US Soldier Studying Arabic
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Learn a New Language, Grow Your Brain

A Swedish study recently discovered something interesting: Learning a new language makes your brain grow larger. Researchers used MRI scans to measure the brains of students at the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy before and after an intensive 13-month training program. The students started out with no knowledge of their target language–Arabic, Russian, or Dari–and…

Fruit stand in Madrid.
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Three Reasons to Fail Often During Language Learning

Failing is bad, right? Well, it’s probably not the best thing in the short term. But if you “fail forward”–that is, improve from the experience–then it’s one of the best things you can do to succeed in the long term. My friend John from Leith Literary recently linked to a great article in the New…

I'm more like this.
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21-Day Motivation Project

Motivation is a tricky thing. I try not to make this blog too self-help-like. What I mean is, I want to help you with specific tips and I want to encourage you. But I try not to make things too cheesy. By nature, I’m a little cynical, and I try not to be too phony.…

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How Many Vocabulary Words a Day Should You Learn?

With languages, I definitely tend to use a lot of what I call “organic” learning methods. Actually using the language–reading, listening, speaking, and writing it–is vital in the language acquisition process. That doesn’t mean, though, that I never study. Almost every successful language learner I’ve ever met sits down and studies. Specifically, they study vocabulary…

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Vacation Post: Five Articles You May Have Missed

Right now, two things are going on with the site. First, quite a few new people have begun following the site recently, thanks to a couple articles that have been shared and re-shared across language-learning circles. If you’re a new reader, welcome! Second, I’m on vacation this week and don’t have time to write a…

Politics, religion, and grammar incite the most passionate arguments

The Grammar Debate – Prescriptive vs. Descriptive

You’ve all seen the person who corrects everyone’s grammar. If you’ve spent time in linguistics classes or language forums, however, then you know there are other people who say there’s no such thing as a grammatical error, and therefore nothing to correct. And these people can be as passionate as any “Grammar Nazi.” But who’s…

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10 Best Podcasts for Language Learning

In the last couple months, I’ve posted links to free language courses and the best YouTube channels for language learning. Here’s my final collection of links: The ten best language instruction podcasts. With the free courses, the YouTube channels, and now these podcasts, you have mountains of material to go through–and you don’t have to…


10,000 Words a Day – How To Do It

This is the second part of my June project wrap-up. You can read about the project here and the first part of the wrap-up here. The crib notes if you don’t want to go back: For a month, I listened to or read 10,000 words a day. It worked really well and I saw a…