How to Learn a Language Using Snapchat (Podcast Episode 45)

Everyone's talking about social media, some people are talking about social media for language learning. In today's podcast episode, get the most specific advice possible as Lindsay and I guide you through the Snapchat app for language learning.

Listen to the episode:

Don't forget to catch the mention of our good friends at Flashsticks, the language learning post-it guys. You can purchase vocabulary post-it notes in 8 languages and get 10% off with the code KERSTIN10.

snapchat language learning

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a social media app for any smartphone. It lets you share photos or videos, and your snap only lasts 24 hours unless you make it a "memory".

Of course you can change the menu language, but with such strong visual focus that alone won't teach you a language.

It's designed for camera phones and not available on your desktop computer.

Why is it awesome?

  • It's easy, fast and low-pressure. In other photo social networks, you would be tempted to make every picture stunning and impressive and beautiful. But in Snapchat, you'll just play and learn in the process. What does that mean? No more shyness, no more reasons to avoid speaking!
  • It allows you to stitch things together into a story, so you can share a 5-second snap, or go ahead and combine several videos to show how you speak a foreign language.
  • For language learning, the new Memories feature is a way to track your progress. Record yourself speaking today, save the memory, and try the same thing in a month. You'll be surprised at your own progress!

How to Get The Most Out of This For Languages

You may have to set up a little system in order to get the most out of this, for example an evening review or a regular vocab routine.

1. Document
Lindsay studies every morning and documents her mistakes on Snapchat, while I am more spontaneous and use the system to show and share how languages pop up in my day.

2. Check and Correct Errors
One other idea is to practice what you want to practice, then check back and correct the errors that you made. We go into detail about how important it is not just to make the mistakes, but to correct the mistakes so that you can get better.

3. Make Yourself a Vocab Resource
As you go through your day, why not take pictures of all you see around you and build yourself a little daily vocab resource? You can save the story in Memories at the end of the day, or do an evening review to add the words to your vocabulary bank.

Great Accounts to Follow (Click for the Snapcodes)

Are You a Snapchat User?

If you use Snapchat for language learning (or not), leave us a comment and share your usernames and snapcodes.

Thank you guys so much for being podcast listeners, chatting to us on twitter (I'm @kerstinhammes and Lindsay is @ldlanguages) and making your voices heard!

Podcast Episode 29: How to Be Super Efficient with Languages with SmarterGerman's Michael Schmitz

Thanks to our podcast sponsor Hello Talk - check out their free app.

Note the episode contains two mild swearwords!!

Listen to the latest episode


Things get real with Michael Schmitz, creator of the SmarterGerman blog and teaching system. Michael is dedicated to bringing German learners to a high level in just a few months. And he has some frank opinions about what it takes to get there.

If you want to learn about efficient German learning, this is your show. Listen to discover:

  • Why teaching at Berlitz made Michael want to start his own thing
  • Why having fun is way overrated in language learning
  • What efficiency is all about
  • How to become an efficient and productive learner
  • Why a polyglot and a language teacher is not the same thing
  • Why you should never need external motivation to learn German

"Either you have money or you have time. I can save you many, many hours of your life."

"Language learners need someone to kick their ass sometimes."

Links From This Show

Tips of the Week

Michael chose tip 1, and added that productivity and efficiency allows for the opportunity to become a creative thinker. Listen to his advice - excellent stuff!

1) Become a More Productive Learner with 12 tips from 5 Minute Language

2) Plan your Imaginary Trip

3) Sing Grammar Songs

This episode is sponsored by Hello Talk, the most focused language exchange app out there.

How to Learn a Language with Thousands of Helpers on Tumblr

Today's post comes from a language learner I've known for about a year. Maria is based in Newcastle and first talked to me during the 50 Calls Project. I love her enthusiasm and her awesome perspectives on language learning. Recently she contacted me to offer a guest post on language learning on Tumblr - I'm not a Tumblr user myself so I jumped at the chance.

Enjoy Maria's post!


Never heard of Tumblr?

The magical world of Tumblr might be new to you. In this case, here's a definition I saw on Yahoo Answers, where they describe Tumblr like this:

A place to "effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be. You can customize everything, from colors to your theme's HTML.

So in essence, Tumblr another social media platform. But what separates this one from other social networks is that once you have an account, you can create numerous blogs and join a multitude of intriguing communities, from Doctor Who to interior design.

It's also different because in general on the website, people don't tend to know each other. You don't add your friends or family, but create a family of the people who share your interests! The example I'm going to talk about is, of course, the language learning community on Tumblr!

Start with a Tag


Sound confusing? It's really not. Anyone, any age, anywhere can join a community they like or search for whatever they like. My favourite tag is the 'polyglot' tag but I wouldn't dare call myself a polyglot at all! You don't even need to be fluent in another language. It's just a good bit of fun for people who are interested, while acting as a serious study aid - it certainly helped me get through my Spanish GCSE!

You don't even have to have an account to see the grand world of Tumblr. The website is easy to navigate and you learn more as you go on, building your page and gaining followers. Like Twitter, you can reblog (retweet) and like (favourite) different posts, adding your own comments too! You can directly 'ask' people questions and follow blogs. You can search for a tag to see all the posts under that tag, and that's where the community you want to join will be found!

For languages, you want to be looking at tags like #polyglot, #foreignlanguage, #langblr or of the language you want to see, for example #esperanto.

Tags Give You Everything

From playful jokes to help with confusing grammar from native speakers, the sky is the limit over on Tumblr. There are videos, text posts, photos, and links to other websites. You'll find a lot of relatable posts made by other people in the same position as you, which are bound make you laugh. I can't count the times I've read a post and in my head I'm thinking, 'Oh my gosh, this person is me!'.

Here are a few good examples:

Supportive Community at the Touch of a Button

But Tumblr is not just for jokes. It can be a serious resource. Users post important grammar points, language tips and expert knowledge on any language.

On one occasion, I looked at a post that finally helped me grasp how to use the cases in Latin, and the next post along I picked up some Argentinian slang. You can directly message people and ask them about your own challenges too and they're more than happy to share their expertise. They might come asking you too.

The people in Tumblr's communities offer support if, for instance, you post about having a tricky patch in a language. Everyone is super friendly! And if you've hit a bit of a barrier recently with your learning, there is motivation left, right and centre on Tumblr. All it takes is a quick scroll down a tag and you see something new and it sparks off the relationship between you and your language again! You can find weekly challenges and search for a language exchange partner, creating global friendships while learning and teaching a language.

But what if I'm learning a really obscure language?

If there's a language, there's a tag. Someone somewhere is learning that language and is posting about it on Tumblr! You might find tips about your target language or resources you've never seen before. They come in heaps, seriously. I've seen list after list of free websites to help you learn French, or specific YouTube accounts for Portuguese. These people have spent their time searching so you don't have to! And it's all at the click of a button!

You can post in foreign languages yourself and ask for corrections, or communicate with people in the community in their language. The ways to stimulate learning are endless, and a lot of the time you're doing it subconsciously as you scroll down the page. There are thousands of people in the community from all corners of the world, and to think so few people know about this language learning gold mine!

If you want to have a peek at the magical language learning world on Tumblr, start with the #langblr tag and enjoy your journey down the rabbit hole..

Okay, as I was editing this post I got pumped up. Maria, I'm on Tumblr too now! Joining the masses! Getting into the community! Are you on Tumblr too? Leave your opinion in the comments and share your favourite Blogs and Tags with us!

How much will you pay for a Language Tutor?

In recent months, I have seen many examples of experienced polyglots and language bloggers who posted guides to finding the perfect language tutor. There was the instructive article from Fluent in 3 Months, then a guide from I will teach you a language, and Judith Meyer also featured tips in her blog Learn Langs.

Experienced language learners agree on one thing: Learning a language with a tutor is a true game changer.

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It’s impossible to progress as much if you don’t start speaking your language at some point. And for an early stage learner, picking a tutor means working with someone who can help you bridge the gaps with ease.

Language tutor or language exchange?

Well, there isn’t anything in particular to tell you about what will work best for you. I work as a language tutor and my years of experience have definitely taught me a lot about learning styles, quirks of the German language and how to motivate and coach my students. All these skills are what an experienced tutor can offer you.

I wouldn’t recommend tackling a language exchange before you have learnt at least the essential structures and phrases of your target language. This often comes at early level A2. Starting an exchange too early will leave you feeling frustrated and stupid.

You do not get top quality at bottom prices

For the purpose of this article, I want to assume that you have made up your mind and you are looking for a tutor.

Now here is the part I want to talk to you about. I disagree with what the other articles are telling you. Let's talk about price. Most other articles include a sentence that goes a little like this:

Language lessons online are very cheap, you can get them for just $5 an hour.

$5 an hour? That’s less than you pay for a drink at Starbucks. Now I know that wages and currencies vary around the world and I’m not stupid, so please don’t come commenting with the “$5 is lots of money in xyz!” argument. Your online teacher's costs are not just measured in time-per-hour. They also have a family to support, an internet connection and webcam to buy, personal development to cover. These are all part of the job, and that’s the case even if they live in the cheapest country in the world.

Self-employed language teachers will price themselves as low as they can because they really love working with you. But when they are taking on 50 students a week because the price per lesson is very low, they become mediocre teachers. If you are able to approach the exchange with a mindset that considers both payment and benefits, you will not be ripped off.

Read on to find out how to find exactly the right partner for your needs and your budget.

How to Find a Price that Works for You

In order to help you select the right language learning partnership, it is helpful to approach sites like italki with a clear image of what you are truly looking for.

And please look beyond italki, because many of the greatest and most experienced teachers I know have their own blogs and websites. Comment below if you’re looking for a tutor in a specific language and I’ll happily connect you.

Option Number 1: The freebie

Look for a language exchange partner and simply swap time helping them practice your native language for time practicing your target language.


  • You don’t even have to look online because many foreign students or residents in your town might be looking for language exchanges too.
  • Sharing the language learning experience is very motivating and you’ll see the partner’s success just as much as yours.


  • There is a learning curve and this exchange may be frustrating at first. You have to be comfortable setting boundaries and working with rules, otherwise you become someone else’s free teacher.
  • Your partner will speak the language but may not be able to explain it
  • You give as much as you get, so prepare to work hard

Option Number 2: The super bargain

Look for lessons under $10/hour and take advantage of the low living costs in other countries. Bear in mind these types of prices are below minimum wage in most countries, and probably this includes yours.


  • Maybe you will find a great tutor for peanuts


  • This is a Trial and Error technique, it takes longer to find someone you click with
  • The cheaper language teachers tend to be those supporting themselves temporarily, so you don’t get ongoing support as most cheap teachers decide to move on to another job within a few months

My personal verdict on this option? It’s better than nothing, but the worst of both worlds.

Option Number 3: The professional

Hire an experienced language tutor for a minimum of $20/hour. Look for someone who is showing their expertise and commitment by having their own website, blogging about their work and knowledge and giving you a clear idea of what lessons will be like.

I’m biased, and here are my Pros:

  • You’ll get a free consultation from most experienced language teachers and they will clearly tell you which goals you are working towards, and keep you committed
  • The lessons tend to be tailored, long-term and built for you
  • You’re doing a great thing because this is the way to support an experienced professional
  • Professional teachers strive towards working full-time for you, so they can offer a flexible schedule and will fit the lesson times around you

For more details on HOW you can find that tutor that's worth your time, here is a list of questions you should ask them.

Cons? Well, we'd all love to get more free things in life.

A Tip for Ethical Teachers

For language teachers who are reading this article and excited about stepping up their business, here’s some important advice:

  1. Be serious and trustworthy: I would not charge a student until I know for sure that I connect with them. I don't take on each one, only students that understand my style. I don't want people to spend money on me unless I feel like I really understand what they need.
  2. Commit to your business: If you don’t want to be seen as some kind of fly-by-night operation, you have to show your worth to your potential student. Be worth their investment, be around and be reliable. You can’t do this without a brand and website, but it’s not as difficult as you may think.

For more information, have a look at the “Teach Languages” section here on Fluent, and in particular you should investigate the Live Lessons Course. This step-by-step course is written for language teachers who are excited to start standing out as one of the best out there.

What’s your opinion on language lessons?

Have you taken part in language exchanges? Do you currently work with a tutor?

I want to hear about your experiences, so please leave me a comment and tell me more about how you’re learning languages yourself.

Learn to speak Dog in 6 weeks: The Top 5 April stories for Language Lovers

Back in 1957, eight million astounded Brits gathered around their television sets to learn about a magnificient cultural spectacle. The popular BBC programme Panorama was showing exclusive footage of the epic Spaghetti Harvest in Switzerland. They had been enjoying tinned spaghetti from the greengrocer's shelves and relished learning more about how this exotic dish was made.

In fact, the BBC has a long history of bringing us groundbreaking news like that. Just think of their discovery that penguins can fly!

What the What?

Okay, by now you may find yourself wondering if I've gone completely crazy and let me assure you I'm not quite there yet! These fascinating news stories are part of the worldwide tradition of playing pranks on April Fools' Day, the world's joke day. To celebrate this crazy tradition, I thought I could either tell you that Fluent is turning into a Chemistry blog (HAH!) or make myself useful by counting down my favourite linguistic jokes. So here we are:

The Top 5 April Fools' Jokes for Language Lovers

1. German Grammar Reform coming up

On 1 April 2015, Deutsche Welle's German Teaching blog reported groundbreaking news. They announced a radical simplification of the German language's grammar. In the new system, the genders of different words would follow strictly logical rules - anything feminine is feminine, anything masculine is masculine, and all the other stuff is neuter. They also announced that the conjugated verb will no longer confuse you by jumping to the end of sub-clauses. And best of all, the four cases would be reduced to just three. Who the heck needs a Genitiv anyway?

2. New Zealand has a new official language

The most significant claim to fame of New Zealand has been its recent role as the site of Tolkien's fabled land of Middle Earth. In a radical move, the country has now accepted its key role in fantasy and changed its official language to Elvish.

Here's a video where you can check out how beautiful the new weather reports in Elvish sound.

3. Netflix admits that English is a foreign language

In 2013, video service Netflix finally admitted that English is not the easy world language it's renowned to be. In a revolutionary move, they introduced the category Movies that are in English but still need subtitles, which features facets of the English language that you might have missed out on so far. How about learning Irish Traveller English or just Scottish?

4. Learn a new language: Dog Barking Online Course

If you have always wondered what it is that your dog really wants, now you finally have the means to open the door to communicating with them. Groupon is offering an exclusive 6-week course that will get you fluent and conversing with native dogs in their own language.

5. English. It's the only language you need.

And finally, here is a post from my friend Alex Gentry that I bet a lot of you will relate to ;)

Russian is the MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE ON EARTH! I can't take it anymore! It's too much for my poor little brain to handle. Also Hindi! I am tired of Hindi because everyone in India DEFINITELY speaks English anyway, so why need that? Why can't they just translate Bollywood movies into ENGLISH??? Also what's the use of Indonesian? Why can't I learn a USEFUL language like Chinese or Spanish? Also I'm going to stop with Portuguese and German and Spanish and even Chinese because as I know from experience, EVERYONE SPEAKS ENGLISH ANYWAY! So I'm not going to learn anymore languages and I'm going to forget them all! I want to be a monolingual English speaker again! And these foreigners! They can leave me alone unless they SPEAK ENGLISH! WHY DOESN'T EVERYONE JUST SPEAK IN ENGLISH????? IT WOULD MAKE THINGS SOOOOOO MUCH EASIER FOR ME, RIGHT???? Like learning a foreign language, that doesn't benefit me in any way. I just want to be stupid and ignorant of the rest of the world again besides AREN'T FOREIGN LANGUAGES LIKE IMPOSSIBLE TO LEARN???? TWO LANGUAGES IN ONE HEAD??? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?????? From now on the only language I will ever speak again is English, because this post is just the most serious post ever that it completely reflects exactly how I feel about learning foreign languages. Or maybe I might have just wrote this to shock people and make them wonder if something was wrong with me. Or maybe this might just be a March Fool's joke. No! Wait! That's the wrong month! March is over! You know.... Oh wait......:-P

Oh, and did you know that Germans will let you get away with pranks on April 2 and 3 too?

Lean Back and Enjoy our Language Book Club Videos (Plus: Free T-Shirt!)

Even though it seems like only yesterday, our Language Book Club event is now already two weeks ago and I haven't even had the time to thank all of you who watched and interacted with us. Language Book Club was an 11-hour long live event featuring language book discounts, interviews with authors, live video chats and extra giveaways. Both co-host Chris Broholm and I had a full but fascinating and amazing day.

The Vocab Cookbook Freebies

I want to thank each of the 255 (yay!) people who downloaded a copy of The Vocab Cookbook, my book which I had made available for free on the day.

Don't forget that you can claim your free action-focused worksheets for Vocab Cookbook readers simply by submitting an Amazon review and letting me know about it. I am also giving away a pretty cute "I love Languages" t-shirt. You must enter by the end of February for a chance win this.

What I Learnt on the Day

In the course of our day, Chris and I produced a cool total of 9 interviews with our guests. From textbook authors to published bloggers, I think I enjoyed every single conversation that I had. Without further ado, I want you guys to immerse yourself in all these chats, so all you need to do is check this out and press Play.

What surprised me about these video conversations was the format. In the run-up to Language Book Club, Chris had brought in the idea of video interviews. He envisaged this epic live feed session that allowed our viewers almost non-stop interaction. And I must admit that this just sounded crazy to me. I thought no one was going to watch and that this was a waste of time! 

While we didn't manage to pull off 11 straight hours of video, we did come pretty close. Every hour, our audience members got to meet a new author and most were able to join us live on Hangouts on Air. I had not anticipated how well this was going to go. You guys were nothing but fantastic, asking questions on Facebook and interacting with the guests. I hadn't expected video interviews to be so much fun. So the lesson for me is to keep trying out new things and pushing myself out of the comfort zone, both here on the Fluent blog and in my books and courses. I have Chris to thank for that.

Did you follow Language Book Club and grab a book on the day? What were your impressions? Which videos did you enjoy the most?

The 16 Words that Sum Up All Learning Dilemmas

As my 50 Calls Project continues and I get to talk to more amazing language learners and language teachers about all things to do with learning, I come across some of the best things people say. It really is a treat to be able to connect with so many people from all over the world. I have made some new friends in London, Macedonia, Egypt, the USA and Spain.

The following quote just had to be shared with you. It is the perfect summary of why we learn and why we find it frustrating, right?

As you learn, you notice that you have to learn more because you don't know anything.

As you learn, you notice that you have to learn more because you don't know anything.

Thank you very much to Cris Pacino for this wonderful quote.

It's important to remember that we can never be perfect, and even when you are bilingual you are still not perfect. You are not even perfect in your native language!

With this thought, I hope that you have a wonderful weekend filled with success.

There's Nothing You Cannot Learn

Hello everyone, much love from the other side of the world where I am experiencing a bit of Californian sunshine. Yesterday I got to visit the absolutely stunning Montaña de Oro State Park - do not miss this if you are ever here. I texted everyone I know saying that this is the most beautiful place on earth. Just look! I can't even tell you...ich bin verliebt!

Montaña de Oro, near Morro Bay in California

Montaña de Oro, near Morro Bay in California

You Can Do It!

But there is something else I want to share with you. It's something that one of my longest standing, most impressive students said last week in a lesson. I've not been able to hide how happy it made me to hear this from one of my students.

All he says is this:

For some reason I've got it in my head that there is nothing I can't learn.

That's the attitude I love. There is nothing you cannot learn. We are all beginners at something, and if you are reading this right now while wondering if you'll ever be really fluent in German, or French, or whatever, then take heart.

There is nothing you cannot learn. You can do things now, and some things are not possible. But learning, that's different. Learning is open to you and you must only take heart and discipline. Fluent Language is here to help you on the journey - no matter how you do your thing, just learn something.

I would love to read your comments! What did you learn today?

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