Posted on by Peter Rettig with Yogi and Sucha

The Essentials for Backpacking in Europe

Young backpacking taveler in ParisAs our readers know, we typically like to stay in a city for more than a few days, as we did last fall in Copenhagen. We still travel with little luggage, but now mostly with rolling carry-ons.

Recently our sons reminisced about their backpacking days, when they crisscrossed Europe during one long fall after college.

They both had backpacks. When they met their friend Chris at the airport, they were surprised however, by his large rolling suitcase. (Memories differ as to whether it was the friend or his mother who had felt that a backpack could not hold all his “essentials”.)

In any case, they all three still chuckle how Chris lugged his suitcase through the cobble-stoned streets of Munich, Rome, Paris, Barcelona, etc. being embarrassed by the noise and by not looking cool.

So when Yogi and Suchna of The Backpacker Co. suggested a post about backpacking in Europe, we thought that their experience could be helpful to our younger readers.

Find out what Yogi and Suchna consider the “Essentials for Backpacking in Europe” below:

All set for your European trip? If yes, you've probably arranged your backpacking items laid aout items lodgings for the first few nights and may have sipped a few “going away drinks“ with your friends. But understandably, you may still be agonizing about what to pack!

Believe me, figuring out the perfect backpacking list is a daunting task indeed, especially if you're doing it for the first time. Quite a few first-timers make the mistake of carrying too much gear and that makes their travel tiresome. It's difficult for them to keep track of their belongings and it can leave them at the mercy of thieves as well!

But don't worry! Our tips regarding essentials for backpacking in Europe will guide you through this stressful time and will help you decide what type of things you should carry and how to pack light.

Travel light

Our most important tip is to ensure that you travel light. Nothing will make your travels more uncomfortable than having to carry an incredibly heavy backpack along winding streets in Europe. We would recommend that you keep the weight of your backpack ideally under 10 kilos (or 22 lbs) or at the most, under 15 kilos (or 33 lbs).

Besides, if the weight of your luggage is over 10 kg (roughly, 22 lbs), you may run the risk of exceeding the weight limit set in budget airlines such as RyanAir.

  • You'll surely acknowledge that your clothes make up most of the weight in your backpack. If you can, stop yourself from buying too many things as most inexperienced travelers do. Just remember that it makes little difference whether you pack for a fortnight or for a couple of months. You'll be able to do laundry almost every week of your stay in Europe.
  • Think of dressing in layers rather than carrying a few bulky coats. A combo of thermal inside base, full-sleeve shirt or T-shirt, sweater or fleece jacket is a much better option. You can add or subtract layers as needed.
  • As a backpacker, there will invariably be limited space in your travel bag. So, don't carry an outfit you're going to wear only once, no matter how fashionable it may look. Carry some simple clothes that will make you look good when worn together and which are appropriate for multiple uses.

backpack with compartmentsPack your backpack to maximize space

How you actually keep your belongings inside your backpack is another important thing to consider.

You may think of a number of techniques to maximize the space inside your bag, such as rolling your clothes, keeping undies in your shoes, stuffing your socks etc.

Backpacks with compartments or use of packing cubes is an excellent idea to remain organized and save space at the same time. These are durable yet lightweight and are good companions for any traveler.

It will take some experimentation until you find the best way to pack all that you want to take with you. And that often requires some hard choices.

Tips for Backpacking in Europe

Clothing

Socks and undies
  • Consider carrying good quality and comfortable ones as you'll be wearing these close to your skin.
  • You'll probably need to do a lot of walking and thus will sweat a lot. Buy moisture–wicking socks, which will keep your feet dry and save you from blisters.
  • Get socks and undies that dry overnight.
Shirts /tops
  • Avoid those that need high maintenance.Backpacker hiking uo a rocky mountain
  • Get dark-colored ones, as most Europeans prefer these and thus will help you blend in well with the locals. Also, they'll hide stains better.
  • Choose wrinkle-free fabrics.
  • Go for the easily washable ones.
  • Pack casual yet versatile ones that would go equally well when you visit churches, cafes, museums or bars.
Pants
  • Dark-colored jeans will match well with almost everything. Also, you can wear them without washing them too often.
  • You could opt for light-weight chinos in case you're not accustomed to wearing heavier denim.
  • It's not very common for European adults to wear shorts. Avoid wearing these if you want to blend in better with locals and don’t want to be pegged as a stereotypical American tourist.
Shoes  

While traveling in Europe, you're bound to be on your feet quite a lot. It's thus imperative to have a sturdy, yet comfortable pair of shoes for sightseeing.

  • If hiking is part of your agenda, make sure to take along hiking shoes with water-proof and all-terrain soles.
  • If you want to go to beaches, rubber flip flops will do the job for you.
  • If you're in Europe in spring and summer, a pair of sturdy walking sandals will do a world of good as you won't have sore feet even after walking all day long.

marketplace in EuropeElectronics

  • Europe has a lot to offer. Make sure to carry plenty of extra memory cards for your digital camera.
  • Have your phone unlocked to make it compatible with any European SIM cards.
  • Carry universal plug adapters for all European countries.

Miscellaneous

  • Microfibre towels
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Wet wipes
  • Keychain flashlight
  • Small notebook
  • Swiss Army knife (if you don't check your backpack check with your airline)

A backpacking list for Europe never seems to be complete. We have simply tried to list the things you just cannot afford to travel without.

Enjoy your travels in Europe!

Bio: Yogi and Suchna believe in taking the road less travelled and stumbling upon some hidden gems along the way! For over a decade, they've mapped their way across various continents, sniffed out unusual routes, discovered new flavours and stayed at quirky hostels. TheBackpackerCo is their expression of soul travel. You can catch up with them at The Backpacker Co - Backpacking Through Western Europe.

Disclosure: Gamesforlanguage.com and I have no business relationship with The Backpacker Co or Yogi and Suchna other than publishing what they consider the "Essentials for Backpacking in Europe".  See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for further details.

Posted on by Lysha Rohan and Peter Rettig

Short Stay Apartments are Always a Great Option

Short Stay Apartment sample - PixabayIn our last post we briefly mentioned that we had stayed in a wonderful apartment during our visit to Copenhagen.  (picture left)

We've said in previous posts that we prefer to rent an apartment whenever we stay longer than a few days in a city.

We did so in Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, London, Stockholm, Seville and Madrid, all cities that a worth exploring for more than a day or two.

So when Lysha contacted us to write a post about short stay apartments, we thought it might interest readers who are considering this option.

Lysha emphasizes the many advantages short stay apartments have over hotels - and we agree and like those as well. We would be amiss, however, not to also mention a few drawbacks we have encountered ourselves in the past.

Depending from whom you rent the short stay apartment, from an individual owner, a real estate company, online sites such as VRBO, WIMDU or Airbnb (all of which we have used in the past), how to get the keys to the apartment is often the major coordination challenge right at the beginning. Different from a hotel, there is typically no receptionist. That means you have to make your arrangements beforehand for access to the apartment.

Due diligence is especially required when renting from individuals, who require a deposit. Many online sites provide guarantees or offer cancellation options.

Apartments can also differ greatly in accessibility (e.g. no elevator to get to fourth floor), furnishings and equipment (e.g. kitchen utensils and cook ware), cleanliness, etc.

In general, you get what you pay for. Online sites today provide pictures and lists of the major amenities. Nevertheless, you would do well to confirm that those which important to you are indeed there.

During one of our stays in Rome, more than ten years ago, we were in contact with the apartment owner, who confirmed that "internet access was available".

However when we got there, we realized that a modem and router were installed in the upstairs apartment that he also owned, but not in ours. "Internet available" clearly meant something else to this owner.

It took us several days of insistence and follow-up phone calls to get some action. Finally, I helped the owner drill through thick masonry walls and sneak a cable from upstairs to our apartment. (This was before WIFI became popular.)

In spite of that and other "adventures" we've been very happy with our short stay apartments so far. We have already reserved one for our next European stay in Prague later this year.

Lysha's take on Short Stay Apartments

Short Stay Apartment sample - PixabayShort stay apartments, otherwise known as ‘service apartments’ are a great accommodation option for all kinds of travelers. Cities, in general, are filled with such short stay apartments. (see example right)

As a traveler, you have so many options to choose from that you're sure to find one that fits your budget.

Travelers today have a lot more options to choose from than those who followed this passion years ago. They are faced with making choices everywhere: type of trip, lodging, food, gadgets, clothing, etc.

Thus, decision making has become all the more important now. In order to make the right decisions, one needs to have access to correct and helpful information. This article focuses on the benefits of using short stay apartment for travel.

Short stay apartments are a great accommodation option, especially for certain destinations. A stay in an apartment is different from staying in a hotel. Here are the main differences that I see:

Short Stay Apartments

Hotels

1. Offer a greater degree of privacy.

Because of the hustle and bustle that hotels generate, privacy is somewhat compromised.

2. Prove to be more economical.

Because of the services offered, they are often more expensive.

What is a short stay apartment and what can you expect when you stay in one?

  • Short stay apartments are designed for people who are looking for accommodation for short periods of time.
  • Generally speaking, the rates are fixed on a weekly or monthly basis and are sometimes negotiable, depending on the apartment.
  • Short stay apartments, just like hotels, offer different types of rooms. Most such apartments have a single room or a double room. But you can also find studio apartments with kitchen or apartments with multiple bedrooms (2+). These obviously work well for families.
  • Most service apartments have the basic amenities that travelers consider to be a must. In particular, you can expect to find Wi-Fi services, equipped kitchens, TV sets, laundry facilities and security services. Some also offer other more hotel like amenities, such as housekeeping, room service etc.

Obviously, short stay apartments don't work for travelers who insist on hopping from city to city. But they are ideal for "slow travel". Spending a week, a fortnight or even a month in a place allows you to soak up the local atmosphere, learn the language a little, and explore the city on foot or by bike.

Here are the reasons why many "slow" travelers choose short stay apartments for their lodging.

1. EconomicalPiggy Bank - yellow - pixabay.com

The right kind of short stay apartment can be quite economical and give you good value for your money.

Such apartments are generally less expensive than hotels that provide services which you don't need or offer amenities you don't use, such as swimming pools, tennis, exercise rooms, etc.

Therefore, by choosing to stay in such apartments, travelers can save on lodging expenses. That money they can then spend on experiencing other interesting things or exploring an additional city!

2. Privacy

Hands with keys - PixabayPrivacy is another reason why short stay apartments are gaining popularity with travelers, especially those of the younger generation.

You'll not find a reception area or anything of that sort in these apartments, which means that no one keeps an eye on your movements.

For the time that you occupy the room, you can expect to come and go as you wish. But it also means that you have to make arrangements with someone ahead of time to get your key, etc.

3. Amenities

kitchen utensilsShort stay apartments offer most of the basic amenities that a traveler would need. And unlike in hotels, these amenities are typically available at no additional cost.

They normally include Wi-Fi, refrigerator, electric kettle, coffee maker, toaster, cookware, access to washer and dryer, etc.

4. Homey Environmentwarm and cozy: popcorn in front of fireplace  Pixabay

If you're looking for a homey environment when you travel, a homestay would probably be your best option.

But short stay apartments rank a close second. That is because you can come and go freely and have access to the kind of amenities you enjoy at home.

You are free to prepare breakfast, cook for yourself, make your own bed, do your own laundry and stay comfortably in privacy, just like you do back at home. Being able to do all this can surely add to the enjoyment of your travels.

5. Flexibility in Stay

Flexibility is another great feature of short stay apartments. Although the name implies that these apartments can be booked only for short periods of time, in reality, that’s not how it works.

Such apartments have been designed to meet short-term needs but when necessary, one can often extend one’s stay somewhat, or even arrange to stay for longer periods of time.

6. Spacious

Most short stay apartments offer rooms that are more spacious than an average hotel room.

And let’s face it, with all the travel gear along you don't want a cramped room. Having more space makes people happier, more comfortable and more relaxed.

In all, there are a lot of reasons why short stay apartments are a great lodging option for travelers. The apartments are perfect for business as well as vacation travelers. They are usually located in many parts of the city, so that more often than not you can find an apartment in the location of your choice.

To get a perfect stay for your trip, you'll have to be clear about your priorities. If you’re looking for a luxurious stay then you may want to consider other lodging options. However, if you're on a budget and want to spend most of your money on meaningful experiences, you can comfortably stay at a short stay apartment.

If you’re taking a business trip for an extended period of time and don’t want to spend unnecessarily on your stay, consider living in a short stay apartment.

It’s not just another lodging option for you, but can prove to be a home away from home!

Author’s Bio: Lysha works at Lalco Residency - Apartments In Mumbai For Short Stay and she loves her job. Helping clients and monitoring the progress of business strategies along with her leadership skills makes her perfect suit for Hospitality services. You can catch up with Lysha at Lalco Residency in Mumbai.

Disclosure: Gamesforlanguage.com and I have no business relationship with Lysha, Lalco Residency other than publishing Lysha's post, nor with the sites mentioned above: VRBO, WIMDU or Airbnb, other than having used and paid for their services in the past. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for further details.

Posted on by Tarun Reddy

E-Learning Improves Living

e-learning 2018 infographicThe internet has made so many great things possible in our lives. One of them is the ease it has brought to the dissemination of useful information.

Gone are those days when you had to travel to other parts of the world to discover things.

Yes, you can still use your local library to learn things.

But even there, almost any form of knowledge will be at your fingertips as long as you can get access to the internet.

And the internet also brought us electronic learning (or e-learning).

With it, you don’t need to move to San Francisco to get a degree at Stanford University. You can apply for courses online!

e-Learning is applicable to just about anything you need to learn. As long as there is a teacher and a learner, the internet is an able medium of communication.

E-Learning Saves Money and Time

e-Learning has many advantages over conventional methods piggy bank with money and alarm clockof learning. To start with, it saves cost.

You can take courses that are being taught anywhere in the world without leaving your home. This saves you a lot of money on transportation and hotel/hostel bills.

In addition, you’re also not constrained by time as most online courses are asynchronous, which means that they are not ongoing in real time. You can access them whenever you want.

But do note that there are also synchronous courses where the teacher and the student are at different devices at the same time.

As the world is fast becoming a global village, traditions are getting interwoven. More people are learning to speak more than one language.

E-Language Learning

And with e-Learning, you can learn a foreign language without even visiting the country. There are many online platforms that offer training on different languages and in a wide variety of formats.

It doesn’t matter if you prefer learning by talking with a native speaker or you would like to start with learning the alphabets and then sentence structure. Whichever your preference, you’ll find an e-Learning platform that caters to it.

Learn a new language with e-learningSome language learning platforms take even more interesting approaches like building in interactive games and simulations in their training process. This method is referred to as gamification.

It is fast gaining in popularity because research shows that interactive games help learners retain information up to 10 times better.

Udemy alone has well over 700 languages courses focused on different aspects of linguistics and using different models of learning.

E-Language Fluency

Another approach is using social media. In this case, a platform is created where people who speak languages fluently come together.

Take for instance, a Japanese CEO who is trying to polish his spoken English. He registers on this platform as does a native US English speaker. The platform links them so they can make video calls at their convenience and interact in English.

This helps people communicate with native speakers in the language they are interested in learning, thereby helping them speed up their proficiency.

e-Learning has made the acquisition of skill more affordable and accessible. It’s another feather in the cap for human ingenuity and has come to stay.

It will only grow bigger, better and more useful as you will see from the infographics below.

Bio: Tarun Reddy is Digital Marketing Manager at 16best.net, expert in Market Research, SEO, Inbound marketing, content marketing, and lead generation.

Disclosure: Gamesforlanguage.com has no business relationship with 16best.net or Tarun Reddy other than publishing Tarun's article and infographics.

e-learning 2018 infographic 

URL:  https://www.16best.net/blog/e-learning-in-2018-infographic/

Posted on by Saumya Tiwari

The Best Ways to Experience the Northern Lights

northern-lights-aurora-borealisSeveral years ago we experienced the Northern Lights when we visited Norway in September. We took a Hurtigruten Ferry from Bergen to Kirkenes.

Our ship, Kong Harald, stopped at various towns along the way, including Ålesund, Trondheim, Tromsø, to finally reach Kirkenes, a town right on the Russian border.

When we crossed the Arctic Circle, we all got a handful of ice down our backs as a gesture of respect to Neptune.

That night, the sky lit up with a beautiful play of northern lights.

It was Galileo Galilei who coined the term "Aurora Borealis" in 1619 after Aurora, the Roman goddess of morning.

While he was wrong that sunlight reflected from the atmosphere would cause the streaks of light, the term, or a slight variation of the Latin original, is still used in Romance languages:

Italian: aurora boreale
Spanish: aurora boreal 
French: aurore boréale
Portuguese: aurora boreal

"Northern lights", the more descriptive term, is used in Germanic languages (which includes English).

The Finnish word "revontulet" means "fox's fires" and goes back to the Finnish legend that the northern lights are a reflection of the fox's fur.

What causes the Northern Lights?

Northern lights (there are also "Southern lights") develop when electrically charged particles from the sun - a "solar wind" collide with the gases contained in the earth's atmosphere, especially nitrogen and oxygen.

A good and more detailed description of Auroras can be found in this article of Space.com: Aurora Borealis: What Causes the Northern Lights & Where to See Them.

Some of you would also like to experience these spectacular displays of nature, perhaps.

We are therefore happy that Saumya Tiwari describes seven options for you below:

Where to Find Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights are one of the biggest attractions in Northern Europe.

It is natural to regard them as a significant nature’s wonder.

People from around the globe flock to see their glory and beauty from August to March every year depending on the place you’re visiting to witness them.

Also known as Aurora Borealis or the polar lights, this scientific miracle is, if not one of the seven wonders of the world, definitely the eighth.

There are several ways to experience the Northern Lights and bask in the surreal beauty of that region. Let’s dive right in and check out some of the best ways to witness the Northern Lights this year to get a complete experience!

1. Swedish Ice Hotel

The Swedish Ice Hotel is an attractionSwedish Ice Hotel Entrance in itself and a mark of great man-made excellence.

It is constructed every year from scratch and is open for guests from mid-December till March end.

The itinerary of the several tours and trips offered by the hotel also includes a trip to the Aurora Zone to witness this unbelievable spectacle. (picture Source)

In Swedish, "northern lights" is "norrsken".

2. Canadian Snowmobiling

Snow mobiles in Canadian forestAnother way to experience the Northern Lights is by traveling to the Northwest Territories and finding some warmth in the frozen landscapes there.

Between the months of December and April, you can go on a snowmobiling voyage across the Great Slave Lake that is totally frozen during these months. You can rent a remote cabin to see the polar lights from there.

You can also arrive at the Blatchford Lake Lodge by a quick 30-minute seaplane ride to enjoy several activities like ice-fishing and snowshoeing in addition to watching the Northern Lights. (Picture Source)

3. City Tour in Iceland

Iceland has a bustling and busy city life that Reykjavik at nightpresents a lot of exploration opportunities for the tourists.

You can take a package trip to Reykjavik that accommodates you in a four-star hotel. This package includes the Northern Lights.

The hotel takes the guests out on an excursion to witness the Aurora in a super jeep. This natural display can be witnessed by this way between October 1 and April 8. (picture Source)   

In Icelandic, "northern lights" is "nor∂urljós".

4. Norwegian Voyage

Northern light above Hurtigruten shipHow would you feel about not just witnessing the Northern Lights but also learning all there is to know about it?

Hurtigruten, who is a Scandinavian cruise specialist takes you on an Astronomical Voyage of 12 days along with a writer and physicist.

This cruise offers a total of six departures in the months of winter and includes at least four ports of call.

This Scandinavian cruise specialist promises a week-long complimentary voyage if, for some reason, the guests are unable to witness the Northern Lights. (Picture Source)   

In Norwegian, "northern lights" is "nordlys".

5. Greenland Husky Safari

Everyone has heard of the fantastic Siberian Huskies.Husky Safari

Regent Holidays offer a Dog Sledding Expedition from Reykjavik to Greenland for a trip of 11 days.

The entire trip takes place on dog sleds from South-Eastern Greenland, particularly Tasiilaq. Dog handlers or native mushers accompany you to ensure an uneventful and safe journey through the snowy landscapes.

Your 5-day stay there promises you plenty of opportunities to experience the Northern Lights. You can stay in remote and beautiful mountain huts in the middle of nature.

However, this particular voyage would require you to possess a certain level of stamina and physical fitness.(Picture Source)

6. Igloo

Finnland Iglo villageHow romantic would it be to witness the Northern Lights through a glass-roofed igloo?

This would literally entail sleeping under the starry lights to witness one of the biggest scientific marvels on earth.

You get to stay in Finnish Lapland which is a beauty in itself at Kakslauttanen. It’s a 3-day trip so again; there are several chances to see the Northern Lights. You can choose your preferred style of igloos above the Arctic Circle.

All igloos have a thermal and clear glass domed ceiling. They are also thermally insulated for a cozy and serene stay.

They sleep up to six and also offer a very private sauna and open log fires. You will be equipped with all the warmth you will need in there. You can choose to avail this tour from early November to early April. (Picture Source)

In Finnish, "northern lights" is "revontulet".

7. Up in The Sky

How would you like to watch the Northern Lights Northern Lights from airplane windowup in the sky at 40,000 ft.? Aurora Flights UK offers a 3-hour flight from London and other regional airports to view the Northern Lights.

This trip can be pre-booked from early November until late March. This is an excellent way to view the Northern Lights as it also offers the maximum visibility.

You can even enjoy snacks and astronomers onboard to guide you along the way. (Picture Source)

Parting thoughts

Regardless of the way, it is an indisputable fact that Northern Lights are nothing short of a marvel that must be witnessed at least once in a lifetime. Choosing any one of these ways will give you an ultimate Northern Lights experience.

Author’s Bio: Saumya works at The Villa Escape - Norway Northern Lights Tour From India as editor. She is a 20-something fun loving and ambitious female who loves traveling and loves to share her traveling experiences. She loves solo travel trips. If not traveling you can find her behind her laptop playing games.

Disclosure: Gamesforlanguage.com has no business relationship with thevillaescape.com or Saumya Tiwari other than publishing Saumya's article.

Posted on by Peter Rettig

Which Foreign Language should I learn?

World Language with Globe, flags and young woman"Which foreign language should I learn?" is not a question many adults ask themselves.

Learning another language for most is more likely not a choice but a necessity.

The need to learn may be driven by a new job or career choice, a stay in another country or the desire to better communicate with your partner and his or her family.

Yes, there are others who don't NEED, but just WANT to learn another language. There are so many unique and beautiful languages.

We recently came across a fun quiz that TakeLessons created to help you decide which one to learn.

It will let you consider which foreign language suits you best, depending on your interests and personality. 

Now, we can't guarantee that learning that language will be easy, but it may very well be the language you'll love to learn!

Whether it’s to enhance your career, make travel to a foreign country more enjoyable, or simply as a hobby to keep your grey cells in top condition, learning a new language is an excellent endeavor.

The biggest challenge, though, can be choosing just one to begin with!

 
Posted on by Sean Patrick Hopwood

5 Practical Tips for Improving Your Italian

Parli Italiano written by woman's hand: Do you speak Italian?Italian is a language that is easy for native English speakers to learn, because it also has Latin roots like English.

The sentence and grammar structures of Italian are not similar to English, but they are not difficult to understand and remember.

Plus, English and Italian share many cognates. If you're thinking of working in a translation services company, Italian is a great language to learn and master.

Italian used to be widely spoken in the U.S. Until the year 2000, there were more than one million Italian speakers in country, but the language is losing ground.

In 2010, the number of speakers went down to just over 700,000. Other languages such as Vietnamese, Russian and Chinese have overtaken the Romance language.

Based on the latest data from Ethnologue, there are 63.4 million first language (L1) speakers of Italian in 13 countries around the world.

Still, Italian is a favorite among language learners. In fact, it is the fourth most studied language in the world.

According to the General Assembly of the Italian Language in the World, the number of foreigners studying the language in the academic year 2015-2016 is 2.2 million, compared to the previous academic year's 1.7 million.

The United States, Australia, Germany and France are among the countries where the increase in Italian language learners is most remarkable.

While British citizens are known for their lack of foreign language skills, the British Council stated that Italian is very important for business. According to their study called Languages for the Future, it is the fourth most requested language by employers from prospective hires.

Now, if you're one of those students who are learning Italian and you want to improve your speaking or reading skills out of the norm, here are a few tips:

1. Listen to Italian Music

Most Italian music is timeless. Italian songs are romantic and beautiful just like Italian Music PosterItalian culture.

Learning a language through music is advantageous because in this way the brain retains the words quicker and longer.

Pay attention to the lyrics, or better yet, download the lyrics so you can sing along and learn the pronunciation as well.

It will help you greatly to remember the words and enhance your Italian accent.

There are several amazing singers from Italy. Who can forget Enrico Caruso and Luciano Pavarotti? Listen to the songs of Andrea Bocelli, Eros Ramazzotti, Mina, Patty Pravo, Umberto Tozzi or Laura Pausini.

They actually make good language teachers because they are trained to enunciate very well. You'll not only enjoy some great songs, you'll boost your speaking abilities as well.

(See also "Dimmi Quando..." - An Italian Song For language Learning.)

2. Use Phone Apps

Phone apps cartoonSupplement your formal Italian language classes with an Italian language app for your phone or tablet.

Besides free language apps, there are those that you can buy. Apps can help you learn the basics – expressions, phrases and words that are commonly used by travelers.

It's like having a phrase book, something that you can take with you anywhere.

The good thing about a language phone app is that it lets you practice the language you're learning wherever you are, at a time that's most convenient for you.

There are also programs that you can download on your PC or laptop; or you can just visit and bookmark a language learning website, where you can read lessons and listen to recorded audio at the same time.

A fun way to learn is by signing up for Duolingo. Or, check out these alternativeTo: MindSnacks Italian, the game-based Learn and Play Italian, Learn Italian (Hello Hello), Learn Italian – Molto Bene, 10,000 Sentences, and the game-based app, Xeropan.

3. Listen to Podcasts

Whether you're a beginner or at an advanced level, you can improve young man listening to Italian podcastyour Italian with dedicated podcasts in the language. Here are some that are quite popular and helpful:

  • News in Slow Italian. This is wonderful for beginners as the hosts speak very slowly while reporting international news.You learn about the nuances of the language and how it's used in the context of regular speech, while getting up to date in what's happening around the world.
  • Al Dente. If you're at the A2 level, this is a good choice for you. The podcast is recommended for those who are learning the language from scratch. The site is in Italian.
  • Italiano automático. This podcast is for intermediate, or B-level studies. Earlier episodes are available on iTunes. You can also visit their website if you favor watching videos on a larger screen.
  • Maxmondo.This website gives you free and premium access. The podcasts allow you to learn not just the Italian language but also Italian culture, food and traditions. This is learning about the Italian way of life. The podcasts are recommended for intermediate and advanced learners.
  • ItalianLingQ. Their podcasts let you learn about the wonders of Italy, beautiful travel destinations, history, stories and news. It is a great way to be immersed in all things Italian. The site is in English and Italian and easy to navigate.

4. Find a Language Buddy

young men discussing Another way to improve your Italian is to find a language buddy, someone else who can share the journey of fumbling about the language, especially when you're just starting!

Preferably, team up with another student who doesn't speak your native language, as this will force you to speak in Italian and improve your fluency. You'll also feel that the pressure to speak faultlessly in Italian is reduced, because you'll both be making mistakes and improving your skills together. 

5. Watch Videos in Italian

Learn and enjoy. That is what you get when you watch videos in Italian.young woman watching video

You can find Italian channels on YouTube or go to movie streaming sites to look for Italian movies, dramas and other shows.

Turn off the subtitles so you do not get distracted from listening to the words, phrases and sentences.

Of course, the actors may speak with a regional accent, but the main point is you're listening to the dialogue in Italian.

You can also watch the films again with subs, just to check if your understanding of the dialogue is right.

When learning a language, the most important things to remember are patience and dedication.

You should love and have particular interest in the language, otherwise you'll not strive to fully learn it when you encounter difficulties.

You have to listen, practice, talk and make it a part of your life.

Write down unfamiliar words you encounter when listening to podcasts and music and when watching videos.

Review what you've learned at the end of the day and think in Italian as much as you can.

Author Bio: Sean Patrick Hopwood, MBA, is founder and President of Day Translations, Inc., an online translation and localization services provider, dedicated to the improvement of global communications. By helping both corporations and the individual, Day Translations provides a necessary service at the same time as developing opportunities for greater sympathy and understanding worldwide. You can follow Sean on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and LinkedIn.

Posted on by Maile Proctor

7 Ways to Reinforce Language Learning During Summer Months

summer beach fun for kidsSummer’s here and kids should be having fun.

But as a parent, you don’t want your child to lose all the (foreign or native) language skills he or she learned during the school year.

Whether they’re studying in school or taking lessons, without consistent practice, children can experience learning loss during the summer.

While they may dread actual academic assignments, it's easy to find some creative ways to help them practice.

Here are seven ideas to reinforce your child's language learning during the summer.

Keep a Journal

Journaling is a great way for kids, especially teenagers, to write down their thoughts summer journal for language practiceand feelings, remember things and develop their language and writing skills. 

A journal is also a great tool to help them practice their foreign language skills.

Challenge your son or daughter to journal. He or she can do so in their native language, or in Spanish, French or another language they’re studying. This gives them an opportunity to work on grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure.

“Writing practice is the ultimate way to really learn new vocabulary and practice verb construction,” according to Jane Smith from Omniglot. “Practicing new words in writing is a perfect way to ingrain them in your mind and remember how to use them again. You will also understand how to integrate them into full sentences.”

Remind your kids to write in their language journal every day and look up any words they need that they dont know. It doesnt have to be a long entry. Just a little bit of daily practice can make a big difference.

If your child is a older, you may want to consider finding an online pen pal. Sites like Global Penfriends pair kids from around the world to communicate via email. Regular correspondence can be a great way to develop language-writing skills.

Plan a Day Trip

It's very likely that there's a cultural center or community of Spanish, French, German or Japanese speakers near your home. This provides a good opportunity for foreign-language practice.

Take your son or daughter there to interact with people in their native language. With your supervision, allow him or her to speak and listen to others.

Grab a bite to eat in the neighborhood and encourage your child to practice his or her language skills while ordering.

If there’s a cultural center, you can find shows and events to go to during the summer. Your child will have an opportunity to hear the language and learn a little more about the culture.

Read

Mother reading to daughter on beachHopefully, your child’s school has some sort of reading program to encourage reading during the summer.

To reinforce a child's foreign language studies, encourage him or her to pick up an age-appropriate book in the language they’re learning.

Reading is one of the most underrated tools when it comes to learning a language.

“Like reading in one’s native language, reading in a foreign language helps us become more comfortable with the words and grammatical rules that enable us to express our own thoughts,” according to BrainScape.

“Seeing the text of new words and concepts visually helps to reinforce our memory of them, while having the ability to stop, think, or look up words in a dictionary allows for more individualized pace of mental absorption.”

Best of all, urge them to read books for pleasure. For kids it’s a great activity to cool down after playing outside in the summer heat.

Or, read to them. No surprise: 83 percent of children across all age groups say they love it when their parents read aloud to them.

Cultural Cuisine

Many children love to help with cooking. Make it a special project to prepare a foreign dish together with your son or daughter.

Your child can research the recipe and culture and share fun facts, traditions and vocabulary with the rest of the family.

Not only will your child get to practice his or her language (and cooking) skills, your family will get to try and enjoy a new dish.

Apps and Games

If your child is learning a foreign language, he or she may already have boy andgirl playing video gamesome language-learning apps or playing GamesforLanguage's online Quick Games.

Games and apps are great to make sure your child gets consistent language practice.

Even if you want to limit the amount of time your child spends on electronic devices, you can let him or her have a limited time to practice with language apps or games.

Games and apps are a low-pressure way for your child to avoid learning loss.

Music and Podcasts

Download foreign-language songs your child likes, and stream stories or podcasts.

Your child may not be able to understand everything, but hearing the language will help to reinforce the skills and vocabulary he or she has already learned.

Write down words your child doesn’t recognize so you can look them up later.

Summer drives are perfect for listening. Keep music or story CDs handy whenever you head out.

Watch a Movie

Pick an age-appropriate foreign language movie.

You can leave the subtitles on to follow along, or turn them off for an added challenge.

Just like listening to music, watching movies can help to reinforce your child’s language skills. It's especially good for picking up on sentence structure and other language patterns. Again, write down unfamiliar words to look up.

Some of these ideas may work better for your child than others. The key is finding the activities your child enjoys.

How do you help your kids practice a language during the summer months ? Let us know in the comments below.

Maile Proctor is a professional blogger and content editor. She writes articles on lifestyle and family, health and fitness, education, how-to and more. Maile earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking in San Diego, California.

Disclosure: Gamesforlanguage has no business relationship with any of the linked sites (except Gamesforlanguage.com) and Maile Proctor, other than publishing Maile's article.

 

Posted on by Dimitris Polychronopoulos

Why Writing is an Important Part of Language Learning

hand with pen writing in a note bookLearning a language generally involves learning four skills: listing/comprehension, reading, speaking and writing. We typically learn our first, native language by listening and speaking and then add reading and writing later in school.

When we learn other languages as adults we typically do so with "comprehensible input," by listening and reading, and we practice some writing early on as well (unless we use audio-only methods like Pimsleur).

When we learn a new language, we often neglect to truly develop our writing ability in that language.

Our language-learning efforts often focus only on trying to understand what others are saying and trying to be understood when we speak.

As we advance, many of us strive to be able to read the newspaper in our target language.

When it comes to writing in another language, though, we often only reach the level where we are comfortable writing text messages, emails and short notes.

The Writing Challenge

There is a lot a language learner can gain by taking the time to practice writing. Obviously beginners will not be able to practice writing essays and articles yet.

At the early stages, it is best to focus on writing simple sentences and paragraphs.

It is easy to receive feedback on short writing samples by using the app or website Hi Native for single sentences or the website Lang-8 for entire paragraphs.

When you are at the intermediate level, you can start to write longer texts. Composing an entire article requires a lot of thought.

The task becomes less daunting when you start with an outline. One of the drawbacks of writing in a foreign language is that it is harder to find native speakers to offer quality feedback.

Native speakers themselves are often not highly skilled at offering constructive feedback on long texts, because they themselves may not have studied essay-composition skills and article-writing and editing skills.

That means you may need to rely on a professional language teacher for feedback.

Your Language Learning Motivation

It is a good idea to consider your motivations.cartoon of Lion's motivational morning roar behind desk

Some language learners will be more motivated to become skilled writers in their target language, while others will not.

Those who wish to study at a university in a foreign language, work at a professional level in a foreign language and integrate into society in a different language will be highly motivated to reach the highest level possible in their writing abilities.

Although those who do not have such ambitions will be less inclined to spend the time to improve their writing skills, that doesn’t mean that they should ignore writing practice altogether. After all, there is a lot to gain from writing practice.

The Benefits of Writing Practice

When you practice letter writing and article writing in a foreign language, you get a clearer picture of your limitations in grammar and vocabulary.

As you revisit the texts you’ve written in a foreign language, it is easy see the progress you make.

Your past mistakes get cemented in time and you see at what point you learn to overcome certain mistakes that you habitually make.

There may be a certain word that you continue to misspell, or a particular verb that you never seem to conjugate correctly.

Perhaps you notice a common trend of mixing up two words that sound alike or sound similar, such as it’s and its or affect and effect.

By conquering these differences, you build a stronger grasp of the language you are learning.

Writing also allows you to focus on how to organize your thoughts and how you seek to logically draw arguments and conclusions.

This is a challenge enough in our native language(s).

The extra challenge of doing so in a different language helps build up your skills in that language in ways that can spill over to your other abilities in the language, such as improved conversational skills and better reading ability.

Bio: Dimitris Polychronopoulos is the founder of yozzi.com, where he welcomes guest posts and guest interviews in his eight strongest languages: English, French, Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Yozzi is a platform where you can offer feedback to help others improve their writing skills in their target languages.

Posted on by Peter Editor

Become Bilingual And Feel Great!

Yes, learning a new language is a fun and exciting opportunity - not only to grow in a very useful skill but also for feeling great for many years to come!

In the last few months research has found that bilinguals enjoy many practical advantages: 

Being bilingual can help you find higher paying jobs, improve your ability to perform mental tasks, and slow down symptoms of aging.

We have linked various articles and posts about such research in the past.

TakeLessons Bilingual Infographic

Recently we became aware of an informative infographic by TakeLessons, which summarizes those benefits quite succinctly. You'll find Take Lessons' sources at the end of the graph.

(And if you're not quite ready yet for language lessons, just click on the link below the graph and play a few fun games!)

15 Stats That Prove Being Bilingual is Awesome [Infographic]

Bilingual with Gamesforlanguage Quick Games?

No time or not ready yet for language courses? No problem.

Just play a Quick Language Game or two, when you have a minute. (No registraction required.)

We can't promise you that you'll become bilingual that way, but just maybe, you'll develop a taste for (re)learning and a habit of practicing a foreign language.

And, if you keep at it, YOU can become bilingual as well!

Bio: Ulrike & Peter Rettig are co-founders of Gamesforlanguage.com. They are lifelong language learners, growing up in several European countries before moving to Canada and the United States. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Disclosure: Gamesforlanguage has no business relationship with TakeLessons, other than using its infographic.

 

Posted on by Maile Proctor

How to Decide Which Foreign Language You Should Learn

foreign language globeAlthough the world’s two billion English speakers span an estimated 57 countries, in our “global” society, the importance of being able to speak a second (or third or fourth) foreign language is more valuable than ever before.

With plenty of opportunities to start learning right away, it’s time to decide which language you want to start learning. There are a lot of factors that can influence this decision.

Some languages are easier to learn than others, some are more widely used, and you may have a vested interest in one language over another based on where you live, your background or any other personal preferences.

If you’re on the fence about which language to learn, here are a few ways to help you decide.

Are You Looking for a New Hobby?

Becoming adept in a foreign language offers numerous personal benefits includingFinding Hobby concept enhanced memory and cognitive function, more confidence in your capabilities and intellect, or even just “bragging rights” to impress friends and family.

If your motivation for learning another language stems from the desire to acquire a new skill or explore a new hobby, consider studying French or Spanish. Both of these languages are widely spoken throughout the world, with French spoken in 32 countries and Spanish in 21.

Given the appropriate time investment—five days per week—you could gain conversational proficiency in six months.

Are You Heading Back to School?

I'm going back to learn it right!Not only does learning a language make you a better student, various scholarships are available to bilingual speakers, especially for graduate program expenses.

If you want to learn another language for educational purposes, consider studying German, which is esteemed in academia.

Also, keep your degree program and major in mind when you select a language. If your degree would benefit from learning one language or another, consider that as well.

You may want to talk to your academic advisor and see what he or she recommends. Having languages skills on your resume can help you land your dream job.

Are You Preparing for a Trip Abroad?

Knowing how to speak the native tongue when traveling allows you to have aforeign travel pictures more authentic and memorable experience.

It also makes you a more self-assured traveler, being able to communicate with locals, read traffic signs, and order from a restaurant menu without mispronouncing the entree.

You will have a much more fulfilling trip and be able to experience more than you would if there was a language barrier or lack of understanding of the local language.

If your motivation for learning another language stems from wanderlust, study whichever language correlates with the region you’re visiting.

Are You Investing in Career Goals?

catapulting your careerKnowing a foreign language can make you a sought-after—perhaps even indispensable—asset on the job market because companies recognize the advantage of global business relations in our modern economy.

Bilingual employees can network with international clients, remain abreast of overseas corporate trends, or even compete for higher-paid positions abroad.

If your motivation for learning another language stems from professional development, consider studying Mandarin Chinese, which is spoken by 1.3 billion people, more than any other language.

Are You Connecting a Foreign Language to Your Roots?

Learning a foreign language promotes awareness of other cultures, how ethnic heritage shapes Family Tree w/ relativesfamily dynamics and rituals, cultural perceptions and beliefs, or even your own life and ancestry.

If your motivation for learning foreign languages stems from an appreciation for where your family originates from, consider studying whichever language reflects that ancestry.

Caucasians often find German or French beneficial, while Hispanics gravitate toward Spanish or Portuguese. Asians might choose Malay or Chinese, while those of Middle Eastern descent likely connect with Arabic.

This is a great way to learn about the history and native language of your spouse’s family as well. You can learn the language together and then plan a trip to visit their family’s home country.

Once you gain proficiency in one language and, therefore, understand how the learning process works, learning more languages over time becomes less intimidating, challenging and time consuming. Decide which language you want to learn, start studying and see where it takes you—who knows, you could end up moving abroad or landing your dream job.

Maile Proctor is a professional blogger and content editor. She writes articles on lifestyle and family, health and fitness, education, how-to and more. Maile earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking in San Diego, California.

Disclosure: Gamesforlanguage has no business relationship with Couponbox and Maile Proctor other than publishing Maile's article.

1 2 3   > >