The Blog

Thoughts about learning foreign languages. News about PhraseMix.com

The "lean-back" language learning experience

The new Phrase Mixer review tool that I released last week represents an important new direction for PhraseMix Premium. It's the "lean-back" language learning experience.

"Lean-back experience" is a term that I learned at my day job at a large magazine publishing company. A few years ago, there started to be rumors that Apple was developing a tablet computer. The company's executives started to think about how to translate magazines to these new devices. Was reading on a tablet computer like reading a website? Or was it like reading a magazine?

The company's CEO described a website as a "lean-forward" experience. You read while sitting at a desk, with your hand on the mouse. You're actively searching for information.

Reading a magazine is a "lean-back" experience. You read while...


Introducing the Phrase Mixer!

The Phrase Mixer

PhraseMix Premium members now have another way to review PhraseMix lessons. Introducing...

» The Phrase Mixer!

The Phrase Mixer is a powerful tool for memorizing phrases. It automatically selects past lessons for you to review, so all you have to do is turn it on and listen.

The newer the lesson, the more often it pops up in the player. This allows you to learn lessons really well at first, then review them from time to time to refresh your memory.

The Phrase Mixer is for Premium members only, but non-members can listen to a limited sample version of the player here:

» The Sample Phrase Mixer »


How many lessons do you study per day?

A reader sent me an email asking me how many PhraseMix lessons he should study per day.

Personally, I would try to learn 2 new phrases per day. I would not only read the lessons, but try to search for other examples of each of the phrases on the Internet and on YouTube.

I would also spend 10-15 minutes per day reviewing lessons that I'd previously learned. A flashcard system would help out with this a lot.

But then again, I already know English. I don't use PhraseMix to study, so my opinion doesn't count! 

What's your study routine? Do you learn the current day's lesson and then go do something else? Do you sit down once a week and try to cram all of the new lessons for that week? I'm dying to know!


How can you find English speakers to talk with?

Night Club

One complaint I often hear from English learners is that it's hard to find people to practice with.

I agree that it can be hard. You have to change your habits to put yourself in new situations where you get more English practice. It takes a little bit of bravery. You have to be willing to speak with strangers, even though it may be a little uncomfortable.

But where do you actually find English speakers? Here are a few of my ideas — some simple and some a little crazy.

  • Go to the site Meetup.com and search for an English-based group in your city that matches one of your interests.
  • Try a language exchange site like Verbling.com.
  • If you're living or studying abroad in an English-speaking country, take a class on something other than English: an exercise class, cooking class,...


The reason that PhraseMix works

What is PhraseMix about?

Whenever I meet someone new and introduce myself, I have to explain what PhraseMix is. To be honest, it's always a little bit difficult. I say something like this:

I run a website for people who are learning English as a second language. I write lessons each day and post them on the site. Each lesson is based on one English sentence. I explain what that sentence means and then I break it down into the phrases that make up the sentence. There are also illustrations for each lesson. The lessons are all free, but some people pay to get an audio version of them.

As a description, this works. But it's longer than I'd like, and it also doesn't really explain what's special about PhraseMix. I'd love to be able to summarize what PhraseMix is in just one or two...





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