Posts Tagged ‘learning a language’

5 Techniques to Speak Any Language

This is the dream of every one of us, I know. 🙂 Speaking any language and rebuilding the Babel tower again…

If I want to learn a specific language, the first I’d do is to listen to songs that are written in that language. 🙂 Once you fall in love with songs and the culture, the rest is easy. For example, I wanted to learn Spanish because I went to a Bachata dance course and I fell in love with all the songs that were played in the course! I just wanted to understand and feel the songs when I dance… Anyway. This is just a short story but there are real (!) techniques if you want to learn more than one language.

Here it comes:


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The Language of the Week: Punjabi

748px-Guru_Granth_Sahib_By_Bhai_Pratap_Singh_GianiLast week, I got a great comment about my blog. Sarai Pahla stated that her favorite part is “The Language of the Week”. So, I hope there are people out there like Sarai who like my articles and the information that I try to compile here.

4 years ago, I guided almost 50 students from Pakistan in a sports festival organized by my university. We got very close friends and I really loved their culture and language… I was quite amazed when they tell that there are tens of languages used in Pakistan. This week, I choose a language of my old friends from Lahore city: Punjabi. For those who want to learn more about languages spoken in Pakistan and India:


Punjabi is spoken by 130 million native speakers world wide making it the 10th most widely spoken language in the world.

Mostly inhabitants of the historical Punjab region in India and Pakistan speak this language.

It belongs to Indo-Aryan language family.

The word Punjabi is derived from the word Punjab which means “five waters” in Persian “panj aab” and refers to five major eastern tributaries of the Indus River.

Punjabi emerged as an independent language in the 12th century.

Punjabi is one of the languages recognized by the Indian constitution at the state level, in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, and West Bengal.

Punjabi has always been an integral part of Indian Bollywood cinema.

Punjabi is spoken as first language by over 44.15% of Pakistanis.

Punjabi has three phonemically distinct tones that developed from the lost murmured (or “voiced aspirate”) series of consonants.

Punjabi has a canonical word order of SOV (subject–object–verb).

Punjabi distinguishes two genders, two numbers, and five cases of direct, oblique, vocative, ablative, and locative/instrumental.


And let’s see how it is transcribed:

ਲਹੌਰ ਪਾਕਿਸਤਾਨ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦਾ ਦਾਰੁਲ ਹਕੂਮਤ ਐ। ਲੋਕ ਗਿਣਤੀ ਦੇ ਨਾਲ ਕਰਾਚੀ ਤੋਂ ਬਾਅਦ ਲਹੌਰ ਦੂਜਾ ਸਬ ਤੋਂ ਵੱਡਾ ਸ਼ਹਿਰ ਐ। ਲਹੌਰ ਪਾਕਿਸਤਾਨ ਦਾ ਸਿਆਸੀ, ਰਹਤਲੀ ਤੇ ਪੜ੍ਹਾਈ ਦਾ ਗੜ੍ਹ ਐ ਤੇ ਇਸੇ ਲਈ ਇਹਨੂੰ ਪਾਕਿਸਤਾਨ ਦਾ ਦਿਲ ਵੀ ਕਿਹਾ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਏ। ਲਹੌਰ ਦਰਿਆਏ ਰਾਵੀ ਦੇ ਕੰਡੇ ਤੇ ਵਸਦਾ ਏ ਉਹਦੀ ਲੋਕ ਗਿਣਤੀ ਇੱਕ ਕਰੋੜ ਦੇ ਨੇੜੇ ਐ ।

lahor pākistān panjāb dā dārul hakūmat e. lōk giṇtī dē nāḷ karācī tō᷈ bāad lahor dūjā sab tō᷈ vaḍḍā shahir e. lahor pākistān dā siāsī, rahtalī tē paṛā̀ī dā gā́ṛ e tē isē laī ihnū᷈ pākistān dā dil vī kihā jāndā ē. lahor dariāē rāvī dē kanḍē tē vasdā ē uhdī lōk giṇtī ikk karōṛ dē nēṛē e.

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Source: Wikipedia.




While the internet has become a vital part of our lives, it just goes beyond the computers or laptops… With tablet and smart phones, we carry the internet wherever we go and we really need it when we are mobile. So, the famous internet websites find enjoyable applications to promote their brand in mobile as well.

Thanks to one of my friends, I come across with a perfect mobile application for language lovers: Duolingo!

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Its web site is quite colorful and funny. It makes you practice a language and it turns this process into a game…

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You have your own skill tree and you can compete with your friends as you complete new missions! 🙂

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It also has its iPhone application. Wherever you go, you can continue gaining new skills and beat your friends out.

Do you want to try? You can visit the website here:

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How Does Google Translate Fail? :)

Here is a hilarious video basicly about Google translate. I wouldn’t expect anything like this when I first started watching it but these guys have generated a funny song using Google translate… Everytime, they translate the lyrics into a different language via Google Translate and sing the song with that lyrics! After 6-7 languages, the meaning changes dramatically!

If you want to see “how”, just watch the video until the end! 🙂


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For Typos and Basic Grammar Mistakes

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Here is a perfect tool for those who cannot stand typos and basic grammar mistakes. Although most of such mistakes is done just due to the lack of attention, typos and such simple grammar mistakes decrease the credibility of the text– at least in my opinion. 

You can use and recommend the spellchecker of Grammarly Lite for anyone who writes texts on computer. Actually it is quite useful for all of us. Well, what does this spellchecker do?

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It also works in coordination with your favorite web sites such as Gmail, Yahoo mail, Facebook, Twitter, Google docs, Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress, Linkedin, Google+ and Pinterest.

If you want to download this tool, first you should make sure that you use Chrome as your browser. Then by clicking the link below, you can download the tool.

It is also quite useful for translation agencies. As AIM Consulting, we recommend you this tool. 

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Google Wants to Protect 3,000 Endangered Languages

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 19.21.07Recently, I saw a Youtube video about a project titled “Endangered Languages Project” powered by Google. Google created a platform for the members or learners of endangered languages. When you sign up, you can share information on this platform. Let’s hear it from Google 🙂

The Endangered Languages Project, is an online resource to record, access, and share samples of and research on endangered languages, as well as to share advice and best practices for those working to document or strengthen languages under threat.

About endangered languages:

Experts estimate that only 50% of the languages that are alive today will be spoken by the year 2100.

The disappearance of a language means the loss of valuable scientific and cultural information, comparable to the loss of a species.

Tools for collaboration between the world communities, scholars, organizations and concerned individuals can make a difference

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A Perfect Book for Word Geeks

I really love learning new words and their pronunciations no matter what the language is. I guess, as translators, we’re all alike because one of my friends is really ambitious learning Elvish and long-gone languages. So if this is the case for you and if you wanna get relaxed by learning “other” languages, here is a perfect book for you:

Here is the website that I’ve heard of this book and a brief introduction:

IO9 reports that “Stephen Rogers has put together the ultimate guide to conlangs, or made-up languages, from Klingon and Elvish to Lojban and Esperanto. In his new book A Dictionary of Made-Up Languages, you can learn about Na’vi pronunciation and the word games that mathematicians play. It’s the perfect book for word geeks, as well as anybody who loves language and linguistics. IO9 has an excerpt from the introduction.



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Same Language, Different Arguments

language_booksEnglish is my second language and I’ve been learning it since I was 10. After Turkish, English was quite different and difficult at first. However, Turkish is a language of “exceptions” so when I began to learn English, I understood that it is quite rule governed. Then French came to the scene 🙂 I have been studying French for 4 years but I just couldn’t manage to reach a level of fluency… Maybe it is because of my cognitive skills or it is because of the difficulty of French itself, it pushes me real hard! Especially compared to English, I find it quite challenging.

The other day I saw an article saying English is very hard. Every language has its challenges but I guess English is rather easy-to-learn when compared to other many languages. I want to share this article with you and I really wonder what do you think about it. Does the difficulty level change from person to person or culture to culture? It is obvious that if your native language is one of the Germanic languages, you find English easier. On the other hand if your native language is one of the Romance/Latin languages, French or Spanish is easy to learn. Since I am Turkish, both Germanic and Latin languages are quite different than my language. So I am neutral! 🙂

Here I just quote the main headlines. You can click the link at the bottom to read the whole article.


English spelling is extremely counter-intuitive! Why is it that words like “through”, “trough”, and “though” sound so different? It seems like for virtually every “rule” a prescriptivist writes down to try and model English spelling, exceptions can be found. The fact is, although it’s possible to make rough guesses at English spellings using phonetics, in order to really know English spelling, you have to memorize the spelling of every word.


Generally, more exotic new sounds mean more difficulty learning a language. English has a very rich set of sounds. It has the ability to string consonants and vowels together almost arbitrarily. Take a look at the word, “strengths”. There’s only one vowel out of six or seven consonants, depending how you count! Again look at “squirrel”. A very difficult word for foreigners to learn to pronounce.


In English, there are subtle ordering requirements which even English native speakers aren’t consciously aware of. We get them right every time, because wesubconsciously know about them through practice, but that just makes it all the harder for foreigners, since these rules are so subtle and hidden.


Because of its diverse, promiscuous etymological origins, English has lots of synonyms which, just from a dictionary definition, seem very similar if not identical in meaning.


In English, the entire meaning of a sentence can be changed by placing stress on a word. For example:

  • I entered my room.
  • *I* entered my room.
  • I *entered* my room.
  • I entered *my* room.
  • I entered my *room*.


In order to be really fluent in English, you can’t just learn modern English, you must also know a little bit of older, more poetic English. Not actual “Old English”, since that’s a whole other language entirely, but “older” English.


In English, it’s very strange how the whole grammar of a sentence changes when the sentence is put in question form. “It is warm” becomes “Is it warm?” Notice how the “it” and the “is” are switched.


Some people who study Spanish think the verbs there are bad. English is stuffed full of irregular verbs! How come the past tense of “buy” is “bought”, and the past tense of “sell” is “sold”, and neither “buyed” nor “selled” are real words?


As I said, English is mostly case-free. But, there are leftovers from the old case system. That’s why we have “I”, “me”, “mine” and “my”. And why we have “you”, “yours” and “your”. And why we have “he”, “him”, and “his”, and “we”, “us”, “ours” and “our”. In each of these groups, it’s really the same word, just in different forms- different cases. So, part of learning English is learning a case system, even though it’s only used for a handful of words.


One of the most difficult things about English, is the fact that there’s very little in the way of signals to tell you what kind of word a word is. For example, in Japanese and Spanish, all verbs have similar endings. Not so in English.

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100 Free Foreign Language Classes

Everytime, I decide to learn a language and I feel I can really learn it. However, after one or two attempts, I assure myselft that I cannot do it without a language course… You know, if you’re already working somewhere and you have tens of other things to do, going to a couse every weekend is kind of hard. First 2-3 weeks are good but then you just can’t manage all the work… So, I found a great collection of website that teach a language online… 

I will try them one by one, so if you also try, please leave a comment so that we just don’t lose any more time! 🙂

Here are the list for French, German & Spanish. You can click the link at the bottom to see other languages.



  1. BBC Languages French. Beginners and intermediate French students can find a wealth of lessons and activities here.
  2. The French Tutorial. Select the standard edition of this class to get free access to 13 chapters of lessons and over 200 audio files to help you learn French.
  3. Français Interactif!. This course from the University of Texas provides lessons, audio, video, vocabulary, and more based on a summer program in Lyon, France.
  4. French I. From MIT, this beginning French class focuses on vocabulary and grammar.
  5. French II. The second class of the French courses offered at MIT is here with even more French lesson fun.
  6. Introduction to French Culture. Be sure you already have a working knowledge of French before starting this course that covers French culture and society since the Revolution.
  7. French I and II. Carnegie Mellon offers French I and French II here. Each course takes approximately 15 weeks to complete and includes the basics to learn French speaking, comprehension, reading, and writing.
  8. French: Ouverture. Audio, video, and printed materials will help you learn French from this course that explores the French people on vacation.
  9. French: Le quatorze juillet. Following from the prior course, this one takes a look at the history and current celebration of Bastille Day.
  10. French: En ville. This intermediate French class will help you learn all you might need to know to navigate around a French town.
  11. French: Bien dans sa peau. Learn French while exploring what it means to keep your mind and body healthy in this intermediate class.


  1. Learn Spanish. Sign up for a free membership here to get a ton of great tools and activities to help your Spanish lessons take off.
  2. BBC Languages Spanish. Learn beginning Spanish, find out about cool Spanish language, test yourself, and complete crosswords in Spanish.
  3. Spanish Language and Culture with Barbara Kuczun Nelson. Get nine study modules plus plenty of other activities to help learn Spanish here.
  4. Spanish 1. If you are starting from the beginning with no knowledge of Spanish, then this is a great place to begin. This course from MIT is based on 26 half-hour video lessons.
  5. Spanish 2. Continue with the video-based lessons that will strengthen your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.
  6. Spanish III. This intermediate-level class has students participating in a variety of different activities to enhance their Spanish language skills.
  7. Spanish 4. Examine social, political, and cultural issues of Spanish-speaking communities around the world while you continue to learn Spanish.
  8. Oral Communication in Spanish. This second-year intermediate course from MIT asks students to practice their Spanish through watching Spanish-language films, writing Spanish journal entries, and preparing for a simulated trial.
  9. Spanish Conversation and Composition. Continue with this third-year intermediate Spanish course that features three group projects as well as viewing of films and readings of plays and short stories.
  10. Advanced Spanish Conversation and Composition: Perspectives on Technology and Culture. This course, taught in Spanish, explores the impact of technology on a variety of cultural and societal issues in Hispanic societies.
  11. Introduction to Contemporary Hispanic Literature. Study important works from 20th century Spanish and Latin American literature in this class that requires all reading and writing be done in Spanish.
  12. Twentieth and Twentyfirst-Century Spanish American Literature. Explore a variety of forms of literature and film from modern Spanish American sources in this class that is conducted in Spanish.


  1. BBC Languages German. This beginner’s course offers weekly tips, a phrase of the day, quizzes, stories, grammar help, and more.
  2. Deutsch Interaktiv. Whether you know a little German or none at all, this free course is just right for you.
  3. Learn German Online. This site offers 10 lessons for beginners and 24 lessons for students with more advanced German knowledge as well as other resources to help you learn German.
  4. German I. From MIT, this is the first in a series of courses that starts out with an introduction to German culture as well as the language.
  5. German II. Keep learning German in the second class that provides more vocabulary and grammar practice.
  6. German III. Speaking, reading, listening, and writing are emphasized in the third of this series from MIT.
  7. German IV. Students will continue their German language lessons by studying both literary texts and contemporary media texts.
  8. Germany Today: Intensive Study of German Language & Culture. This course from MIT is designed for students who plan to work or live in German and provides many opportunities to strengthen German language skills while learning about the culture.
  9. German: Lebensumstände. This intermediate-level German class explores the German family while emphasizing speaking, reading, and writing.
  10. German: Regionen, Traditionen und Geschichte. Explore German cultures, including their history and politics, while studying the German language in this advanced class.

For other languages, click here.

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National Geographic Brings Endangered Languages into the Digital Age

Did you know that NG has a project about endangered languages? I didn’t know until yesterday. NG collects data from even the languages that are spoken by as few as 600 people. With this project, they create an audio-visual dictionary, picturing the cultures in details. Here is a very informative article by , explaining the extinct of the languages and examining this extinction in scientific terms.

With nearly 80 percent of the world’s population speaking a mere 1 percent of its languages, National Geographic’s Enduring Voices project is trying to slow down the rate at which languages are disappearing. We’re more than used to hearing about species going extinct, but we don’t often look at languages with the same perspective. Threatened by cultural change, government repression, and more, the reality is, however, that every 14 days a language dies, and at that rate, 100 years from now, more than half of the 7,000 existing languages will have disappeared.

As part of the process, National Geographic has launched 8 new talking dictionaries containing more than 32,000 entries and 24,000 audio recordings. Not only do the dictionaries give insight into the languages spoken, they also shed light on the cultures formed around them, with photographs of cultural objects.

Some of the languages National Geographic is documenting have as few as 600 speakers. The 600 speakers of Matukar Panau, for example, live in 2 small villages in Papau New Guinea, and have never had their language documented, let alone even seen the Internet. Just over 3,000 words and audio files, along with 67 pictures, have now been added to the dictionary, and both computers and Internet have reached the remote village.


For the whole article, click here.

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