Tag Archives: language learning

Learn the Romance Languages Together: Resources You Need

Learn the Romance Languages Together: Resources You Need

If you want to learn the Romance languages together, you need to use resources that compare the languages.

Romance language books written in English

One of the oldest books intended to help you learn the Romance languages together is Comparative Grammar of French, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese Languages by Edwin A. Notley. This book was published in 1868 so it’s in the public domain and you can download a PDF that I created. Since it is so old, however, there are few spellings and words that are no longer used in the contemporary languages, so you will need to augment your study with more recent materials. Some copies show up on amazon.com every once in a while, but at a ridiculous price ($1,500!)

The Loom of Language: An Approach to the Mastery of Many Languages by Frederick Bodmer actually compares four Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese) as well as four Germanic languages (German, Dutch, Swedish and Danish), and offers advice on how to study multiple languages at the same time. Though a bit outdated, it is still my favorite book. You can get a copy at amazon.com for a relatively cheap price. I previously posted a review of this book if you’d like to know more.

Learn the Romance Languages Together - The Loom of Language: An Approach to the Mastery of Many Languages

The Seven Sieves: How to read all the Romance languages right away by EuroCom is a new initiative to promote intercomprehension of Romance languages. You can buy the book in PDF or paperback through Shaker Verlag (site in German) and the paperback through amazon.com.

Another great book is Comparative Practical Grammar of French, Spanish and Italian by O.H. Heatwole. The main drawback is that there are only three languages, and since it’s out of print, it can be a bit difficult to find online. Third-party sellers do sell it on Amazon but it’s usually rather expensive.

Comparative Practical Grammar of French, Spanish and Italian


Romance language books not written in English

EuRom5 (2011) is the most recent multilingual book I’ve seen yet. It focuses on learning to read and comprehend five Romance languages. The book is written in French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese (so it is designed for native/advanced users of any of those languages) with texts and audio files available on the website. You can buy it from dicoland.com or hoepli.it for under 30€. Amazon.fr also sells it for 30-40€ and a few copies are available on amazon.com. This book is not quite as “comparative” as the other books in the list since it offers 20 articles in one language with some words glossed in the other 4 languages (i.e. the entire articles are not translated in the other languages). You can also read my summary/review.

One of my multilingual books: EuRom5 - Read and Understand Five Romance Languages

Comprendre les langues romanes: Du français à l’espagnol, au portugais, à l’italien & au roumain. Méthode d’intercompréhension by Paul Teyssier (2004) is obviously written in French for French-speakers to learn to comprehend Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian. A new edition came out in 2012, but I don’t know if/how it is different from the 2004 edition, which is what I bought. Both editions are available via amazon.com or amazon.fr or you can order it from Librairie Portugaise & Brésilienne in Paris for 29€, and they do ship worldwide. I believe translations of this book in the other languages exist, but I’m not sure where to buy them.

One of my multilingual books: Comprendre les langues romanes - Understand the Romance languages


Romance language resources at ielanguages.com

If you want to study vocabulary lists to learn the Romance languages, I have many lists available at Romance Languages Vocabulary Lists as well as some verb conjugations. The tables are set up so that English is first, followed by French, Italian, Spanish and then Portuguese. I chose this order due to how similar the languages are to each other. However, this may not be the order that you want to study the Romance languages in. Luckily, you can drag the columns in any order that you like! Simply click on the name of the language in the first column and drag it left or right. You can also hide/show languages that you are not studying or when you want to quickly test your memory. A few topics also have fill-in-the-blank exercises, such as days of the week:

Multilingual vocabulary lists - Days in the Romance languages available at ielanguages.com

Lastly, I’ve been creating videos that teach French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese together. (I have also created a few videos to teach French and Spanish together.) Subscribe to the Youtube channel to be notified when any new videos are available.

I am really interested in finding other books, websites, or videos that help you learn the Romance languages together. Has anyone found other useful resources?

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

Intercomprehension of Romance Languages

Intercomprehension of Romance Languages

Learning to Comprehend the Romance Languages

If you understand French and are interested in learning other Romance languages, the MOOC Enseigner l’intercompréhension en langues romanes à un jeune public might be helpful. This MOOC, or CLOM in French, begins November 10, 2015, and lasts 4 weeks. It is designed for language teachers and students or anyone who is interested in multilingualism.

The concept of intercomprehension refers to the ability of users of closely related languages to understand each other thanks to linguistic similarities. It appears that this particular MOOC will focus on the six main Romance languages of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan and Romanian. Since it is developed by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, the language used to teach about intercompréhension is French.

You can sign up now to join the MOOC.



Comparative Vocabulary and Verb Lists: Romance and Germanic Languages

Comparative and Multilingual Books for Learning Languages Simultaneously

Comparative Grammar of French, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese Available as PDF

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

FluentU Review

FluentU Review: Language Learning with Authentic Videos

FluentU Review: Great site for authentic videos

If you haven’t been using authentic videos with transcripts to learn languages, you are missing out on an effective way to increase your comprehension of spoken language as well as your knowledge of vocabulary and grammatical patterns. One website that offers many authentic videos and that I highly recommend is FluentU.

FluentU currently offers videos in French, Spanish, German, English, Chinese and Japanese, with Italian coming soon. As you can see in the screenshots, you can easily choose the difficulty level as well as the format of videos you are interested in: clips, movie trailers, commercials, etc.

The transcript and translation appears below the video and hovering over a word also shows the translation of that word. FluentU recently released their iPad app if you are a mobile learner, with an Android app also in development.

There is currently a free option if you’d like to create an account to check out the videos and captions. The Basic plan, which includes unlimited watching and listening with interactive captions, only costs $15 per month or $120 per year. The Plus plan costs $30 per month or $240 per year and also includes unlimited personalized learn mode, courses, flashcard sets and PDF printouts of the transcripts. Also note that you have access to ALL languages on FluentU rather than only one language so it is great for learners of multiple languages. You can change languages in Settings under Study Settings.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

MOOCs for learning French

MOOCs for Learning French at France Université Numerique

Using Free MOOCs for Learning French

France Université Numerique (or FUN) is finally offering MOOCs for learning French as a foreign language!

For those who have reached A1 level, Cours de français langue étrangère by Alliance Française runs October 5 to November 22, 2015, and requires 2 hours of work each week.

For those at level B1, Université de Nantes is offering Paroles de FLE (Français langue étrangère) from November 2 to December 18, 2015, and requires 2.5 hours of work each week.

For those who have a higher level in French, the MOOCs offered by FUN are also a great way to improve or maintain your level as well as learn about new subjects from programming and public health to eco-tourism and history. There are even some courses offered in both French and English so you can compare the content if your level is too low to understand everything in French.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

Peace Corps Language Learning Materials

Free Peace Corps Language Learning Materials: Over 100 Languages Available

Peace Corps Language Learning Materials

If you love free public domain language learning resources as much as I do, then check out the Peace Corps Language Courses Archive. Live Lingua has a large collection of Peace Corps manuals teaching languages ranging from Acholi to Zarma (over 100 languages are available!) and some also include audio resources in addition to the language manuals. If you have other PC manuals to share, please let Live Lingua know and they will add them to their site.

The Peace Corps does have their own Digital Library of Technical and Training Manuals if you are also interested in learning more about the work that PC Volunteers do. Although this library doesn’t seem to offer language courses, some of the manuals are written in French and Spanish so they can still be used as language learning resources.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

How Adaptation to Culture Affects Motivation in Language Learning

How Adaptation to Culture Affects Motivation in Language Learning

How Adaptation to Culture Affects Motivation in Language Learning

Learning languages while studying abroad isn’t usually a breeze

An article on sociolinguistic competence (Dewaele, 2007) introduced me to research on language learners’ ideological beliefs and conflicts with the target culture that can hinder language acquisition. Dewaele provides two examples from Kinginger (2004) and Kinginger & Farrell’s (2005) research on Americans studying abroad in France which illustrate the importance of intercultural understanding and how adaptation to the target culture affects motivation in language learning.

One student was annoyed that her French friend would not let her NOT have an opinion on politics and openly criticized the American government. She didn’t care much for politics and did not want to talk about it because she did not feel that it was an appropriate topic for discussion. Yet her friend would not let her change the subject. She consciously chose not to adapt to the French concept of “you must have an opinion” and decided to say nothing on the topic which created tension with her friend.

Another student purposely resisted French gender patterns because she found it “ridiculous” that French women were “obsessed” with their looks. She expressed frustration at the sexism and harassment of women she saw on a daily basis which made her “hate to go outside.” She refused to conform to what she believed to be stereotypical French standards of what it means to be woman (i.e. overly concerned about appearance) and thought it perfectly acceptable to attend class in sweatpants or pajamas, as she often saw at her university in the US. Because of this, she made little effort to spend time with French speakers and spent most of her time abroad speaking English with other students or friends and family in the US via the internet.

There have been many studies on the perception of sexism by American learners in study abroad contexts, especially in countries such as Russia or Japan. But the perceptions and ideologies of the learner needs to be understood in the context of how they help or hinder language acquisition for that individual. It is not enough to be motivated to learn a language – one must also be motivated to learn and experience the culture associated with the language. However, if cultural practices are considered undesirable by the learner, opportunities to use the language with native speakers will diminish as the learner resists or even rejects the target culture.

This is perhaps why the rate of language acquisition for students doing study abroad varies so widely. In fact, Kinginger & Farrell maintain that “systematic research has yet to demonstrate universal effectiveness of study abroad for language learning.” Living in a country where the language is spoken is not enough. There are many, many factors to consider including gender, personality, level of language competence before study abroad, time spent using the native language, etc.

de Nooy and Hanna (2003) also point out that “mere contact with other cultures may simply reinforce stereotypes and encourage hostility rather than fostering comprehension and mutual respect.” Spending time abroad in the target culture could (and unfortunately, does) cause learners to lose motivation and interest in learning the language if there are too many conflicts between the native and target cultures. Obviously, there will always be conflicts and differences between native and target cultures, but intercultural comprehension allows learners to occupy a third place between the native and target cultures with understanding and tolerance for both. Instead of judging the target culture based on how different (or better or worse) it is from the native culture, learners avoid falling back on their native culture to interpret the target culture and understand the value systems underlying the cultural differences between them.


de Nooy, J., & Hanna, B. E. (2003). Cultural Information Gathering by Australian Students in France. Language and Intercultural Communication, 3(1), 64-80.

Dewaele, J.-M. (2007). Diachronic and/or synchronic variation? The acquisition of sociolinguistic competence in L2 French. In D. Ayoun (Ed.), Handbook of French Applied Linguistics (Vol. Language Learning & Language Teaching 16, pp. 208-236). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Kinginger, C. 2004. “Alice doesn’t live here anymore: Foreign language learning and identity reconstruction”. In Negotiation of Identities in Multilingual Contexts, A. Pavlenko and A. Blackledge (eds.), 219–42. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Kinginger, C. and Farrell Whitworth, K. 2005. “Gender and emotional investment in language learning during study abroad”. CALPER Working Papers Series 2, 1-12. The Pennsylvania State University,Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.


Readlang and Podclub – Latest Language Learning Obsession

Learning Languages with Readlang and Podclub

Readlang by Steve Ridout is a free site which helps you learn foreign languages by reading and translating words you don’t know. You simply import text from any website, click on words you don’t know in order to translate them into another language, and save these words so you can review them later. It  uses a “spaced repetition flashcard system to make sure you remember the words” that you’ve clicked on and has a feature to open a dictionary in a side panel if you want to look up more information on the word(s). You can read the blog to see the latest updates, such as export word lists to Anki and translations of phrases rather than just individual words.

Lately I’ve been using the transcripts from Podclub podcasts since I always prefer to have text plus audio. I imported the text of the latest episode of the Spanish podcast A mi aire, and I’m translating words into English. Readlang now lets you synchronize Youtube videos with transcriptions so you can listen and read at the same time. Finally, there is a Chrome extension called Web Reader that will translate any word you click on directly on the page rather than importing text into your account. You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for someone to create this!

Check out Readlang’s current features and send your feedback to Steve so he knows what new features to add.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

Free Children’s Books Apps in Foreign Languages

There are a lot of free language apps available nowadays but many of them are not very good or extensive. They tend to include some basic words or tourist phrases in flashcard format, but very few offer connected text (such as stories) in addition to pronunciation. Lately I’ve been looking for apps that include both text and audio in foreign languages, and I’ve mostly found apps that provide one or the other, i.e. ebooks or audiobooks but not synced together so that you can read and listen at the same time. I have found a few apps designed for children, however, that mostly include fairy tales but some include original stories. Many have a “read to me” and autoplay option so you don’t have to keep swiping the screen.

Free Children's Books Apps in Foreign Languages

Both Apple and Android

PlayTales Gold : download books for free, but ad-supported and internet connection needed. Stories available in 8 different languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese (Mandarin), and Japanese. [ Apple version is only a seven day trial so not quite as useful]

Luca Lashes : Original story available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Italian.

Hao-Ming Yeh /QLL Inc. : Apple version seems to only include English and Chinese but Android also has Spanish. Two languages can be displayed on screen instead of just one.

Verlag Friedrich Oetinger : German and English stories (but in different apps)



Tri-Software : Lots of classic children’s books (in different apps) available in at least two languages. Most are available in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian and some even have Portuguese and Chinese. The free versions only include the beginning of the story.

Readalong Spanish : Only in Spanish but you have the option of including the English text on the same screen.



Vienom Kids Books : Two stories available in French & German and two stories available in French, German, and Spanish. Four different apps though, and the free versions only include seven pages of the stories.


Any other useful (and free) apps to add to the list?


I didn’t include any “free” apps that make you pay for every book.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

Conferences for Applied Linguistics, CALL, Language Teaching & Learning and French

If you’re interested in attending or presenting at conferences on applied linguistics, computer-assisted language learning, modern/foreign languages or French studies, here are some upcoming conferences. You still have time to submit abstracts for some of them. I plan on being in Wellington this November for the ALAA/ALANZ conference and Brisbane next August for the AILA World Congress. Any other organizations or conferences I should know about? My main areas are materials design, technology in language teaching/learning and vocabulary acquisition/teaching.

Applied Linguistics / CALL

Organization Dates Abstracts due Location
Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO) May 21-25, 2013 Manoa, Hawaii
Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics (CAAL / ACLA) June 3-5, 2013 Victoria, British Columbia
International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT) June 11-15, 2013 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Worldwide Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning (WorldCALL) July 10-13, 2013 Glasgow, Scotland
Materials Development Association (MATSDA) July 13-14, 2013 Liverpool, England
British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) September 5-7, 2013 Edinburgh, Scotland
European Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning (EUROCALL) September 11-14, 2013 Evora, Portugal
Applied Linguistics Association of Australia / NZ (ALAA / ALANZ) November 27-29, 2013 April 8, 2013 Wellington, New Zealand
Vocab@Vic December 18-20, 2013 April 12, 2013 Wellington, New Zealand
American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) March 22-25, 2014 August 21, 2013 Portland, Oregon
International Applied Linguistics Association / AILA World Congress August 10-15, 2014 April 30, 2013 Brisbane, Australia


Language Teaching & Learning / French

Organization Dates Abstracts due Location
International Conference on Languages, Literature and Linguistics April 29-30, 2013 Johannesburg, South Africa
Association for French Language Studies (AFLS) June 6-8, 2013 Perpignan, France
Languages & Cultures Network for Australian Universities (LCNAU) July 3-5, 2013 Canberra, Australia
Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Association / New Zealand Association of Language Teachers (AFMLTA / NZALT) July 5-8, 2013 Canberra, Australia
American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) July 11-14, 2013 Providence, Rhode Island
International Conference on Linguistics, Literature, & Cultural studies in Modern Languages September 12-13, 2013 May 1, 2013 Murcia, Spain
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) November 22-24, 2013 Portland, Oregon
Australian Society for French Studies (ASFS) December 9-11, 2013 August 31, 2013 Brisbane, Australia
Association for Language Learning (ALL) March ???, 2014 UK?
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) November 21-23, 2014 San Antonio, Texas


I’ll continue to update this post if I find more conferences.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

Ugly Betty Adaptations and Other Telenovelas for Language Learning

The Telenovela Method, as explained by Andrew, is a great way to learn languages quickly, which a recent study suggests actually helps your brain grow. The main reason I like this method is the authenticity of language and culture which is usually lacking from language learning resources. Finding subtitles to go along with the movies or TV series can be a problem though, especially with telenovelas.

Ugly Betty Adaptations in Spanish

The most famous telenovela and the original Ugly Betty, Yo soy Betty, la fea, was made in Colombia and you can watch all of the episodes (many with subtitles in Spanish and English) at viki.com. The European Spanish version, Yo soy Bea, also has a quite a few episodes on viki.com though not all have Spanish subtitles yet.

The Mexican version, La Fea Más Bella, is available on DVD through Amazon.com as a shortened/edited version with English subtitles only.

Ugly Betty Adaptations and Other Telenovelas for Language Learning Mexican version of Ugly Betty

Mexican Telenovelas

If you are interested in using Mexican telenovelas to learn Spanish, I highly recommend Las Tontas No Van al Cielo. It is actually better than La Fea Más Bella, even funnier and much more addictive. The DVD available on Amazon.com is, of course, a shortened version of just over 15 hours but the editing was actually done quite well. There was only one storyline that I don’t remember seeing the end to, but everything else made sense.

Ugly Betty Adaptations and Other Telenovelas for Language Learning Best telenovela ever.

The male lead is Jaime Camil, who was also the male lead in La Fea Más Bella. The female lead is Jacqueline Bracamontes… who also had a small role in La Fea Más Bella. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that the theme song, Esto es lo que soy, is sung by Jesse y Joy, my favorite Mexican band.

Ugly Betty Adaptations and Other Telenovelas for Language LearningThis dude is hilarious.

If you prefer to have actual DVDs so you’re not stuck in front of a computer all the time, there are a lot of Mexican televenovelas sold on Amazon.com for less than $10 each. They will be the edited versions because the full versions that aired on TV are more than 100 hours long and that is a LOT of DVDs. They tend to only have English subtitles but their price is rather cheap for how many hours of Spanish you’ll get to hear. If you don’t mind using the computer, Andrew also has lists of sites for watching Spanish-language TV online as well as Spanish videos with Spanish subtitles.

Ugly Betty Adaptations in Languages Other than Spanish

For Portuguese, Brazil has Bela, a Feia and many clips can also be found on Youtube. There are no French or Italian versions, but Germany has Verliebt in Berlin and you can get the (many) DVDs which include every single episode on Amazon.de from third-party sellers (region 2 only though!).

There are two versions in Dutch, Sara from Flemish-speaking Belgium and Lotte from the Netherlands. A few clips from Sara can be found on VTM’s site and LotteTVChannel is still uploading all of the episodes of Lotte to Youtube. Plus Lars Oostveen is the male lead. You should recognize him as Sam Scott, a.k.a the American, from the Extr@ series. Now you get to hear him speak his native language.

Ugly Betty Adaptations and Other Telenovelas for Language Learning

And he’s instantly ten times cuter when he speaks Dutch.

A few other adaptations of Ugly Betty exist in languages such as Greek, Croatian, Polish, Russian, Tagalog, Mandarin, etc. but I don’t think they’re available on DVD. Some clips may be available online though.

Update: Learn Spanish by Watching Telenovelas (with recommendations for more telenovelas to watch)

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.