How to Speak French Like a Native (7 Simple and Effective Tips) – Justlearn

So you’ve been studying French for some time now and you’re proud of what you have accomplished so far — as you should be!

By now, you know some basic words and you can probably make phrases, but you feel like something is still lacking.

Your skills may still be a little rough on the edges and your pronunciation still isn’t as flawless. But don’t worry, there’s nothing a little practice and polishing can’t fix.

Why do you want to speak like a native?

Are you traveling to a French-speaking country?

Or maybe you moved to France and you’re trying to adapt?

You’re lucky because you’re in the right place.

In this article, you will discover simple yet effective tips to speak French like a native. The locals will never guess—not in a million years—that you’re foreign.

7 Proven Tips on How to Speak French Like a Native

Master French Pronunciation

Your pronunciation can either make or break your French. It can either make the locals think you’re one of them or it could give away the truth.

If you want to sound like a native speaker, studying French vocabulary and grammar wouldn’t suffice, you must also learn how to pronounce the words properly.

The French alphabet is the same as English. The only difference is how the letters are pronounced.

For instance, the French “r” isn’t pronounced the same way as the English “r”. Not only do they sound different, but they also require different mouth muscles to be used.

Let’s take a look at how the French vowels are pronounced.

Now that we’ve got the French vowels out of the way, let’s see how the consonants are pronounced.

Learn How To Speak French With Native Tutors

The best way to learn how to speak French like a native is to have a native speaker as a tutor. There’s no other person who can teach you better than those who speak it as their first language.

Justlearn takes pride in its French tutors, all of whom have undergone a thorough vetting process to ensure that they will be able to provide quality lessons and teach the language effectively.

You can choose your preferred teacher and pick a schedule that works for you depending on your tutor’s available hours.

Whatever language level you’re in, our tutors are perfectly capable and equipped to provide a customized lessons and teaching approach based on your needs and wishes.

With the help of Justlearn’s French tutors, you’ll be able to speak French like a native in no time.

Pay Attention to French Speaking Habits

Similar to how English speakers put “isn’t it” to the end of almost every sentence, speaking mannerisms are fairly common among French natives too. Here are some of their speaking habits you should develop if you want to sound authentic:

The strategic use of bah.

When French locals talk to each other, it is practically impossible to form a conversation without this versatile word coming up here and there. 

This French bah is fairly difficult to translate, and what it conveys largely depends on the delivery and context. It can be used to demonstrate how surprised, skeptical, or incredulous you are. It can also be used as an equivalent to the English word “well”.

Now, let’s talk about how you can incorporate bah in sentences.

When answering an obvious question, you can say:

“Bah oui!” (Yes!) or “Bah non!” (No!)

When someone says something unbelievable and you’re skeptical about it, you can say:

“Bah oui?” (Is that really true?)

When you need a filler as you think about what you’re going to say next:

“Baaaaaaahh, en fait je ne sais pas encore.” (Well…. actually, I don’t know yet.)

As you can see from the examples above, the French bah can be used in a wide range of sentences. While the sentences may look similar, the meaning of bah changes depending on the context, your tone of voice, and your facial expression.

Excessive use of quoi like there’s no tomorrow.

While the French word quoi literally translates to the English word what, it can’t be used in any sentence to replace its English equivalent.

Most commonly, quoi is being used as a stand-alone word. When French locals say “Quoi?” or “Quoi?!”, it’s typically an informal way to express incomprehension or astonishment — like “What?” or “What?!”

Obviously, the use of quoi on its own is considered informal so you should use it sparingly. Instead of reacting to a statement you didn’t hear or understand with “Quoi?”, you can opt for “Pardon?” (Excuse me? I beg your pardon?)

The use of quoi isn’t limited to “what?”, it can also be used to say “isn’t it”, “whatever”, and “don’t you think?”.

Here are some sentences that make use of the French word quoi:

“A quoi bon?” (What’s the point?)

“Il fait beau aujourd’hui quoi?” (It’s a nice weather today, isn’t it?)

Quoi que tu achètes, tu regretteras avoir dépensé de l’argent.” (Whatever you buy, you’ll regret having spent the money.”

“Ce mec est trop beau, quoi?” (This guy is so hot, don’t you think?)

Say voilà whenever appropriate.

Voilà is a quintessential French word that literally translates to “there is”. However, it is most commonly used as an equivalent to the English slang phrases “so, yeah” or “so, there you go”.

Here are some examples:

“Me voilà!” (Here I am!)

“Le voilà!” (There it/he/she is!)

“C’est ma sœur et ma meilleure amie, voilà.” (She’s my sister and my best friend, so yeah.)

Generally, when you can’t think of anything else to say at the end of your sentence, you can never go wrong with voilà.

Don’t forget the classic French shrug.

In response to a question to which you don’t know the answer, respond the French way by doing an exaggerated shrug accompanied by a raised eyebrow. And to sound like a true French, you can say, “baaah, je sais pas, moi!”, which translates to “Ah, I don’t know!”

Memorize French Filler Words and Interjections

There’s nothing like stuffing your speech with filler words and interjections that make you sound legitimately French. It also helps make your sentences sound more natural and spontaneous.

Here are the most common filler words you should keep in mind:

Alors – This is the equivalent of the English filler “so”. It can be used either in a positive or negative way.

Tu vois? – It works the same way as the English phrase “you know?”

Euh – The French “uh” or “um”.

Eh bien – This is the equivalent of the English filler “well…”

Voyons – It works the same way as “let me see…”

Hein? – The French “eh?” that is usually placed at the end of a sentence.

Bon – This can be used either as “OK” or “fine”, depending on the tone and context.

Now that we’ve talked about the French fillers, let’s take a look at some common French interjections:

Oups (Oops!)

Aïe / Ouïe (Ouch)

Practice Speaking Fast with French Tongue Twisters

When you hear French locals engage in a conversation, you’re probably surprised by how fast they speak. If you want to speak French like a true native, you must be able to speak as fast as French native speakers can!

Sounds impossible? That’s where French tongue twisters come in handy.

Here are some of the best French tongue twisters to practice speaking fast:

“Seize chaises sèchent.” (Sixteen chairs are drying.)

“Les chaussettes de l’archiduchesse sont-elles sèches? Archi-sèches!” (Are the archduchess’s socks dry? Extremely dry!)

“Un chasseur sachant chasser doit savoir chasser sans son chien.” (A hunter who can hunt should be able to hunt without his dog.)

“Suis-je bien chez ce cher Serge?” (Am I at dear Serge’s place?)

“Je veux et j’exige d’exquises excuses.” (I want and demand exquisite apologies.)

Struggling with the French tongue twisters above? Don’t worry! Even the native French speakers struggle with it. That’s why it is important to keep practicing.

Let’s take a look at how a French native speaker pronounces the French tongue twisters listed above.

If you want more French tongue twisters to practice with, we have put together a more comprehensive list of French tongue twisters.

Check out the 15 French tongue twisters, and you will be able to speak as fast and pronounce words as flawlessly as a native French speaker.

Have Fun And Learn With French Films

Watching films in the language you’re studying is an effective way to master the language you’re learning, and an enjoyable one for sure! French movies also help you practice your listening and speaking skills, both of which are essential in everyday conversations.

Whatever French language level you are in, we have put together three of the best French movies that will help you learn French:

Kirikou et la Sorcière

The title translates to “Kirikou and the Sorceress” in English. This is an adventure film that follows a newborn boy, Kirikou, on his journey to save his village from a wicked witch. Although this movie is primarily targeted for kids, it is still enjoyable for all ages.

Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie

This is a poetic film that tells the story of Amélie Poulain, a young woman who quietly helps people find joy in their lives while struggling with her own insecurities. Filmed in Montmartre, Paris, the film provides a glimpse into the modern French life and celebrates the nuances of human behavior.

La grande vadrouille

This film is a classic historical comedy widely known in France. It tells the story of a British bomber crew after they’re shot down over France during World War II and shows how a group of French civilians helped three pilots to escape Paris. Not only this movie will make you laugh, but it will also show you the stereotyped characteristics of the French people.

If you have Netflix, check out the 10 French movies you should watch.

Take Advantage of Free Lessons in YouTube

YouTube is indeed among the best online resources for free lessons when studying a language. There are a lot of YouTube videos that offer free French lessons, something you must take advantage of!

Learn how to speak French like a native with YouTube
Here are some of the best French YouTube channels that you may find useful:

Being able to speak French like a native is more than just vocabulary and grammar. 

Even if you are adept at putting together sentences and you can pronounce even the hardest words flawlessly, the locals will be able to tell that you’re foreign in an instant if you don’t know anything about their culture.

You don’t need to know everything about the French culture, just the fundamentals — basic etiquettes, values, traditions, customs, and what’s generally acceptable to talk about with the locals and what is deemed offensive. 

If you do this, not only will you be able to speak French like a native, but the locals will surely love your company.

Listed below are the most important things you should know about their culture:

Catholicism is the primary religion in France. 

According to a survey by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP), 64 percent (approximately 41.6 million people) of the French population identified themselves as Roman Catholic. 

The other religions observed in France include Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism.

However, religion is a sensitive topic for most people. So you might want to steer clear of this topic to avoid disagreements, but it is still useful to know just in case it comes up.

French cuisine

France takes pride in their dish and wine. French cuisine is particularly known for its heavy sauces and complex preparation. 

An example of a traditional French dish is boeuf bourguignon, a stew made of beef braised in red wine, beef broth, and seasoned with garlic, onions, and mushrooms. 

If you’re not used to alcohol, you better get a head start because drinking wine during dinner is considered a norm in France.

In addition, French are obsessed with bread. In fact, you will see bread in every meal of the day. Croissants are for breakfast, sandwiches made from baguettes for lunch, and rolls for dinner.

French fashion can be described in two words: minimalistic and luxurious. 

French locals are extremely fond of high-end fashion brands such as Dior, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel. 

They may only have a few pieces of clothing in their wardrobe, but it sure costs an arm and leg! 

In France, the typical outfits include sophisticated dresses, suits, long coats, scarves, and berets.

If you are interested in learning more, the ultimate guide to understanding French culture should be able to tell you everything you need to know.

Final thoughts

At this point, you can probably speak French better than before. These tips have disclosed everything you should keep in mind when speaking French.

Just keep practicing. After all, learning never stops.

Also, don’t be afraid to participate in French conversations. If you keep on waiting to feel completely ready, it’ll never happen. So, go out and conquer your fears.

Who knows? You may even surprise yourself. You’ll never know how good you are in speaking French until you try.

Remember, the key is to speak with confidence. Even mispronunciations can be overlooked when you’re confident.

And don’t worry, even if you do make a little mistake, the locals won’t mind! In fact, you may even learn a lot from them!

This content was originally published here.


15 Best Channels and Reasons to learn Spanish on YouTube – Justlearn

It’s been ages since we used YouTube just for music.

Today we can find so much more on there, starting from series, documentaries, blogs and vlogs, DIY videos, and even learning materials.

Yes, you’ve read it right!

There are hundreds and hundreds of learning videos for every field of expertise, including learning languages; more precisely, learning Spanish.

YouTube has become the leader in educational materials, leaving behind various tools and methods for learning Spanish.

There are so many resources out there that you would need ages to find and decide which one’s best for you and which one suits you the most.

So, if you’ve ever wondered how to learn Spanish quickly, to save your precious time, we’ve listed some of the best channels and videos that will help you learn Spanish on YouTube. Not to mention that you will learn Spanish for free!

If you like this method of learning, try out these podcasts for learning Spanish, you might enjoy them too!

First of all, especially for those who don’t quite believe it, we’ve also listed 15 reasons why YouTube is more than suitable for learning Spanish. Enjoy!

15 reasons to learn Spanish on YouTube for free


15 Channels to Learn Spanish on Youtube in 2020

Best for: Beginners and intermediate learners.

With more than 400,000 followers, this channel is among the best ones for learning Spanish.

The teacher is Ana, who says that she believes in teaching real, practical Spanish.

Ana is focused on learning words and phrases that you can use in real situations and conversations.

There are around 50 lessons available that include grammar, tips & tricks, pronunciation, vocabulary, communication, and culture.

Like most of channels on YouTube, this one is free. All you need is to subscribe to this channel, and you can start watching videos and learning.

The link of the channel is here:

The Spanish Dude

Best for: beginners and intermediate learners

It is one of the most interesting channels for learning Spanish for beginners, but intermediate learners too. Even though there are around 100,000 followers, the teacher, whose name is Jordan, makes learning Spanish exciting.

He explains his way of learning Spanish, difficulties during the learning process, tips, and tricks to make learning as easier as possible. He isn’t Spanish, but he traveled a lot through Spain and Latin America, where he was constantly working on learning and improving his Spanish.

There are so many grammar explanations, fun facts, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc.

If you find this paragraph interesting, perhaps you should visit his channel:

Señor Jordan

Best for: beginners and intermediate learners

The teacher, Señor Jordan, made this channel with the idea for followers to learn Spanish in a fun way, so if you want to learn it with humor, this is the perfect channel for you.

One very entertaining channel with around 150 videos available will help you with Spanish vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, as well as learning some cultural or fun facts.

Don’t hesitate to laugh when you are learning. It is, indeed, amusing and entertaining.

Señor Jordan’s channel find in here:

Tu escuela de español

Best for: intermediate and advanced learners

Just like the name of the channel implicates, this channel is all in Spanish. It is the main reason why it could be a little difficult for beginners to understand or follow the lessons. Just like other channels, on this one, you can find excellent grammar explanations, expand your vocabulary knowledge, and improve your pronunciation.

What makes this channel different from others is the fact that you are learning about daily life and the main customs in Spain.

If this method suits you, you can visit the website for more exercises, and also contact the teacher, Elena, and learn Spanish with her online.

Feel free to check this channel out:

Culture Alley

Best for: Beginner and intermediate learners

With more than 70 available audio and video lessons, this channel deserves to get some attention.

Lessons are numbered, so it’s easy to follow them. Even though you get to listen to Spanish on this channel the most (naturally), the explanations are in English, which makes this channel perfect for English speakers.

You can learn from real situations and useful words and phrases for everyday conversations.

On the website, there are available exercises, quizzes, games, and much more.

The channel’s link is here:

Best for: Beginner and intermediate learners

On the SpanishDict channel, you can find high-quality videos and lessons held by professional teachers. Each lesson uses images and charts to help you from various points of view to understand better the grammar or vocabulary used in that lesson. If you want to know how to learn Spanish on Youtube quickly, you should definetely check this channel out. It can help you remember better and learn quickly. There are also flashcards, quizzes, and games available.

Additional writing exercises are available on their website.

We recommend taking a look at the channel here:

Easy Spanish

Best for: Beginner and intermediate learners

This channel is perfect for those who want to get to know the local language since there are plenty of conversations in the street with native Spanish speakers, mainly from Mexico.

This way, you get to know Spanish people better, their way of life, habits, or culture.

Even though you can find various videos from beginner to advanced level of learning, videos are most suitable for high intermediate learners.

Like on other channels, you can subscribe to this one, and get notifications when the primary host, Juan, uploads new videos, which usually come out two times a week.

Agustin Iruela

Best for: Beginner and intermediate learners

The channel, hosted by VideoEle, offers around 200 videos for learning Spanish. On the website, there are available subtitles for free, exercises, and solutions, too.

Four levels for learning Spanish are available, from A1 to B2. The duration is from 3 to 6 minutes long.

There is plenty of information that can be found in daily life, real everyday situations, and cultural elements from speaking Spanish countries. After watching one video (one lesson), on the website, you can download and complete interactive activities.

You can visit the channel here:

 If you want to learn Spanish on YouTube, these channels are for you!

Best for: intermediate and advanced learners.

This channel has hundreds of videos and materials for learning Spanish, along with pronunciation, grammar, tests, quizzes, expressions, and phrases.

Their topics include hobbies, holidays, customs, and casual conversations. Each lesson consists of some fun facts or exciting quizzes.

On YouTube, you can find free videos that are more than helpful, but if you don’t want to pay, pay attention not to click on some promotional video or e-mail.

If you, however, do want, then make sure to check out their Spanish program with more than 1.600 lessons.

Best for: Beginner and intermediate learners

On this channel, you have plenty of videos that can help you learn Spanish in real-life situations. The main goal is to learn Spanish in a fast way, but with structures that can be used in multiple contexts. Thanks to this channel, you can improve your grammar and vocabulary. Videos are listed from level 1 to 6, so you can easily keep up with the teacher, and follow your improvement.

It is also perfect for English speakers since there are explanations in English.

Try out this channel by visiting the link:

Practiquemos with Catalina Moreno

Best for: Beginner and intermediate learners

The teacher, Catalina, with more than a decade of teaching experience, founded this channel for Spanish learners. Her enthusiasm and love for teaching are so visible through her videos that you can’t help but fall in love with the Spanish language.

Apart from the free videos on YouTube, there are many exercises available on her website, which can help you improve your grammar and vocabulary.

By subscribing to her channel, you get notifications for new video lessons, MP3s, and exercises, too.

Take a look at this YouTube channel and start learning Spanish:

Learn Spanish Step by Step

Best for beginner learners

According to many students, this channel is perfect for learning Spanish for beginners. It contains mini-courses, that is videos such as “Learn Spanish in 5 days”. Topics are simple, such as names of animals, numbers, directions.

Grammar explanations, phrases, vocabulary, and pronunciation are also included in lessons, so don’t worry; in here, you have plenty of learning material for a beginner. There are also explanations in English, which makes it perfect for English speakers, too.

Visit the link in here:

Maria Español

Best for intermediate learners

Maria, from Colombia, is one charming girl. She is a teacher of Spanish on her YouTube channel that will make you love Spanish even more than you already do. Her optimism and explanations in video lessons are very simple, but, on the other hand, beneficial.

She tries to give you grammar parts, vocabulary, pronunciation, as well as some cultural notes in her video lessons. Even though there are some beginner lessons, her videos are mainly in Spanish, so it’s the most appropriate for intermediate ones.

Visit her channel and try it out:

It is one of the rare channels dedicated for high intermediate and advanced learners. With more than 2 million followers, it offers a variety of topics and has video series specifically about learning Spanish. Videos are available in Spanish, as well as in English.

Holly, the teacher, is bilingual, and her lessons and videos are not just like others. You will find learning Spanish with tutorials, DIYs, storytimes, reviews, etc. very fun as this channel is something between a blog and learning material.

Try it out, and you will find it entertaining:

Lirica – Learn Spanish with music

Best for: everyone who loves Spanish in combination with music

It is not the least important channel for learning Spanish, but it makes the ending of our article more enjoyable. What do you think of the connection between learning a language and music? If you haven’t thought about it until now, perhaps you should. This channel offers that connection. The teacher combined these two, which, with more than 200,000 followers, makes it quite popular. We won’t tell anything more, give you the link to YouTube to visit it:


If you are looking for a fun and practical way to learn Spanish on YouTube, you should definitely try some of the channels listed above.

This is one of the most effective ways to learn Spanish for free. If you are not able to invest money in your lessons at the moment, you can also learn with apps that are also free

Everyone is different, so follow our tips to choose the best one for you.

Give them a try for some time, you’ll see how much you’ll improve. 

Fun is one of the most important parts of your learning journey.

Your are the most productive when you enjoy the studying process.

Podcasts, TV shows, games, movies. As long as you enjoy it, you are more likely to remember words and rules.

Then go to our website to become a fluent speaker with the help of Justlearn native tutors!

This content was originally published here.


Learn Chinese in China (2020-21) 🏆 Become Fluent, Fast

All ages and nationalities welcome! Come and Learn Chinese in China with us today.

Our group programs will allow you to make friends with your classmates and experience first rate Mandarin lessons simultaneously.

Chinese classes in Beijing with LTL are specifically kept small. This is to allow you to form a close bond with your teacher and fellow students and increase the speed in which you learn Chinese.

Our school is a comfortable and friendly environment to study Mandarin and you will be made to feel at home at the best Chinese language school in China.

Chinese Classes in Beijing – Average under three students per class
No more than six students – Average class size less than three
Friends for life – Get to know fellow students
Diverse lessons – Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing

Community – We pride ourselves on being a tight knit family
24/7 – Emergency? We are always here to help whatever the hour
Knowledge – Years of experience mean we can advise daily
Student Advisor – Always here to assist you with any queries

Duration % OFF Standard
(20h group)
(20h group + 10h 1-on-1)
1 week 0% 2,362 4,789
2 weeks 2% 4,608 9,345
4 weeks 7% 8,773 17,789
8 weeks 16% 15,895 32,231
12 weeks 24% 21,600 43,800
13 – 52 weeks 24% 1,800/wk 3,650/wk

We also offer a special discount if you book your Chinese course over the Christmas period. Visit our Discounts and Supplements page to find out more.

Our personal assessment is something we do before you come to take you Chinese classes in Beijing.

You will speak to us via Whatsapp, Skype or a phone call. NOTE – Our assessment is not a test.

The assessment will involve a short chat with our Director of Studies and a number of basic questions. We do the rest.

There are plenty of restaurants and shops around if you wish to eat lunch outside of school or go shopping.

The nearest metro stop from the school is Da Wang Lu which is located on Line’s 1 and 14 of the Beijing Metro.

All our teachers hold a University Degree in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language and on top of that they have at least 5 years teaching experience. You have to be the best to work at LTL and it shows in our lessons.

When you come to study Chinese in China you are in the best hands possible.

It’s a great environment to learn Chinese in China, and due to our tight knit nature we make everyone feel at home immediately.

We have 17+ classrooms, a kitchen with free tea, coffee and beer and a safe and relaxed place to study Chinese.

There are lots of interesting places to visit in China as well as great things to do in our school cities. Make sure you discuss an outline of your plans with your student advisor during the booking process to make sure you’ll have enough time on your visa.

Every student has different goals aims but ultimately the group class is all about getting your Mandarin ahead as quickly as possible.

Your speaking, reading and writing will improve daily and you can further enhance that by adding on one of our 1 on 1 programs.

This is a key reason why class sizes are kept small. Every student will get ample opportunities to speak Mandarin in class. We believe strongly in getting every student talking as early as possible.

You are learning Chinese in China, so you have to make the most of the opportunity and talking Chinese as much as you can, is vital.

In four hours, we will teach you new grammar concepts, new vocabulary and new ways of speaking.

Every little bit of Chinese helps and luckily for you we have a host of apps to recommend. Our favourite Chinese learning apps are featured in our blog. We rate and review them. Included are DuolingoSkritter and Chineasy.

Studying Chinese as a Mature Student

Having self-studied Mandarin on and off and being ok at reading but never making much progress with listening and speaking, I had meant to undertake language immersion in China for a long time. In my 30s and a full time accountant in the UK, it had been difficult to find the time to do this. An opportunity arose when I moved jobs last autumn but I had only two weeks available for the trip and so I wanted to make the most of this limited time. Homestay seems the best way to do this and was one of the main reasons I was interested in LTL, which consistently emphasises homestay as an important part of the language learning experience.

It was only the week before the planned trip that it was confirmed I could take the two weeks as annual leave. This meant some fairly frantic last minute visa arrangements (which LTL supported helpfully although it is clearly not an approach they would encourage) and some anxious moments waiting for confirmation that everything was in place. It was only after clearing immigration at Beijing that my heart was finally set at ease and I felt this long-awaited adventure was actually going to happen.

Once in Beijing and being unable to even have much of a conversation with the taxi driver on the way into the city from the airport, I realised my spoken Mandarin was even worse than I had thought. However, my homestay family, in the south of Beijing, were kind and encouraging right from the beginning, making an effort to speak clearly and to draw out coherent sentences from me. The father of the family in particular also took time to talk with me over dinner (excellent food, by the way) about all sort of topics. While a homestay can be a little nerve-wracking if like me you’re not already at a reasonable level of fluency, and you will find yourself looking up a lot of household items in the dictionary, this is the quickest way to improve fluency and I very much recommend this approach over a hotel or lodgings with other students.

The school itself is as other bloggers have described; bright, friendly and in a convenient part of town (and close to some nice restaurants). The group classes, being small, work best with a lot of conversation in Mandarin and limited use of learners’ home languages (typically English and German). It must be said, the school is not cheap but teachers are qualified and experienced and they care about their students’ progress which on balance I think is probably worth paying for. There is a sociable atmosphere and I particularly liked the fact that teachers and students ate lunch together. While some of the students are university students (or straight out of high school), age was not nearly as much of an issue as I had expected, and with students having a variety of backgrounds I was reassured not to be the only ‘oldie’.

Since returning to the UK I have tried to continue studying in my spare time. I recently passed my HSK4 exam and this is largely thanks to those two weeks in Beijing which gave me a much stronger base of listening and speaking from which to continue self-study.

I look forward to one day going to Chengde for the even more immersive program!

This content was originally published here.


Learn French With Podcasts: Top 3 French Podcasts That Will Improve Your Fluency – Justlearn

What does every French language student want?

Well, 8 out of 10 French learners will tell you that they want to sound more like native speakers.

They want to have rich vocabulary, speak fluently, use French slang, and have the same natural flow as the French people do.

There are many ways to achieve fluency, such as watching movies, speaking with native French speakers, reading books, listening to music, and many other resources.

But did you know that you can learn French with podcasts?

Podcasts are series of episodes that you can find online and download. 

They are usually free of charges and can be found on podcast apps, such as Castbox, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts etc.

Some may say they are similar to the radio, but podcasts are actually more organized into topics. 

They cover diverse subjects, from politics, marketing strategies, to life hacks and language acquisition.

Yes, language acquisition. You’ve heard it well.

With podcasts, you can bring foreign languages with you wherever you go.

If you think it’s not likely to learn French this way, you should stick around and try our top 3 choices below.

Note that it is always handy to have an experienced tutor by your side so that you can ask them when in doubt. If you still haven’t found a suitable teacher, look for them on Justlearn, where you’ll find plenty of professional native French tutors.

Here’s why you should learn French with podcasts

Recently, there has been an enormous popularization of not only podcasts per se, but language learning podcasts as well.

What’s the reason behind this?

Well, podcasts can come in handy when you are commuting for work, traveling, or cleaning your house.

What this means for you is that you get to learn French with daily podcasts and work on your skills regularly.

The biggest benefit of learning French with podcasts is that you get to listen to native speakers.

Podcasts are a great way to hear the everyday language used by real French speakers.

They are also good for keeping up with the French culture and language.

Without further due, here are three best podcasts to help you improve your French skills.

How to learn French with podcasts

Top 3 French podcasts to improve your fluency

One of the most practical podcasts is Coffee Break French.

The title says it all.

Their episodes don’t last for more than 15 minutes, which is enough to drink your morning coffee or have your afternoon coffee break.

Thanks to the amazing personality and expertise of the host and teacher Mark, you will be able to learn new French vocabulary, new slangs as well as hear some French grammar tips and tricks from a professional.

If you are searching for free French podcasts for beginners, stop right here and give Coffee Break French a try, you will not regret it.

It’s a great way to start learning French with podcasts.

Bonus tip: Why don’t you recommend this podcast to your French tutor as well, as it can be a great conversation starter for your next lesson.

Coffee Break French is a free language learning podcast developed by Radio Lingua Network, also known for their useful language courses.

You can listen to the first episode on YouTube and hear about many possible ways to say ‘How are you’ in French.

As per the title, this podcast is for French students who are also keen on keeping up with the world news.

The podcast is in French, only a bit slower, as the French people are famous for their fast way of speaking.

We would recommend this podcast to intermediate French learners; however, beginners, don’t get discouraged!

There is also a transcript that comes with each episode so that you can have the entire episode in written form and revert to it if you have any doubts.

Another great thing about this podcast is that apart from the popular news, you will have a chance to learn grammar and hear some common French expressions.

Your French tutor might be eager to share their thoughts on a certain idiom, so feel free to tell them about your new favorite podcast.

In case you need a new French tutor, Justlearn offers a wide range of native French speakers who can help you improve your pronunciation and learn more about French culture.

Last, but not least, our third choice of the day is French Pod 101.

It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or already on a more advanced level; this podcast is for you.

It offers a lot of different topics so you will be able to find something interesting for yourself too.

The speakers are very professional, engaging, and, most importantly, French natives and fluent speakers.

They are a great motivational boost for your French learning journey, as one of them speaks perfect French but is an English native.

You will learn so much about the French culture, as the episodes usually offer a detailed look at everyday real life situations.

Not only that it is fun and interesting, French Pod 101 is very practical – the best insight into French language and culture. 

Podcasts for learning French are a great resource that the technology-based society brought to us.

We should use it to our benefit.

It is possible to have fun while learning languages.

And it is possible to do productive things that are fun.

If you follow your gut, choose a French tutor you like, and use appropriate resources, you will learn French very quickly.

But if you have fun with it too, you will be fluent in no time.

Give these three podcasts a try this week and share your thoughts in the comment section below.

We also can’t wait to hear about other podcasts and talk about them in future articles, so let us know if you have any suggestions for us, we’d like to hear from you!

This content was originally published here.


Expert Reveals How to Learn Spanish Fast in 2020

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I still remember when I decided to learn Spanish, about five years ago.

I had failed miserably at every other attempt at learning a language. French. Indonesian. Three years of Chinese in high school, of which I remember nearly nothing.

I have a genetic disposition for poor memory, for god’s sake. But I was moving to Colombia for a few months, and was determined to learn, in spite of the unknown.

This probably sounds familiar. Maybe you’ve tried learning Spanish before, to little avail.

So for whatever reason – travel, speaking to family or friends, work, or love – you’ve decided that 2020 is the year to finally learn Spanish. That you are tired of waiting. That you want to finally be able to actually communicate. You want to prove to yourself and everyone around you that you can learn another language.

But you realize that there’s a lot of BS out there about how to learn a language. You don’t want to just follow the traditional methods that are so ineffective and expensive.

That’s where I come in.

When I arrived in Medellin, Colombia, I filmed a documentary about not just learning Spanish, but doing it in a single month.

And 18 months later, I filmed another documentary, this time with my Spanish teacher and now best friend as co-student, about learning Portuguese in a single week.

And beyond the million people I’ve helped through those films, I’ve been able to use my business, BaseLang, as a testing ground to hone the perfect method for learning Spanish extremely quickly.

I’ve boiled down all that I’ve learned, including the best of my book into the following quick guide to learning Spanish fast in 2020.

The next 10 minutes will be the best you ever spend on your journey learning Spanish.

Download the expanded guide to read later

This page gives you a great overview of the most important concepts and strategies, but for the full, expanded guide, click the button below:

The Foundational Law of Learning Spanish Fast

If you’ve learned any Spanish before, you probably focused on learning the “stuff” of the language – grammar, vocab, maybe pronunciation.

Which makes sense. That’s obviously the first step.

But what good is all of that info if you can’t effortlessly use it in real conversations with Spanish speakers?

Sure, you know the stuff. But if every time you go to form a new sentence, you are racking your brain for the right sentence structure, the right conjugation, that word you can never remember…

…then you have a problem.

Your Goal is to Have Natural Conversations With Real People… Right?

Then you not only need to learn the grammar and vocab, but become confident using it.

And the only way to become confident having conversations in Spanish is to have lots of conversations in Spanish.

So if you’ve done the entire Duolingo curriculum…

Listened to the Pimsleur tapes…
Taken academic classes…
Memorized hundreds of words of vocabulary…

…but still can’t actually speak Spanish, that’s NORMAL.

It’s not that you aren’t good at languages. It’s that you’ve been skipping half of the entire process – speaking!

There are TWO parts of learning any language:

No matter how much time you spend studying (part one), if you don’t have lots of conversations, you will NEVER become conversationally fluent.

So on a fundamenal level, learning Spanish is a recurring process of learning something new, and then actually using it conversations to “solidify” it.

The issue is that almost every method for learning a language focuses purely on part one:

And immersion (part two) isn’t enough on it’s own. That’s why you have expats who have lived in Colombia for five years who can barely get by.

WHAT You Learn is More Important Than HOW

A book used by Tim Ferriss to learn JapaneseAuthor Tim Ferriss has a great story about how he learned Japanese.

He did an exchange program in Japan in high school, and everything was in Japanese. He was studying like crazy, but struggling to get by.

Then, he came across a book of the 1000 most common words in Japanese. He memorized them, and seemingly overnight he understood almost everything people told him.

The moral of the story is, WHAT you learn is more important than HOW you go about it.

So what should you focus on?

As a beginner, you want learn the most common 1000 words or so, and the most important grammar. Meaning you can skip things like the future tense (use “I’m going to” instead) and the infamous subjunctive. Woohoo!

After that, you should just learn vocab specific to the topics that you care about.

Love food? Learn food vocab. Going to volunteer? Learn some medical vocab. Love to talk about business? Learn some business vocab. These are the words that are part of your most common 1000 words, since you talk about those subjects a lot.

The Power of Flashcards – And The Big Mistake to Avoid

Flashcards are one of the best ways to memorize lots of vocabulary at once, if not the best way.

More specifically, an SRS (spaced repitition system), which are basically “smart” flashcards. The idea is, when you get something right, the time before you see that card again increases. 1 day. 4 days. 2 weeks. A month. Four months. And so on.

These intervals are set to be right before we forget something, based on research into memory.

There are two main options for flashcard SRS apps: Anki, and Memrise.

I prefer Anki myself, as it’s simpler, but it’s a royal pain to learn how to use and you have to make all of your own cards. It’s also hideous, and the iOS app is $20 (desktop and Android are free).

That’s why we use Memrise for BaseLang. It’s 100% free, easy to use, and was also founded by a memory competition champion, so the science behind it is solid. We have our flashcards pre-loaded, including native speaker voice recordings for every word. You can actually get access to those 100% free here.

The Mistake Most People Make With Flashcards

Let’s be very clear.

Flashcards have ONE job.

That job is to get a word from you not knowing it, to you being able to remember it if needed in a conversation (even if it takes a few seconds to recall).

That’s it.

Once you can remember it in a conversation, the flashcard has done it’s job. It’s now time for part two from the Foundational Law of learning Spanish fast: using it in a real conversation.

When you actually use the word a few times in real conversations – it sticks. And you’ll no longer need the card.

But if you never use it, you’ll forget it if you stop using flashcards. Personally, I’ve barely touched a flashcard app in year (when I used it while learning Portuguese). I use it upfront to cram vocab, then actually USE the vocab. Then, the flashcard becomes unnecessary.

Learn Pronunciation First

Getting a grip on the sounds of Spanish is key to do upfront.

When I learned Spanish, I figured that getting near-native pronunciation would only help… well, my pronunciation.

But I was wrong.

In the process of getting perfect pronunciation, you actually tune your ear to the sounds of Spanish. So you can hear the difference between the Spanish “a” and the English “a”, for instance.

In this way, your ears are expecting the correct sounds, which is mandatory if you want to be able to understand people (especially when they talk fast).

You can use our Sounds of Spanish course for free here.

Speaking of understanding people when they talk fast…

How to Understand People When They Speak Spanish Fast

This is literally the #1 thing people email me about, and probably the #1 frustration of any language learner of any language.

The standard prescription for this is more listening practice.

But that’s not really the issue.

There are two main culprits if you struggle to understand someone when they speak fast:

Number 2 is the big one.

The reality is, even if you know everything someone said, if you have to translate, you’ll never keep up. To understand people speaking fast, you have to understand Spanish – not the English you can translate that Spanish into.

Let’s be clear, there’s nothing wrong with translating. I’m not recommending a learning method like Rosetta Stone where you look at a picture and try to guess what the hell it’s supposed to represent.

You will ALWAYS be translating something. Fact.

I’m now fluent. I’ve spoken in public in Spanish. I work in Spanish. I’ve had a surgery where the doctor didn’t speak English.

And I still translate things.

BUT not the same things I was translating six months ago. Or a year ago.

There are always things that are new to you, on the edge of your ability. These are the things you just did step one of the Foundational Law for, and thus have not yet solidified with conversations.

The orange area above is the part you have to translate. Over time, as you learn new things and then solidify those things with conversation, the blue part grows and grows.

The blue part is the part where you don’t have to think to use it. It just comes out. And if you can SAY something without having to think, you can UNDERSTAND something without having to think.

So if someone is speaking a million miles an hour, but with only stuff in your blue zone (and a small amount from the orange zone), you’ll be able to understand.

At the beginning, that’s just “hola”, “gracias”, and “como estas?”. You don’t have to translate those – you understand them at face value.

As you progress, more and more advanced things will be like that.

“Vamos a salir esta noche?” (let’s go out tonight?), then “iba a ir al parque pero tenía que quedarme en casa” (I was going to go to the park but I had to stay home), then fancy complicated stuff like “si estuvieras conmigo iríamos a cenar” (if you were with me, we’d go have dinner) or “si hubiera sabido lo que iban a hacer, no hubiera ido” (if I’d known what they were going to do, I wouldn’t have gone).

Again, you see the Foundational Law in effect. Learn something, then use it in conversations to put it in the blue zone.

Download the expanded guide to read later

This page gives you a great overview of the most important concepts and strategies, but for the full, expanded guide, click the button below:

The MOST Common Mistake Spanish Learners Make

There’s one mistake that is more common than all the others.

And it’s this: worrying about being perfect.

You will make mistakes. Period.

You will tell people you are horny (“estoy caliente”) when you think you are telling them that you are hot (“tengo calor”, literally, I have heat). You’ll stumble over your words, forget things, and speak tarzan Spanish.

That’s more than just normal. It’s required. Because the only way you get to speaking perfect Spanish is by speaking a LOT of imperfect Spanish. It’s impossible to get in the speaking practice required if you refuse to allow yourself to make inevitable mistakes.

And no, you won’t build “muscle memory” with incorrect grammar, unless you do it for YEARS.

The language learners who make the fastest progress are the ones who aren’t afraid to butcher a sentence, and who are more concerned with first being understood – COMMUNICATING – and then perfection later on.

The Easiest Way to Apply All of This To Learn Spanish Fast in 2020

So it’s really quite simple. To learn Spanish, you need to:

But what’s the right grammar? Who will you have those conversations with? Who will check your pronunciation? Who will give you a controlled environment to make embarrassing mistakes without fear?

Let’s be straight here, you need a teacher (and not just any teacher, but one who follows the above principles).

But you already knew that. Of course one-on-one classes with a great teacher is the fastest way to learn Spanish. But it’s expensive.

Or, it was, before we created BaseLang to fix the issue.

At BaseLang, you get unlimited one-on-one Spanish tutoring with professional teachers, over video chat, for just $149 a month.

We focus on getting you from zero to conversationally fluent, so you can:

It’s really unlimited, no caveats. Hours are 6am to midnight Eastern US time. There are over a hundred teachers to choose from (you get to schedule yourself over our platform). The curriculum is optimized for becoming conversational fast – in fact, it’s a honed version of what I used for my Spanish in a Month documentary.

Your first week is just $1. And we have a negative-risk guarantee: if at any point in the first 35 days, you don’t absolutely LOVE BaseLang, we’ll give you a full refund plus $20 extra for wasting your time.

If you’re serious about learning Spanish in 2020, it’s a no brainer.

In fact, you only need to take 2 hours of class a week to make BaseLang more affordable than paying for an online tutor (who doesn’t come with the other benefits of BaseLang). Many of our students take that every day.

to start your first week trial.

And if you don’t want to take my word for it, here is a page that lists every 3rd-party review ever done on us. Or our page where we post every single piece of post-class feedback (requested after each class), unedited, for everyone to see – there are tens of thousands of them, and you can see what students like you really think. We’re transparent.

If you’re serious about finally learning Spanish this year, , and start your first week trial.

This post is an excerpt from our Ultimate Guide to Spanish, and you can read more excerpts from the guide by clicking below:

Or you can download the entire 119-page guide, for free, right below.

Download the expanded guide to read later

This page gives you a great overview of the most important concepts and strategies, but for the full, expanded guide, click the button below:

This content was originally published here.


FactCheck: do ‘over a million’ people in Australia not speak English ‘well or at all’?

A growing number of people in Australia cannot speak English well or at all, over a million people.

– Senator Pauline Hanson, Senate speech, September 19, 2018

One Nation Party leader and Senator for Queensland Pauline Hanson is urging a rethink on Australia’s immigration policy, including changes to the “number and mix” of migrants coming to the country.

In a Senate speech, Hanson outlined a number of concerns she has with what she described as Australia’s “failed immigration policy”, including issues with social integration and the establishment of “culturally separate communities”.

The senator said a “growing number of people in Australia cannot speak English well or at all, over a million people”.

Is that right?

Checking the source

In response to The Conversation’s request for sources and comment, an advisor to Senator Hanson accurately cited Census data showing the number of people who self-reported they spoke English “not well” or “not at all” was 820,000 in 2016, up from 655,000 in 2011 and 560,000 in 2006.

To reach a calculation of “over a million people” in 2018, Hanson’s office:

  • added 66,000 people to the 2016 Census results, based on the assumption that the growth in the number of people in this category would be the same between the 2016 and 2021 Census as it was between 2011 and 2016, and

  • added a further 149,294 people to the 2016 results, based on the assumption that 10% of the 1,492,947 people who didn’t respond to the question in the Census about language proficiency did not speak English “well or at all”.

You can read the full response from Hanson’s office here.


Senator Pauline Hanson said “a growing number of people in Australia cannot speak English well or at all, over a million people”.

The most up to date information available on this question comes from the 2016 Census. The data show that the number of people who self-reported speaking English “not well” or “not at all” in that year was 820,000.

Hanson was correct to say that number has been growing, from 560,000 people in 2006 to 820,000 people in 2016. This amounts to a rise from 2.8% of Australian residents in 2006 to 3.5% in 2016.

Over the same time, among people who speak a language other than English at home, the percentage of people who self-reported speaking English “not well” or “not at all” fell, from 17.5% in 2006 to 16.6% in 2016.

It’s important to keep in mind that self-reporting is not the most accurate measure. Some people will over-estimate their language capabilities, while others will under-estimate theirs.

What do the data show?

In its five-yearly Australian Census, the Australian Bureau of Statistics asks people who speak a language other than English at home to state how well they speak English.

Respondents can choose from four options: “very well”, “well”, “not well”, or “not at all”. The categories “not well” and “not at all” are reported together.

In the 2016 Census, 4.9 million people reported speaking a language other than English at home.

Of those people, the number of people who reported they spoke English “not well” or “not at all” was 820,000.

Hanson was correct to say the number of respondents who ticked the “not well” or “not at all” categories has been rising – from 560,000 people in 2006, to 655,000 people in 2011 and 820,000 in 2016.

But of course, the overall Australian population has also grown over that time.
So let’s look at the numbers as a proportion of the broader Australian population. On this measure, it amounts to a rise from 2.8% of all Australian residents in 2006 to 3.5% in 2016.

Over the same time, the percentage of bilingual residents who reported speaking English “not well” or “not at all” fell slightly, from 17.5% in 2006 to 16.6% in 2016.

That means within the bilingual population, there was an improvement in perceived English language skills between 2006 and 2016.

Hanson said there were now “over a million” people in Australia who “cannot speak English well or at all”. There are two potential problems with the calculations made to come to this conclusion.

Firstly: the calculation assumes the same rate of growth in the number of people who speak English “not well” or “not at all” between 2016 and 2021 as it was between 2011 and 2016.

The number of people with little or no English language capability is largely a function of the overall migrant intake. As our overall migrant intake has increased, the absolute number of new arrivals with little or no English language capability has also increased.

However, since the 1990s, our migration program has become increasingly selective and the English language requirements for permanent residency have risen.

Second, the projected growth rate suggests that not speaking English well is an unalterable characteristic, and that new entrants with little English capability simply add to the existing number.

This assumption doesn’t account for the likelihood that many recent immigrants who responded that they did not speak English well or at all in the 2016 Census will have improved their English (or their confidence, or both) by 2021 and will respond that they speak English “well” or “very well” then.

How accurate are the data?

The Census data provide us with a rough guide to English language proficiency, but it’s not a particularly valid or reliable measure.

That’s because the judgements made in the survey are subjective. There’s no definition around what speaking English “well” or “not well” means. One person may overestimate their English proficiency, while another person may underestimate theirs.

As noted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

… one respondent may consider that a response of ‘Well’ is appropriate if they can communicate well enough to do the shopping, while another respondent may consider such a response appropriate only for people who can hold a social conversation.

As such, these data should be interpreted with care.

Self-assessment can be a valid tool in determining language proficiency. But for that to be the case, the questions need to be much more detailed and sophisticated.

So while we can state that 820,000 Australians reported speaking English “not well” or “not at all” in the 2016 census, it’s not possible to determine what that means in terms of their actual ability to communicate in their everyday lives.

Most bilingual residents speak English ‘well’ or ‘very well’

The vast majority of bilingual Australian residents report speaking English “well” or “very well” – more than 4 million out of 4.9 million.

Evidence of a certain level of English language proficiency is a visa requirement for most permanent migrants, and many temporary migrants. The key exceptions are humanitarian and family reunion migrants, whose reasons for admission supersede the immediate language requirements.

New citizens are also subject to an Australian citizenship test, which is an implicit English language test, requiring a certain level of English language proficiency to pass.

The number of people in Australia with little or no English language capability depends not only on the number and mix of new migrants admitted, but the English language training provisions made available to those people when they arrive. – Ingrid Piller

Blind review

I agree with the verdict of this FactCheck. The sources used and conclusions drawn are correct. – Amanda Muller

The Conversation FactCheck is accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network.

The Conversation’s FactCheck unit was the first fact-checking team in Australia and one of the first worldwide to be accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network, an alliance of fact-checkers hosted at the Poynter Institute in the US. Read more here.

Have you seen a “fact” worth checking? The Conversation’s FactCheck asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article. You can request a check at Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

The Conversation

Ingrid Piller receives funding from the Australian Research Council and the Humboldt Foundation.

Amanda Muller does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

This content was originally published here.


Learn English Vocabulary: Going to the theatre · engVid

Learn English Vocabulary: Going to the theatre

Test your understanding of this English lesson

In a theatre, you buy your tickets at the:
The person who checks your ticket and guides you to your seat is called:
The area where the audience sits is called the:
In a larger theatre, your ticket will tell you where to sit with a __________ letter and a _________ number.
To avoid disrupting the show, remember to turn off your __________ before it begins.
There is often a planned break in the middle of a show. This is called an:
The people who perform on stage are called:
What is another name for the developing story of a play?
If a story is set in the past, then the costumes and hairstyles will usually be:
If you have really enjoyed a production, which of the following would be a good word to describe it?

We enjoy your lesson.
Could you do the same lesson related to the cinema?
Thank you very much.

Tuesday, March 24th 2020

Hi Gill,
thank you for this highly interesting lesson, however, at this moment, unfortunately, for the rest part of the world, it is quite unnecessary. All the amenities (schools, museums, shops, theatres… ) are closed because of the coronavirus, all the streets are empty and scary. There is strict curfew here. That said, in two or three weeks, we could it need again. I hope so strongly.

Tuesday, March 24th 2020

Learn English for free with 1530 video lessons by experienced native-speaker teachers. Classes cover English grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, IELTS, TOEFL, and more. Join millions of ESL students worldwide who are improving their English every day with engVid.

more lessons

This content was originally published here.



Learning another language at any age (except when rocking a pacifier is trendy) is a roller coaster of ups and downs. When you actually manage to string together your first sentence of “Hello my name is Kate and I have two cats,” you’re so sure you’ve got this language thing down that you’re convinced you’ll be a bilingual babe in months. But then someone tells you that the way you’re pronouncing the word kiss with a z sound on the s is actually the pronunciation for the word f*ck, and you realize that that bilingual babe status is way farther off than you thought. Oh and you’d like to melt in your chair and disappear now, thanks.

I absolutely had my fair share of ups and downs when I was learning French, and I still learn and (often) make mistakes 10 years later. Here’s the 5 things I find the most challenging about learning and speaking French, even today!


 There are two words for “you,” in French- tu and vous. Tu is informal and used in a singular way. So if I said to my sister “would you order me a pizza?” I would you use tu. But vous is both formal singular and can be used in a plural form. So if I was asking a stranger “do you know where the Eiffel tower is?” or talking to two friends and asking “what do you want to do?” I would pop a vous into that sentence. Sounds pretty clear right?

Well don’t be fooled my friends. All these different ways of using “you” mean that first off, you have to learn all kinds of different ways to conjugate verbs. Since the verbs following tu and vous are neither spelled nor pronounced the same way, it means double the trouble when it comes to memorizing conjugations.

At least memorizing isn’t complicated per say. It’s more time consuming. BUT what can be complicated is remembering when to use the vous versus tu because if you accidentally use the informal version when you should have used the formal version, it’s pretty much considered an insult. Example, you’re trying to renew your visa and accidentally use tu with the worker at the Prefecture. Could a visa rejection be in your near future? I wouldn’t be surprised…


The word on has so many different meanings in French, it’s no joke hard to keep track. But it mainly translates to “we” in French and is used for the most part when you’re speaking, not writing. What’s so complicated about on is that while it usually means “we,” it can mean “someone,” “you”, “they,” and even “he” and “she” and “I”. The key to understanding what on means, is understanding the context of the phrase. That’s easy enough when you’re an advanced speaker, but not so easy when you’re just learning. If someone says “on m’a dit que…” you know the sentence is “xx told me” but you don’t know who the crack “on” is until you hear the rest of the sentence and put everything into context. For the most part, it becomes natural as some point… I promise. But I still have times where I’m scratching my noggin’ thinking, who the heck is on today?


It’s rough as an adult to try and mimic sounds you have never attempted to master as a tiny tot. If you’re like me, it’s virtually impossible and you get put in special “pronunciation” classes, on Saturday MORNINGS, for the students who really just can’t be understood. 🙁 But even if you’re a world class “pronunciater,” reading off words you’ve never seen before becomes an absolute riddle in French. Because what you see is absolutely not what you get in the Land of Cheese. French words are full of silent letters. When I say silent, I mean almost every word, in every sentence, of every paragraph has AT LEAST one silent letter. Of course the letters have a purpose or the French would just chop them off, guillotine style. They distinguish gender, number, plurality and verb agreement, but as a non native speaker, they also stand for challenging with a capital C.


You might think that when it comes to accents, I’m talking about all those different regional accents, right? Those accents are kind of challenging too but, I’ll get to those next. Right now I’m actually referring to all those tiny slashes and dots that help guide you in pronouncing all those letters that aren’t silent. These are extra difficult because we don’t have accents in English, so we can’t compare them to something we already understand. Plus, the thing about accents is that even though you want to just ignore them since a tiny slash just can’t be THAT important, you really shouldn’t. Multiple words can be spelled the same and only the accent makes the difference. Élevé means to raise, like raise a child and élève is a student. Only those tiny slashes makes all the difference.


Normally when I think of accents, I’m thinking sexy French accent that makes we weak in the knees or that fancy British accent during High Tea. I’m not usually thinking of a thick Scottish accent that I can barely understand in my own mother tongue. But that’s what I’m referring to here.  It’s a total twist when you feel like you’ve got this French thing down and then you take a train three hours south and have to ask the woman at the boulangerie to repeat three times because you’ve got no clue what she’s saying. And sometimes it’s not just their pronunciation that’s different, it’s also the vocabulary that throws you for a loop. You jaunt down to Bordeaux and the word beaucoup and tres is replaced by gave. Which I might add, is pronounced like the verb se gaver, which means “to gorge oneself.” So if you don’t know whats up, you’re like why is this guy talking about overeating 5 times in one minute?

Whelp, those are my 5 biggest challenges when learning another language, but I know there are many more! What are yours? Don’t forget to leave them in the comments below! ♥

This content was originally published here.


‘Just saying hola isn’t enough.’ How do Latino voters feel when candidates speak Spanish? – Latinos Ready to Vote

by Melissa Gomez

Beto O’Rourke stepped up on a red cooler so the crowd packed inside Taqueria Arandas could see him.

Primero, buenos días,” he began, greeting people. He thanked the family that owns the restaurant and launched his pitch: “Necesitamos un país en que cualquier persona [pueda] participar con su voz y su voto en su democracía.” “We need a country where anybody can participate in their democracy with their voice and their vote.”

The audience cheered, clapped and leaned in close to listen to the former Texas congressman, one of several 2020 Democratic candidates speaking at least some Spanish on the campaign trail.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who knows seven languages to varying degrees, has spoken Spanish at his events, as has Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro uses Spanish for emphasis, for example ending a message to the president with “Ya basta” — “Enough.”

But does a candidate speaking Spanish make a difference to voters who know the language? The answer can be as nuanced as the Latino electorate, which is often mischaracterized as a monolithic voting bloc.

“There’s nothing more powerful than somebody saying, ‘I’m fighting for you,’ without the use of a translator,” said Edgar Flores, a state assemblyman whose east Las Vegas district is nearly 70% Latino.

Flores, who is bilingual, hosts events for constituents in Spanish and English, and believes using the second-most spoken language in the U.S. is extremely effective in reaching voters, especially in Nevada, one of the country’s most diverse states. But that does not translate as the sole means to winning the Latino vote, he and others caution.

“When you come to the community, just saying ‘hola’ isn’t enough,” Flores said. “They need to know what issues you stand for.”

The role of Spanish in this year’s election cycle is likely to bubble up again during the Democratic primary debate in Houston on Thursday, which will be co-hosted by Spanish-language network Univision and simulcast with live translation.

At a debate co-hosted by Telemundo in June, O’Rourke, Castro and Booker spoke a bit of Spanish, at times with wavering pronunciations and grammar, leading some critics to accuse them of “Hispandering.”

Andy Hernandez, who led Latino outreach during President Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign, disagreed. When people discount Spanish in English settings, they’re saying the Latino vote is less important, he said.

“It’s no different than going to an Iowa State Fair and eating a corn dog,” he said. “Is that pandering? I don’t consider it pandering. Now, are they going to win the Latino vote just on that? Of course not.”

Latino voters could be a major force in 2020, when they are expected to surpass African Americans to become the largest minority voting bloc, according to the Pew Research Center; an estimated 32 million Hispanic voters, a Pew category that includes Latinos and some non-Latinos, will account for more than 13% of all Americans eligible to cast a ballot.

In Clark County, home to Las Vegas and about two-thirds of Nevada’s population, nearly 1 in 4 people speak Spanish at home. Nevada falls third on the 2020 primary calendar, after Iowa and New Hampshire, which are both overwhelmingly white.

“If you’re a campaign and the first Latino test you have is Nevada … then it makes sense to want to reach a Spanish-speaking population because it’s still a dominant portion of the electorate,” said Andres Ramirez, a Las Vegas-based political consultant.

Maria Luisa Escobar, a housekeeper at the Venetian hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, said she respects politicians who speak her first language.

“I like that they are open to other cultures,” the 51-year-old said in Spanish, which she and her co-workers mostly speak at work. Many of them are citizens, she said, but are hesitant to participate in English-dominant settings.

“When it comes time to vote, there are times when they feel like they can’t, because they don’t understand,” Escobar said, “so it’s important that the information is in Spanish.”

A candidate’s language ability, however, isn’t as important to Latino voters as their stances on issues, polls have shown. Latino voters rated the ability to speak Spanish ninth — last — in what they were looking for, a June UnidosUS poll found. Most said they wanted a candidate who values diversity and brings people together. A Univision poll after the June debate found 53% of respondents said a candidate speaking Spanish was a motivation to vote for them; 35% said it didn’t matter.

For Las Vegas resident Wendy Losada, hearing Spanish at the debate was a sign of acknowledgment. “I was very excited that he did that,” she said of O’Rourke, the first to answer a question in Spanish. “I was like, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you very much,’” said Losada, 50.

Hector Fong Jr.’s first thought when candidates speak Spanish is that they’re pandering. But the 21-year-old said older Spanish speakers like his relatives would benefit from events in their first language, a thought shared by many of the dozen bilingual voters The Times interviewed in Las Vegas. Older Spanish speakers are less likely to say they understand English “very well” than younger generations, according to the Census Bureau.

“I have tías” — aunts — “…who want to get active,” said Fong, a political science student. “They want to be active in the community; they don’t want to just vote or not vote. They care.”

Some of the Nevadans interviewed said holding an event in Spanish, especially when Latinos face attacks for speaking the language in public settings, would send a powerful message. Even offering translations could be seen as a rejection of the racist rhetoric that speaking Spanish is unAmerican, they suggested.

At a town hall in Nevada in March, California Sen. Kamala Harris’ campaign offered headsets for real-time translations in Spanish. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warrenbrought a translator for a roundtable event hosted by a Nevada immigration advocacy group.

It was really refreshing,” said Leo Murrieta, director of Make the Road Nevada. Murrieta, whose immigrant advocacy group holds its meetings in Spanish with English translation, said he appreciates candidates who learn the language.

But “if you can’t tell me in Spanish what you’re going to do to lower drug prices for my parents, let’s just stick to English and let the translators do what they do,” he said.

The most fluent of the candidates and least likely to use a translator appears to be O’Rourke, who grew up learning Spanish in the border town of El Paso and was given the Spanish nickname “Beto” as a child. As a city councilman in his hometown, O’Rourke hosted town halls in Spanish and English for the largely bilingual community, his campaign said. It is not uncommon for O’Rourke, who is Irish American, to pepper Spanish words into speeches wherever he goes on the campaign trail, including at a house party in front of a mostly white crowd in New Hampshire.

Castro, the only Latino vying for the Democratic nomination, does not speak Spanish fluently, but he has focused part of his campaign on Latinos. His first campaign stop was in Puerto Rico, a bilingual U.S. territory, and he was the first to release a comprehensive immigration plan. In talking about his plan, he often speaks about his grandmother, who came to the U.S. from Mexico at age 7.

Castro has spoken about how Latinos who have lived in this country for decades were punished or looked down on for speaking Spanish. “In my family, like a lot of other families, the residue of that, the impact of that, is that there are many folks whose Spanish is not that great,” he said.

Julian Castro is practicing his Spanish, and tells @kasie why he didn’t grow up speaking the language: “In my grandparents’ time… Spanish was looked down upon. You were not allowed to speak it. People, I think, internalized this oppression…”

— Kasie DC (@KasieDC)

Castro’s story is one that 20-year-old Alma Romo can relate to.

On a Sunday afternoon, the college freshman sat with her parents at the Las Vegas office of Mi Familia Vota, where she works as an organizer, and spoke about struggling to speak Spanish. Like Castro’s, her grammar is imperfect, and she ducks into a room when she is speaking Spanish on the phone to avoid being overheard.

So for her, Castro’s lack of fluency isn’t an issue. She appreciates his record of supporting Latinos and his plan for immigration reform, she said.

“Sometimes I feel like the work that you put in is 10 times more important than just being able to speak Spanish,” Romo said.

Teresa Parraga agrees.

The housekeeper at the Paris Las Vegas hotel said she has struggled to retain her English after becoming a naturalized citizen in 1998; she understands the language well but gets by just fine speaking Spanish. Referencing a common Mexican saying, Parraga, 66, said she thinks candidates often “dorar la píldora,” or sweeten the pill, when they speak bits of Spanish.

“If you’re speaking my language and you’re expressing to me in my language what your plans are for issues I care about, perfect, I’ll understand you better,” she said in Spanish. “But if you are utilizing my language to sweeten the pill, no. I’ll go with English.”

Melissa Gomez is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.  @MelissaGomez004

This content was originally published here.


Mandarin Monday: The Best News Apps to Help You Learn Chinese

Mandarin Monday is a weekly column where we help you improve your Chinese by detailing learning tips, fun and practical phrases, and trends.

Learning languages from textbooks can help ensure that you are able to build a solid foundation and get to grips with basic grammatical structures and vocabulary. But in order to understand how these rules are applied and transformed in the various contexts of daily life, there is no better pedagogical tool than the ever-evolving world of social media. As Confucius even once said: 三人行,必有我师焉 sān rénxíng, bì yǒu wǒ shī yān, “In a crowd, there’s always someone to learn from.”

However, while social media can provide an eye-opening lesson in colloquialisms and the occasional vulgarity, its chaotic, rapid-fire nature hardly makes it a suitable platform to whittle away the blind spots in your Chinese. Luckily, there is a better way, one that retains some of the freshness of social media without becoming overbearing: newsfeed apps. With their friendly interfaces, a varied selection of topics from trusted sources, they can anyone with an intermediate understanding of Chinese take their study to a whole new level. Click the title to download the app from the App Store.

1. iDaily (difficulty: 2/5)

Best suited to intermediate learners, iDaily provides image-focused briefings of daily global news. Each of the briefings is limited to 200 words, making it less intimidating than other outlets and allowing for comprehension testing. A fun design flourish is that the user interface will pin the news on the map to show the distance between you, the user, and the location of the event, creating a sense of globality even if you’re far away.

2. Houxu – 后续 hòuxù (difficulty: 3/5)

Houxu’s slogan is “News that has memory.” To achieve that sense recollection, they employ a timeline for each story, tracing each major development all the way back to the start of the event. The result is a practical thread that weaves pieces of stories together and creates an ongoing storyboard. For Chinese learners, this has the added benefit of bringing attention to repeating keywords that link different topics, and also help build a better understanding of how stories progress using increasingly specific terminology.

3. Kzfeed – 快知 kuài zhī (difficulty: 4/5)

Compared to the apps above, Kzfeed provides more freedom to its users by allowing them to customize their news feed based on interests or algorithms. Sources are not limited to print or traditional media outlets but also encompass government websites and “self-media.” You’ll also find more video and visual content, which is useful for learners wanting to practice their listening skills.

4. Q Daily – 好奇心日报 hàoqí xīn rìbào (difficulty: 5/5)

As the Chinese name suggests, Q Daily aims to satiate your daily curiosity for news, compiling personal and in-depth perspectives on current affairs unlike anything you’ll find in stale state media. While you’ll find the usual standardized news categories here, where Q Daily truly excels is in its more niche columns which function more like mood boards or personal diaries from their contributors. Also, they add a more interactive element to the news by allowing users to vote and express their attitudes towards various social phenomenons in their “Curiosity Laboratory.”

This content was originally published here.