Tag: language learning

esperanto

Should I learn how to speak Esperanto?

What is Esperanto? Esperanto is a constructed language, invented by Jewish-Polish eye doctor Zamenhof in the late 19th century. The story behind the creation of this language is linked to Dr Zamenhof’s hometown. At a crossroads of wars in Europe, the town was split among German, Russian, Polish, and Jewish communities, that could not get […]

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false friends

Shakespeare’s false friends

False friends (‘faux amis’) are words in one language which look the same as words in another. We therefore think that their meanings are the same, and get a shock when we find they are not. Generations of French students have believed that demander means ‘demand’ (whereas it means ‘ask’) or librairie means ‘library’ (instead […]

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black ink

Learning Portuguese: when brown is black and India is China

Portuguese and English have been part of my life as far as I can remember. I was brought up in Brazil and got used to switching from speaking Portuguese to English then back to Portuguese. Word games were part of my childhood and I would translate some expressions literally just for a laugh. Vamos dar […]

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Are you thinking of learning Arabic

Which Arabic should you learn?

If you have ever tried learning Arabic, you’ll know it is not an easy language to master. One of the first decisions learners are faced with is which type of Arabic to learn – the dizzying choice can give you flexibility, or confusion! Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or fuṣḥā is said to be the common […]

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Why learn Arabic?

Why learn Arabic?

To celebrate the launch of our new Oxford Arabic Dictionary (in print and online), the Chief Editor, Tressy Arts, explains why she decided to become an Arabist… When I tell people I’m an Arabist, they often look at me like they’re waiting for the punchline. Some confuse it with aerobics and look at me dubiously […]

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language identity

Does learning a second language lead to a new identity?

Every day I get asked why second language learning is so hard and what can be done to make it easier. One day a student came up to me after class and asked me how his mother could learn to speak English better. She did not seem to be able to break through and start […]

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magazines pile

Why do we need grammar?

It’s not often that the word ‘inspiring’ is used to describe a day of grammar talks, but I was not the only one to think so at last week’s English Grammar Day at the British Library. With a queue out the door and tickets sold out, it’s clear that grammar’s back. After years of conspicuous […]

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This blog is a he

This blog is a he

Cast your mind back to your twelve-year-old self stuck in the classroom on a Friday afternoon in the middle of a French lesson. (Or German, or Spanish, for that matter.) If you grew up as a native monolingual English speaker, what was the thing you struggled with the most when learning a foreign language? Was […]

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