What’s the best foreign language to learn?

Best foreign language to learn

A few weeks ago I received an email from a friend asking which foreign language his daughter should learn. She was entering high school and had several options, including Spanish, French and Chinese. He wanted to know which language was the best.

While I specialize in language learning and work in world languages, I still found his question hard to answer.

Here’s why. Read more

English listening comprehension strategies and practice exercises

English listening comprehension strategies

Depending on what you’re listening to, making sense of the English language can be a challenge, particularly when more than one person is speaking. ESL programs often provide language labs for practice, but there’s a wealth of listening material available on the web that can help you get more creative with your English listening exercises.

So how can you improve your listening comprehension in English and start catching more language? Try these listening strategies and then practice your comprehension skills with daily exercises. You’ll be ready for your next English challenge in no time.

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How to order coffee in French

how to order coffee in French
The holidays have arrived. Your destination? France. The city? Paris.

Promenades, French museums, you already have the whole vacation planned. But after long hours of walking you will be in need of a break and what’s more French than stopping at un petit café for a coffee?

But how do you order coffee in France? What types of French coffee are there? What French words will you need to learn to order? Read more

Arabic dialects: Egyptian, Levantine, Gulf and North African

Arabic Dialects: Egyptian, Levantine, North African

Have you ever heard of diglossia? It’s when a language has different spoken and written varieties and it describes the Arabic language perfectly. In fact, if you are a native Arabic speaker, chances are you speak your local Arabic dialect as a mother tongue and that you learned to read and write Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in school.

So why do students of Arabic as a foreign language need to learn dialects? Because anyone learning MSA will likely want to travel and actually hold conversations while abroad. Communicating with locals means leaving classical MSA behind and entering into the diverse and sometimes bewildering world of spoken Arabic dialects.

But not every dialect is built the same way. Learn what sets different varieties of Arabic apart and why you want to go to the trouble of learning them in the first place.

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Is Russian a hard language to learn?

Is Russian a hard language to learn?

Russian has a reputation as being a difficult language to learn. This may be due to its Cyrillic alphabet, grammar or status as a less commonly taught world language (compared to the likes of French and Spanish). Nonetheless, it isn’t as hard as some English speakers make it out to be. Let’s take a look at the things that make Russian challenging and the less complex aspects that might convince you to give it a try! Read more

Why spelling is important for first and second language learners

Why spelling is important for first and second language learners

Spelling is never easy. Think back to those spelling quizzes you took as a child. Some words sound the same but are spelled differently. Some words are just notoriously complex or don’t sound the way they are spelled. It’s never an easy task to learn how to spell in a language, whether it’s your first, second, or third, but it is a necessary evil. Words are all around us and we need to know how to write them down! Learn why it’s important and when it’s okay to ‘break the spelling rules.’ Read more

Cool French phrases, proverbs and sayings

Cool French phrases

French is a rich language full of colorful expressions and idioms. That’s why we’ve assembled this list of sayings you won’t find in your average French text-book. The meaning of these phrases isn’t always transparent, but that makes them more fun to learn! Plus, French sayings come in handy if you like to use more native sounding language. Read more

Reading in French, books, stories, poetry & more

Reading in French, books, stories, poetry & more

Reading French can do wonderful things for your language skills. It not only expands your French vocabulary, but enhances comprehension and positively impacts productive language abilities at the same time. So how can you make sure you are reading French books that are appropriate for your level? Try our suggestions and then have a look at some language reading strategies to learn more French on every page. Read more

Stare vs. Essere in Italian

Stare in Italian

Ciao, come stai? The answer here is either sto bene or sto male depending on how you feel. If you study Italian then you’re probably aware the Italian language has two verbs which translate in English as “to be,” essere and stare.

While they may seem similar at first glance (they even have the same past participle, stato) stare is less about being and more about staying and it is usually used in a different way from essere. So how do you tell the two apart and which do you use when?  Read more

How to say “you” in French

How to say "you" in French

If you’re a beginner French student, you’ve probably encountered the phrases “Parlez-vous francais?” or “Comment t-appelles tu?” But have you ever wondered why the French have two different ways of saying you?

In English, the personal pronoun you is the same no matter who you’re talking to. In French, both tu and vous mean “you.” What’s the difference and how can you know when it’s appropriate to use tu vs. vous? Read more