Showing posts from 2012

Wordle Word Cloud

Have you heard about "word cloud"? Have you seen any visual representation for text data that shows tag label in different font sizes and forms like "cloud"? I have just found an interesting website called Wordle . It is very easy to use it. Click on "Create" in the menu bar, and then you can see whether you want to paste a bunch of text or paste URL of any website. Finally, leave the rest for the program and you may want to modify font type, color, or even play around with the "Randomize" button. 

Polyglot Discussion

I encountered a video that may boost your motivation in language learning. This one-hour video is awesome. I believe not only me but also those who are interested in languages may learn a lot from it. The video was broadcasted live on Saturday, December 15th, 2012 at 8 PM GMT. Eight polyglots from around the world met together to share their language learning strategies and their language learning experiences. 

Multilingual Taiwanese Bus Driver

This funny video comes from Taichung (台中) city in Central Taiwan. In the video, the driver speaks mostly two languages, Chinese Mandarin and Taiwanese, which I believe to be his native languages. However, you can also listen to him saying names of places in foreign languages, such as German, Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese. He also greets passengers in several languages, such as Japanese, Cantonese, and Thai.

Speak to Me in Many Languages

It is an ugly truth to say that students can get bored in class, moreover, when it is Monday morning. I was sitting at the back doodling, until I got an idea, "I am going to write my name and a sentence in several languages." Thus, I searched online for foreign language sentences and I found that Omniglot has them. I limit the number of languages to those that I am familiar with, such as Russian, Korean, Chinese Mandarin, English, Spanish, Cantonese, Indonesian, and Latvian. What do you think about it?

Language Battlefield

我很喜歡中文  man patīk latviešu ik vind de Nederlandse erg leuk me gusta mucho Español Я люблю русский язык "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart." ~Nelson Mandela

Get some inspirations!

Which is the easiest language? How many speakers of the language? How important is the language? Which is the most popular language? And the list goes on...

A Greek Who Speaks 32 Languages

If you think that speaking two or three languages is awesome, you will not believe the person I am going to show. Ioannis Ikonomou, a polyglot (a person who knows several languages) comes from Greece, is a translator in the European Commission (EC) in Brussels. He began his language journey by learning English as a foreign language at the age of six. Then, it was continuing to German, Italian, Russian, Turkish, Arabic, and the list goes on. He currently speaks 32 languages! Among them is Chinese Mandarin . Thus, he has spent several months working in Beijing, China as the only in-house translator that EC trusts to translate classified Chinese documents.

10+ Multilingual Celebrities

What a nice day today! I am still enjoying teaching language. Have I mentioned that I am an Indonesian, Mandarin and English language tutor? Learning and teaching languages have always been my passion. I am always keen on learning foreign languages, and communicating with people in foreign languages, or simply listening to foreign languages on TV and radio.

Know It Further - the Netherlands

Knowing about the language is interesting, yet it is not enough. The culture and local customs have also offered other interesting facts. Come and check what I have found about the Netherlands. You can see here many interesting facts about the Netherlands. For instance, cyclists have the complete right of the way, and there are 9.1% more bicycles than the people.

Dutch - Ik spreek Nederlands

Another language challenge: Dutch. I have never thought before about learning Dutch until I encountered the opportunity. One of my classmates is Dutch and he works in the university as a Dutch language tutor , which means the tutoring class is free for students. Then, I thought, "Why not grasp the chance?"

Forever a student: My multilingual recording in 11 languages

I found an interesting article about language. Vladimir, a native of Slovak, who is living in Taiwan, shares his experience in 11 languages in a different level of fluency.

Translating Articles

This may seem to be a complex and time-consuming work to do. However, judging from the improvement that I can get, I am quite satisfied with this method. I usually search for a news article that fits my interest on the Internet. Then, I will paste them into word processing software, such as Ms. Word, print it out, and I can start translating.

The Beauty of Chinese Character

People who have studied Chinese must realize that Chinese character is not just a character, but it is also an art. Every stroke in the character forms a beautiful combination of a meaning. It is said that Chinese character evolves from time to time based on the actual object. Although I cannot say that it is 100% true, there are books about Chinese pictogram. For example, you can see below how "sun" and "moon" was written in the past and the evolution of it until nowadays. Characters 日 and 月, on far right, are the characters used today. 

Oppa Gangnam Multilingual Style



Here it is, another Chinese proficiency exam opportunity. This one is only a pilot test and it is free. I definitely will attend this exam. Need to study harder and smarter to beat this fifth level. I have been struggling with the fifth level since last year.  By the way, the fifth level is the last level in the exam. Therefore, it is obviously not easy. However, I need to pass it as long as I still have the chance to take the exam. 

Why should we really be learning Russian?

Why should we really be learning Russian ?  The Russian Language is a resource of the international communication between nations of the Russian Federation and the CIS (Community of Independent States – former Soviet Republics) Russian is one of the six official and working languages of the UN (United Nations) Russia’s new openness has lead within the last ten years to the consolidation of economic, political and cultural ties of Russia with Europe, USA, and Asia. Russia is integrating into the world economy fast Russian writers and poets create many of the world-known literature masterpieces: Griboyedov, Pushkin, Lermontov, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Yesenin, Akhmatova, etc The Russian Language helps to approach the mysterious Russian soul

Latvian Television Online

In this rapidly growing technology era, you can do many activities through the Internet, including watching TV. Latvian people may now view a variety of TV channels online from a few commercial channels from Rīga to regional broadcasters, such as Latgales Televīzija. Apart from that, Russian broadcasters have also found their way into the Latvian market. Customers with cable or satellite connection may also enjoy various TV channels from Western Europe and beyond. Several Latvian online TV broadcasters are listed as follows:

How not to forget languages you have learned by Steve Kaufmann

Here is another good video from Steve that I found. It is about how not to forget the language you have learned or even your native language. This serious matter is happening to me. I was on phone a few days ago with a high school teacher. He surprisingly told me that my accent has changed. I personally do not realize my accent. Living far away from home has made me speaking in foreign languages every day. However, it does not mean that I am forgetting my language.

24H Songs

I have good news for everyone. A friend just gave me a wonderful website a few days ago. On this website, you can listen to songs in several languages, such as Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Cantonese, etc. for 24-hours non-stop. I have been using it recently. It is called 廣播電台.com . It is a good website for people like me who love listening to songs almost every day no matter what I am doing. I even will leave the song played in the background when I am in the bathroom.

Multitasking Language

I have just realized something recently in the middle of my shower. Yes, shower! Unbelievably, I got a lot of inspirations and ideas during the shower. That is quite funny! Anyway, I have just realized that I am using several languages simultaneously every day! Let me break them down. 

Recent Updates

It has been two weeks since I posted my last article. I have been so busy these days with language learning and with programming language learning, or simply human language and computer language as I prefer. 

Summer Chinese

Finally, summer break is here. How do you usually spend your summer break? Do you travel? Do you work? Whatever it is, I suggest you spend on something meaningful. As for me, I enrolled myself in a Summer Chinese program offered by National Taiwan Normal University 國立台灣師範大學 . I am going to hit it hard this time. Therefore, I am busy every day from Monday to Friday with Chinese class. 

Hardest Languages to Learn


American Language

I have been learning English for a long time. If I am not wrong, it was since before I went to kindergarten. It has been an important foreign language ever because it is still an international language until today. Although English is not widely spoken in Indonesia, a large number of English words can be found on products, games, or advertisements.

The Power of Español

According to my Lonely Planet's Latin American Spanish phrasebook & dictionary , 300 million speak Latin American Spanish as their first language and 100 million speak Latin American Spanish as their second language.

Spanish, English, and Indonesian

I have been learning Spanish for approximately half a year. It is going well so far. I can understand basic daily conversation phrases. However, the grammar, such as tenses, is giving me tension. I began to be attracted to Spanish when I found out that there are many similar words between Indonesian and Spanish. Moreover, there are many Spanish-speaking students here at the university. Most of them come from Central and South America. It is quite interesting when I can understand what they are talking about.

Alex Rawlings, Oxford University Student, Speaks 11 Languages

I was surprised when I read the news about this polyglot. It was amazing. His name is Alex Rawlings from London. He is 20 years old and he speaks 11 languages — English, Greek, German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Afrikaans, French, Hebrew, Catalan, and Italian.  I cannot imagine myself speaking 11 languages, still far away from that. I wonder how he can do that. 

My Failed Chinese Test

I have prepared so much for this test as soon as I finished the previous test in November last year. This is the last level of Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL). Therefore, it is indeed not easy. It is called Level 5 or equivalent with C1 in Common European Framework Reference for Languages (CEFR). I passed Level 4 on the previous test on November last year, which means my level is B2. 

用中文來estudiar español

Recently I have been challenging myself to study Spanish in Mandarin! After failing the last Chinese (Mandarin) proficiency exam (I will write more about it in another post), something has triggered my enthusiasm to do more with Mandarin. Back to the Spanish, you can see the book that I am using for Spanish in the picture. I choose easy material at the beginning. This book contains daily conversations, such as greetings, transportation, restaurant, etc. I still can understand much without looking at the Mandarin translation so far. Therefore, everything is quite good for now.

No Language called Chinese

You may have encountered many situations where people refer "Chinese" as Mandarin. This is somehow confusing. Based on small research that I have done, Mandarin is not actually a name of a language. It refers to one of seven Chinese dialects, the Beijing dialect, which becomes the official language in China. It is generally called "Mandarin Chinese" or "Mandarin". It is called Putonghua 普通話 in China, Guoyu 國語 in Taiwan and Huayu 華語 in Singapore.

Learn in a Foreign Language

Have you ever thought about learning a foreign language in another language? This is what I have been doing so far. I learn many languages in English, which is a foreign language for me. If I were asked about the difficulty, well, I have not encountered any difficulty in learning languages in English. Perhaps, English has become my almost-native language. I use it anytime, anywhere. Because of the frequent use of English, I feel quite strange when I switch that to Indonesian. I feel strange too when I use my father's computer, which is in Indonesian language interface .

Learn Mandarin: New Method

I have been quite busy preparing for my Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL) exam, a Mandarin certification exam held twice annually. There are five levels and I started from the third level. I passed the third and fourth level in the same year, which I did not believe that I could make it. It left me with the highest level, the fifth level. I have taken twice pre-test on this level and I scored quite badly 47 and 44. Honestly, this level is really challenging. The minimum passing grade is 62. The formal test will be on early May, so it is one month later.

My Language Background

Many friends asked me about how many languages I know.  I was born in Medan, Indonesia. Luckily, Indonesia is a diverse country and so does Medan. You can find the diversity of Medan in almost anything, such as ethnicity, culture, language, culinary.

Latvian Language

Latvian is quite an interesting and challenging language to learn. The pronunciation is simple, what you see is how you read. However, I should say that the grammar is quite difficult for me. There are two genders: masculine and feminine. Then, there are different words for masculine singular and masculine plural and feminine singular and feminine plural. Therefore, there are four forms for a word! 

Singing Latvian Songs

I sometimes think that singing in a foreign language is easier than speaking in the foreign language. I don't know why but that is what I feel. What about you? Here are videos of me singing in the Latvian language, a language that I have been learning for a year. I have never thought that singing in Latvian will be so much easier than constructing the sentence.

Watch Listen Online (WLO)

The Internet has changed our lives so much, even about watching and listening. Here are several WLO websites that I have got through my friendships. Million thanks to my friends that have contributed these websites.

Blogging in Foreign Language

I used to wonder why many of my friends write blogs in foreign languages. English was my choice of content language when I wrote a blog in high school. I did that because I am interested in writing in a foreign language. Several advantages that I can achieve by composing writings in this way are improving the habit to exercise writing skill, and having the chance to put my English in practice. English has been widely used in education, society, and almost anywhere. Several people have even created their own English styles because of the influence of their local languages.


This website seems to be a good reference for language learning. I found it while I was searching for Latvian grammar. There is much information on the website, such as a writing system, phrases, language learning strategy, references, etc. I shall spend several days checking on the contents. I hope that I can get what I want from here.

Tim: The Young Polyglot

I came across  news about a young polyglot, a 16 years old multilingual speaker two days ago on Facebook. He is amazing, inspiring, and whatever you name it. It is just so cool! I checked on his YouTube, PolyglotPal , and found out that he speaks 11 languages! If you think speaking 3 languages is awesome, Tim with his 11 languages is absolutely more than awesome! I wonder how he can manage to learn all of those languages. His methods of learning are obviously something that I need to learn. He started his language video while he was 15 and he is 16 now. He has acquired so much in just 1 year. That is incredible! 


From my experience learning several languages, I have realized that I understand better in listening/ reading more than speaking/ writing in the beginning. I would categorize listening and reading into "Input", and speaking and writing into "Output"

My Learning Material

I have used many materials for language learning and I found out that I like Teach Yourself material more than others do. I like the way it is arranged from chapter to chapter. Learners will start by reading the general knowledge about the language, such as how popular it is. The alphabets, examples, conversation dialogues are well arranged. Learners can learn the vocabulary little by little from conversation dialogues and the corresponding grammar. Therefore, the focus of this learning material is the conversation. The learner can apply directly the conversation in real life situation. The conversations illustrate several real-life situations, such as checking bus schedules, ordering food in a restaurant, etc.

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