Learning a language – It’s too hard for me!

(Based on a true story) A Canadian-born Chinese girl appealed to her mother: “Mom, I don’t want to learn Chinese.” Her mother said, “Look, we are Chinese. You must learn the Chinese language!” The girl replied, “But it is too hard for me!” Her mother gave out the final verdict, “No matter what, you have […]

Speaking Practice Amongst Learners

Today, I had a chance to speak over Skype with Milan, the die-hard Cantonese learner. It must have been more than 3 years since we last talked. Back then we spoke in English and Cantonese. This time our conversation was purely in French and it lasted for more than an hour! When Milan proposed this […]

Paid Language Tutoring

In the past few months, I have been focusing on a lot speaking activities. During the summer, I paid for some conversation practices in Spanish. I tried three different tutors online, and ended up picking one to continue with throughout the summer. In the past year or so, my Spanish learning activities consist of listening, […]

Google’s Babel Fish

Here is my latest fish-joke. It was Chinese New Year last week. My colleague of Mexican origin instant-messaged me: ‘新年好’ (good New-Year). Obviously, he had been playing around with Google Translate. So I challenged him that, with the help of Google Translate, he should not have any more excuse not to chat with me in […]

Learn Mandarin from Cantonese and Vice Versa

Finally, I have persuaded my wife to go to Mandarin class. She had her first class last Thursday. OK, this was not her first attempt, but at least I regard this as a new beginning. There is always hope. Coming back from the class that night, my wife started firing all kinds of pronunication questions […]

The Quadriplegic Mayor

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan caught the attention of the international media back in 2006, when he accepted the flag at the closing ceremonies of the Turin Winter Olympics. He is Canada’s first disabled mayor and also the first quadriplegic mayor of a North American city. The mayor was paralysed after a tragic skiing accident when […]

Languages Spoken in Toronto

After more than a year of waiting, the data finally came out last week. Statistics Canada released the language-related statistics of the 2006 census. Here are the top 20 languages “spoken most often at home” in Toronto, my home town, and their corresponding head-counts and percentages: English – 2746480 (55.31%) Italian – 185760 (3.74%) Chinese, […]

The Language of Good

Since I have joined so many language exchange websites, I am quite used to receiving language exchange requests from time to time. Back in September, I received yet another one. But this time it was a bit unusual. First of all, she was a native French speaker (bilingual French/English to be exact) asking for a […]

My New Cantonese Blog

I always find language learner’s materials artificial and boring. I always want to access real-life contents in the languages I am learning. There are of course a lot of real-life contents I can find today, especially on the Internet. However, most of them are either in written forms, or only available in audio or video […]

Coalition Of The Willing

Naturegirl left a comment on my previous post, mentioning a common scenario, where you want to practice your target language, only to find out that the other person always responses back to you in English (or your native language). This is indeed an extremely frustrating experience. This could be by far the number one enemy […]

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