The German noun phrase

German noun phrases seem to always be a source of confusion for learners. They certainly were for me, but over time, I've figured out a system to make sense of them. The table below should look somewhat familiar; it's a typical "German article" table, but with a couple…

The grand pronunciation guide

How does one learn to speak a foreign language with a native or near-native accent? Described below is what has worked for me in the past. Hopefully it helps you too. Learn the IPA I've written about this before, so I'll keep it simple. Make sure you can look at…

Underlying representations to conquer irregularities

There's a system I use to make memorizing different rules and irregularities, particularly in word inflections, much easier. Every word, every sentence, every utterance in general has, on the phonological level, two representations: the underlying, or "phonemic" (how it's stored in speakers' heads) and the explicit, or "…

Getting started with French

You've decided to learn French, but have no idea where to start? This page should be helpful. It's a rough guide I threw together that should help you get started. Hope it helps, and good luck! Step 0: IPA Get acquainted with the IPA, the "International Phonetic Alphabet"…

Understanding the IPA Chart

What is the IPA? The IPA stands for "International Phonetic Alphabet", and the idea is to have a system of symbols that unambiguously transcribe human speech. There are no spelling rules or writing conventions to get in the way, it's just purely a sound-to-symbol system that's really helpful…

Phones vs. Phonemes

Be sure to have read my introduction to the IPA before you dive down this rabbit hole. Remember that terrifying Swedish word, "sjuksköterska"? Here are the IPA transcriptions for it: /ɧʉːkɧøːtɛʂka/ [ˈxʷʉ̟ʷːkˌxʷœːtɛʂkʲa] You'll notice I used two different types of brackets for the above IPA transcriptions, diagonal…

Familiarization with the language

Before you dive into learning your chosen language, take a moment to get to know it, first. Phonology Start by skimming the language's Wikipedia page, "[language] Language". This will give you a bit of background on the language. Next, read about the phonology of the language at "…

Acquiring fundamentals of grammar

Once you can look at a word and reliably tell exactly what phonemes it consists of, and can recognize different word classes and are familiar with pronouns and the essentials of verb conjugation, you're ready to actually start learning words. Reading Find a resource with text aimed for beginners of…

Why you should learn the IPA

Before starting to learn any language, there's something you can learn that will make acquiring excellent pronunciation much easier for any language. I'll illustrate with an example. Imagine you've just started to learn Swedish, and you've encountered the word "sjuksköterska". How on earth is this actually pronounced? I…