#FlashSticksFriday – Review

My first ever review, yay!

So at the beginning of January, someone from the company FlashSticks contacted me and asked me what I knew about their product and said they’d seen my blog and would I be interested in writing a review for them? I said that I had briefly seen something about them on Pinterest and that yes I would – and here is that review for you now.

What I said I would do for them was both a video and text review (because I’ve never done a video before, so I thought it might be a plan to have some video to back it up) – and so here is that video, for all your viewing pleasure:

If you are not so interested in watching me ramble for 12 minutes with some seriously dodgy looking cuts (literally never made a video before; it is harder than it looks!), then the text review continues below…

Continue reading “#FlashSticksFriday – Review”

So, I have to confess…

Right, so I’ve just spent the past three days in Munich – which was fun for so many reasons – and I’ve been using my German, we went sightseeing, etc., but then on the four-hour train ride back to Vienna I started reading Fluent in 3 Months by Benny Lewis.

I know there are lots of divided opinions in the language-learning community about Benny’s approach and how he presents it; and I do want to point out, quickly, that that is not really the point of my post here. I do want to review the book at another time (probably in the first week of February, when I’ve had some time to digest it) but right now, I’m not thinking about that.

What I like about Benny is that – in spite of opinions about all of that – he gets me incredibly enthusiastic about learning languages. I can see the flaws in his methods, but his enthusiasm is infectious and if I feel a dip in my motivation, sometimes reading his posts picks me up again.

So, the book got me thinking about what I’m doing right now. And I thought about it – and I thought about a conversation I’d had with one of the teachers I work with at school on Thursday – and I realised something.

I don’t know why I’m learning German, and – worst of all – I am not using my time here in any way effectively.

Continue reading “So, I have to confess…”

Learning Slovak – With Difficulty!

We’re three weeks into this year now and that means three-quarters of the way through the uTalk challenge… and there is the slightest possibility that I am not doing as well as I had hoped.



I’m perhaps a quarter of the way through the lessons on the app – and I’ve not been super diligent about using it, either, which means that I’m losing all progress I’m making.

However, I am enjoying using the app in and of itself. The speaking game gets neglected, because I’m not willing to utter mangled Slovak to my phone on the train to and from school, but the memory game in particular is a fun one. So yes, the app is cute and user-friendly and useful – but there are some things I’m going to need to do in the next week to make sure that it’s useful to me as a whole.

For one, I’m going to have to find a guide to Slovak pronunciation somewhere and practice it. Most letters seem to have the same or similar sounds as English (or German), but there are some that just don’t make any sense to me; and this means that even if I slow the speaker speed to half of normal, I don’t quite catch how they’re saying it.

Second, I’m going to have to dedicate some time to doing the speaking game – and just pronouncing the words in general. Speaking is my weakest skill in any language (even, I dare say, in English), but it isn’t helped by the fact that Slovak is the first Slavic language I’ve tried in any depth and getting my mouth around those consonants is kind of difficult. Practice will get me there, but I need to remember to do that.

Finally, I have to make sure I spend time on the app in general. I’m going to set myself a target of 10 minutes a day from tomorrow until Friday 29th (I’m going to Rome the final weekend of January, so I don’t know if I’ll have time to use the app much) – which is only 80 minutes total, but it’s really getting myself onto the app that’s the important thing. After that, I tend to play on it for a while.

So yeah, that’s where I’m at. Oh, and here’s a screenshot of my (low) score, for those of you interested:

IMG_4380How’s everyone else getting on with the challenge? I know one of the EuroTalk staff has finished the whole app already, wooh! How’s everything else going this January? Let me know! 🙂


Mid-January Update (OR: I haven’t actually gone into hibernation I promise)


Honestly, it’s been a quick-fire couple of weeks for me. I’m surprised because January is usually the most sluggish of months – it kind of feels like a long nap punctuated by periods of activity, but this year hasn’t been like that at all. About half of that is down to the fact that I’m working (and working in a job where I have to be at least semi-conscious, lest I miss some of the gems that the students tell me in class) and the other half is that I just have to get everything done myself – there’s no one to pick up my slack.

So although I signed myself up for a bunch of different challenges in those last few days of 2014, I’ve found that I’ve not been making quite as much progress as I’d have liked. Really, what else is new – so I’ve resolved to not worry myself about it too much. However, I have managed to get a few points on the uTalk app for that challenge (Slovak is hard; I’m not used to all those consonants!) and I’ve completed a handful of days for the A Polyglot New Year challenge.

I’ve also finally settled on some tangible goals for the year, which is nice. I’m sure I won’t achieve all of them but it’s something to work towards for the next twelve months.

This is really a short and sweet kind of entry – but I have some more things planned for the rest of January, including how I feel about the uTalk challenge, how my Spanish is going (hint: I definitely need to put in more effort) and, crucially, how I’m planning to motivate myself after this weird New Year slump (as well as some surprises, of course).

How are you feeling about January? Are you racing through the days, feeling all motivated and energised? Or are you in a kind of slump too? Let me know! 🙂