French Grammar Rules: Reading Le Passé Simple

There is one French verb tense that you will likely only come across in literature, the passé simple. French tutor Carol Beth L. shows you how to recognize and understand this tense…

The passé simple is a unique tense in the French language. Perhaps one or two centuries ago, it was commonly used like the simple past in English. For example:

  • J’allai au magasin.
    I went to the store.
  • Je couru deux kilometres.
    I ran two kilometers.

The passé simple is similar to the simple past in English in that it condenses the past tense into a single word, instead of using two parts. But with the passage of time, language changes. The passé simple fell into disuse in spoken French, in favor of the passé composé and the imparfait.

But in writing, authors still preferred using the passé simple to speak about the past. In effect, it became a literary tense. In modern times, authors are beginning to use it less frequently to make their writing sound more like everyday spoken language.

But many important works through the mid to late 20th century still use the passé simple. Want to read Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s famous Le Petit Prince in its original form, for example? You’ll need to be able to recognize the passé simple.

Conjugating Regular Verbs in The Passé Simple

For regular verbs, formation of the passé simple is not too difficult. Like other verbal forms, remove the ending (-er, –ir, and –re) and add the appropriate endings. See below for an example of an –er verb, an –ir verb, and an –re verb.

French Verbs Passe Simple

Conjugating Irregular Verbs in Le Passé Simple

Beyond these basic forms, irregular verbs also have irregular roots. It is helpful to think of the accent circonflex (^) as being the first reliable part of the ending, and the vowel upon which it sits as being sometimes determined by the vowel patterns of the verb itself. For example, for the verb avoir (to have), in the past tense is j’ai eu. The past participle eu comes back as the root for the passé simple, and the circonflex sits nicely on the “u.”

J’ → eus
Tu → eus
Il/elle/on → eut
Nous → eûmes
Vous → eûtes
Ils/elles → eurent

The roots for most irregular verbs, however, do come back in some form or another in one of the verb’s other tenses, or looks similar in some way. Here are the roots for some irregular verbs in French:

aller (to go) →  all-
pouvoir (to be able) → pu-
connaitre (to be familiar with) → connu-
devoir (to have an obligation), → du-
naître (to be born) → naqu-
savoir (to know) → su-
venir (to come) → vin-
tenir (to hold) → tin-

The Verb Être

Probably one of the most difficult verbs to recognize in the passé simple is the verb être. However, it is also one of the most common and most easily recognizable. Its conjugation is as follows:

Je → fus
Tu→  fus
Il → fut
Nous → fûmes
Vous → fûtes
Ils → furent

Time to Practice!

Many teachers will tell you that the most important thing to master about the passé simple is recognition. For everyday, common usage of French, that is true.

To take yourself to another level, however, try to master its usage, as well. Here are a few exercises to begin your practice. For the sake of simplicity, conjugate each verb in the passé simple; don’t worry about other past tenses for now.

1) Nous ________ (être) au parc.
We were at the park.
2) Tu ________ (avoir) cinq ans.
You were five years old.
3) Tu ________ (tenir) la main de ta soeur, la soeur qui ________ (être) aussi ta meilleure amie.
You held your sister’s hand, the sister who was also your best friend.
4) Nos parents ________ (parler) de leur propres enfances innocents.
Our parents spoke of their own innocent childhoods.
5) Ils ________ (finir) leur conversation et un coup de tonnerre ________ (éclater).
They finished their conversation and a clap of thunder struck.
6) Trop tôt, il ________ (être) temps de rentrer.
Too soon, it was time to go home.

Check your conjugations below:

1) fûmes
2) eus
3) tenis, fut
4) parlèrent
5) finirent, éclata
6) fut

Did you do all right? Now try creating some of your own.

Want to learn more about the passé simple? Taking lessons with a private instructor is a great way to master new topics of the French language. Search for your French tutor today!

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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Words of Wisdom: 11 Drummers Share Their Best Advice for Beginners

When you’re learning to play drums, it’s important to remember that it takes hard work, determination, and patience in order to improve.

It may be a slow process, but don’t get discouraged; even experienced drummers had to start somewhere.

Need some inspiration? Here, 11 experienced drummers share their best advice for beginners.


1 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Never stop learning from everyone around you. Confidence, skill, dedication, and determination will ensure you go far!”

#NeverStop – @lindsaybird44 – Ontario, Canada drummer for @DirtyJeans


2 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Never give up and don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t play because your’e different. And no matter what you do, love what you’re doing. Smile and have fun! It’s what music is all about.”

@Jynyates – professional drum set and percussion teacher


3 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Take lessons. They give you a solid basis to build on until you’re ready to step out and explore on your own. You can never be too good at rudiments!”

@harryomatic – drummer for JuneBug


4 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“When it comes to getting good at anything, you have to put in the time; practice, practice, practice. Take lessons and learn from anyone and everyone. Play, play, play, and always have fun!”

@Richredmond – drummer, producer, and author


5 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Practice from the head, play from the heart.”

@Jonesylessons – Ireland session player and teacher


6 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Get a metronome, and always practice with it. It will help you keep time. And practice hard and don’t give up on your dreams.”

@drummerboi911Hole Dug Deep drummer


7 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Make it your passion! Even the simplest of lessons can be an intense learning experience! Also, watch ALL drummers and absorb what you see!

@jeffpagedrums – Burbank, CA drum teacher, drummer for @alicecooperland @theremotesband and @its_memargaret


8 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“I tell my students who struggle learning a new beat: If you can sing it, you can (almost) play it.” #rhythmisamelody

#rhythmisamelody – @beckbeat – touring drummer and songwriter


9 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Practicing without goals is like playing basketball without a hoop.”

@keithperc – Salt Lake City musician and educator


10 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Live in the pocket. This is so crucial. Play for the band and not for yourself; your career will go a long way!”

@MattPanaMitchell Grey drummer


11 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Learn the 40 rudiments early in your drumming career and NEVER stop practicing them! Mastering these will enhance your creativity behind the kit when playing beats and fills. Practice the rudiments on a practice pad and then apply them to the drum kit using multiple drums, cymbals, and even your feet.”

@MikeD_rums – New Jersey-based drummer

Follow these words of wisdom, keep practicing, and stick with. Before you know it, you’ll be an experienced drummer just like these guys, and beginner drummers will look to you for your advice!

Ready to get started? Search for a drum teacher near you! 

Photo by Anais

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Manga Madness: 8 Artists and Writers You Don’t Want to Miss at Comic-Con

Manga madness

Great news for all you manga, comic book, and anime fans, the best artists and writers in the business will be featured guests this summer at Comic-Con International 2015 in downtown San Diego.

Comic-Con International: San Diego is the year’s premiere event to promote comic books, films, artwork, science fiction literature, and more. What started as a single-day event in 1970, has turned into a four-day convention and one of the most highly-anticipated events of the year.

To get you ready for Comic-Con 2015, here is a roundup of the Asian-American writers and artists who will be at the event.

Make sure to check the website for schedules and up-to-date event information, but for now, here’s a roundup of the Asian-American writers and artists you can see at Comic-Con.

Michael Cho

michale cho

Photo from illoz

Michael Cho is a Korean-American illustrator and cartoonist. You may have seen his work in “Batman Black and White” and “X-Men First Class.”

The talented artist was born in Seoul, South Korea and moved to Canada with his family when he was six years old. He began drawing at a young age, and attended the Ontario College of Art.

In addition to his work for Marvel and DC, Cho has also written graphic novels. His first graphic novel, “Shoplifter,” debuted on the New York Times Best Sellers List in 2014.

Cho will be a special guest at Comic-Con International 2015.

Learn more about Michael Cho and his artwork here.

Jim Lee

Jim lee dc

Photo from DC Comics

Jim Lee is a writer, editor, artist, and the co-publisher of DC Entertainment.

Lee has done artwork for many of DC Comics’ most popular comic books including “All-Star Batman and Robin,” “The Boy Wonder,” and “Superman: For Tomorrow.”

The multi-talented Korean American was born in Seoul, South Korea, but relocated to St. Louis Missouri with his family. He started his career with his work on X-Men for Marvel Comics.

Although Lee began drawing at a young age, he studied Psychology at Princeton University. After taking an art class in college and realizing his passion for drawing, Lee changed his course from the medical field to the comic book world.

Find out more about Jim Lee here.

Kazuki Takahashi


Photo from MyAnimeList

If you’re a manga fan, you probably already know a thing or two about Kazuki Takahashi. The Japanese-American artist created “Yu-Gi-Oh!“, one of the most successful and most popular manga series of all time.

Since the creation of “Yu-Gi-Oh!” in 1996, there have been several spinoffs, an anime series, and feature films.

The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game has sold over 25 billion cards and is the best-selling trading card game of all time.

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V will premiere in the United States later this year.

Takahashi will be a special guest at Comic-Con, and fans in attendance will be able to see a Q&A panel with the artist.

Jillian Tamaki

Jillian Tamaki is an illustrator and cartoonist. She grew up in Canada and graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design. She is of mixed Japanese and Canadian descent.

Tamaki has been a professional illustrator since 2003, and has done illustrations for magazines and newspapers, cartoons for graphic novels, and she currently writes for the TV show “Adventure Time.”

Tamaki created the webcomic “SuperMutant Magic Academy,” and she collaborates with her cousin, writer Mariko Tamaki, on the graphic novels “SKIM” and “This One Summer.”

Mariko Tamaki


Photo from Comic-Con

The other half of the dynamic duo who co-created “SKIM” and “This One Summer,” Mariko Tamaki writes graphic novels, comics, and young adult novels.

The award-winning writer started out as a non-fiction author before switching to the young adult genre.

“The complexities of Tamaki’s stories perhaps are a reflection of her own life,” says writer Jessica Yang. “She grew up noticing the differences between the two cultures she was a part of – Japanese and Caucasian.”

You can catch her as a special guest at Comic-Con, but until then, learn more about Mariko Tamaki here.


Besides guests and panelists at Comic-Con, even more famous artists will be featured on Artist’s Alley, where individuals set up and display their artwork. Fans can buy original artwork, comics, and prints directly from the artists.

Here are some of the artists you will find at this year’s event.

Willie Ito

willie ito

Photo from Comic-Con

Willie Ito is a Japanese-American artist and animation legend.

Ito received the Inkpot Award at Comic-Con 2014 for 60 years of achievement in art and animation.

In addition to his work on “Yogi Bear” and “The Flinstones,” Ito did animation work for “Lady and the Tramp.” He worked on the historic “spaghetti kissing scene” with his mentor Iawao Takamoto.

Edwin Huang


Photo from Twitter @Ironpinky

Edwin Huang is a comic artist and illustrator. He studied at The School of Visual Arts in 2010, and works for UDON Entertainment and Image Comics.

The Chinese-American artist has done artwork for various video games including Street Fighter, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Skullkickers.

Billy Tan

Billy Tan is a Malaysian-American comic book artist.

Tan worked on the Marvel Comics series “Uncanny X-Men,” and the “New Avengers Secret Invasion.”

He has also worked on “Tomb Raider,” “Tales of Witchblade,” and Spirit of the Tao.

Don’t miss these artists and writers at Comic-Con 2015. Keep checking back for more event information and updates!

Who are you excited to see at Comic-Con? Let us know in the comments below!

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Japanese Verbs

It’s All in the Past: Conjugating Past Tense Japanese Verbs

Japanese Verbs

Want to learn to describe past events in Japanese? Here, Ann Arbor, MI teacher Elaina R. shares some helpful hints to conjugate past tense Japanese verbs…

Unfortunately, past tense verbs are not as easy to conjugate as present tense and future tense Japanese verbs. Past tense Japanese verbs are still surprisingly simple to conjugate, however, compared with verbs in many European languages.

By breaking down the different verb endings and learning some memorization tips, you can give yourself a jump start to describe the past in Japanese.

Using Past Tense in Japanese

Japanese past tense is much like English past tense. It’s used to describe events that have already happened.  For example, “I saw a film,” is 映画を見た in informal past tense.

The Japanese past tense can also be used as the equivalent to the past perfect tense in English. “I have seen that film” is “あの映画を見た” in informal past tense; the only thing I had to add was the word “that.”

Past Informal Japanese Verb Endings

Past informal Japanese verb endings for consonant-stem verbs are kind of tricky, so let’s start with vowel-stem verbs and irregular verbs.

Verb Type  Conjugation Example
Vowel-Stem Verbs Stem+ta miru (みる) → mita (みた)
kuru (くる) and suru (する) Stem+ita kuru (くる) → kita (きた)
suru (する) →   shita (した)

To conjugate consonant-stem verbs into informal past tense verbs, we have to sort them into five categories.

Verb Ending  Conjugation Example
-ku Stem+ita naku (なく) → naita (ないた) – cry/cried
-gu Stem+ida oyogu (およぐ) → oyoida (およいだ) – swim/swam
-su Stem+shita kaisu (かいす) → kaishita (かいした) – give back/gave back
-nu, -bu, mu Stem+nda tobu (とぶ) → tonda (とんだ) – fly/flew
-u, -tsu, -ru Stem+tta utsuru (うつる) → utsutta (うつった) – reflect/reflected

This may seem like a lot to remember, but here are some helpful hints:

  • Try memorizing just one conjugation in each category. If you work backwards, you can figure out the rule from the verb. For instance, if you know that the past tense of nomu (to drink) is nonda (drank), you can infer that the –mu stem changes to –nda in the past tense.
  • Utsuru is a Japanese word with several meanings, including “to reflect” and “to transfer” (a disease). If you remember this word, you can remember that –u, -tsu, and –ru verb endings are all in the same group.

Formal Past Tense Japanese Verbs

After all that work, you may be relieved that formal past tense is a breeze. Instead of –masu, the present-tense ending, past tense formal uses the verb ending –mashita.

Verb Type  Conjugation Example
Vowel-Stem Verbs Stem+mashita mimashita (みました)
Consonant-Stem Verbs Stem+i+mashita arukimashita (あるきます)
kuru (くる) and suru (する) Stem+imashita kimashita (きました)
shimasu (しました)


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Practicing Past Tense in Japanese

As with everything, practice makes perfect. With past tense Japanese verbs, your Japanese teacher may recommend mastering the easier formal verb endings first before moving on to the more complex consonant-stem informal verb endings.

With some elbow grease and the right teacher, it wont take long to learn to talk about bygones in Japanese.

Want to learn more Japanese grammar? Find a Japanese teacher near you! 

Elaina RPost Author: Elaina R.
Elaina R. teaches singing in Ann Arbor, MI. She is acquainted with many languages and speaks English, Japanese, Italian, and German. She earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California, and she is currently working on her Master of Music from the University of Michigan. Learn more about Elaina here!

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Translating French to English

3 Important Tips When Translating French to English

Translating French to English

Translating French to English is a common way to study the language and improve your skills. Tutor Nadia B. shares three big tips so you don’t get lost in translation…

Are you learning French and need to translate some of your French homework into English? Or perhaps you want to translate a French text just to be sure that you have understood the meaning?

Translation is a useful tool for improving comprehension and fluency, so read on for three important tips for translating French to English. These tips will ensure you translate quickly and accurately on your first try!

1. Don’t translate idiomatic expressions literally.

There are many French expressions that shouldn’t be taken literally when translating French to English. The literal translation won’t reflect the meaning of the expression. If you come across an expression that, when translated literally makes no sense in context, you’ve probably found an idiomatic expression.

Here are some examples of French idiomatic expressions and how they can be translated into English:

  • une bouche d’incendie – fire hydrant (Since “bouche” means “mouth” in English, “a mouth of fire” isn’t a correct translation!)
  • une bonne fourchette – a hearty eater (or, literally, “a good fork,” but that lacks meaning to English speakers!)
  • faire le pont – to make a long weekend (literally, to make a bridge, but it refers to the French habit of taking a four-day break by adding Friday or Monday to the weekend plus the mid-week day that a holiday falls on)

To improve your skills when translating French to English, try to learn as many idiomatic expressions as possible. If you’re listening to a French speaker and you don’t understand an expression they use, inquire as to the meaning so you can continue to build your knowledge base. Over time, this will make French translation easier and more rapid as you draw on the knowledge you already possess.

2. Use online forums and dictionaries to get help when needed.

When translating French to English, sometimes you can get stuck with certain expressions or usages. If you just can’t figure out how to appropriately translate something, forums like WordReference offer valuable help from native French speakers and highly knowledgeable second-language French speakers. There is a huge archive of threads covering a wide range of topics in French, so you can type in a phrase or word to learn more details about it. After all, when possible it is always in your best interest to use human translation for the most accurate understanding.

Online French dictionaries are another excellent resource. A well-respected one is Larousse. Here, you can access a French-English dictionary, as well as a French monolingual dictionary, in which you can find words and definitions all in French. The monolingual dictionary can be an especially great way to increase your knowledge and your proficiency in French as you research your translation query.

3. Use cognates, but watch out for false cognates.

Cognates are a great help when trying to increase fluency in a language and translate quickly. Here is a short list of French-English cognates:

  • immense – immense
  • amusant – amusing, fun
  • la page – the page
  • la musique – the music
  • la tomate – the tomato
  • le candidat – the candidate
  • l’hôpital – the hospital

translating French to English

The only thing to remember with cognates is that there can also be faux amis (false cognates). These tricky French words sound like a word in English but are not equal in meaning. Here are some French false cognates to watch out for:

  • actuellement – currently (not actually)
  • attendre – to wait (not to attend)
  • assister – to attend (not to assist)
  • bras – arms (not bra)
  • blessé – injured (not blessed)
  • une librarie – bookshop (not library)
  • un raisin – grape (not raisin)

translating french to english

If you follow these three tips, you should be translating with confidence in no time! The more attention you pay to the details and work on increasing your vocabulary and knowledge of idiomatic expressions, the more you will find that your translations are accurate and thorough.

Want to learn more about translating French to English? Taking French lessons with a private tutor is a great way to increase your proficiency in the language, because you can receive individualized instruction that best fits your needs. Find your French teacher today!

Nadia BPost Author: Nadia B.
Nadia B. teaches Italian and piano in New York, NY, as well as through online lessons. She speaks Italian, English, and French and received her degree in Music Performance from New York University. Learn more about Nadia here!

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French Grammar

French Grammar Rules: Conjugating Verbs in the Conditional

French Grammar

If you knew how, would you use the conditional in this sentence? French tutor Carol Beth L. can help you find the answer…

As a beginner or intermediate French speaker, you have likely come across various French verb tenses, such as le présent, passé composéimparfait, futurand perhaps even the subjunctive mood. These various features of French grammar express particular time frames, such as what is happening, happened, will happen, or even what may or may not happen. But what about expressing what would have happened? For French speakers, that’s where le conditionnel comes in.

The conditional tense in French (le conditionnel) is used to express actions or events that can or will happen if certain conditions are met. Here are some examples:

  • J’irais au supermarché s’il était ouvert.
    I would go to the supermarket if it were open.
  • Elle assisterait a l’école si elle était assez agée.
    She would attend school if she were old enough.

Note that le conditionnel is used for the action that is NOT part of the “if” phrase. The second verb in these two examples is conjugated in the imparfait.

Le conditionnel can also be used on its own in a sentence if you are making a polite request or stating something you would like to see happen. Here are two examples:

  • Je voudrais du rosboeuf avec des pommes de terre.
    I would like some roast beef with potatoes.
  • J’aimerais aller au Quebec cet été.
    I’d like to go to Quebec this summer.

French Grammar Rules

How to Conjugate le Conditionnel

The conditional form is relatively easy to conjugate, because it combines roots and endings you have most likely seen before. Use the same root you would for le futur (usually the infinitive form of the verb, or the infinitive form minus a final -e where applicable), and add the same endings you would for the imparfait. For the verbs parler (a regular verb) and vouloir (which has an irregular root), the conjugations would look like this:

Je → parlerais, voudrais
Tu → parlerais, voudrais
Il/elle/on → parlerait, voudrait
Nous → parlerions, voudrions
Vous → parleriez, voudriez
Ils/Elles → parleraient, voudraient

If in doubt as to which roots are irregular, you can review some of the irregular future roots here.

French Grammar Rules

Time to Practice!

Now that you know how and when to use le conditionnel, try your hand at the example sentences below. Be careful with the sentences that contain two verbs: One will be conjugated using the imparfait, and the other using the conditionnel.

  1. Si j’ ___________ (étudier) avec lui, je ___________ (pouvoir) réussir mon exam.
    If I studied with him, I would be able to pass my exam successfully.
  2. Ils ___________ (aimer) parler avec leur frère.
    They would like to speak with their brother.
  3. Si tu ___________ (finir) tes devoirs tous les jours, tu ___________ (avoir) de bonnes notes.
    If you finished your homework every day, you would have good grades.
  4. Nous ___________ (vouloir) de la salade.
    We would like some salad.
  5. Si vous ___________ (vouloir) aller au Quebec, vous ___________ (garder) votre argent.
    If you wanted to go to Quebec, you would keep / save your money.

How do you think you did? Check your answers below:

  1.  étudiais, pourrais
  2. aimeraient
  3. finissais, aurais
  4. voudrions
  5. vouliez, garderiez

If you didn’t do well, keep reviewing and practicing your French grammar skills. Either way, begin looking and listening for uses of le conditionnel as you listen and read to seek out opportunities to practice using it as you speak and write. Look for someone to correct your usage if you make a mistake, and you will improve quickly!

Want even more practice with le conditionnel? A private French tutor can give you expert advice, study tips, and answers to your questions about French grammar. Search for a French tutor today!

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Master’s in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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10 Funny Songs to Sing With Your Kids

Funny Songs That Will Get Your Kids To SingLooking for fun songs for kids to sing? Music offers an array of benefits for children, and funny songs even more so! Have a blast introducing these funny songs for kids to your children at home or in the classroom.

10 Funny Songs For Kids to Sing

1. Beethoven’s Wig

A song about – you guessed it – Beethoven’s Wig! (It’s very big.) Sung to the tune of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, kids will be having too much fun to realize they’re getting exposed to the world of classical music.

Looking for more entertaining classics from various artists? This website is a great resource.

2. The Name Game

You probably drove your parents nuts with this when you were a kid, now it’s time to pass the torch. It’s a great song for boosting language skills in preschool and kindergarten students!

3. Please Don’t Play Your Violin at Night

Want to incorporate some Mozart into your child’s repertoire? Try this rendition of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

4. Purple People Eater

“It’s a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater.” Of all the fun songs for kids to sing, this one is sure to make your kids laugh.

5. Oh Where is My Hairbrush?

This and other funny songs to sing by the VeggieTales gang can turn any normal activity or passing thought into a reason to break into song and dance. It may even inspire your own renditions, such as “Oh Where are My Car Keys?” for Mom and Dad, and “Oh Where are My Shoes?” for the kids.

SEE ALSO: 400+ Songs to Sing for Every Occasion 

6. Witch Doctor

Originally created for and recently remade by America’s favorite singing rodents, the Chipmunks, this song is sure to make babies and toddler-aged children giggle.

7. Yakety Yak

Appropriate for older children, you can poke fun at each other with this 1958 classic. Don’t talk back. Just sing it!

8. Boom Chicka Boom

The Learning Station offers a wide array of funny songs to sing with your kids as part of their project to promote “healthy music for a child’s heart, body and mind.” Boom Chicka Boom uses tongue twisters and wordplay to boost language development.

9. Parts of the Body Song

Music is a great educational tool for learning new things, and you can help your little one learn body parts with this goofy rap song. Once you get through the common body parts, try making up your own more specific verses with your child.

10. I Didn’t Mean to Burp

Now that you’ve learned the parts of the body, why not move on to the next phase – bodily functions. What more could a kid ask for in funny songs to sing?

Reasons to Play Fun Songs for Kids to Sing

Music involves the brain at every level, with exposure increasing verbal and spatial skills, aiding emotional development, and improving body movement and coordination. And when you add silliness to the mix, creativity can be heightened as well.

Spontaneously creating your own funny songs to sing also boosts language skills and can help a child come out of his or her shell!

Finally, let’s not forget all the benefits of laughter that come with playing fun songs for kids to sing. Laughter has the ability to boost your immune system and energy level, diminish pain, protect your heart and body from the effects of stress, and much more.

Take It a Step Further…

Finding funny songs to sing can really help your child identify their love of music. If your child enjoys these songs, consider signing him or her up for private singing lessons! Whether they want to sing or play an instrument, private lessons can help hone the skills necessary to excel.

Give your kids the most important gift of all – the gift of laughter and learning through music. Incorporate these funny songs into your daily life, and you’ll be creating fantastic memories along the way!

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Image Credit: David K

fastest way to learn spanish

6 Science-Backed Study Hacks for Learning Spanish [Infographic]

fastest way to learn spanish

Learning a second language can be a difficult task. However, with the right study habits and a drive to succeed, it can become a much easier, quicker, and enjoyable process. To help, we’ve rounded up six study hacks that will prep your mind and body for learning Spanish more easily. Check out the tips below for ideas on the fastest way to learn Spanish.

1) Write your notes by hand.

We know you’ve heard this seemingly outdated tip before, but it’s one of the best and simplest Spanish study hacks that exists. Studies suggest that you are more likely to recall information if you hand-write the information, because your brain has to focus on writing out the actual words. So, ditch your keyboard or your iPad, and resort to an old-fashioned pen and paper. If you feel like you have to type your notes in lessons in order to keep up with your teacher, rewrite them by hand when you get home to help you study and retain the information.

2) Exercise.

This might sound like a weird tip, but a 2009 study showed that physical activity can improve brain function, learning, and memory. Try combining the two when you can by listening to a Spanish language podcast while at the gym. Instead of watching TV during a study break, take a jog around the block. Leading an active lifestyle will help you recall Spanish better.

3) Chew gum while you study.

A recent study showed that those who chewed gum while they learned had higher accuracy rates when recalling information than those who did not chew gum. There is also a potential link between level of focus and gum chewing. So, the next time you’re struggling to concentrate, pop in some minty-fresh gum, and get back to studying!

4) Immerse yourself in the language.

A 2012 study shows that students who immerse themselves in the language instead of only learning in a classroom setting are more likely to absorb it. Furthermore, the study suggests that immersion can help the brain process the language like a native speaker. Try speaking and writing in Spanish whenever possible to better immerse yourself in the language!

5) Say it aloud.

This study shows that people who say information out loud are more likely to remember it than people who read everything silently. This study also suggests that our brain likes to remember oddball information, so you should choose to say aloud the information that is most important, not all of the facts that you have in front of you.

6) Don’t stress; get some sleep.

Even though cramming for an exam or your trip to Spain might seem like a good idea, studies have proven that sleep is more beneficial than extra hours of studying. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep in the days leading up to your exam or trip will help you to better recall information.

Here’s a recap of all these Spanish study hacks in one handy infographic:

6 Science-Backed Study Hacks for Learning Spanish

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So, what’s the fastest way to learn Spanish? You’ll find by using these study hacks, alongside the expertise of a qualified Spanish tutor, you’ll learn the language quicker than you might think! Good luck!

Ready to start learning? Search for a tutor near you!

Bonus:  Learn about the budget-friendly options for learning Spanish!

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Japanese Verbs

Japanese Grammar for Beginners: Learn to Conjugate Japanese Verbs

Japanese Verbs

If you’re learning Japanese, here’s some good news: Conjugating Japanese verbs is much easier than you think! Here, Ann Arbor, MI teacher Elaina R. shares some simple tips to help you conjugate Japanese verbs…

I love conjugating Japanese verbs. Why? In most romance languages, conjugations are based on tons of factors, including subject, number, and even gender.

For example, in Italian, “I am tired” is Io sono stanca; but if you are male, it’s Io sono stanco. If there are several speakers, it becomes: Noi siamo stanchi.

What a headache! Do you ever feel tired after conjugating verbs? I know I do!

In Japanese, on the other hand, “I am tired” (female or male) and “we are tired” are the same. Isn’t that nice?

As you learn present and future tense Japanese verb endings, keep in mind just how wonderful it is to ignore all these additional factors.

Types of Japanese Verbs

For an overview of the two main types of Japanese verbs, check out this article: 3 Simple Ways to Remember Japanese Grammar Rules.

Here’s a quick recap: There are two main types of Japanese verbs, vowel-stem verbs and consonant-stem verbs. Vowel-stem verbs only have two components: the stem and the ending.

Consonant-stem verbs have three components: the stem, the base, and the ending.


verb ending chart

There are a few “rebel” –iru and –eru verbs that are conjugated like consonant-stem verbs.

  • iru (いる) (to need)
  • kaeru (かえる) (to return)
  • kagiru (かぎる) (to limit)
  • kiru (切る) (to cut)

*Note kiru着る)can also mean “to wear.” This rule only applies to the kiru that means “to cut.”

  • hairu (はいる) – to enter
  • hashiru (はしる) – to run
  • shaberu (しゃべる) – to talk
  • shiru (しる) – to know

There is also a third category comprised solely of the verbs suru (to do – する) and kuru (to come – くる). These two verbs have irregular stems: suru’s stem is shi– (), while kuru’s is ki– ().

Present and Future Tense in Japanese

Present tense in Japanese, like present tense in English, is used to describe actions that are ongoing and habitual (“I go to school,” or 学校え行く in informal present tense).

Unlike English, however, Japanese present tense doubles as future tense (“I’ll go to school” is also 学校え行く).

Here’s how to form this tense in both informal and formal Japanese.

Present Informal Japanese Verb Endings

Informal Japanese verb endings are easy! The infinitive, also called the dictionary form, is the same as the present informal verb.

For example, neru (ねる) means “to sleep,” “I sleep,” and “I will sleep.”

Present Formal Japanese Verb Endings

For present formal Japanese verb endings, you need to remember the three kinds of verbs. Present formal verbs all have –masu endings.

present formal verb endings

Practice Conjugating Japanese Verbs

Japanese verbs, especially informal verbs, are incredibly easy to learn. In what other language are the infinitive, present, and future tenses all the same?

By taking the time to memorize infinitive verb forms, learning whether they are vowel- or consonant-stem verbs, and adding the correct formal ending, you will be able to say many things in your new language!

Get started with Japanese lessons today. Find a Japanese teacher here

Elaina RPost Author: Elaina R.
Elaina R. teaches singing in Ann Arbor, MI. She is acquainted with many languages and speaks English, Japanese, Italian, and German. She earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California, and she is currently working on her Master of Music from the University of Michigan. Learn more about Elaina here!

Photo by Elvin

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3 Wonderful Reasons Your Child Should Learn Japanese

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When you’re considering language studies for your child, don’t rule out Japanese lessons. Here, Montgomery, TX teacher Emily G., explains the benefits of learning Japanese… 

There are several great reasons for children to learn a second language.  Learning another language can help your child think faster, and help your son or daughter develop effective problem-solving skills.

While Japanese may not be the first language that comes to mind when you consider options for your child, there are a number of excellent reasons why your son or daughter should learn Japanese.

Besides the workplace benefits your child will experience in adulthood, learning Japanese can impact a child in a number of positive ways. So as you consider the best language-learning path for your child, here are three fantastic reasons for your son or daughter to learn Japanese.

1. Introduce Your Child to a New World

koi pond

You’re probably already aware that it’s important to introduce your son or daughter to different cultures, but have you considered the most effective way to do this?

While Spanish, French, and German are generally the most popular choices for language studies, they may not be the best options to truly broaden your child’s horizons. Mexico is just a hop across the border from America, while Spain, France, and Germany are just across the pond. In fact, these neighbors get even closer to home when you consider their impact on American culture.

What we tend to forget, however, is that America has another neighbor; Japan. This neighbor is both as close and as distant as they come. Unlike Western countries which have had a huge influence on American culture, Japanese culture is still very foreign to us.

You could expose your child to the familiar differences of other Western cultures, or you could introduce him or her to a whole new world!

2. A Deeper Level of Understanding (of English)

Children's art school expo

This benefit may not be listed on most language-learning blogs, but in my number of years as a Japanese teacher, I have witnessed this first hand.

Students actually gain a better grasp on English grammar when they learn a second language. This is especially true for Japanese students, because the language is drastically different from English.

One benefit I see with my students is improved awareness of syntax. Syntax is the way words are ordered within a sentence.

In Japanese syntax, the main verb is always the last word in the sentence. After learning this, students realize, often for the first time, that in English, the verb appears immediately after the subject.

This is just one example of how learning Japanese can help a student gain a deeper understanding of his or her native language.

3. Freedom of Thought


This is my favorite benefit to learning any language, but especially Japanese! Every language has words and expressions that aren’t found in any other language, but Japanese seems to be full of these.

Aside from just being fun, these kinds of expressive differences help students think in new ways and recognize and appreciate differences between individuals.

For example, while an English speaker must resort to poetry to describe sunlight filtering through a canopy of trees, Japanese has a single word for this; komorebi.

On the other hand, learning Japanese can also teach students that humans are just humans, the same in many ways no matter where they’re from. You may have heard the French phrase raison d’etre (the reason for existence), but did you know that the Japanese have a word for this too? Ikigai, which means “the reason for living.”

Find more one-word wonders in Japanese here.

Learning Japanese isn’t just beneficial to students academically and economically, but also on an individual level. It opens a child’s mind to a new culture, helps a child learn to express him or herself, and encourages a child to celebrate the differences in others.

Learning Japanese is a great choice for any child’s future; plus, learning about different aspects of Japanese culture like manga and anime can be a lot of fun!

Want to sign your child up for Japanese lessons? Find a teacher near you today!


Emily GPost Author:
 Emily G.
Emily G. teaches Japanese, Latin, and Greek lessons in Montgomery, TX. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Classics from Texas A&M University and later went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Ancient History from the University of Nottingham. She has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Emily here!

Photos by grrsh, Jakob MontrasioLuxTonnerreLuxTonnerre

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