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Thoughts about learning foreign languages and news about

Why you shouldn't focus on the differences between words and phrases.

People really seem to like it when I point out differences between words or phrases. This morning I sent out a Twitter message about my recent post, "I'll just be glad when it's over." The message I sent out got a lot of response - people re-tweeted it and wrote back about it, and about twice as...

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...