Author: Language Mag

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What is the Easiest Language to Learn?

What is the Easiest Language to Learn?

General
People learn languages for all sorts of reasons. It could that you have a specific purpose for learning a particular language, or it could just be that you want to learn one as a hobby. In the latter case you may decide that you want to start with a language spoken by a large number of people in order to maximise your gains, or you could simply decide that you want to learn the easiest language possible to start with. Defining how easy a language is to learn is, however, a difficult problem. First and foremost it depends on where you are coming from. An asian language, for example, is easier for a speaker of another asian language to learn. Because of that we need to set the base from which we're learning from. As you're reading this article in English, we're going to assume that you're...
Nouns are Harder Than Verbs

Nouns are Harder Than Verbs

Language News
If you think nouns are harder than verbs in your language learning efforts, then you could well be right. Wordnet lists 117798 nouns versus 11529 verbs. So, not only do the number of possible nouns dwarf the number of possible verbs but research also suggests that even English speaks pause longer over nouns than verbs. The University of Zurich conducted research into the amount of time we pause when constructing sentences and using nouns and verbs. It turns out that we purposely use interjections such as "um"or "uh" or subconsciously slow down in order to give us time to make the choices needed in a sentence. That concept, in itself, is fascinating because it implies that even as a native speaker of a language, we don't form full sentences all at once and still put work into building th...
Lingodeer

Lingodeer

App Reviews
I was studying Japanese on Duolingo when I first heard of Lingodeer. As I got nearer and nearer the end of the Duolingo course, the numerous bugs and problems started to get to me and I wanted to switch. LingoDeer was a breath of fresh air. Firstly, whilst Duolingo is more a collection of sentences that have been organised into topics, Lingodeer is a designed course that's organised according to topics and grammar. Further, Lingodeer actually explains the grammar as well. In every category that's a full(ish) grammar explanation before the lessons themselves (although you do have to kind of look for it as it's not immediately obvious that it's there). For me, the difference between Duolingo Japanese and Lingodeer Japanese was like night and day. Where I often sat before Duolingo think...
Do you Really Understand 80% of a Language if you Learn 1000 Words?

Do you Really Understand 80% of a Language if you Learn 1000 Words?

General
I read this a lot, learn the most frequent 1000 words (or 2000, it depends on the source) and you understand 80% (or 90%, it depends on the source) of the language. It's a statement that is so deeply embedded in language learning that it appears everywhere: from Duolingo's old fluency percentage to Lingvist's pretty little graph. Even the good old BBC push this theory. But It's not about Words, it's about Meaning So let's start with examining the problem with this idea. Language is about communicating something. But if we consider it on a word level then we're highly restricted in what we can communicate. Say, for example, that I walked up to you and said: Water Now you might guess that I want water, right? In fact, the fact you guess that without thinking about it is very importan...
Duolingo

Duolingo

App Reviews
Duolingo is the "go to" language learning app of many a language learner because of its fun and intuitive design and its ability to turn language learning into a game. Over the years, Duolingo has expanded its selection of languages so that it now teaches many languages. A common question with Duolingo is what level somebody will be at when they finish the course. You should expect to be around an A2 level in reading and lower in the other skills. A typical Duolingo course will teach you about 2000 words, along with a variety of sentences. Unlike traditional courses, these sentences often don't have much relation to anything you'd use in real life. The idea is to make them fun and for you to absorb the grammar naturally. The natural grammar absorption isn't that effective and whil...
Babbel

Babbel

App Reviews
I've used Babbel before, but almost exclusively the desktop app version. As I'm learning Spanish now, it was time to try the App version. Babbel is one of the few apps that teaches grammar alongside the other elements of a language and teaches it well. It's broken into little chunks that are brought up when needed, just as the lessons are broken into chunks that make it feel like you can squeeze a lesson in here and there without it becoming a huge commitment. The app has a variety of exercises that you can carry out, from typing in words, selecting the correct one, to following along and filling in the blanks in conversations. The latter doesn't hold back from presenting words and sentences that you haven't seen before but that you can guess from the context, which is a great method...
5 Ways Not to Suck at Learning Languages

5 Ways Not to Suck at Learning Languages

General
You imagine yourself speaking another language fluently, laughing with the natives as you order another beer. You make a throwaway comment about how the beer is better than in your country. "Oh. I didn't know you weren't from here", says the barman, "You speak the language so well". "Thanks, it's not perfect but I try", you reply as you secretly make plans to sell all your grammar books on the internet that evening and use the funds to buy a t-shirt with the simple slogan "bilingual" on it. You've had a dream like that, right? And then you tried to learn a language and remembered that learning a language is a bit like running a couple of marathons backwards, back to back, in fluffy panda slippers. Unless you're just enjoying the shape of the various straight and squiggly lines on you...
Language Drops

Language Drops

App Reviews
It's hard to imagine a more beautiful app for learning words in a foreign language than drops. From lovely gradient backgrounds, to intuitively designed exercises, the Language Drops App is what other apps should've been in terms of design. Despite it's undeniable good looks, it has its problems. The content, for example, consists of a single list of words that is divided into categories and translated into all of the 30 languages that Drops currently supports. That means that the amount of content is much smaller than some competitors (for example, Memrise). Whether you consider that a problem though, is a matter of personal decision - you could well take the opinion that by the time you've learnt all the words in Drops then you could start learning new words through reading books rath...
Drops – Continued

Drops – Continued

Blog
I'm still looking at the Drops app. At the moment I'm sitting in a place where I'm not sure if I like it or not. It's a beautiful, well designed app, but I have some niggles. The first is the time inconsistency. It says it gives me five minutes and I like that. I like the idea of being stopped and then having to do something else. But it keeps giving me extra time, and even an extra five minutes. Now I get that developers need to make money and this is to show me how much better my life would be if I subscribed and could use it all the time. But it just wouldn't. I'd almost be happy to pay to have the five minutes be consistent!   The second is that, as I progress, I come across words that relate more to concepts than easy to picture things. Then the icons start to become...
Simple Stories in Spanish

Simple Stories in Spanish

Blog, Language Specific
For those learning languages, it's often hard to find good reading material. Particularly good reading material with audio sources. The following, well designed, websites have come to my attention that have children's fairytales and stories translated into Spanish and are a great source of practice reading material.