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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 …

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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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Why I’m mixing up Hungarian with Hebrew

Mixing up languages is a question that comes up quite a lot. Many people are concerned about how to seperate languages in their heads, how to avoid embarassingly speaking one instead of the other, and how to reassure themselves that they can actually speak lots of different languages at the same time, rather than just their native tongue plus whatever’s …

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VIDEO: “Improving Reading and Comprehension” (Polyglot Gathering 2014)

My main talk at this year’s Polyglot Gathering in Berlin was the one that I was most preoccupied with. I thought that delivering it just a week after I’d finished my exams would also provide a good opportunity to reflect on my past four years at Oxford, and the particular language learning skills that my time there had allowed me …

What is a polyglot?

I took a little break over the summer, so I haven’t been updating this site regularly. Although I have been posting to the RawLangs Blog Facebook page and Twitter, I thought it was time to start blogging again. I’m going to start off by addressing a question that has been on my mind for a while. What is a polyglot? If you …

Where to find Yiddish in Israel

I returned from Israel a few days ago, and arrived into the midst of one of the longest heat waves that London has ever seen. Temperatures are soaring to over 30 degrees every day, and the city is even starting to take on that laid-back Mediterranean feel that I loved so much about Tel Aviv. After a month of intensive studies, …

Ten ways to learn Greek for free

The internet has changed how we learn languages, such as Greek, forever. Suddenly all sorts of resources are available for free, wherever you are in the world, and companies such as Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur are having to really struggle to stay competitive and justify their extortionate prices. But that doesn’t mean that it’s always obvious how you can put …

Can you learn languages without studying?

This is the dream. You turn on some kind of signal which you then listen to throughout the day, throughout the night, at work and at home. It teaches you how to speak a language. You listen to it every day. After weeks, months, years, suddenly you’re fluent. And you didn’t even notice it. Unfortunately, this is probably the kind …

Ten proverbs and sayings to help you around the world

It’s taken me a long time as a language learner to come to terms with proverbs. I always resisted them for various reasons. They’re a pain to learn, they can sound silly and unnatural, and it’s often hard to imagine a scenario in which you’d actually use them. However, they’re actually a really important part of every language, and as …