This blog is about teaching yourself a language, how our brains learn, ways you can maximize your time and tools to learn more, and awesome products that will make a difference for your language studies! Poke around, leave a comment, and consider making a purchase with one of our partners to support the blog.
About the Blogger
Thank you for reading my blog.
I'm Alison, the girl behind Teach Yourself a Language Blog and the TraveLingo brand. I'll share my background with language learning. I grew up in a small farm town in Western America, but I always had a wonderlust and loved to travel, read and learn new languages. While I was in high school I went to Mexico twice, each time eagerly practicing what I'd learnt in Spanish class. I continued this explorative attitude after graduating and moving to a neighboring town, utilizing every opportunity to both learn new words and use what I already knew in my work and personal life. With a large migrant Mexican population, there was plenty of opportunity in my local community to use and observe Spanish and I eventually became good enough to talk about almost anything I wanted in any situation. My level at this time was probably in between conversational and fluent.
As time went on and I continued to live and work close to home, I explored an interest I'd always had: American Sign Language. Practicing in the evenings with a friend, we found free resources online like apps, websites and YouTube channels, paired with practice, and learned enough sign language to be able to communicate with a deaf stranger. In fact, I had the privilege of doing so on two occasions, both a year or more later, which were wonderful and hilarious interactions. I would call them gezellig, which is a Dutch word meaning something like cozy togetherness.
Which leads me to the next part of my journey. Fast forward a few years, after I had left small town life in search of adventure and moved to the city (Philadelphia). I then applied to be a part of a cultural exchange program in the Netherlands with one of the benefits being Dutch classes paid for by my host family. With only a one-year visa and eager to start, I signed up in the same week I arrived in the country and immediately began to eat up new vocabulary and grammar rules like I was the cookie monster. Within a few months, I was running all my errands in Dutch, understanding full conversations and even reading novels.
Now, I bet I know what you're thinking. I'm not some sort of wiz kid. Even now, only a year after studying Dutch, it's not like I can pick up any novel, read a page a minute, and tell you everything that happened and who each character is without help. I pretty much just try stuff out and see what happens. A lot of times I entirely overestimate my language skills. Sometimes I speak in Dutch and the other person responds in English, knowing I'm speaking a language that isn't native to me. Yet it's rare for someone not to understand me, and I was happy to find out that my level of Dutch got me through at border control when they weren't going to let me in for my American passport. I've been successful because I've learned to be flexible, to use whatever is around me, to think alternatively and to study with materials that interest me. In this way, I really get to have an interactive experience with my new language, one that is not the typical "memorize and repeat". It's super gezellig.
So that's why I started this blog and my company, TraveLingo.
In the last year I've been studying linguistics and second language acquisition. I am developing language learning products that will help you teach yourself a new language, use your brain's power to its advantage, and along the way hopefully giving you resources and ideas for how to make your language journey your own using the blog. Relying on curriculum to teach you everything you might need to know but also might never use can take a long time and feel like a struggle. What if I told you there was a different way to do it, and that it's a lot more fun? You could build your own learning experience based solely on what you want to do in your new language and what inspires you.
Lovely that you're here. I hope you stick around.
Things you can do to get involved:
1. Consider crowdfunding one of TraveLingo's projects, which can all be found here.
2. Buy merch from the store, which helps to support me and keep this blog going. Coming soon!
3. Share posts with friends, teachers, tutors, study partners and on social media.
4. Listen to TraveLingo's podcast: Teach Yourself a Language, and don't forget to rate and review it.
Hi learners! It's been a little while since a new post came out on TYAL. Life gets busy, am I right? But we can pick our goals and hobbies back up at any time. So here I am. Today I wanted to share with you one of my favorite paid services, which I use to watch foreign films, Netflix shows that are only available in certain countries, and a few other random things that it comes in handy for. It's called a VPN service . Have you heard of it before? A VPN service basically changes your IP address and reroutes it through the country or region that you choose. For those of you who don't know, your IP address changes depending on which internet router you're connected to, and one of the things it can indicate is where in the world you are. For companies that use targeted ads, and streaming services like Netflix or YouTube, your IP address can change what you see when you're online . Because of privacy laws that change from country to country,
As I'm scrolling through the timeline, I see ads all the time like, "Become Fluent in Under a Year!" or "The Secret to Learning Languages" or "Learn ____ in 3 months!" and honestly, they always seem gimmicky to me. But I understand the need to know how long it takes to learn a new language. So what's the answer? It's a never-ending process. You will never not be learning your new language. You will never be "done". There are some things that you just can't rush. A good pie, a work of art, and learning a language. One factor of successful language learning is being realistic about the demands of learning a language. 1 Furthermore, adults do not learn productively when they are under strict time constraints. 2 And actually, you don't have to be fluent to be able to communicate in another language. So is your goal to be fluent in 3 months? Or is it to know intricacies in your target language? Have a long and deep connectio
A year or more ago, I was at a Christmas fair in the Netherlands and I passed a booth ran by a Language School. They were giving away buttons that said "Speak Dutch to Me" (in Dutch of course). I thought this was just brilliant! One of the most aggravating things about learning a language in a foreign country where everyone speaks English is that when you are trying to order your food or perform another transaction in your target language, many of them hear your accent and ask if it's easier to switch to English. I found that at least half the time during my first 6 months in the Netherlands, that was the case. Most natives switch to English because they want to practice their foreign language, too. Either that or they just want to help. But what if switching to English doesn't help? What if you want them to carry on and let you struggle a little bit until both of you come to an understanding? You can wear the button around, or you can wear one of these shirts or