2 Comments

A reader named John suggested awhile ago that I check out this free website service called Rhinospike. It's been around for some time but I had no idea about it sadly. I wish I did though.

There have been plenty of times when I'm talking with one of my friends, practicing Spanish and then they end up telling me that I'm pronouncing a word wrong (or lots of words). It's invaluable to get the feedback and learn how to pronounce the word(s) correctly. The problem is that we don't have natives or friends around to correct us all the time. This is where this website comes in handy.

So... what is Rhinospike?

Basically, you submit any kind of foreign language text you want read aloud. Stories, letters, e-mails... you name it. Someone who is a native will come along and record whatever you want read and then you can download and listen to it. You can also submit your own recording for others which will help your request get bumped in the queue system.

You could even take the audio file you receive and embed it into your favorite flashcard SRS like Anki, for example, which is one of my main reasons for using this website now.

The only downside is that it can take awhile to receive your audio file. If it's an urgent matter then it won't work so well. But if you can wait, then it's fine. There is an area where you can browse previous submissions so you might be able to come across a word or phrase that someone has already requested which you need.

pnasd

Rhinospike is a completely free service. They can do this because instead of them doing the recording for others, users do it themselves. Meaning no cost to them besides running the website.

****************

Listening is one of the most important things to do when learning a language, don't overlook this!

Do you know of any sites like this? Use this yourself?

Hello everyone! I'm going to be starting an interview series with polyglots, and other people in the community. For now, I can only do text interviews, but expect video ones later.

For our first interviewee ever, we have with us Ben Henschke from DigIntoEnglish.com. Ben hosts really awesome podcasts to help people learn natural English expressions and improve their vocabulary. He speaks and is still learning, Japanese, German, French and Korean.

...Interview starts below...

Zach: First off, I just want to say thanks for taking the time out to do this interview. Can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and where you're from?

Ben: Thank you for the opportunity. My name is Ben Henschke, and I'm a long-time language lover from Adelaide in Australia. I work as a translator from Japanese to English, so I suppose I've found a way to love languages professionally. I also run a podcast and website for English learners called Dig into English.


Zach: I read on your website that you're a language nut. Have you always been one or was it a more recent occurrence?

Ben: I've been learning languages for a very long time, but it was only a few years ago that I truly caught the language bug. I started learning Japanese in primary school - that's the Australian equivalent of elementary school - then picked up German in high school and French at university.

However, while I was good at learning foreign languages, I never had any particular passion for it. I just treated languages like any other school subject. As a result, I could tell you all of the German case endings and give you an excellent explanation (in English) of the French subjunctive, but could barely speak either of those languages.

It was only four years ago, while I was in my third year of university, that I found a website called All Japanese, All the Time. That site taught me something incredibly important: there are effective, and most importantly fun, ways of learning languages outside the classroom. It gave me an enormous motivational boost.

Once I started finding ways to use Japanese in my daily life, my Japanese level jumped quite rapidly and I managed to transfer that momentum to other languages. That gave me the confidence to start learning languages by myself as well.


Zach: How do you learn languages? Courses, coaches or classes? I personally use courses such as Assimil and Teach Yourselfs.

Ben: I've taken classes for Japanese, German and French, but wouldn't do so again. At university, language classes cost $600 per semester or something obscene like that. An Assimil book with CDs costs 65 Euros and will take you much further than a semester at university. For those that don't know, Assimil is a course in bilingual text form, with the target language on the left page and your native language on the right page. They come with complete recordings in the target language only. They're a wonderful resource.

I think the main advantage of classes is the regular check on your progress. You have no choice but to study because you have exams at the end of each semester. However, I found that I just crammed before the exams and did well enough, but then promptly forgot everything I'd learnt. It was an expensive and useless cycle, really.

If you're in a well-taught class with a small number of students, the teacher speaks in the target language whenever possible and you have the motivation to go beyond the course material, they can be a useful introduction to a language, but if you really want to improve over the long term, you will eventually need to take control of your own learning.

By coaches I assume you mean language tutors. I think these are most useful at the intermediate level. If you don't have a time constraint on your language learning, then I think your time is initially better spent exposing yourself to new vocabulary rather than forcing yourself to speak.

Once you get to the intermediate level, though, a one-on-one session with a tutor is an excellent way to iron out any difficulties you have with the language. Of course, if possible, an even better way would be to make friends with native speakers of the language you're learning and then - just occasionally! - you might be able to ask them about any difficulties you have.

Preparation1


Zach: If you were to start learning a new language today, how would you begin doing so?

Ben: It depends on the language. I just began learning Dutch three weeks or so ago, and I'm using Assimil. Because Dutch is quite similar to German and English, I haven't felt the need to go through a dedicated grammar book yet. When I'm finished with Assimil, or if I get bored with it, I'll look for podcasts with complete transcripts and bilingual texts. As I said before, I don't rush into speaking the language.

Korean, on the other hand, is a more grammatically complex language, so I used everything I could get my hands on. Textbooks with audio, podcasts (Talk to Me in Korean is excellent), pronunciation guides, everything. Some of it was useful, but some of it was boring. If you have access to a library with language learning materials, I suggest you take a look at everything that is available for the language you want to learn, and then find a couple of materials to stick with.

When I'm listening to audio, I speak along with the recordings whenever possible (and not in a crowd!). I find this very useful to get used to the sounds of the language. I don't know whether it helps increase spoken fluency - although my hunch says yes - but I think it certainly helps with pronunciation.

Some language learners and language bloggers might disagree with this last point, but I don't think it's a good idea to jump straight into material at a native rate of speech, such as radio or TV shows. If you understand any less than half of the material, I think you could be spending your time more effectively doing something else. The same goes for ploughing through books that are too difficult for you, dictionary in hand. It's not a very efficient use of your time. There's nothing shameful about listening to slightly slowed-down audio or reading simple books. They will help and you won't be stuck with them for long.


Zach: It's really hard to keep working towards learning a language. How exactly do you stay motivated to keep learning?

Ben: I actually have a nasty habit of having a huge burst of motivation but then losing interest quickly. I think this is quite a common problem with language learners. My advice would be to do a variety of activities in the language. You might just be bored with what you are doing instead of being bored with the language. If you get sick of using Assimil, try to watch some TV in the language. If you get sick of using a textbook, listen to a podcast. There are so many possibilities that you are bound to find something that you enjoy.

Also, it might be a bit old-school, but I find it useful to keep a language learning calendar. I print out one A4 piece of paper for each month and stick it on my wall. When I use a language for a certain amount of time (half an hour, for example) I make a mark on the calendar. The aim is to mark as many days in a row as possible. I'm sure there are apps to do that these days, but I find the physical reminder on the wall very useful.


Zach: Do you have any tips for those learning a new language?

Ben: First, never think that learning a language is "too hard". If you're persistent and you find a way to make your language learning enjoyable, no language is too difficult for you.

Second, do something with that language every day. That doesn't have to be "study" in the traditional sense. Read an article online. Listen to a podcast. Whatever. The important thing is regularity. Once you make language learning a habit, it becomes so much easier.


Zach: I really like your site and podcasts. Can you tell us how the decision to create DigIntoEnglish arose?

Ben: Podcasts are portable slices of a language. You can choose podcasts on topics that interest you, then take them with you and listen as many times as you like. They're a terrific advance in language learning technology, and I'm very grateful for them.

I've used podcasts to help me with every language I've learnt. I found that the best podcasts for learners have complete transcripts and are spoken slightly slower than usual. They also cover a wide variety of topics so that listeners have the freedom to listen to whichever episodes they find the most interesting. That's what I've tried to do with Dig into English.

I suppose those are the "serious" reasons, but really, I just thought it would be great fun. I was right.


Zach: Again, I just want to thank you for doing this interview. Do you have any last words or closing thoughts for everyone?

Ben: Remember that there is no such thing as a "useless" amount of language knowledge. Even a few survival phrases can improve your experience as a tourist. Even speaking a few words to a shopkeeper can be exhilarating. There's really no reason not to learn a bit of the local language if you visit a country.

I would also suggest setting realistic goals. If I expected to be perfect at every language I've learnt, I would have given up a long time ago. I'm certainly not UN interpreter level in any of my languages, but what little knowledge I have is enough to improve my life in some way. When you start seeing the benefits even a bit of language knowledge brings, you might gain some motivation to keep going. Forget any negative experiences you might have had at school, and give language learning a try. It's truly one of life's pleasures.

******

Do you have any questions for Ben? Leave a comment below and ask him!

2 Comments

Have you ever attempted to talk to someone in another language, but decided against it because you didn't want to mess up? Maybe you did try, but were too embarrassed or even scared to continue?

I personally, have experienced this many times when trying to talk Spanish to my Mexican acquaintances. Some times I wouldn't even attempt to talk to them and other times I would try, but stop because I felt awkward or felt I wasn't saying things right.

I'm still working on it, but these are some of things I've found to be true and help me a lot when trying to speak to a native.

People appreciate it when you talk in their language

First off, you should understand that people love when non-natives speak their language. Even if you are butchering it, most people will be happy that you are at least making an attempt. I've found that people will be glad to help and will correct you if you do make mistakes. No matter how bad you may be, just try. (you have to practice speaking somehow!)

Whenever I try talking to people who speak Spanish, whether is be at the store or a restaurant, their eyes light up. They're surprised that someone who isn't a native is speaking to them in their language, and it's a great feeling.

Just think about it for a moment. If they are always being forced to speak your language by others, how would it make them feel that someone took the time out to learn theirs and is actually interested in their language? They will love it, and they will love you. You'll also make new friends and people will respect you more. What's there to lose?

It's not as scary as you think

Its not as scary as you thinkThe most carefree people who learn languages are the ones who end up learning the best and the fastest. They just don't care if they say something wrong, they just talk and that works. And we know that the more you practice and speak a language, the better you get at it.

People won't laugh at you or scold you (maybe the French will... just teasing!) You won't embarrass yourself or look bad. You will be the coolest person they have met all day.

Even when I did talk to my Spanish acquaintances and mess up, they never cared. They just corrected me and we're happy that I was trying. It was all in my mind. It wasn't really scary.

Think of it this way. If you would just start that conversation up, you will gain experience in speaking and further yourself towards fluency.

It will always happen

warningsign1Do you ever mess up in your own language when speaking to someone? I bet you have A LOT. It's inevitable that you will mess up at least once or twice in a conversation. Especially if it isn't your first language.

I'm currently living in Kentucky (a state in the US) for a month, and if you could hear how much the people mess up the English language down here... I know people whose first language isn't English that speak better than them. (no offense to any Kentuckians ;))

Unless you're a robot, realize that even natives make mistakes and that you can never be perfect. Being a perfectionist won't get you very far in learning a language.

***************

If you remember these things, you will never have a problem speaking foreign languages anymore. I hope this helped you and look forward to your comments!

Do you have any other helpful tips for people? Do you struggle with this as well?

17 Comments

Looking for the best language learning apps out there? Well, I compiled a list just for you. Here are, in my opinion, some of the top ones you will find. All available for Android, iOS, and your own computer.

Duolingo

Duolingo-Tortilla-de-patata-vegana-sin-huevo--1024x469

My favorite app on the list is this. Duolingo is a free language learning app where you translate real content from blogs, websites, etc. to your language. The premise is that you are helping to translate the web by learning a language at the same time. Other people can rate your translation as well to make sure it's the best.

There's also interactive lessons you can go through which adds to the site, but the best thing of the site is the real content translation you do.

They currently have Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian, with Chinese in the works.

Android | iOS | Website

Busuu

busuu-1024x469

This app allows you to learn languages with interactive language courses and lessons. It has everything, really. Beginner to Advanced lessons, tons of vocabulary, 150 different day-to-day topics, audio-visual learning material, you can get corrected by native speakers, and it has a huge community.

Busuu only gives you 20 courses for free though, after that you have to pay for the rest. But you can do a ton of other stuff for free so it doesn't really matter.

Currently, Busuu offers Spanish, French, English, Italian, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Polish, and Turkish.

Android | iOS | Website

LingQ

lingq-1024x469

An app where you read and listen to texts. Whenever you come across a word you don't know, you click on it and it tells you what it is. You set a number from 1-5, meaning how well you know the word. This is called creating a "LingQ" When you come across the word in another text, it will be highlighted meaning you've seen it before and should know probably know it. You can also set the word to "known" and it won't be highlighted anymore.

The more texts you read and listen to, the bigger your vocabulary becomes, and the better your listening skills get. The only downside - it's not totally free. You have to pay a monthly fee to use certain features such as listening to the texts (only for the mobile version) and you can't create more than 100 LingQs, which you will use up very quickly. I recommend it only if you have the extra money on it. There are free alternatives though.

It also has other features such as flashcards and corrections by native speakers (paid feature).

Currently, they have English, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Swedish. They also have 10 beta languages including, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Esperanto, Latin, Norwegian, Turkish, Finish, Hebrew, Arabic, and Romanian.

Android | iOS | Webite

Anki

Anki-friendly-intelligent-flashcards1-1024x433

An app that I HIGHLY recommend. It's a flashcard based, spaced repetition software (SRS).  You enter words or phrases into the app and then take a quick run through the cards.  When you are going through the cards, you pick how well you remembered the word. 1 day (hard), 3 days (ok), or a week (easy). You don't do anything else until the card pops back up into your flashcards at a later time. Every time you remember the word, it will space it out further and further - for example 1 month or 6 months until you see it again.

Many language learners recommend this app as it will help tremendously.

You can put any language you want into the app since it's flashcard based.

Android | iOS (paid) | Website

Memrise

Garden-Memrise-1024x469

A really cool app for language learning. It can be used for other things though such as geography or history.

You create "mems" which are usually meme like pictures that help you remember the word. I've found that the funnier the mem is, the better I can remember it. 😉 You can also choose other peoples' mems to use instead of making your own. Simply choose a course and go through it, picking (or creating) mems to use for the word or phrase.

Memrise currently offers English, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Swedish, Polish, Finnish, and more.

It's really fun, so go check it out.

Android | iOS | Website

*************

6 Comments

So, you must be here because you don't want to have that accent anymore. Maybe you've heard that you'll always have an accent and that you have to be born a native to speak without one. Nope.

There are many people out there that can speak completely without an accent and some have never even set foot in the country. My Spanish speaking aunt being a good example. All her Spanish friends say she doesn't have an accent. When I hear her and the natives speak, she really does sound the same.

The techniques that I want to talk about though, my aunt didn't use. But these are quicker than what she was doing (immersion). I was just using her as an example to show that it's possible. So let's hop in.

1. Shadowing

Shadowing is an accent reduction technique created by Prof. Alexander Arguelles. He has a couple videos explaining and demonstrating it that you can check out on his YouTube but I'll go over it here as well.

This does not involve riding camels, however.
This does not involve riding camels, however.

In a nutshell, it involves listening to an audio track and repeating whatever is being said as fast as possible after it is said. Hence, “Shadowing” the speaker. By doing this, it really gets you used to the sounds/tones and helps you pronounce the words properly. He recommends that you really try and repeat as fast as you can for the best effect. The goal is to try and do it without delay - although there will always be a slight delay of milliseconds of course.

In the video below, he demonstrates himself doing this. In the video, you can see how he actually walks around while shadowing. For me personally, I can't sit still and I can actually focus much better when standing, so if you are the same, then I would recommended walking around while doing it.

You might feel stupid at first, but better to feel stupid for awhile than to have a bad accent, right? 😉 You get used to it anyway.

2. Flow-verlapping (The Mimic Method)

A technique created by Idahosa Ness. This is pretty similar to shadowing except it has its own twist.

  1. Find some music or a recording of a native.
  2. Record yourself either singing/talking and then try to mimic the sounds heard.
  3. You want to take the recording and -overlap- what is being sung or spoken in some software.

Basically, try and get the sound waves to match up together. You'll have to keep re-recording to get it right.

You'll notice that if you correctly mimic the native speaker, you will hear the audio track get louder. This means that you are successfully matching the correct tones, etc. If it sounds like a jumbled mess, then you probably didn't do it right.

Here's an example of Idahosa doing it...

You can use software like audacity to do this, which should come pre-installed on Windows PC's. To record yourself, you can also use the Soundcloud recorder widget for Android or iOS

Idahosa goes more in depth on this technique at his blog post about the Mimic Method. He's a cool guy, so go check him out.

********

These are two great technique for getting rid of your accent. You might be uncomfortable trying them at first, but it's worth the initial discomfort. Got any other techniques you would recommended? Every tried either one of these?

Leave a comment below as I would love to hear!

Below is a list of my top 10 favorite Spanish twitter feeds that I compiled for you. I follow all of these and recommend you do the same! They will help you pick up the language even when lazily browsing twitter. 🙂

10 Best Spanish Twitter

1. https://twitter.com/SpanishDict -- Learn Spanish on the web. Tweets a random Spanish word frequently with the translation.

2. https://twitter.com/Vamospanish -- A word a day goes a long way! Use this online resource to enhance your Spanish learning and ask questions. Tweets words and phrases and translates them. Also tweets other facts and grammar.

3. https://twitter.com/EduLearnSpanish -- Are you studying Spanish? Make it easy by learning 3 new words a day right on Twitter!

4. https://twitter.com/spanishlanguage -- Official Twitter account for Transparent Language Spanish. Learn the language with free resources, social media, and research-based software that works. Tweets expressions, phrases, words and articles in Spanish.

5. https://twitter.com/SpanishWords4U -- Spanish Word A Day and computer programs to learn Spanish. Tweets a new Spanish word everyday with example sentences.

6. https://twitter.com/LL_Spanish -- Learn Spanish with words & phrases of the day from Living Language! Tweets Spanish phrases, words, articles and more.

7. https://twitter.com/JaredRomey -- Bestselling author in Chile and Puerto Rico of Speaking Latino books on Spanish slang. Traveler, language lover, entrepreneur, & voracious reader. Tweets interesting Spanish words and facts. Also tweets about Spanish slang and other articles.

8. https://twitter.com/spanishaddicts -- El español de la calle (typical spoken spanish). Esto no son simples traducciones literales, es mucho más que eso. Spanish phrases, vocab, articles and more.

9. https://twitter.com/spanishxxx2 -- Free Spanish Sentences Vocabulary Pronunciation Grammar Tests. Tweets vocab, articles, and quizzes.

10. https://twitter.com/muyinteresante -- Revista de ciencia, historia, tecnología, salud, psicología, innovación y curiosidades. A Spanish news organisation that tweets in Spanish only. Great for practicing your reading skills.

Bonus: https://twitter.com/speakbritishly --Speak Spanish Britishly. Just a funny British guide for you. I thought this one was hilarious  He tweets English words and phrases and gives a (completely inaccurate) translation which sounds very close to the English pronunciation. Don't use it for learning obviously... 😉

*****************

Got any personal favorites? Leave a comment below and share with us!

If you often struggle with finding the motivation to continue your language learning journey, you're not alone. It happens to the best of polyglots out there and it happens to me all the time. There are a couple things that I do to rekindle my motivation and get back into the language at full force. Let me show you how.

Recognize why you are learning it

Before anything, you need to recognize why you are even learning the language. And don't just say, "I just want to." Dig a little deeper than that. Is it because you want to travel or live in the country where it is spoken? Is it because your girlfriend/boyfriend/etc, speaks it? Is it because you want to pick up women (or men) from that country? Whatever the reason may be, you need to recognize it as to why you are learning it in the first place. By doing this you will always have a clear goal and the motivation to complete it.

If you can't really think as to why you are learning it, then maybe that is why you are lacking motivation. Find a language that actually interests you and gives you a reason to learn it. Maybe then you will.

In my case, I learn languages simply because I love communicating and connecting with natives and their cultures. I want to visit many countries and be able to speak their language, instead of relying on phrasebooks and English speakers. I learn them because they interest me and it gives me a buzz when I can talk to a native in their own language. Whether or not I am interested in their culture. Whenever I recall why I am learning languages, it gets me going again.

Find interesting music and movies

ElectricMusicCDWhen I was studying Japanese, I always used to listen to awesome Japanese music. I always wanted to understand what they were saying so it pushed me every time I listened to a good song. Do a little research and see if you can find some music from the language that you like. Look up whatever genre you are interested in as they will help more. For instance Esperanto, the constructed language made in the 19 century, has rap, house, and electronic music in the language (and it's good too).

As for movies, there are many interesting movies out there that have never been translated into English. If you are a big movie buff, then maybe you'll be motivated so you can understand the movie.

Find a language partner

If you can find someone who you know, online or offline, that wants to learn with you (doesn't have to be the same language), it will help tremendously with motivation. You will have someone constantly cheering you on, holding you accountable, and working towards the same goal as you.

There are many sites that can help you find language partners online. Here are some of them.

Find natives to talk with

Similar to the one above. Simply go out in your town or on Skype and find native speakers you can practice with. You wouldn't believe how motivational it is to talk to natives in their own language. Seeing the look on their faces when you speak to them is so funny and awesome. It gives you the motivation to continue learning so that you can speak more with them and have more intelligent conversations. To find natives speakers, just use the same list as above.

To find native speakers nearby, just search on Google for "[name of your town & state] + [language/country of language] + [restaurant, store, etc]. I searched in my town and found three Mexican restaurants nearby me, and my town is somewhat small. Just tell them when you go in that you would like to practice with them, or just order something cheap and try to strike up a conversation. You can break the ice by asking questions like, "How long has this place been open?" and then transition into something like "So where are you from?" and go from there.

Watch polyglots on YouTube

There are a couple of polyglots that I like to watch on YouTube. They always keep me motivated whenever they post a new video. One of my favorite YouTube polyglots is Laoshu505000. His "level up" videos in specific are the ones that really get me pumped up. Basically, leveling up means to go around town and talk with native speakers of different languages. It's always awesome to see people's reactions when he starts talking to them in their language. He puts out these level up videos at the beginning of each month, so it's always a constant motivation

Other YouTubers include, poliglotta80ProfASArloki2504 and stujaystujay. If you really want some serious motivation, make sure you subscribe to them all. There is bound to be someone posting a video that day.

Put motivational posters wherever you learn

Something I like to do in other aspects of my life, but also works great for language learning, is to put up motivational quotes, posters, etc on your walls. Surrounding yourself with positive quotes that tell you to keep going will help when you might not be feeling up to it. There's plenty of places to get free posters to print out, just search for them on Google or check out this site with free printable quotes.

Research places to travel to where the language is spoken

Do you like to travel? I do, and anytime I am feeling a little unmotivated, I simply look up some of the places I can go where the language is spoken. For instance, I was starting to slack on my Spanish about two weeks ago and to get me going again, I simply researched some places I could go. I found some really interesting places in Chile, Argentina, Peru and Spain. Just like that, I was pumped again. Just find some places where you would really like to go where the language is spoken and look up some videos of it. Works every time. You could even put the place you want to go as your desktop or phone wallpaper to constantly remind you. Reading travel books is also great too.

santiago-en-invierno-wallpaper1

If you don't really care to travel to the place, then see if there is any interesting parts of your town where people speak it. For example, China town in New York. There's many communities of foreigners in every city, state, or country you live in. You just have to find where they are.

***************

These are the ways you can regain your lost motivation. Try them all out and you will be ready to go again.

What do you do to motivate yourself? Leave a comment below and share your technique with everyone!

Mezzofanti, or Giuseppe Caspar Mezzofanti, was an old Italian Cardinal and famed polyglot who spoke around 38 languages with fluency. He was born in 1774 and died in 1849. He had no access to any of the technology we have today, and still managed to learn more languages than *99.9% of people ever have in history. He never even left Italy either. How did he do this? Was he extraordinarily gifted? When I found out about him, I had to learn more about the guy. I did a little research and figured out how he did it, and it wasn't because he was different in the brain.

*There are a couple people who spoke more than he did such as Emil Krebs (68 languages) and Harold Williams (58 languages).

He Read a Lot of Books

Mezzofanti read a huge amount of books in the language he was learning. He read books that he already knew in another language and could translate them over. He also made use of dictionaries, grammar books, and polyglot bibles. Today, we have software like Learning with Texts and LingQ that makes reading foreign texts much quicker and more efficient.

I have been using this technique of reading books and I can say that I remember far more words just because of the context. I also get to see grammar being properly used. It's much better than drilling yourself with flashcards all day. If it's an interesting book, you will be hard pressed to forget the words you learn.

Cardinal-Giuseppe-Mezzofa-010

Spoke with Native Speakers

Any chance he got to speak with a native speaker in the language he was learning, he took it. Living in Rome, the capital of Catholicism at the time, there was an abundant amount of foreign speakers. Even speakers of more rare languages, you could find them. There's accounts where he would speak to Hungarian soldiers or help the wounded foreigners in hospitals so he could pick up the language and learn from them. He did this kind of thing a lot and had a huge factor on his language acquisition.

Nowadays, even if you can't find native speakers in your town, you can always use sites like italki.com to find language partners in the target language. You could also use sites like meetup.com to find local language clubs and practice with other learners or natives.

Too many of us are afraid to speak with natives when first starting off, because we fear we will sound silly or not make any sense. I'm not saying I don't do this, because I do. The reality of the matter though, from my experience, is that natives will actually be thrilled that you are speaking to them in their language and will be glad to help you out. I have a couple Mexican friends who I always practice my Spanish with and they don't mind at all that I'm not perfect at the language. They love helping me out.

We must get past this fear and be more like Mezzofanti if we really want to pick up the language the best we can.

Had a Love for Languages

You may or may not have a love for languages, but he sure did. Mezzofanti's main pursuit in life was the study and acquisition of languages. This guy was absolutely "addicted to languages." Having such a love of languages definitely gave him constant motivation. It also gave him more pleasure of learning new languages, than the average person. If you can develop your love of languages a little more, maybe you can find more success as well.

************************

There is no reason why you can't be the next Mezzofanti, we have it easier. Make it happen.

Did you know about him before this article?

4 Comments

Ready to boost your speed of language acquisition? LWT or Learning with Texts, is exactly what you need. It is quite similar to the popular LingQ. It allows you to have everything LingQ offers, only you can use it offline and it's totally free. Everything is built into the same window (dictionary and the text) so you don't have to leave the page. You also have the ability to upload audio, and check your statistics -- everything you need is there. It's usable on iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux. All you need is a website to host the software or, alternatively, localhost it on your computer.

Capture-620x350

What exactly is it?

LWT is basically a software that allows you to read texts in whatever language you are learning. Whenever you come across a new word, it will be highlighted in blue, meaning it's an unknown word. You can click on the word and it will allow you to choose the status of it. For example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, well-known, or ignore the word. 1 meaning you don't know it well. Each number you choose has a different color to remind you the status of that specific word. So if you set it as a 3, the word will be a light orange color. Well-known words have no color. If you ever come across one of these words in another text, they will be in that color of the status you chose.

Learning-with-Texts-Read-1024x469

You can also look up the word or sentence in a dictionary. The cool part about this being that it opens in the bottom right corner of the window so you never have to leave the page. This makes reading the text much quicker than having to open up another window for a translator, and flip between it.

If you have it, you can upload audio to accompany the text. Much like LingQ has audio along with its readings. This is the only slight downside as you might not be able to obtain an audio of the text while LingQ has audio for every text on the site.

How do I install it?

A big problem with this software is in its difficulty to install. If you do not want to go through the headache of installing it on your own computer, you can use this website, provided by Benny from fluentin3months. If you do wish to install it locally (offline), then I recommend this article explaining how. I took the route of using it on my own website as I didn't want to mess with installing it locally. If you have your own website with hosting, here's how to install it.

First, download the files from http://sourceforge.net/projects/lwt/files/ and extract them somewhere on your computer. Open up whatever you use for FTP managing (I use FileZilla) and upload all the files to a new folder on the root of your site. I called my folder "lwt." When it is done uploading, you simply visit your website like this - example.com/lwt (or whatever you named the folder)

The LWT software should now be up and running on your website for you to use.

If you do not have your own hosting then you can always use a free webhost such as 000webhost.com. LWT's homepage has instructions on how to set it up on 000webhost.

***************

And that's it. I and many other language learners recommend this software very highly. Don't overlook it if you are serious about learning your target language!

Have you ever heard of or tried this before? I would love to hear your comments below!

\

2 Comments

Saluton! Kiel vi fartas? (Hello! How are you?) For those of you who don't know what Esperanto is and have never heard of it, let me quickly tell you some history. Esperanto is a constructed language developed in 1887 by L. L. Zamenhof, a Polish born citizen. He created Esperanto because he thought that most of the problems in today's society arose because of misunderstandings due to language barriers. He thought that if there was a universal and easy to learn second language that everyone could speak, it could help foster world peace and end most problems. While this was an admirable goal, this is not why most people choose to learn Esperanto. Here are the reasons they do.

It gives a base for learning other languages

Have you ever heard that once you learn your first language, picking up another becomes much easier? Well, it's true. Esperanto is a very, very easy language to learn especially for a speaker of English or any other European language. You can pick this language up in a matter of weeks and be able to hold a conversation in days. By having your first language finally under your belt, you will then realize how to learn languages and the process behind it. It gives you the confidence in learning even more because you realize you are capable of learning a new language.

Connects you with a huge community of Esperantists

According to Wikipedia, there are somewhere around 10,000 to 2,000,000 speakers of Esperanto. Many of which might not even speak English or another language you may know. By learning Esperanto you can connect with these people and make new friends from all over the world. Checkout websites like meetup.com and you might even find an Esperanto club nearby you. There are tons of Esperanto clubs and conferences all over the world, you just have to find them!

Gives you access to Esperanto literature

esperanto2Over 25,000 books have been published in Esperanto. The World Esperanto Association offers over 4,000 books in its catalog alone. This means there are quite a lot of books out there that cannot be read without knowing the language. If you love reading and love books then this should be another reason for you. There are even classics that have been rewritten into the language such as Alice in Wonderland and Shakespeare writings. Their are very interesting books out there that were only published in Esperanto.

Where can you learn Esperanto?

We've talked about the reasons for learning it but where and how can you actually do it? If you are interested, I recommend you check out the biggest free resource of Esperanto on the internet - lernu.net. It has an online course you can go through and it also has a forum to communicate, get feedback and practice your Esperanto with others.

The other resource I would highly recommend is the Teach Yourself Esperanto book. It's very cheap and probably one of the best TYS's made in my opinion. It's a little old of a book, but it doesn't matter since the information is always going to be relevant.

Try using both of these resources together for the best effect.

***************

Now you can see why some people speak so highly of Esperanto and end up learning it. Perhaps you now realize how useful this language might be to you!

Would you ever consider learning Esperanto now?

Adiaŭ! (Bye!)