Thursday, August 8, 2013


Do you speak more than one language?

Whenever I spend time abroad, I’m always struck by how encouraging the locals are of any effort to speak their language.  While eating out in Sicily earlier this year, for example,  I successfully asked for ‘burro’ (butter) in Italian.  There was actual applause from the waiting staff.  “You speak Italiano”, our server announced, as if I had just translated Ulysses. 

Still, I can’t help but feel crippled by my inability to speak any language but awkward, clumsy old English.

Here are three easy (and free) ways to start learning another language today:

BBC Languages offer free lessons and  courses online. 

Learn10 automatically generates ten new words every day, selected from the 1000 most common English words.

Live Mocha allows you to join an online learning community.  You earn points by helping others to learn English, which you then use to ‘buy’ lessons in another language.

To master the non-verbal communication, one of my Italian friends sent me this handy guide to Italian hand gestures from the New York Times.  He claims it’s completely accurate!


ivette said...

thanks so much for these tips!.. I'mm clicking on the BBC thing right now.. I'd love to speak a lot of languages but time or money has stopped me from learning Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, etc.. I'm always watching movies in other languages trying to catch a couple of words of phrases.. some have stuck but..obviously not enough.. so far I speak spanish which is my native.. english and french. next on my list is italian for sure!
thanks for the post!

maria said...

nice links!!
I speak Greek...but not enough of it these days and (admittedly) am losing my nerve. Keen to get onto some study, to be honest. Thanks for reminding me to email the uni lecturer! :D
have an amazing weekend Thelma!

MARTA said...

I'm bilingual in Catalan and Spanish, but i feel more as myself when i speak Catalan. Then, i try to do my best with English, i just love your language and how it sounds. I actually studied translation and interpreting, but it's still a dream of mine to master English. Then, i studied French and Italian (like the second one better), but i never use them so they're a bit rusty.

Thanks for the language learning tips! And btw Thelma, I'm sure you're great with languages... you've traveled a lot!

Emma Henderson said...

Mr Fluff and I are going to try to learn a few Italian phrases before our holiday at the end of the month. I did Spanish and French in school but haven't a word of either now.

Elle Sees said...

i try my hardest to know some phrases and things when in another country. i find it is always appreciated. it must work because none of the museum tour guides have ever handed me a pamphlet in english!

Camila Faria said...

I'd love to learn french, since I'm a big nouvelle vague fan. Thanks for the links, I'll definitely check them out!

Erica said...

I've always been terrible at picking up languages. I think it is one thing that has (unfortunately) kept me from traveling abroad. I've always been worried about the language barrier. Learning a new language would be such a rewarding experience and could open up other opportunities.

P.S. Book nerd alert!!! - I read a good book lately: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. :)

Rowena @ rolala loves said...

I'm always so envious of those people who pick up other languages so easily and wish I was one of them. Thanks for the resources! I speak two dialects of Chinese and I would love to learn Korean as well.

Rowena @ rolala loves

yessie (cinnamonandzoeykisses) said...

I would love to learn another language, esp French or Italian :) Im bilingual in Spanish and English but always room for more. Thanks for the links

Erin said...

I took French in high school and for a year in college, and for the past year I've been taking weekly French classes! We're actually on a break for the end of the summer, and I miss it already. My Mondays don't feel the same without a two hour dose of Français!

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