ça c’etait quoi? | learning languages

I’m really quite unfortunate when it comes to numbers. High school maths was a mess of a mission, except for the very end when magic and blood made a miracle happen. I am, however, better with words & languages. So today, by request, I’m going to share any and all language learning things that I’ve got swimming around in my head (and that are on the internet).

As of right now, I can confidently say I’m fully bilingual. I can speak English and Afrikaans fluently, and that’s mostly because I speak English at home and spoke Afrikaans at school for ten years. I’m intermediate in French, and a basic beginner in Spanish and a very basic beginner in Italian. BUT! I am learning all three of these languages with the end goal of being an eventual polyglot. Here’s the how to from someone who needs a how-to.

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There are SO MANY language learning apps out there. I’ve tried many of them, and the trick to knowing whether it’ll help is this: if it promises a short cut, it won’t. Un/fortunately, language learning is a long and specific process, so those “SPEAK FRENCH IN FIVE DAYS!!1!!1” apps really won’t help. Here are two that will:

  • Duolingo

Duolingo is amazing. It’s a super user-friendly app that will guide you through your language learning process. It costs ZERO MONEY (relevant to the July series I’m working on) and is really effective.

How it works is that there are bite-sized lessons that you can do on your phone, laptop, iPad, Apple Watch, or any device, and you slowly but surely increase your fluency percentage. Duolingo works. They have research on it. My advice: use a pen and paper along with this. It’s easy to learn phrases like “elles sont riche et calme” and “nosotros bebemos el agua”  but the grammar lessons (which can be found with a simple click to the comment sections) really help to understand why certain verbs are the way they are, why you can’t add that -le to the end of that word, and how to pronounce some words like a local.

  • Memrise

Memrise is another really good app for language learning, with a big focus on getting you to store the words and rules you’ll learn in your long term memory. The idea is that your mind is a garden of knowledge, and you really, really need to water the seeds so that you can harvest that gorgeous five-language-fluency. There are also different ways of learning which keeps the process fun & interesting.

people and blogs

Again, bless the internet. There are some amazing sites & people who’ve proven to be incredibly helpful. Let’s start off with ever favourites, Damon and Jo:

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DAMON AND JO MAKE ME WANT TO SHUT UP AND GO. THEY BLOW MY MIND. The creators of shutupandgo.travel, Damon Dominique and Joanna Franco are pretty much GOALS. First off, they’re huge inspirations of mine with French, Spanish, Portugese, English, and Italian (I think?) under their belts. IMAGINE. What a dream. They’re travel vlogger-bloggers who decided to #shutupandgo: stop complaining about wanting to travel, making moves, and travelling anyway. They’re also so YOUNG (Damon & Jo are 24 and 23 respectively) and make videos about their travels, but ALSO (!!!) about how to learn a language, and help you sound more local when speaking a language. For example:

Another blog I love is brainscape.com which has tonnes and tonnes of links to resources you can use for almost ANY language (10/10 would recommend). FluentU is another well of knowledge if you look for the right things, even if you don’t want to pay for a subscription (because I sure as hell do not, cannot, and did not). Preppy Burro (previously ‘Always Spanish’) is a fantastic spanish learning adventure, and Talk in French helps you to do just that.

other tips

  • change the language on your phone! you know your phone. learn what ‘lock screen’ is in italian.
  • have an other-language day (this is how i learned to speak afrikaans). for a couple of hours on a chosen day of the week, translate every sentence you say into the language you’re trying to learn.
  • watch youtubers in that language! hello! it always slaps me in the face but like !!!!! there are other-than-english youtubers!‽
  • keep a journal and make sure to write in your new language at least twice a week. check for grammar errors!
  • get a book. for real. grammar is important. it’s a spend that i hated making (don’t worry, the books aren’t that expensive, i’m just that broke) but do not regret.
  • learn about the culture. it’s nice to do.

The internet is amazing. There’s so much STUFF. Go learn a language. Pet a dog and tell it that it is beautiful in Italian. Sing happy birthday to your mom in German. Learn. 

Love and light,
shalom xo


note: none of these apps / people / blogs are here as a paid for endorsement – i love learning & they can really help. // photos are edited by me originally from death to stock, or are assumed to be in the public domain.
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