Getting Oriented in Seoul—Hiking Up to Namsan Tower

Korea has no shortage of mountains. Yet, in Seoul, they are easily missed. An industrial cloud from China that scatters yellow dust and hangs just above the city’s densely packed skyline is partly to blame. Winding alleys crowded with markets, stalls, restaurants, street vendors, bars and quirky shops are also at fault. With so much […]

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My Cat Walks on a Leash

She responds to commands like “come,” “sit,” and “shake.” She also likes to go on road trips in my car. This all started around twenty years ago, well before she was ever born. In fact, at the time, I used to say I hated cats. I didn’t want anything to do with them. Fast-forward to […]

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On “Fluency”: My Chinese Language Learning Journey

For years now, a trickle of Chinese has come out of my mouth—occasional happen-stance interactions with strangers in airports, brief exchanges with people interested in trading English for Mandarin; and, of course, the on-again, off-again Skype lesson. Now that trickle has slowed and become an intermittent drop. It’s frustrating. Chinese Language and Literature was my […]

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Paul À Quebec: An Authentic French immersion experience

Reading Michel Rabagliati’s graphic novel, Paul à Quebec, feels like a real immersion. The opening scene takes place on a highway in Quebec with Paul’s French-Canadian family. And for someone who’s never been there before, there’s so much to take in: the peculiar road signs written in French, weird tourist traps like parks with fake […]

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Why you should learn French on Netflix

You are never going to learn to speak French (or any language for that matter) if you treat is as a chore.  Continuous vocab drills and grammar exercises do nothing but eat away at your soul. Take time to unwind and prendre soin de soi. Grab a verre, kick your feet back and enjoy your […]

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How Pimsleur Helped Me Learn Dari and French

In 2017, I was sent to Afghanistan to work as an advisor to an Afghan police unit. During my first few weeks in country, I couldn’t help but feel flustered. Trapped by my inability to communicate, and suffocated by the intense sweltering heat of the unrelenting desert sun, I desperately wanted to get my point […]

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Experiential Learning—French for 48 hours in Montreal

I’m going to Montreal later this month to give myself the ultimate language proficiency test—by immersing myself in a French-speaking environment to see whether I can hack it. While Montreal is known to be a bilingual city, with plenty of fluent English speakers, I’m going to attempt to make it on my own there without […]

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Ditch The Textbook

A traditional language learning textbook is boring. It’s full of tables with dry grammar rules, hieroglyphic-like notes on pronunciation, and scenarios that just don’t seem to ever fully match that what we’re looking for. Luckily, with the advent of the internet, you don’t have to rely on such products any more. Depending on the language, […]

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How to Approach Learning a New Language

1) Make a list of all the things you want to be able to say and do. Figuring out where to start can seem daunting for most people. Some folks like to dive head first into a language and feel frustrated that they can’t have the complex emotional and philosophical discussions they’ve always dreamed of […]

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