Recently-added language posts

Why do Computers Suck at Languages?

I studied Computational Linguistics, which is the part of linguistics that tries to teach computers human languages. It's a very interesting subject, responsible for machine translation, dictation software, text-to-speech tools, dialog systems like Siri and many more applications. If you want to learn a bit more about Computational Linguistics, what problems there are for computers to deal with human language and what the future looks like, you can now watch my intro talk from the Polyglot Conference in Budapest:

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How Many Hours to Learn a Foreign Language?

I'm often asked how many hours it takes to learn a foreign language, how many hours the asker should plan to spend on learning language X, (more rarely) how many hours it took me to learn a language. Here's an attempt at an answer.

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So Many Ways to Learn Esperanto

The Master List of Resources for Learning Esperanto. Courses, grammars, exercises, vocabulary, pronunciation, lots of reading materials from easy readers to literature, ways to improve your writing, listening practise through podcasts, audiobooks and videos, and much more. Must bookmark!

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Launching a Special Challenge

I created the 6 Week Challenge several years ago and it has been faithfully running four times a year, always starting on February 1, May 1, August 1 and November 1, for a pattern that's roughly 6 weeks on, 6 weeks off. The next challenge is almost upon us, starting on May 1. And this time, I want to mix things up!

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Interviewed again!

This time I'm exploring how to make the best use of a tutor, on the Language is Culture podcast with David Mansaray:

* What makes an amazing tutor
* How to spot a bad tutor
* How to organise a productive session with a tutor
* Learning vocabulary with a tutor
* Improving pronunciation with a tutor
* Studying grammar with a tutor
* The importance of having a good rapport with a tutor
And much, much more…!

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I was Interviewed!

I'm on the Actual Fluency podcast! Talking about

  • motivation
  • learning languages with view of different goals
  • using tutors
  • studying Latin, Esperanto, Chinese, Indonesian

and more! Chris Broholm and me had a really interesting conversation.

Listen to the Actual Fluency podcast!

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Practise Numbers Using a Fun Game

If you're learning Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Persian, Thai, Khmer or any of the Indian languages, you're probably annoyed that they don't use Western numerals (0123456789) but other symbols for their numbers. These will require a lot of practise until you can read them as effortlessly as you can read Western numerals. So here's a fun way to practice, an addictive game that I adapted in a spare hour:

Sample board for the Chinese 2048 game

Play it at 2048 on LearnLangs!

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Indonesian Video Materials

I'm getting quite good at reading Indonesian - I've read more than 350 pages of parallel texts - so now is a good time to improve my listening comprehension. I asked friends for recommendations of online Indonesian videos and received the following recommendations:

Children's stories being read (subtitles in Indonesian)
Jalan Jalan Men, a fun travel series - The authors also do other fun series. (subtitles in English)

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Increasing Productive Language Hours

I've tried many to-do lists, dont-break-the-chain, habit builders and so on, but
a) They were all boring
b) They didn't support all the things I need to track, only one or two types of tasks / habits.

Since I freelance and have a lot of time to waste every day, I want something that lists everything: things I need to do today, deadlines coming up next week, productivity goals I want to meet every day, non-daily habits I want to encourage... and it should be fun to strike things off the list (without preventing recurrence).


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What NOT to do in Germany

It's not enough to speak a foreign language - if you want to fit in while abroad, you also need to know the cultural norms, the expected behaviour, so that you don't inadvertently offend people. There is often some leeway for foreigners, but some things are considered "universal" by the locals, so even foreigners aren't allowed to get away with them (no matter if these are actually universal constants or not).

Someone on Quora asked me about the things that a foreigner visiting Germany should absolutely not do. My answer:

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