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" is cool. love your stuff, feel like i’m doing something useful at work now your site’s on my desktop!" Rob, Amsterdam.
"I am American from the US and speak Chinese, Spanish, Italian, and can read Hebrew. Your program is the greatest idea since Rosetta Stone! I am interested in learning other languages…Your site and the idea of 10 words a day is brilliant!" Jay, USA
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The Blog

Can you score 100%? Test what you know.

March 28th, 2009

No time to learn? How does 30 seconds grab you? You have no excuses! If you have time for nothing else today, try the test.  This free, quick test will ensure that you’ve processed today’s words & will  help you to recall them in the future.

You start with 100%, race against the clock and loose 2.5% for any incorrect answer. For each word, you are given four possible answers, and only one is a translation of the word you are learning.  If  you are in the top 10, your username goes on to the the scoreboard, and you can publish your results on Facebook if you feel like challenging your friends.

To start the test, visit the widget (on Facebook or the Learn10 website), and click on the test icon - a circle with a tick (third left below the Main Menu bar).

The test works well on the iPhone, so next time you have a spare 30 seconds; avoiding an ad break, waiting for windows to boot, the kettle to boil or your significant other to leave the house… give it a go.

Appeal for blogging MF language teachers

March 24th, 2009

We are receiving many requests for additional materials from Learn10.  If you have requests, please join the debate at getsatisfaction.

At present we offer a range of features which can be accessed via the widget (on the website etc.), including gender & examples of words in use (live examples of the words in use  by native speakers, in sentences pulled from Twitter). Click on the magnifying glass icon next to the word to access extra information.

Are you a blogging language teacher who would like to contribute by working our daily words into your lessons? Or could you construct materials around the lists? Can you spin out the tenses of a verb? Make a simple test? Give some tips on how to remember the appropriate article? Or do you have your own ideas to share?  If yes, we would love to direct our members to you by adding your URL  to our directory of relevant language sites.  Contact us on [email protected] with details of your blog.

(P.S. MF - stands for Modern Foreign)

Finding Ada - tech heroines & stereotypes in the Czech Republic

March 24th, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day is a blogging event created by Suw Charman-Anderson:

“Recent research by psychologist Penelope Lockwood discovered that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones. That’s a relatively simple problem to begin to address. If women need female role models, let’s come together to highlight the women in technology that we look up to.”

There are a couple of people I would like to mention locally: Tania Le Moigne is the boss of Google cz and Jane Gilson is the CEO of Microsoft in the Czech Republic. It is particularly important to see these people in leadership roles in tech companies in the Czech Republic.

As I’ve said elsewhere - at the last TechCrunch meetup in Prague, one of the participants in the pitch-off claimed that his product was “so easy that your wife could use it”!  He clearly wasn’t  addressing his comments to the men in the room who are married to software developers. And he definitely wasn’t talking to the women in the room - who made up maybe 1% of the total head count.

Strong gender stereotypes* exist in the Czech Republic. I hear my students say things that people of a similar age in the UK would definitely not: ‘I’m not going to hire any more women because they’re not technical’ for example. I argue that by making assumptions about abilities based on gender, we are removing 50% of the potential pool of talent in a country which has a small population to start with.

As well as business leaders such as Tania and Jane, I also want to highlight the achievements of the women involved in Girl Geek Dinners CZ: typically women who are going against the grain to follow their vocation in IT in the Czech Republic. If you would like to meet some of the Girl Geeks in the Czech Republic, we shall be gathering on Thursday for our monthly Girl Geek Dinner meeting.

* A false friend is a word that looks like an English word but has a very different function. When I start conversations about stereotypes, my Czech English students launch into a description of their daily itinery - talking about their schedules or their general habits - things that are repeated and unchanged. This is a dangerous false friend. Consider the statement “Stereotypes of Black people and women are negative and harmful” bearing this in mind.

Have you looked at the new widget?

March 23rd, 2009

We have made many changes to our project since we started out with our prototype -LearnItLists - twelve months ago.  Many of the developments have been based on the ideas and feedback from our members.

If you have a spare minute, you might like to explore Learn10 on your iPhone,  on Facebook or by visiting us at To see what features are available, click on the main menu button at the bottom of the word list, or click on the L10 logo in the top left corner of the widget.

Each feature  in the list under the main menu has a little picture by the side of it. These are the same pictures we use for the symbols on the short-cut buttons, so that you can navigate quickly around the widget. To close any page and return to the word list, click the X in the top right hand corner below the date.

If you have any questions you can contact us on GetSatisfaction.

Available languages

March 21st, 2009

Apart from Spanish, what other languages can you study with Learn10?

We now have: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish & Welsh.

If you would like to change your language settings, visit the Learn10 widget (either on our site, Facebook, your igoogle homepage or elsewhere). Once you are signed in on the widget, there is a link called ‘profile’ on the top line. Click on this and you should see ‘language settings’ half way down the page. Select a different language under ‘I am learning’.

In recent weeks we  have added Welsh and Hindi. If you are a fluent Welsh or  Hindi speaker we would be delighted if you could make some recordings for other members to learn from.

We are also experimenting with Afrikaans, Esperant0, Latin & Tagalog and hope to be able to add these languages soon.

It is possible to add any language combination if you are willing to pre-pay for a two year subscription to Learn10 for $200 US. We will then provide a qualified, human powered translation to be added to Learn10, with transliteration where necessary (western style spelling). The list of available languages can be found here.

What do you think? Join the debate on the blog.

Google auto translate - is it worth the pain?

March 20th, 2009

We have had some great feedback about the auto translated email text. And by great, I mean entertaining or informative, rather than positive.

Our problem is that we do not have a budget for translating the emails and website text until we have enough premium subscribers or an investor. We decided that for most people, understanding something is better than nothing. Unfortunately, as some members have pointed out, Google Translate is better at some languages than other. For example Turkish and Serbian Cyrillic are particularly poor:

“Google Translate is not mature enough for Turkish at this level.”

“I am from Serbia, and when I opened I saw it “translated” into Serbian Cyrillic. I actually had a good laugh, because 95% of the translations are very wrong and very funny :) Serbian is a complicated language with sometimes very unusual word order and a complex grammar, and these kinds of literal translations only sound funny :) Better remove Serbian, or find a man to translate your website properly.”

“Your Spanish Google-translated emails are nice and funny!”

Our temporary solution is to now send the email in English with an approximate translation (powered by Google Translate) beneath each paragraph.  This should mean that members can ‘get the gist’ of the message, even if the translation is not perfect.

What do you think about the machine translated email text? Should we remove some languages completely?

10 ways to learn a new language for free

March 16th, 2009

10 ways to learn a new language for free

Nicola Robinsonova is a business English coach who, when not teaching English (or learning Czech), spends her time researching and developing tools for language learners (such as learn10). She says:

‘It’s hard to comprehend how delightful it is to be able to speak a second language. I went to a typical comprehensive school in the UK and was completely turned off languages - so much so that I cheated on my option sheet to avoid taking any language qualification. The Internet and technology labelled ‘web 2.0′ have transformed language learning opportunities so that it can be a pleasure even for people who never thrived with classroom learning. ‘

Here is Nicola’s guide to studying a foreign language for free:

  1. Take the path of least resistance. Though there is no way round the fact that learning a language takes time, that doesn’t mean it should be difficult. If you find a way of learning which is fun, you’re far more likely to put in the time. Luckily there are loads of great, free resources now available on the Internet. So experiment with some of the different sites available and see what you enjoy most.

  2. Explore. There are many different types of sites for language learners because web 2.0 technology is so perfectly suited to helping you learn a new language. I have organised a tour of some of them here, and I’ve put together a directory of sites that might be useful on learn10.

  3. Label things. Post-it notes are your friends - use them wantonly. Use them to label things (nouns) around you. Our brains are pre-wired to learn languages. As babies we learn the words for the things around us first, then actions (verbs), and after this start putting words together to form sentences. Natural language acquisition just happens without us studying grammar.

  4. Remember the 80:20 rule. To be time effective, you need to be a pragmatic learner. You will learn more in the end by concentrating on the easy 80% of content rather than spending 80% of your time on the things you find difficult. Those who speak English as a second language have to dedicate years of hard work to attain the high level of grammar which is natural to native English speakers, and even these ‘experts’ make mistakes.

  5. Listen without worrying. I advise all my English students to listen to BBC Radio 4 whenever they can. Right now I’m listening to Cesky Rozhlas 2 - the talk radio channel in the Czech Republic. I don’t understand every word, but it’s helping me develop a sense of the rhythm and sound of the language. In time I’m comprehending more and more and recognising which words occur frequently. I met a student who hadn’t studied English for years apart from listening to the BBC every day, she had perfect pronunciation and a great vocabulary.

  6. Learn what’s important - common phrases and the 1000 most frequently used words. Once you’ve got the first 1000 words and a few phrases you’ll be able to make yourself understood - even though you might not understand everything that’s said to you. If you learn 10 words a day, you’ll get to this stage in about 3 months.

  7. Talk, talk, talk. Once you know a few words and phrases you can use sites like to meet native speakers of the language you are learning in order to do a language swap. However, if you can’t meet in person, you can use video phone systems such as Skype or a Multi User Virtual Environments - such as Second Life - my current favourite place to hang out and speak Czech.

  8. Remember how to remember. In order to retain new words you will need to review them. Our brains classify information by how important it appears to be. If we remembered everything we would not be able to function! The ideal time to review material is after 2,10,30 and 60 days - so that new learning goes from the ‘temporary recall’ draw in our brains to the ‘permanent’ section.

  9. Make learning a habit. It takes less than a month to create a habit if you do something every day. I dedicate time to learning Czech when I first wake up in the morning (as this is my best learning time). I use learn10 on my iPhone to learn, test and revise a list of 10 words for the day. I then see the same vocabulary on my computer’s screensaver. The daily email and Twitter posts helped me create the habit without having to really think about it.

  10. Immerse yourself! The very best way to learn a language is to live in a country where that language is spoken and spend all of your time with it. This is not a realistic option for most people - however if you use the tools we’ve talked about above, you can immerse yourself in a new language no matter where you are in the world.

Good luck, and more importantly, enjoy!


Tweet Compete! & hashtags.

February 14th, 2009

Tweet compete is a  daily short composition competition using 10 random words from Learn10. We use a hashtag - a short code prefixed with # - to share our entries to the competition, and use Twitter to post the entries online.

Here is how Tweet Compete plays out:

  • Use all 10 words from learn10
  • Do not change the words given
  • Use the right word type (a noun as a noun etc.)
  • Grammatically correct sentences please
  • Hashtag your tweet #L10en to enter
  • Vote for a winner

We will add a voting mechanism & prizes soon. For more information, visit our page on Facebook.

Do you speak Globish? Please don’t!

January 26th, 2009

Globish is the word used by Jean-Paul Nerriere to describe the English language as spoken by the majority of speakers. Across the globe, native speakers of English are now the minority. I wonder if he understands the connotations ‘Globish’ will suggest to native  speakers?

Globish. Glob.  Collocates with spit. Gibberish, gobblish, rubbish, something spat out. It is not a pretty word.

Jean-Paul Nerriere concentrates attention on the down side of the English linguistic empire. The way English is being used is evolving. This is nothing new. Look back to Shakespeare to see how language changes over time, look across the pond to see how two nations can be ’separated by a common language’ (Shaw).

According to a bbc report ‘Globish has only 1,500 words and users must avoid humour, metaphor, abbreviation and anything else that can cause cross-cultural confusion’.  Dull, dull, dull.

Yes, learn the most important 1,500 words first (exactly what we include in Learn10), but these are merely the means for you to investigate the world of a new language, not the ends in themselves.  If you think 1,500 words are enough, you might be interested to read this article by Tim Ferris. (At least he has improved on his previous 1 hour estimate of the time necessary to learn a new language). It sounds like globish to me.

Second Life - Second Language - contact Learn10 for a tour

January 15th, 2009

We’ve been experimenting with the use of Second Life to practice speaking a second language. Please contact us if you would like a free tour to see this for yourself.

Second Life is a popular online game where you speak to real people in a virtual world & have a personalised 3d character to explore in. There are many different cities and landscapes in Second Life. You can visit Paris, or London, or a tropical island, or take a trip into space. Luckily, if you are learning a second language, then this rather addictive game transforms into a fantastic learning opportunity. Believe me, it’s a blast!

Nicola also uses Second Life as a Business English coach - so send her a message if you know anyone who would be interested in studying English using this entertaining method.

To start using the Second Life computer program - made by Linden Labs, you need to visit this website to find out more before installing a plugin onto your computer. If you are interested in more structured learning opportunities, schools such as LanguageLab have their own specially build islands in SL.


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