How to Exercise Your Brain the Easy Way

European Day of Languages 2019

Learning a new language with its specific grammar can tie our noodle into knots, and make dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s the least of our worries. I could say, “Just do the math” – grammar rules are simply formula and once you learn them, all your worries are over. Easier said than done when our own language is constantly sending mixed messages about what feels natural when we speak. However, practice really does make perfect sense, especially as learning a foreign language can help you exercise your brain, meaning you have more brain power to cope with all that grammar. This is what Swedish scientists discovered when they used brain scans to monitor what happens when someone learns a second language. Using MRI scans, they discovered that the brains of the participants studying a second language increased in size, while the brain sizes of the other group remained the same. In other words, it’s a win-win situation. So to get you started, here are a few of our favorite grammar facts.

1. Korean

Korean grammar is heavily influenced by honorifics. The choice of verb endings, nouns, adjectives or pronouns depend on the status of the speaker or writer to the listener or reader. Very cool!

2. Japanese

Japanese is an agglutinative language: Agglutinative – a grammatical process in which words are composed of a sequence of morphemes (meaningful word elements), each of which represents not more than a single grammatical category. For example, verb information such as tense, mood, and the social relationship between the speaker and listener is added successively to the end of the verb. Turkish, Finnish and Korean are other examples of agglutinative languages.

3. Hindi

There is no definite article in Hindi, and the number one is commonly used instead of an indefinite article.

4. Russian

Russian learners tend to ask questions with falling intonation, which might not sound polite to native speakers of languages with a rising intonation.

5. Spanish

Spanish has only 3 double-letter combinations cc, ll, rr, whereas English has five times that many.

6. Arabic

Arabic has a three consonant root as its basis. All words (parts of speech) are formed by combining the three-root consonants with fixed vowel patterns and, sometimes, an affix. How beautifully logical is that? Beware – Arabic does not have the verb “to be”, so this is a rule that even beginners need to get their head round from lesson 1.

7. Chinese

Phrasal verbs such as take on, give in, make do with, look up to, do not exist in Chinese. Chinese learners usually experience difficulty in comprehending such verbs and avoid attempting to use them themselves.

8. French

The tip of the tongue is not used in speaking French, therefore learners often have problems with words containing the letters th (/θ/ /ð/), for example: then, think and clothes.

9. Turkish

Personal pronouns in Turkish are used less frequently than in other languages, for example: John has sold car, whereas this would be John has sold his car in many languages.

10. German

Nouns in German are capitalized, which often leads to German speakers writing nouns in other languages with capital letters, and German learners forgetting their capitals!


Grammar is all about the culture of the language so if you love new cultures, embrace the gruesome grammar and turn up the brightness switch in your brain! Get started at http://cudoo.com/languages.


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Sue Brett
By Sue Brett

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