Author Archives: Zach

Awhile back, I came across this really odd form of English called pidgin. It's like someone took English, chopped it up, removed all grammar rules and then threw out any unnecessary words. You could say it sounds like baby-talk almost. What is comes down to is a simplified, non-BS form of English.

A lot of it might sound incomprehensible. It really isn't something you could start speaking or understand right away. There is more than one form of pidgin however. Each type is a separate language that will still take time to learn, although you might be able to get the gist of what someone is saying.

Here are some examples phrases of Nigerian pidgin.

  • You fall my hand - You disappoint me
  • I no gree – I don’t agree
  • No sabi - I don't understand
  • Na so? – Is that so?

Kind of understandable I'd say, but what about this guy speaking Cameroonian pidgin?

There are all kinds of pidgin English out there. Hawaiian, Nigerian, Chinese, Spanish and even Basque-Icelandic. English phrases like "long time no see" and "look-see" actually come from Chinese pidgin.

Pidgin in all its various types is still used in many places all over the world, especially in Western Africa and places like Papau New Guinea.

Here's a map of where you can find a form spoken.

WorldPidgins

If you really want to learn a unique language or just confuse the crap out of your friends, then I think learning a form of pidgin English would be cool. Not for me though, just thought it was interesting and wanted to share.

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Do you know of any other unique forms of languages like this? Speak any form of pidgin?

We all have busy lives and sometimes it's hard to find the time to do the things you want to do. The good news about language learning is that you only need to study for an hour a day at the minimum. Just be aware that the amount of new words, grammar rules, and so on that you can pick up in a week will be different for each person. Here's what you need to do.

Set aside periods during the day at which you can study

The first thing you'll want to do is set aside some time during your day at which you can study the language. Just look at your typical day's schedule and figure out what time you have where you could study. Some examples include - your lunch break, on your way to work when stuck in traffic, while you're getting ready in the morning, and before you go to bed.

You'll want to make sure that you get at least 10 minutes in every time you have the free time during the day. Let's say that you study 6 times during the week in 10 minute sessions. In one day, you'll have gotten 1 hour in - the minimum you need. At the end of the week, you'll have over 7 hours to account for.

Set weekly goals for yourself

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The next thing you should do is create some weekly goals you have in mind. For example - learn 30 new words this week. You might be wondering what this has to do with finding time but allow me to explain.

Have you ever had a goal you've given yourself before? Did you follow through on it? Did you make time for it during the day no matter what? By setting a weekly language goal, you'll be more motivated and will naturally find more time to study and learn.

Places and times you can study

As exemplified in the first point, there are many places you can study where you'll have free time. Do you have a busy commute to work? Study while stuck in traffic. You could even listen to audio even if not stuck in traffic.

In the morning and before you go to bed are other great times to study. The morning might be a bit busy, but you could still listen to audio. Before you go to bed is also a perfect time to study. Surely you can take 10 minutes off your sleeping schedule to get some time in? It's also great because you actually remember things better if you study before you go to sleep.

Add up all the small time spent here and there and by the end of the week you'll have gotten plenty of practice in. Now you have no excuse not to learn! No more saying, "I don't have the time." Everybody does, you just have to choose to use it.

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What do you think? Have any other tips for finding time?

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There's often a huge debate among people on what language is the most useful to learn. Usually, people will lean towards whatever language they speak or whatever language they think would be the most useful. Although I believe every language has its usefulness, that's not something we'll get into today. Here, I will give you real, solid reasons on what languages really are the most useful in the world.

1. Mandarin Chinese

According to the CIA World Factbook, 935 million people speak this language worldwide, making it one of the most useful languages based of this fact alone. This means that 12.44% of the world speaks it. It might seem like a small percentage but in the real scope of things, that is HUGE. English only comes in at 4.83%...

With the Chinese population rapidly growing more and more, it could very well become the universal language and overtake English's throne - and according to experts, is already on it's way to becoming it. If you want to be prepared for that transition, then consider learning it.

It's also great for landing a job. China has a huge market and is constantly needing people to help bridge the communication gap. If you can fill that gap, then you got yourself a very high paying, evergreen job. Although it's a very hard language to learn (mostly in writing), it's well worth it.

2. English

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Shocker? If you're reading this, then you obviously know English and know it's one of the most useful languages. English can get you around basically anywhere in the world. Whether it be Romania, Russia, Indonesia or Japan...you will find someone who speaks it, every time. Although not everyone speaks it, of course.

In a lot of places in the world, it is becoming increasingly harder to land a job without some knowledge of English since it's currently the lingua franca. Almost all international business and diplomatic matters are held in English. If you live in a heavily touristed area, then by all means, you will need to know it for job purposes.

3. Spanish

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Spanish can get you around almost all of Central and South America and even Spain. That is a lot of places with a lot of speakers. With 4.85% of the world population speaking it, it has just a bit more speakers than English does.

If you live in the US, then you know that Spanish has become a big language here. You see it everywhere nowadays it seems. In my hometown, we have whole towns where everything, the shops, restaurants, etc... are all in Spanish. If you want to be able to communicate with the growing population of Spanish speakers then you should take it up.

Spanish translators are highly needed. You will have no problem getting a job by knowing Spanish as a second or third language.

Let's also not forget how easy it is to learn, especially for any European language speaker. Given around 3 months or so, you could very easily be on a conversational level. If you are looking to learn Spanish, then I suggest taking a look at Assimil (my review).

4. French

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French is still a huge language and has always been (it used to be the lingua franca). While it might not be close to the others listed here (1.12%), it's still useful to learn for many reasons and still has over 190 million speakers. It's also the most popular second language for people to learn.

French is spoken in many more places than just France, for instance Belgium, Canada, and many countries in Africa. Around 29 countries speak French, so it's pretty big despite what the numbers say.

5. Arabic

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Arabic is becoming a huge and useful language for a multitude of reasons. The 25 countries that speak Arabic and their markets are quickly becoming a global powerhouse. With somewhere around 400 million speakers, it's a no brainer.

Arabic speakers are in huge demand right now. The problem is - there isn't enough people to fill this demand. If you're looking for the best translator job, then this would be it.

Arabic is also beautiful and full of a rich history dating back centuries. It might be useful to you if you are interested at all in the history of different cultures.

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You may or may not agree with this list, but that's ok. It's still just my opinion!

What languages do you think are the most useful and why? Leave a comment below and tell me!

Today, I decided to post some of my favorite language learning books I've read in the past year. Although, not all I've personally read as some are recommended by other language learners. Anyway, here are the 10 recommended books on language learning. Enjoy!

  1. The Quick and Dirty Guide to Learning Languages Fast
  2. The Third Ear
  3. Language is Music
  4. Speak Like a Native
  5. How To Learn Any Language
  6. The Polyglot Project (FREE)
  7. The Pocket Linguist
  8. Why You Need a Foreign Language & How to Learn One
  9. Accelerated Fluency
  10. How Languages Are Learned

Want more?

Check out the current bestsellers in the lingustics books on Amazon.

Note: Languageholic earns a small commission if you purchase one of these books after clicking on one of the above links. This helps LH sustain itself – I appreciate your support!

Today's guest post comes to us from Brendon Gleaves where he'll be teaching us how to be better at self-learning French!


We live in a world and age where most people know two, three or even four languages. The reasons behind the decision to know several languages are many: a better paid workplace, a job in another country, a relationship, etc. Out of all the 6000 languages spoken today, the fastest and easiest language to learn by a native English speaker is French. Not only that English has “stolen” many words and phrases from French (including culinary ones such as “French fries”), but French is an amazingly easy language to learn.

The good news, in case you want to learn French, is that you don’t necessarily have to pay a tutor to teach you. You can also self-teach yourself this language. Rather than paying out of your pocket for a private tutor or spending precious time going to classes, you can learn French from the comfort of your home. The only challenge you might face if you choose the second option is to convince yourself to study every single day. When it comes to learning a new language, regularity and repetition are vital for attaining success. In order to improve the learning process and learn French faster, here are 5 things you can do.

1. Mix It Up

First of all, you need to realize the need to do exercises from different areas each day. For instance, mix two exercises of grammar with learning a new verb. Moreover, try learning two more nouns and start getting involved in a conversation with a French speaker. If you see a cat or dog on the street, do not hesitate to greet it in “en Français”. Use phrases and words in French as often as you can and you will definitely see the results in a short span of time.

2. Use Music and Sounds

imaasgeAn amazingly interactive way to learn French is by listening to music. There are tons of artists available for you to listen to, from Celine Dion to Lorie and Lana Fabian. Here is a list with the best French pop music artists: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_pop_music.

3. Do Not be Afraid of Making Mistakes

You will definitely mess up a lot of verbal agreements and nouns during the first couple of months. Do not be disappointed, but keep going. You should not be worried about making mistakes, but about not making progress. When learning a new skill, mistakes are always part of the learning process. Therefore be kind to yourself and believe in your potential.

4. A Movie Per Day

Most teenagers in Europe are well versed in communicating in English because they have literally seen all Hollywood movies. The same is true for French. If you want to immerse in their culture and learn idioms and words commonly used in France, watching a movie a day should not be too much.

5. Get New Connections

Lastly, in order to get your French skills to a whole new level, you should find yourself some French friends. You can easily look on forums or social networks and start talking with a guy or girl who seem interesting and friendly. There are also many French learning organizations that can help you find amazing natives eager to help you improve your French skills.

With these in mind, start getting your French skills to the next level and plan your upcoming trip to Paris – it will definitely worth it!


Brendon Gleaves is a language enthusiast currently interested in mastering Spanish. You can find some of his best language learning tips and tricks at
http://www.languagehelper.net.

2 Comments

These two language learning programs are without a doubt, the most popular in North America. So how do you know which is the better option? Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone? Well, it totally depends. Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone is kind of a tricky subject. It's hard to compare the two since they both teach in different ways. So it might be better to ask which one is more effective.

Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone - The Basics

Firstly, Pimsleur teaches you through listening and repeating. Basically how a child might learn a language. Rosetta Stone on the other hand, teaches through pictures, audio, and writing. Pimsleur does have reading lessons but it's not the main focus.

Now that you know the difference, you can know which one is right for you. Are you a more visual learner? Rosetta might be a better pick. Pimsleur if you are more of an audio learner. Either way, that is a rudimentary way to look at it and you should still know the pros and cons of each to know which will be better for you.

pimsleur-or-rosetta-stone


Pros of Pimsleur

  • Short and effective lessons
  • All you have to do is listen and repeat
  • Teaches conversational language and not tourist phrases
  • Your pronunciation will improve dramatically
  • Audio based so you can learn anywhere you want
  • The speakers talk at a normal rate of speed

Pros of Rosetta Stone

  • Listening comprehension will improve
  • Has speaking and typing games
  • It's very enjoyable and fun to use unlike Pimsleur
  • You can get coaching at the end of units called "sessions"
  • Has voice recognition software so you get a lot of speaking practice in

Cons of Pimsleur

  • Very boring - especially for visual learners
  • Tends to teach in formal language instead of informal
  • No writing lessons and some languages (Chinese, Japanese, Swiss-German, and Ojibwe) don't offer any reading lessons.

Cons of Rosetta Stone

  • Very expensive
  • Need to use it on a computer
  • Teaches words and phrases you may never use
  • Does not teach grammar at all (however this could be a pro to many people)

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Guarantees

Pimsleur has a guarantee for spoken proficiency if you complete the first 30 lessons of a program. If you don't reach proficiency, they'll give you a full refund. Rosetta Stone offers a 30 day, no-risk, money-back guarantee which is enough time to figure out if you like it.

Conclusion

Overall, I think that it's highly subjective which of the two is better. I honestly think they should be used side by side as they are both great products. If you need to pick one over the other, however, I would say Pimsleur would be the better choice.

1 Comment

As you very well know, you can't learn a language to your fullest ability without actually practicing speaking with people in the language you're learning. Here I've put together a list of my favorite sites to find language partners. Starting with my favorite at the top to the ones I don't have much experience with.

1. italki

My personal favorite on this list that is great for finding natives to Skype with. Kind of like set up like a social network. Search for natives then follow and send them a message to get started. Almost all people will be willing to voice chat using Skype but some only text chat.

Website: italki.com

2. SharedTalk

A website owned by Rosetta Stone, SharedTalk is one of the most popular language exchange sites and my second favorite pick by far. The website is a bit clunky and old but it allows you to text chat, voice chat and send mail to people - all from the website.

Website: SharedTalk.com

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3. HelloTalk

Fantastic app for the iPhone and Android. Allows you to connect with native speakers and communicate with them via text chat and voice chat. Has built in tools that allow you to translate, look up and romanize text while chatting with someone.

Website: HelloTalk.com

4. Interpals

I've used this site to find many native speakers and even made new friends from around the world. It's a social network made for penpals but they also have a language exchange section you can use. Just use the built in search function and find natives from your country of choice. Although it's a penpal site, most people are on there for language exchange.

Website: Interpals.net

5. Lang-8

Lang-8 is a journal based website where you write an entry in your target language and then a native or someone fluent will correct it for you. You can message people as well, so if you find someone who you would like to language exchange with, just send them a message and ask.

Website: Lang-8.com

6. Livemocha

Purchased from Rosetta Stone in 2013, Livemocha combines traditional learning methods with online practice and interaction with native speakers from all over the world.  Just create an account and send requests to people that are available for language exchange.

Website: Livemocha.com

7. MyLanguageExchange

One of the oldest websites on this list (and oldest looking), MyLanguageExchange is exactly what the name implies. Just search for exactly the people you want to speak with and send them an email to get started.

Website: MyLanguageExchange.com

8. Busuu

Busuu is an innovative online community for learning languages. You can write, as well as speak and get corrections from native speakers. There is also a feature called busuutalk that allows you to voice chat with others.

Website: Busuu.com

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Do you know of any other websites? Please do share with us!

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I've asked myself this same question when I was learning both Esperanto and Spanish at the same time (and a little bit of Dutch). While I don't have any scientific proof, I can talk about this topic from experience and what I've seen from polyglots in the community.

Learn two languages at once?

Think about this for a moment. Have you ever attempted to learn two things at once? For example, learning the piano and how to draw. It's very easy to do. As long as you clearly separate the two time wise, you can learn both things. In school, you learn several things at once so why not languages? Is learning two languages simultaneously really that hard or confusing to do?

You might say, "well languages are too similar." This is true, but ask people who do in fact speak two or several other languages and they'll tell you how easy it is for them to separate the languages in their head.

When I think and speak in Esperanto, I feel totally different than when I am speaking Spanish. It's like a whole different mindset. For me, it's easy to distinguish the two and that makes it easy for me to learn the two languages at once.

Is it Bad to Learn Two Languages At Once

There are even polyglots out there who learn many languages at the same time. One of those polyglots is Moses McCormick. You can see his YouTube channel here. He can speak somewhere over 40+ languages and studies two or more at the same time. His language skills are not bad either, when he talks to people he can actually hold decent length conversations. I'd say if Moses can learn multiple languages at once, then so can you.

Although it is easier to learn one thing at a time, if you really need to learn multiple at once or just want to, then I'd say go for it. It's totally possible.

In the time I've spent studying languages, I've come to realize that there are several basic things you should be doing to maximize your language learning progress. They're the most fundamental but yet some people miss out on knowing these.

So without further ado, here are the 7 most basic language learning tips you need to know.

1. Study Every Single Day

You need to be studying every day if possible. It doesn't have to be for an large amount of time. Just try to get 20-30 minutes for the day. Studying every day will keep you consistent and help you to remember everything you’re learning.

If you’re a really, really, busy person. Try do smaller bites of time here and there. 5 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, etc. Just try and squeeze in around 20-30 minutes.

2. Talk/Repeat/Mimic

Pronunciation is one of the three major parts of learning a language and the only way to really get better is to repeat mimic the sounds.

You’ll feel awkward at first (and might look awkward), but it’s all part of the process of getting better pronunciation.

Sub-Tip: If you can’t find someone who wants to listen to you speak another language or are too afraid at first, then try talking to your dog, cat, or any pet. They won’t mind.

3. Read

Read everything you can in the language. Blogs, news websites like Yahoo, books, anything with text. Reading may not help with speaking as much, but it helps tremendously build vocabulary. I highly recommend software like learning with texts (free) for reading any content you find.

4. Read Aloud

Expanding on just general reading -- whenever you’re reading text, make sure to read it aloud instead of in your head. This goes along with talking and helps you practice your pronunciation more. It also helps you get more experience with speaking the language.

5. Watch Movies/Television

Find some good movies or TV shows in the language. There’s plenty out there that I’m sure you will even enjoy watching. You could watch news too instead of just shows. Media is a fantastic way to get used to the sounds and rate of speech of the natives. It also further helps with your pronunciation.

Sub-Tip: If you’re watching movies, try to put subtitles on if they have them. Don’t rely on the subtitles unless you’re just starting out. Use them only when you hear words you don’t know.

6. Listen to Music

Listen to Music

Ever heard a catchy song in another language? There’s plenty of good music out there to listen to. Listening to music will help with your listening skills, get you used to the sounds, and somewhat help with pronouncing words.

I find most of my music from YouTube. Just go and search for [language you're learning] + [genre] or [music] and you should be able to find something you like.

7. Don’t Worry About Messing Up

The last tip I can give is a very important one. Don’t worry about making mistakes! If you want to improve, you’re going to have to practice speaking and writing with native speakers. It’s the only way.

If you’re too worried about making mistakes, then you’ll never make progress.

People won’t scold you for a silly grammatical error or mispronounced word. 99% of the time they’ll be glad you’re trying to learn in the first place.

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These are the most basic things you should do when learning a language. Do them and you will see great success and strides in your journey. I promise!

Do you have any other helpful tips that you want to share? We would all like to hear it!

6 Comments

If children and babies are so good at learning a language, why not copy them right? If you've been in the language learning community for awhile, then you're sure to have heard of the concept of learning like a child. It's often promoted as the "natural" way of learning. The whole concept of it is flawed however and shouldn't be taken seriously.

I'm not going to lie though, I fell for it. When I was learning Japanese years ago, I tried this method. I sat there and listened, listened, and listened some more. I listened to everything and anything I could. I really, really tried to be a child again.

It didn't work.

Problem is, I didn't know what I was hearing and would never know what was being said. It just wasn't going to work no matter how hard I tried. My brain only heard noise.

You're an Adult, Not a Child

Seems obvious enough huh? You're not a kid anymore. You're all grown up and you have skills that children don't. They do not have the ability to read and write yet, but you do. Why would you not get started on all skills of learning a language? Speaking right away, reading, and writing are all things you can do that children and babies cannot do at the beginning but you can, because you are an adult.

Children Take Years to Begin Speaking

You can learn and become semi-fluent in most languages within a year. Children take over a year to even utter a word and another two years to begin speaking full sentences. We as adults don't want to spend the time, nor do we have the time to be fully immersed like a child. We have other priorities to take care of.

This is good for us though because we can learn faster. Our brains are more developed. Try to teach a child something new and you'll see how much longer it will take than if you taught an adult. As the saying goes, you're never too old to learn something new (and faster).

Why Learning Like a Child Doesnt Work

Learning a Second Language is Different From Your First

There has been a lot of research done that shows learning a second language is different than your first. When children begin learning, they don't have another language getting in the way of it. They can't learn grammar, they can't translate into another language. All they can do is listen. They learn very differently because they don't even know a first language.

I mean think about it. All they can do is absorb the sounds. When you learn a second language, you already have the ability to speak, read, and write. Not too mention, you can do those things in another language.

Children Have Constant Stimulation

Have you ever thought about how much a baby is being bombarded by the language they're growing up with? They're constantly hearing it, being talked to and taught new words by their parents or teachers. They have consistent immersion in the language. Non-stop.

Most people don't have this constant immersion. You live in an environment surrounded by your language. You have to work in it, listen to it, and live it. No one is constantly talking to you in another language or teaching you like they teach a baby.

The only somewhat exception to this would be if you live in the country of the language you're learning. But still, it's not exactly the same thing.

Conclusion

With all being said, don't fall for this "natural" approach. It just doesn't work. You're an adult, you can learn faster, learning your second language is different anyway, and you don't have constant stimulation like a child.

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What are your thoughts? Am I wrong or do you agree? Leave a comment and tell me!