November 28, 2018

How to maintain your language-learning momentum: 5 inspirational self-study tips

The end of the year is fast approaching and we have all got a lot on our plates, juggling work and preparations for family celebrations or New Year festivities.  There will be a break at the end of this BLS term and we will all need to keep up our language practice without the help of lessons.  How can you keep up the momentum when you are learning a language, even if you don’t have a teacher to remind you to do your homework or a group to practise with? How can you keep up your drive to learn for a few weeks flying solo?  This blog post gives you a few tips on how to maintain your language learning momentum when you have to manage it yourself and when you have other commitments too.

Little and Often

This article says: “Language learning is best when broken down into manageable goals that are achievable over a few months.” We fully agree that it is best not to overload yourself and try to read a whole textbook in one sitting.  Our brains learn best when not required to concentrate for long periods of time, and when the knowledge is topped up regularly.  Doing a few minutes of language learning each day and revising things you learnt last week makes sure what you learnt sticks in your head.  Breaking the learning down into manageable chunks means you stay interested and motivated and you don’t lose concentration.  Set yourself small, achievable, short-term goals that you can meet.  Have a routine so that you know how and when to fit in your language learning.  This will make you feel motivated to achieve those goals and give you a sense of achievement when you meet them.  It will also keep the learning to a manageable amount.

Remind Yourself Why You Are Learning

We all have a reason why we wanted to learn our chosen language in the first place – it might be because we have friends who speak that language, a holiday home in the country where that language is spoken or ambitions of moving abroad to find work.  Whatever your motivation, remind yourself of it regularly so you are spurred on to carry on with your learning.  The same article that was quoted above recommends writing down the reasons why you are learning a language and sticking the list to the front of your notebook or folder.  Turn to this in moments of doubt!  You have a goal and you can achieve it.

Remember It’s Fun

In a previous blog post about how to improve your reading skills in another language, we recommended that you read things you enjoy reading in your first language – novels, newspaper articles or recipe books, for example.  This applies equally to your listening and speaking practice – listen and sing along to songs you like or watch films you enjoy and practise the dialogues.  If you do things you enjoy, you will be much more likely to want to continue and the knowledge will stick in your mind.  You don’t want your language learning to be a chore, you want it to be a pleasure!


If you are able, use your end-of-year holiday time to go to the country where your new language is spoken – what better way to learn enjoyably?  Maybe you have friends you can visit there or perhaps there is a place you have always wanted to explore.  Seize the opportunity and use your language skills while you are abroad.  You will also be hearing the language as it is spoken in real-life situations – which makes it more exciting!

Look Back at Your Progress

You have come a long way and learnt a lot since you started learning your chosen language.  Take a moment to appreciate how much you have achieved and to congratulate yourself on your progress.  This will make you feel motivated to continue because you can see that it is possible!

Have a look at this blog post if you need more inspiration.   And most of all – have fun!

Suzannah Young

November 21, 2018

Travelling corner: Best secret beaches in South Cornwall

Cornwall is one of my favourite travel destinations in the UK, and finding secret beaches is part of its awesomeness. This year I went to South Cornwall and discovered some amazing beaches which had some breathtaking views of the sea. Where to find them?

Freathy Beach

Beautiful sandy beach with lifeguards and a slightly steep descent towards it. The sea views are spectacular. When driving, turn when you see the sign “Freathy Cliffs”.

Lantic Bay

Amazing beach with turquoise waters. I walked there from Lansallos (NT parking available in the village). It took me around 1.5 hours to get there and the descent towards the beach was quite steep, but completely worth it for the views.

Readymoney Cove

It’s quiet, relaxing & beautiful. The beach is just outside Fowey and you can walk there from the town (around 30 minutes). The beach is small, but not too crowded, with beautiful views of the bay and the coming yachts and boats. Tranquilising.

What are your secret beach recommendations in South Cornwall? Let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla

November 14, 2018

Book review: Small Pleasures by The School of Life

I first came across Small Pleasures in the little paper boutique, Papersmiths, in Clifton Village, Bristol, UK. But, when I returned there, all copies were sold out so, thanks to modern technology, I ordered my copy online. I guess that means that the book seems to be interesting not only for me! I found the book incredibly relaxing to read and a great journey to discovering or re-discovering the pleasures of everyday life. Just look at the chapter titles: Stars, Sunbathing, Up at Dawn, A Hot Bath, Kissing, Sunday Mornings, A Favourite Old Jumper, A Book that Understands You, Pleasant Exhaustion after a Productive Day, Whispering in Bed in the Dark, Figs, etc. There are 52 chapters (one for each week of the year?), so you can easily find great joy in exploring all the tiny pleasures we all experience in our life. I don’t want to say too much to spoil the pleasure of reading the book, but I have some quotations which may inspire you to read it or to get it as a Christmas present for a friend.

“[Some small pleasures can create the] respect for civilisations that have more time for things that are simultaneously delightful and wholesome.” p. 13

“Time could be rearranged: there are plenty of things that can contribute to leading a life more like the one we want. We could get new chances. Every day, it happens.” p. 59

“(…) [T]he pleasure of bath is primarily intellectual. Baths are ideal places to think.” p. 66.

Kinga Macalla

November 7, 2018

What are the main challenges of bilingualism? How can you keep both languages balanced? (5)

Some time ago, we introduced a new series of video interviews and online interviews which are devoted to the subject of bilingualism. We find the topic of bilingualism fascinating and we want to discuss some of the issues and benefits linked with being bilingual, as well as many other bilingualism-related topics. If you have any ideas or questions related to bilingualism, let us know in the comments below.

Today, in our fifth YT video, we attempt to answer  the question “What are the main challenges of bilingualism? How can you keep both languages balanced?”. Our special guest is Łucja Miniewska, an expert on bilingualism both academically (she holds an MSc in Bilingualism) and practically (she’s a mum of two bilingual children). Please click the link to watch our YT video.

Kinga Macalla