Be like Ramazan!

be like ramazan(1)

“Language is a performing art that requires practice, nuance, and personality to convey an idea. Those who master communication master their world.”
Michael Schutzler, CEO of Livemocha

I love doing my English conversation classes! Students are very keen and sociable and, despite having a very basic level of English, it’s amazing how they manage to get their point across in a way or another.

There is one student who always stands out among them all. He’s an 18 years old boy from Turkey, called Ramazan. Ramazan doesn’t stand out because of his variety of vocabulary. And he doesn’t even stand out for the accuracy of his grammar. Ramazan stands out because of his grit. He tries hard to communicate, regardless of the fact that he may or may not know a particular word.

Ramazan tries it out, speaks up,  gets it wrong, brushes it off, laughs with us and keeps going. He stands up, draws something on the board and asks “what’s the name of this, Ermy ?”, “Is it correct?”. He is always ready to learn more. Finally, he encourages the others to join in and speak out too. Because he intrinsically knows that someone can become fluent in a language only by speaking it. Period.

Ramazan is an example of how someone can communicate in a foreign language regardless of their level. He is the evidence that knowing a specific word is not essential to communicate effectively. It is always possible to find a way to get your point across (creatively!).

It’s all about your communication skills rather than your language skills. And language skills without communication skills are useless.

You may learn the whole Oxford dictionary, but if you aren’t brave enough to speak out, you’ll never do much with those words.

You may know all the grammar rules in this world, but if you don’t practise your speaking because you’re afraid of making mistakes, you’ll never become fluent.

You may wait until you know how to pronounce a sentence perfectly before saying it out loud in front of a native speaker, but how do you know if you’re saying it right, if you don’t try it?

So, be like Ramazan.

Be brave. Speak up.

Get things wrong and brush it off.

Don’t beat yourself up. Laugh it off.

Make mistakes and learn from them.

Don’t wait until you’re ready, because, the truth is, you’ll be ready only once you’ve started!

Don’t hold back. Have fun speaking.

Speak up like Ramazan!


P.S. I’m curious! If you feel that something is blocking you from speaking the language you are learning, what do you think it is? Tell me in the comments below, maybe I can help!


Scholarship winner announced!

announcement scholarship.png

Can’t believe it’s already time to announce our winner!

First, I want to thank everyone who entered. It’s great to know the reasons that lie behind someone’s choice of learning Italian, Spanish, French or English, as that’s the biggest motivator of all!

With that said, I’m going to announce the winner of the scholarship for the Personal Learning Programme which is…


Imagine drum rolling…


Sparkling confetti raining…


Folks cheering and waving their hands…


Robert Brooks! Congratulations!!!


I’m beyond excited to have you join me for my Personal Learning Programme in Spanish.

You should have received an email from me asking you to have a first meeting on Skype to arrange your learning sessions and everything else! So, keep an eye on your email!

And, if you weren’t selected for a scholarship, I really appreciate your thoughtful entry and would love to have you join us if you can. Rememeber that  Personal Learning Programme is still available at a discounted price until tomorrow!

If you still have questions about the  Personal Learning Programme  have a look at this F.A.Q.. It should help you make a clear decision. And, if you still have questions after reading it, just email me at

I’ll answer you as soon as possible.


See you soon,




Quiz time:

  • Have you ever learned a language in a packed (and boring!) class and felt you were going soooo slowly (or so quickly)?

  • Do you ever think that Duolingo is a cool way to learn a language but you’d definitely skip the animals unit because it’s not what you need to talk about when you’re on your next trip to Italy?

  • Do you ever get that pit in your stomach that makes your face go pink, whilst thinking “I don’t have the words to say this” in the middle of a conversation with your Spanish speaker friend?

If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of the above questions I got the solution for you.

I have created a programme. It’s called Personal Learning Programme.

And the reason why is called “Personal” is that the curriculum of this course is created just for a learner like you and according to your own needs (no standardized stuff!). And the “Learning” bit is about learning the language you love in a way that works for you. And, more importantly, in a way that doesn’t let the fear of making mistakes preventing you from becoming the confident and fluent speaker you’ve always desired to be.


…you want a trip abroad where you are no longer a tourist but a keen and confident traveller.
…You want a trip abroad that is filled not only with amazing views but also with interesting conversations that feed you mind and soul.
…You want a trip abroad during which you can truly connect to people of a differen culture by speaking confidently the language you love
…You want a trip abroad during which you can create the memories and the friendships of life time.

The Personal  Learning Programme is for you.

This is not a standardised language course with a ready made curriculum. It’s a course where you create your own curriculum so that you learn what you really need.

These are not language classes that you need to attend at a set time and date every week. These are one to one learning sessions that you schedule at your own convenience (because I know you have a busy schedule!).

This is not a language course that makes you learn a language. This is a programme that enables you to speak the language from day 1, packed with self study activities that will get you out of your comfort zone and become a confident speaker of Italian, Spanish,French or English.

The Personal Learning Programme is the “language course” that you have always desired to take and you thought it didn’t exist.

This is an invitation to create your own language course, so that you’ll be able to learn (and speak!) either Italian, Spanish, French or English in a way that is suitable to your schedule and relevant to you.

The Personal Learning Programme is available now at a discounted price until October 15th

Now, you may think you are not ready to invest your time or your money in this programme.

The truth is, no one is ready until they decide to be ready. And, I’m aware that especially if you are a student, you need to be mindful about the money you are spending. But, for a matter of fact, I also know that when you invest in yourself like you’d do with this programme, your motivation to succeed increase and you’ll achieve your goal.

So, if not now, when?

Because, here is the best part: the programme is not only available here at a discounted price, but I am also offering a scholarship that will allow you to take this programme completely for free (and you are also free to choose the programme plan too, either plan 1 or plan 2).

Entries for this scholarship close on October 15th at 11AM (London time) so make sure you do it now!

Don’t miss out on your chance to win a spot inside the Personal Learning Programme (click here to know more about the Programme). The winner will be announced on Monday, October 16th.



  • Download the blog post image above.
  • Post the image on the social media platforms of your choice (Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest) or post it on your blog with the caption:I want to join the #PersonalLearningProgramme with Ermy to learn Italian/Spanish/French/English (you need to pick one language!). Come join me at:
  • You get major bonus points if you post it on multiple platforms (and those bonus points definitely make a difference when picking a winner).
  • If applicable, tag me on instagram @thelanguagerose and remember the hashtag #PersonalLearningProgramme
  • In the comments below, let me know your name, your best email, where you shared the scholarship and a written or video response to these three questions: why do you want to learn Italian, Spanish, French or English? What would you be able to achieve if you learned the language of your choice?
  • Written responses must be under 200 words and submitted in the comments below.
  • Video responses must be under 2 minutes and uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and linked to below in the comments.
  • Don’t forget to join the Language Rose Learning Club to be the first one to know who the winner is on the day of the announcement. Click here to join the club, if you haven’t already!

***If you decide to join the Personal Learning Programme before the winner is announced (remember that discounted early bird prices are available now right here!) and you win the scholarship, I’ll simply refund your payment. 

I believe that learning a new language is a life changing experience that opens up a whole new world of opportunities. I’m so glad I can make language learning more accessible to everyone thanks to this initiative and with your collaboration.

I really can’t wait to see your aw-mazing entries!

Best of luck,

Ermy ***

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Want to get past the language barrier? Do this!


Have you ever found yourself in a language lesson thinking :”I’ve been doing this for a while now and I still can’t understand a word!”

Many language learners, especially at the beginning, fall into the trap of concentrating too much on the written rather than the spoken word. However, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, training your listening skills from day one is essential to get past the language barrier.

How do you develop you ability to “hear” the language you love? Well, I have something that can help you get started.

First, the internet is your friend if you are self studying a language. There are lots of resources online that can help you train your ear . Here are some I’ve used with my students:

I love these websites because they not only provide an example of language in use, that is current and authentic, but they also use a type of language that is simple to understand.

Once you’re on the website, choose the record you want to listen to and follow this step by step process to go to from “no idea about what they say” to “I get it now!”

Step #1 – Listen first

Listen to the recording for the first time, without looking a the typescript. If you’re a beginner, you may find it difficult to understand it the first time. Maybe, you’ll just recognize a few words. If you’re a more advanced learner you may get the gist but miss out some words. Please, don’t beat yourself up, if you don’t understand as much as you’d like, you’re still learning! Just let the words and thei sound wash over you and once the record is over get ready for step 2.

Step # 2 – Listen and follow the script

listen to the recording again and this time follow the script. Let your brain fill the gaps and make the association between the words and the sounds. Maybe, you’ll find out that you already knew some words and  you just didn’t recognize their pronunciation earlier. This is good news!At this stage you’ll become increasingly aware of  the words’ sound and their pronunciation and you’ll “educate” your ear to hear them.

Step #3 – Get the meaning

Now that you have associated the sound with the words, you’ll be looking for their meaning. Scan the text and see which key words you know and which ones you don’t. Key words are normally high frequency words (e.i they consistently show up in a spoken or writtten text) which are essential to understand the gist. The cool feature of the “Slow news” website (in Italian, Spanish and French) is that you can just click on certain words to see their meaning in English straightway. Cool, right? If that option is not available, remember that you can always use

Step #4 – Shadowing

Now that you are clear about the meaning and the pronunciation of your recorded text, you can try to listen to it once again and read along! Your aim is to get your pronunciation as close as possible to the original one. This technique is called shadowing and I’ve previously talked about it in my other article about how to improve pronunciation. With this technique, you’ll fix the sound of those words into your brain and you’ll also improve your pronunciation, at the same time. It’s two for one deal!

If you consistently train your ear in this way, you will eventually understand the spoken language better and get past the language barrier. Do your think you can schedule five minutes a day to do this? The earlier you start the sooner you’ll get result.

And remember:  if you need help in becoming fluent in the language you love and want even more resources to learn Italian, Spanish, French or English, I’ll be more than happy to have you over at the Language Rose Learning Club to get special learning tips and resources every week (for free!)! 🙂

Come on over and join the club!

See you soon,




10 phrases to sound more fluent in italian

“You get stuck on the little things!”

This is what my English teacher once told us. What he meant was that despite we could speak about a specific topic in English, we’d easily got stuck when we had to interact during a conversation.

Interaction in a conversation is what makes it a fun exchange of ideas rather than a boring interview. And exchanging ideas is what people love doing, because it’s in our human nature to think, analyse, discuss and say our opinion.

This is clearly difficult to do when you are speaking another language. You want to support an idea or maybe show surprise, confusion, or even bewilderment  for what has just being said and you suddenly get stuck and all awkward in your body. You don’t know what to say. Or better, you know what to say, but you keep yourself from blurting out an exclamation in your native language – as it won’t be understood!!

I know what it’s like. You may know how to talk about your hobbies, but … if your Italian friend tells you she loves doing bungee jumping in her free time, you’re speechless (literally!).

Today I’d like to give you some phrases that will help you to interact more naturally and sound more fluent in Italian, and even take a step back to rephrase a particular thought or opinion to get your point across more effectively. Because next time you are in the middle of a heated Italian conversation (which happens quite often among Italians!), you’ll definitely need them!

Below are my top 10 phrases to help you sound more fluent (and expressive!) in Italian in your next conversation:

  1. Allora… – So…

  2. Davvero? – Really?

  3. Non penso! – I don’t think so!

  4. Pensi? – You think so?

  5. Ma dai! – No way!/ Come on!

  6. Aspetta! – Wait!

  7. Scusa, mi son sbagliato/a! – sorry, I got it wrong!

  8. Cioé… – That is/like…

  9. Come dire… – How to say…

  10. Certo! – Of course!

Wanna listen to the pronunciation of these phrases? I’ve got you covered! Grab my FREE flashcards on Quizlet by joining The Language Rose Learning Club and start to learn and practise these phrases right now. You can join the Language Rose Learning club right here (it’s completely free!).

As always, the more you’ll use these words, the more comfortable you’ll get at slipping them into your speech.

Which one of these phrases is your favourite? Which one do you think you’ll use the most?

Let me know in the comments below and happy learning,



6 tips to make your learning routine stick!


I must confess!

I’ve been guilty of skipping my language learning sessions.

Rather than grab my French book and do something that would help me to keep my French up, I would waste my time scrolling my facebook home page – and eat loads of gelato, meanwhile!


As a recovering social media addict and a developing self-disciplined individual, I’ve learned to sort myself out.

Here are my 6 tips to make your language learning routine stick:

1. Make it a ritual

A ritual is an activity that you perform in a specific place, at a specific time, using specific materials or resources that help you to carry out that activity effectively.  If you want to make your language learning a ritual, then ensure you all these things have been decided: when it’s happening, where it’s happening, which tools and materials you’ll need to make it happen. Write these things down and then perform your new language learning ritual daily until your brain will get into a routine. Getting into a routine will help you to stick to your language learning religiously. Just like a solemn ritual.

2.Make it easy

The first step of any activity that you decide to undertake must be easy in order to help you to perform it regularly. If you want to stick to your yoga practice in the morning, put you matt on the floor already in the evening. If you want to go to the gym regularly, go  straight after work (avoiding going home first.). And if you want to stick to your language learning routine, lay out your designated study area (because you have a designated study area, right?) with the resources you need to use and ensure they are always there to remind you :”Hey, mate! It’s learning time!”.

3.Keep it short and sweet

Alex Rawling, in his book “How to Speak any language fluently”, advises to have several short language learning sessions during the day, rather than one long session. This is much more effective because by revisiting the language more than once during your day, you’ll be more likely to retain the information you learn. So, do keep your language learning session short and sweet.

4.Reward yourself

Our brain loves rewards. Rewards help you to stay motivated and create happy association in your brain. For example: for me, finishing reading “La casa de los espiritus” (by Isabel Allende) equals to buy a new book that I’d love to read next. And you? What’s your reward for completing a language learning activity?

5. Tell a friend

…or give them 50 pounds! You can only have them back if you don’t skip you learning session! That’s called accountability!!

6.Remind yourself of your “Why”

This is my favourite strategy. Reminding yourself of why you have chosen to learn Italian, Spanish, French, English or whatever language you are learning, is the number one way to help you get your motivation back. The reason why you started to learn the language you love is super-important because it also represents your final destination or goal. It’s where you want to get to and you will only by keeping learning!

And if you feel you need more help with your language learning, I have created a programme that you may find helpful.

It’s called the Personal Learning Programme which is a series of one to one, personalised language learning sessions created just for your that can help you to learn (and speak!) either Italian, Spanish, French or English, especially if standardised classroom programmes and methodologies, lack of time or persistence have been preventing you from learning the language you’ve always desired to learn.

And now, I’d love to hear from you: what’s the number one obstacle that has been preventing you from learning the language you love consistently?

Let me know in the comments below -I read them all!

See you soon and happy learning,




Are you up for a challenge? (one that you can learn from!)


5 days language learning challenge

August is coming to an end soon and with September approaching, many people take the opportunity to get clear about what they’d like to accomplish by the end of the year.

If learning Italian, Spanish, or French has been on your wish list for a while, this September is the right time to start and I’d love to help you.

Let’s schedule a chat on Skype to design a language course just for you. The one that you’d really love to take.

If you’ve been learning a language already and need to get some motivation to resume your learning routine. I can help you with that too.

I created the 5 Days Language Learning Challenge to get you started (or re-started) to learn the language you love.  Specifically, you should take this challenge if:

  • you’re self studying your language and you need a roadmap to get your learning organised
  • you always feel you don’t have enough time or motivation to learn
  • you’re not consistent in your learning
  • you want to learn the language more effectively

The Challenge starts on September 4th.

Here’s in detail what we’re going to do together each day:

Day 1  : Get and apply my best strategies to stay motivated – especially when you don’t feel like learning!

Day 2 : Discover and use your “learning superpowers” to learn better and faster.

5 days language learning challenge

Day 3: Find out how to set specific targets to get your learning organised and efficient.

Day 4: Get tips to find a like-minded language accountability partner to practise with.

Day 5: Apply my “secret” method to get you through any conversation with a native speaker (about any topic) in your favourite language.

If you haven’t joined the Challenge yet, you can join right here.

I hope to see you there.

Happy language learning,


Can you *truly* learn a language *only* in the country where it’s spoken?


You’ve been wondering if you’re wasting your time in your language course.

You’re thinking of ditching your language class and go to the country so that you can actually learn the language.

Well…I’m here to tell you: STOP! Read on before making any decision!

Many people think that learning a language, truly and completely, can only happen in the country where the language is spoken. This assumption is true to some extent, however it can create some dangerous generalisations.

I have some good and bad news: every language learner should go to the country where the language is spoken in order to get their language skills to the next level, however *just* going to the country with zero knowledge of the language, not only could it slow down your learning process but it could also bring your confidence level down.

Here’s a real life story (of me being a stuck up!) to explain what I mean.

When I was studying English at university I joined the Erasmus exchange programme for six months to go to England. Over those six months, I was able to bring my language skills to the next level because:

  1. I turned on my go-getter mode: I hang around only with English students and students of other nationalities so that I could speak English all the time. I joined university societies. I taught Italian to English students. I volunteered in sporadic projects, including painting a school wall for charity, designing logos for shows, and can’t-rememeber-what-else … in other words, I was actively looking for opportunties to practise the language.
  2. I turned into an Italian stuck-up. I avoided -the kind of ‘you’ve-got-the-plague’ avoiding, all Italian groups, meet-up or any place that looked like having far too many Italians -and Italian language.

Despite this didn’t make me the most popular girl among my conationals, I was very happy as I was able to really practice my English and bring it to a much higher level by the end of the exchange -and make friends from all around the world.

But here’s the thing: I was able to do this because I had already an intermediate level of English. I was prepared for the experience -although at the very beginning… OMG! How difficult was to understand them!

The experience of some my other Italian fellows was not quite the same: they had come to England with a very poor level of English. Consequently, they found it far too challenging to integrate into the foreign environment and, after the first weeks of trying, they gave up and ended up hanging around with Italian people only. Needless to say, their language level didn’t go up much.

This experience can ring a bell in the mind of those students who enthusiastically sign up for a language course in the country where the language is spoken, go there with zero or near-to-zero knowledge of the language and realise that they don’t make as much progress as they expected.

Disappointingly, they actually find themselves making the same progress as if they were taking the language course in their home country (but spending far more money!). The truth is that when you are a beginner or you’ve just started to learn a language from scratch, you find it difficult to really get the most out of the foreign speaking environment around you.

Metaphorically speaking, it’s like giving a book to a five years old who doesn’t know how to read and expect her to understand the story. It ain’t happening!

She could understand it, though, if she learned how to read first. Then, she’d also be able to expand her vocabulary too whilst reading the book and develop her reading skills. But she needs the basics first.

You need the basics of the language first.

Ideally, it’s better to get to an intermediate level before going to the country for an extended period to time in order to make the most out of it. If you’re going there for a short trip, a basic level would do too. In this way, you’d really be able to take advantage of the foreign speaking environment around you and bring your language skills to the next level.

On a side note, I’ve also met people who have never been to the country for an extended period of time, and they were able to speak the language fluently. One of my colleguaes in school was like this. She spoke extremely good italian and she had never spent in Italy more than two or three weeks.

Her secret? Hard work and consistency. She was able to recreate around her a “fake” Italian speaking envornment, by listening to podcasts, radio, watching films, reading Italian books, practising her speaking with a language partner… you can do the same too, if you really want to learn!

The bottom line is this: although it’s essential to go to the country where the language is spoken, it’s not the right choice if you’re just starting to learn the language from scratch.

Going to the country hoping to learn the language without having acquired any basic knowledge first, can eventually lead to disappointing results, slow down your learning process and also damage your confidence.

Better learn the basics before setting off, bearin in mind that you’re the one who needs to be proactive and take advantage of the opportunities presented to you

-aka, stay away from people who speak your native language and use some of these tips to practice the language you love.

Now, what about you? Have you ever been abroad to learn the language you love? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below.

I can’t wait to read them.

Find it difficult to find a language course right for you? I can help!

Join my one to one classes  either face to face or on Skype and get a language course designed just for you . Only 9 spots available at the moment.  Email me so we can have a chat about it! 😀


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How to practise your language skills (without being afraid of making mistakes)

Let’s say you really want to practise your foreign language once you’re abroad on holiday (or next time you visit that neighborhood that is so full of Spanish people). What can help you to make the most out of your experience?

When I was studying French a few years ago in the beautiful Rouen, I used some simple strategies to practise and develop my language skills anytime I was around the city.

Today, I’d like to share with you some of these strategies and hope they’ll inspire you to be fearless about using the language (see strategy number 3!) whilst you’re visiting your favourite foreign country.

Here we go:

1. Create your visual language portfolio

Posters, signals, ads, menus, leaflets, shops’ names… these are just a few things that you can find around you to learn new words and phrases.

Take pictures of posters, shops or anything that you find linguistically useful or curious. Create a folder in your phone or camera and name it “my language portfolio”.

You can look at these pictures later on and use them as real life flash cards, containing example of language in use. You’ll remember those words and phrases better as they’ll be part of your personal experience.


2. Explore local bookshops and newstands

When I was in Rouen, almost every day I used to go to the Fnac and loved to explore the bandes dessinées (French comics) section. French comics were more suitable for my level of French and were much more appealing to me than a book.

You can have a look at local bookhops and newstands and find magazines or books that spark your interest and imagination (by the way, the children’s section in every bookshop is a very good start for beginners!) 😉


3. Be fearless about using the language.

Stop someone on the street and ask them the time, directions or where you can find the best food place nearby. Order local food in French. Find ANY excuse in order to speak the language. And it doesn’t matter if you get it wrong. I’ll repeat it. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE.

Remember : 1) it’s unlikely you’ll see the person you stopped on the street again (and even if you will, it’s fine! Make a new friend!) 2) your main goal is to practise your language skills. Don’t miss an opportunity because you’re afraid of making mistakes. Especially in language learning, the more mistakes you make, the more you learn.

If you realise you’ve made a mistake while speaking…great job! You can even acknowledge it by saying in Italian, Spanish or French “I’m still learning”: “sto imparando ancora”, ” estoy aprendiendo todavía”, “Je suis en train d’apprendre le français.”

To help you with this, I’ve created a series of conversational phrases you can use in this scenario. Get them at this link by joining the Language Rose Learning Club.


4. Sit back and just listen

Sit down on a bench in one of the main streets, or lay on the beach and listen to the nearest people talking (without staring at them!). How many words can you recognize? This is a fun exercise to do to train your listening skills.

If you want you can bring this exercise to the next level by noting down the words you recognise and challenge yourself to use those words in your next conversation.

5. Journal in your foreign language

At the end of the day, write something in your journal that describes the best, funniest, or even worst experiences you had. It’s  great way to practice your writing skills.

I wrote pages and pages in my journal when I was studying French in Rouen. Here is a little extract of my French journal I used to write when I was studying there- unedited just to let you see that I make mistakes too.  Can you spot all the mistakes?

“OUAH! En France les résultats du baccalauréat sont publiés sur les journaux! C’est-a-dire qu’en France tout le mond sait si une personne a réussi ou échoué le bac. Je ne savait pas celà ! En Italie nous n’avons pas de résultats publiés dans les journaux.
Ce matin, lorsque je prennais mon petit déjeuner, Françoise a trouvée le nom de son amie sur le journal de Rouen. “Elle a réussi avec mention ‘bien’” m’a dit. Après, Françoise m’a expliqué qu’il y a trois niveaux différents: assez bien, bien et très bien. Aussi, elle m’a demandé si en Italie on a un système similaire (Françoise est très curieuse! J’aime bien ça!).

Now, I love writing so my journal entries were always long, but this doesn’t mean you need to do the same. You can just write a short sentence that describes what made your day.

For example, now that I am in England, I write a sentence each day in my journal that describes what I am most grateful for. You could do the same in your foreign language.


6. Play make believe

If you’re really into acting, pretend you’re a journalist, a writer or a researcher abroad who is interviewing people about a specific topic.

Write down your questions, go around and talk to people. Don’t take yourself too seriously! just have fun  – remember what I told you in number 3: be fearless!


7. Write a postcard in your foreign language

Send it to a friend – even if they don’t speak the language! You’ll inspire them to learn it! 🙂


8. Theatre or cinema?

Which one do you like the most?

I love theatre and I like watching plays and shows in the foreign languages I speak. Bear in mind that you don’t need to understand everything; most things are also understood from the context.

Next time you go abroad and, maybe the weather isn’t great for outdoor activities, ask yourself: theatre or cinema?

So here you have them! Some strategies you can use to practice your language on your holiday abroad.

Which one is you favourite? Do you have any other helpful activity you’d like to share with us? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

Happy Summer holidays,



9 easy tips for an awesome pronunciation


“Am I actually speaking English or Chinese!?!”.

This is what I used to think every time some native English speaker asked me to repeat what I had just said.

This happened to me quite often when I first came to England.  It seemed that despite I was using the right words, people didn’t understand me.

The truth was this: I was saying the right words BUT…

I was pronouncing them wrongly.

Embarrassing? A bit.

Did I learn from my mistake? You bet!

Although, I wish I had focused more on my pronunciation whilst studying English back in Italy, I quickly got back on track and put into practice useful strategies that helped me to improve my pronunciation.

Pronunciation is key to communication. You need to get it right to get your message across.

Today I’d like to share with you some of the strategies I use to help my learners (as well as myself)  to master their pronunciation in Spanish, Italian, French or any language you’re learning. So you can sound more native too!

Here they are!


When you are learning a new language, you need to accept that you’re going to make some “weird” sounds!

You need to get used to producing sounds you’ve never produced before and your body may feel uncomfortable. You may experience some resistance that prevents you from  producing the correct sound and pronouncing well. Well, my friend! It’s time you let this feeling of embarrassment go!

Yes, you may feel a bit stupid at the beginning when pronouncing the French or Spanish “R”. You may feel incredibly self conscious, if trying to pronounce a difficult word in front of other people or your teacher. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Every language learner has started there, everyone has faced  (and overcomed) your same obstacle.

It’s normal to feel uncomfortable at the beginning, accept this and remind yourself that learning a foreign language requires you to get out of your comfort zone by experimenting and making sounds that are uncommon to you.

We are wired to produce all the sounds of all the languages in the world. It’s just a matter of training until you get the sound you need right and, eventually, it’ll come out of your mouth naturally and effortlessly. Pinky promise! 😉


2.Learn the foreign language’s sounds system

This is especially true for language like Italian and Spanish which are phonetic languages and have very fixed pronunciation for each group of letters. French too has fixed pronunciation for particular group of letters although its pronunciation is less predictable than Italian and Spanish.

There are lots of online resources that explain the sound system of the most common languages and, currently, I am also working on a pronunciation course that uncovers all the secrets of Italian pronunciation. You can sign up for free to the Language Rose Learning Club, to show your interest and support my project! So I can keep you posted!


3. Find twin sounds 

Many Italian learners, at the beginning, find challenging to prounounce the sound represented by the letters “gl”, as in words like “famiglia” (family), “fogli” (sheets) or “gli” (the plural masculine).

The truth is that English has the sound “gl” as well, it is just written differently: take the beginning of the word “you”, for example. Pronounce just the “y” sound at the beginning and add the vowel “i” next to it; you’ll get the sound “yi”  which is pronounced like “gli”.

This is one example on how you can find sounds in your native language that recalls the foreign sounds you need to learn. Finding similarities between the two phonetics system of your native and foreign language helps you to learn and pronounce better these foreign sounds, especially when you’re just starting out!


4. Listen and repeat (without reading)!

Some words can be fairly challenging to pronounce and this is because of the way they are written, which can be misleading. For example: the word “idea” in Spanish is spelled the same in Spanish and in English, but its pronunciation is completely different.

When we read the word “idea” in Spanish, our brain associates it straightaway to the English word and it is tempted to read it with its English pronunciation. The trick is to eliminate the visual input, just listen to the pronunciation of the word and repeat it. In this way, your brain will memorise the right pronunciation first and, once you go back to the written word, you’ll be able to pronounce it right.


5. Have some karaoke time!

Who doesn’t like music? I love music and singing!

Singing is a great way to improve your pronunciation and get used to the rhythm and pronunciation patterns of a language. Listen to songs in the foreign language that are singable (meaning they are not too fast and has a clear pronunciation).

Here are some examples of Italian, Spanish an French songs you can to try to sing along (which I also used when I was first learning Spanish and French).

ITALIAN:  Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu by Domenico Modugno (there’s also a lovely version by Il Volo), Come Un Pittore by Modá, Essere umani by Marco Mengoni

SPANISH: Manos al Aire by Nelly Furtado,  A Dios le Pido  by Juanes, Vivir Mi Vida by Marc Anthony

FRENCH: 1 Jour by Louane, Champs Ellysée by Joe Dessin,   Le bonheure du monde by Sinsemilia (also a lovely version by Kids United) ,

6. Have fun with tongue twisters!

If you’re up for a challenge, you should try tongue twisters in your foreign language. I sometimes use this as a warm up to a study session to get into the mood.

Here are my favorite tongue twisters in Italian, Spanish and French. Can you say them fast?

ITALIAN – Sul tagliere l’aglio taglia, non tagliare la tovaglia,  la tovaglia non è aglio, se la tagli fai uno sbaglio.

SPANISH – No me mires, que miran que nos miramos, y verán en tus ojos que nos amamos. No nos miremos, que cuando no nos miren nos miraremos.

FRENCH- Cinq chiens chassent six chats.


7. Practice shadowing

When you have studied the language for a while and you want to bring your pronunciation to the next level, you can start to practice shadowing.

Developed by polyglot Alexander Arguelles, the shadowing technique involves talking over a track and trying to match your speech as closely as possible to the native speaker voice underneath.

Grab an audiobook or even a film in the foreign language with subtitles and start to develop your listening as well as your pronunciation skills right now!


8. Read aloud (and mean it!)

Reading a text aloud is an excellent practice to practice your pronunciation. This is even more successful if there’s a teacher or another more expert learner who guides you whilst you’re reading.

When you read aloud, try to understand and interpret what you read and add the right intonation to conjure the emotions that the text suggests. It’s a fun exercise to do, especially if you love acting (I DO!).


9. Get over your accent!

If you practice pronunciation consistently and relentlessly you’ll be able to get as close as you can to a native pronunciation. However, your accent sometimes may still come out, and that’s ok!

Here’s what you must remember: your accent is nothing to be ashamed of, your accent makes you unique, be proud of it! Plus, native speakers speak with their own regional accents too, so why should you be ashamed of something that is so common among native and non-native language speakers? 

As long as you are fulfilling the main goal of the language, which is communicating, there is no need to worry about your accent. Speak up and let the words flow. You’re doing a great job!

Now, I’d love to hear from you: which one of this pronunciation tips is your favourite? Do you have any other one that you’d like to share with us? Post it in the comment below!

Have fun learning,


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