What I learnt at Polyglot Conference 2019

The annual Polyglot Conference was held at Kyushu Sangyo University in Fukuoka, Japan this year! I stayed in Fukuoka for 6 days and 3 full days were spent at the conference. It was the first Polyglot Conference I was able to attend and what an experience it was! One that I will treasure for my life.

Some of the speakers this year included:
Steve Kaufmann
Elisa Polese
Alex Rawlings
Rebecca Howie
Prof Alexander Arguelles
Dr Emmanuel Ternon
Sara Maria Hasbun
Judith Meyer
And myself:

All of the talks from this year will be uploaded to the Polyglot Conference YouTube channel in a few weeks or months, and I’ll be sure to post a link to them when they’re up.

For now, here’s a summary of some things I learnt and will try to use in my language studies.

1. Take charge of your language learning process

By far, my favorite talk from the conference was Professor Alexander Arguelles’ presentation called From Start to Finnish. He spoke about how he took an immersive Finnish course at a Concordia Language Village camp for two weeks and what methods he used to learn the level as fast as he could.

While other students at the camp were adapting to the language slowly, Prof Arguelles sped up his language process not only by studying diligently but by speaking to the camp guides as much as he could. It was an exclusively Finnish environment and he made sure to listen and absorb as much as he could. Every day, he’d get up at dawn and prepare conversation topics for the day, looking up vocabulary related to philosophy and religion. He had a grammar guide which he studied and was able to have a decent conversation within days of starting to learn the language.

I was impressed with by how he made use of the native Finnish speakers around him to have them teach him correct pronunciation, intonation and vocabulary. He would drive the topics and steer the conversation in directions that would be beneficial to his learning.

Some concluding remarks by Prof Arguelles

[Taken from Prof Arguelles’ presentation slides]
Just from his third day in the immersive Finnish camp, he knew he needed:
– to take charge of the learning process, not just follow the way the camp was going
– prepare conversations each day at dawn
– scope out staff with sympathetic personalities from whom he could elicit knowledge and therefore control the learning process
– not use his own methods but use the rhythm of the camp as much as possible in a continuous cycle of grammatical study, reading aloud, comprehensible listening input (lectures), one on one conversation and targeted practice (eg phonetics).

It was so inspirational to see how seriously he takes his learning and how fast he was able to reach a conversational level in Finnish. He mentioned how he can study for 12 to 13 hours on end each day and not feel tired. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that. I take my hat off for him!

You can see his Finnish journey in a series of episodes on his YouTube channel.

Speaking at the Closing Panel with Prof Arguelles in the middle

2. Passion drives progress

One of the key things that will get you to fluency in a language is passion for learning. Wherever you are, make an effort to learn something new and use the language. I met so many language learners who can barely speak English but came all the way to the conference for the sole purpose of learning and practicing what they know. If you have passion, you’ll make progress. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t shy away from situations where you can learn something.

I was touched so see how some of my Korean friends at the conference were not afraid to speak up using broken English to ask a question after a talk. Even if it took them a long time to search for words and form a question, they tried and that’s what matters. Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking the plunge to speak a foreign language: that’s what will build your confidence, build your vocabulary and drive you to fluency!

Someone who particularly inspired me is my new friend Dean, also knowns as Pinoy Polyglot in the Making. Dean saved up for months to make it to the conference and he truly made the most of each situation! I saw him carrying around papers with Tagalog printed on it to teach people how to say things, I saw him interviewing other polyglots, and I saw him in the front row of many presentations, taking notes an actively listening! Dean is going places, and I know that because I can see his passion.

With Dean after he taught me some Tagalog

3. Personalities in polyglottery might not be what you think

Alex Rawlings gave a thought-provoking talk on the idea of different personalities with each language you speak. He mentioned how he feels freer speaking Greek and more organized and straightforward when speaking German — but then concluded that this doesn’t mean it’s the language that makes it so, but rather your own experiences with it. For example, he would generally speak Greek when on holiday at the beach, in a relaxed environment with family. German was a school subject for him, and therefore he needed to be organized and structured.

Alex gave an interesting example — he first learnt to call a waitress as “girl!” in Russian when he was in a small provincial village. At first he thought it was rude, but realised that’s how Russians do it. He started adopting what he referred to as this ‘rude’ personality when he spoke Russian, but only realized when he was in Moscow that educated city people don’t actually talk like that. So, Russian isn’t a rude-sounding language per se, but his first experience with it was in a context that helped shape such an incorrect mindset.

This made me think – I always thought each language had an innate ‘personality’ to it – but then again, it really is the people and experiences that change your perception of a language.

4. You can create immersive language experiences without traveling to a country

I was so excited to meet Rebecca Howie this year! I’ve been following her from Irregular Endings, her online design store for language goods, for a while. I attended her presentation where she ran us through how she creates an immersive language outing day for herself.

Participants of her workshop were asked to give ideas on what you can do have a successful immersive language day: like setting up a plan of where you’ll go, what words you want to use, how you will track your progress or record yourself, how to debrief after your day and review what to learn and so forth. She has a lovely stage personality and the workshop was highly informative – one of my favorites from the conference.

With Rebecca from Irregular Endings

5. CJKV Dict is an awesome tool

Dr Emmanuel Ternon, my new friend and computer programmer-turned polyglot, is the creator of CJKV Dict, an online dictionary. It’s excellent for polyglots who are learning Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.

As taken from his website, “Besides the ability to return search results for a specific word written in Chinese characters in all four CJKV languages, CJKV Dict automatically converts simplified Chinese characters and Japanese Shinjitai to traditional Chinese characters. This makes it possible to check whether or not the same Chinese characters are used in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and/or Vietnamese to write the same word.” You can use it online or in an app form.

CJKV Dict also has a Twitter account with a word of the week in all 4 languages.

Emmanuel and I with his book on Traditional Chinese Characters (available on Amazon)

6. Strength in numbers: mobilising the language community

Finally, something I’ll take away from the event is that there are so many of us polyglots and language learners out there and we need to use what we know to improve life around us. During the closing panel, someone asked something like “how can we use our skills to improve the world around us?”. I immediately thought that we all have wonderful talents to share but we don’t always bridge connections between people.

One of the speakers, Grigory Kazakov, talked about developing language learning materials for smaller languages. Someone asked him if he has actually made any materials, but he answered and said he’s merely a strategist and comes up with concepts and methods for teaching languages, but wouldn’t design a book, per se. I thought someone like me might be the opposite: I’m a trained designer but I might not have all the knowledge on how to create language learning materials. If a designer or educational material creator could partner with someone like Grigory, we might be seeing resources for smaller languages entering the mainstream market. One way we can do this is to bridge connections between people. If you know someone who does something and know of someone else who needs help, put them in touch!

My friend Becki, who speaks Japanese fluently, is learning Ainu now. She has a big collection of resources in Japanese, but such resources are only accessible to people who are literate in Japanese. If there is someone who wants to learn Ainu but can’t speak Japanese, that would pose a problem. How can we, as the polyglot community, connect people to make Ainu resources accessible to non-Japanese speakers? I was happy to see that two Ainu speakers approached Becki after the conference, but I’d be happier to see if something exciting comes of it!

See you in Mexico in 2020!

At the end of the event, it was announced that Polyglot Conference 2019 will happen in Cholula, Mexico! How exciting! I hope to see all of you there.

Thank you to Richard Simcott and Tim Keeley for arranging a successful event, and I can’t wait to see where we will go as a polyglot community in the future. You are all so special to me!

How to choose a language to learn

Which language should I learn (next)? – Every polyglot, like, ever.

It’s always exciting learning a new language, but choosing one feels like a huge level of commitment… as much as you have the motivation to learn a new language, you just can’t bring yourself to choose one to start with! It makes sense: language learning is personal. Your life, choices, thinking, entertainment, and hobbies will all be affected by the language you learn if you immerse yourself in it enough. The reason you decide to learn a language should become the motivation for you to continue.

I cannot tell you which one to learn, but I can help guide your decision-making process.

Reasons to learn a language

1. Which languages do you already speak?

This is a great place to start. If you speak Dutch, learning Afrikaans will be a breeze. Likewise, having a background in French will make learning Spanish easy. If you’re looking to add to your list of spoken languages, consider learning one that’s from a similar language family of a language you already speak. This being said, if you’re only a beginner in Korean, for instance, learning Japanese might be a challenge. Although it has similar grammar and vocabulary to Korean, it might be these similarities that cause you to confuse the two. I suggest learning one to an intermediate/advanced level before you start learning another.

Be careful not to just learn a language without being genuinely interested and passionate about it. For years I was not interested in Spanish in the slightest. It would have been so easy for me to learn it since I speak French, but I knew I wouldn’t have the motivation to continue past beginner. It was only this year that I started becoming more interested in Spanish from a cultural perspective. It became less about ‘adding a new language to my list’ and more about ‘I am learning this because I’m genuinely interested and want to know more’.

2. Which language makes you excited when you hear it?

Sometimes just the sound of a language is reason enough to get interested in learning it. So many people agree that French is the sexiest language in the world. For me, I really enjoy the sound of Vietnamese. I discovered Vietnamese music a few years ago and have since then been dabbling in the language. Years later, I still get butterflies when I listen to Vietnamese music, and each time I hear it, I get reminded how much I want to improve and continue learning. If you don’t like hearing a language, you won’t want to study it.

3. Which language do you see yourself using in future?

Can you see yourself using this language for the rest of your life? Is it important to invest a lot of time in the language, or is it a short-lived phase? My parents moved to Japan when I was in my first year of university. As a design student, I knew how prolific Japanese graphic design is and used my goal of working in the design field in Japan one day to motivate myself to study the language more. In my third and fourth year at uni, I did internships at Japanese design companies in Tokyo. If I hadn’t started learning the language in my first year of uni, I wouldn’t have been able to reach a working-level proficiency by the time of my internships. Currently I live in Singapore. A lot of my colleagues speak Mandarin, and my office has a branch in Indonesia. If I see myself working here for the long term, it might be a good idea for me to brush up my Mandarin and Indonesian too. Consider where you see yourself in a few years and which language will be most beneficial to your future.

4. Resources and likelihood of interacting with native speakers

Ask yourself for which language you can most easily find native speakers and resources right now. (Read further to find my resource list for various languages!)

Are there tutors online?
Courses you can take?
People near you who speak the language?
Language exchange events near you?

You can consider looking at how widely-spoken the language is. If you’re looking for business opportunities, lots of resources and a huge likelihood of meeting native speakers, you can pick up a language like French, German, Arabic, Spanish or even Japanese. If there’s a language that tugs at your heartstrings that isn’t widely spoken but you really want to learn it, do it anyway! Every language is valid, useful and will open doors. Language learning is allowed to be a hobby and just because you’re not using it with native speakers every day doesn’t mean it isn’t bringing you joy.

5. Cultural reasons

Is there a particular culture that you are interested in, respect, and feel like you could adapt to? Perhaps the structure, politeness and perceived rigorousness of the Japanese culture is something you find stability and order in. Or maybe you’re not afraid of straightforward conversations and saying things as they are – then maybe Korean is for you as Koreans are more direct than the Japanese. Maybe you’ve been watching traveling to France since you were young. Enjoying the culture of a language will help create unique learning opportunities and keep you interested in the language.

Bad reasons to learn a language

  • To impress people. They’ll get bored eventually and you won’t have a solid foundation to stay motivated with. Language learning is personal and if your motivation is an external source, you’ll lose hope soon. Do it for yourself and don’t compare yourself to others!
  • Only to look good on your CV. I know people who study a language for work reasons but absolutely despise it. If you dislike learning a specific language, of course you’ll want to spend the least amount of time on it and begrudgingly go trough your lessons. You won’t advance as quickly as you would if you were passionate about it!
  • A boyfriend/girlfriend unless you’re serious about staying together for the long term. Many people have told me after they break up, they have such a negative feeling towards a language and don’t want to continue at all. People and situations change, and you need a more sustainable reason to learn a language than romance. This is up for debate though. I started learning Hungarian because of a guy and even though we don’t talk anymore, I still love the language very much. Everyone reacts differently to breakups, so decide for yourself!

Getting started once you’ve decided

Language tutoring vs self-study

The benefits of having a tutor are one-on-one guidance, receiving homework and corrections, and having someone keep you accountable for your progress. If you can’t find a tutor in your area, you can take lessons online, on a site like italki. I’ve used italki for Chinese but the variety of teachers for each language is great. You can choose a tutor based on their prices, experience and availability. Something I really enjoyed about having a tutor is that my instructor would make Quizlet flashcards for me at the end of each lesson based on the new vocab we learnt together (something I was too lazy to make myself but felt obliged to use!).

Get $10 free credits with your first italki lesson purchase!

There are also fabulous reasons to study on your own, like setting your own pace and goals and not being bothered by fellow students’ lack of progress (or faster speed). Self-study means you can decide when you want to learn and how much you want to learn at a time. It doesn’t mean you need to be completely on your own though! There are excellent apps and resources to help you get kickstarted.

Learning more than one language at the same time

“Is it possible to learn more than one language at the same time?
This is a question I get asked almost every day. If you balance your time well, it’s definitely doable. If this sounds scary but you still want to learn many languages, then start with one language and learn it to an intermediate level, and then learn another language through it! A lot of the Japanese resources I’ve found most useful are books written for Korean learners of the language (i.e. A Japanese textbook written in Korean. I’ve found this particularly useful because KR/JP grammar is so similar. It makes it a lot faster to understand new concepts when my mind is already in a language that shares similarities with Japanese. Here’s are two videos that you might find useful. The first one is about learning Korean, Chinese and Japanese at the same time, and the one below it is about how it’s possible fo polyglots to learn multiple languages. (Excuse the weird transition from very long to very short hair lol).

Language resources

I’ve created resource lists on this website that might help you.
I currently have pages for the following languages:
Korean
Japanese
Chinese
Hungarian
Spanish
Afrikaans
Tagalog
Malay
Vietnamese

An app I recommend for self-study is Lingodeer. They started out with Asian languages but have since expanded their collection to include Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and more. Unlike Duolingo, Lingodeer has a holistic approach and delves more in depth into grammar. Chinese characters are also taught more intuitively, and you can switch between Traditional, Simplified and PinYin! The app is free up to a point and thereafter you need to pay to unlock the rest.

For readers of this blog, you can use my discount code LINDIE15 to get a 15% discount on any subscription made through the Lingodeer website. It’s really affordable for a year and will kickstart your language learning. You don’t even need to buy a textbook. Just use Lingodeer and make sure you’re immersing yourself in the language outside of the app too, and you’ll improve in no time!

That’s it for now!
I want to remind you that no one can make a decision for you and whatever your motivation is for learning a language, that’s unique and special to you. Keep going!

You can follow my language journey on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr.

My Spanish experience with the Lingoda Marathon

What’s Lingoda?

Lingoda is an online Language School where you can study English, German, Spanish, French and Business English from beginner to advanced. The instructors are qualified teachers who are native speakers. You take classes online, learn from anywhere at any time with wifi. Personally, I took a lot of my lessons in my pyjamas lying in bed – it was so unique and comfortable! For those of you who are camera shy, don’t worry! The teachers keep their cameras on but students need not show their faces at all.

What’s the Lingoda Marathon?
The Lingoda Language Marathon is a 3-month challenge where you study every single day and make an impact on your fluency.

There are two types of Marathons:
The Full Marathon: you take one class a day for three months (100% refund)
The Half Marathon: you take 15 classes a month for three months (50% refund)

If you are keen to participate in the marathon, register before the 19th of September 2019. The Marathon starts on September 23, 2019 and lasts until December 21, 2019. Keep reading till the end because there’s a discount code for you!

My experience with Lingoda

I decided to take the Half Marathon. I started out as a complete beginner, but with my background in French, Spanish was not too difficult to catch on to. As someone who previously said I’d never lean Spanish because I found it boring, I completely swallowed my words and started falling in love with the language.

I enjoyed the group lessons, meeting fellow learners and engaging with friendly, helpful native teachers. I’ve been self-studying languages for years and it was such a welcome change to be in a virtual classroom environment. Some of my favorite moments are when instructors made fellow students and I create our own situational dialogues. We came up with such funny, crazy situations! That’s definitely a way to make a language stick – by laughing!

More than 15,000 people have participated in 5 Lingoda Marathons in the past 3 years. For many it has transformed their lives, helping them get a new job, make life-changing friendships and even study or work in another country. I can say this is true for myself as well. I’ve never progressed so quickly in a foreign language yet. The pace is fast, the teachers are fantastic, and the lesson content is engaging, useful and challenging.

But don’t just listen to me – other students have shared their experiences with the Lingoda team and you can check it out on their website. I would also like to encourage you to visit their Instagram profile for more inspiring stories! Lingoda also has a useful blog with articles about language learning. I’ve learnt quite a few new Spanish words from their blog too!

Pros and Cons of the Lingoda Marathon

ProsCons
– Unique PDF lessons that teachers go through each class. You can download the lesson materials beforehand to prepare yourself for the lesson too.

– Group environment: it’s fun to engage with other students at your own level and learn from the talents and mistakes of others.

– Ability to book lessons with any teacher at various times. I took lessons before work in the mornings or at night on weekdays, or anytime on a weekend. The flexibility is something you won’t get from a traditional classroom setting.

– No need to take the lessons in order! I hate learning numbers and I specifically chose to skip lessons with numbness until I was mentally ready for it. Although there’s a set curriculum you can follow, you won’t be punished for jumping around and signing up for lessons you feel like doing!

– Spanish only environment: I can count on one hand the number of times the instructors used English. It’s an excellent way to get immersed in a language when your instructor only speaks it!
– I only realised later that it’s possible to change your level during the marathon. I got comfortable with A1 about halfway through the marathon and only later did I figure out I could change to A2.

– Not easy to stick with one tutor. Because of timezones and availability of certain tutors, it’s hard to stay with one instructor the whole time. On the one hand it makes it fun to learn from different people, but it’s hard when you’ve grown to like a certain teacher and can’t always attend their lessons.

– No private lessons if you’re participating in the Marathon. Marathon lessons are group-based, which can be intimidating for some, but remember that there’s always the option for private lessons outside of the Marathon!

Last call to register for the Lingoda Marathon!

Due to high demand, Lingoda has extended the marathon registration period – registrations now close on the 19th of September 2019. This time around, there’s no entry fee and your payment goes immediately towards your first month! The payment for the 2nd and 3rd month will be charged in the following months.

How to get your money back:
For participants of the Full Marathon: if you attend all 30 classes, one a day for 3 months, Lingoda will give you all of your money back for the full Marathon! For Half Marathon students, you are eligible for a 50% refund if you successfully commit 15 classes per month during 3 months.

How to participate in the Marathon:
To participate and secure your spot, you need to pay the price for the first month and other 2 payments will be charged automatically. Payment 2 – October 16; and payment 3 – November 15. Lingoda will refund your tuition fee in full if you follow the contest rules in the terms and conditions.

We love a discount!

For readers of my blog, you can use my voucher code TALK88 to get 10 (US$11) off your first month’s payment. Spots are limited, so be sure to secure a place soon. Don’t miss the last Lingoda Marathon promotion!

Use this link to register and be sure to use the voucher code.

Be sure to check the Terms and Conditions carefully to get familiar with Marathon rules. As always, I’m happy to answer your questions too, so feel free to email me through the contact form on this website, or slide into my Instagram DM’s! 😊


Disclaimer: this is a sponsored blog post. All opinions remain my own.

Improve your Korean in 6 unique ways

You may have just finished your Korean textbook or passed your first Korean class. Now you feel accomplished but not sure where to go next. You might be bridging the gap from beginner to intermediate, or making your way from intermediate to advanced. Wherever you are in your journey, there are a few things you can incorporate into your day to improve your Korean fast. Note that most of the tips in this post might not apply to beginner learners.

1. LISTEN TO PODCASTS IN KOREAN (NOT JUST ABOUT KOREAN)

If you’re over listening to podcasts and audio lessons like TTMIK and Koreanpod101, you might want to try listening to podcasts made for the Korean market. Here are my favorites that I listen to on Google Podcasts:
🎧 2018 문장의 소리 (The Voice of Text)
Description (KR): 이 방송은 한국문화예술위원회에서 운영하는 인터넷 문학 라디오 <문장의 소리> 팟캐스트 버전입니다.
Description (EN): This is the podcast version of the Internet literary radio program called “The Voice of Text”, run by the Korean Culture and Arts Council.

🎧 [KBS]라디오 다이어리 그 남자 그 여자 (That man, that woman, KBS Radio Diary)
Description (KR): 우리는 누구나 일기를 씁니다. 연필로 쓰는 그 남자, 휴대폰에 쓰는 그 여자, 그리고 마음에 쓰는 그 남자, 그 여자. 우리 일상의 일기로 영화 같은 꿈을 꾸는 시간입니다. 좋은 음악과 함께 듣고 싶다면 매일 밤 자정 KBS 2라디오 101.6Mhz를 찾아주세요.
Description (EN): We all keep diaries. There’s the man who writes in pencil, the woman who types on her phone, and then those who write in their hearts. Through our daily diaries, we have time to dream like our life is a movie. If you want to listen to good music with this, tune into KBS 2 Radio every night, on 10.6Mhz.

🎧 [MBC] 박경의 꿈꾸는 라디오 (Park Kyung’s Dreaming Radio)
Lindie’s description: This radio show is hosted by Park Kyung from the Kpop group Block B. He’s quirky and has a lovely voice for the radio. The only downside to this is that the songs are cut short, but for language learning it’s good because the radio show will mostly be him talking. He talks about various daily life topics with different guests and relates the topics to music.

🎧 [MBC] 음악의 숲 정승환입니다 (Indie Radio, Live Forest)
Singer Jung Seunghwan runs this radio show, and has a soft voice that might relax you so much that you’ll fall asleep – but if you stay awake, it’ll be good language practice because he speaks at a natural speed and talks about daily topics. He’s funny and I often find myself laughing out loud and things he says. He also reads messages from listeners and these are great to learn new vocabulary from.


You can make listening to a podcast a learning experience for yourself by trying to write down what speakers say. Some podcast apps like Google Podcasts let you slow down or speed up the pace, so don’t worry if you can’t understand natural speed at first! Then, go over the script and highlight new words. Write them down in context with their example sentences, and write down new expressions and slang you hear too. Read them out loud in different voices, paces and mental situations so you can solidify it into your memory.

To summarize: 1. Listen to the podcast once through > 2. Write down sentences you hear > Highlight a new word > Write the definition of the word > Make your own sentence using the word.

You can get your sentences checked by native speakers on websites or apps like HiNative, HelloTalk, iTalki or even Facebook groups dedicated to learning the language.

2. SPEAKING PRACTICE

You can talk to yourself when you’re walking around the house. You can also record yourself sometimes. What I like to do is shadowing dramas and podcasts and repeating what people say. I’ve found that after watching a movie in one language, my brain tends to try and think in that language after, or I’ll find myself walking around the house repeating phrases I’ve heard in the movie. Can you picture how much your accent and vocabulary will improve if you’re immersing yourself by speaking and listening practice every day? If you encounter new words, and you hear those words repeatedly, it’ll start to solidify in your memory. I’ve learnt many words without ever needing to write down what they mean, just because I expose myself to hearing the words as much as I can.

Improving speaking skills by talking to yourself is good, but it’s even better to talk to native speakers. The best way to get proper speaking practice in if you can’t find native speakers near you is to get a tutor on italki. Having a native speaker to chat to or correct your mistakes is one of the best ways you can start sounding more natural in a language and increase your vocabulary, as well as working on your listening skills. I use italki for Mandarin Chinese and Tagalog practice, and it’s boosted my confidence in speaking by leaps and bounds.

Many people write to me and say they’re afraid of getting a tutor because they don’t feel ready to speak – but you’ll never really feel ready until you throw yourself in the deep end and try. Even if you know only a few words, the tutor is there to help you – it’s their job to teach you and guide you, and they’re the last person who will judge your or laugh at you. If you’re keen to use italki, feel free to use this link to get $10 in italki credits after booking your first lesson! Note that I titled this post ways to improve Korean without needing lessons – you don’t need to go to a class or book specific lessons with someone on italki – there are many tutors and regular native speakers who are more than happy to book single sessions with you to get your speaking practice in.

Alternatively, you can try apps like HiNative, HelloTalk, Wakie, Goodnight, Saito-san, Tandem or a website like MyLanguageExchange or Penpalworld to meet native speakers and practice talking to them.

3. JOURNAL IN KOREAN

I’ve been journalling in Korean for years. It’s so funny to look back at my high school diaries and see how bad my Korean was but how passionate I was to try and express things in the language!

Things you write in your journal are related to your daily life, which is exactly what your daily conversations are about with others. If you don’t know words, you can mix languages! It’s OK to just throw in a few Korean words here and there until you know enough to make a full sentence. Use as many vocabulary words you know in Korean and mix languages until you look up the words and learn them and use them. Be sure to get a native speaker to correct it though!

4. VOCAB NOTEBOOK OR WORD LISTS ON YOUR PHONE

You can use a small notepad and write words down and keep it with you when you are commuting or waiting in queues. Alternatively, make a word list on your phone or use Quizlet. I’ve recently started using Quizlet to make flashcards of new vocabulary words, having shifted away from a larger notebook. I find Quizlet more user-friendly than Anki, mainly because as a UI/UX designer, I’m very sensitive to the way things look and function. I found Anki clunky and boring to use, but I know many people who can’t live without Anki. Although I don’t use it anymore, you can see my Korean vocabulary notebook in use in this video:

5. JOIN KOREAN FORUMS; USE KOREAN SEARCH ENGINES

Some of you might be asking where to encounter new words. All you need to do is start living like you are Korean. If you’re Googling something, do it in Korean. You can start using Korean search engines like Naver or Daum.

If you’re a Kpop fan, you can try joining a fancafe, or follow some Twitter threads in Korean about your favorite artists. Hashtags on Instagram and Twitter are useful – if you learn a new word you can search its tag and join communities online related to it. Fully immerse yourself in your hobbies and interests – but try to do it in Korean!

6. PARTICIPATE IN ONLINE CHALLENGES

If you’re having a hard time staying motivated through self-study, you can always participate in online challenges and join a community of fellow language-learners who will keep you motivated. Some of these challenges include:
Add1 Challenge
Record Yourself challenges on Instagram
90 Days with Drops
LanguageJam (though for this, you’re assigned a language)

If you’re active in the language-learning community on Instagram, you’ll see lots of people doing these kinds of challenges and it’ll be easy for you to join in and learn about them.

Summary

Thanks for reading! I hope these tips are helpful for you. Remember to check out my Korean learning playlist on YouTube and to follow me on Instagram or Twitter for more language related content.

Having a successful language exchange

Exchanges vs Partners

LANGUAGE EXCHANGE EVENTS
If you live in a big city, you’ll most likely be able to find a language exchange event near you. You can search on Facebook events or on Meetup for language exchanges. The one I usually attend in Singapore is called Mundo Lingo. Mundo Lingo is an international language exchange event held in cities across the world. It’s a place I go to get language practice in, meet fellow language learners and build new friendships. It’s been wonderful getting practice in, but there are times I get tired or feel like the exchange hasn’t been helpful.

LANGUAGE EXCHANGE PARTNERS
Unlike an event where many people mingle and practice together, having a language partner is a lot more personal and may or may not be face to face. You can meet a language exchange partner on an app like Tandem, HelloTalk or HiNative. I’ve also met partners on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook – just reach out to fellow learners or native speakers and see if there’s someone willing to practice with you.

MAKING THE MOST OF IT
A question I often get is “how can I get the most out of my language partner or exchange event?” Here are some things to keep in mind at exchanges or with language partners!

Practical tips

➡️ Communicate your expectations. Some people are only at events to make friends and I’ve experienced many who just keep talking in English even though we have multiple languages in common. It’s important to tell them you’d like to practice a language too!

➡️ Give and take. People often struggle with yielding languages. You want to practice your TL; your friend wants to practice theirs. You can set time limits and practice your TL for a while and then switch to practicing theirs. I find that many successful exchange events have language tables where you only speak one language per table.

➡️ Be open to corrections. Remember, we’re here to learn together! There’s no need to be embarrassed about making a mistake – that’s how we improve! (It’s always polite to ask someone if they’re OK with corrections before you interrupt or bombard them, though)

➡️ If they’re not serious, say bye. I’ve had a woman talk very ignorantly about South Africa to my face and she rambled on and on (in English). I soon realized she just wanted to debate useless things and wasn’t there for language practice at all. I politely excused myself and moved on to another group.

➡️ Schedule time. If you’re chatting to a language exchange partner online, it’s a good idea to set time in the week to intentionally practice with them (especially if you’re timezones apart).

Some pics of what it’s like at Mundo Lingo

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