How to Hold on to a New Language After a Long Break

Posted by Will T. on 11/20/17 4:31 PM

Ever find yourself at the beginning of another school year, in the language classroom, and unable to utter a word? It’s common to all second- (and third-, etc.) language learners, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips on how to keep up a new language during a long break from study.

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Tags: language learning

Verbified nouns: Engaging with cultural cliché[é?]s through language study

Posted by Emma C. on 1/20/17 4:13 PM


A Confounding Caption

While meandering through a shopping mall last week, waiting for my husband to emerge from the battlefield that is the men’s dressing room, I stumbled upon a most curiously named store. To avoid incurring undue amounts of commercial ire and for the sheer purpose of explaining the flurry of ensuing reflections, let’s simply say that the store was called Beautéé. The French-inclined portion of my brain immediately seized upon this title. Granted, part of the store’s name is a cognate that most English speakers would grasp without too much prodding or hinting. On a purely visual level, Beautéé is indeed very close to beauty – and therefore in the eye of the beholder after all! The central cluster of letters b-e-a-u that is common to both words provides a strong foothold for our divining minds to clamber between one conclusion and the next.

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Tags: language learning, ESL

What’s the International Phonetic Alphabet and What’s so Great About it?

Posted by Tyler Lau on 10/12/15 10:00 AM

IPA will help you with English, but also for learning any language!

Nope, it’s not the beer, though that’s pretty great too! The IPA stands for the International Phonetic Alphabet and is a standardized way to write down the sounds of any language. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? But we’ll see how this system captures nuances of sounds in the world’s languages and why this is a great tool not only for understanding English, but also for learning any language.

You might have seen transcriptions before that almost look like English, but not quite, like the following for the word ‘casing’:

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Tags: language learning

Should I Become a Linguistics Major?

Posted by Tyler Lau on 9/30/15 10:00 AM

In a previous post I explained what, exactly, linguistics is, and provided an introduction to its different branches. Now I’m asking: why should you become a linguistics major?

Reason #1: To gain a better understanding of English (or any language!)

Linguistics seeks to understand how languages work. Even just an introductory linguistics course can unravel much of the mystery and rules of language, and can enlighten you on features of the English language that you might not have even been aware of.

Here's an example:

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Tags: language learning

A Review of Duolingo: Is it Really Worth Your Time?

Posted by Tyler Lau on 8/31/15 11:00 AM


Meet Duo, the Duolingo mascot!

Interested in learning a foreign language in a fun, low-pressure way? Addicted to your smartphone? Duolingo might be the app for you! As an avid language learner (avid to the point where I’m now pursuing a Linguistics PhD), I was thrilled to discover an app that allowed me to learn languages passively without feeling like I was devoting all my time to it.

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Tags: language learning

How to Learn (and Retain) Foreign Language Vocab

Posted by Tyler Lau on 6/1/15 3:45 PM

Julie Andrew knows a thing or two about mnemonics

Learning vocabulary in a new language can be a really daunting task, especially when you think about the thousands (and that’s probably an understatement!) of words you have to learn. But language learning doesn’t have to be all boring rote memorization. In fact, unless you want to forget all these words the next day, it’s better not to just memorize blindly. In this post, I’ll introduce a few tricks you can use to efficiently learn and retain vocabulary. Psychological research has shown us that we learn best by association, so that’s what I’m going to preach here: 

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Tags: language learning

The Language Tutor: How to Learn a New Language

Posted by Juan Rivera on 4/27/15 10:16 AM

There are better ways to learn how to speak a foreign language

Having the capacity to speak multiple languages has shown not only cognitive advantages but also has become an important skill to make your résumé more competitive. In my experience both as Spanish language tutor and in trying to learn a third language, I have found three fundamental qualities that help make the whole learning process a smooth one.

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Tags: language learning

The Language Tutor: How to Learn a Language from Your Living Room

Posted by Andrew Gray on 2/13/15 1:26 PM

Imagine if you could learn a language like this. Well, you can!
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Tags: language learning

The Language Tutor: Dispelling Myths, Stereotypes, and Misconceptions

Posted by Andrew Gray on 1/9/15 7:35 PM

A Spanish serenade from the singer Carlos Gardel

So, you’re ready for the exhilarating journey of studying a new language, but unsure of which language to choose. Perhaps, floating in your head are all the common stereotypes and generalizations about this or that language. Perhaps you, like even the most intelligent students, are unwittingly afflicted with language prejudices—unfounded ideas about which languages are “simple” and which are impossible to learn, which are ugly and which are beautiful. Today, as your foreign language tutor (based in Boston and New York) I’m here to help you separate fact from fiction. Here are 5 things I tell my students about language learning:

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Tags: language learning

Latin Tutor: Why Should I Study Latin?

Posted by Andrew Gray on 12/26/14 12:46 PM

Source: Asterix the Gladiator, book 4

Excellent reasons for studying Latin have been given elsewhere on this blog: knowledge of the ancient language can boost your standardized test scores, enrich your understanding of European culture, and make you stand out in college admissions. As a long time Latin tutor in Boston, I’d like to add to these reasons two of my own.

Reason #1: Latin will make any language easier to learn

You’ve probably heard that Latin helps you acquire its modern descendents, the Romance languages. In fact, by enriching your understanding of grammar, Latin will help you learn any foreign language, not just those of the Romance family. Let me explain.It’s only reasonable that teachers give scant attention to Latin as a spoken language (although doing so can be fun and instructive), and instead, their assignments explicitly focus on Latin grammatical structures, or on translation. Latin students have no choice but to become well acquainted with hairy grammar topics like contrary to fact conditions, participial phrases, tense sequence, and the subjunctive mood. Read More

Tags: language learning, Latin