9. Be Conversational in All 6 UN Languages

I’ve never learned languages easily, but being able to speak multiple languages has been a bucket list item for me since the 4th grade.  For some reason, I took German in middle and high school (Why? Why did I do this to myself?).  I was so bad at it, my sophomore German teacher told me not to come back for 11th grade.  I slid through Italian in college with my solid B-.  Needless to say, languages have not gone well for me.  As a grown human person, I am trying again, with much better luck.

The 6 UN languages are:
1. English
2. French
3. Spanish
4. Russian
5. Arabic
6. Chinese
(7. I’m going to throw Italian in here too, just because.)

I think I’m doing okay so far in English, so I’ve chosen to tackle Spanish as language #2.  Here’s are some quick resources which have worked for me:

1. DuoLingo – I probably don’t need to describe this app to you as it is incredibly popular, but it has been a godsend.  Accessible format, competing against myself, and achieving “awards” makes it feel like a game and I feel like la jefa.

This is me, bragging

2. Memrise – This website also is a game format, as you learn through repetition and application.  More than anything, this has helped my ear and my verb tenses.  Also, there is a leaderboard, and I’m competitive enough that I will spend hours kicking butt to get to the top ten.

3. BBC Mundo – Simplified versions of real, current news stories.  This is so much better than trying to read children’s books.

4. Berges Institute – Useful only for NYers, but I found a GroupOn for affordable beginner classes at this Spanish-only language institute.  7 classes down, 3 to go!

5. Harry Potter y La Piedra Filosofal – Harry Potter is part of my DNA; it’s the guidebook my generation used to become decent humans.  What better way to learn an unfamiliar language than to pair it with my most familiar story?  I now own copies of HP & the Sorcerer’s Stone in Spanish, French, and Italian.  It’s slow going as I keep flipping back and forth between English and Spanish, but I wholly recommend finding your favorite book translated into the language you’re trying to learn.

El señor y la señora Dursley, que vivían en el número 4 de Privet Drive, estaban orgullosos de decir que eran muy normales, afortunadamente.


  1. Props for starting to learn a language. Once you get in to it, it is easier than you think. To start with I would suggest focusing on listening and speaking rather than duolingo so you learn the useful stuff first and get used to the sounds. Check out Coffee Break Spanish, News in Slow Spanish and search for Spanish music on Youtube to find some artists you like.
    If you want any other tips let me know 😁👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a commendable goal! I’d love to learn more languages, but so far it’s just English and French for me. I recently went on a tour of the UN in Geneva, and it was fascinating to see some of the interpreters in action. When you try your hand at French, I’d recommend this YouTube channel – “La langue française expliquée par un américain”. One of my students recommended it to me (I’ve been working in France this year), and I found it brilliant – short clips explaining words and figures of speech that are used frequently in spoken French.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree! I’ve done the “Basics” lesson on DuoLingo too many times, but that repetition works for me. I really like this new feature of mock conversations, where you answer questions.

      Let me know how you like Memrise! (Or if you have suggestions for other things to try!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Learning languages is at the very top of my to do list and so far I’m doing okay-ish. I’m fluent in Danish (not very impressive considering it’s my mother tongue;P), I’d say my English is pretty fluent too, my French is alright I just need to practice speaking, I know some German and a tiny bit of Spanish. But luckily I’m “only” 15 so I have a lot of time to learn 🙂 Mastering French and Spanish are definitely my biggest goals!
    You mentioned Spanish; have you ever heard of Baselang? It’s a bit pricey but definitely worth it if you’re going to Spain or South America and you want to really commit to learning for a month or two, (you can literally take as many classes as you want). It’s a bit like italki except that there is a curriculum the teachers can follow and that the teachers are carefully selected.

    Liked by 2 people

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