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Blog my lingo

Updated: May 22, 2022

As a polyglot and linguaphile, I spend a lot of my time thinking about, studying and absorbing languages; and as a translator, I am constantly striving to produce well-written texts in English, conveying the message of the source text without falling into the traps of interference and overly literal or unintelligible translation. The aim of this blog is to share the media and methods I use to enhance, extend and perfect my linguistic and translation skills.

Maintaining/improving your foreign languages

Keeping your language(s) fluid and up-to-date is a challenge for any linguist and I have found out first-hand that 'if you don't use it, you lose it'! What works for me is to allocate a day of the week to each language (French, Spanish, Italian and German), doing as many activities as time permits in the language of the day. A few examples:

  • Podcasts: there are so many out there, whatever your level, and it's surprising how many hours of listening you can get in during everyday activities (walking the dog, cooking, doing housework, working out, gardening etc).

  • TV: series and films in original language versions are aplenty - indulge in some productive binge-watching!

  • Reading: fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, online news, blog posts - much better than doom-scrolling...

  • Apps: you're spoilt for choice, but my app of choice is Duolingo - don't lose that streak (or the owl will get you and your family!).

  • Exercise: there's an abundance of free content on YouTube in multiple languages; whether you're into yoga, HIIT, calisthenics, there's something for everyone.

  • Language exchange: If face-to-face isn't possible, Skype or Zoom calls are a great alternative, and speaking your foreign languages is indispensable for maintaining fluency.

  • Online: trawling through the seemingly never-ending content online is intimidating and time-consuming, but you can find some real gems. Ditch the grammar books and pick and choose the subjects that interest you - language-learning becomes so much more engaging!

In future posts, I'll share the things I'm listening to, watching and doing for each of my languages.

Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

Other than perfecting my languages, I'm committed to CPD, both in terms of translation and my specialisms (and areas of interest that I hope to convert into specialisms). Affiliation to translation organisations, training, webinars, peer learning, reading books, magazines and blogs about translation and my subject fields, listening to podcasts - there are countless resources out there to become a more enlightened and skilled translator. Keep a lookout for my regular(ish) roundup of translation titbits!

And finally...

How many languages is enough...? Inspired by polyglots such as Steve Kaufmann and Olly Richards, I'm continuing on my linguistic journey and have embarked upon the doubtless long and torturous path through the complex but beautiful Russian language. I've heard some polyglots say that it takes an average of two years to learn a new language. Of course, it all depends on the language and the time and effort you are willing or able to commit. I'll keep you posted on my methods and progress, in case anyone wants to join me...

I would love to hear from other linguists about how you keep your skills alive - please share any suggestions or interesting info in the comments.

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