Language Links: German MOOC and Swedish idioms

German Mooc and Swedish idioms

Just for fun, I publish a list of articles about foreign languages and language learning.

Coursera announced that it will launch its first foreign language learning MOOC in October in collaboration with University of Pennsylvania. Auf Deutsch: Communicating in German Across Cultures is a beginner course scheduled to run for six weeks. “The course will be informative and entertaining. People will hopefully be learning something new about German culture. Students will learn about the different lifestyles Germans have. That’s where the entertainment part will come in.” says Professor Edward Dixon, the course developer. I, for one, have enrolled and I can’t wait to dissect the instructional design of the course.

Speaking of fun in German, do you act as if you have fat pants? It’s not an insult, I swear! Head over to FluentU to find out what that means in a list of 10 German idioms. I haven’t lost my mind and all my cups are in my cabinet.

I bet you’re tickled pink by funny expressions in foreign languages. Check out this video of 10 Swedish expressions, unless you have a feeling there are owls in the moss (meaning something is quite off).

What happens when actors are told to speak in their native language for “authenticity”? Using Gratuitous Foreign Language (GFL) is Hollywood’s way of saying “hey, as long as it sounds foreign and exotic, we’re covered”. But is everything foreign-sounding really true to the plot of the film? Salon gives a few examples of native speakers who took a few liberties on camera.

Can you translate your standup routine into a foreign language, and still keep the same jokes? If you’re Eddie Izzard, you can try, but there is no guarantee that your audience will understand. Although the misunderstanding itself can become a source of humor.

P.S. More German language resources here and here.

Image: Nordic Summer Evening by Sven Richard Bergh (1889 – 1900)

Language Links: Learning habits, listening skills and foreign beer

Language Links: Learning habits and foreign beer

On Sunday, I publish a list of articles about foreign language and language learning. Let’s keep it fresh!

Are you a serial highlighter? Does your page look like a neon fest when you’re done with it? Do you think this technique really helps you remember more? Think before you highlight and four other facts that will teach you how to learn.

Can you teach an old ear new tricks? Is it possible to learn to distinguish and replicate unfamiliar sounds in a foreign language? It turns out that it is possible, as long as there is feedback. Feedback is an essential ingredient in training our brains to hear new sounds and start to produce them more accurately.

Are you planning a trip to Italy and wondering if you’ll be able to get away with just knowing “Ciao!” You’re not really in luck here. According to the data collected by the Eurobarometer 386, your chances of having a conversation in English while visiting Italy stand at 34%. It could be worse; you could be in Hungary, where only 20% of the population can hold a conversation in English. Czech linguist Jakub Marian compiled a map of percentage of people speaking English in the European Union, divided by country. But, if you want to order beer in the local language, there’s a map for that too.

Speaking of beer (why wouldn’t you, it’s summer), is it pronounced Stella ArtTWAS or Stella ArTWA? It’s Belgian, so ArTWA. Read this list to learn how to pronounce beer names.

Deutsch fur Euch is a Youtube channel that I use to learn little tidbits of German. In episode 42, Katja teaches the vocabulary necessary for talking about your family in German.

Image: From My Studio Window by John Kane (1932) on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Language Links: web app, easy Thai videos and how to talk nonsense

EasyThai German Greetings and talking nonsense in a foreign language

Every Sunday, I publish a list of articles about foreign language and language learning. Let’s keep it fresh! announced the launch of their web app this week. is a cloud-based language learning technology that is mostly based on vocabulary building. Simply put, you install their Chrome extension, choose the language that you want to learn, and go about your business browsing the web. When you come across a word that you’d like to remember, you click on it. translates it into your target language and saves it. You can then review your list of visual and audio flash cards. Their new platform also recommends content based on your level, creates personalized exercises and draws from gamification theory.

Do you think that you’re talking nonsense when you speak in a foreign language? If you don’t, but you’d like to, there’s an app for that. MuchPhrases equips you with the weird sentences to impress your quirky friends in Spanish, Norwegian and French. I always thought you should aim for foreign language phrases that make sense, but then again it might be easier to break the ice with gibberish. On that note, “I bought these shoes from a wizard.” Here is the story behind the app.

Take advantage of a slow summer and advance your language skills. Here are 15 ways to practice a foreign language this summer via the Transparent Language blog.

Want to know how to say “hi” and “bye” in German? Here are 22 ways to greet someone in German.

Learn Thai through easy YouTube videos via the WomenLearnThai blog.


Image: The Golden Bend in Herengracht, Amsterdam by Gerrit Berckheyde (1671 – 1672) from Rijksmuseum.

P.S. Language Links: French habits, English countryside MOOCs and sustainable economics through language learning