Do you also know someone who rushes to the doctor’s office every other week, convinced that they have some life threatening illness? When we call someone a ‘hypochondriac’ today, we usually mean that they inaccurately imagine conditions of the body or mind, despite the absence of real ones. However, the Greeks originally used the term ‘Hypochondria’ to refer to real conditions, albeit not always physically palpable ones.
Where does the word come from?
The word ‘hypochondria’ literally points to the soft part of the body below the ribs: Hypo – (“under”) and Khondros (“cartilage”, of the breastbone). It reflects the ancient belief that the viscera of the hypochondria were the seat of melancholy and the source of the vapors that caused such feelings. Read more
So many of the English words, phrases and expressions we use today come from other languages. That’s because languages are living things and over the years they have borrowed extensively from each other as they came into contact through trade, politics and learning.
When the Arabs first rose to world power in the seventh century, their influence could be felt from Asia Minor to Europe and as a result the Arabic language loaned many words to neighboring tongues, including English.
As we trace back the origin of Arabic words, we’ll find that pronunciation and meaning has sometimes shifted, but there are always interesting stories behind the changes, not to mention a few etymological mysteries still waiting to be solved. Read more
Neither slang nor idioms are easy to look-up in the dictionary but they are both crucial features of spoken English that anyone traveling abroad to the US is likely to encounter. So aside from understanding more of what those Yanks are saying, why should you learn them?
Speaking can often be quite an intimidating experience and incorporating informal and colloquial language helps to reduce both the level of formality and consequent stress involved in holding a conversation. Also, they will make you sound like a societal insider which can be very helpful in certain situations, such as if you’re trying to make small talk in a bar or make new friends at a social gathering. Read more
Italy is famous for its food but did you know that ordering your midday meal can actually help improve your Italian pronunciation? Many common food items on restaurant menus are excellent examples of Italian pronunciation rules when it comes to consonant and vowel combinations. By memorizing the correct pronunciation and switching over from American and Anglicized versions to the Italian sounds, you’ll actually help improve your overall skill level in Italian.
Why pronunciation is important
It may seem like a formality, but pronunciation is important for reasons other than just intelligibility and achieving the perfect native speaker accent. Knowing which sounds go with which letters (also known as grapheme phoneme mapping) can have a big impact on reading comprehension. That’s because if you are silently reading the words wrong, you may not actually understand what you are reading. Read more
Writing is one of the four skills every language learner must master. But for some, it can prove to be the most challenging. That’s because there isn’t a set format or fill in the blank exercise that can teach you to write.
Writing is a creative process. No one is born a writer and no two individuals will draft the same piece of writing. Yet skill is something that develops through ample practice. The more you write, the better your writing will become. The same holds true for reading, as exposure to written language can positively influence your own craft.
One thing researchers do know is that if you’re a good writer in your first language, the chances are you’ll be a good writer in your second language too. That’s because writing strategies transfer over and often good writers are implementing a number of them, even if they aren’t completely aware. Read more
Anyone who has studied abroad or visited France knows that the last thing you want to do is walk into a bar and alienate yourself by using awkward expressions or overly formal constructions. Slang is a register that helps you shout “I’m casual, easy-going and cool” to anyone who’s listening. And when you’re trying to sound more fluent and speak confidently, it can be very helpful. Also, speaking in an informal register bodes well for beginners as you’re able to make mistakes without worrying about embarrassing yourself. Everyone and everything is relaxed, even the language.
But if you’re not living in the country or spending a lot of time hanging out with French potes, it can be hard to figure out which slang to use and how to use it well, since the good stuff is decidedly missing from your average textbook. To that end, we’ve put together a little list to help you get started. If you want to carry on learning and using French slang, we suggest you get yourself some films and set the subtitles to français so you can be sure to catch all of the subtle ways French speakers use argot in social situations. Read more
We all wish we could be better conversationalists, both in our native tongues and new languages, and WE CAN be! But because every language learner is as unique as the conversation they make, there’s no one size fits all solution.
That’s why it’s helpful to imagine 4 key settings where you plan on doing most of your speaking. Once you’ve identified the locations, list out possible conversation topics that might come up given the place and the people who are often in it. For example, if a bus is on your list, study the words conductor (driver), parada (stop) and asiento (seat) along with any other concrete nouns, adjectives or verbs that you think will be relevant. Read more
“Un buen día comienza con un gran desayuno.”
Or at least that’s what the cereal boxes in Spain say! Here’s a handful of Spanish breakfast vocabulary words to inspire your morning language study and some background on how to desayunar like a local. But first, have a look at 5 things I guarantee won’t happen at a breakfast in Spain:
1. You won’t get any bacon, though you might get some jamón if you’re lucky
2. More often than not, the toast will not be square
3. No one will bring you pancakes
4. Fried eggs will be hard to come by
5. The coffee will never be filter Read more
Learning Spanish quickly and efficiently
Everyone knows that learning a language can take time, but if speed and efficiency are priority, than there are some shortcuts you should know about that will help you enhance your progress and achieve your fluency goals in a fraction of the time.
What you really need is a daily dose of vocabulary, grammar, some phrases and plenty of conversation and practice. If you live in a country where Spanish is spoken, great! You have the home-team advantage. If you don’t, never fear as you can always create an immersion environment in your own perimeter. Read more
Language Learner of the Week, Victor
Language: Hebrew Read more