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Should we forget about PhraseMix and just go make international friends?

Yesterday I read a post at the Fluent in 3 Months blog. The author, Benny, says:

If you want to speak a language well, the amount of money or quantity of course material or choosing the “best” one to invest in, or how much you study, will not determine your success. It’s how...

The Blog »

Don't try to learn similar phrases together (or you might make a dumb mistake like I almost did)!

Should you learn similar words and phrases at the same time, or words and phrases that are different from each other?

The first instinct for most language teachers and learners is to group similar vocabulary together. When I first began learning Japanese, I had a list of animal names to study, a...

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Try studying English once an hour!


When and how often do you study English? Do you do it once a week? Every day? What about every hour?

There's a blog that I'm a big fan of called All Japanese All the Time (AJATT). The author, Khatzumoto, discusses theories about how to learn a foreign language quickly and well. Yesterday he...

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How learning grammar is like painting.


Language learners sometimes try to learn too much at once.

For example, I often get questions like this:

I don't know how to use 'the' and 'a'. Can you explain how to use them?

Well, no, I can't.

First of all, "the" and "a" are too...

The Blog »

Finding a different way to explain tenses

I'm working on writing some posts to explain tenses. (Like the past tense, past progressive, present perfect, and all those lovely terms you learned in school). Of course, there's a ton of information out there already which explains these ideas. But I have to figure it out and explain it in my...

Concepts »


Slang is language which some people use, but which isn't widely accepted as "proper" or "correct".

What is slang?

Slang has the following qualities:

  • It's often used by young people.
  • It's often regional, meaning that people in one country (or part of a country) use slang words and phrases that...

Concepts »


A cliché (pronounced "clee-shay") is an expression or idea that has been used over and over again. It was once clever, but now it's been used so many times that now it doesn't seem interesting or intelligent any more.

Clichés are easy for people to understand because they're so...

Answers »

How should I use titles like "Mr." and "Mrs."?

Titles are the words that go in front of someone's name. In American English, the most common salutations are "Mr.", "Ms.", "Mrs.", and "Miss". There are a few others as well like "Dr." Here's an explanation of each of the common titles:

  • "Mr." (pronounced "mister") is used when you're addressing...

Concepts »

Non sequitur

A non sequitur is when you say something that's not related to the topic of conversation. For example, if you're having a conversation with a friend about work and then she suddenly says:

I love cheese.

That's a non sequitur.

People usually try to avoid non sequiturs in conversation, but as an...

Premium Articles »

Past perspective ("had done", "was doing", "was going to do", etc.)

One interesting feature of English is the way that we talk about the past. In English, we have a past, present and future. But our past also has its OWN past, present and future! You can imagine it like this:

past perspective visualization

When English speakers talk about a past time, we switch our perspective back to the...