Category Archives: Learning Other Languages

New Language Tutorial on Latin

By   June 18, 2011

Thanks to Brandon, Latin is now featured on!

The Romance languages derived from Vulgar Latin, the major spoken language(s) of the Roman Empire. Classical Latin is what is taught at universities and written in books today since most of Vulgar Latin was never written down. The Appendix Probi is an interesting list from the 3rd/4th century CE that shows the changes between the two (and encourages people to use the Classical Latin words instead of the more common Vulgar counterparts.)

The greatest extent of the Roman Empire:

If you’re not interested in Latin for religious purposes and don’t ever plan to visit Vatican City, where it is the official language, you can still read plenty of Latin at the Latin Wikipedia, which does include 20th century topics.

Latin I Tutorial

Latin II Tutorial

Enter the Brainscape Spanish Mobile App Twitter Giveaway

By   June 10, 2011

I previously reviewed Brainscape’s website and mobile apps and gave away promo codes for their French Vocab Genius app. Now I’m offering another free product giveaway, but this time it is for Spanish learners: the Brainscape Spanish app!

Brainscape Spanish for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad is a new app that uses the Intelligent Cumulative Exposure (ICE) technique to help you learn Spanish using confidence-based repetition with real sentences instead of isolated words. Grammatical concepts are also explained throughout the flashcards in plain English. If you are looking for more than just a dictionary app or simple machine translation tool, I recommend Brainscape because they go beyond the extent of normal flashcards and include sentences that are not usually included in books/apps which are mostly geared towards travelers.

Here are some screenshots:

Brainscape Spanish includes four subjects with a total of 8,857 cards:

  • Spanish Sentence Builder: 19 lessons of sentences and grammar explanations, with audio
  • Spanish Vocabulary: 15 decks of mixed Vocab Enrichment (with audio) plus Food & Restaurant, Medical, Transportation, Technology, Mechanical, and Countries & Nationalities
  • Spanish Verbs: 9 decks of verb conjugations (present, preterite, imperfect, present perfect, plurperfect, future, conditional, present subjunctive and imperfect subjunctive)
  • Business Spanish: 7 decks of vocabulary

You can choose one of the subjects or study using the Smart Mix, which chooses cards at random and repeats them based on your confidence level. Browse and Search functions also lets you find a particular word among the cards. Lastly, you can sync to the website to study the flashcards online and keep all of your progress synchronized. Don’t forget to read the description at the iTunes store.


I have FIVE promo codes for the Brainscape Spanish mobile app to give away for FREE (a value of $39.99!)

To participate in this Twitter giveaway, follow these instructions:

1. Either comment on this post or send me an e-mail at ielanguages [at] gmail [dot] com with your Twitter name and e-mail address.

2. Follow both @ielanguages and @Brainscape on Twitter, if you have not already done so.

3. Click the blue Tweet button at the beginning of this post before Monday, June 13, 2011, at 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time to share this post on Twitter. (Or click here if the Tweet button is not showing.)

4. I will choose five entries at random on Monday and contact the lucky winners through e-mail.

Thanks for participating and thanks to Brainscape for making the giveaway possible!

Top 100 Language Lovers Blogs: Voting Starts Today at Lexiophiles

By   May 17, 2011

Lexiophiles’ Language Lovers 2011 competition is now open for voting. This year the four categories are:

– Language Learning Blogs

– Language Professionals Blogs

– Language Facebook Pages

– Language Twitterers

Since I won 3rd place overall last year (in the Top 100 Language Blogs) and 2nd place in the Top 100 Language Learning Blogs, my blog was automatically nominated again for this year’s competition. If you’d like to vote for me, click here and choose Jennie in France. Thank you!

Voting ends May 29th at 11:59 PM (French/German time) or 5:59 PM EST.

Sorry the blog/site hasn’t been updated much lately. I’ve been a little overwhelmed with the funeral, finishing my translation work before my upcoming annual trip, and the big move to Australia in a few months.

Comparative Grammar of the French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese Languages

By   April 23, 2011

My new favorite book.

Published in 1868!

400 pages of comparative goodness.

Verb conjugations (we really should bring back thou hadst and the T-V distinction in English!)

There’s even vocabulary at the end, though the words are not grouped thematically like they are in The Loom of Language.

I’ve also ordered A Comparative Practical Grammar of French, Italian and Spanish by Oliver Heatwole (1949) as well as Comprendre les langues romaines: Du français à l’espagnol, au portugais, à l’italien & au roumain by Paul Teyssier (2004), but I haven’t yet found a book like this for the Germanic languages. As soon as I can determine if Notley’s book is in the public domain (there was a reprint in 1977 by an American publisher), I will start scanning and/or re-typing it to share it online.

Female Polyglots and Language Learners – Where Are You?

By   April 19, 2011

The lovely Susanna, author of Language is Music, and I were talking about the lack of female polyglots online even though most language classes have higher enrollment of women than men and many language teachers are female rather than male.

Most polyglots online – especially on YouTube – are men and we can’t seem to find many blogs dedicated to learning languages written by women. I imagine it has more to do with certain personality traits (bragging has come up often in forum discussions) and who uses the internet and for what purposes rather than anything else, so I would like to hear from female polyglots on why or why not they have a blog/website. I certainly know a ton of female expat and travel bloggers, but I’d like to know more female polyglots, so if you’re reading this, let me know!

Language learning blogs by women (some no longer updated):

See and Speak with the World (Susanna’s blog)

Judith’s Language Learning Blog

Diary of an Eternal Student (formerly Aspiring Polyglot)

ich estudio langues

Baby-Steps to Fluency

These are just a few personal blogs that I’ve been following over the past year or two, but of course there are many female contributors to larger sites such as Lexiophiles, Multilingual Mania, Transparent Language blogs, etc. Can you recommend other blogs by female authors?

Recent Foreign Language and Traveling News

By   April 6, 2011

Some interesting articles and websites on foreign languages and traveling that I’ve come across in the past week or two:

Lastly, Brainscape has just updated their French Vocab Genius mobile app to include web synching to your online account, so if you haven’t already downloaded the app, it is free for a while!

New Language Tutorial on Afrikaans!

By   March 31, 2011

I’m happy to announce that a new language tutorial has been added to Afrikaans! The tutorial was written by Selçuk Mert Köseoğlu and proofread by native-speaker Sarien, who also plans to record some mp3s.

Afrikaans originated from 17th century Dutch and is one of the official languages of South Africa. It is also spoken in Namibia and a few other African countries. There are about 7 million native speakers and 20 million speakers overall. There is still a lot of mutual intelligibility between Dutch and Afrikaans, though it is easier for Dutch speakers to understand Afrikaans than vice versa.

South Africa 2001 Afrikaans speakers proportion map
Where Afrikaans is spoken by the most people in South Africa

As PageF30 mentioned a few months, Afrikaans is rather easy for English speakers to learn because the grammar is not nearly as complicated as other Germanic languages. Nouns have no gender and no cases. There is only one definite and one indefinite article. Verbs do not conjugate for person or number. The infinitive is identical to the present tense and the imperative. The past tense is comparable to the present perfect in English, with a few exceptions for some verbs that still exist in the preterite. The future and conditional tenses are just like in English. There are no progressive / continuous tenses or past perfect tense. The only thing that seems remotely difficult is word order.

I’ve been trying to find more resources for learning Afrikaans online, but there don’t seem to be very many. Hopefully Mert, Sarien, and I will be able to fill in that void. I do plan to create comparative tutorials with Dutch as well for those who want to learn both Dutch and Afrikaans at the same time. (Though I am currently swamped with my translation work and updating French Language Tutorial so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do it.) If there are other Afrikaans speakers out there who want to help others learn your language, please let me know.

If you are interested in South Africa, I recommend checking out the beautiful photos in the South Africa Flickr pool.

My Library Thinks Finnish is a Germanic Language

By   March 27, 2011

I tweeted this photo yesterday but it irritates me so much that I decided to put it on the blog too.

My local library puts Finnish in the Other Germanic Languages section.

I could let it slide if they organized the languages by geography instead of linguistic families, but they don’t since they use the Dewey Decimal System. Besides French and English, they have labeled sections for German, Other Germanic Languages, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, and Other Languages.

If you know the Dewey Decimal System, 439 is reserved for Other Germanic Languages, but Uralic languages don’t have their own section so they should be put in 499, or Miscellaneous Languages. At least my library got Hungarian and Estonian right…

Calling Finnish a Germanic language is one of my major pet peeves. It’s right up there with calling Finland a Scandinavian country. Only Norway, Sweden and Denmark are Scandinavian countries – if you want to include Finland or Iceland, the term is Nordic.

National Foreign Language Week & Promoting Language Learning

By   March 7, 2011

This week (March 7-13) is National Foreign Language Week in the US.  It was begun in 1957 by the Alpha Mu Gammar Honor Society to help make students aware of how vital foreign language study is. Of course, if you visit my website and read my blog, then you already know how vital it is and that I promote language learning more often than once a year. So instead of preaching to the choir (and because my translation work is keeping me really busy these days), I just wanted to mention J from 52 Languages, 52 Weeks‘ grant proposal for the Pepsi Refresh Everything competition in Canada.

His proposal is to teach new languages to preschool children by converting “daycares into language nests, places for pre-schoolers to be immersed in a second language and become bilingual from a very early age. It can be a language from the child’s cultural heritage, or it can be an entirely new language to give the child a head start in life.”

His Language Nest project is in the $25,000 grant category under Education.  Voting ends April 30, and you can vote everyday until then. You can also connect with Facebook instead of creating an account to sign in. Also be sure to check out the other participants because you have 10 votes to use each day and there are many other worthy projects among the Health, Arts & Culture, Food & Shelter, The Planet, and Neighbourhoods categories as well.

The American version of the Pepsi Refresh Project has different categories (only Arts & Music, Communities, and Education) and deadlines, so check out their website if you are a resident of the US and interested in participating later this year.

International Mother Language Day & Recent Foreign Language News

By   February 21, 2011

February 21 is UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day, which “has been celebrated since 2000 to promote all the languages of the world. This Day represents an effective mobilization opportunity for linguistic diversity and multilingualism.” Spread the language love!

If you don’t already know why being multilingual makes your life better:

Being bilingual may delay Alzheimer’s and boost brain power
Research suggests that bilingual people can hold Alzheimer’s disease at bay for longer, and that bilingual children are better at prioritising tasks and multitasking

Juggling Languages Can Build Better Brains
Once likened to a confusing tower of Babel, speaking more than one language can actually bolster brain function by serving as a mental gymnasium

Bilinguals Find it Easier to Learn a Third Language
Bilinguals find it easier to learn a third language, as they gain a better aptitude for languages

I love you wall in Paris

And if the constant news about universities cutting budgets and getting rid of foreign language programs gets you down, there is at least one university in the US that is doing the opposite:

U.C. Berkeley campus expands course offerings
More than half a million dollars will be allotted to numerous foreign language courses beginning in 2011-12 and will ultimately result in more than 30 additional language courses offered

Congratulations to the winner of the Mango Passport Bundle giveaway from last week: @plutoinlove Thanks to all the participants and Mango Languages for making the giveaway possible!