I don't spend much time these days studying foreign languages.
I used to spend a lot of free time trying to improve my Japanese. I was able to come up with new ideas for how to learn English based on my own language studies. But for the past year and a half, I haven't spent much time at all on Japanese language practice. Instead, I've been learning a computer language. I've been learning to code.
Starting is hard. Becoming OK is easy. Getting good is very very hard.
Learning a computer programming language is similar in some ways to learning a language like English or Japanese. As with a foreign language, it seemed impossible at first. I didn't even know where to start typing the code and how to make it run.
Then I learned a little bit, and it was amazing how quickly I was able to...
Do you have a question? Here are a few suggestions for how to get an answer quickly:
If you have a technical question or a suggestion for some way to improve PhraseMix, you can send it to me from the Contact page.
If you have a question or comment about a specific lesson, post it on that lesson's page. I answer about 2/3 of the questions that people post within a few days.
If you have a general question about English, don't email it to me directly; post it on the PhraseMix Chat page so that other readers can see your question and learn from my answer. Sometimes I answer these questions; sometimes I even write a full PhraseMix Answers article about them. I don't answer every question, but I try my best.
If you just want to say how much you love PhraseMix, post it anywhere you...
People love lists.
That's what I've decided after looking at the recent web traffic numbers for PhraseMix.com.
There's one post which stands out as by far the most popular one I've ever written. To give you an idea of how popular it is, it gets more visitors than the actual PhraseMix.com home page!
Not only that, but three of the other most popular pages on PhraseMix are lists:
- The 25 most famous English movie quotes
- 15 ways to say "Hello" in English
- 99 English phrases to say "I love you"
So am I going to drop everything and focus all of my energy on writing lists? Probably not.
Lists are fun and...
I see a lot of emails and comments from English learners. Some of them are well-written, but others are filled with mistakes and hard to read.
There are so many different rules to follow and think about when you're writing in English. It might seem impossible to learn them all. But it's acutally possible to improve your writing quite a bit by paying attention to just three things:
- Start each sentence with a capital letter ("A", not "a") .
When you don't capitalize your sentences, your writing looks sloppy. Some people these days don't capitalize their sentences when chatting or writing text messages to their friends. But whenever you write to someone who you don't know already, be sure to start each sentence with a capital letter.
- Punctuate your sentences.
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...