Daily language learning hacks

Major Mitchell cockatoo, Australia

If you are like me, your language learning motivation waxes and wanes, with the weather, with a changing daily workload and social appointments, and with tiredness and stress. Recently, my workload has increased, and I'm running around like a … [Continue reading]

Simplified language is not stupid

Autumn shoji screen

When I was doing my honors project in Computer Science, I was regularly criticized for making my papers and literature reviews too readable, too understandable. As if being understood is a bad thing! I was told that I could 'get away with it' … [Continue reading]

When you get stuck

Spider caught a fly

I've been stuck a few times when learning Japanese and German. Mostly it's because I didn't want to leave my 'comfort zone'. I'm an extreme introvert, so meeting and talking with new people makes me terribly anxious, sometimes even sick to my … [Continue reading]

Written homework is important for conversation classes

Orangutan mother and child

You've reached a certain level of ability and confidence, and now want to join a conversation class. Great choice! One conversation class per week is recommended by the local language school. Enrolled! You are nervous at the beginning of the … [Continue reading]

How to be an independent learner

Yellow crested cockatoo

Have you ever sat through a class, been bored out of your mind, and not remembered anything that was covered? I have, many times! It can be a combination of a dry topic, how the topic is being taught, how the other students in the class are … [Continue reading]

Australian animals – word search

Australian owl

One of the first handouts I made for my Japanese classes in 2010 was a word find puzzle, with a large number of Australian animals. It was probably one of the most popular lessons, as the students raced to be first and receive Australian stickers … [Continue reading]

Motivation and language learning

Fallen statue in Fukushima, after the earthquake

It's common to hear "this year I'm going to learn ... Spanish, because I'm going to Spain for a holiday at the end of the year." Or, "I desperately want to learn Japanese. It would be cool to be able to watch anime without subtitles." Or, "I … [Continue reading]

30 Travel Idioms

Australian train travel stamp

Idioms are used regularly in every-day spoken language. Even beginners are faced with idioms if they travel to an English speaking country for a holiday. That's why it's important to include idioms in all levels of language courses. Plus … [Continue reading]

50 Travel conversation prompts

Cape Clairault - Western Australia

The most requested topics in a conversation class with my older students is travel. I usually schedule two classes per conversation course on this topic, focusing on different tenses or grammar. Making the second or third lesson in a course … [Continue reading]

Dealing with language learning burnout

Into the fire

Does working through that textbook seem like an awful drag? Or perhaps a conversation class fills you with dread? Do you prioritize cleaning the toilet or do other unappealing tasks above cracking open your flash cards and drilling? Do you … [Continue reading]