Why Everybody Can, and Should, Learn a New Language

There are few excuses for not being able to learn a new language.

With the Internet being as accessible as it is to many, there are countless ways to learn almost any language.  I, for example, chant praises for Duolingo; despite offering a fairly small, yet expanding, selection of languages, it is the most effective language-learning resource out there.  Memrise is also a wonderful website, geared towards learning vocabulary in particular.  Best of all?  Both are absolutely free!

You are never too old or too young to begin speaking a new tongue.  In fact, it seems to me that learning a language supports memory and numerous cognitive functions; plus, it provides enjoyment and a fun way to pass the time on a rainy day.  Never say never; if you put your mind to it, you can do it.

You do not have to travel anywhere or buy expensive software!  As I previously mentioned, there are more than plenty of amazing resources out there that cost absolutely nothing.  Rosetta Stone, perhaps the most recognizable name in language learning, has been acknowledged as ineffective and, quite frankly, a waste of money by many.  Also, why travel when you have Skype?  You can practice a language with native speakers that want to help you and learn your language?  It doesn’t get easier than that.  To find conversational partners, I recommend italki.com.  Professionals are also available for a fee.

But why should you learn a new language?  For one thing, it makes you feel accomplished!  Wouldn’t it feel great to be able to walk up to a group of friends and say, “Well, I am now fluent in Mandarin Chinese! (or French, or Pig Latin, or whatever language you decided to learn)?  On top of that, you can communicate with native speakers (obviously).  This comes in handy, especially when living in a big city with large ethnical diversity.  Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

Why else should you learn a language?  That’s for you to discover.

Why are you learning a language?  What language are you learning?  Don’t forget to leave a comment!  Thank you!

This could be YOU!

10 Common French Verbs

I have, as of October 21, 2014, been learning French for slightly over a month.  The following are ten of the most common verbs which I have encountered and their conjugations in the Present Indicative.  Enjoy!  Don’t forget to comment, follow, and rate!

Aimer – To Like

J’aime – I like

Tu aimes – You like

Il/Elle aime – He/she likes

Nous aimons – We like

Vous aimez – You (formal or plural) like

Ils/Elles aiment – They (masculine or feminine) like

Manger – To Eat

Je mange – I eat

Tu manges – You eat

Il/Elle mange – He/she eats

Nous mangeons – We eat

Vous mangez – You (formal or plural) eat

Ils/Elles mangent – They (masculine or feminine) eat

Acheter – To Buy

J’achète – I buy

Tu achètes – You buy

Il/Elle achète – He/she buys

Nous achetons – We buy

Vous achetez – You (formal or plural) buy

Ils/Elles achètent – They (masculine or feminine) buy

Vendre – To Sell

Je vends – I sell

Tu vends – You sell

Il/Elle vend – He/she sells

Nous vendons – We sell

Vous vendez – You (formal or plural) sell

Ils/Elles vendent – They (masculine or feminine) sell

Souhaiter – To Wish

Je souhaite – I wish

Tu souhaites – You wish

Il/Elle souhaite – He/she wishes

Nous souhaitons – We wish

Vous souhaitez – You (formal or plural) wish

Ils/Elles souhaitent – They (masculine or feminine) wish

Attendre – To Wait

J’attends – I wait

Tu attends – You wait

Il/Elle attend – He/she waits

Nous attendons – We wait

Vous attendez – You (formal or plural) wait

Ils/Elles attendent – They (masculine or feminine) wait

Être – To Be

Je suis – I am

Tu es – You are

Il/Elle est – He/she is

Nous sommes – We are

Vous êtes – You (formal or plural) are

Ils/Elles sont – They (masculine or feminine) are

Avoir – To Have

J’ai – I have

Tu as – You have

Il/Elle a – He/she has

Nous avons – We have

Vous avez – You (formal or plural) have

Ils/Elles ont – They (masculine or feminine) have

Marcher – To Walk

Je marche – I walk

Tu marches – You walk

Il/Elle marche – He/she walks

Nous marchons – We walk

Vous marchez – You (formal or plural) walk

Ils/Elles marchent – They (masculine or feminine) walk

Dormir – To Sleep

Je dors – I sleep

Tu dors – You sleep

Il/Elle dort – He/she sleeps

Nous dormons – We sleep

Vous dormez – You (formal or plural) sleep

Ils/Elles dorment – They (masculine or feminine) sleep

All the above verbs and conjugations can be used with “I am;” e.g. “I am eating” can be “Je mange.”

How I Am Learning French

Recently, I have taken up a new language.  Due to slow progress in learning German, I decided to take a break and try French.  Over the past month or so, I have made tremendous progress in perhaps five or ten minutes each day, every day.

This is how I am doing it.

First, as a go-to resource, I use Duolingo.  It currently provides a wonderful platform for learning a language that, I’ve heard, boosts one up to an Intermediate level in reading and writing a language.  Currently, English speakers can learn Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, and French (Dutch, Irish, and Danish are in Beta).  Duolingo essentially creates a tree for the target language, being French in this case, and the tree is to be followed.  There are certain lessons to complete; once all lessons in a category are completed, a new branch on the tree is unlocked.  Lingots are awarded for multiple language-learning endeavors (see https://www.duolingo.com/show_store for more information); they are basically a form of currency that can be redeemed for “power-ups” and other interesting objects.  Best of all, Duolingo is fun, addicting, and COMPLETELY FREE!  Sign up and try it today!

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An excerpt from my French Tree.

As a vocabulary supplement to Duolingo, I absolutely adore Memrise.  It is also free (I never pay for anything), and contains hundreds of user-created courses for a very large number of languages.  If you’d like a post as to what courses to use for French vocabulary, don’t hesitate to leave a comment!  You also receive points for answer questions correctly; these allow you to move up in the rankings, all the way to the prestigious title of Overlord (I believe that’s correct!).  A brilliant, effective supplement to language learning; for the purpose of learning foreign tongues, I highly recommend it over Quizlet (which is wonderful for other things… it just depends on what).

Finally, there should always be a speaking aspect involved in languages.  And of course, the first thing that comes to mind is Skype (apart from face-to-face conversation in reality, which is even better!).  In order to find fellow language-learners to chat with, YOU MUST USE  italki.com.  It is very effective, especially for those learning a language such as French, Chinese, German, Russian, etc., as there are so many people out there who want to learn English, but need a partner to practice with.  Ask them for help with their your target language, while you help them with theirs!  It’s a system made in paradise.

As always, don’t forget to leave a comment with feedback and suggestions; if you enjoy the blog, give it a like!  All compliments and criticism are greatly appreciated!




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Duo the Owl eagerly awaits your arrival to Duolingo!

Adventures in Spanish: The Difference Between “Estar” and “Ser”



This post will cover the usage of the Spanish verbs “estar” and “ser.”  Both mean “To be,” but cannot be used interchangeably.  If you missed my post on the conjugation of these verbs in the present, please visit: https://proficiencyinlife.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/adventures-in-spanish-conjugating-irregular-verbs-in-the-present-tense/


Anyways!  On to the usage!



Location (at the present time)

Emotions and Feelings

Physical State



Physical Description



Race, gender, occupation, etc.

Anything related to time



I hope this helped!   Please tell me your opinions and feedback about my blog in the comments section!  Thank you!

Adventures in Spanish: Conjugating Verbs in the Present Tense

¡Hola Todos!

Verb conjugation is as essential in Spanish as it is in English!  That is why this post will cover the most basic conjugation in Spanish: the present tense.

Now, there are a few irregular verbs when it comes to the present tense, which are fairly tricky to learn at first.  But, with practice, they will become second nature.  The following are verbs that are commonly used, fully conjugated in the present tense:

Tener: To Have

Yo: tengo                                Nosotros: tenemos

Tú: tienes                                Vosotros: tenéis

Usted/Él/Ella: tiene                Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: tienen

Ser: To Be*

Yo: soy                                 Nosotros: somos

Tú: eres                                Vosotros: sois

Usted/Él/Ella: es                 Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: son

Estar: To Be*

Yo: estoy                               Nosotros: estamos

Tú: estás                                Vosotros: estáis

Usted/Él/Ella: está                 Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: están

Ir: To Go

Yo: voy                                Nosotros: vamos

Tú: vas                                Vosotros: vais

Usted/Él/Ella: va                Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: van

Ver: To See

Yo: veo                                Nosotros: vemos

Tú: ves                                Vosotros: veis

Usted/Él/Ella: ve                 Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: ven

Saber: To Know

Yo: sé                                     Nosotros: sabemos

Tú: sabes                                Vosotros: sabéis

Usted/Él/Ella: sabe                  Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: saben

Traer: To Bring

Yo: traigo                                Nosotros: traemos

Tú: traes                                Vosotros: traéis

Usted/Él/Ella: trae                Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: traen

Dar: To Give

Yo: doy                                Nosotros: damos

Tú: das                                Vosotros: dais

Usted/Él/Ella: da                 Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: dan

Querer: To Want*

Yo: quiero                                Nosotros: queremos

Tú: quieres                                Vosotros: queréis

Usted/Él/Ella: quiere                 Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: quieren

Haber: To have (done)*

Yo: he                                Nosotros: hemos

Tú: has                                Vosotros: habéis

Usted/Él/Ella: ha/hay                Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: han

Now, for the regular verbs:

Regular Verbs Ending With “Ar” (Comprar: To Buy):

Yo: compro                             Nosotros: compramos

Tú: compras                                 Vosotros: compráis

Usted/Él/Ella: compra                Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: compran

Regular Verbs Ending With “Er” (Comer: To Eat):

Yo: como                                 Nosotros: comemos

Tú: comes                                 Vosotros: coméis

Usted/Él/Ella: come                 Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: comen

Regular Verbs Ending With “Ir” (Vivir: To Live):

Yo: vivo                                 Nosotros: vivimos

Tú: vives                                 Vosotros: vivís

Usted/Él/Ella: vive                Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas: viven

How am I doing with my blog?  Did you enjoy this post?  Don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have suggestions, feedback, or anything to say!

*I will explain these in my next post on Spanish; they are verbs that gave me trouble when I was learning their uses.

Easy Languages, Hard Languages… Which Should I Learn?

There are plenty of languages in the world for one to choose from.  I know I have searched (and still do search) questions like, “What are some of the easiest/hardest languages to learn?”, and I’m sure that plenty of others have as well.  I have compiled a list of some languages, in order of difficulty for native English speakers.  I am in no way an expert on this topic; merely a hobbyist.  Some information comes from other sources, all of which are very reliable.  Enjoy!


Spanish: Fairly easy grammar and a good amount of parallel vocabulary makes Spanish a good choice for an extra language.  Perfect pronunciation comes with time, although one gets the basis of it quickly.  A very fun, enjoyable language.

French: Slightly harder than Spanish, in my opinion, but still relatively easy.  Again, there is parallel vocabulary, although grammar is a tad more difficult than in Spanish.  Pronunciation is also generally more of a challenge, but do not let this deter you in any way; French is a great language to have by your side.

Afrikaans: I have never studied Afrikaans, but from what I understand, it has similarities to Dutch, German, and English.  The language seems to be regarded as the easiest for English speakers to learn.

Italian: Another language which I have barely studied.  Italian is a beautiful language, with strong ties to Spanish in particular.  Grammar seems quite easy, as does vocabulary.  Pronunciation shouldn’t be too much of a problem, either, especially for somebody who is learning/has learned Spanish or a similar language in the past.

Dutch: Grammatically, Dutch is less complicated than German, although it has many times to it.  It also quite similar to English, and borrowed quite a few words from French.  For a speaker of German or the likes, Dutch shouldn’t be too difficult a language to pick up.

Brazilian Portuguese: A language that I have not studied, Portuguese nevertheless seems quite similar to Spanish and Italian (from what I have learned, Portuguese and Spanish have very close ties).  A definite must-speak for

anybody who loves languages like Spanish.


Russian: Russian starts off difficult, with an all-new alphabet that many English speakers have never even heard of before.  The Cyrillic alphabet is truly a joy to learn.  Writing and reading can be difficult, as incorrect intonation can create an entirely new meaning to a phrase, word, or sentence. Pronunciation isn’t too bad, but grammar is tricky (in Slavic languages, grammar is different than that of Romance/Germanic languages).  A nice language to have by your side (and plus, you can yell at your friends and sound very intimidating, when you’re really saying, “Good Morning!  I hope you have a nice day!”).

German: One of my personal favorites to learn, German has ties to English in both vocabulary and grammar.  But, the grammar is one of the factors that makes German a “medium-difficulty” language.  Some words are long compounds, and the spelling may be difficult for English speakers.  Pronunciation is also fairly difficult to get used to, and noun genders are extraordinarily irritating.  Despite the above criticism, German is a very useful language, and one of my lingual preferences.

Sign Languages: Slightly unusual for some at first, but not to difficult whatsoever.  Many gestures make sense, although subtle differences in movement can convey a whole other meaning.

Polish: A fun little Slavic language.  Many say that it is very, very difficult, but it does not seem that way; I would suggest learning another Slavic language, such as Russian or Ukrainian, beforehand, in order to get used to the grammar.


Chinese: Grammar is surprisingly easy, and writing can be done just fine in Pinyin.  Reading and writing in the traditional Chinese writing system, though, are not easy, as each word has a different character.  Pronunciation, as well, is taxing, as there are four commonly-used tones that are extremely demanding of an English speaker (one sound makes the difference between “I miss my mother,” and, “I miss my horse.”)  Still, a fun language in which I am progressing slowly.  Very, very slowly…

Arabic: By far the hardest language I have ever encountered.  It comes with difficult pronunciation, a crazy writing system, and insane grammar.  I gave up on it the moment I began (but many linguists say that it is actually a very enjoyable language once one gets a feel for it).  There are different symbols for the same vowel/letter, depending on whether it goes on the beginning, middle, or end of a word.  Again, definitely the most formidable language I have ever encountered.

Japanese: Congratulations!  Japanese comes loaded with four new writing systems, and completely different grammar!  I love the Japanese language, but it is very difficult when it comes to writing, reading, and using proper grammar.  Pronunciation seems OK, but the writing, reading, and grammar make Japanese a very difficult language to learn.

Korean: I have not dabbled in Korean quite yet, but I expect it to be fairly similar to Japanese in terms of grammar and such.  The writing system is completely different from the Cyrillic or Latin alphabets, so it’s a completely new experience.

That concludes this list!  Please, do not let anything I have said come in between you and learning a language.  Some people are more geared towards certain languages than others, and that is natural.  Don’t let anything stop you!

(If you feel I have left anything out of this post, or you have suggestions for me, please don’t hesitate to comment.  Thank you!)

The Greatest Books I Have Ever Read (In No Particular Order)

Have you ever felt that something made an everlasting impression on you?  That something stood out to you?  That it communicated to you in its own special way?  

Books can do that.

I am a fairly well-read student, and I have enjoyed an immense number of books.  This is a list, in no particular order, of some of my favorites.  I promise you, that they are all worth your time!

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

The Count of Monte Cristo, by Auguste Maquet and Alexandre Dumas

The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Elizabeth Orczy

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer/Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak

Piano Lessons, by Anna Goldsworthy

Matilda (and every other book by Roald Dahl)

Animal Farm, by George Orwell

The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien

Going After Cacciato, by TIm O’Brien

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo

The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

Peter and the Starcatcher, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers

My Brother Sam Is Dead, by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier

My Piano, My Life: The Life of Jacqueline Gourdin, by Robert Erickson

Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Rifles for Watie, by Harold Keith

A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson

A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking

The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling (I re-read the series many, many times in middle school.)

Have fun, and happy reading!

Spanish and Russian Nominative Personal Pronouns

For anybody just starting out in Spanish or Russian, this will certainly be a beneficial post.  Personal pronouns (I, You, He, She, etc.) are very commonly used, and are essential in learning a language.  Let’s learn!


I: Yo

You (informal): Tú

He: Él

She: Ella

You (formal): Usted

We: Nosotros

You all (Used in Spain): Vosotros

You all: Ustedes

They (all male, or mix of male and female): Ellos

They (all female): Ellas


I: Я

You (informal): Ты

He: Он

She: Она

You (formal): Вы*

We: Мы

You all: Вы*

Did I miss anything?  Leave a comment!

*In Russian, the use of Вы is generally determined by context.

Adventures in Languages

Good Morning, Everyone!

A big-sized chunk of this blog will be dedicated to foreign languages.  Expect posts on languages like German, Spanish, Russian, French, and others.  I am currently studying Spanish in school, and am fluent in Russian.  All other languages are ones I am learning on my own.  This is why, to begin this series of posts, I would like to make a list of all the websites and resources that I often use to learn languages (if anybody has suggestions, or knows of any other good resources, don’t hesitate to comment!)

Duolingo: https://www.duolingo.com/

Memrise: http://www.memrise.com/home/

Livemocha: http://livemocha.com/

Italki: http://www.italki.com/dashboard

Benny Lewis (YouTube and Blog): http://www.fluentin3months.com/about/


LaoShu505000 (YouTube): https://www.youtube.com/user/laoshu505000

Other Lists: http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.com/blog/2010/100-free-foreign-language-classes-online/