difference between Spanish and Portuguese

10 Important Differences Between Spanish & Portuguese

difference between Spanish and Portuguese

The 2016 Summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. For language-learners everywhere, it was and still is a great time to explore Portuguese, their official language!

And if you’re already learning Spanish, you’re at an advantage. There are a lot of similarities between the two languages — in fact, there’s even a name for speaking a mixture of the languages to help speakers of different backgrounds communicate (Portuñal or Portunhol, in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively).

But what about the difference between Spanish and Portuguese? You’re not off the hook if you speak Spanish; you’ll need to put in some work to learn new pronunciations, spellings, and vocabulary in Portuguese. Same goes if you’re a Portuguese speaker trying to learn Spanish!

To help you get started, our friends at LiveLingua put together a post showcasing some key things to remember. Here’s part of the article:

1. Difference between hasta and hacia. In Portuguese there is no hacia preposition. There is the preposition até, but we need to explain the difference very well so students can learn how to use it properly. In short words, hacia indicates the direction in which we move and hasta the point at which we arrived.

2. The preposition “a” after many verbs. The most common example [in Spanish] is “ir a.” I guess it must be weird for some Portuguese native speakers to use an expression even found in Portuguese, but adding an “a” in the middle. Let’s have a look at this sentence: Vou sair agora ( Portuguese), Voy a salir ahora (Spanish)

3. The position of reflexive pronouns. The rule is very simple. In Spanish, when the tense is either gerund or infinitive, the pronoun merges to the end of the verb. Otherwise when the verb is conjugated, the pronoun is placed before the verb and not joined. Example: dormirse, bañarse; se durmió, te bañaste, etc.

4. False friends or very similar words. Every language has to face this issue. We only learn this when we come across those words. There is a funny word which needs to be clarified: almóndiga. This is a Spanish slang word which means “meatball,” but in Portuguese is pronounced albóndiga. In Portuguese a vagabundo is a person who leads a bad life, while in Spanish it is someone who lives on the street (morador de rua in Portuguese).

5. Muy or mucho? In Portuguese this is easy: muito is the only word compared to those two. Muy is used before adverbs and adjectives, while mucho is placed either before a noun or after a verbs. When we want to make a comparison, we always have to use mucho. Example: Es mucho (no muy!!!) mejor que tú.

The article goes on to list five more differences between Portuguese and Spanish — continue reading it here!

Now, ready to get started learning Portuguese? Keep these tips in mind:

  • Determine your learning style and goals. Instead of blindly jumping into learning, have a plan in place. Are you learning for fun? Do you want to be fluent? How do you learn best? Knowing the answers to these will help you stay on track. Here are some guiding questions to start with.
  • Find a conversation partner. The most important part of learning a new language is understanding the context and having real conversations with others, and practice makes perfect! Instead of simply memorizing vocabulary words, make the effort to talk and listen!
  • Work with a tutor. Taking 1-on-1 lessons with a language tutor is a great way to get that conversation practice. TakeLessons offers both Portuguese tutors and Spanish tutors to help you improve.

Readers, do you have experience learning both Portuguese and Spanish? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts!

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30 Quirky New Year's Eve Traditions 500x300

30 Quirky New Year’s Traditions From Around the World

How much do you know about New Year’s Eve traditions?

Here in the U.S., you know what to do: gather your friends and family, turn on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in the background, and count down from 10 as midnight nears. At the strike of the clock, you know to toast everyone as the fireworks blast off, sing a verse of “Auld Lang Syne,” and sneak in a New Year’s kiss, if you can!

But outside of the United States, did you know there are some much more quirky New Year’s Eve traditions? If you’re in Spain, for example, you’ll want to get 12 grapes ready to eat with each strike of the clock. In Turkey, make sure you have a few pomegranates ready to throw off your balcony for good luck.

To start your faux travels, we did some research into some of the bizarre New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day traditions around the world. While some of them might be outdated — or more of an old wives’ tale — they’re certainly interesting to learn!

Here’s what we found:

30 Quirky New Year's Eve Traditions Around the World

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Readers, what do you think? Have you heard of these New Year’s Eve traditions around the world, and are they true? Let us know by leaving a comment below!


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This Fun Activity Helps Your Child Learn Languages

How Theater Helps Language Learning in Children

Did you know that participating in performing arts can help your child learn a new language? In this article, Mariella Gambardella from shows you how theater and language-learning go hand in hand…


When I moved to Spain with my family, neither my husband nor I spoke a word of Spanish. Our one-year-old daughter had not been exposed to the language yet either. Having lived in a few countries before, though, we were very aware of the importance of learning the local language as quickly as possible in order to fully integrate ourselves.

We wanted our child to be able to play with other children at the park and go to a Spanish-speaking nursery school. Besides our reasons, there are many other reasons why you should raise your child bilingual.

Our family had been fond of theater for a while, so we decided to use theater as a tool for our daughter to learn Spanish.

How Theater Helps Kids Learn a New Language

A lot has been written about the benefits of performing arts for children’s learning. Performing arts lets your child have fun while learning moral values, improving communication and social skills, and expanding their general knowledge.

You may ask, however, what is the role that performing arts play in learning languages? Below are some reasons you should use theater for your child’s second (or third) language acquisition:

1) Children need extra motivation to learn languages. A magic show, theater, or any other type of gestural activity provides participation, excitement, and surprises. These fun and relaxed environments are ideal for children to absorb and learn a new language. It allows them to internalize phrases and vocabulary without even realizing it!

2) Theater helps children learn not only the most “formal” parts of the language, but also idioms, vocabulary, intonation, and structures that don’t always appear in books. The language is typically used in a conversational manner.

3) When the actors are native speakers, children hear different types of accents and lesser-known expressions. The native speakers bring their own flair to the table and introduce listeners to different linguistic stylings.

4) Although actors are at the center of the performance, often children have the opportunity to perform in or engage in other ways with the production. Whether at a theater, at home, or in a classroom, playing, improvising, and role-playing are the most effective ways of acquiring a language, as they improve children’s communication skills.

In fact, role-play in particular is one of the most widely used techniques in classrooms to teach and learn languages. This activity allows children to become anyone for a short period of time and express themselves in a more forthright way.

5) The good thing about watching performing arts in other languages is that we can choose the theme. If it’s a theme that children enjoy, they’ll be more willing to listen and learn.

6) The availability of a variety of topics also allows us as parents and teachers to select performances that are suited to a particular vocabulary lesson.

7) The fact that the plays and performances usually represent everyday situations allows children to learn vocabulary and expressions that are used in everyday life. It’ll definitely have a lot of practical use if you’re raising bilingual kids.

The ultimate goal is making the language heard as something normal. The learning should be concealed within fun and entertainment so that children have the opportunity to learn in a dynamic and interactive environment.

Looking for additional help from a Spanish or other language tutor? Search for a tutor near you!

Guest Author: Mariella Gambardella
Mariella is co-founder of, the first online video library of storytelling, theater, magic, and puppet shows in English and Spanish for children 2-12 years old. The online platform makes performing arts accessible to all families and schools — anytime, anywhere, and from any type of mobile device.

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How to Approach Learning Music: 3 Exercises to Try

The Language of Music

Whether you’re learning Spanish or learning piano, you’ll find that both are complex languages with lots of history and unique jargon. In this guest post, Mike Lowden from Falls Music School bridges the gap between music and language by explaining just how similar they really are…


As a music teacher, I spend a good amount of time explaining to my students how learning music should be approached in a similar style to learning a language. Most professional musicians and music teachers consistently refer to “the language of music,” as this is a parallel that’s accepted worldwide.

Musicians Learn to “Talk” Music Like How Toddlers Learn to Speak

How do infants learn to speak their first words? They listen to what’s around them and do their best to copy it. As they grow older, they learn how to speak full sentences just as they’re taught. As they grow older still, they’re influenced on how to speak by friends and other social groups (e.g. a group of teenagers repetitively using the same slang) and use all of these different resources to eventually sound like “themselves.” People don’t put very much thought into it.

Listen to anyone talk; even though there might be individual nuances, language is actually a culmination of sayings from one’s parent(s), friends, teachers, and other social influences. People learn to talk by blending their social experiences together. Why do you think accents exist in certain regions and someone who moves there might eventually develop an accent? It all depends on what’s around you; we humans like to absorb what we hear.

Defining Your Musical Influences

This is exactly the same process that musicians go through; we listen to players we like and end up emulating their style. If you’re really into B.B. King, you’re going to do your best to play just like him. But maybe later you get into another player, so you learn how they “talk.” Eventually, everything you’ve learned from the music you’ve played goes into your tool belt of “self-expression.” There are many artists out there who are known for their own unique style, but all of them had influences that shaped who they became.

Put it into practice: Find a musician you really enjoy and see if you can trace back their musical history, almost like a family tree. If you have trouble tracing the history yourself, you can usually find interviews where they discuss their musical influences. Take note of some of their signature licks or musical tricks and see if they can be traced back. It’s fun just to see how far back you can trace! This can be an extremely enlightening exercise. Bonus points if you do this with your own playing.

Building Your Vocabulary

Having an extended vocabulary is extremely important when you’re trying to express ideas through both your native language and the language of music. “Bad” and “egregious” both essentially mean the same thing, but those two words have different connotations; choosing one over the other can be vital to expressing a story or idea.

Building vocabulary in music is just as important. Not only does it help culminate your overall style, as stated above, but it also can be the difference between a good solo and a great solo. Having a limited vocabulary means you can only say so much in a particular way. The last thing an artist wants is to be limited.

While one lick might fit and work well in a part of a song, there might be another that’s able to display an emotion even more perfect. Composers and improvisers agonize over these nuances just as much as poets and novelists agonize over their word choices. A musician decides on music ideas just as a poet might decide to say “glorious” rather than “cool.”

Put it into practice: Listen to the same song done by two different artists. Choosing some unexpected covers to compare is a fun idea. See what differences of “vocabulary” they each end up choosing. Often, an artist may choose to express an idea that’s exactly the same — basically reciting what the artist before them did. If you pay close attention, many artists will choose subtle differences in licks or chord voicings to show how they think the song should be played. Learn both versions and compare!

Speaking With the Right Nuances

Another thing musicians spend a fair amount of time on is contemplating the “interpretations” of composers. This means that it’s not only important to play the notes correctly, but to express them in a very specific way. Think about it — the way we say things in our spoken language can sometimes be even more important than the words we’re actually saying.

If you were speaking to your child and asked him or her to make their bed very nicely, that might get the job done. If the child still didn’t make the bed, however, you could repeat those same exact words but say them in a much sterner manner. It’s likely that this change in tone will elicit a different response.

Similarly, musicians focus on a lot of nuances with their music — how to attack each note, how loud or soft to play (dynamics), how to phrase musical ideas, and so on. The list of nuances is almost endless!

Understanding the Details

This same idea can cross over to styles of music. I had a jazz professor who would consistently tell students who had trouble swinging, “You’re saying the right thing, but you’re speaking French with a Russian accent — it ain’t right!” This meant that even though somebody was playing the right notes for it to be considered jazz, the nuances didn’t quite fit with the style, and, therefore, sounded funny.

This is exactly why someone who speaks the native tongue of a country can always tell if someone else hasn’t learned it as their first language. Sure, the words are right, but it sounds forced and foreign. It takes a lot of learning and practice to sound natural. A lot of people don’t realize that these subtleties are what make a piece of music so powerful.

Put it into practice: Start actively listening to ways people approach certain musical phrases and try to identify what makes one style different than another. If you’re a musician, try this with your own playing. What are other ways you can interpret the same phrase? Do you have trouble playing a particular style of music even though you can technically play the notes correctly? Look at what nuances you might have to add!

The Takeaway

These concepts are only the tip of the iceberg! All of the world’s best musicians are great because they have become so fluent in the language of music. If you’re learning music, use these approaches to improve your skills. If you’re a seasoned pro, you can always improve your musical fluency. Happy practicing!


Guest Author: Mike Lowden
Mike Lowden has been playing the guitar for as long as he can remember, and enjoys playing every type of music that he can get his hands on. Mike has education from the Berklee College of Music, and studied Jazz at the University of Akron. Now the guitar instructor and co-owner of Falls Music School, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, his mission is not only to teach music students at the school, but also through online content.

Photo by Nic McPhee

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3 (Fun!) Summer Activities That Help Your Child Grow [Infographic]

fun summer activities for kids

Summer is here! With school out and the temperatures rising, no doubt your kids are excited to play. But beyond the summer camps, sleepovers, bike rides, and water balloon fights, stealthy parents know how to encourage activities that can actually help kids grow and learn!

Don’t worry — that doesn’t mean workbooks or summer homework. We’ve got three fun summer activities in mind that kids will be excited to participate in, and ones that will build confidence at the same time.

  • First up? Music lessons! If your son or daughter loves to sing along to songs when you turn on the radio, music lessons are a natural fit. And there are so many different lesson types to consider, from piano to guitar to saxophone.
  • For the more introverted or bookworm types, learning a language — like Spanish or French — might be a great choice. Of course, your child won’t become fluent over the course of one summer… but it can be a fun introduction to new cultures! Plus, it’s easy to find fun games and apps that support language learning.
  • Finally, if your child can’t stop moving, sports like soccer and softball are a great way to keep him or her busy. They’ll never know they’re actually improving their teamwork and goal-setting skills!

Here’s a recap of all the surprising stats you need to know about these fun summer activities for kids.

3 Fun Summer Activities That Help Your Child Grow [Infographic]

Whether your child is athletic, musically inclined, or interested in learning another language, summer is the perfect time to enroll them in classes and nurture a new hobby. And knowing your son or daughter is also growing and learning, you can sit back and relax this summer — just as the season was intended for.

Ready to get started? Search for fun summer activities, classes, and lessons near you!

Photos by Philippe PutDark Dwarf, and l. c.


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bilingual children

20+ Reasons Why You Should Raise Your Child Bilingual

Did you know that the number of U.S. residents ages 5 and older who speak a language other than English has more than doubled in the past three decades? That’s right, more and more parents are raising bilingual children.

Today’s parents are always trying to find ways to improve their children’s future, whether it’s placing them in early music classes or sending them to elite athletic camps.

But did you ever think of getting your child language lessons?

From improved social skills to deeper family connections, learning a foreign language affords children an infinite amount of benefits. We’ve interviewed a number of bilingual parenting experts to compile this list of over 20 reasons why parents should consider raising bilingual children.

bilingual children

“Learning a language is like opening a door to an adventure.  We want to enable children around the world to be young global citizens better prepared for exploring their world,” says Amanda Hsiung Blodgett aka “Miss Panda” of Miss Panda Chinese.

bilingual children

Research from York University, titled “Bilingual Effects on Cognitive and Linguistic Development: Role of Language, Cultural Background, and Education,” found that bilingual children show improvements in literacy and literacy skill acquisition. Specifically, children were able to better understand verbal and non-verbal communication.

bilingual children

Learning a heritage language will help children be proud of their cultural heritage. I think that my son will be more connected to his cultural background. I also couldn’t imagine my child not being able to communicate with his family in France or his Spanish-speaking family members. I feel that if he learns the languages, he will be closer to his family and be proud of who he is,” says Diana Limongi-Gabriele of LadydeeLG.

bilingual children

Developing your child’s self-confidence is extremely important. Studies have proven that bilingual children have more self-confidence. In fact, scientists from the University of Windsor found that people who speak more than one language had higher levels of self-esteem compared to monolinguals or those who only speak one language.

bilingual children

“Being bilingual is so much more than speaking two languages and all the cognitive benefits that come along with that. Being bilingual gives children an entirely different way of seeing the world and stretches their minds to new realms of possibilities,” says Stephanie Meade of InCultureParent.

bilingual children

Students who take foreign languages tend to score higher on standardized tests. In fact, students who studied a foreign language for 4 or more years outscored other students on the verbal and math portions of the test, according to research from College Board titled, “College-Bound Seniors: A Profile of SAT Program Test Takers.”

bilingual children

“Today’s world is becoming increasingly borderless. It’s easy to hop on a plane and arrive on the other side of the world in a day. Or connect with someone face to face over Skype or FaceTime. Global integration is only going to increase, so a child who speaks more than one language will have more advantages when it comes to social, academic and job opportunities in the future,” says Maria Wen Adcock of Bicultural Mama.

bilingual children

Not only will your child be able to connect with others who speak different languages, but they will also be able to make friends during their language-learning studies. There are hundreds of after school language programs in which kids can meet new friends, stimulate their minds, and, more importantly, have fun!

bilingual children

Today’s companies are seeking job candidates who know how to speak more than one language. In fact, research from Korn/Ferry International found that nearly 9 out of 10 headhunters in Europe, Latin America, and Asia say that being bilingual is important for success in today’s job market.

bilingual children

“If you have the chance to give your children the gift of an additional language, please do so – it is a gift that keeps giving for many years to come. It will enable your children to expand their horizons cognitively, socially, geographically and financially,” says Rita Rosenback of Multilingual Parenting.

bilingual children

Research has found that bilingual children score higher than monolinguals in cognitive performance. In particular, children who speak multiple languages have more cognitive control and attention, according to research from Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

bilingual children

According to a study published by the American Academy of Neurology, bilingual adults developed dementia 4.5 years later than their monolingual counterparts. The study also claims that bilingualism benefits individuals with frontotemporal and vascular dementia.

bilingual children

Research from the National Institutes of Health found that bilingual children are better at switching between tasks than children who only speak one language. This is because bilinguals have to constantly switch back and forth between languages, helping them become better multi-taskers.

bilingual children

Your child’s brain is like a big muscle; the more it functions the stronger it gets. Learning a second language exercises your child’s brain, as he or she must memorize new vocabulary words and grammar rules. In turn, your child is able to boost over all memory and retention.

bilingual children

Bilingualism doesn’t just have academic benefits, but it also has societal advantages. Bilingual children have a greater understanding of other cultures and communities, causing them to be more tolerant—a characteristic that is very difficult to instill in a child.

bilingual children

Typically, children do not start learning a language until around middle or high school. Teaching your child a foreign language early in life will better prepare them for school—not to mention give them a competitive advantage when applying to colleges.

bilingual children

When children are exposed to various different languages it opens the door to more creativity. According to research from the University of Strathclyde’s School of Psychological Sciences and Health, bilingual children are better at creative thinking and problem solving.

bilingual children

Is your child an aspiring musician? A study from Northwestern University found that learning a second language “fine tunes” individuals’ auditory nervous system, which will prove beneficial when learning how to play an instrument. What’s more, as mentioned above, bilingualism helps individuals switch between tasks, which is also a key component in playing music.

bilingual children

A child’s ability to focus is paramount both in the classroom and outside. According to research, bilingual children have more mental flexibility than monolinguals, which allows them to focus better on tasks.

bilingual children

Sure, learning a foreign language has its academic benefits, but it’s also fun! Your child will be able to explore a different region’s culture and customs and enjoy conversing with others in their newly learned language.

bilingual children

“Bilingual children develop stronger overall skills in BOTH their primary language as well as their secondary. Because they have so many ways to communicate and are exposed to a wider range of words and expressions (some unique only to the secondary language), bilinguals end up with a higher than average lexicon in their dominant tongue,” said Antonio Centeno of Bilingual Kids Rock.

22. Increases your child's appreciation

“Bilingual children develop greater brain plasticity, which makes abstract thinking easier and increases art appreciation,” said Cynthia Lopez of Bilingual Station.

There’s a great misconception that raising your child bilingual can have adverse effects. However, numerous studies have proven that bilingual children have a greater advantages over monolingual children.

Luckily, teaching your child a foreign language has never been easier thanks to today’s technology. So what are you waiting for? Help your child be the best they can be by teaching them a new language!

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Raising Bilingual Kids: Expert Tips from a Parent Who Has Been There

How to Raise a Bilingual Child

As you probably know, being bilingual has many amazing benefits, from increased brain health to higher salaries, and more! You may have also heard that for many people, learning languages is far easier in childhood than it will be in their adult years.

If you’re a parent, or about to become one, you’re probably wondering how to raise a bilingual child. Have no fear, many other parents have embarked on this journey, and they are happy to share their discoveries with you. Even if you don’t speak a second language yourself, you can still help your child grow up bilingual.

So what do you need to know to raise a bilingual child? Adam Beck of Bilingual Monkeys has lots of experience and great advice for doing just that! Here’s Adam…

My best advice for successfully raising a bilingual child, from birth, can be summed up in these three principles…

1. The two “core conditions” for fostering active ability in the minority language are exposure and need.

The child must receive sufficient interactive exposure to the target language (there’s no “magic number,” but a good benchmark for most families seeking active ability would be roughly 25 hours a week), while also feeling an organic need to use that language.

Your aim, for the first few formative years, is to “condition” your child to communicate with you in the minority language by the time he or she begins to speak. And you’ll raise the odds of achieving this if you proactively emphasize that language and “de-emphasize” the majority language.

In other words, the more openly you use the majority language around the child, the more you may undermine his or her need to use the minority language with you. So, although I know it may not be realistic to avoid using the majority language entirely, I would be cautious about how freely you speak that language in front of the child, especially in those early years.

2. Generally speaking, the results of your bilingual quest will be in proportion to how high you make this a priority in your life.

If your sense of priority is high, if you make this aim central to your daily lifestyle, then your approach will be more mindful and proactive. This will result in more persistent and effective efforts, and greater success over time. The reverse of this is also likely true: The lower your sense of priority, the less action you’ll take and the less progress you’ll make. As Gandhi once said (though I don’t think he was talking about raising bilingual kids): “Action expresses priorities.”

3. Flood your home with minority language resources—particularly books—and read aloud to your children every single day, from birth and throughout childhood.

A large home library and a daily read-aloud routine should be the bedrock of your daily efforts to promote the minority language. Again, when it comes to resources, emphasize the minority language and “de-emphasize” the majority language. Assuming the future will bring schooling in the majority language, it’s to your advantage to make the home far richer in minority language resources.

At the same time, talk, talk, talk to your baby in the target language. The more input the child receives through books and speech, the more output he or she will eventually produce.

Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo. For many more helpful tips from Adam, see My Best Tips for Raising Bilingual Kids.


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Photo by David D.

Singapore- Study Abroad 2015

6 Fascinating Study Abroad Cities Worth Every Penny

Studying abroad can be one of the most exciting and unforgettable experiences of your life.

Students who possess a traveler’s spirit often deliberate for months on where exactly they should go, and can become overwhelmed by the variety of options. If you’re wondering about the best places to study abroad, here are six top destinations for students to help you make your decision.

Top 6 Best Places to Study Abroad

1. Montreal, Canada

Montreal- Study Abroad 2015

Photo by Michael Vesia

Montreal is Canada’s “cultural capital” and home to the city’s leading institution, McGill University – currently ranked 21st in the world. You’ll have a host of new experiences if you find yourself in the second-largest French-speaking city in the world – second only to Paris itself. It’s large, and its international student community enjoys a packed annual calendar of festivals and other foodie and music events. Beyond French and English, you’ll come across languages ranging from Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese to Arabic, Chinese, Greek, and Russian.

2. Paris, France

Paris- Study Abroad 2015

Photo by Lima Pix

Oui? Paris is ranked the 16th most livable city, according to a 2014 report from the Economist Intelligence Unit. Beyond the city’s world-renowned reputation for its history and cultural vitality, Paris’s low tuition fees make the city affordable for students. If you’re new to learning French, then the greatest yet most rewarding challenge, of course, is conquering the language barrier. Paris is an almost 100% French-speaking country, with a small percentage of German dialects, Celtic languages, and other Gallo-Romance languages spoken throughout the city.

3. Munich, Germany

Munich- Study Abroad 2015

Photo by Rami

With a population of approximately 1.5 million, Germany’s third-largest city weighs in on our top five list for a couple different reasons. First and foremost, Germany’s lack of tuition fees makes studying abroad in the city the most affordable option you can choose. Beyond that, Munich is ranked 8th in the 2014 Quality of Life Survey by lifestyle magazine Monocle. One of the many cultural experiences you’ll encounter in Munich is the famous Oktoberfest beer festival.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Most Beautiful Colleges of the World

4. Seoul, South Korea

Seoul- Study Abroad 2015

Photo by slack12

Seoul is the most densely populated city of South Korea. With mostly Korean and English spoken throughout the city, the language diversity here isn’t as pronounced as in other countries on this list. However, even if the lack of language diversity bores you, you’ll surely find enough to do in this city that never sleeps, with its unprecedented mix of tradition and modernity – from cutting-edge technology to Buddhist temples and royal palaces.

5. Singapore, Southeast Asia

Singapore- Study Abroad 2015

Photo by Mac Qin

Officially named the Republic of Singapore, this island country close to the equator is known for its tropical rainforest climate (where temperatures range from 72–95°F year round), four nationally-recognized languages (Mandarin Chinese, English, Malay, and Tamil), a low crime rate, and a slow and steady rise in education. Singapore has two top universities, the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, ranked 22nd and 39th in the world, respectively. Though Singapore is ranked as the world’s fourth most expensive city in Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living survey, Lonely Planet ranked them the top travel destination for 2015.

6. Seville, Spain

Seville Spain

Spain has so much to offer for study abroad students! Spaniards are friendly and laid back, the cost of living is affordable, and there are plenty of beautiful places to visit no matter what your hobbies. The rich culture can easily be enjoyed wherever you choose to travel on your days off, including the Feria de Sevilla, Parc Guell in Barcelona, or el Prado and Paseo del Artes in Madrid.

To be sure you’re attending the best program available, check out these Seville study abroad reviews. There are also plenty of internship opportunities in Seville. As an intern, you’ll get to experience the Spanish Siesta and long lunch breaks (who doesn’t like to enjoy a 3-hour break with friends and coworkers)? Adelante Abroad has many affordable summer and semester programs, as well as internships in Barcelona and Madrid.

Not only does studying abroad look great on your resume, but it also serves as one of the greatest opportunities to help improve your language skills. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons students participate in study abroad programs – no other experience helps you develop unparalleled fluency in a foreign language. So now you have all the reasons you need to go abroad! Enjoy your trip and let us know which location you chose in the comments section below!

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Is Japanese Hard to Learn? Find out the Truth

is japanese hard to learn

Learning any new language can seem difficult at first. If you’re feeling apprehensive about learning Japanese, these tips from language tutor Carol Beth L. can help.

Is Japanese hard to learn? Many people say so. I believe the answer can be yes or no—or both—depending on the individual. Japanese is often said to be a logical language that does not have anywhere near the whimsical inconsistencies or notorious exceptions of languages like English or French.

English, in fact, can be very difficult for some foreigners to learn. This is a result of the inconsistencies stemming from its numerous linguistic influences from historic groups that inhabited, invaded, or came in contact with England, such as Anglo-Saxon, Welsh, Scottish, and French. For most people reading this article, however, English is probably not difficult. In fact, it’s likely to be your first language. If it’s not, you have most likely mastered it to a reasonable level. Japanese can be mastered to the same degree English can, given reasonable time and effort. So why do people say that Japanese is so hard then? Here are a few often-cited reasons:

1. Time Required to Learn

Japanese is often considered to be one of the most different languages linguistically from English. As a result, it takes more time for English speakers to learn Japanese. Our way of thinking has been shaped by our native English language, and we must teach it to conform to a different way of organizing our thoughts.

2. New Characters

The Japanese writing system borrows a lot from Chinese, but the characters (kanji) are not always used the same way. As English speakers, we are used to phonetic—not pictographic—language. Japanese has two syllabaries, or sets of written symbols,  hiragana for native words, and katakana for foreign words. These syllabries provide ways to write without knowing all the characters for what you are writing. The pictographic kanji and the phonetic hiragana and katakana are regularly used side by side in writing. Using more kanji, however, will help you look more educated.

3. Japanese Grammar is Very Different From English

In Japanese, the verb is always placed at the end of the sentence. For an English speaker who is accustomed to putting the verb right after the subject, it can take time to reorganize the parts of the sentence in his mind so that everything comes out in the right order. Japanese grammar is, nonetheless, very logical. In this respect, it’s not really so difficult as it is different. Differences usually mean added learning time for students. The same is true for most non-Japanese speakers, too, because Japanese is related to very few other languages. French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese speakers can learn other languages in this group very easily because all are Romance languages stemming from common Latin origins. French also strongly influenced English after the Norman Conquest of the 11th century, making all of these languages easier for English speakers, too. The only widely-recognized language thought to have common roots with Japanese is Korean.

4. Phonetics

Phonetics are not actually as difficult as people sometimes make them out to be. The R sound—really between an R and an L—is one of the most difficult for an English speaker to get exactly right, though probably not as difficult as it is for a Japanese speaker to distinguish between the English R and L. The long vowels can also take some time. For example, kawai and kawai’i have two very distinct meanings: scary and cute respectively. Not words you’d want to mix up! Yet the only phonetic difference is the long “ee” sound in kawai’i to contrast with the short “ee” in “kawai.” Note that “long” and “short” are not used in the same sense we use them with our English vowels. A long vowel in Japanese really takes more time to say; it isn’t a reference to a phonetic difference. Most Japanese syllables are quite simple: one consonant sound plus one vowel sound. Chinese pronunciation with its tones and unique sounds (zhi, chi, shi, and ri) is probably more difficult for most English speakers.

So is Japanese hard to learn? Yes and no. It will require time and willingness to think differently, but learning Japanese can be fun, and the language is logical and consistent. If you’re willing to commit your mind and your time, then you can master it.

Carol Beth

Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She  also studied Japanese in high school and college.  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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Why Childhood is an Important Time to Learn a New Language

Importance Of Babies Learning New Languages

Should you teach your infant multiple languages? Read on for some insight from Linthicum Heights, MD tutor Tirina S...

Early childhood represents a period of time when growth and development happen at an extremely rapid pace. From infancy to about the age of two, there is no other stage of development when the brain has the greatest capacity to acquire and retain information, which includes learning a second language. Research has confirmed that the best time to introduce a new language is during this early stage of development. Learning a new language is important for babies because it is during this time of development that the child is most capable of achieving natural fluency; it helps to strengthen proficiency in their first language and it has been found to positively effect intelligence.

There are three main reasons why learning a second language is important for babies:

1) It is the best time to achieve natural fluency.

During the “baby stage,” a child’s mind is like a sponge. Babies are extremely perceptive about things and the people around them. This is easy to see as babies quickly recognize and identify the difference between mommy (or their primary caregiver) and other family members. They are able to receive information easily and learning is effortless. When it comes to languages, babies are able to distinguish even the slightest inflections of tone that exist between words. As we get older, learning a second language is more challenging, because our brains are not as perceptive when it comes to hearing different sound inflections. Some adults find it impossible to learn a new language. So the earlier a new language is introduced, the more naturally fluent the speaking will be.

2) Learning a new language helps to strengthen a baby’s proficiency of his or her“mother tongue.”

The term “mother tongue” is just that — the language of the mother. This term comes into play when a child is born to parents who speak different first languages. While teaching in Thailand as a preschool teacher and ESL coordinator, I was often asked by my bilingual parents, “Will our two-year-old become confused if we speak a different language in the household?” My definitive answer was, “No, the more the merrier.”

In class I taught in English, but I always encouraged the parents to teach their native languages to their children. I had one toddler who didn’t speak any recognizable language — just jibber-jabber. His mother was concerned that his speech development was late, possibly due to language confusion. As she explained to me, he hears English in class, is spoken to in Thai by his family, and loves watching Japanese cartoons. I assured this worried mom that soon all the pieces would fall in their proper place. And sure enough, within a few months, he was speaking clearly and understanding everyone who spoke to him.

Early on in the language development, a child exposed to different languages may mix them when speaking. But as the child’s language begins to develop, he or she will easily sort out the differences. As vocabulary, tones, and meanings are sorted, his or her understanding of the “mother tongue” is enhanced.

3) Learning a new language positively effects a baby’s intelligence.

Learning languages stimulates the brain and causes it to work more effectively. There has been extensive research done on the subject of language learning and early childhood development. Studies have shown that children who learned multiple languages during their early stages of development tended to achieve higher marks in other academic areas like reading and mathematics. Learning a new language as a baby will greatly affect their academic abilities and overall intelligence.

There are many products on the market geared toward language learning for babies in the form of musical CDs and videos. Exposure to a new language is most effective the earlier that it is introduced. If you are a bilingual parent, speak to your baby in both languages. He or she may seem confused in the beginning, but when it is all said and done, your child will acquire great fluency and get a boost in his or her intelligence.

Is your child older, and can handle more one-on-one guidance in lessons? Find a language tutor in your area here!

TriniaS.Tirina S. teaches ESL in Linthicum Heights, MD.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Early Childhood Psychology. Tirina spent the past seven years living in Thailand teaching the English language to Thai students. Learn more about Tirina S. here!



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