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Adventures into Arabic and my thoughts on linkword survival courses - a quick way to boost your vocabulary in a language

Not one to rest on my laurels, and always keen to keep moving forward with my language learning goals, since the start of this year I've been learning Arabic. This is a language I wanted to add to my repertoire, not only because I find the language and Arab culture interesting, but also because it could provide me with good career prospects for the future, as Arabic is in quite high demand for translation and interpreter work compared to other languages (possibly because fewer western people are likely to learn it, as it's perceived as being far more difficult than languages such as Spanish and French, for example). Of course, it's going to take me some time and a lot of effort to get to that level, but I will remain committed to the journey until I get there. I also love a challenge, and reading and writing in Arabic sure is challenging - the writing system is totally different as it uses Arabic script and not the latin alphabet, not to mention the fact that it's written from right to left too! But I'm getting there and it's actually not as difficult as you might think once you understand the logic of it.

Since there are various dialects of Arabic, depending upon the particular Arab country/region you're focusing on, I've decided to start with Modern Standard Arabic and then move on to various other dialects after that. I've been using a variety of resources, including Michel Thomas Method, Arabic For Dummies, Pimsleur Modern Standard Arabic, LingQ, as well as reading short stories and even connecting with some local people I know who speak Arabic and have been kind enough to help teach me the basics.

Anyway, in this blog post I'd like to write about the Linkword survival courses (in particular the Arabic one). As anyone who has been following this blog will know, I'm a big fan of the Linkword method and have used it to help me learn several other languages, including Spanish, French, German and Japanese. The man behind these courses, well renowned memory expert Dr Michael Gruneberg, has been kind enough to let me try some of these courses free of charge (so much so that last year I decided to purchase all 15 main Linkword courses in the special offer bundle they have) and recently sent me the survival courses, so I wanted to try them out too. I remain impartial, of course, in order to make my reviews authentic, and as usual I will give my honest thoughts based on how effectively they work for me.

A quick rundown on the Linkword method

So what is Linkword method? If you haven't read any of my previous blog posts/reviews of Linkword courses, in a nutshell, the method involves learning the core vocabulary and grammar of any given language by using mnemonics to help you remember the words (or phrases or grammatical concepts). The mnemonics involve taking a word in the foreign language, thinking of something it sounds like in English, then creating a mental picture of this in your mind's eye for about 10 seconds so that it burns itself into your memory. For example, the Arabic word for bed is 'sareer', which sounds a bit like the English words 'sore ear', so you could imagine you go to bed with a sore ear. This way of learning vocabulary is both effective and enjoyable for the learner, especially as it engages both sides of your brain too.

Words in Linkword courses are usually taught in batches of 10 or less. You're then tested on the words later on to recall them, both from the foreign language to English and vice versa. After that you're taught some grammatical points in an easy to follow manner and given some sentences to translate each way too. Contrast this to trying to remember words parrot fashion without mnemonics, and you'll soon see how effective Linkword method really is.

The main Linkword courses are available in 15 languages, but there is a separate set of courses know as 'survival courses' for 30 languages. Unfortunately there is no main Linkword course for Arabic, which is a pity because it really would be amazing if there was, especially given how well the method has worked for me with other languages, so I decided to give the Linkword Arabic course a run through to see if it could help me to improve my Arabic.

How the Linword survival courses compare to the main Linkword courses

Alright, so the first thing is to compare the Linkword survival courses to the main Linkword courses. The main courses range from 1 to 4 levels (depending upon the particular language - more popular languages have more levels than less popular ones), each level containing roughly 10 or 11 sections, each section taking the learner anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour and half minutes to complete (*approx times only - every learner will vary). Each level teaches grammar and a vocabulary of between 300 - 400 words. What you are taught is the core vocabulary needed to live your everyday life through the language, and Linkword courses have been cleverly designed so that by the end of studying them, the learner is well equipped with enough vocabulary to deal with life in a wide variety of situations. For this reason, I believe they are a truly excellent foot in the door to a language.

In contrast, the survival courses focus ONLY on vocabulary. No grammar is taught in them at all. Also, unlike the main courses, they aren't available in audio or software versions; they're taught in text format only (either as pdfs or word files). They're designed so the learner can go through them in a short period of time - a few hours maximum - and come out having memorised around 200 words, in order to help them survive in basic usage of the language in a variety of situations. This is especially useful for those who need to quickly learn some of a language in order to get by, e.g when going abroad etc. You won't be able to create any sentences or phrases after studying a Linkword survival course and nothing else, so as long as you curb your expectations and understand that they are not designed to be complete courses in any way,  you will find they achieve their objective very well. 

Each survival course is split into 4 sections, and each section teaches various categories of words including food and drink, clothes, family, emergency words, time words, days of the week, question words, travel words, medical words, restaurant words, numbers, colours and other generally useful words (such as 'yes', 'no', 'please', 'thank you', etc). You're taught a list of maybe 8 or 9 words at a time, given the mnemonic visualisation and also a phonetic pronunciation as a guide so you can be reasonably sure you're pronouncing it correctly (as close as possible without hearing any audio, anyway), and then you're tested on each batch of words. At the end of each section you're tested on all the words from that section, then after the final section you're tested on all the words learned in the entire course. In addition to this, there's a glossary at the end of the course of all the words you learned, written in alphabetical order, which provides a handy reference to look words up and/or test yourself on them again in the future for consolidation.

So how did I get on with Linkword Arabic survival course?

First of all, there is no mention of what particular dialect of Arabic this course teaches, but having been studying Arabic for a good few months now, I noticed it seems to be mostly Modern Standard Arabic, which is a good safe bet for a learner to give them the maximum change of being understood by Arabic speakers they'll encounter.

The Linkword memory hooks/mnemonics worked absolutely fine for me, and I was able to recall the vast majority of words by simply working through the course as it is taught. It hasn't given me any better understanding of Arabic grammar (but I've learned that from the previously mentioned courses) but I am delighted to have boosted my vocabulary by around 200 words in such a short period of time, so it's definitely furthered my ability in the language. I suppose being a 'survival course', it would've been good if a few basic greetings and phrases were included too, but we can't expect any given language course to include everything. I feel I now have enough basic vocabulary to help me communicate in many everyday life situations thanks to this course, so it's a great platform to build upon, but of course I'll need to learn a lot more in order to become fluent. 

The words taught are written in the latin alphabet format, not in Arabic script, in order to make things easier on the learner. If you're looking to learn the Arabic writing system or any grammar, you'll need to look elsewhere. However it's much easier at the start of your Arabic journey to learn a basic vocabulary using the latin alphabet (and ideally audio too) to instill the pronunciation without the added complication of the Arabic script writing system, so this format works well for this course. You can always learn the Arabic script later on, should you wish to do so.

An alternative use for Linkword survival courses

Although labelled as 'survival courses', I'd like to propose that these courses can also be used by the serious language learner to quickly give them a useful starting point of vocabulary in the language they are learning. Since they focus on core everyday vocabulary, they almost remind me a bit of the 80/20 rule in action. In this case that means utilising a small, highly targeted cross section of common vocabulary in a language that produces maximum results for the the shortest amount of time and effort - the vocabulary which is of high relevance to everyday usage and can be put into action immediately (i.e the 20%), whilst ignoring the rest that isn't relevant to your immediate survival needs (the 80%). I don't know if these courses were consciously designed with the 80/20 rule in mind, but the basic concept is in action here, if not exactly, but you get the idea.

So if you're a serious language learner, and let's say you've done something like a Paul Noble or Michel Thomas course to give you the basic grammatical structure and core of a language, you could go through a Linkword survival course to add another relevant 200 words to your vocabulary in just a few hours. You won't be fluent of course, but it will give you an excellent starting point which you can build upon as you work on the language more. How many courses do you know that can teach you 200 words in just a few hours (AND actually help you memorise them)? When you look at it that way, you'll see these courses are a great asset to anyone learning a language.

Of course, the serious language learner would do even better to go through the longer main Linkword courses, but to simply give yourself an immediate foot in the door to a language I would definitely recommend the survival courses in addition to your other studies, especially if you don't have a lot of spare time and want a course that produces results quickly.

I intend to give some of the other Linkword survival courses a run through at some point too, as well as more of the main courses, so look out for more blog posts/reviews on this in the near future!

A tip to check your pronunciation in the survival courses

One further point I'd like to add before I wrap this post up is that, although the survival courses give you the phonetic pronunciation of each word as well as a memory hook, if you want to actually hear how they sound then I suggest using the following online dictionaries that allow you to look up any word and hear audio too:

https://www.arabicpod101.com/arabic-dictionary/

(In fact, as far as I know, all the languages available on Pod101 have free dictionaries with audio).

www.wordreference.com

How to find out more about the Linkword survival courses

Ok, so hopefully now I've peaked your curiosity, so to find out more about the Linkword survival courses, as well as their main courses, please visit https://www.linkwordlanguages.com/survival-courses-ebooks/

And https://www.linkwordlanguages.com

Linkword Japanese - learning my second language with the Linkword method!

After I completed Linkword Spanish (European) course, I decided to give the Linkword Japanese course a try because I really enjoyed this method and was keen to see how it would work with other languages besides Spanish. I'd like to write about my experiences here.

An overview of the Japanese course contents

The first point to note is that there is only one level in the Linkword Japanese course, whereas for the Spanish and other languages in the Linkword series there are up to 4 levels (some of the courses have 2 or 3 levels). I would've loved to have had a full 4 levels for the Japanese, but even one level is a good start.

As with the other Linkword courses, you can choose between different formats - audio, software, Android app or iPhone app - and the content is exactly the same for each. I decided to use the audio (mp3) version (more on this later), which is presented by a native Japanese speaker.

Contents wise, the course is split into 10 sections, each of which I'd say take roughly an hour to an hour an a half to complete (depending on how fast you get through them). Vocabulary topics covered include animals, food words, colours, restaurant words, airport words, hotel words, furniture, household items, clothes, family, places around town and in the countryside, time words, numbers, days of the week, business words, car words, transport, parts of the body, doctor/medical/emergency words, months of the year, prepositions, as well as several useful adjectives and a few verbs.

Basic grammar points are taught too, including how to construct sentences with nouns and adjectives (and some verbs) for the present and past tense, using words like 'and', 'but', how to ask questions, the negative form, how to use prepositions in sentences, pronouns, telling the time, etc.

So how did it work for me?

I decided I'd work through the audio mp3 course. Although I went through both the audio and software versions of the Spanish course, with the Japanese I didn't feel I'd gain anything extra by using going through the software course because of the way Japanese is written. You see, the Linkword Japanese software course is written in romaji, which is a way of writing Japanese using the western Latin alphabet. And there's nothing wrong with romaji, but for me I am planning on learning the other Japanese writing systems* so I felt it more useful to simply go through the audio course. That said, it was helpful to look words up in the software courses glossary section to double check the pronunciation of words I found trickier.

(*In Japanese there are effectively 4 different writing systems - the kanji characters (similar to Chinese writing), 2 phonetic alphabets (hirogana and katakana), and one that is used to romanise the words called romaji. However from what I've read, romaji isn't really used much in Japan (with natives, but foreigners do use it. I will write more about this in a future blog post when I start learning the read and write in Japanese).

It took me 10 days to complete the course, as I went through one section per day. I found this to be manageable for me without getting overloaded with too much all at once. Although Japanese has lots of loan words from English, many of the words are also totally different to English, and once again I found the memory hooks to be creative and effective in helping me memorise the words, including the trickier ones.

I am happy with the level of vocabulary I learned during the course, which is in the region of 300 to 400 words, and gives me a broad cross section of vocabulary I'd need to live my everyday life in Japanese, and I can construct a reasonable number of sentences too. From a grammar point of view, this course only gives a basic starting point, so you will need to look beyond this to expand upon what you learn here, particularly for learning how to handle the verbs, different tenses etc. This isn't really a criticism of this course, but more down to the fact that there's only 1 level here. That said, the grammatical points were explained clearly and they do provide a really good starting point for further study.

Additional note: I'd also like to add that I revised the content of the course a week later, and again a week or so after than, and had no problem remembering most of the words. This is testament to the quality of the course.

In conclusion, I'd definitely recommend Linkword Japanese to anyone who wants a great starting point into a language that is often perceived as impossibly difficult to learn for English speakers, particularly for the range of vocabulary you'll learn in such a short space of time and the confidence you will gain as a result.

To find out more about Linkword languages and the courses they offer, please visit www.linkwordlanguages.com

** Linkword languages also have a special spring 2017 offer - get all 15 of their courses for just £24.99 via the link below **

http://www.linkwordlanguages.com/product/all-15-linkword-course-downloads-combined-copy/

So I completed all 4 levels of Linkword Spanish. More about my experiences with this amazing method.

As anyone who reads this blog will know, since mid January I have been working through the Linkwords Spanish course. Well today I finally completed it, and I'd like to write my thoughts on how I feel with my Spanish now that I've reached the end of the course.

In my previous post about my experiences with Level 1 of Linkwords Spanish, I mentioned that there are 4 levels to this course, and it is available in both audio and software versions (and also as apps for Android and Apple systems, which I didn't use), as well as that each level contains 10 to 11 sections, each of which take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to complete.

I would generally do 1 or 2 sections a day, where possible (I'm sure you know that life often gets in the way of things sometimes, though!). It took me a fair bit of time to get through all 4 levels because I wanted to just work through everything gradually and learn all the material thoroughly. The other factor that made things take a bit longer was because, for each section, I first learned the material with the audio course, then I went through the software course in order to learn the reading and writing part.

So what did the whole Linkwords Spanish course cover, and how far can it take a Spanish learner?

With all 4 levels, I have now learned a vocabulary of around 1200 words as well as have a comprehensive knowledge of Spanish grammar.

Vocabulary wise, the course covers pretty much everything a person could need in most aspects of their everyday lives. Names of animals, household items, places in town, types of food and drinks, family members, car words, parts of the body, places in the countryside, hobbies, school subjects, telling the time, talking about the weather, illness/ailment words, and much more. Heck, even how to start and end letters was discussed. In addition to this, most of the common verbs and adjectives you'll need to describe what you do and how you feel as you go about your life are taught too.

Grammar wise, the course teaches most of the essential verb tenses (present, future, past, conditional, imperative, etc), and even some of the more complex ones (such as 'I had...' for the past) that are required in order to express one's thoughts properly and have articulate conversations. I feel I have a good command of these now, and am comfortable in manipulating the verbs to get in and out of the different tenses as and when I need to. Also taught is how to handle adjectives, nouns, plurals, comparatives, superlatives and a whole host of other essential grammatical points required in order to construct sentences properly.

You're also taught some really useful phrases such as basic greetings, asking how people are, asking someone to repeat something or speak slower, etc.

I have to be honest and say that this is an extremely comprehensive amount of knowledge, and considering I've learned it in just over 2 months I'd say that makes the course very impressive (well, either that or I'm just a super genuis!). There's no way even a school student studying Spanish for over 5 years knows as much as what I've learned in these past few months, so that says a lot about how effective Linkword is.

So what level of Spanish am I at now, honestly?

So I guess the question is, where am I at with Spanish now that I've completed the course? I mean, the thing that truly matters is how all this knowledge works for me in the real world, and whether I can actually now speak, read, write and understand Spanish or not. That will be the acid test as to how effective Linkword Spanish is...

Ok, first of all I've noticed I know the name of the noun for most items I'll encounter in a typical day. I look around my room and I realise I can name most things in here in Spanish. I can walk round the city and know the name of most landmarks and types of shops in Spanish. So that's a massive plus point in favour of Linkword. For the words I don't know, I'll gradually add those in as I continue with further study.

I can describe most of my everyday actions (what I have done, am doing or will do later in the day) thanks to the comprehensive list of verbs taught in the course. I can also describe many of my emotions and feelings in Spanish too.

You know how we all have that little voice in our heads where we kind of talk to ourselves througout the day? Like when we will mentally say to ourselves what we have to do, etc (for example, 'I have to go to the shops and buy some bread' etc)? Well, I can think most of my everyday thoughts in Spanish now, so that's pretty cool!

I decided to see if the writing and listening aspects of Linkword had paid off for me and so I started reading news and sports articles on a Spanish media website. To my surpise, I could understand quite a lot of what I read, as well as recognise the different tenses the sentences were written in. Sure, there are still a lot of words I don't know, but for many articles I can more than get the gist of what I'm reading. As for the listening aspect, I started watching kids cartoons in Spanish (since these are more likely to be easier to understand than films etc). Upon doing so, I was able to recognise a lot of the words I was hearing, and understand portions of the script (phrases and sentences). I still have a long way to go before I can totally understand fast spoken Spanish, but I have a good starting point thanks to Linkword.

As for the speaking aspect, I feel reasonably confident in that, but would like to practice with Spanish speakers if I can to further improve my conversation skills.

I almost feel I have enough knowledge to live the bulk of my life through Spanish know, if I had to (obviously there would still be words I'd need to look up, especially for more specialist things, and it would be hard to totally understand tv and radio as of yet) which would be a fun challenge, but since I currently live in an English speaking country I'll have to use Spanish as and when I can :-)

So where do I go from here?

Having completed Linkword Spanish, I now need to continue further study in order to reach a higher level of fluency. One point made at the end of Level 4 by the presenter was that 'there is no end to learning a language'. That is so very true. I mean, at what point can one say they now 'know enough' in a language and don't need to study it any more? My answer to that question is that one never stops learning a language; you will always be learning new words, phrases, etc as time goes by. Heck, we even do that in our native languages if you think about it.

So with that in mind, I will look to some other Spanish courses and resources to add to what I've learned with Linkword, as well as keep learning new words for nouns, adjectives and verbs I don't know. There is a really good resource online called 'wordreference.com' where you type in an English word and look up Spanish word (as well as for other languages too), so that will be my 'go to' in order to add more vocabulary to my knowdlege. I will use the Linkword memory technique to help me learn further vocabulary too, because it is highly effective.

I will also continue reading in Spanish, perhaps more articles and some books, and look to start watching drama series' and films in Spanish too. I'm sure all this effort will pay off. 

I will also regularly review the content of Linkword Spanish, perhaps every week or so for the next few months, until I really feel it's part of me and I am 100% confident with it all.

I'll say I definitely recommend Linkword Languages method to any other language learners out there. I'd like to thank Dr Michael Gruneberg for allowing me to use his European Spanish course too. I will continue using Linkword courses for other languages I learn in the future. In fact, I purchased their Japanese course today, which I am excited to get started on soon and will blog about for sure.

Further points on the Linkword Languages method

Before I bring this post to a close, I'll add a few interesting points regarding Linkword. The method has been proven to work with dyslexics and poor learners, and there have been some interesting studies done regarding this:

http://www.linkwordlanguages.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Linkword-at-Rugby-School.pdf

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09571730285200231

http://www.linkwordlanguages.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Linkword-in-the-classroom.pdf

To find out more about Linkword method and the courses they offer, please visit www.linkwordlanguages.com

Is It Possible To Learn Languages With Music? A review of Earworms Japanese Volume 1

In the last few weeks, I've had the privilege of trying a language learning method from a company called Earworms Learning, which involves learning languages via music. 

I have been using their Japanese course (Volume 1), and in this blog post I'd like to tell you a bit about Earworms Learning as well as document my personal experience using their method.

Who are Earworms Learning and what is their method?

Earworms Learning is a language learning company that specialises in teaching languages via musical 'earworms'. I believe they have courses in around 16 mainstream languages, as well as some in other languages which teach English too.

In case you're wondering what an 'earworm' is, the dictionary definition is 'a catchy song or tune that runs continually through someone's mind'. I'm sure you've had the experience of certain songs you just can't get out of your head....that's an example of an earworm.

The idea behind the methodology is that words, sentences, phrases and grammar points are taught within these earworms as part of the lyrics and melody to simple but catchy music. You listen to these earworms continuously until the information taught within each earworm anchors itself into your mind.  Although much of Earworms Learning courses contain speaking rather than singing, the same basic principle applies, and many of the spoken phrases are deliberately said in time with the music to create an almost hypnotic effect.

Research has proven that this approach is very effective, and works much better than conventional methods, since the mind has a natural capacity to memorise musical  (melodic and rhythmic patterns). Think of it like listening to some of your favourite songs, and how the words and melodies stick in your mind effortlessly without you needing to 'try' or 'strain' in order to memorise them. Learning languages with earworms is a bit like this.

The final point is that music changes one's emotional state; it can evoke different emotions from have a calming effect to being very uplifting, and everything in between, depending on the tempo or the ambience of a song. This can all aid the learning process by putting one in a more resourceful state of mind for the brain to memorise things more easily, as well as helps provide a more interesting learning experience.

An overview of an Earworms course

Each language course is split into volumes - some of the more popular languages such as Spanish have 3 volumes, while others have 1 or 2 volumes. Each volume contains around 11 songs, which are in the region of 5 to 9 minutes in length.

You can buy each volume as an mp3 download or on cd, whichever you prefer.

Each song covers a different topic, e.g. ordering food and drinks in a restaurant, asking if someone has something, asking directions, numbers, days of the week, telling the time, basic greetings, and a whole host of other phrases one needs to know in order to get by in most everyday situations. Volumes 2 and 3 go into more detail and cover more of the grammar and structure than the first volume.

The songs have a British narrator on them, as well as a native speaker of the target language. You are presented with words and sentences, while simultaneously learning the grammar and structure of the language, and it really is very fun and enjoyable.

The courses also come with a pdf booklet so that you can see the correct spelling of the words and phrases, as well as quickly review what you've learned.

In terms of the content taught, Earworms courses follow the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) on language learning, levels A1 to B1.

So how did this work for me?

I started out by listening through all the tracks in the Japanese Volume 1 course to get a basic overview of the songs, and how the Japanese language sounded. After that I listened to each track maybe two to three times a day during the past few weeks, and read the pdf booklet so I could see the correct spellings of everything.

My plan, at first, was not to try too hard but to simply enjoy listening to each song and effortlessly let the words and phrases be absorbed into my mind. I found that even after the first few days, much of what was taught was starting to remain in my mind. For the things that I didn't remember at first, I simply kept on listening to the tracks each day and going through the review booklet, and after a week or so, I could pretty much say most of the the phrases along with the songs from memory, as easily as singing the lyrics along to my favourite songs,

I found the tracks very easy on the ear, very pleasant to listen to, with my foot often tapping along to many of them too. Each song has a different tempo, groove and musical style to it, which takes the listener through a range of different emotions, thus keeping you engaged in the learning process. Often, certain phrases in the songs are repeated numerous times, and in time with the music/in certain rhythms, almost like the 'melodic hook' in the chorus of a catchy song. The British and Japanese presenters also had very soothing tones of voice, which I found quite relaxing to listen to. 

I liked the way the course was structured, so that by the end of the 10 songs one has a solid foundation of phrases they need to get by in a typical day and in a wide variety of situations. The other thing about the Earworms courses is that you are not simply memorising phrases - you are, almost without realising it, learning the grammar and structure of the language as well as a lot of vocabulary (for nouns, adjectives and verbs etc) without having to sit down and consciously memorise it like you would in a classroom.

Overall it's a fun and stimulating way to learn a language, in total contrast to the dull and boring classroom academic methods that the education system is still clinging on to. Perhaps the education system needs to take a leaf out of methods such as Earworms, as it might encourage more kids to learn languages at a young age. But that's a blog post for another time, I think :-)

I'm looking forward to working through Volume 2 of the Japanese course, and I will write another blog post about that in the next few weeks. I've also purchased Volume 1 of their European Spanish course, which I'll likely write about soon too.

In closing, I can say I'm now very intrigued by the whole concept of learning languages via music, and I'll definitely be exploring this method further to see how far it's possible to go in a language with it. It definitely does work and has merit, and I believe it's a wonderful starting point in learning a new language.

So for now, I'd like to say arigatou gozaimasu to Earworms, and to my readers: sayonara, matta kondo!

And for those of you who would like to find out more about Earworms Learning and their courses, please visit www.earwormslearning.com.

Learning Scottish Gaelic - the first week!

I recently decided to start seriously learning Scottish Gaelic. Now, to anyone who doesn't know, this is a minority language of the Celtic family and is currently spoken by around 1% of the population of Scotland, and in some other Gaelic speaking communities around the world. So why am I learning it?

Although born in England, I'm half Scottish and currently living in the Highlands of Scotland. Most of my extended family speak Gaelic, so I got curious about it and decided to give it try. Besides, if nobody learns these minority languages they will eventually die out and I think that would be a shame.

So, for the past week I've been learning with a TV series called 'Speaking Our Language', which ran for 4 series in the early to mid 1990s. It is still being aired on the BBC Alba tv channel, but I am watching the episodes on Youtube. I really like the programme because it systematically introduces the learner to new phrases, vocabulary and grammar in each episode, then after that there are lots of everyday scenario type dialogue scenes where people speak what has just been taught, including a charming little drama called 'Aig an Taigh' (which means 'at home', and is a drama about the lives of a family in Glasgow called the MacLoeds).

This is great because it allows the learner to hear the Gaelic that has been taught within the context of a story and dialogue on the screen, which helps develop one's listening skills as you learn. So far, I am able to follow and understand all the Gaelic in the dramas with no problems at all.

Each series of 'Speaking Our Language' has 18 episodes of around 20 to 25 minutes each in length, and I have now gotten through the first 9 episodes of series 1. I'm really happy with what I've learned in just a week. I can introduce myself, say my name, ask where people live and come from, whether they have children, where they work, what they do for a living, tell the time, talk about the weather, express and ask about likes and dislikes, and ask for drinks etc. Of course I can also reply to all these questions too, so I well on my way to being about to hold conversations in Gaelic.

I haven't really delved deep into the structure of the tenses and more complex grammar of the language, but I feel that once I've gotten through all 4 series of 'Speaking Our Language', I will do that. 

There was another tv series from around 1979 that taught Gaelic, known as 'Can Seo', which I will check out soon also to see if it's any good. This could be a nice addition to 'Speaking Our Language'.

I'm really happy with how my Scottish Gaelic learning is going, and I will no doubt write more updates on how I'm getting on soon. 

So The Language Learning Journey Begins - Why I'm doing This, And What My Goals Are

Hello everyone and welcome to my language learning blog! I want to write the first post by telling you a bit about why I'm learning languages and what I aim to achieve with this whole experience.

To begin with, I'll tell you a bit about myself. I'm a British guy (born in England, currently living in the Highlands of Scotland), so it will therefore come as no surprise that English is my native language.

Like many people, I studied languages in high school (French and German in my case), but after leaving education I forget pretty much everything I'd learned as I had no further use for these languages anymore. That was until I went travelling for a few years....

I met a lot of people on my travels both in and outside of the UK, and one thing that really made an impression on me was when I'd meet people who spoke several languages. To me, there is something quite cool about a person who can speak multiple languages fluently, and effortlessly switch between them as required.

It has to said that the British are generally very lazy when it comes to language learning - the mistaken belief that 'everyone speaks English' is very prevalent in our culture - but most people I met from continental Europe, Asia and so forth were fluent in 2,3 or more languages.

During a visit to Spain a few years back, I had to start learning the basics of Spanish in order to survive (I quickly realised that it's not true that 'everyone speaks English'). However, I found it hard work as I had absolutely no clue about how to learn languages efficiently and effectively. As a result, I didn't do very well.

And now to where I am now - I've decided I'd like to study languages properly with the aim of becoming aim of becoming a polyglot who is fluent in at least 5 to 8 languages. I am currently learning Scottish Gaelic, Japanese and Spanish. Once I have learned these to conversational fluency, my aim is to add in more languages such as French, German, Italian and Mandarin Chinese.

I will go into more details about my research on effective language learning methods and my current methods of learning in one of my next blog posts, as well as why I decided to study these 3 languages first.

Until then, take care!

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