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Behind the scenes in the EU’s 24 official languages

The European Union is the world’s most multilingual organisation. All 503 million citizens of 28 member states have the right to communicate with the EU in their own language, and to receive information in their own language too. In the European Parliament, all 751 MEPs also have the right to speak in their own language, and to receive a live …

Falling in and out of love with Portuguese

I studied linguistics as part of my Modern Languages degree, and I was terrible at it. I really struggled to work out what it was all about. Was linguistics a science or an art? Was linguistics about the heart or the mind? I spent hours ploughing through articles with as much soul as a dead fish. I wrote thousands of …

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How to pass for a native speaker

I was amazed by the response from last week’s post on “looking the language”. If truth be told, I’d had some second thoughts before publishing it. The whole subject of appearance, identity and cultural acceptance as a native speaker is – needless to say – a sensitive one, and one that I have been dealing with my whole life. Yet in the emails, …

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How to really learn 30 languages

Nobody ever taught me how to learn languages, so when I first started, it was slow. I didn’t know what I was doing. We’d only just had the Internet installed at home a few years beforehand, and I didn’t know anybody else who was doing it. Whenever I’d tell people I wanted to learn more languages, they’d ask the same …

[VIDEO] Speaking Hungarian after 9 months in Budapest

Nine months have passed since I first moved to Budapest, and formally started learning Hungarian. Since then a lot of things have happened. I’ve discovered first hand just how hard it is to keep focus on your languages while also trying to work, pay bills, and sleep. I’ve experienced some of the complicated emotions that people have when learning a …

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Ten ways to fix your language exchange

Language exchanges are a really popular way to practise your languages. They’re free, they’re fun, and a great way to really get to know someone who shares your passion for learning languages. But sometimes there’s a catch. Although many language exchanges start out strong, they can quickly run into some problems. If you don’t prepare or plan for these, your exchange could come to a very …

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Mental blocks when speaking languages

The other week it happened again. It was a sunny afternoon, one of the first we’ve had this year, so I decided to go to one of my favourite cafés in downtown Budapest and do my work there. It’s a nice, relaxing place with a good vibe, comfortable chairs, good WiFi and nice coffee. I like it so much that …

Poznan, Poland where there's a Polyglot Workshop happening this weekend (C) Wikicommons

Five Bizarre False Friends in Polish and Russian

Today we’re talking about all things Polish. I’m really excited to be in Poland this weekend for my first proper trip. I’ve been a few times before, but somehow never for more than just the day, and usually as an excursion from Berlin. This time is still just flying visit though unfortunately, as I’ve come for the Polyglot Workshops with …

8 Great Books for Learning Hungarian

When learning a new language like Hungarian, choosing the right materials is a crucial part of the decision making process. You could be the most motivated, passionate and enthused language learner in the world, but if you can’t get your hands on something to channel all that energy into, then you’ll probably quite quickly peter out. When I decided to …