The 12 Most Common Mistakes Language Learners Make This post is not about making language mistakes. It’s about mistakes relating to your learning process as you learn a foreign language. Making mistakes is fine, and it’s a necessary aspect of learning anything. I still remember the first ‘flat’ cake I baked – it was burnt on the outside and undercooked inside. I’ve gone a long way since that day and my cakes are much more fluffy now. However, if I continued to set the temperature in my oven too high, I’d be reducing my chances of baking delicious cheesecakes. Do […]

The 12 Most Common Mistakes Language Learners Make and How to Fix Them

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How to choose which words to learn in a foreign language I recently started learning Japanese – a language I knew nothing about. ‘Where do I start?’, I thought to myself. What words should I be learning? I’m sure you often ask yourself a similar question whenever you pick up your vocabulary notebook or plan your vocabulary learning sessions. How to choose which words to learn in a foreign language? My experience of learning languages shows that in a lot of language learning settings, a very traditional approach to learning vocabulary is favoured. This approach involves learning sets of easy, […]

How to Choose Which Words to Learn in a Foreign Language

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Do you sometimes feel that something hard to define is stopping you from making progress in the language you’re learning? Do you feel that you’re putting in the effort but things are not working out as you would want them to? Perhaps you’re bothered by limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are things that we make ourselves believe, and which constrain us in some way or stop us from achieving our true potential. Let’s take a look at some limiting beliefs that many of us may sometimes hold. By naming them, you can take your first step on the way to getting […]

6 Things Successful Language Learners Never Believe

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How to Learn Japanese My latest language mission (which I started about four weeks ago so it’s not really my new year’s resolution) is to learn Japanese. I’ll be travelling to Japan in March and I’d really like to be able to get to a stage where I can: Introduce myself, say where I’m from and understand my conversation partner’s response Have a basic conversation about what I like, ask my conversation partner what they like and understand their response Ask for information (e.g. a food/drink recommendation in a restaurant or whether a tourist site is worth visiting) and ask for […]

How to Learn Japanese: New Year’s Language Mission

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We’ve got three days of 2015 left! Have you started making your new year’s language resolutions yet? It’s always good to look ahead but it’s equally important to look back at the things you’ve achieved this year, and I’m sure there’s a lot! I’ve been thinking this week about all the language-related things I’ve done this year and thought I’d share with you my fourite language hacks that have helped me move my language learning forward this year. Let’s get started! Mnemonics for learning vocabulary The one language learning technique that’s completely revolutionised (I’m serious!) the way I look at […]

My Favourite Language Hacks of 2015

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How to sound like a native speaker? If you prefer to watch a video about this topic, then here it is! Don’t forget to subscribe to the 5-Minute Language Youtube channel and give this video a thumbs up – thank you! If you’d like to read my advice in detail, here it is! When I moved to England for the first time, I really wanted to sound like a native. I felt very strongly that my ability to speak without my native accent was the one and only goal to aim for. I wanted to be part of the crowd. […]

How to sound like a native speaker in a foreign language

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Free resources for learning French I’ve come up with the ultimate list of over 60 free resources for learning French for you guys! I only chose the ones that I thought looked super-useful and that also had a pretty decent user interface. You’d be surprised how many websites there are out there from the early days of the internet… Don’t worry – I didn’t include any of them! Let’s get started! By the way, I loved my holiday in France in 2012 – I can’t believe I haven’t been back since! Here’s me at a book market in Lille: General French […]

60+ Free Resources for Learning French

A few months ago, I surveyed you guys about the type of content you’d like to read on 5-Minute Language. Many of you told me you’d like to see more reviews of the various language products available out there. Here’s the first one in the series – a review of Benny Lewis’ Fluent in 3 Months Premium 2.0. Enjoy! Language hacking and immersion You won’t be surprised when I tell you Benny is all about language hacking and immersion – changing your mindset to maximise your learning, making mistakes, ‘smart’ learning and, of course, speaking from day one. That’s why I […]

Fluent in 3 Months Premium Review

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How good are you at ignoring distractions when learning languages? If it’s something you’re currently struggling with, check out my eight tips on how you can improve your focus when learning a foreign language – hope they will help you stay focused! 1. Clear away mental clutter Switch everything off for 15 minutes and get a piece of paper and a pen ready. Lie down, close your eyes and relax. Catch all the thoughts that come into your head and write them down as they come in. Capturing them on paper means that your brain won’t be desperately trying to […]

8 Ways To Improve Your Focus When Learning a Language

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Would you like to become a more productive language learner? Below, you’ll find 12 things that ultra-productive language learners do differently. Hope some of these strategies will help you achieve your goals! 1. They get ready for tomorrow today Productive language learners finish their learning sessions by preparing for their next one. Procrastination can often be a result of not knowing where to start. That’s why preparing a topic you’re going to work on next time during your current learning session can be beneficial. Do it whilst you’re motivated and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate next time it’s time […]

12 Things Ultra-productive Language Learners Do Differently

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Sundays are great for maximising your language learning potential. Check out these five things that all language learners can try in order to improve their chances of language success. As with anything, do the things that make it right for you – feel free to adapt this list to suit your individual needs! 1. Review last week’s progress Looking back over the week just gone will give you a chance to evaluate how much you’ve learned. Sundays are a great time to do this because they’re more relaxed, and being relaxed makes you more reflective. Ask yourself the following questions: What […]

5 Things Language Learners Should Do Every Sunday

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1. They focus on communication We all aim for a perfect balance between fluency and accuracy when speaking a foreign language. We want to be fluent and speak fast, and not make any language mistakes at the same time. Sometimes, though, it’s good to just focus on communication. Try making getting your message across your main objective when speaking, instead of trying to get things right 100% of the time. Confident foreign language speakers frequently change their focus this way, which helps them relax a little bit and not be angry when they make small mistakes which don’t affect communication. 2. […]

8 things confident foreign language speakers do differently

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I’ve asked you guys (on my Facebook community page) whether you have any questions about language learning that I could answer. Thank you to everyone who submitted their questions! They’re exactly the kinds of questions I often asked myself when I first started learning languages. I’m going to answer them below, space permitting, but if you’d like me to provide more detailed answers, please let me know in the comments below. Let’s get started! What are your favourite techniques for learning vocabulary? My two favourite techniques are probably learning vocabulary in context through reading, and mnemonics. I tend to read […]

Top tips for learning languages: Q&A

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What’s the Millennium Bridge got to do with language learning? I’ve written a post recently about how to stay motivated when learning language. If you need some more language motivation, though, here’s my latest vlog, which provides just that! The Millennium Bridge is a suspension bridge in London, UK. How is that related to language learning motivation? Watch the video below to find out!   P.S. Do you know somebody who’s lacking motivation to learn a foreign language? I would really appreciate it if you could share this video with them! 🙂  

Language motivation vlog: the Millennium Bridge

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Understanding spoken language is probably one of the more difficult aspects of learning a language. It doesn’t just involve understanding the individual words that make up the language. Other factors that affect your understanding include the accent the person is speaking with, the clarity with which they pronounce sounds, their individual style of speaking, but also environmental factors such as noise created by different people speaking at the same time. So how can you improve your listening skills in a foreign language? There are the usual methods, such as watching films without subtitles, listening to podcasts or songs, or watching […]

How to improve your listening skills in a foreign language

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How to set SMART goals for language learning Have you heard people talk about SMART goals before? They’re a very useful tool when learning a language! Many language learners get frustrated because in their head, they’re thinking they’re just ‘learning a language’. Their goal is usually ‘to be able to speak the language they’re learning’. But what does this actually mean? If you want to make progress, you really need to know right from the outset what it is that you’re trying to learn. Make sure you check out the Motivation Journal, which is a tool I’ve created for you guys that can […]

How to set SMART goals for language learning

I’d like to share a personal story with you today. The idea came to me when I was working on my recent blog post with tips on how to stay motivated when learning a language. Staying motivated is tough. We all sometimes procrastinate, to a certain degree, but that’s easy to overcome with some minor tweaks to the way we go about our day. What’s more difficult to overcome are the emotional barriers that might be preventing us from achieving our language learning goals. The story I’d like to share with you starts in Sheffield It’s a city in the north of England where […]

You are an unbreakable language learner

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Motivation is an important element of the language learning process. For each of us, language learning motivation is linked to something slightly different but I will try and give you some universal tips on how to stay motivated when learning a foreign language. Hope you’ll find them useful! Check out my video on this topic as well and don’t forget to subscribe to the 5-Minute Language Youtube channel! 1. Develop your internal language learning motivation Some of us are motivated by rewards – having a delicious piece of cake or a glass of wine to celebrate an achievement like learning […]

How to stay motivated when learning a language

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You may have heard about the power of positive affirmations in improving personal effectiveness but how can this technique help you in becoming a successful language learner? Read this article to find out how to learn a language with positive affirmations! What are affirmations? Affirmations, or positive affirmations, are short powerful statements that you make to yourself to reinforce your belief in your ability to achieve something. You can repeat them every morning or every evening, or write them down and come back to them on a regular basis. When learning a language, it could, for example, be the following […]

8 ways to use positive affirmations for language learning

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The following post is from Paul Martin, an English teacher who lives in Argentina. Paul writes on behalf of Language Trainers, a language teaching service which offers foreign language level tests as well as other free language learning resources on its website.  Over to you Paul! They say that TV rots your brain, but for the foreign language learner, your television (or computer!) is an invaluable asset that you can use to put your language skills into high gear. Apart from being entertaining, TV shows contain an enormous amount of dialogue which will introduce you to how native speakers really […]

Jump-start your language skills by watching TV: a 4-step guide

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One of the things that often come up in my conversations with other language learners is the question of how to learn and maintain multiple languages at the same time. Below, you will find my tips, as well as a summary of what other language experts think about learning and maintaining several languages simultaneously. I’m going to start with the logistics of how to ensure you’re not mixing up the different languages you’re learning. I’ll then give you some examples of how you can structure your time to make sure you’re devoting equal amounts of time to each one of […]

How to learn and maintain multiple languages at the same time

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What is mnemonics and how can it help you learn vocabulary? I was in the car with my Mum the other day, after her and my Dad picked me up from the train station on my way back from the Berlin Polyglot Gathering. I was telling them all about memory palaces and a lecture by memory expert Anthony Metivier I’d attended the day before. The most important thing I had taken from that lecture was how powerful mnemonics can be as a technique for memorising foreign words – in any language. Here’s a brief explanation of mnemonics, which I recorded […]

How to use mnemonics to learn vocabulary in any language

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The best 7 podcasts for learning French In part 1 of this series, I gave you a list of blogs that have some great French language content to help you learn the language in a fun way. Now, it’s time to look at some podcasts for learning French. I don’t know about you, but I love using podcasts for language learning. They’re a very flexible way of learning languages because you can listen to them anywhere – on your way to school or work, on your lunch break, while washing up or doing other things around the house, or simply […]

The best podcasts for learning French

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I went to the 2015 Polyglot Gathering in Berlin last week – met a lot of fantastic people, listened to a number of interesting talks and here are the 10 things I learned! 1. You don’t need a reason to learn a language. My monolingual friends often ask me what the reasons were behind my decision to learn each of the languages I can speak. To live abroad, to go travelling, to get a new job? They’re missing the point, though. Multilingual people don’t always think along the lines of ‘utility’ when picking languages to learn. Sometimes, there’s no reason […]

10 things I learned at the 2015 Polyglot Gathering

I took part in a quiz this evening. And I totally lost – I came third with minus 6,400 points. And here’s why this story is important for you if you’re learning a foreign language. I arrived in Berlin today for the Polyglot Gathering. It’s Saturday and some of the train tracks are closed so there were no direct trains from the airport to the Berlin central station. I ended up in Lichtenberg, which is in East Berlin and had absolutely no idea how to get to the centre. Maps and schedules in the main station hall were non-existent. The […]

Why you should always put your hand up

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Hi everyone! Here’s my language tag video! I answer 10 questions about my language learning story, share my language learning tips and tricks, and reveal what my favourite language is. Let me know if you make a language tag video as well – I’d love to watch it! Here are the 10 questions I cover in the video: What’s your native language? What was your first language learning experience? What languages have you studied and why did you start them? How does your personality affect how you learn languages? Do you prefer learning languages in a class or individually? What […]

Language tag video

Vocabulary is the core of language. We learn it to be able to describe the world around us better, to be able to express our thoughts, opinions and feelings more accurately, and to be able to choose the tone of what we’re saying. But how to learn vocabulary effectively? Every language learner has their own favourite vocabulary learning technique that works for them. Below, you will find a summary of ten articles that discuss the most effective vocabulary learning methods. There’s also a bonus paragraph at the very bottom of this page which links to advice from 38 language experts […]

How to learn vocabulary effectively

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How to memorise noun genders in French, Spanish and Italian Memorising noun genders is something that many language learners struggle with. Remembering genders becomes even more difficult when they don’t correspond to the genders in your own language (if your language is one that has genders). For example, in French the word ‘window’ (fenêtre) is feminine and in German it’s neutral (Fenster). Or the word ‘wall’ – the French ‘mur’ is masculine and the Polish ‘ściana’ is feminine. Sometimes, memorising genders based on your native language can be helpful. For example, the Spanish ‘camisa’ and the Polish ‘koszula’ (shirt) are […]

Three tips for memorising noun genders

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Day 5 of the 21-day language challenge I haven’t been very good at posting these updates regularly – it’s partly due to other work I’ve been focusing on (writing a language starter guide – sign up for the newsletter below to hear more about it) and partly due to the equipment I use to film my language vlogs. I’ve been using my iphone and it takes me ages to upload them to Youtube so I probably need to think about an upgrade! Anyway, I’ve finished the 21-day language challenge now but will not be posting my updates daily. You’ll find […]

The 21-day language challenge: day 5

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Why don’t we celebrate our success more? Language learning is fun but it’s also a challenge. There are always new challenges no matter how fluent you get. Always new words to learn, new strange grammatical structures you’ve never heard about, new ways to pronounce things and phrases that make you sound more cool. We all find parts of language learning difficult and we all struggle with some aspects of it before we finally get it. But when we do get it, we should all make sure we celebrate our success. A lot of language learners have a tendency to focus on […]

You’re so good at languages already – celebrate it!

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Learn French for free: blogs Here’s part 1 of the first article in the series ‘How to learn languages for free’. Regardless of what level you’re at, the resources listed below will help you maintain or improve your language skills at no cost. If that’s something you’re interested in, then read on! Also, make sure you subscribe for my free newsletter at the bottom of this article if you’d like more language fun delivered to your inbox! Oui, c’est ça This is a fun blog with cartoons, songs and much more. La bande desinée is something that French people take […]

Learn French for free: part 1

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Make language learning part of your life A lot of language bloggers have written about effective language learning being linked to making it part of your everyday life. Many of us don’t live in the country whose language we’re learning. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t live our lives in that language. Olly Richards talks about this in his recent interview. Below, you’ll find 10 practical ways in which you can incorporate language learning into activities you’d be likely to engage in during your day anyway, even if you weren’t learning a language. 1. Read and watch the news […]

Don’t learn a language – live a language

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It’s been almost a decade since I moved from Poland to the UK. Although I learned English as a foreign language, at this point, I consider myself fully bilingual. I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at British universities and for the last four years I have worked as a researcher, writer and editor, writing in English. I have also set up my own content writing business and published a book. This is all in English, rather than in Polish. When I first moved to the UK to start a degree in English literature and French, a new world opened […]

Forgetting your native language is a thing