The Blog

Thoughts about learning foreign languages and news about

Watch out for unnatural translations!

The other day I saw some discussion on a language forum about a project called "Tatoeba". This is a site where users are creating multi-language translations of example sentences. If you register for the site, you can write translations of sentences from one language into another. I signed up,...

How to memorize the phrases

I keep going on and on about how important it is to memorize phrases and other pieces of language in order to become fluent. But I realize that I haven't written much on how you memorize something.

Here's the secret to memorizing phrases: TRY to remember them.

It sounds so simple, and in fact it...

Sometimes rules don't help.

The other day on Lang-8, I answered a post about when to use "it" vs. "that". I think the distiction this poster was asking about is the type of difference that

  • takes a long and complicated explanation
  • has a lot of exceptions to the rule
  • doesn't cause much confusion when used differently from...

A funny list of "True Meanings of Common Idioms"

One of my favorite entrepreneurship blogs, A Smart Bear, posted a list of "The True Meaning of Common Idioms". Check them out - they're good for a laugh.

I've seen lists like this before - comical explanations of what certain phrases "really" mean. A quick example:

"To be perfectly honest with...

Why Memorize? My theory of "hook phrases"

I want to expand a little more on why I think memorization is so important for lanuage learning.

What is memorization exactly? It's different from simply "remembering" something. When you "memorize" information, you focus on it and repeat it over and over. That's how kids learn to say the...