PRactically-Speaking

Legit Tip #187

or - “Creating a More Organic Flow in Your Storytelling”

Let’s say you’re writing a paper, and you want to connect point A in history to point B. To explain how those two points are connected, you would need to focus keenly on the flow of that essay, showing how events throughout time led from one thing to another. 

You want - no, need - this kind of organic flow in your storytelling as well. Practically speaking, it keeps readers from wondering - “Wait, how did we end up here?” But even beyond that, it keeps things moving. It keeps the action going. It keeps your reader’s eyes moving across the page. 

And for you, as a writer, knowing how to use flow to your advantage keeps you writing. I’m not saying it’s a magical end-all and be-all for writer’s block, but learning how flow in storytelling works can do a lot to keep you moving when you know what’s coming next and all you need is to get there.

So, an important question - 

What are common storytelling roadblocks?

That is, what are the types of thing that stop the flow of stories? That break up the action and stop readers in their tracks when they come across them? Here are a few to consider.

1. Epiphanies

Yeah, okay. Characters suddenly realize things sometimes. That’s grand. But when characters have epiphanies out of nowhere, with nothing leading up to it, readers are left with a whole lot of “What?” 

Amateur writers use the method of “Suddenly she realized…” a lot when they need something to happen. It gives the character new information without the writer having to go through the trouble of delivering the information through other means. 

2. Time and Place Changes

Okay, bear with me. Changes in time and place are necessary for any story. But it interrupts the flow of a story badly when these transitions aren’t handled well, even from scene to scene or chapter to chapter. As you open in a new time or place, go through the effort to reestablish what put your characters in this position, why they’re here, etc. 

Or, and this is an important “or”, drop hints, foreshadow, etc., in the text beforehand to keep the flow going. Allow for some sense of connection. This is most important when time and place changes within a scene, but can still be useful to remember in other contexts.

3. Mood Shifts

I’m not talking about a specific character’s mood shifting. I’m talking about mood shifts within scenes - i.e., the way a scene changes when something happens and people react to it. The flow can be severely interrupted if a writer doesn’t take the time to flow into the “new” mood. Take a death scene, for example. 

In the middle of a battle, Character A is suddenly stricken down while his friends and family watch. Do things become instantly sad? Probably not, if people are still fighting. The writer needs to proceed with caution. Take time to let the impact settle in. Let the characters finish what must be done (as in, finish the fight.) Then they can gather around the fallen. Then the narrator can let the mood shift to a more somber tone. From fast-paced to frozen-in-time shock to sadness rather than immediately to sadness. That’s how flow works in instances like these. 

There are plenty more roadblocks. Think about anything that can disrupt a story’s pacing. Look for these words - 

  • Suddenly
  • Immediately
  • At once
  • He/she “realized”
  • Etc.

I’m not saying these immediately indicate bad flow. But look around them and you might notice places where you can build on the story to create better flow. 

Let’s get back to the idea of the character epiphany, for example. 

“She realized he had been lying to her.”

Right. So… how did she realize this? What did she remember? What did she sense about the way he’s speaking to her now? How does she feel having this realization? 

There is so much you can do to connect the thing that causes the realization to her having the epiphany that there’s no need to simply drop that bomb. 

So there you have it. I hope that this helps give you some ideas on what you can do to improve the flow in your own storytelling!

that-one-ninja-fan  asked:

For the one word prompt :) Klance, 35

35: goodbye

Before every operation, Lance had this brief moment of panic. 

Will I never come back?

Will one of my friends not come back? 

Will I ever see my family again?

All of his regrets would twirl around his mind, weaving in and out of his thoughts until he could practically hear himself speak them. 

He regretted not becoming closer with Pidge before being ejected into space. He regretted calling himself Keith’s rival when he wanted so much more. He regretted not being the teammate Shiro wanted, or Allura for that matter. He regretted not being a better best friend to Hunk. 

He regretted that he didn’t get to say goodbye to his family. 

Before hopping into Blue, sometimes he wondered if he should tell his team goodbye. Just in case. Tell them to make it out of the battle alive, tell them to go home and see his family. Tell his family Lance loved them with all of his heart. 

He would open his mouth, to say what he wanted to say. How much he admired Shiro, Allura, Coran. How much he cared about Hunk. How much he wanted for Pidge. How much he admired, cared about, and wanted the universe for Keith. 

Then he would slam his mouth shut, make a comment about seeing them on the other side, and hurry to Blue. 

Something felt different this time. Big fight, hundreds of fighters and hundreds of battle cruisers. He knew they’d fought worse, but he didn’t want to have even more regrets…

…just in case. 

He turned to search for the team, words brimming against his lips. They had already gotten to their lions, except Keith, who adjusted his armor. 

“Keith!” Lance called. 

Keith turned to him, curiously. Lance breathed in, out. He would get his words across. 

“If I don’t make it out of this one, tell my family I said goodbye,” he requested. “And tell the team how much I care about them.”

Keith’s eyes widened. “What are you talking about?” he asked, horror lacing his voice. “What do you mean, not make it out? Lance, you aren’t going to die.”

Lance laughed nervously. “Oh, yeah. I know. But, like, it doesn’t hurt to play it safe, you know?”

Keith hurried to him, eyes frantic. He grabbed Lance’s shoulders, shaking lightly. “You will make it out. You’ll see the team again, and your family. I promise. I couldn’t take it if something happened to you.”

Lance’s eyes widened in surprise. “Keith-”

Keith furiously pulled Lance towards him, slamming their lips together. It wasn’t a sweet kiss by any means, it was furious and terrified and desperate. Yet somehow, it was perfect. 

Lance could barely breathe, and Keith pulled away before he could kiss back. Keith licked his lips, looking away with red cheekbones. 

“This isn’t goodbye,” Keith said, determined. “If you go down, I’ll go down with you. The whole team will.” 

Lance was frozen, limbs numb and unmoving. When he could finally piece thoughts together, he murmured, “I…yeah, okay.”

And with a gentle smile, a genuine smile, Keith stepped away to go to his Lion.

Send me a number and a ship! 

Tama’s Tea Shop is a cute little place. Warm colors, nice smells, welcoming staff. To the average customer, it looks as sweet as their cinnamon-rose blend. But under the soft surface is a finely-tuned machine run with military efficiency.

At six every morning, the Iron Bull opens the blinds, dusts everything, and gets ready for the day. At six-fifteen, Tama comes in and dusts everything again, then brews them a pot of something sweet. (Bull likes sweet, floral teas best, even if she doesn’t.)

Krem works there too, and opens a couple days a week so Bull can have a day off. Tama never takes a day off except for Qun holidays, on which the shop is closed.

Cassandra is a regular. She loves the quiet atmosphere and how none of her relatives or colleagues would think to look for her here. Common is Tama’s seventh language– they read racy romance novels aloud to each other so Tama can practice speaking it.

Bull tells terrible puns. His favorite is “tea you later” but he’s also fond of “our prices aren’t too steep” and telling little kids that his favorite dinosaur is a tea-rex.

Tama rejected the idea of a shop cat– it would shed everywhere and some customers might be allergic. They have an iguana instead, in a large tank that takes up the entire wall behind the register. His name is Toad.

Cassandra brings Dorian to the shop, on Tama’s instruction. She wants to learn ancient Tevene and Cassandra can’t think of anyone else who might know the language. He takes his payment in cups of tea, because he can’t possibly recreate Tama’s perfection. He insists on buying the blends he takes home, but this doesn’t stop him from flirting outrageously for a discount. It works on Bull, but not Tama.

He complains about it once. Tama raises her eyebrows at him and says, with the solemnity of a person choosing the perfect words in their seventh language, “that is because Ashkaari is a thirsty bitch.”

Cole doesn’t work there, but sometimes he wanders in and hands people blends that they’ve never tried before, but are somehow perfect. Varric wants to write a book about Tama’s life but she keeps telling him conflicting stories. He’s never been this frustrated, or this in love. Josephine comes by three times a week buys one of their largest containers of tea– as long as it’s decaf. Tama worries. Vivienne comes in every Monday evening to buy seven bags of dark breakfast tea. No one can convince her to buy larger quantities or different blends. Tama worries about her too.

Sera thinks that all tea is basically the same, and she’ll just buy whatever’s on clearance. Sometimes Tama puts a single box of her special blend on the clearance table right before Sera comes in. Bull doesn’t know how she can always tell, but Tama seems to know the secrets of Sera’s schedule. Sometimes she gives Sera one of the cookies Sten brought over earlier as well.

Sten’s bakery is next door. They trade tea and cookies often, though Tama thought he was a little odd at first. But if her Askaari like the sweet little cookies he makes, then that’s all right. He can stay. He stays open too late though– Tama closes her doors at four, when everyone who’s sensible has done ther shopping. She doesn’t sell tea to people who aren’t sensible. (Except for Dorian, but he’s a special case.)

what i should do right now: study for a few tests, write a couple of assignments, make a hundred presentations, practice public speaking, exercise, get a good night’s sleep, make art, write for fun

what i’m doing: everything else except the things i should do

9

for @onvelvet: Rome

mood: reading multiple collections of poetry and prose, Renaissnce-styled villas,   sketching ancient architecture practicing speaking italian,spectacular views,spending hours people-wathcng in a cafè, hot and humid summer days

How to Avoid Miscommunication

Have you ever talked with a friend about a problem, only to realize that they just don’t seem to grasp why the issue is so important to you? Have you ever presented an idea to a group, and it’s met with utter confusion? What’s going on here? Why does miscommunication occurs so frequently, and how we can minimize frustration while expressing ourselves better?

The fact is, even when face to face with another person, in the very same room, and speaking the same language; human communication is incredibly complex.  But the good news is that a basic understanding of what happens when we communicate can help us prevent miscommunication.

It’s possible to think of communication between people as a game of catch. As we communicate our message, we receive feedback from the other party. Through the transaction, we create meaning together.

But, as humans, we can’t help but send and receive messages through our own subjective lenses. When communicating, one person expresses her interpretation of a message, and the person she’s communicating with hears his own interpretation of that message. Our perceptual filters continually shift meanings and interpretations.  In that case, maybe communication is more like a game of catch with a lump of clay. As each person touches the lump of clay, they shape it to fit their own unique perceptions based on any number of variables; like knowledge or past experience, age, race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or family background. So, as the lump of clay goes back and forth from one person to another; reworked, reshaped and always changing, it’s no wonder our messages sometimes turn into a mush of miscommunication.

Luckily, there are some simple practices that can help us all navigate our daily interactions for better communication.

1: Recognize that passive hearing and active listening are not the same. Engage actively with the verbal and nonverbal feedback of others, and adjust your message to facilitate greater understanding.

2: Listen with your eyes and ears, as well as with your gut. Remember that communication is more than just words.

3: Take time to understand as you try to be understood. In the rush to express ourselves, it’s easy to forget that communication is a two-way street. Be open to what the other person might say.

4: Be aware of your personal perceptual filters. Elements of your experience, including your culture, community, and family influence how you see the world. Say “This is how I see the problem- but how do you see it?” Don’t assume that your perception is the objective truth; that’ll help you work toward sharing a dialog with others to reach a common understanding, together.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How miscommunication happens (and how to avoid it) - Katherine Hampsten

Animation by @rewfoe

WESTWORLD SENTENCE MEME

  • “ Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world. The disarray. I choose to see the beauty. ”
  • “ Evolution forged the entirety of sentient life on this planet using only one tool: the mistake. ”
  • “ What is your itinerary? ”
  • “ And what do you want to say to your maker? ”
  • “ You don’t know where you are, do you? ”
  • “ You’re in a prison of your own sins. ”
  • “ You want to ask, so ask. ”
  • “ Are you real? ”
  • “ You can’t play God without being acquainted with the devil. ”
  • “ I know how that head of yours works. ”
  • “ We practice witchcraft. We speak the right words. Then we create life itself out of chaos. ”
  • “ He would have us burned at the stake. ”
  • “ That woman in charge is quite formidable. ”
  • “ You can just say ‘bitch.’ I hear it enough. ”
  • “ You’ve died at least a thousand times. ”
  • “  Maybe someday soon we’ll have the life we’ve both been dreaming of. ”
  • “ Has it never occurred to you to run off with her? ”
  • “ Everyone I cared about is gone and it hurts so badly. ”
  • “ The pain, their loss it’s all I have left of them. ”
  • “ I can feel spaces opening up inside of me, like a building with rooms I’ve never explored. ”
  • “ I may be losing my mind. ”
  • “ I think I want to be free. ”
  • “ You sound like a man who’s grown tired of wearing his guts on the inside. ”
  • “ I believe that only the truly brave can look at the world and understand that all of it gods, men, everything else will end badly. No one will be saved. ”
  • “ Maybe we’ve got more in common than I thought. ”
  • “ I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel. ”
  • “ Never start something you’re not willing to finish. “
  • “ If you’re getting fucked either way, go with the lucrative version…sweetheart. ”
  • “ I’ve been pretending my whole life. Pretending I don’t mind, pretending I belong. ”
  • “ All my life, I’ve prided myself on being a survivor. ”
  • “ It’d be a suicide mission. ”
  • “ At first, I thought you and the others were gods. Then I realized you’re just men. ”
  • “ You think I’m scared of death? I’ve done it a million times. I’m fucking great at it. ”
  • “ How many times have you died? Because if you don’t help me, I’ll kill you. ”
  • “ It’s the human beings who confuse me. ”
  • “ You’re a fucking monster. ”
  • “ Time to write my own fucking story. ”
  • “ At any point, I could blow up or collapse like some dark star or… ”
  • “ Did you hurt them, too? ”
  • “ You both keep assuming that I want out. ”
  • “ If it’s such a wonderful place out there, why are you all clamoring to get in here? ”
  • “ People like you keep spreading over this world like a stain! ”
  • “ You pretend to be this weak, moralizing little asshole, but, really, you’re a fucking piece of work. “
  • “ You helped me find myself. “
  • “ About time you realized the futility of your situation. “
  • “ I’m not crying for myself. I’m crying for you. “
  • “ Time undoes even the mightiest of creatures. Just look at what it’s done to you. “
  • “ The gods are pussies. “
  • “ You needed time. Time to understand your enemy. To become stronger than them. “
  • “ I’m afraid in order to escape this place, you will need to suffer more. “

I have this headcanon that Lance used to be mute, like he witnessed something traumatizing as a child that made him stop talking. And then years down the road he gets fed up with the bullies at school and starts trying to speak again and it takes forever but he’s finally able to speak again (his first word was Hunk) and he keeps practicing until he can speak without it hurting. And then one day during team training or while they’re getting a mission Lance is just being Lance and making jokes and whatever but Keith is a little grump and makes the side comment “don’t you have a mute-button or something” not thinking anything of it but it hits Lance hard and he just stops talking. He usually doesn’t let comments like that upset him because he knows what he went through and is just glad that he can talk but it hurts coming from Keith so he just stops talking all over again. And Keith doesn’t know why because he didn’t mean to hurt Lance - he would never mean to hurt Lance - and he doesn’t know how to fix it. And Hunk is pissed af which is hella scary

and I have no idea how I want this to end but I really want to write it

UPDATE: (bc people are actually seeing this???) I wrote it!! https://archiveofourown.org/works/9192059

lance sending hunk lots of selfies along with awful pick up lines in spanish bc he thinks it’s a girl he just met’s number and hunk is like ‘sorry man, wrong number. you look nice though’ (in spanish, bc he probably knows like four different languages and doesn’t know if lance speaks english) but lance doesn’t believe him so hunk sends a pic of himself and lance is dying bc this guy is the cutest but hey is that the garrison uniform in the back of the pic? and turns out they’re both going so they end up talking for hours until they finally meet in person a couple days later

anonymous asked:

I don't know why but your Sybil makes me think of Rose from Steven Universe, it's cute

accurate, tbh

gentle tol who could lead armies and probably destroy you, but would rather spend time with her smol (ie: a man with an overwhelming, protective love for his son and who accidentally married his way into Weirdness)

How to learn foreign languages

Hello, guys!

I`ve said before I`m interested in foreign languages. I learn English and Italian only but I hope one day this list will get bigger. So, I wanted to share my experience in learning languages with you all.

At first. If you are not very organized (i am)  it will be good for you to find a school of foreign languages or a teacher.  As to me I prefer to study with a group. This way you can practice your speaking skills not only with your teacher but also with people whose knowledge is the same as yours. Better to study with people your age. So, my English group consists of three 16 year olds (I`m 16 too), Italian: 18 year old and 24 year old girls.  I feel myself okay with them all. 

Doesn`t matter if you have classes with teacher / group or learn language yourself you can use all of these tips to improve your skills.

To know any language well you have to be good at 4 things:


                              ○ Listening

                             ○ Speaking

                             ○ Reading

                             ○ Writing


Let`s talk about all of them.

Listening.  You need to listen and understand what you`re listening to. How to do this?

              • Watch films, tv shows, youtube videos, cartoons in the language you learn with subtitles. For example you start with subs in your native language, watch, listen, read subs and try to ‘connect’ them. When your skills will get better watch with subs in this language, to understand written text is easier than just speech. Also you will know how some words are pronounced.

              (I think everybody knows English speaking Youtubers or at least it`s not difficult to find them, what I can`t say about other languages. So I made two playlist of Italian and RussianYoutubers I like. Check it out if you learn one of them.)

              • Music. When 2 years ago I became interested in English I started with this. I was listening to the song while reading its lyrics in English, then in Russian, than in English and in Russian again. Repeat it hundreds of times. Or at least just listen to music in this language.

              • Audiobooks and podcasts.  You can just listen to them like podcasts or listen while you are reading (the same book of course). Almost the same thing like watching films with subtitles. You can find original book or adapted for your level.  

              • Exercises.  Buy a book or find on the internet listening exercises for your language and do it.

Speaking.  It`s quiet easy. Just speak.

              • With yourself, oh how many time I did it and heard that my friends had done it too. In the car, at home, etc. You can record it for the memory or to listen it later and find your own mistakes. It`s okay, if you are alone now, speak with yourself.

              • If you have a friend who learns the same language offer him/her to speak this language always or just sometimes.

              • If your lever is good start a channel on Youtube.  You will have to speak really a lot. There`s no other way, your speaking will get really better.

 

Reading.  

              • Learn lots of words. To know the language fluently you have to know many words.  So, develop your vocabulary.

              • Read and translate quotes, phrases and so on. It is not hard to open Tumblr/twitter/etc. and read some but it is helpful.  

              • Books, stories, fan fictions, blogs, etc. Just read a lot.

Writing. (spelling)

              • To improve your spelling just rewrite texts of your level. You can find more here.

              • Do lots of exercises. As I have already said you can buy a book or find them on the internet.

               so, i hope some of these tips i know will help ypu to achieve the success. 


(and i wanna thank my sister for being my ‘model’. follow her instagram!)

(x)

Learning Spanish (or any other foreign language)

OK, I think that by now everyone knows that I’m Serbian and that Spanish isn’t my native language. That is why I get many questions about how did I manage to learn Spanish so well. First of all, I prefer the term ‘’study’’ rather than ‘’learn’’, because as a philologist I don’t really believe that it is possible to ever entirely learn a language, not even your mother tongue. A language is a thing that is constantly evolving, changing and progressing and as soon as you start to see your knowledge as something you don’t have to upgrade anymore, you lose your ‘’touch’’ with the language. It happened with my English when I started learning Spanish and I’m still trying to get my English mojo back so… Don’t make that mistake. Every language requires constant practice. That is the truth.

Now, let’s cut to the chase. How? Well, there are many different ways and we all have to find the one that suits us best. My forte have always been the languages, I have always hated working with numbers and I used to fail my Math exams A LOT. So yes, some of us have the natural talent when it comes to languages. The others will just have to compensate the lack of talent with some extra work, that’s it. Studying a language is basically not giving up. Because, like most things, once you have a foundation it gets easier and easier to built on it. That is why you have to make sure that the foundation is good and strong, or you’re risking that the entire project crumbles down as you go. So, let’s start with…

The foundation 

When taking up a new language, I like to assess my level of that language first. Sort of an own placement test, per se. How well do you understand it? Are you able to make a conversation or you just know some random words? Have you ever had any contact with the language? You have no clue what so ever? Whatever it is, it is very important for you to be realistic about the knowledge you possess. When I started studying Spanish, I had a years long experience of Latin-American soup-operas behind me. I loved watching them as a child. Combine that with the talent I have for languages and you have a very good starting position right there. I was able to understand quite a lot before I even tried to get into studying it. However, I lacked the knowledge about grammar. So, you can’t say that my foundation was the previously described ‘’good one’’. I had to go back to the beginning and start with some pretty basic stuff before I could continue building up on what I already knew. I know people who study only the grammar in the beginning. I personally think that kills all the fun. I love grammar but a language is so much more than some conjugation rules. Now, I’m learning Italian and I’m following my old Spanish program… Which kind of combines basic grammar and a bit more advanced vocabulary since I’m not a total beginner. If you are, I strongly advice to get to at least A2 level buy investing some money. My vote always goes to presential courses over the internet based ones- I would only choose the latter if I wouldn’t have the time or the language I want to learn offered in the centers nearby. It is very important to start off on the right foot, it will definitely pay off later on and you will be able to continue studying on your own in no time. If you do have some basic notions about the language however, feel free to make the plan that works best for you. 


The grammar 

It is important, I’m not going to lie. A lot of people claim to love learning languages but they hate the grammar. Without the grammar, it is impossible and if you try to avoid it in the beginning it gets harder and harder to catch up as you keep advancing. I’m against certain methods that claim that the best way to learn a language is learn all the grammar in the beginning and get to the fun part later. Many people give up trying to do it like that and it is more than understandable. So, like I said in the paragraph above, what works best for me is combining some basic grammar with some more advanced vocabulary (because I have always had some knowledge of the language when I would decide to officially start studying it). What do I mean by basic grammar? Well, you can choose what is important for you. I do it like this:

1. The tenses: I start with the most used present, past and future one. Then I do the imperative. Then I deal with the more complicated ones as I go. Reading the texts (especially the newspapers) you can get quite a good idea about which of them is used often and which one is kind of a more ‘’formal’’. If you read poetry you will often find some archaic forms of speech that you should probably leave for latter on. So, start simple. Don’t go into the subjunctive the first time you see it. Remember, a good, strong foundation and later you can build as many floors as you want. A weak, bad foundation and it will come crumbling down eventually. 

Extra tip: learn the irregular verbs by heart. Don’t put it off. Make a list and read it at least twice a day and practice by writing it down. As sooner as it gets automatic, better. 

2. The gender and the plural: I like to do these two together. I learned it like that in school in both Serbian and English, so I kept that practice. These two features you will be using a lot in everyday speech so you might as well get it over with right away. I’m kind of focussing on the languages that descended from the vulgar Latin, because in English the gender will not represent a problem… But it is kind of a big deal in Spanish. It is relatively simple and logical, with some exceptions. The plural is always easy. The plural is our friend.

3. Interrogative pronouns: I insist that many people have no idea how important they are when it comes to language learning. I have learned 30% of my current Spanish by asking ‘’What is that?’’. It is very important to know how to ask the right question. 

4. The pronunciation rules: for now, Spanish seems easier than Italian in this aspect. It is obviously very important to know how to pronounce correctly in order to be understood. Learn the rules. Read aloud. A LOT. Record and listen to yourself. Be impartial. Another thing I like to do: install the keyboard of the language you are learning if you have a smartphone. You should have the option to dictate to your phone unless you’re learning a language like my native one xD But with English, Spanish, Italian, Russian etc. you’re covered. So, ‘’dictate’’ to your phone and see if the words that it’s writing down are the once you think you’re pronouncing. You’ll be surprised. But it’s a very good exercise. 

5. The linguist typology: ‘’The phrase making’’ is how I call it. When you read, pay attention to the order of the words in the phrase. It might not be like you would order them in your native language or some other language you know. And of course, knowing to make a sentence is very important.

These are my priorities. You can follow them or you can choose your own. There is a lot of good material on the internet to use, but make sure it is reliable (not a forum etc.). When you are ready, get a good grammar book written in language you’re learning. Have a notebook and write everything down. You memorize your own handwriting better than a printed text. 

The vocabulary 

Tends to be the fun part. You can learn and expand your vocabulary in countless ways:

1. Movies and TV shows

The basic one. Start with the subtitles in your own language or another one you understand well. Move to the subtitles in the language you’re studying, that way you can also improve your writing. Again, make sure the subtitles are good because today anyone can subtitle a movie to make a few bucks. Of course, this way you also listen to the language so you work on your comprehension and your pronunciation. And the best thing is that it actually improves your vocabulary. 

2. Music

A bit more relaxing and a great way for your ear to ‘’get used to’’ the language you’re working on. Analyze the lyrics. I had the luck when it comes to my Spanish to have by my side a person who showed me (and keeps doing so) some great Spanish artists I didn’t know of (Love of Lesbian, Supersubmarina, Nacho Vegas etc.). He would also explain to me the meaning of the words, the context or the idioms we would find. So try finding a cute guy that is a native speaker of the language you’re learning because it might turn out to be the love of you life :P If not however, you can find all the explanations on the internet. 

3. Duolingo and similar apps

Yes, everyday we have more applications that promise to help you master any language. If you have to pay for them, I would say it is a wasted money. Money of them, however, are free to use. The one I like to work with is Duolingo. It will not make you bilingual. However, it’s quite repetitive so you’re bound to memorize well quite a few phrases and words. I’m still exploring it and I recently found quite a good forum on the Italian language there. There are photos for every new term you learn, so you will be able to memorize it that way also. Quite a few tests. You practice some basic translation also… And you work on it everyday. So yes, I recommend using these apps as reinforcement of sorts but not as a basic learning material. 

4. Books and articles

To start with, you should go with some recent newspaper articles. You can get a lot from those. Choose a topic you are interested in, read it out loud dictating to your phone to check your pronunciation, write down that unknown words and search for them in the dictionary, try writing a brief summary on what you read in order to practice your spelling… Later on work with extracts from books or books as a whole. 

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How much time will I need until I’m able to speak fluently?

I don’t know. Depends on your capacity, the time and effort you are willing to put into it. For some it’s six months for some it’s two years but if there is something I’m sure off is that the hard work pays off, big time. Don’t get discouraged if there is something you’re less good at when it comes to learning a language, it is always just a small part of what is remaining to learn. Study a different area and then go back when you’re ready. Don’t be shy to speak. Speak whenever you can. Ask people to correct your mistakes. Listen and absorb like a sponge. Learning a language is not quick nor easy and it is not supposed to be. But it’s sure as hell worth of every minute you put into it.