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How to read in a foreign language

Feeling fluent feels great. You can go anywhere, say anything, do everything and live your life exactly as you would normally, but in a different language. I’ve had a fair few fluency breakthroughs with my languages. The first was in Germany when I was 15 and on a two-week school exchange and suddenly realised I was speaking German. Another important …

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The pain of learning languages in immersion

When I was at Oxford, studying was something you did on your own. There were lectures if you wanted or the odd compulsory class, but apart from that it was up to you to force yourself to sit down and work. We had meetings every now and then with our supervisors to see how things were coming along. Especially in …

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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 …

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 …

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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 …

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Life after University

It’s been nearly eight months since my last post. In that time I haven’t learnt any new languages (although I’ve acquired a number of new books for my collection), but nonetheless I have been very busy! Instead I have been working very hard on my German, Russian and Yiddish, I finished my degree, and gave two talks at the Polyglot …

Language learning never stops, and that’s why I’ve stopped (for now)

I remember I came home one day in Yaroslavl, after another idyllic day spent eating cabbage pies in the mid-April snow, to find my flatmate at the kitchen table buried in a pile of grammar books with sheets of vocabulary written out all around her. I asked her what on earth she was doing – the test wasn’t until Monday. …

Synonyms: your shortcut to fluency

There is a lot of debate about what we should understand as “fluency” when learning a new language. Can you measure it by the size of your vocabulary? Is it how well you know and use the grammar? Or is it just how confident you sound and feel when speaking your new language? These are all possible interpretations. I’ve always …

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 …

Studying languages at university: an essential foundation for life

Oxford University student Aurora Dawson-Hunte responds to Belinda Parmar’s recent claims in the Guardian newspaper that people studying for language degrees are “wasting their time”. Aurora studies French and Russian, and has experience working in the French technology sector and Russian oil industry. She believes all of this is because of her choice of degree. Belinda Parmar is trying to encourage girls to get into …