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The Pakistan Monument in Islamabad, Pakistan
Learn Urdu Through Online Lessons
Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language that is the national language of Pakistan and official language of six Indian states. Urdu is associated with the Hindu community and with Muslims of the region of Hindustan. Urdu has about 104 million speakers including those who speak Urdu as a 2nd language. In addition to Pakistan and India, Urdu is also spoken and understood in Bangladesh, Nepal, the Middle East, the UK, and many other countries around the world where Pakistani communities have settled.

Urdu and Hindi are very similar with just some slight differences. Urdu and Hindi are alike in structure, grammar, vocabulary, and phonology. The difference between the languages is in how they are written. While Urdu script comes from Persian and Arabic, Hindi comes more from Sanskrit. The population of Hindi-Urdu speakers is ranked the fourth largest of the languages in the world.

If you are thinking of living or visiting Pakistan, certain areas of India, or places where Hindu and Muslim communities are prominent, learning Urdu will be in your best interest. Learning how to read, write, and speak Urdu will help you become familiar with the language of the people living in these parts of the world. Learning Urdu will also not only help you read and write the Arabic and Persian alphabet but will also help you become more familiar with how to speak Hindi. If you are interested in learning Urdu, here are the top four websites to help you get started.

  1. Linguanaut - http://www.linguanaut.com/english_urdu.htm
    This link is ideal for learning the most common Urdu greetings, phrases, and expressions. This site gives translations to help with common scenarios: how to introduce yourself, how to wish someone something, solving a misunderstanding, etc. The site displays the translated word or phrases the way it would be pronounced and the way it would be written in Urdu script. This conveniently allows for a learner to practice how to read, write, and speak Urdu sayings.

  2. WikiHow-How to Speak and Understand Urdu - http://www.wikihow.com/Speak-and-Understand-Urdu
    This link presents a step-by-step process on how to speak and understand Urdu. The steps primarily focus on teaching Urdu grammar such as pronouns, verbs, tense usage, sentence structure, etc. The laid-out steps make the learning process easy to follow and understand.

  3. Surface Languages-Urdu - http://www.surfacelanguages.com/language/Urdu
    This site is very helpful for learning the basics of Urdu such as common phrases and vocabulary. Surface Languages offers interactive flashcards and games on multiple topics to help you learn Urdu easily. One of the stand out features of this site is that it allows you to listen to words being spoken aloud so you are able to hear and copy correct pronunciations.

  4. MyLanguages-Urdu - http://mylanguages.org/urdu_phrases.php
    This site is a great resource for learning and practicing Urdu. My Languages offers an endless list of English to Urdu basic words and phrases that can be learned such as colors, numbers, food, etc. The site has pictures and audio to better help you remember these new words and sayings as well. What makes this site useful is that the Urdu words and phrases are not only translated but written in Urdu script as well.



Photo Credit: Syed Tirmizi

lrngo users in over 190 countries

Temples in Mexico
Study Spanish in Mexico
One of the best ways to learn a language is to be surrounded by it, so if you’re looking to study Spanish, why not study in Mexico? You will encounter endless opportunities to learn the language, from traditional classroom settings and beyond. What are you waiting for? Adventure around Mexico and learn Spanish while you do it!

Immersion Schools

If your foremost goal in living in Mexico is to learn Spanish and you do well in classroom settings, then you might be interested in going to an immersion school. Immersion schools focus on combining your Spanish-speaking surroundings with intensive Spanish language classes, giving you an optimal learning environment.

Spanish Institute of Puebla is located in the historic center of Mexico City. They offer individual and group programs, excursions to get a better feel for the city, and optional homestays (beneficial in truly immersing yourself in the language), over lengths of 3-24 weeks.

Instituto Cultural Oaxaca is a diverse institute in the state Oaxaco, which offers your typical immersion classes, accommodation help (offering homestays as well as aid in apartment and hotel searches), excursions, and a variety of cultural classes ranging from cooking to film.

Language Exchange

If you prefer one-on-one learning, especially if you’re on a budget, check out language exchange sites like LRNGO, which helps connect you with a learning exchange partner. The idea is that you have valuable skills that can be taught to others in exchange for lessons in a subject you want to learn.

If you’re planning on staying in Mexico for an extended period of time and are interested in a more free-flowing method of learning, this may be the option for you. Another benefit to keep in mind is that it’s free and on your time, without the constrictions of an institute.

Meetup

Another way to meet a language exchange partner and practice your language skills is to check out the Meetup language exchange groups in your area. These groups generally meet on set days during the week to practice all kinds of languages. Pop in and be surrounded by people trying to learn, just like you!

These groups are also great if you’re new to the area and are looking to meet like-minded people. Take a look at the Meetup groups that coincide with your other interests—from cooking to biking, and meet new friends perfect for practicing your Spanish on.

Helpx/woofing

For a unique immersion experience, check out programs like Helpx or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), which offer you opportunities to work for room and board in areas all over the world, including Mexico!

Both of these programs give you the opportunity to be immersed in a language while working with people eager to interact with different cultures. Helpx is supported by a wide variety of people interested in cultural exchange who are in need of help with a wide variety of jobs—from chefs in a restaurant to hostel sitters, while WWOOF participants help with organic farm work while simultaneously being surrounded by the culture!

No matter how you plan on learning Spanish, being in Mexico will provide you with countless opportunities to study, learn, and practice your newfound ability!


Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis

lrngo users in over 190 countries

Norwegian bridge in Flam, Norway
Norwegian Lessons Online-for Free!
If you’re dreaming of the day when you will finally be able to speak Norwegian, you’re in the right place. But in order to make that dream a reality, you’ll have to start building up your skills—which may seem daunting if you live in an area where the population of Norwegian speakers is low. Fortunately, thanks to the Internet, you can get started learning Norwegian from the comfort of your own home, no matter where you live, using these online resources.

Norwegian101 is filled with all kinds of helpful resources. They offer a free Norwegian course, complete with listening activities and study material equaling to over 100 pages, include links to Norwegian news and radio sites, and provide background on the language.

Norwegian on the Web, hosted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, this is a great place to become an expert on the basics. The site features six chapters of grammar, vocab, and listening activities, with exercises for you to quiz yourself on the material.

Norwegian Lessons with Karin is a series of videos by a native Norwegian. Each video focuses on a different aspect of the language, from vocabulary to slang. It’s beneficial to take a look at videos like these since they are from an everyday native speaker. Your understanding will stretch beyond the grammar rules as you gain an insight on what the language is really like to those who speak it.

Norwegian—the tutorial is made for those who want a simple, straightforward lesson similar to a textbook. The site focuses on the introductory aspects of the language and presents the information in an easy-to-read format.

Online Dictionaries are useful once you feel like you’ve gotten the basics under control and want to start putting them to use. This dictionary offers you great English-Norwegian translations that will be a valuable tool in the quest to expand your working vocabulary.

LRNGO is a learning exchange site that offers users the opportunity to teach and be taught in return. By inputting the skills they can teach, those they wish to learn, and their location, users get a list of matches to connect with—both locally and virtually via Skype. This option gives you free, one-on-one learning time from an actual person who’s there to answer any of the questions that the Internet just can’t seem to answer for you.

Now you have no excuses. Get out there and start challenging yourself to learn a new language, and see which of the world’s doors it opens up to you!


Photo Credit: Travis Modisette

lrngo users in over 190 countries

Tutor teaching student
Improve Your Chances of Getting a Free Spanish Tutor
Spanish is the fourth most widely spoken language in the world. Along with 330 million native speakers, there are about 100 million speakers who speak Spanish as a second language.

As the population of Spanish speakers continues to grow, many non-Spanish speakers are becoming interested in learning the language, but what many people don’t realize is that there are opportunities online to score free lessons with qualified Spanish instructors. If you are looking to learn Spanish at no cost with the help of a Spanish speaker, two great sites to look at are YouTube and Lrngo.

If you feel like you learn better by being taught by a teacher, YouTube is a good starting place to find one. ButterflySpanishola, LearnSpanish1, and SpanishDict are only three of the many YouTube channels that are solely dedicated to teaching Spanish. The numbers speak for themselves: With over 26,000 subscribers each, these numbers show that the provided lessons are successful to many eager students. All the teachers on these channels focus on teaching specific words, phrases, grammar, and pronunciations. One of the perks of free online video instruction for a language is that you are able to correctly see and hear how words and phrases are pronounced. Overall using online YouTube videos is a much better strategy than trying to self-teach the language with textbooks and feeling unsure about what you have learned or guessing on pronunciations.

If you feel like online videos are not enough and that you need a tutor you can actually talk to, Lrngo is the place for you. Lrngo is a website that facilitates free learning and language exchange with others. By typing in your zip code, city, or country of residence, you can find hundreds of people who are willing to teach certain subjects and who want to learn other subjects. By sending a person a message, you can agree to have a free language exchange lesson. For example, if I see a profile of a person who can teach Spanish and wants to learn English, I can send that person a quick message saying I can teach English and want to learn Spanish. From there, we can agree to have an hour lesson teaching each language for free. With Lrngo, you can meet people around your area at the public library, park, or university for a lesson. A person who lives too far away is not necessarily a problem because lessons can be easily given through online face-to-face video chats such as Skype, Oovoo, or Google Hangouts. With this convenience, you can always be guaranteed to find a free Spanish tutor or teacher anywhere whether locally in person or halfway around the world online.

If you are looking to learn Spanish for free with a tutor or teacher, YouTube and Lrngo are two sites you definitely want to visit. YouTube offers ready-made lessons by teachers with the click of a button, and Lrngo gives the opportunity to interactively learn from Spanish tutors and practice with Spanish speakers online or around your area. Before you think about needing to pay to obtain a Spanish instructor, first utilize these online resources and take advantage of what these resources are freely willing to offer.


Photo Credit: Tulane Public Relations

lrngo users in over 190 countries

French Words You Should Not Say
French Words You Shouldn’t Say
Looks like you’re headed to the land of berets, baguettes, and the Eiffel Tower! France is a beautiful country, and your journey is sure to be filled with countless adventures, but in order to get there, you might want to brush up on your French conversational skills.

There is nothing more embarrassing than saying the completely wrong thing in a foreign language, creating an awkward situation and revealing your "foreignness". Lucky for you, you will have been forewarned about some of the tricky words foreigners tend to stumble upon.

Baiser
Wait a second, you say. You’d consider yourself a pretty decent looking guy, and you’ve been dancing with this girl at the club for half the night. It’s been a nice time, and you finally get up the courage to ask if you can kiss her—you don’t want to be rude or pushy—and instead of the smile you had been expecting when you ask "est-ce que je peux te baiser?", her eyebrows crease as she dishes you an angry "excusez-moi" and slaps you before she storms away. If she didn’t want to kiss you, she could have just said no, right?

Well, you’re on the right track. Un baiser, a noun, is a kiss. Unfortunately for you, baiser the verb translates to the oh-so courteous "to f***".

Try the verb "embrasser" for better results.

Excité
You are totally pumped to meet your French BFF’s long-term boyfriend, so to express your enthusiasm you blurt out "je suis très excité de lui rencontrer!"

Your friend stares at you, obviously a little uncomfortable but you’re not sure why. Was it something you said?

The translation for what you said happens to be something along the lines of "I am very sexually aroused to meet him". Yikes.

Next time use words like "heureux" or "enthousiaste", and save a friendship.

Chatte
You’ve just met a new friend and she’s invited you over to her place for movie night. Earlier she had mentioned that she had a super lovable female cat, and you’re looking forward to seeing her, so you say "je suis heureux voir ta chatte".

Suddenly, you find that you have been uninvited to movie night.

Perhaps your new friend thought that you had been referring to her genitalia. That’s right, the ever-so-classy term "pu***" exists in French as well.

To avoid this awkward moment, just use the male term "un chat".

Sucer
A bunch of you are going out for the night, but your friend’s sister said she’s too tired. You’re a bit disappointed, but it isn’t that big of a deal. You jokingly say that "elle suce"—she sucks.

If everyone is looking at you in shock, and if your friend whose sister you were reffering to looks pretty upset, that would be because English slang doesn’t translate. You essentially just said that she sucks d***.

Try "ça craint" to say "it sucks" instead.

Preservatif
You’re on the raw diet and are trying to avoid those nasty preservatives that are in a lot of foods. You begin to raid your host’s kitchen, stumbling upon some bread. You ask your host "est-ce qu’il y a les preservatifs dans le pain?" To which your host responds by spitting out the water they were in the middle of drinking.

That would be because you just asked if "there are any condoms in the bread". The word you’re looking for is "conservateur", honey.

If you’re looking for a way to remember not to say these tricky words, check out What Not to Say in French’s tumblr, which features adorable animal memes to illustrate these offenses.


Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn
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Brightness and contrast edited

lrngo users in over 190 countries

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