Manageable Mandarin: A Beginner’s Guide to Learning Chinese

If I could have any superpower, I’d choose the ability to speak every language in the world. Sadly, I’ve yet to be bestowed with this power, but I can at least work toward it slowly. Since October, I’ve been taking a weekly Mandarin course here in Sydney. While I’m far (believe me, very far) from fluent, I’m thrilled that I can now at least hold basic conversations. I even had my first experience using Mandarin in the real world (however briefly) the other week! It can be an extremely challenging language to learn, so for anyone learning Mandarin or thinking of picking it up, here are a few tips I’ve acquired in my nine months of studies.

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How to Master Any Foreign Language with Audiovisual Media

There are few greater feelings for me than finally being proficient enough in a foreign language to be able to understand bits of an eavesdropped conversation or, even better, to carry on a conversation of my own. But if you’ve studied any language, you know that it takes incredible amounts of diligence to get to this level. Being multilingual isn’t easy!

But, as my bilingual students in Spain would attest here, it's definitely fun.

But, as my bilingual students in Spain would attest here, it’s definitely fun.

Immersion is one of the best ways to pick up a foreign language, but taking a language course can be pricey, and jumping on a plane to a foreign country often isn’t feasible. However, there are still plenty of ways to boost your language skills right from home. Here are some of my favorite audiovisual strategies for learning a foreign language. Continue reading  

Favorite Travel Apps: Language Learning with uTalk

There are few things I love as much as learning a new language. I dream of one day being a polyglot who can communicate in more languages than I can name, and, while my multilingual aspirations remain lofty, I’m working toward them slowly but surely. Beyond English and Spanish, I took French and Italian classes in college (and even a bit of Nahuatl, although I couldn’t tell you how to say a thing!), and I’m currently enrolled in a weekly Mandarin course.

Slowly but surely learning Mandarin.

Sadly, the real world limits the amount of time I can devote to language learning, which is where language apps save the day. I’ve played around with a lot of apps, but few have truly impressed me. I am a huge fan of Duolingo, through which I’ve refreshed my Spanish, French, and Italian and can now communicate some basic sentences in Portuguese and German. However, until now, that’s the only language app I’ve really used regularly. Continue reading  

How to Learn Another Language While Traveling the World

Whether you’re interested in learning a foreign language for business purposes or just because you’re a linguaphile like me (because, seriously, how much fun is it to speak multiple languages?), there’s no denying that one of the best ways to become a polyglot is to do so abroad. Or if you’re traveling anyway, why not teach yourself a language on the road? Here are a few tips for maximizing your language-learning experience through travel.

Think I can manage to learn all of these languages eventually? (At the UN Headquarters in Geneva last year)

Think I can manage to learn all of these languages eventually? (At the UN Headquarters in Geneva last year)

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So You Want to be Fluent in Spanish?

I originally wrote this post for a now defunct website run by DiscoverExcursions. Wanting to give it another life, I’m now sharing it here. Living – or planning to live – abroad in Spain but not sure how to improve your Spanish? These tips will help.

Traveling abroad presents you with an incomparable opportunity to improve – or even perfect – your foreign language abilities. Many of us travelers fall into the easy trap of communicating mostly with English-speakers and only using a language when it’s completely necessary, but it’s never too late to change! Here are a few simple and useful ways to make the most of your time traveling and become fluent in another language. Continue reading