How to Learn a New Language

Learn a New LanguageMaybe one of your new year’s resolutions is to learn a new language, or to re-learn a language you took in school but can’t speak anymore. We’ve listed the three main options for language learning below, but we’d love to hear your specific suggestions in the comments! Have you learned a new language just for fun, or to further your career? What are your best tips, ladies?

  1. Traditional language programs (e.g., Rosetta Stone): You can choose from 25 languages to learn with Rosetta Stone, including Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and more. Check out a free demo here (after picking a language). You can see the prices here; for example, right now a one-year online subscription is $199, while a two-year subscription is $209, and an instant download of Levels 1-5 is $209. (It looks like these are temporary discounts, by the way.) According to Rosetta Stone’s FAQ page, “It will take about 40-50 hours to complete the content in each level.” Here’s a review from The Economist from a few years ago and one from PC Mag.
    Others: Pimsleur, Fluenz, Speed Learning Languages, Babbel 
  2. Free language tools (e.g., Duolingo): With Duolingo you can choose from 15 languages, including French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and surprisingly, Esperanto. This video (autoplay YouTube) explains that the program — which is free, with no ads — teaches you to read, write, listen, and speak through “bite-size skills that look like games.” You can use Duolingo on your computer or get the app, which has versions for iPhone, Android, and Windows phones. The company also offers online language certification for $20. Here’s a PC Mag review and an Economist review.
    Others: Foreign Service Institute public domain language courses, Internet Polyglot
  3. Online tutors/language partners: Many, many options exist in this category, including Verbalplanet ($22 for 45 minutes), Livemocha (free), Verbling (varies; teachers set their own prices), Live Lingua ($9.99/hour and up), LingQ ($0-39/month), and Lang-8 (free). Here are some tips on finding and using an online tutor.

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Tales from the Wallet: Paying Down Debt vs. Saving

paying down debt vs. savingIt’s the New Year, and I heard a lot of chatter among commenters about when they should be paying down debt vs. saving. It’s a huge question, and we’ve talked about some related things (like how to pay off huge student loans and live within your means), but we haven’t talked about when to save vs. when to pay down debt in too long. Readers, what are your best thoughts on paying down debt vs. saving? When is getting out of debt a priority?

(Pictured: Comme des Garçons ‘Super Fluo’ French Wallet, $204 at Nordstrom.)

A few thoughts from me:

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The Hunt: Laptop Totes and Sleeves

laptop totes for womenSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

We haven’t done a roundup of stylish laptop totes in a THOUSAND YEARS, so I thought we’d take a look today. Ladies, do you have any trusty laptop totes? Do you prefer a laptop sleeve or an entire tote for laptops?

Psst: we’ve talked about how to lighten your load in the past, as well as how to save your back while commuting.

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Five Easy Ways to Get Over a Cold

how to get over a cold I’m sick right now (boooo), having caught my husband’s cold. We’ve talked a bit in the past about how to ward off colds, but I was thinking last night how much my colds in general really do seem to be milder and quicker than people around me. So here are a few of my simple tricks…

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Help With Your Resolutions

help with resolutions - pay down debt, lose weight, organize life, learn moreI’ve noticed there’s a lot of talk about finances in the comments, so I thought I’d round up some of our Tales from the Wallet posts in case those are helpful.  Then I thought, heck, why not just round up a few of our other posts that might be helpful on your resolutions. Whether your goal for 2016 is to save more, pay down debt, work out more, eat better, appreciate life more, organize your life, or grow your mind, we’ve talked about it. Any big topic we haven’t talked about that you’d like to see an open thread on, or would you like to revisit any one of these topics for a more updated discussion?  

(Oh, and here’s a link to a more general discussion that will probably help with all of the below resolutions: how to get up early.)

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Resolutions: A One-Word Theme for 2016

resolutions as one-word themes for yearHappy New Year, guys! As we’re all slowly getting back into the swing of things, I thought we’d have a discussion about resolutions. I’ve recently read a few different posts about how they now recommend you choose a “one-word theme” for the year. Gretchen Rubin chose the theme “lighten up” for 2016, and over at Apartment Therapy a blogger wrote about how the phrase “use it” was very helpful for her to use stuff around her apartment that had begun to clutter the space.  Do you have a theme for 2016? Do you like the idea of a simple phrase to encapsulate all of your goals for the year?

I actually did a version of this many moons ago — while in college I was intrigued that looking at some artwork made me uncomfortable, so I made that my goal for the next year — my only resolution was “to be uncomfortable.”  I wanted to challenge myself when I said no to something because I was going to be uncomfortable, or understand when ideas made me uncomfortable.  Throughout the year, the word would pop up in my head, both as a reaction to events (you’re uncomfortable! good job!) as well as a driving force (hmmn, have you been uncomfortable in a while? what would make you uncomfortable?).  It actually turned into a great year of growth for me, mentally, and I’ve always looked back on that resolution fondly.

Then, for some reason, I returned to the typical “list” form of resolutions.  And promptly fell off the wagon within a few weeks, every year.

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