Yo! After a 1.5+ year long nerve injury and the general life changes of graduating from college, I'm done with Powlyglot. If I find myself sharing my language experience in another format later on, I'll probably link to it here, on my personal site, or on Twitter at @mpvboehme. Thanks for reading.
Hack Your Hobbies for Everyday Language Immersion

Hack Your Hobbies for Everyday Language Immersion

You just got home late after a long day of classes or work. Maybe you had an exam, or a big project due. You’re tired.

Now what’s more likely to be your next move after such a long day – will you diligently set out to complete your daily tasks, or will you resolve to let yourself relax for the night watching House of Cards?

I know there are many days where I’ve been lured in by that second option – after all, all work and no play? That sounds really boring.

But when this becomes a habit it can have devastating effects on your language-learning goals. It’s incredibly easy to forget what you’re not using, and unless you already have a high skill level in the language(s) you’re studying, you’re going to see that skill level drop quickly.

Neither one of us wants that to happen.

So what if your relaxation was also a form of studying?

Luckily, with the invention of the internet and an ever-metaphorically-shrinking globe, it’s pretty easy to make sure you can get a daily dose of immersion without giving up your precious free time.

Here are some ways I’ve been working on my language skills, even on the off days.

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Should You Learn More Than One Language at Once?

Should You Learn More Than One Language at Once?

Should I learn more than one language at once? This question is the bane of aspiring polyglots everywhere, myself recently included. What I thought wouldn’t be a big deal ended up making these last couple months some of the most disorganized and busy months of my life.

Here are my experiences trying to learn 3 new languages at once, why it didn’t work, and whether or not I think you should try to learn more than one language at a time.

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MindSnacks: Game-Based Language Learning on iOS

MindSnacks: Game-Based Language Learning on iOS

Last year, I went looking for some good language apps to install on my iPod touch. What I found was MindSnacks – now one of my favorite apps for studying a language. Although they’re only available on iOS at the moment, MindSnacks has an app for Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, and Italian.

After using MindSnacks long enough to go through an entire redesign and becoming an ambassador of sorts for their brand, I’ve got some pretty good things to say.

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Practice Chinese Like the Judoon

Practice Chinese Like the Judoon

For those of you who watch Doctor Who, you may remember the Judoon – a rhinoceros-headed alien species that are often employed as mercenaries. You probably also remember the way they speak, with rapid-fire single-syllable words almost always ending with an ‘o’. But did you know that studying how the Judoon speak can help you with your Chinese?

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How to Boost Your Vocabulary with OVA

How to Boost Your Vocabulary with OVA

10,000; 20,000; 60,000; 7,000,000 – how many words do you think you know in your native tongue?

Okay, so maybe 7,000,000 is a little high, but you get the point. Natively speaking a language means you probably know a ton of words.

Now – how many words do you know in the language you’re learning?

If you’re anything like me, the numbers have a bit of distance between them. That is, you know gallons more (yes, gallons) words in your native language than your target language.

Naturally, we want to raise that smaller number a bit – but how do we do that?

With a concept I like to call Organic Vocabulary Acquisition, or OVA, for short. I call it this because I think this is one of the most natural ways to get the vocabulary that’s useful to you – I also particularly enjoy this terminology because I pronounce “OVA” like Jay-Z pronounces “HOVA”, and it makes it easy to remember.

But before we get started, there are a couple things we’ll want to have prepared to best make use of this technique.

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