Archive for the Category: Language learning

Are you a hare or a tortoise?

When learning a language do you try to learn it as quickly as possible? Like a hare you hurry through the language ignoring anything that might slow you down, like good grammar and pronunciation, perhaps thinking that you can go back later and tidy them up. Or maybe you take your time like a tortoise, […]

Also posted in Language, Music 1 Comment

Studying or dabbling, or both?

Do you think it better to learn many languages to a basic level, to concentrate on a few and learn them in much more depth, or to learn a few languages well, and to learn the basics of others – perhaps many others? It will probably depend on what you want to do with each […]

Also posted in Language, Music 3 Comments

Visual addiction

There’s an interesting post by Idahosa Ness on learning languages orally over on Fluent in 3 Months today. It suggests that it is better to focus on listening and speaking until you have a good grasp of the pronunciation, rather than learning reading and writing at the same time. This can work even if you […]

Also posted in Language 6 Comments

More on grammar

The importance of grammar in language learning is often played down in language courses and by people who blog about language learning. They claim that you can learn a language either without actively studying the grammar (whatever they mean by the word), or that you only need to glance at grammar books and explanations now […]

Also posted in Language 3 Comments

What do you mean by grammar?

A lot of discussions on how to learn languages mention grammar – whether it should be learnt overtly at all; whether it should be introduced gradually from the start, or only after one has a some knowledge of the new language, and so on. There are often asides about how English-speaking people, especially the younger […]

Also posted in English, Language 2 Comments

Reverse engineering languages

Recently I read an interesting book by Barbara Sher called Refuse to Choose!, which suggests ways in which people with many interests, who the author calls scanners, can find time to persue all those interests. I thought some of the suggestions might be relevant to people interested like learning many languages, like me. One idea […]

Also posted in Language 2 Comments

Tuning in

I went to a concert featuring poems and songs in Shetland dialect last night – some new, some old, some serious, and some frivolous and very funny. I was able to follow most of the words, but there were some that I didn’t understand, including some of the funny bits, so sometimes when everyone else […]

Also posted in English, Language Comments Off

Feeling at home in a language and culture

The other day a friend of a friend asked me whether I’d found a language and/or culture in which I felt ‘at home’. She told me about someone she knows who has studied many languages and is always looking for a language community (other than his native one) where he fits in and feels comfortable […]

Also posted in Language 1 Comment

Reviving neglected languages

I often meet people who say that they studied a language or two in school, but have since forgotten most of what they knew as they’ve had little need and few opportunities to speak the language(s). To some extent I’m in a similar position – since finishing school I have rarely spoken French or German, […]

Also posted in French, German, Language 9 Comments


This week I reached the half-way point in my Breton Assimil course (lesson 50) and have entered the ‘active phase’. So for every new lesson I also go back to an earlier lessons and translate the French versions of the dialogues and exercises into Breton. I also translate them into Welsh, just for fun. So […]

Also posted in Breton, French, Language, Welsh 2 Comments