Crazy in love with the bad guys: 5 untranslatable Portuguese words

Yes it has the beaches, sunny climate, and cultural afternoon nap, but there’s something slightly deeper lying within our stereotypes of Portugal. Wander its streets to hear the fado music play, and you’ll be in tune with a sense of melancholy and deep expression. We’ve chosen 5 truly unique and untranslatable Portuguese terms that show how strong the role is that emotions play within this culture – the difficulty of trying to translate them all perhaps reflects something on our own!!

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3 untranslatable Mandarin phrases and what they tell us about the Chinese

The Chinese culture is often regarded as one of the most alien to our western way of life. If you go to China unable to speak the language, you’re likely to be totally stumped, and not even wild hand gestures and pointing fingers will help you to communicate. The cultural differences are no wonder given the 4,000 odd miles between us, but how does the Chinese language reflect their unique cultural practices? Let’s take a look!

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A logical language full of strange sayings? 7 Untranslatable German words

Not overly similar to the romantic and laidback late-night owls of the Mediterranean, the Germans have developed rather different stereotypes. To name a few, they are (more often than not) direct, punctual, distant, organized, lovers of rules, and the ultimate beer and football fanatics. But does the language they speak function in the same way? We take a look at seven untranslatable German words to test how language can speak a thousand words about its users…

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A nation of affectionate chatterboxes. 6 untranslatable Spanish words

It seems like the Spanish have got their priorities right on. I know whenever I think of Spain, what comes to mind is a mix of siestas, streets teeming with friends sharing a sundowner, late evening meals stretching into the night, tantalizing tapas, and a really authentic party spirit. The siesta, for a start, is a cracking idea (not only because it rhymes with fiesta) and shows how laidback the vida española really is.

We’ve picked out a few more of our favourite Spanish-specific words and phrases, to see if they tell us a thing or two about the sizzling Spanish way of life.

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Learn English: top ten everyday English idioms

Learn English: top ten everyday English idioms

English idioms. Sometimes colourful, sometimes funny and sometimes serious; idioms are a great way to get into English. These English idioms are designed to give you a bit of an insight into British culture and society. Used correctly, idioms give a real sense of being fluent in another language. They’re also just quite fun!

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How to stay motivated when learning languages: top 5 tips

Stay motivated when learning languages

Learning a language. It can be a bit like going on holiday. You just want to arrive at the destination, but getting there can be pretty exhausting. This post explores how to stay motivated when learning languages.

It’s a process that doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s important to keep plugging away,  bit by bit. Here are five tips that can be useful for maintaining focus.

Start with the basics

One of the biggest confidence lifters is the feeling of being able to speak a language, even if at first, it’s just a very basic conversation. There are plenty of YouTube videos available which outline the essential phrases in your target language. These posts from elsewhere on the JabbaJabba blog give you the top phrases for Spanish, Italian, French, and German. Explore them today! It might be tempting to rush ahead. But learning the fundamentals is the best way to feel like you’re getting a grasp on the language.

Focus on what you love

In all areas of study, it’s usually easier to stay motivated if the subject interests you. Hopefully, that applies to the language itself, but you can also look for materials relating to something you’re interested in. Personally, my passion is football. So when I was learning Italian I would watch press conferences from Inter Milan and AC Milan and try to understand as much as possible.

If you’re not sure what interests you, try reading a newspaper from the country and see which stories grab your attention. In Italy, La Repubblica is a popular paper and it has stories on politics, sport, and the arts. Listening to music is another obvious way to immerse yourself. Sites like Billboard chart the top 20 songs in different countries, and there will often be Youtube videos to accompany them with a translation, like this one of the Spanish song Despacito.

Set yourself a word goal

A big misconception is that becoming fluent means knowing every single word in the target language. The reality is that upwards of 4,000 words is advanced. That number might sounds daunting, but it can be achieved wiin a year if you learn just 10 words a day. That’s not so daunting. Break these targets down into bite-size pieces. The series of books Parola per Parola or Palabra por Palabra are some of the best for learning vocabulary.

Don’t panic

People ask what words mean all the time in their native language and it shouldn’t be taboo in another language. All isn’t lost if you’re without a personal tutor or a native speaker, as several sites exist that offer better translations than Google Translate. Word Reference is quite possibly the best because it not only offers several translations of a word to make sure you get the correct one, it also gives examples of when they might be used.

Get the grammar out the way 

Grammar can be soul-destroying. Few people find it the most interesting aspect of learning a new language! Dedicate a few minutes at the beginning of each session to understanding how the language works and everything else should fall into place. For a basic grasp of grammar, the BBC has split its Italian page into 15 small sections that cover the most important topics. The site Italian Verbs  is more helpful once you’ve got a general understanding and it’s a great way to test yourself when conjugating verbs.

Have you got any tips for how to stay motivated when learning languages? Pop them in the comments section – we’d love to hear from you!

All work and no play? Here’s how to learn Mandarin Chinese by watching TV

Watching TV (films, features and news) in your target language is a brilliant way to learn. This post zeros in on how to learn mandarin watching TV online but the process outlined can be applied to any language!

Watching foreign language television can help consolidate what you’ve learned elsewhere. It can help you perfect your accent and, because it’s quite entertaining anyway, can be good for those moments when you’re lacking motivation in your language-learning routine, or if you’ve been on a break from a language, and now returning to it.

A word of warning before you throw away your books and cancel that meet-up you had scheduled, though. Watching films and TV in another language will only be effective when combined with practice in speaking and writing and when done in the right way.

Do it incorrectly and you’ll just end up reading English subtitles and watching TV as mindlessly as usual! (That’s assuming you usually watch it mindlessly, of course).

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Can you be yourself in another language?

Looking out the plane window as it descended towards the city that would be my home for the next four months, my heart raced. I was nervous. Would I make some French friends and finally get fluent with that all-important immersion? Or would Erasmus be but a multicultural romp, spent drinking watered down cocktails and shouting over bad music in the language that (nearly) everybody already speaks – English?

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How to remember vocab: top ten tips to make it stick!

Ok, so. You’ve got your vocab list. Now what? Successful learning of a foreign language is often associated with efficient use of vocabulary. But learning new vocabulary is a tough task: you have to be able to make sense of the new words in the first place, then you have to retain, reproduce and recognize them. In this post, I offer you ten of my top tips for how to remember vocab.

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Top games to learn a language: why you should be using them

Why you should be using games to learn a language

Language learning can be hard work. Whether you are a beginner or well advanced in your foreign language practice, you will have to go through a lot of effort to comprehend, adapt and produce the new language in your conversation and  writing. But language learning is also a fun and stimulating activity that will promote higher thinking skills, creativity and interaction. While you may already have developed strategies that work best for you, you should consider using games to learn a language as well.

Games will help you sustain your motivation and they are effective. Whether you engage in solo games or play them with your peers or friends, they are a great supplement to your studying. You absolutely should be using games to learn a language. Here is why:

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