10 ways to keep your language learning going over Christmas

… and other busy times!

December is a busy time and if you are learning a language you are probably wondering how you are going to fit in your language learning on top of everything else. You may be preparing to take a whole month off and start again in January. However, if you prepare in advance, you can easily add in a few language learning activities to coincide nicely with the festive period. Read on for 10 tips to continue learning a language over the Christmas period. Some of them can also be applied to any busy time throughout the year. Continue reading

How to agree or disagree in Spanish

If you have ever had an in-depth conversation or discussion with a Spanish person you will know just how heated they can become! Spanish people tend to be very opinionated and once you get in a discussion with them or if you overhear one you may think they are arguing with each other by the way they speak so loudly, wave their arms around and stamp their feet. However, they are not normally arguing, this is just their animated way of expressing themselves.

In this blog post we will look at how you can agree or disagree with someone’s opinion in Spanish. Continue reading

Improve your French pronunciation with Francis Cabrel!

Francis Cabrel is a French singer-songwriter and guitarist who rose to fame in the 80s. I first heard his songs when I was living in a remote area of Québec, and even now when I hear him sing I am transported back to that time and place, the farmhouse in the deep snow in the middle of the Canadian winter. His songs have a haunting, poetic quality that linger long in the mind, and are very popular both in France and Canada.

But more importantly for language-learning, he pronounces his words very clearly and quite slowly, so they are useful for improving your pronunciation of French words and your listening skills. Try listening to some of his songs on YouTube and see if you can pick out the words. The more you listen, the more the individual words will start to pop out of the stream of sound, and it can be quite exciting and rewarding when you realize you can “hear” the words and understand them! You might like to try singing along. The rhymes within the songs will also help you learn the correct pronunciation of the words, like rien rhyming with gardien, and aujourd’hui rhyming with nuits.

Here is a Youtube video of one of his most popular songs, Je l’aime à mourir, with the lyrics and English translation, to get you started: Continue reading

The Past Perfect Tense in Spanish

Last week we looked at how to use the perfect tense in Spanish to talk about what you “have” done recently. After you feel confident with this tense it would be a good idea to learn the past perfect or the pluperfect (pluscuamperfecto) since it is formed in a similar way. The past perfect is used to talk about what “had” happened prior to something else. Continue reading

How to say what you “have done” in Spanish

The Perfect Tense

In Spanish to talk about what you have done recently or things you “have done” you would use what is called the “perfect tense”. Luckily it is one of the easier tenses to learn. In this blog post we will look at how to form this tense and the irregular verbs.

There are two parts to this tense: Continue reading

9 ways to overcome the language learning plateau

Why do we reach a plateau?

Problem areas

One reason people learning languages lose motivation and feel they aren’t progressing is because they come across parts of the language they find difficult to understand. For example, tricky parts of grammar such as the subjunctive in Spanish, how pronouns or commands work. Continue reading

4 Tricks to help you speak Spanish faster!

As all learners of Spanish know, Spanish people speak incredibly fast. Spanish is the fastest speaking language in Europe. This is why when in a group of Spanish speakers you also need to speak quickly to keep up with the conversation. This post will give you a few handy tips to help you speak more quickly in Spanish. Continue reading

15 French idioms using animals

It is interesting that speakers of many languages seem to use expressions involving animals, the French being no exception. Here are 15 examples of popular French idioms featuring our furry friends:

1) Arriver comme un chien dans un jeu de quilles – To turn up when least needed. (Literally: To turn up like a dog in a game of skittles).

2) Bon chien chasse de race – Like father, like son. (Literally: A good dog hunts good stock).

3) À bon chat bon rat – Tit for tat. (Literally: A good rat for a good cat).

4) Avoir un chat dans la gorge – To have a frog in one’s throat. (Literally: To have a cat in one’s throat). Continue reading

Anglicisms in Québécois French

French in France and French in Canada have, unsurprisingly, evolved differently, and whilst both include Anglicisms, these can be different in each version of French.

A good illustration of this I encountered in my time in Québec is the following: Whereas speakers of French from France might say J’ai stationné ma voiture dans le parking, a Québécois speaker would probably say J’ai parké mon char dans le stationnement. (I parked my car in the car park). Continue reading

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