Language Learning: Classroom vs Solo Study

Classroom Vs Independent Study

There are advantages and disadvantages regarding learning a language in a classroom versus attempting to pick up a language on your own with independent study. To ensure that you choose the most efficient process for language learning, here are some pointers!

Classroom experience:

With a classroom experience, you can get the same type of structure that you might be used to from school. There is also a dedicated time slot focused on language learning. If you tend to have problems staying motivated, organized and focused this may prove to be a worthwhile investment. The classroom experience can also make sure that you have the assistance of a teacher. Classroom experiences can often be a more expensive way to learn the language. On the other hand, if you are someone that prefers solo learning or learning at your own pace, it may not be the best idea.

Solo learning:

With a solo learning experience, you can use a variety of free materials and applications. These same applications may mimic a classroom experience. Independent study is also incredibly flexible and you can take on a language whenever you have time. There’s no need to wait for a particular language to come up with a course offering at a local college or attend a specific session each week. You can also pick a learning strategy that works best for your mind. For individuals that have problems dedicating time regularly, this may not be the ideal strategy for picking up a new language.

Remember some of these top ideas when you are picking out the ideal way to learn a language for your needs.


Is It Better to Learn a Language in a Class or on Your Own?

Teaching English As A Foreign Language

If you’re considering teaching English as a foreign language, congratulations. You’ve chosen a career that many people don’t attempt. Although it’s one of the most rewarding jobs imaginable, the truth is that it can be a massive commitment. Of course, if you have a passion for it, then the work involved will be a true pleasure.

There are two basic ways to teach English as a foreign language. One way is to do so in your home country. All over America and other English-speaking countries, there are English classes offered by the government and by various learning institutions. These classes are designed to help non-native English speakers learn English in a fast-paced, student-centered environment. Programs like this are great for EFL teachers who can’t make the commitment to travel abroad.

The other option is to teach English as a foreign language in another country. This is where the majority of teachers end up, since there is a much greater demand for teachers in the students’ native countries. Teaching abroad is also considered more of a challenge because of the travel required- most teachers are expected to spend at least a year at a time in the country where they are employed.

With the spread of English worldwide as an essential tool in business communication, many foreign students are ready to learn- and they’re not always children. Corporations and businesses also hold English classes for their employees who must communicate overseas. If you’re not afraid of travel, the field of job possibilities is nearly endless.


The first thing you’ll need to obtain to teach English as a foreign language is a TEFL certification. This gives you the qualification to teach in a classroom and covers the basic structure of English grammar. There are several ways to become TEFL-certified. Many language schools offer one-month certification courses. Colleges and universities can also provide TEFL certification.

Although it is possible to get a job teaching English as a foreign language without certification, your chances of employment are not nearly as good. As more and more people become certified, competition for the good positions is increasing. We recommend TEFL certification for anyone who is seriously interested in this career.

Finding a teaching job

Even if your eventual goal is to teach English in your home country, you may want to seriously consider teaching abroad at first. Most teachers start out with at least a year in a foreign country, and the experience gained in doing so is nearly invaluable.

While we don’t necessarily recommend heading to a foreign country to find a job, you can certainly do so if you’re feeling adventurous. However, there are plenty of resources online that can help you line up a position before you go. Many TEFL certification courses offer job placements for teachers who are interested in going abroad, and these can be a wonderful resource.

Whether you’re in a foreign country or on home soil, teaching English as a foreign language can be a challenging field. Be prepared to work hard and devote a lot of time to your career, especially at first. In exchange for your efforts, you’ll be experiencing firsthand one of the most rewarding and interesting jobs there is.

Honorable Mentions:

  • JET  Program ( Teach English in Japan)
  • Maximo Nivel – Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru
  • Entrust TEFL – Thailand
  • TEFL Worldwide Prague – Czech Republic
  • i-to-i TEFL – Multiple Destinations
  • International TEFL Academy – Global

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Kanji With Heisig: A Method To Leaning Kanji


RTK- James Heisig

Ever wish there was a method for learning kanji that didn’t involve hand cramps and migraines? Well, you’re in luck if you’ve stumbled upon this post…provided you have a bit of imagination. RTK stands for Remembering The Kanji, it is a learning method designed by James Heisig.  It’s designed to be a fully loaded series designed to help you memorize all two thousand essential kanji in a short span of time (3 months even!). He preaches that memorization is not about the repetition but rather imagination, so he came up with this unique utilization of mnemonics to introduce different radicals and “memes” to learn kanji.


Putting The Pieces Together

Each kanji introduced is given a unique story based on its radicals, your job is to piece together this story in your head as graphically as possible and keep it with you as long as you live, every time you draw the character for 猿 you, must remember the wild beast cloaked in a yukata standing in the soil, what animal could pull off such a feat? The monkey of course, what else? Heisig holds your hand throughout the first half of the book with his stories but then you have to start making your own, that’s when the going gets tough. The stories will begin to look something like this; animal…soil…clothe. You have to fill in the blanks 🙂

Using Radicals To Make Kanji
Putting it together.

The Problem…

However,  since the book is in a series you won’t learn all the kanji components at once. For example, you have to go through the first book first with only English meanings for the kanji in order to get to the second with kunyomi and onyomi pronunciations.  If you are an avid learner you can run through both series in a matter of months, but it gets increasingly demotivating as you realize you are only learning the English of said kanji, and you  may want to stop, and we all know what happens once you stop anything in a language learning journey …bad …unspeakable things.


Another thing the series doesn’t do is show them in context, in Japanese, there are several words for what you think would be one definition. For example 顔付き (facial expression), here you can see the characters for face and attach…imagine this; in RTK these two characters can be separated by pages and pages of other kanji. You’d be learning kanji and then wondering “I wonder what would happen if I added this to another…?”

*If you are curious as to what learning platform can do this check out WaniKani. ⇑

Overall, RTK does teach you patience and shows you just how fun kanji can be if you’re creative enough that is… I find that the negative reviews on this series usually come from hardcore learners who don’t have the time or patience to comprehend that they are only learning a kanji piece-by-piece and not in its entirety.

Remembering the Kanji 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters


Language Learning: The Speaking Barrier


The Speaking Barrier

The fact is that speaking is naturally harder than everything else in the language learning journey. It is also one of the final stepping stones in the journey. When we try to utter sounds we aren’t familiar with, we either butcher them completely or we replace the sound with the closest thing we know by association. This isn’t a coincidence, it’s your brain putting the safety lock on your tongue so you don’t potentially socially embarrass yourself, leading to a greater threat. It’s a kind of death lock your brain activates the moment that unnatural vibe or rhythm rolls from the back of your throat. So why is it then that speaking is so darn hard?

Your Mouth Doesn’t Know

  • Firstly, it’s no coincidence that is like that, any other way would be …well…weird. The mouth is one of the only mechanisms we use to communicate our thoughts to the world. Even with all our brilliance, if we are unable to speak then both the world and our reality remains frozen. Learning to speak another language should be considered a separate category than just “Learning a Language”. The methods that need to be undertaken can seem like a full-fledged workout, think about it! You are reconstructing your facial muscles to move in ways they’ve never ever dreamed of. They are probably screaming bloody murder while you torture them to bits and pieces. There is a saying from a TED Talker by the name of Chris Lonsdale, he said: “If your face hurts you’re doing it right.”
Language Learning The Speaking Barrier
The face I make when I just don’t know how…

Is it Worth Speaking?

  • Besides the physical burden speaking places on an individual’s face, there is the aspect of social fortitude. Learning to speak a language is a social experiment, you are measuring the outcomes of opening your mouth and asking, “Is it worth it?” The thing is that your personal thoughts that you took the time and energy to express are always worth it…it’s just that 90% of the time the language learning journey denies that idea completely and treats you like you are nothing – but you know better…right?
How confident are you when speaking a language
Confidence in speaking

How Confident Are You?

  • Then there is the aspect of confidence, as language learners, we must go into speaking with the same kind of motivation that made us want to learn the language in the first place. Speaking is the only part of the journey that requires interaction. You can sit in your room with music/podcast, watch TV shows and read books without ever even opening your mouth. Unless of course…you craft up and imaginary friend and speak to yourself- but you would still be speaking to another side of you and not another person, you’d lack the different and unique reactions you need to further your jerk reflexes. When asked a question in your first language, or carrying on a conversation, freezing for 5 seconds before you respond isn’t an appropriate response in most situations. If you lean on the introverted personality types this may be quite troublesome for you, but I inspire you now at this very moment to break outside of this shell.


Fluent in 3 Months By Benny Lewis

The Irish polyglot Benny Lewis preaches that in order to become fluent in a language fast, you need to start speaking immediately. And when I say immediately, I mean as of yesterday. The reasoning behind this is that it helps you build confidence, think in the target language earlier and practice your accent. However. there have been many language learners who’ve criticized this method as being wholly ineffective because they claim it makes them “sound weird”, “botches their accent”, and embarrasses them. However, the point of it all is to defeat those exact moments and feelings of discouragement.  Fluent in 3 Months, is a fantastic book, that goes into detail about this head-on method, and even breaks down the study routine of Benny Lewis himself. If you want to know more about Benny Lewis his website is here.

Overall speaking holds most of us language learners in a stalemate during our journey. And it’s usually the thing that determines if we’re able to actively continue our language learning journey. It is indeed a powerful tool capable of overcoming cultural and language barriers. So we ought not to be surprised at its alarming difficulty. Keep pushing language learners and don’t be afraid to open your mouth, realize that your brain is your worst enemy in this scenario and go on gut instinct. Impulse over thought!

TEDxTalks. “| TEDxLingnanUniversity.” YouTube, YouTube, 20 Nov. 2013,

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Glossika Review: Do You Even Lift Bro?

Glossika Promo-800x100

An In-depth Glossika Review

We live in an age where languages are at the tips of our fingers. Technology has made it unquestionably easier for language learning. Personally, I use about five or six software programs to assist in my journey, but today I’ll be discussing a newer addition by the name of Glossika.

What is Glossika?

Glossika is a spaced repetition program designed to help the user achieve fluency through audio reps. A rep is similar to what you would do in a gym… only that it’s pertaining to language learning muscle. The idea is to repeat and mimic the native speaker so often that eventually you achieve “fluency”. Mike Campbell, founder of Glossika has loosely defined fluency as “Being able to say a sentence in one full breath, it flows from beginning to end.”


Content: Glossika offers over 50+ languages, each of them amassing 3000 sentences of beginner-advanced levels. So, not only will you be learning something new just about every day but you’ll be reviewing previous items as well due to its SRS. You can also sort the content that you want to see in your sessions. This allows for focus in the target language. Want to learn about business but not medical practice – easy! In addition, all content was recorded by native speakers, so you can’t go wrong with mispronunciation or perfecting your accent.

Glossika Topics
Glossika Topic Selector

User-Friendly: Literally, all you have to do is read and repeat. Feel free to write things down if you want, but all you HAVE to do is open up the website, click “Session” and do your reps for the day. The sessions also never become too hard or too easy, because the AI adjusts to your pace after completing a session.


Glossika Method
Glossika Japanese Session @290 Reps

Builds Muscle Memory: The whole idea behind Glossika is to strengthen your speaking skills through consistent speaking. Speaking can almost be considered a reflex in the world of language learning. By the time you hit 100,000 reps or even 1,000,000, you’ll be trigger ready to say just about anything.







Lack of Grammar Explanation: This one isn’t necessarily so much of a con if viewed from the perspective of Glossika, but for me and nearly everyone else I’d say it is. Glossika doesn’t explain grammar in a detailed fashion, in fact, it doesn’t at all. The idea is to expose you to 3000 sentences in a logical order so that the grammar unconsciously falls into place. It kind of makes sense, because in our first languages we never really stop to think about the structure of our speech. On this note, going with the flow is okay, but don’t hesitate to look something up if you need assistance.

Pricey: Not going to lie, all of this awesome stuff costs a pretty penny. I’m currently on the monthly plan at $30.00/month, yes per month! The yearly plan goes for something like $ 288.00/annual. I don’t know how I feel about the pricing, but for unlimited audio, speaking and diction training for 50+ languages it may just be worth it…if you’re Bill Gates.

Glossika Pricing
Glossika’s Pricing

No Books: For those of you who aren’t aware, the program did once offer books along with their courses that somewhat explained the courses. However, after the system update that boasted flexibility and user-friendliness, those books vanished from the catalogue. You can however still find remnants of Glossika’s language books on Amazon.

Glossika Promo 2-800x100

Sign up for Glossika now and start building reps!


Foreign Languages: Top 3 Studying Mistakes

Language Learning: Top 3 Mistakes Made When Studying

Learning a language is a complex task. There are so many components in a language that studying it can seem like an obstacle to overcome itself.

Here are the top 3 mistakes made when studying a language.

  1. Using one medium– let’s be honest here people, it’s the 21st century and people have begun to flock to technology to solve nearly any problem. However, it’s important to remember that before we had computers and language software, people of the past would read and mainly use face- to face interactions to learn languages. There needs to be an infusion of different methods to achieve the perfect balance in your study routine. Focusing on one medium whether it be technology, reading, or entertainment isn’t enough.


  1. Not activating passive knowledge: Okay, so you know when you learn a word and it gets sent straight to the back of your brain like you never encountered it in the first place? That’s because in language learning there is this concept of passive vs active knowledge. Passive language is something that you’ve encountered but cannot produce it in any meaningful way that would cause a reactionary response. To effectively study a foreign language, learning how to activate passive knowledge is one of the greatest milestones you can accomplish. You can do this by mainly listening, reading and speaking – any activity that forces you to actively pay attention.


  1. Using one Resource: As I mentioned earlier, using one MEDIUM is not effective- but right behind that logic is the problem of using one resource. Let’s look at software programs for an example. Different programs are built for different things, if I were to use Duolingo to practice my Japanese kanji skills I would be at a lost because Duolingo focuses on rote memorization and passive to active knowledge. So instead I use Wanikani or the Kanji Study app on my phone. Knowing when to switch resources is an essential part of the language learning journey. Using one textbook that only teaches up to B2  when you are trying to achieve C2 isn’t beneficial, it’s damaging. Similarly, why use a resource that focuses SOLELY on grammar, when you are behind on vocabulary? SWITCH IT UP!


Can you identify with any of these ‘bad’ habits? Let me know in the comments!

Optimize your study methods here!