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Thoughts about learning foreign languages. News about PhraseMix.com

The hard parts of understanding English conversation

This week, I met up with the blogger Adir Ferreira from Transparent Language Brazil. He was on his first trip to the U.S. and came to New York for a few days.

In our conversation, Adir mentioned that this was his first immersion experience in English. Although he had studied English for many years and even worked with English speakers, it was still a new experience to be fully immersed.

Adir told me about a party that he had gone to a few days earlier. He said that some of the conversation there was really hard to follow because people were using a lot of names of specific things, like the names of local supermarkets and neighborhoods in that city.

I immediately knew what he meant because I've run into that problem in my language study. We spend so much time preparing our general...


Considering a new format for the audio recordings

I've been thinking of adding a new section to the audio on each lesson for PhraseMix Premium users. It would be a version of the example sentence, split up so that you can hear and repeat the individual parts of the sentence. Here's an example:

http://www.phrasemix.com/split-files-test

Notice the "split" version at the end. What do you think of this format? Would it be useful for you? 

I split the sentence up based on functional pieces, instead of just breaking up the sentence in order. Do you like this method? Or would you rather hear it in order?

Would you like for each piece to be repeated multiple times?

Would you like it slower? Faster?

I look forward to your feedback. Thanks!


The three types of language learner

Yesterday, I shared a theory of mine that people learn English for a few reasons:

  • to get a job
  • to get into school
  • to make friends or relationships
  • to travel
  • because they like the feeling of accomplishment

As I started to think about it a little bit more, I realized that it's even more basic than that. I think that there are basically three categories of motivation for learning a language. Most people study a language because they want to use it for something, they want to experience something different, or they just like the feeling of learning. I call these three types the Pragmatist, the Adventurer, and the Accomplishment Junkie.

The Pragmatist

A "pragmatist" is someone who's realistic, practical, and efficient.

The pragmatic language learner studies a language because it's useful....


You're so cool.

I hope you won't be embarrassed if I praise you a little.

You're one of the very best and bravest English learners. How do I know that? Because you're reading this. You're reading a blog post written in English, on a site that's written completely in English, without a bit of translation into your native language.

It's not easy to do that. I know that you probably come across a lot of sentences that you don't understand here. You might even be confused by some of the items in the site navigation. Even if you do understand it, I know that it takes a little bit of extra concentration and patience.

Most English learners don't do this. They stick to learning materials that are written in their native language. Learning through your native language can be useful at first, and you will make...


None of these things will happen if you speak English badly.

If you try to speak English and make a mistake, none of these things will happen:

  • No one will point and laugh at you
  • You won't lose your job.
  • The townspeople won't chase after you with torches.
  • You won't be locked up and thrown in jail.
  • The love of your life won't dump you.
  • You won't be permanently banned from speaking English ever again.

In fact, chances are no one will even notice.

Just a friendly reminder not to take yourself too seriously. We all need that at times, don't you think? :)





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