Language learning blog

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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

mnemonics - how to learn vocabulary effectively
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

how to memorise noun genders language learning 7
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

Celebration - language learning 2
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

language challenge - how to learn a language 2
How to learn a language: day 4 of the 21-day language challenge Day 4 of my 21-day language challenge is over! If you’ve missed days 1-3, start here. And here’s what I talk about in today’s vlog: Progress update on my objective relating to verbs Simple sentences about what I like Using Twitter for language learning Make sure you subscribe to my Youtube channel if you don’t want to miss my future updates! Are you tempted to do the challenge yourself? Let me know in the comments below! Here’s the vlog, and if you’d like to watch the day 5 […]

The 21-day language challenge: day 4

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How to learn a language: day 3 of the 21-day language challenge Welcome to day 3 of the 21-day language challenge! If you’ve missed day 1, you can watch it here, and click here for day 2. Today’s vlog covers the following topics: Pronouns, simple sentences and link words Using the Google Translate app Setting objectives Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel to follow my progress! Here’s the vlog, and if you’d like to watch my day 4 vlog as well, click here.

The 21-day language challenge: day 3

Here’s a round-up of my favourite seven language blog posts from February. If you’ve got any other suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments below! Five bizarre false friends in Polish and Russian In his recent post, Alex Rawlings talks about the close similarity between Polish and Russian, which can sometimes be very misleading. Alex discusses five truly bizarre false friends – take a look and see if you know them! How to stop people talking to you in English I went to Spain last year and what made me the most excited about my trip was checking how […]

The language round-up: best language blogs in February

Learn a language fast - language learning tips
How to learn a language: day 2 of the 21-day challenge Welcome to day 2 of my 21-day language challenge! If you missed day 1, you can watch it here. Thinking of learning a new language? Try the 21-day language challenge! Click To Tweet Some of the things I cover in the vlog are: Using flashcards to memorise vocabulary Recording things in Evernote Choosing verbs to learn and learning verb conjugation Setting language learning objectives and determining your ultimate goals Here’s the video, and if you’d like to watch my vlog from day 3, click here. Subscribe to 5-minute language […]

The 21-day language challenge: day 2

How much can you learn in 21 days? I’ve decided to take up a new language. I’ve also decided to do it in a different way – by undertaking a 21-day language challenge! The most productive way to start your day: the 21-day language challenge Click To Tweet The aim of the challenge is to see how much I can learn in 21 days and see whether I want to carry on. I will be updating you on my progress in my vlogs so make sure you subscribe to 5-minute language and to my Youtube channel so that you don’t […]

The 21-day language challenge: day 1

The best books and resources to learn Polish Language books are fun – even in the era of free internet resources and Youtube channels on language learning. If you’re just beginning your Polish learning journey, I’ve got a list of the best books to learn Polish for you. I’ve divided this post into different types of resources, from grammar books to courses in colloquial Polish. When learning a language, I would probably get one of each and supplement this with online resources, podcasts, films and conversation classes. But the choice is yours! Are you ready? Let’s get started! Polish for […]

The Best Books and Resources to Learn Polish

Fat Thursday (tłusty czwartek) Before we indulge ourselves in pancakes, it’s time for doughnut day! Yes – that’s what the Polish Fat Thursday is all about. This year, Polish people will have eaten approximately one hundred million doughnuts on Fat Thursday (12 February) alone, which is almost three doughnuts per person! Can you handle that? I certainly can! How to make Polish doughnuts (pączki)? Pączki (the plural of pączek) can be made in the same way as any other doughnuts. Most Polish doughnuts, though, have fruit jelly or jam, rather than cream or chocolate, in the centre. Jenny Can Cook […]

Polish food: Fat Thursday

Do you want to learn a foreign language but haven’t got time?  We’ve all heard or made this excuse before. Don’t worry – there’s a solution. Read on! The miracle language learning morning I’ve recently read an interesting book by Hal Elrod called The Miracle Morning. It’s a short and practical book about how to structure your morning routine to be less stressed, more successful and have more energy throughout the day. I’ve implemented the miracle morning into my daily routine and have been following it for the last four weeks. And I can tell you – it’s changed the […]

The miracle morning of language learning

Is Polish the most difficult language to learn? If you think the answer is ‘no’ – don’t worry about reading this blog post. You’re already on the right track! If you think it’s ‘yes’ – carry on! Polish has been named the most difficult language to learn by so many websites, bloggers and people I know. I’ve got a theory about this and I’d like to share it with you so bear with me! Polish is difficult for first-time language learners My theory is that the people who think Polish is tricky tend to be people who haven’t learned any foreign […]

Is Polish Difficult to Learn?

Learn Polish (ways of addressing strangers) ‘Mówić na ty’ is something that’s not easily translated into English. It means ‘to be on first-name terms with somebody’ or ‘to address somebody with a familiar version of the pronoun ‘you’’. It’s something that’s too complicated to explain to somebody who only speaks English because in English, there’s only one ‘you’. Paradoxically, it’s easier to explain this by using a comparison to French, German and Spanish – provided, of course, that you know at least one of these languages! Addressing strangers in French, German and Spanish The French have their ‘vous’ and ‘tu’, […]

Why can’t we just be friends?

How to order drinks in Polish In this video, I teach you how to order tea, coffee and beer in Polish. Enjoy! How to order drinks in Polish: phrases covered Proszę herbatę – Tea, please Proszę kawę – Coffee, please Proszę piwo – Beer, please You can also learn how to order two of each: Proszę dwie herbaty Proszę dwie kawy Proszę dwa piwa Have you tried ordering drinks in Polish yet? Let me know how it went in the comments below! Follow me on twitter @agakarch

Learn how to order drinks in Polish!

Asking people how they are in Polish is a risky business. That’s because the question really means what the words suggest. It doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in English.   That’s why the question is only ever asked when someone actually wants to know how someone else is. There are two options. The first phrase sounds very geeky and nobody really uses it: Jak się masz? (How are you?) The other one (which translates, although not word for word, as ‘How are you?’) invites the other person to share their happy/sad news in greater detail: Co słychać? / […]

‘How are you’ in Polish really means ‘how are you’

Unlike in English, the names of most days of the week in Polish are linked to their position in the week. For example, środa (Wednesday) derives from the word środek (middle) and signifies the middle of the (working) week. Below, you will find a brief explanation of the rest of the days. Remember – in Polish, they’re not capitalised! Poniedziałek (Monday) comes after Sunday (niedziela) – po niedzieli. Wtorek is the second day of the week (wtóry – a rather old-fashioned way of saying drugi, or ‘second’). Środa – the middle day. Czwartek derives from czwarty (fourth). Piątek is like […]

The seven days of the week: what do they mean?

‘Thank you’ and ‘please’ – these two words will take you very far when talking to a Polish speaker. They are also surprisingly easy to master. There is only one little tricky thing about each of them.  ‘Thank you’ or ‘dziękuję’ has two versions depending on how formal you want to be, and ‘please’ or ‘proszę’ has two different meanings. I hope my short podcast below will make things clear for you. Enjoy! Phrases covered: Dziękuję – thank you Dzięki – thanks Proszę – please, you’re welcome, no problem Proszę kawę – coffee, please

‘Thank you’ and ‘please’ – always handy!

You must have, at least once, been at a house party where a Polish host offers one of their Polish guests something to eat. Salad?, the host enquiries. Nie, the guest replies.  Bread? Nie, again. Soup? The third suggestion must be the final one, you’re thinking. But then, the guest says no. A minute later you see the host serve hot tomato soup with noodles (the Polish way) to the guest. The guest seems really up for it. But he said no, didn’t he?! To make sense of this situation, you will need to switch off the English-speaking part of […]

Ever wondered why Polish people say ‘no’ when they mean ‘yes’?

Learn Polish - gherkins
The gherkin, as trivial as it may sound, is an essential part of Polish culture. If you ask a Polish person living abroad what they miss, you’re likely to hear ‘real gherkins’ as one of the top three things. What are ‘real gherkins’, though? They’re gherkins that are ‘really pickled’ of course! They spend much more time in the pickle jar than the kind of gherkins that you get in most countries in the world. These widespread ‘semi-pickled’ gherkins are what Polish people call ogórki konserwowe or ogórki małosolne. But for some Polish people that’s just not pickled enough. If you fancy making […]

The real gherkin

How to say hi in Polish
How to say ‘hi’ in Polish Welcome to my blog about learning languages. I will be posting bite-sized lessons for those of you who always wanted to learn the language but could never find the time to do it! In the video below, I teach you how to say ‘hi’ in Polish. Let me know if there’s anything in particular you would like to learn and I will feature it in future posts. If there’s nothing specific, come back to 5-minute Polish in a few days for your next 5-minute lesson! Enjoy! Glossary: Cześć (hi) Hej (hi – informal) Dzień dobry […]

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