse of languages, it’s great because I can study on the go or when waiting for an appointment or meeting. I have used this for all the languages I have studied even British Sign Language (BSL). 

Cost: Free, pro adds lots of additional features for $59/yr.


Games for Language – Vocabulary building (the fun way!) 

Gamification of your language learning!

Cost: Free.


Language Hacking Series by Benny Lewis – Interactive Book

Easy to use interactive books that are great for beginners.

Language Hacking Series on Amazon$19.97 or currency equivalent.


Flash Academy

I am a big fan of Flash Academy and have been using this app for 8 months now to help with Spanish, German and now Italian.

Cost: Can vary but the best option is a years subscription for £35.99 (£3.00 a month that’s like a price of a coffee, bargain).


What about my other languages?

Language Roundup: 

  • Spanish: I can get by in ordering coffee and food so all good. I am using Spanish to help me learn Italian! So My tutorials are in Spanish and Italian.
  • Mandarin:  I can have general conversations but at a basic level.  I still have some issues with pronunciation, but this is where Speechling will be most helpful. 
  • German: I still struggle a lot with basic conversation. German will be a language saved for later! Although that said I have discovered an awesome blog that has really helped me! 
  • French: I learned French at School and college. It takes me a couple of days to get back into this language, but I am at functional especially at reading level. My knowledge of French grammar is also a big help for learning Italian!
  • Sign Language: I really do need to brush up on this as I am looking to do my level 2 (and maybe even 3) this year.

I’m finding the more languages I learn the faster I pick up related languages!


Any other Business 

This month I’m looking forward to #WomeninLanguages Event on Facebook.

Lessons Learnt

So in my decade-plus of language learning, I have learned that you need a variety of resources that stimulate different senses. You cannot rely on just one method alone, but at the same time, too many resources can be overwhelming so it’s finding a balance.

You also need to take a step back to see the bigger picture and work out the best learning style for you. Once you know your style its time to make sure you are setting the right study and even lifestyle habits. For example, cramming for hours once a week isn’t as efficient as studying 10 minutes daily at a regular time. A bad sleep routine can also wreak havoc with your ability to learn new things.

Finally, to learn a language you have to, HAVE TO speak it! Engaging in real conversations as soon as you can. If you want to learn a language you have to lose the perfectionism, be prepared to make some pretty awesome mistakes and step out of your comfort zone.

Set your language learning goals as a part of the Clear the List Link Up hosted by Shannon Kennedy of Eurolinguiste and Lindsay Williams of Lindsay Does Languages.

 

What’s your language learning goals for this month?


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Trisha Tests: Fluent in 3 Months

I reassumed my language studies about 3 years ago when I was accidentally hit on the head by a book called ‘Fluent in 3 months‘ by Benny Lewis. At the time I was trying to reach for a French phrase book to brush up on my skills before a trip to Paris. Instead, I accidentally knocked this book off the shelf. I bought it in case I had damaged it, plus people were staring and I did the whole “yes, this is the book I wanted” speech. I am not sure if it was a concussion or the book itself, but a spark was initiated that day that still remains to this day! Thanks for that Benny. So far I have applied this method to brush up on my French, learn Mandarin and Spanish. Now, I intend to learn German from scratch to conversational level in just 3 months!

Just to note I am affiliated with Amazon, but I am not affiliated with this book or Fluent in 3 Months (apart from the large scar on my head, just joking) and Benny is not even aware I was going to review it – “SURPRISE BENNY!“. All opinions are my own.

So What is Fluent in 3 Months (Fi3M)?

Benny had a lot of people to thank at the beginning of his book, but once I finally made it to the introduction I was deeply inspired by his story and it initiated an ancient passion I wasn’t even aware of for languages.

In Benny’s words…

“Language internet sensation, Benny the Irish Polyglot. Can speak a dozen languages thanks to a change in mindset and approach. Benny will help you on your path to fluency via his pro-active communicative techniques”.

In my eyes…

“A very modest Benny, lol informs you that in order to learn a language you actually have to speak it! As comical as that sounds he is right! As students or independent language learners many of us shut ourselves away, pick up a grammar book and wonder why we still can’t have a conversation with a native speaker after years of studying! This method has helped me to have basic conversations with native Spanish and Mandarin speakers within 2-3 months.” 

What Does it Cost?  

The book can vary in price I paid £9.99 for it, but it is available on Amazon for about £7.00. There is also additional premium online content that currently costs $97.

How I used it…

I read it (obviously), took notes and then made a plan to have a basic 10-15 minute conversation with a native speaker within 3 months. I managed to achieve this in 2 and a half months and the conversation was over 20 minutes! How I managed this was I thought about what I talk about in general conversations and then learned the relevant vocabulary. Writing my mission on the Fi3M forum really helped to hold me accountable for my learning.

What Languages are on Offer?

The book is about learning how to learn languages, but most language groups are mentioned.

A Matter of Fluency

What Fluency is can be a matter of opinion, however, The Oxford dictionary describes it as:

“The ability to speak or write a foreign language easily and accurately /The ability to express oneself easily and articulately.” – Oxford Dictionary Online 

Personally, I feel that fluency is about being able to get your point across and understanding/being understood in a wide range of different situations. English, is my native language but I wouldn’t even consider myself completely fluent as there are still words I have to look up or check my understanding of and as for my English grammar – my grammar in Mandarin is better!

The Conversational Approach

I am aware that not everyone is a fan of the speaking from day 1 approach, but to me, it makes perfect sense. A baby wouldn’t grab a grammar book and sit alone in a room reading it! A baby learns from repetition, repeat, trial, and error.

I like to learn some key basics in the languages that I learn, such as “What does X mean?” or “how do you say X in X?”. Therefore I really am speaking from day 1.

Pros and Cons

The Pros 

  • The book includes links to a forum, blog, audio links and official website making it very interactive and fantastic value for money. There is also an option to upgrade to Fi3M Pro that includes additional resources in a wide range of languages.
  • Benny is very motivating, inspiring and humorous in his approach to learning languages.
  • Language learning on steroids! Access to immersion kits and sentence connectors really does help to kick start your language learning so you get speaking it faster!
  • If you really feel this method isn’t for you then it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The Cons

  • I personally love this method, but I do understand it is not for everyone. For me, it has worked really well, but it all depends on your learning style and level of confidence. Some people prefer to study languages in isolation with a grammar book and audio kit – if that works for you so be it.
  • Fluent in 3 Months is a catchy title, but a misleading one.  I would suggest ‘Conversational in 3 Months‘, but that isn’t as catchy. This book (and the additional online features) have really helped me to have basic conversations within 3 months with native speakers.

The Verdict

If you need to learn the basics of a language fast or need a motivational boost I would highly recommend this book. If you follow the advice you too might become conversational within 3 months. I love this book and still regularly refer to it. Benny is straight to the point and hilarious. It is certainly a thumbs up from me!

For more information or to purchase the book visit:  Fluent in 3 Months (affiliated Amazon link).

Other products from Benny Lewis is the awesome Language Hacking series with integrated online content and audio features.

Language Hacking – German

Language Hacking – Italian

Language Hacking – Spanish

Language Hacking – French

Have you read Fluent in 3 Months? What are your thoughts?

Let me know what you think of in the comments section: 

flourish4

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