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:

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

– 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.


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.


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.


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!


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:


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!


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.


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.

Overcoming fear in language practice

You might be the most extroverted person on the planet, but as soon as you start learning and speaking a new language, something in you changes and you feel a bit more shy. You’re nervous you’ll make a mistake in front of a native speaker. What if they laugh at me? you think.

Fear when speaking a new language is very normal when starting out. It’s healthy and OK as it drives us to be conscious of correct grammar and vocabulary usage. I think it’s because we don’t want to be seen as inferior or stupid, and learning a language brings us down to a baby’s level again. It’s important to remember that babies and kids aren’t afraid of making mistakes – the more they mess up the faster they learn!

You’re probably reading this because you’re looking for a practical way to get over the fear of making mistakes. Me telling you it’s OK to make mistakes is not going to help.
Here are 3 ways you can feel less shy when speaking a new language:


What helps is to identify WHY you’re afraid of speaking a language. It could be because you’re too shy (same tbh) or because you don’t know enough vocabulary. It’s great advice to tell someone to start speaking a language from day one, but for some people, a combination of shyness and lack of vocabulary makes this nearly impossible. Remember to be kind to yourself – if you don’t feel ready, take some more time.

If you use the wrong particle, grammar structure or word, what’s the worst that can happen? People will either correct you, ignore the mistake because they understood you anyway, or, in the least likely scenario, be a bit confused and ask you to repeat – which is a good opportunity to learn from the error. If people laugh at you, that’s a reflection of them as a person, not you.


When I was working as a design intern at a Japanese company, I was VERY scared that I wouldn’t understand anything during meetings and presentations. It’s impossible to know what words to expect, but luckily I had an idea of what we would be talking about. It helped me a lot to look up words I suspected I might hear during the internship. I built vocabulary lists and example sentences of design-related vocabulary. In this way, I taught myself. You can’t find a textbook for every topic under the sun, so taking matters into your own hands and creating your own language learning materials boosts your confidence and helps you improve faster since you’re learning something that has direct value to your life.

You may even want to write out a full conversation the way you imagine it going. I do this for job interviews in foreign languages a lot. I have taken many job interviews in Japanese and Korean, and to ease my nerves, I like to write out what I expect my interviewer to ask me, and how I’ll answer accordingly. It’s an effective way to learn new vocabulary too.

You might be interested in: Tips & Tricks for Vocabulary Acquisition

In the case of online interviews, I pasted some vocabulary cards on my wall and laptop screen for quick reference. Obviously you can’t do that when you’re talking to someone in the flesh – but people will certainly understand if you pause for a while to try and look for the right word. If you cannot remember or don’t know a word, you can always talk around the word and describe it in another way. If you don’t know the word for “cake” for example, but you know the words “sweet” and “food”, you can say “sweet food” and they might say “cake?” in return.


Just like practicing a speech for a presentation, you can practice using new words and phrases in a safe environment until you’re ready to use it with a native speaker. This could be talking to yourself, a pet, a chatting partner online, or a tutor. My favorite method is talking to people on voice apps. When I can’t see someone’s face and they can’t see mine, I feel less ashamed of making mistakes.

For practicing Mandarin, Japanese and Korean, I use an app called Goodnight. It’s not really for language exchange per se, but it’s a great way to be connected to people around the world via a phone call. Since it’s just a voice chat, you don’t even need to know what the person looks like, and you can practice talking to them in your target language. The worst that can happen is one of two things: 1. They’re a creep 2. They hang up. No biggie, right? In the former case, just cancel the call and move on. If they hang up on you – no worries – you can just dial to connect to the next person. It’s a very effective way to improve your pronunciation too since you’ll be hearing your target language so much! Other apps you can look into are Saito San, Kakao Talk and Wakie (click those links to see me practice Japanese and Korean on apps!) You can try Omegle too but it’s full of creepy people.

Lastly, remember not to take language learning too seriously. Your goal is to communicate with others, right? It’s counter-effective to worry about using the right words and grammar each time you try to say something. Rather be natural and throw in a bunch of words hoping it makes sense, instead of staying quiet and missing the point of communication. Your listener will more often than not help you in the right direction.


Women In Language 2019 is coming!

Women In Language is a three-day, online seminar featuring some of the most influential women in the online language-learning community. From 7 to 10 March, more than 30 female speakers will be sharing their thoughts on language learning and culture. If you haven’t already, make sure to register here for Women In Language! There will also be raffles and exciting events where you can interact with speakers during their calls. And it’s all digital, so you don’t even need to leave your couch.

Speakers will be presenting on the following topics, as stated on the Women In Language website.

  • Learning Languages – talks for learners of any level who want to learn effectively with winning strategies and masterful methods
  • Living and Working with Languages – tips and shared experiences about international/intercultural love, cultural differences, running a language-based business, volunteering, language jobs and stories of how languages can change your life
  • Travel with Languages – stories from the road, travel tips, retreats, and introductions to other countries and their languages
  • Language Discoveries – NEW FOR THIS YEAR! Minority or unusual languages, little-known communities and quirky learning techniques that usually don’t get center stage

I have the honor of speaking alongside some of my favorite polyglots, like Ophelia Vert, Abigail Lang, Language Bae and more! My talk is titled Identity Crisis: The ups and downs of living, working and dating in a foreign language.


Register for Women In Language here! 

Tickets are $29, meaning its only $1 per speaker – you can attend all the talks on all the days if you register! Proceeds also go to Wikitongues – a nonprofit that I was a co-founder for a few years ago.

Some FAQs:

I’m a man/gender non-binary/I don’t identify as a woman. Can I still attend?

Absolutely. This is an event designed to showcase some of the many women doing many amazing things in the world of languages. That means that although the speakers are all female, the audience is definitely not. In fact, we encourage you to attend regardless of your gender. It’s important everyone sees how much awesome stuff is being done by women in language.

What if I’m busy between 7th and 10th Mach and can’t attend all the talks?

No problem! You will have lifetime access to all the talks after the event so can catch up as and when suits you. Also, you will have free access to the Women In Language Facebook Group that will be a place you can ask questions to Kerstin, Shannon, Lindsay, and even some of the speakers at the event. So you won’t be left behind!

I hope to see you there!

Credit to Women In Language 2019 for the images