To study or not to study grammar

To study or not to study grammar

Most people think of grammar as referring to the abstract rules that govern a language. But in practice grammar is far from the black and white tables, long-winded definitions and fiddly bits of word endings presented in a typical reference book. Rather, it is a set of norms that stretches and bends to accommodate different […]

Reading in a second language

Reading in a second language

Reading is a crucial skill for foreign language learners to develop. In fact, it is the single most important skill for building vocabulary as every text you read helps you acquire more words through incidental learning. Reading reinforces your knowledge of grammar and teaches you about culture. It’s necessary if you want to live, work […]

Tips for building your vocabulary

Tips for building your vocabulary

The sheer amount of vocabulary there is to learn when you start studying a second language can feel overwhelming. From vegetables to furniture, weather to numbers, classroom greetings, body parts, shops and transportation words, there is a seemingly endless list of terms. Should you spend time learning how to say tomato or is it more […]

How important is pronunciation?

How important is pronunciation

You’ve been repeating a phrase over and over again but you still can’t seem to say it like the native speaker on the recording. How big of a problem is this and how much more time should you devote to getting it right? There’s a big debate in language learning over whether or not a […]

Different kinds of motivation

Different kinds of motivation

Motivation is a key ingredient in success when it comes to language learning. That’s because languages are hard. The path from beginner to fluent speaker may be long and winding and the sheer amount of vocabulary and grammar one needs to learn can seem overwhelming. Motivation not only keeps language learners on track but research […]

Language learning superheroes

Language learning superheros

Some people are good at learning languages. They may have been born that way or become skilled thanks to strategy training, early exposure to a foreign language and/or the right kind of support. The important thing to realise, particularly when we’re feeling down and defeated by the overwhelming task of learning a language, is that […]

Dealing with gender

Dealing with gender

Is the word “boat” feminine or masculine? If you are studying a language in which nouns are assigned a gender you’re bound to experience this kind of uncertainty on a regular basis. That’s because individuals who grow up speaking English are only used to dealing with gender when choosing pronouns to describe people and sometimes […]

Picking up a phrase book

Picking up a phrasebook

Everyone knows it’s important to master vocabulary and grammar, but what about learning phrases? In applied linguistics phrases come under the umbrella of formulaic language which describes fixed sets of words that native speakers use in everyday communication. Greetings, expressions of thanks and polite remarks tend to be in this form– which is why learning […]