A lot of things have happened in the past few weeks and I guess it’s time I start sharing. 

I’m officially a business owner here in the Netherlands. It’s sounds more glamorous than it is. However, it was always something I wanted to achieve and I guess I’ve done it. Basically, in order to be a freelance teacher, which is what most all of the schools hire you as, you must register with the chamber of commerce and have a sole proprietorship. I’m currently just trading under my name but hope to develop brand/website once I actually work for a while in the Netherlands. Our longterm goal (DG and I) is to have classroom space and have this be my full-time job. In the meantime I’ve been trying to find a business name to trade under and get a website going; it’s much more difficult to create an available name. It’s super exciting nonetheless, and I still have to do all of the stuff a normal business owner would have to do. I’ve learned that the Dutch tax system is extremely complex. I’m currently looking for a tax accountant to help me with all of the stuff. I’ve got to figure out billing, the government regulated transportation costs, and how to do all of the tax forms. There are also a lot of little rules and regulations depending upon how many hours you work and how much you make. It was briefly explained to me, but if you work X amount of hours in a week the first X amount of money isn’t taxed. Sadly at the tax office no one speaks English (something very rare here) and the woman I met with at the chamber of commerce said that it was illegal for them to speak English so I should get someone to call/talk to them for me. This also means that all of the information sent to me and all of the seminars are in Dutch. Time to step up my tax vocabulary. 

The plan to have my own business was hated a month ago or so when I went to a CV workshop and the woman running it said that I should just start my own school, advertise, and go from there. DG and I talked about it a lot and agreed that it would be better to have some experience in the Netherlands first and then take my time to develop the school and program. 

I registered with the chamber of commerce last week and my business officially launched on Monday the 27th of July! 

I had an interview yesterday at the school where I really wanted to work. I waited for the nearly 24 hours to get the offer and I’m happy to say I’m going to accept. I’m very excited to hopefully work with this school! They pay transportation costs, a decent hourly wage, and offer free language instruction to all of their teachers! At the moment, they are teaching 16 different languages. This means that I can learn Dutch for free and any other language they offer for free! 

I have another interview next week for a teaching agency that has a few professor positions available; I’ll see what they have to offer. Hopefully come September I’ll have plenty of work! 

These past few weeks have been so busy and confusing but I’m super excited to be “employed”! 


How is it that b and v are the same for Spanish speakers and different for English speakers? Who's right?

Both! Neither! Let me explain. 

The big thing we need to do here is distinguish between sounds and spelling. English speakers already know that their orthography is out to lunch, but Spanish has a reputation for having a logical, consistent, “phonetic”  spelling system. Most of the time, that’s true (English vowels use 5-6 symbols to stand for ~14 sounds, for example, whereas Spanish has 5 vowel symbols and 5 vowel sounds), but for b and v it’s actually the opposite. 

For the sake of clarity, I’m going to write “b” and “v” to refer to the letters in the conventional spellings of each language, and /b/ and /v/ to refer to the sounds as they’re represented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). 

IPA uses /b/ to represent a bilabial stop - that’s a sound produced by fully closing (stopping up) the two lips (bilabial).  And it uses /v/ to represent a labiodental fricative - that’s a sound produced by letting a tiny amount of air escape between (fricative) the lip (labio-) and teeth (dental). (And yes, technically you could make an equally etymologically correct labiodental stop using the top lips and bottom teeth, but languages don’t tend to do this, presumably because it’s incredibly awkward.) 

Keep reading


I spent the last 2 hours drawing cats and putting together a power-point for my Elementary school, so I might as well display my efforts.

Prepositions! In order of appearance - On, In, Under, By, Behind and In front of. Also, the last one is Around. 

You’re allowed to use my images in your schools (FOR LEARNING PURPOSES ONLY, yourself or your kiddos) as long as you give me credit where it’s due. I’m not legally allowed to share our modules, because I make them specifically for my school, and they now own rights to them. But I can share these basic images because I own the rights to my own art.  

anonymous asked:

How did you learn to speak English so well? I presume you also speak good Japanese. I really want to learn a few languages and any tips would be much appreciated. Thank you :)

I cheated. 

That is, I learned English before the Critical Period - when I was about 10. Before about 12-14 years of age, kids can learn languages really reliably and adapt to their phonological system really well, which means I don’t have a Russian accent - but my mother, who learned it way after - still does. 

I’d say the thing that contributed MOST to my language learned is immersion. There’s just no other way to put it. Despite being a language teacher, I can personally vouch that classroom learning and self-learning are both SHIT next to good old “you’re now surrounded with this language 24/7, deal with it”. Nothing works better.

You can and should try to create a similar environment for yourself. Brains love repetition - but not in the same way! In order to learn one word, looking at it on a notecard 25 times MIGHT work. But what will work better and faster will be to write this word in a sentence 10 times or use it in 10 different situations. DIFFERENCE is key here. We learn more naturally that way, not through repetition in a vacuum. 

Try to listen to the language at least once a day for 30 minutes, even if you don’t understand anything. Pick a TV show you like and watch it every day in that language. 

Learn rules every day, but don’t memorize them. Use them. Usage leads to better learning than route memorization, in my opinion. If you can think of ten different sentences for the grammar rule, you’ll remember it a lot better than some formula. 


As anyone who’s been around me when I speak Japanese can confirm - I sound like an overexcited first grader and use too many gestures. And I should be embarrassed - except that it works way better for communication purposes than trying to be grammatically correct all the time.

Long Story Short - A lot of people try to learn a language by organizing everything neatly into a van, checking the oil, making sure you have enough gasoline, and only THEN carefully creeping down the lane at 20 mph where it’s safe. 

It’s a lot more fun (and often a lot more fruitful) to load up a wagon, hook it up to some dogs, and blast off down the highway at 70mph while drawing pictures of things when you don’t know the word for them. 

Do I Need Perfect Pronunciation?

Many English learners know grammar, can read and write really well, but when it comes to speaking…they are too afraid even to open their mouths.


“My pronunciation isn’t good. No one will understand me.”

Well, I have three things to say here.

English language has been used by so many people in so many places that all kinds of accents and dialects have developed. As a result, people speak however they want (or can), and it’s perfectly fine. (Actually, did you know that there is no “official” standardized American English? Or that the US doesn’t even have an official language?)

Yes, it’s true. You might worry a lot about saying words just right and pronouncing everything perfectly, but the truth is that native speakers don’t really care. As long as you can communicate with them, that’s all that matters.

I think this is fairly easy: if you’re afraid, you don’t speak; if you don’t speak, you don’t practice; if you don’t practice, you don’t get better; and if you don’t get better, you’re always afraid of speaking. It’s a Death Circle. DON’T ENTER IT!!

I highly encourage language learners to speak. Find a penpal or a friend who speaks English, and take every opportunity to speak to that person! I’m also learning languages myself, and speaking is an important part of my learning (yes, from the very beginning!). Listening to English podcasts and just repeating after them is also useful, but conversation is much more engaging (and fun)!

This is a reminder to people who live in countries that don’t have April Fool’s Day traditions: a lot of blogs you follow or web services you use will be publishing false information today; sometimes it will be funny, but sometimes it will be pointless, mean-spirited, and meant to humiliate or scare.

If you read something that seems too incredible to be true today, it probably is.

How to Tell Time

An easy post this time (in a while!).

How do you tell time in English?

This is fairly easy. There are, however, some points to remember:

1. Instead of using military time (00:00-24:00), you use AM (00:00-11:59) and PM (12:00-23:59) abbreviations with numbers 1 thru 12.

13:42 is 1:42PM (one-forty-two-PM), and 05:10 is 5:10AM (five-ten-AM).

*Few Americans are familiar with the military time system, so if you happen to say “right now it’s thirteen-forty-two,” it will take a bit of time for an average American person to realize what you’re talking about.

2. For times ending in 15 or 45 minutes, you can say “a quarter to” or “a quarter after.”

15:45 is either “3:45PM” (three-forty-five-PM) or “a quarter to four.”
15:15 is either “3:15PM” (three-fifteen-PM) or “a quarter after three.”

3. For 30 minutes, you can say “half past…”

18:30 is “half past six” or “6:30PM” (six-thirty-PM).

4. For exact hours, you can say “o’clock.”


14:00 is “two-PM” or “two o’clock.”

This is fairly easy, and with some practice will come quite naturally to you. Obviously, when you speak with someone and it’s clear what time of day you’re talking about (day or night), you don’t always need to say “AM” or “PM.”

Various Uses of “See”

In English, “see” doesn’t just mean actually seeing something or watching something. There are other meanings of the word “see” which people often use in daily conversations. I will give examples of some of them.

1. “Oh, I see”

This means that you understand something.


A: I can’t come on Mondays because I have work.
B: Oh, I see. [I understand now]

2. “You see, …”

This is the same as an interjection “well.”


A: Why can’t you come on Mondays?
B: You see, I have work on Mondays.
[Well, I have work on Mondays]

3. “Can I see it/this?”

This is a question you can use to ask to hold/to touch something.


A: This flashlight is broken, I can’t fix it.
B: Can I see it?
[asking to hold the flashlight]
A: Yeah, here! [giving the flashlight to B] Can you fix it?

4. “to see each other”

This is a phrase which means “to date each other.” There are many phrases for dating, but this one is a nice, more formal (polite) version.


A: How long have you been seeing each other? [How long have you been dating?]
B: We’ve been together for three months.

These are the ones that come to my mind right now, but there probably are more. If I remember/find them, I will add them later.