16 Prolific Language Learning Bloggers You Should Follow

Language Bloggers

UPDATE: The original list here has been updated to remove bloggers who are no longer actively producing content and there also some new additions which you can help expand on.

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I thought I’d put together a short list of who I consider to be the most profilic and authoritative bloggers on language learning at present.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list of every language blogger out there (there are loads of others I deliberately didn’t include for one reason or another and probably a lot that I don’t know about as well). I haven’t included popular websites (e.g. How To Learn Any Language) that aren’t blogs either.

When I started scouring the net for the best language learning blogs I found the lack of good quality, reputable blogs on this topic frustrating, not to mention how much I had to dig in order to find them. It’s good to read up on other people’s success and struggles in language learning, and to take what you can use from their various (and often conflicting) methods and approaches.

The people I’ve mentioned below may know several languages but all of them have languages of specialization or expertise to some extent. Many of them may blog about language learning in general but each of them have specialist knowledge of certain languages.

If you know of a blogger (either language-specific or general language learning) that should be mentioned here, add your input in the comments section below and I’ll update this list! :)

 

Hyunwoo Sun (+ TTMIK team)

hyunwoosunBlog name: Talk To Me In Korean

Languages: Korean (native), English.

Product: My Korean Store and HaruKorean (see my review of one of their books here)

By far my favourite language learning site and really needs no introduction. The TTMIK blog consistently produces outstanding, high quality content and is really unmatched by any other language-specific site that I know of.

Check out the post: TTMIK Audio Blog – Instant Food

Eoin Ó Conchúir

Eoin Bitesize Irish GaelicBlog: Bitesize Irish Gaelic blog

Languages: English (native), Irish.

Product: Bitesize Irish Gaelic (which I reviewed here)

I’ve always recommended Bitesize Irish Gaelic to new learners of Irish but I’d also like to mention here that Eoin runs a blog where you’ll find some excellent posts about Ireland and the Irish language. The posts by Audrey Nickel in particular are very good.

Check out this post: Irish Gaelic: The Problem of Phonetics

 

Jared Romey

Jared RomeyBlog: Speaking Latino

Languages: English (native), Spanish (various dialects).

Product: Several books and ebooks on Spanish dialects.

His site in his own words:

“My books and now this website are a consequence of my early bumblings in Spanish, repeated bouts with culture shock, and confusions over the correct words for popcorn, gasoline, pen, bus, underwear, traffic jam and drinking straw.”

Jared guest posted here a while back. His blog in my opinion should be the first point of call for anyone undertaking Spanish, especially Latin American varieties.

Check out his post: Become Fluent Faster By Ignoring These 5 Spanish Fundamentals

 

Luca Lampariello

Luca LamparielloBlog: The Polyglot Dream

Languages: Italian (native), English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Romanian.

Product: None.

His site in his own words:

“This blog is entirely dedicated to my biggest passion: languages.”

Luca’s a co-founder of the Polyglot Conference and is a prolific YouTuber. He’s very clear about the fact that language learning takes a lot of time and that there are no shortcuts.

Check out his post: The 3 Stages of Language-Learning Evolution

 

Khatzumoto

KhatzumotoBlog: All Japanese All The Time

Languages: English (native), Japanese.

Product: AJATT Store

His site in his own words:

“This site is about how you can learn Japanese without taking classes, by having fun and doing things you enjoy—watching movies, playing video games, reading comic books—you know: fun stuff! Stuff that you feel guilty about doing because you should be doing “serious things”.”

Khatzumoto runs an enormously popular site on learning Japanese. His emphasis is on the importance of complete immersion in the language that you’re learning – even if you’re learning at home.

Check out his post: Why You Should Keep Listening Even If You Don’t Understand

 

Simon Ager

Simon AgerBlog: Omniglot Blog

Languages: English (native), Mandarin, French, Welsh and Irish.

Product: None but runs an “Encyclopaedia of writing systems and languages”

His site in his own words:

“This blog contains my musings on language, linguistics and related topics.”

I almost didn’t include Omniglot in this list for the simple fact that it’s more of a blog for linguists, rather than language learners (yes there is a difference). You’ll find a lot of linguist jargon on this blog that doesn’t really interest a lot of people (as a linguist I personally get a kick out of it), but there are plenty of interesting and useful nuggets of information you can find there for general language learning. His mystery language recordings are a nice touch too.

Check out his post: Do It Because It’s Fun

 

Richard Simcott

Richard SimcottBlog: Speaking Fluently

Languages: English (native), French, Spanish, Welsh, German, Macedonian, Swedish, Italian, Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian, Portuguese, Czech, Catalan, Russian, Dutch, Romanian and Albanian.

Product: None.

His site in his own words:

“Speaking Fluently offers you the chance to read about language learning tips and stories.”

Richard’s the European Ambassador for Multilingualism and founder of the Polyglot Conference. He offers some very solid and useful language learning advice through his YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Check out his post: The Language Monkey

Maha Yakoub

mahaYouTube Channel: Learn Arabic With Maha

Languages: Arabic (native), Italian, Hebrew, German, English.

Product: None.

Maha’s a Palestinian living in Italy who runs a massively popular YouTube channel where she teaches Arabic (Levantine), Hebrew and Italian. Definitely aimed at low-level learners but I really enjoy her videos.

Check this video out: 5 Reasons That’ll Make You Fall In Love With Arabic

 

Olle Linge

Olle LingeBlog: Hacking Chinese

Languages: Swedish (native), Mandarin Chinese, English, French.

Product: None.

His site in his own words:

“This website is dedicated to unveiling the mysteries of learning a language in general and about learning Chinese in particular.”

As stated, Olle’s site is primarily aimed at the Chinese language learner and should be the first stop for anyone keen on learning Mandarin. I keep myself up to date with his blog as a lot of what he shares is helpful for language learning in general, not just for Chinese.

Check out his post: Reading Manga For More Than Just Pleasure

 

Catherine Wentworth

Catherine WentworthBlog: A Woman Learning Thai… and some men too.

Languages: English (native), Thai.

Product: None.

Her site in her own words:

“WLT aims to post Thai language learning tips and techniques, local quirks and insights of Thailand. Anything Thai language, culture, or travel related.”

Catherine’s blog should be your first stop if you’re interested in learning to speak Thai or about life in Thailand.

Check out her post: Onomatopoeic Words In The Thai Language

 

Corey Heller

Corey HellerBlog: Multilingual Living

Languages: English, German, Spanish and French.

Product: Multilingual Living Magazine

Her site in her own words:

“Multilingual Living is a place where parents raising children in more than one language and culture can find inspiration, tools, advice, wisdom and support!  It is about living multilingually, in each and every way possible.”

Corey’s blog differs greatly from the others listed here in that it’s focused on families and raising kids who are multilingual. I consider her an expert on bilingualism and a wonderful person who is full of encouragement. I also guest posted on her blog here.

Check out her post: What Bilingualism is NOT

Susanna Zaraysky

Susanna ZarayskyBlog: Create Your World Book

Languages: English (native), Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Serbo-Croatian.

Product: Language Is Music and Travel Happy

Her site in her own words:

“I am a multilingual world traveler whose goal is to help people have fun learning languages with music, TV, radio and other media and travel the world economically.”

Susanna’s made several television appearances and has her own unique approach to language learning using music. Her approach is particularly useful for anyone trying to improve their accent.

Check out her post: Why You Should Care About Endangered Languages

 

Mike Campbell

Mike Campbell GlossikaYouTube Channel: Glossika

Languages: English (native), Mandarin

Product: Glossika Language Training products and subscription content

His site in his own words:

“Glossika delivers an efficient foreign language learning method to people who want to acquire a new language.”

I have a lot of respect for Mike and he’s probably the most interesting language/linguistics blogger that I’ve come across. In particular, I’m very impressed by the work he’s done with the aboriginal languages of Taiwan and his Mass Sentence Method is based on solid research (it’s very similar to the Lexical ‘chunking’ method that I adhere to).

Check out this video: Approaching Strangers and Using Language

 

Wiktor Kostrzewski

Wiktor KostrzewskiBlog: 16 Kinds

Languages: Polish (native), English. Unsure of the others.

Product: None.

His site in his own words:

“The tagline of the website is “Learn Languages Better.” I’m on a mission to try and write about everything that helps people achieve this.”

I don’t know a whole lot about Wiktor to be honest, but the language learning advice he offers on his blog is high quality, no-BS stuff.

Check out his post: I Love That I Suck: Learning Languages Through Failing

 

Steve Kaufmann

Steve KaufmannBlog: The Linguist

Languages: English (native), French, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, Swedish, German, Italian , Cantonese, Russian, Portuguese and Czech.

Product: LingQ and The Way Of The Linguist

His site in his own words:

“For people who love languages or would, but were discouraged…”

The founder of LingQ and a prolific YouTuber. Steve’s language repertoire impresses me along with the frequent YouTube videos he puts out on many important language learning issues. He’s definitely one of the most level-headed, experienced people in the language learning blogosphere.

Check out his post: A Discussion With Stephen Krashen

 

…and of course:

Donovan Nagel

donovannagelBlog: The Mezzofanti Guild

Languages: English (native), Egyptian Arabic, MSA, Korean, Irish, Georgian, Ancient Hebrew and Greek.

Product: None.

I know it’s cheating but I had to include myself in this list! :) In case you’ve just landed on this blog for the first time, I’m a linguist, translator and language instructor with a huge heart for minority languages and cultural immersion. I have a bit of a preference for languages of the East (both Near and Far Eastern) and I use my own proven method that I’ve developed based on the Lexical Approach to language learning.

Check out this post: The Uncomfortable Truth: Social Risk-Takers Are Better Language Learners

 

Who would you add to this list? :)

 

This was written by .

Did you find this interesting, useful or encouraging? A quick share on Facebook or Twitter will make my day! Thanks. :)

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How To Become a Freelance Translator and Earn Money On The Road

Freelance translation

G’day all!

As many of you know, when I travel and live in a foreign country to learn the local language I usually support myself by teaching English.

I don’t do this because I consider ESL teaching to be a great career choice (on the contrary!) but rather because it provides me with a consistent source of income while I’m away. It also gets me in a social environment every day where I can meet native speakers and most jobs tend to offer accommodation, airfares and medical insurance which makes life a lot easier!

However, I also have a few online projects that keep me afloat at times when I’m not teaching – one of which is translation work (Arabic to English).

I’ve been fortunate enough to get quite a bit of translation work lately while I’m waiting for my visa to come through for my next big move (it’s been a frustrating wait dealing with annoying red tape since it’s one of the hardest countries in the world to visit but hopefully I won’t have to wait much longer!).

Since I get questions about translation work from time to time I thought it would be a good idea to respond to some of it here. :)

 

At what point did I decide I wanted to do translation work?

I was in a coffee shop years ago and I started chatting with a translator who ran her own business in French translation (I think she’d set up her “office” in the corner of the cafe).

At that stage I was already conversationally fluent in Egyptian Arabic and people were always saying to me, “Why don’t you use your Arabic skills to earn some money?” but I had never considered freelance translation as an option because I didn’t fully understand what the job involved.

Just having a friendly chat with this girl opened my eyes to the fact that translators work from a language that they’re not native in (in my case Arabic) into their mother tongue and not vice-versa. I was attracted to her lifestyle more than anything and the fact that she could set her own prices and her own schedule, as well being able to take her work anywhere she wanted.

The point about only translating into your native language is a crucial one – no matter how fluent you are in another language you’ll always make errors if you try translating into it.

While it definitely requires that you have a very advanced level in the language to really capture the nuance of what’s being said in a text, the real skill of a translator is not just in how well they know a language.

Translators are excellent writers first and foremost!

There were of course some extra difficulties for me as a speaker of a colloquial Arabic dialect that’s almost never written as I had to invest a bit more time into studying Modern Standard Arabic which in many ways is like a completely separate language.

As a side note, for anyone considering Arabic translation I can’t recommend enough the book Thinking Arabic Translation – A Course in Translation Method: Arabic to English (James Dickins).

 

You should only translate content that you have some expertise in

If you don’t have some kind of background (either academic or work experience) in the stuff you’re being asked to translate then it’s a good idea to leave it alone.

Why?

Take a look at this legal paragraph for a second and you’ll see (I just plucked it randomly off the internet):

The Issuer and the Company hereby ratify, approve and authorize the use by the Underwriter, prior to and after the date hereof, in connection with the offer and sale of the Series 2005A Bonds, of the Official Statement. The Underwriter agrees that it will not confirm the sale of any Series 2005A Bonds unless the settlement of such sale is accompanied by or preceded by the delivery of a copy of the final Official Statement.

Boring as hell, right? :)

Now ask yourself – if a translation agency sent this to me in another language could I produce something like this?

It’d be bloody difficult trust me (speaking from experience)!

But a translator who has qualifications or some kind of background in Law could quite easily write something like this because it’s their area of expertise and they’ve seen it many times before.

Likewise, would you feel comfortable translating a medical or legal document that could be damaging to somebody if not done properly?

I hope not! :)

If you’re thinking about getting into translation, think about one or several areas of expertise that you have (something that you’re trained or experienced in) and aim for translation work in that specific area!

Think outside the box too. I did a marketing translation recently for a coffee company and I confidently took the job because I used to work for a coffee company years ago in the UK. I’m very knowledgeable about coffee product marketing so I knew exactly how to word it.

Take anything you know really well and specialize in it.

 

If I’m conversationally fluent in a foreign language how do I get started?

The only way you get better at something is to do it often.

Remember that translators are excellent writers first and foremost. Just because you’ve got killer foreign language skills or are extremely fluent in a language doesn’t mean you’re any good at translating.

You could have near-native fluency and still be a pathetic translator believe me!

But let’s suppose you’re not :)

My advice is to keep expanding your vocabulary in subject matter that you want to work with (it helps to use tools like Memrise and Anki for this), read up on some translation theory/methods with books like this and this (familiarize yourself with important issues related to creativity and flexibility in translation, ethics and so on), and most importantly translate everything you can get your hands on for practise.

Read often! Great writers are great readers!

The issue of creativity in translation is a huge one because there will always be times where you can’t just literally translate everything word for word. You often need to strike the balance between being literal and keeping true to the mood of the original text. Sometimes this means you have to use a completely different word, expression or sentence to carry the same effect intended by the original author.

One thing I often do is go to news portals where there are usually tabs at the top of the website for different interests (Technology, Health, Business, Politics, etc.) and just find interesting articles to translate on various subject matter.

Begin building your own glossary of terms.

There are so many names of organizations, abbreviations and so on that you’ll come up against repeatedly and possibly won’t recognize at first. Compile your own list and it’ll be a handy reference for when you need it.

Translation accreditors like NAATI in Australia and ATA in the USA sell practise tests that you can order online too which I also highly recommend (you’ll need this certification in some countries for many jobs but it’s expensive and does expire after a while). Since every country is different you’ll have to do some research to find out what the rules are where you are but this isn’t always necessary for overseas work).

There are also associations that you can join (e.g. AUSIT and ITI) which are great for helping you network with the right people in the industry, attend workshops to increase your skills and find work.

Contact translation agencies online and they’ll often send you a test translation before deciding to work with you.

You should also check out Proz and Translators Cafe which are forums dedicated to translation (not entirely free to use!) but bear in mind that depending on your language set there’s usually a lot of competition for jobs posted there.

Once you do a couple of good translations for an agency you’ll start to build up trust and they’ll send you jobs more often (like any kind of agency work really).

You eventually should get hold of some CAT (computer-assisted translation) software like SDL Trados which is pretty much essential for many jobs. An excellent CAT tool to get started with is OmegaT which is completely free (I still often use this as it runs well on Linux). The benefits of using CAT tools is that as you translate, the software stores what you’ve translated in its memory so that when you come across the same or a similar sentence in future (either in the same document or another one), it saves you having to translate it all over again.

It can cut your work in half especially if you’re working on a document that’s really repetitive!

The most important reason to use CAT tools however is that they make sure you stay consistent in what you’re writing.

 

Does translation pay well?

It certainly can but in my case not really! :)

I tend to take jobs in drips and drabs but I’m not active at all in trying to market myself to big clients (I have other projects taking up my time). If I did market myself I’m sure it’d be a lot more lucrative for me since Arabic is not quite as competitive as languages like French and Spanish are.

So how it works is I get emails from agencies from time to time who say something along the lines of, ‘Here’s such and such a job. Are you interested?’ and usually they’ll set an offer based on the word count or a flat rate if it’s small. Then it’s just a matter of accepting the job, completing the translation and emailing it back to them before the deadline.

A few days later I get paid electronically.

No phone calls. No face to face contact whatsoever.

This is great if you want to move around a lot and deal with clients/agencies via email at your own convenience but just remember that you’ll be spending a lot of hours indoors staring at a computer screen. :)

Since I love outdoor adventure and social interaction this gets stressful for me at times!

The money I get from what I do could easily allow me to live comfortably in the kind of countries I like to live in where living costs are extremely low (e.g. Egypt or Georgia) but if I wanted to set myself up in Australia or Ireland with the high living costs of those places I’d need to market myself a lot more actively to be able to live off translation alone.

I should note too that I am registered as a business for tax purposes in my country which is a legal necessity (in fact I’m registered to pay tax on everything that I get through my various streams of online revenue).

Also, if you’ve got a rare language set then you might find fewer opportunities but they will most likely pay more when you do find them.

Ultimately I love what I do (even though I am really hoping to find the right girl, get married and buy a house in the next couple of years with an in-house or government translation job ideally).

I’m not a rich guy but I have no debt and everything of value that I own along with everything I need to sustain myself abroad fits in my backpack which is very liberating indeed! :)

 

Are you a translator? Share your thoughts below!

 

This was written by .

Did you find this interesting, useful or encouraging? A quick share on Facebook or Twitter will make my day! Thanks. :)

Comments: If you’ve got something you’d like to add to this or some constructive criticism you can do that at the bottom of this page. Just please be respectful. Any abusive or nonsensical comments will be deleted.

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***
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