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Learn French in 400 Words

What if I told you 400 words is all it takes to survive in a language?

To express yourself in a foreign language is never easy, but by learning the most basic verbs, descriptive adjectives and nouns you can cover most daily interactions and have a head start when trying to learn this language.

At The Foreign Language Collective we have created a list of the 400 most basic words and have asked people in our community to translate them to their native language.

Together we have created multiple guides to help you communicate yourself in any language.

The main focus of this guide is communication. Grammatical perfection is something that takes time, but communicating is the basis of any language.

The idea is that these words can serve as your basic skill set from where you can build understandable and descriptive sentences to allow you to communicate yourself.

The guide is built from basic verbs and sentences, as well as nouns and adjectives that can help you describe things or people.

That is why we have included lots of words like “big” or “small”, “dark” and “light”, but also words like “more” and “less”.

From here you can describe things as “More big”, which may not be grammatically correct but it will in most cases be understood.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor why use many words when a few will do

You can also combine words like “Yesterday” and “Tomorrow” with your basic verbs, so you can say things like “I go tomorrow”, which in some languages is grammatically correct, in others it is not, but it will always be understood.

We are aware you can not become fluent with 400 words, but the idea is to give you a good base for you can communicate and understand the most basic things. From there on you can get the conversation going, ask questions and learn more.

Learning many words or grammatical often doesn’t make sense until you actually need it, so when the time is right you can move on and research the things you think are missing in your communication.

Whether you just want to cover the basics or continue learning this language until fluency, these 400 words are a great start for you.


Want to know more about our Language Survival Guide and the languages we offer them in? Make sure to check out our page and follow us on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss any updates.



Movies, Music, Resources, TV

The Ultimate Resource Guide For People Learning Dutch

Music // Muziek

classics //  klassiekers

This list is a compilation of some of the most famous songs in the Dutch music history from all genres.

The Dutch Classic Playlist

pop music // popmuziek 

Acda en de Munnik, Marco Borsato, Eefje de Visser, Miss Montreal, Ilse DeLange, Waylon, Dotan, Nielson,  Trijntje Oosterhuis, Mr. Probz, VanVelzen, Het Goede Doel, Nick en Simon, Fluitsma en van Tijn, Toontje Lager, Volumia, Jurk!, Veldhuis en Kemper,

rock music // rockmuziek

Bløf, Racoon*, Golden Earring, Van Dik Hout, Anouk*, Doe Maar, De Poema’s, De Kast, De Dijk, Kensington *, Kane *,

dutch folk // nederlandse volksmuziek

Frans Bauer, André Hazes, De Toppers, Gerard Joling, Jan Smit,

hip hop // hip hop

Broederliefde, Lil Kleine, Gers Pardoel, De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, Mr. Polska, Ali B, Ronnie Flex, Kraantje Pappie, Willie Wartaal,

electronic music // elektronische muziek

Armin van Buren, Afrojack, Martin Garrix, DJ Tiësto,

Click here for a complete list of Dutch bands

Movies // Films

classics // klassiekers

Turks Fruit (1973), Zwartboek (2006), Alles is Liefde (2007), De Heineken Ontvoering (2011)

crime // misdaad

De Grote Zwaen (2015), Black (2015), Schone Handen (2015), Glückauf (2015), Undercover (2015), Littekens (2014), Wolf (2013), Plan C (2012), Black Out (2012), De Heineken Ontvoering (2011), Oom Henk (2012), De Overloper (2012), Taartman (2009), TBS (2008), De Dominee (2004), Van God los (2003), Lek (2000), De Inbreker (1972)

romantic comedy // romantische komedie

Alles is Liefde (2007), Mannenharten (2013), Liever Verliefd (2003), Het Schnitzelparadijs (2005), Alle Tijd (2011), Soof (2013), Hartenstraat (2014), De Surprise (2015), Ja ik wil (2015)

drama // drama

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012), t’padashtun (2017), 100% coco (2017), Sprakeloos (2017), Broers (2017), Quality Time (2017), Riphagen (2017), Vind Die Domme Trut (2017), Vincent (2016), Home (2016), If The Sun Explodes (2016), Le Ciel Flamand (2016), Kappen! (2016), Layla M. (2016), Stop Acting Now (2016), De Zaak Menten (2016), De Maatschap (2016), The Paradise Suite (2015), Banana Pancakes and the Children of Sticky Rice (2015), Bloed, Zweet en Tranen (2015), Dans met de Duivel (2015), N: The Madness of Reason (2014), Aanmodderfakker (2014), Brozer (2014), Lucia de B. (2014), After the Tone (2014), Jongens (2014), Ramses (2014)

historic // historische films

Publieke Werken (2015), Michiel de Ruyter (2015), Hoe Duur Was de Suiker (2013), Kenau (2014), Nova Zembla (2011), Nynke (2001). Belle van Zuylen (1993), Heilige Jeanne (1978), Rembrandt fecit 1669 (1997)

Internationally Famous Celebrities

Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones, Valkyrie, Black book)

Famke Jansen (Blacklist, Taken, X-Men)

Rutger Hauer (Batman, Blade Runner, Sin City)

Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones, Black book, Age of Adeline)

Tv-Shows // TV Series

crime // misdaad

Suspects (2017 – now), Baantjer (1995 – 2006), Grijpstra en de Gier (2004 – 2007), Flikken Maastricht (2007 – now), Baas Boppe Baas (2004 – unknown), Moordvrouw (2012 – now),

drama // drama

Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden (1990 – now), Gooische Vrouwen (2005 – 2009), Medisch Centrum West (1988 – 1994), Nieuwe Buren (2014 – now), Divorce (2012 – 2016), Penoza (2010 – now), Van God Los (2011 – now), De Co-Assisent (2007 – 2010), Westenwind (1999 – 2003), Vuurzee (2005 – 2009), Verborgen Gebreken (2009 – now), Lijn 32 (2012), Suspects (2017 – now), Overspel (2011 – now),

comedy // komedie

Flodder (1993 – 1998), S1NGLE (2008 – 2010), Café de Wereld, Kees & Co (1996 – 2007), New Kids, Voetbalvrouwen (2007 – 2010), Schaep met de 5 Poten, Jiskefet, Shouf Shouf, Wat Als?, Zeg ‘Ns AA, Het Zonnetje in Huis, Iedereen is Gek op JackDivorce

Comedians // Cabaretiers

Najib Amhali, Theo Maassen, Thomas Acda, Javier Guzman, Paulien Cornelisse, Arjen Lubach,

Websites to watch shows

Uitzending Gemist, NPO (free), RTL XL (free),Videoland (paid)

Youtube Channels // Youtube Kanalen

beauty // beauty

Beautygloss, Nikkietutorials*, Lifesplash, Looks by Sharon, Pinky Polish, Today’s Beauty, Teskuh, Vera Camilla, Beautyill, Miss Lipgloss, By Aranka, Anna Nooshin

vlogging // vloggen

Monica Geuze, Enzo Knol, Furtjuh, Gewoon Thomas, Meisje Djamila

News // Nieuws

RTL Nieuws, NOS, De Volkskrant, De Telegraaf, NRC, NRC Next, Metro Nederland,

Algemeen Dagblad, Trouw, De Correspondent

Magazines // Tijdschriften

Click here for a complete list of magazines

Facebook Pages // Facebook Paginas

Here are some of the Facebook pages you can follow from the above mentioned news outlets, celebrities, etc

news // nieuws

RTL Nieuws, NOS, De Volkskrant, De Telegraaf, NRC, NRC Next, Metro Nederland, Algemeen Dagblad, Trouw, De Correspondent

satire // satire

De Speld, De Gladiool, Nieuwspaal

*in English

Language Learning Basics, Tips

The Most Common Mistake People Make When Learning A Language

Many people start learning a language, however many people quickly lose their motivation after their enthusiastic start and

I myself have done this many times already. While I am fluent in 5 languages and are not new to the rodeo of language learning I still find myself making the same mistake when trying to learn a new one.

Learning a new language can feel like trying to climb a mountain, and it can be incredibly frustrating when you don’t know when the climb is going to end.

But how are you going to know you have reached the top when you haven’t actually defined your goal?

Most people start aimlessly repeating words on Duolingo and stop when they feel they are not making any progress anymore.

In order to achieve something you must first define what you want to achieve. Wanting to ‘learn’ a new language is an incredibly vague definition which means it’s hard to actually measure progress.


Define your goal

So, in order to start learning a language and actually continue you need to set a clear goal for yourself. 

Ask yourself why you are learning this language and what you would like to be able to do.

What is your ultimate goal in this language? Do you want to be able to actually speak this language or is reading/writing the goal?

Why it works

Researchers have found that people are able to withstand much higher degrees of pain when they know how long and how much they will have to endure.

The uncertainty of not knowing when your ‘suffering’ is going to end makes the experience much worse, and will make it more likely for you to quit.

Setting a long term goal will remind you of what the finish line is, while keeping short term goals makes it easier to know what to do from day to day, and will allow you to measure your progress and actually compare it to an end goal.

Knowing how many miles you have walked doesn’t tell you much unless you know how far the finish line is.

Determining your goal will suddenly put your efforts on a scale and will make it easier for you to make it to the finish line.


Having clear goals is one of the reasons why living abroad is often such an effective way to learn a new language.

People often think it is the exposure to the new language, but the truth is that you can live years in a foreign country without speaking the language.

Exposure alone won’t get you there.

However, living abroad suddenly gives people a more specific goal in their language learning: to be conversationally fluent.

That in combination with the exposure and the practice is what usually turns time abroad into a successful language learning experience.


Having a goal is one of the things that makes Duolingo so appealing as a language learning tool. It encourages you to spend at least 5 minutes every day trying to learn a new language.

However, Duolingo lacks an overall goal for language learning which is another reason why many people give up. The words they teach you seem impractical and while you might learn something new everyday it doesn’t feel like you are actually working towards a goal.

Besides that apart from the occasional written exercise it mostly focuses on the passive side of language learning, and fails to

So when you are learning a new language, try to set goals for yourself. Ask yourself why you are learning this language, and what you w


Long term goals

  • Three months from now I want to be able to read a book in French
  • One year from now I want to be able to have a 5 minute conversation with a native Mandarin speaker
  • Six months from now I want to be able to watch an English movie without subtitles
  • One year from now I want to be able to read a mystery thriller in Swedish
  • Six months from now I want to be able to have a chat with my in-laws in Portuguese
  • Four months from now I want to be able to ask for directions in Arabic when I am on vacation in Egypt
  • Two years from now I want to be mistaken for a native speaker of Swahili


One fun thing to do is to search a random text/video or to  purchase a book/movie in your target language and keep it somewhere for the amount of time you are giving yourself to learn this language.

Take a quick glance at it when you are starting out (potentially even write down how much of it you could understand so far) and put it away until you feel like you are ready.


When you have set a long term goal for yourself, try to break it up into smaller pieces with short time goals. This will make it easier to know what you have to do from day to day in order to achieve your long-term goals.

Short term goals are also a great way to be able to track your progress.

Here are some examples of short term goals you can set for yourself.

Short term goals

Time-based goals vs. Result-based goals

Setting time based goals such as on Duolingo can also be a great way to make sure you spend time on it every day. However your language learning efforts can not be measured in the amount of hours you put into it.

If you are learning in an ineffective way or keep repeating the same things you can work as long as you want but you won’t make much progress. Setting goals that are not time-based but result-based will force you to find out the most effective way of language learning

Language Learning Basics, Linguistics

The 4 Disciplines of Language Learning

We all want to learn new languages, but what does ‘learning‘ a language actually mean?

In order to successfully learn a new language it is important to understand that your overall language skills can be divided into four disciplines.

Language ability is often measured two parts – active and passive, and within those parts we can classify two other categories – written language and oral (spoken) language.

These categories give us the four disciplines of most languages – listening, reading, speaking and writing. 



Though this is how most languages work, not every language is the same.

Some languages only exist in one or two disciplines. For example, many dead languages such as Latin only exist in writing, while certain Native American or African languages might only exist as a spoken language.


Passive vs. Active

All four disciplines are interconnected, so when you are learning a new language it is important to strive for a balance between them. When you have reached a certain fluency when speaking a language your brain will automatically translate your linguistic knowledge to a different discipline.

Your passive abilities tend to come more easily than your active abilities. This is because (as the name probably gives away)  it simply takes less effort. Your brain is better at

However when you hear a word you know being used in a sentence together with the context your brain is much quicker in actually remembering the meaning of the word.

Even when you have never heard a word before the context can give away the meaning of the word.

People who speak languages that are related to each other (Spanish/Portuguese or Swedish/Norwegian) are often able to understand the other language passively, but might make more mistakes actively as they can easily confuse two similar sounding things.


Passive -> Active

Improving your passive skills will eventually lead to better active skills. To improve your active skills trying to learn grammatical rules is necessary, however if you spend enough time improving your passive skills you will end up getting a better feeling for the language.

Instead of having to think about which verb tense to use your passive skills might gift you with the abilities most native speakers of any language have – doing things right without knowing why. 


Active -> Passive

Passive language skills come in handy, but because your active abilities are often the most difficult to improve it is never a bad idea to focus on these. Reading a lot might help you in your writing but it won’t do the work for you.

In the end there is nothing that beats practise, so don’t be afraid to get out there and spend a little more time trying to improve your speaking and writing abilities.


How does this help you?

This information might not be new to you, but when learning a new language it is important to keep in mind which disciplines you are focussing on.

Knowing the four basic disciplines can help you make your language learning more efficient.

For example, watching movies and series in your target language is a well-known tool to improve your listening skills, but by also turning on subtitles in the language in question will not only support you in your listening abilities, but will also help you improve your reading skills.

Training both your listening and reading at the same time will make it easier for your brain to store this new information as it comes from not one but two sources.


Adapt to your goals

When learning a new language try and ask yourself what your goals are, and try to figure out what your weak points are.

If you want to learn a new language for the purpose of understanding what is being said around you, don’t focus all your efforts on trying to write.

Though in the end all disciplines are connected making sure your efforts are put into the right place.

How to improve

Here are some quick tools you can use to improve in each of the four disciplines.


  • Audiobooks
  • Movies spoken in target language
  • Listening to music


  • Books
  • Movies with subtitles
  • Reading newspapers


  • Chatting with native speakers
  • Finding pen pals


  • Speaking with native speakers
  • Reading out loud


Dialects, How To Say

How To Say Dude In 30 Different Languages


Caution: Use At Your Own Risk

Please note that this is a list with different languages and countries. Some words may be used universally across different countries that speak the same languages, some might differ from region to region. 

Algeria – “Kho

Argentina – “Chabon” , “Flaco” (Skinny)

Austria – “Oida”

Azeri – “Qardaş”

Britain – “Mate”

Chile – “Weon”

Colombia – “Parcero”, “Man”

Costa Rica – “Mae”

Dutch – “Gast” (Guest)

Finnish – “Jätkä”

French – “Mec”

Hindi – “यार – हिंदी” [yaar]

Iceland – “Gaur”

Iran – “Dash”, “Dadash”

Italy – “Amico”, “Bello”, “Fra”

Lithuania – “Biče”

Maltese – “Xbin” [shbeen]

Mexico – “Wey”, “Vato”, “Loco” (Crazy), “Plebe”

Norwegian – “Kar” or “Fyr”

Panama – “Man”

Poland – “Gość” (Guest)

Portuguese – “Cara”, “Velho”, “Parceiro”, “Vei”, “Mano”

Punjabi – “Sangi”

Russia – “чувак”, “братан”

Serbia – “Brate”

Spain – “Tio” (Uncle)

Tamil – “Machan”

Turkish – “Ahbap”, “Dostum”

Ukrain – “чувак”

United States of America – “Bro”, “Dude”, “Homie”

Urdu – “Dost”

Vietnam – ” Bạn”



(literal translation)



4 Reasons Why Finnish Isn’t Hard

Finnish has a reputation of being very hard. Maybe that reputation is deserved, but there are a couple of things that certainly don’t make Finnish as hard as people think it is.

1. No Articles

Like many “complicated” languages like Japanese and Chinese, Finnish frees you from mind-numbing memorizations of gendered articles. Speaking of being gender-free, one word is used for he and she: hän.

2. No Irregular Verbs

The verb ending is renting constant across thousands of verbs.

It has similarities to Swedish: Swedish has a well-earned reputation for being an easy language to learn among native English speakers. In Swedish, boy is pojke; in Finnish it’s poika. The word for marketplace​ in Swedish is torg; in Finnish the word for a marketplace is tori. Swedish can provide a headstart for Finnish.

3. No Silent Letters

 If the letter, vowel or consonant, is in the word, it is pronounced. This makes spelling a cinch. For this reason, spelling bees in Finnish schools are unknown.

4. A Small Vocabulary

Sort of. Many Finnish words can be constructed by adding suffixes that can address emotion, location, emphasis, and negation.

Bonus: Finnish is unlike any other language (I’m not looking at you, Estonian). There is an elegance and poetry in learning a language that sounds like nothing you have heard spoken before. Author J.R.R. Tolkien said, “It [discovering Finnish] was like discovering a wine-cellar filled with bottles of amazing wine of a kind and flavour never tasted before. It quite intoxicated me.”

This guest post was written by Matthew Brooks. Matthew is conversational in Finnish, French, German, Spanish and in his native English. Fluency eludes him in all things.
Multilingual Things

English As a Second Language: Who In Europe Speaks it Best?


This article was originally shared on

English as a second language is becoming more and more competitive. Due to the weight the language carries in the modern, professional world, speaking English is fast becoming less of a benefit and more of an essential, or even basic, requirement when looking for a job in Europe.

Approximately 2 billion people study English worldwide and some countries find it easier than others to pick it up. Throughout the emerging generations of many nationalities, proficiency is almost ubiquitous as people are becoming more and more serious about language learning. For example, companies like ESL offer language courses abroad, giving people the opportunity to properly immerse themselves in a new culture.

Based on the percentage of English proficiency in the adult population, here’s the list!


10)  Belgium

The Belgian people have increased their overall English level since the 2015 figures and their hard work has bumped them up into the top 10 countries who speak English as a second language best! Welcome to the list Belgium.

9)  Poland           

With more and more Poles moving and working abroad their need to learn English has increased too. However, Polish as a language is on the rise in the UK, as Brits fall in love with Polish expats and look to learn their language.

8)  Germany    

 The Germans, with their industrial efficiency, have always had a firm grip of the English language. The modern language of the business world is English and, as German businesses are dominating the European market, the pressure on professionals to speak English to a proficient level is higher than ever.

7)  Austria       

Just beating its geographical and linguistic neighbours to the number 7 spot, is Austria. Sharing its borders with a whopping eight countries, it’s little wonder that the people of Austria have an aptitude for languages.

6)  Luxembourg            

For the very same reasons as Austria, it is hardly a shock to see this tiny landlocked country so high on the list. With heavy influences from both East and West, the country has three official languagesFrenchGerman and Luxembourgish – and on top of that, well over half of the adult population having a proficient level of English!


5)  Finland          

We start to head more to the north of Europe as we near the top of the list. Finland has a population of just under 5.5 million people, and almost 70% of its adult population speak high-level English.

4)  Norway                         

Norway is far from a surprise entry in at number four. The Norse languages also have had a huge influence on the English language after the occupation of the Vikings over a thousand years ago.

3)  Sweden        

Sweden has been knocked off the top spot and slip into third place since the 2015 stats. However, their reputation for about as near-native English as you can get, remains strong and I´m sure they’ll be back with a vengeance.     

2)  Denmark      

As approach the grand finale, the countries are becoming less and less surprising. Denmark, yet another Scandinavian country, comes in a number two. The language of the Danes is also growing in demand in Europe, but who could possibly have beaten them to the top spot in terms of English proficiency?!

1)  Netherlands              

Congratulations to the Dutch, not only on their ability to invent hilarious surnames, but also on their ability to speak the English language. Their linguistically gifted population has knocked the Swedes off the number one position…for now.

This list refers to Europe, however if it included all the countries in the world (obviously where English is not a native language) it would be almost identical but countries six to ten would each slip one place lower, as Singapore would slot in at number six.

It is unsurprising to see the top four dominated by Nordic countries – and the Netherlands. They have an increasing knack for topping lists, having very high living standardspopulation satisfaction as well as cost of livingGermany may have been Europe’s most popular country but they are maybe lower than you would have expected considering their mechanical proficiency in most things.  

Also – and I believe this to be key – in the Nordic countries they do not dub the television into their own languages. Whereas, in FranceSpain and even Germany, they translate the television into the country language, despite the majority of TV shows being American or English.

There is also a noticeable lack of southern European countries, with Austria being the southernmost point of the list.  But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Dutch reign supreme over the non-native English speaking world. In fact, I regularly meet Dutch and Scandinavian people and assume that they, like me, are English; that’s how flawless their accents are.

Inspired to improve your English or master a new language? There are several free apps such as Duolingo, as well as YouTube channels where you can receive free lessons. With today’s resources you’ve got no excuse for being monolingual!  





12 Words in Australian English You Need To Know

Australians love talking. They also love making shortening their words. When talking to Australians, these are 12 words you need to know to make sure you understand what they are talking about.

1. Lappy

2. Maccas

3. Choccy

4. Muso

5. Veggo

6. Avo

6. Preggos

7. Chrissy

8. Sparky

9. Postie


10. Relos

11. Sickie

12. Cuppa