Language goals for the end of the year

Despite I am not a fan of planning at all (especially since how crazy this year was with its many surprises), I decided to create a short list that I will try to do my best to keep since it looks possible, real and completely doable!

  1. Considering that I won’t have regular Polish lessons in this part of the year, first thing would be devoting to some self-studying in the language. That isn’t much of a problem, since I feel confident with it and I can express myself about many topics. Now, I feel like I have to work on my fluency and a lot: minding the difference between wiedzieć and znać, how to use perfective/non perfective verbs and practicing speaking. Good thing Poland is now on winter time which means it is easier for me to contact Poles at reasonable times for videochat sessions in which I can practice my speaking and even ask for feedback about words. Also, I will pick up a TV show to watch in Polish.
  2. Since I will have more spare time and after heavy research online and such, I feel it is okay to say that I want to start learning two languages, of course at different fluency rates and short term/long term targerts:
    1. First of all, as I have mentioned, I will start learning Croatian. Good thing that Grammar won’t be as demanding as I am thinking since the structures (not rules) are quite similar to Polish. I will have to work with pronounciation, certain differences from Polish and lots of new vocabulary to be acquainted with. Good thing is that I know several native speakers willing to help me and acquaint myself with the things I need. I won’t say that I will be fluent in a certain amount of time, but I just want to experience learning a language on my own, minding that the rules would be easier for me to understand since it will be my second Slavic language.
    2. Then, this might come as a surprise for many people. Weirdly enough, after my trip to Hungary, despite I didn’t pick up much of the language there, I started to remember things and associate new vocabulary xD. I also started to listen to Hungarian music which is fascinating enough to motivate me to learn the language. Seriously… music has that power to motivate me to even thinking about picking up the language. I also gathered really good material online about the language, so I can say now that: I WILL START TO LEARN HUNGARIAN. It is important to say that it won’t be easy and I won’t devote my full attention to it. Yet, I cannot stop thinking about Hungarian words or music as of now 😛
      GOD, WHAT HAVE I GOT INTO NOW??????

Having these three goals set, I can say I feel confident enough to tackle this part of the year… the most stressing for many people, especially for us in the South since we have to bear tacky winter-like Christmas decoration during summer :/ (not to mention, I always take my paid leave in “off-season” for Chile).

Do you have any interesting goals for this part of the year? Do you feel like taking a new challenge soon? Share it in the comments!

Being an online language tutor

During the last month, I have decided to take a new step in my language career. I now have a small part time, independent job as an online Spanish language tutor. In what does it consist? What is the difference with being a proper language teacher? What are the methods you can use when you don’t live close to other language learners? I will try to answer these questions according to my experience and what has suited me and my tutorees best.

A language tutor is an educated native speaker of the language that does not need to have an extensive lingusitic or language teaching background. He or she is very aware of how language works due to their academical or language learning formation. They may lack some preparation in certain concepts, but they can make it up by grabbing a good grammar book of their language or remembering their schooling days. Their work differs from a language teacher since the service they offer targets language learners who already have a solid base on the language and need further practice in a certain aspect of the language, a certain topic they need to be more comfortable with (business language, travel contact, academical language, et al.). Most of the work they do is through oral language, yet they can also do written practice from time to time. Mind you, it is a complementary work for learners who have a specific issue with their target language and need to address it.

One of the goals of tutoring in a certain language is making the language learner feel comfortable with their language skills and being able for them to express with no major issues about topics they are interested in. Thus, a language tutor won’t interrupt a learner in the middle of a conversation or so to correct. He or she will be most likely to jot down observations on a piece of paper or so and he or she will let you know when you stopped talking or writing their observations: good and things you need to work on and how they can be solved.

A language tutor also will have to plan their sessions before hand, besides looking at each other’s schedules. If a tutoree wants to work on business language, the tutor will be most likely to contact the tutoree and give him/her a set of topics to prepare: newspaper articles, short TV features about the topic and the tutoring session will be devoted around those issues: a short summary, an opinion and so that will be a good instance to introduce new vocabulary, grammar and even cultural codes of the target language.

Right now, language tutoring is a service mostly offered online on sites like Fiverr.com, iTalki.com, Tandem.me, among other sites. Some tutors are willing to explain their methods on their introduction or even show you a small video with their methods or so. Also, comments or sample videos are important to check if the Tutor fits what is expected or so.

In conclusion, language tutoring is just like any other language-related job that deserves respect for preparation or hard work involved in the academical preparation of tutors and even the time they spend on preparing their sessions. It is not an easy job or for every one as you must be ready to answer most questions or explain aspects of your language and a mere “it’s because we do it this way” is a 100% wrong answer.

Have you considered being a language tutor? Have you used one of their services? Are you a language tutor? Share your experiences in the comments.


If you are interested to contact me as a Spanish language tutor, you can contact me through my iTalki profile. I am more than happy to work for you in your Spanish learning process.

The best, free and LEGAL materials to learn Polish online

Many people have asked me for good, free and legal materials to start learning Polish on their own and online. It is probably one of the hardest languages languages to get good quality materials in Polish and legal. Yet, it is possible to get them. Despite I am learning Polish with a teacher, I cannot deny self-teaching can work for people who are commited enough and have a sense of discipline. Well, this post is made for you with materials, resources that are available online, for free and completely LEGAL! Especially considering since many of you are still waiting for Duolingo to release its course for Polish (and that I’m very wary with most courses from Memrise).

Without further ado, here is my list of good materials for starters, to work with different aspects:

  • First year Polish Course from the University of Pittsburgh: This site is probably one of the most complete I’ve ever seen. Its grammar book is probably one of the most straight-forward ones you’ll see out there, especially since Polish grammar is fundamental to understand the language and get yourself understood.
  • Learn Polish Feel Good: Do you need exercises to practice your newly acquired Polish grammar skills? This site has really good exercises you can do on your spare time and solve them easily 🙂
  • A Concise Polish Grammmar from Duke University: Again, American Universities surprise me with their good websites and materials. This is a quite user-friendly book about grammar with which you can also do exercises later, especially with verbs 🙂 .
  • Wikisłownik: Getting the right declensions are always a hard task for Polish speakers and learners a like. This site works just like Wiktionary, but in addition you can find the right declension for the word you need.
  • Pons dictionary: I have strong issues with this dictionary, yet it’s one of the most popular for learners. Yet I’ve heard really good comments about Diki.pl for English-Polish 🙂 .
  • Oneness City: This Lithuanian city is quite user-friendly and can motivate anyone to learn a language, the fun way. Sadly, it hasn’t been well updated, but I think you can get decent material from there.
  • Polish with Chris: One of my Facebook friends has uploaded simple and fun videos on Youtube explaining certain aspects of Polish grammar that may be hard to grasp for anyone.
  • Słownik polsko@polski: This Facebook page from a popular show on Polish TV, hosted by professor Jan Miodek, a renowed linguist. He can even take your doubts and questions on Skype! In this show, he analyzes the different mistakes and doubts Polish speakers make. He also shares clear examples on how mispelling or misuse of Polish is widespread even in Poland with native speakers.
  • Mówić po polsku: Another site that offers complete guidelines and exercises to practice Polish.
  • Polskie Radio: The National Polish Radio website that offers the lastest news, several radio channels and the most important, most (if not all) news have transcriptions! They can work great for listening practice and of course, getting your ears and mind acquainted to Polish sounds and Polish reality.
  • Radio ZET Chilli: This radio station is quite friendly for Polish learners as they speak slower than the average radio deejays and often speak about interesting things. The music genre is chill out 🙂 .
  • Radio Wawa: This radio only plays music in Polish by Polish artists, so you can expect Polish rock, pop, electronica, and other genres which can help you discover new artists easily.
  • Superfilm.pl: This legal site offers Polish shows and cartoons to watch anywhere, for free.
  • HelloTalk and Tandem: The two most popular mobile apps to look for language partners anywhere 🙂
  • GoSpeaky and Interpals: These websites can also help you to look for potential language partners.
  • Sadowska Languages’ Grammar printouts: I was looking desperately for this. Printouts for declensions in Polish!
  • Grzegorz Jagodziński’s Polish website: More materials to help you with your Polish journey.

As for vocabulary, you can try Memrise under your own discresion (and make sure you ask a Polish speaker to double check your course! I’ve had bad experiences with several good rated courses from there).

I really hope all of these materials can help in your Polish learning journey which is hard, but it’ll be filled with surprises and an active and positive community watching your back. Do widzenia!

Do you know other free, legal resources to learn Polish? Please, share them in the comments.

Giving up on a language and why it shouldn’t be a failure

Recently, with the amount of people telling me about the languages they are learning and regarding my last post on the languages I know, I was thinking of the act of giving up the learning of a language. It sounds like a failure, am I right?

Even up to these days, many people still tell me that I made a mistake with stopping to learn German since it is an important language these days and its role in today’s world, especially considering the part of the world I am interested in. Or they ask me “are you going to take back German next semester?” Curiously, I am more than happy with Polish right now. Strangely, I am also approaching the same amount of time I spent learning German with Polish and I personally feel like I have achieved more things with Polish than with German. I can communicate with others in Polish and not stay there and talk about the weather or silly things, but also ellaborate on opinions regarding history, music or current events in Poland and the world. Things I couldn’t feel comfortable with doing in German, despite the good feedback I received from my teachers or random contacts with foreigners who speak German as a native language. Has it been a failure to quit a language and move on to another one?

NO.

How come? I learned a lot about myself in that process and how I learn more effectively. One of my biggest issues while learning German was the lack of practice after classes. It was so hard to look for tandem partners online or offline, or even interesting media to watch or listen. I felt like I could only use it in classes and learn certain vocabulary with it. Truth to be told, I had no deep motivation to learn German. However, why it wasn’t a complete failure to learn German? First of all, it did help me with Polish grammar and learning that there are things called cases and words do get declensions with them. I also learned about Spanish grammar in the meantime.

Then, I also learned about how an effective language learning method works for me. Classes are good tools, yet using the language you are learning must be like the most important thing for me. Actually applying that knowledge I worked hard to get in different situations. Listen to good music while cleaning or showering, voice messages with tandem partners, among other situations make me take a small step every day towards fluency in a language. It was a similar thing I had to do with English (except that I was living in an English speaking environment, then), but it was something that I had problems to do with German.

I didn’t feel like I had wasted time, money and knowledge with German classes. I didn’t feel that German was hard or so. I met wonderful people in my classes, for sure. And right now, after reading experiences of people that after years of not practicing, they had no issues with taking back a language they though they had forgot about it, it motivates to consider German, not in the short term future though.

Language learning is also a process of self discovery, especially when you are already at a certain period of your life in which you have other responsibilities at home, with loved ones or such. This should be also a matter of consideration. You have a life and health to take care of (especially now that I am coming out of a quite rebel flu). Do not burn your eyebrows by learning and instead, rest well, do what you have to do first and if you have time to spare, enjoy your learning.

Have you given up on a language? How did you feel?