Learning a language in 2021

Black man studying

***This post contains Affiliate Links. This means that when you click through to purchase a product or service, I receive a commission at no extra cost to you! You can read my full Affiliate Disclaimer HERE.***

2020 Recap

So…2020 is officially OVER!


Three copies of a man dancing one wearing red one wearing green and one wearing yellow


I know 2021 has already shown us that there are plenty of shenanigans to come but I don’t care. I just need last year to be in the rearview.

As far as language study, last year was definitely mostly me slacking. I’m gonna be honest, I just wasn’t in the headspace for it. Every time I woke up it felt like another thousand things on this planet were exploding. And parsing conjugations wasn’t high on my list of ways to cope.

The only thing I did semi-regularly was talking to my friend in Korea.

That being said, I miss it a lot. And now that I’ve said all that about what mostly didn’t happen last year, let’s get on to my plans for this year!

German Korean and Japanese flags

Language Focus

German – Maintain


If you’ve been around for a minute you know that German is my second language. I’ve been studying it for over half my life at this point so it’s always going to be a permanent fixture. While I feel my grasp on the language hasn’t slipped too much, I don’t use it nearly as much as I need to to keep it fresh in my mind.

So for 2021, I’ll be working on maintaining my German at the B2 level. My Virgo moon initially had me wanting to try and hit C1 by the end of the year but I’ve been working hard to tamp down on my perfectionism lately. There’s nothing wrong with making sure my foundation is as solid as can be before hopping up to the next level.


Korean – Advance


I want to kick my Korean up a notch and sit comfortably around the A2 level. I actually engage with Korean the most on a daily basis so I’m expecting to see the most progress here out of the three.

I’m fairly covered on speaking practice (thanks 언니 ^^), so I’ll be focusing more on writing and listening to bring them up to par.


Japanese – Begin […sort of]


I’ve actually studied Japanese before. Twice! Once my senior year of high school and the second time my senior year of college. College was very strange because I was in this weird middle ground between true beginner and high beginner. So of course I just took both classes simultaneously. Why am I like this? I still don’t know.

But I miss it. A LOT. I always said I would return to Japanese when I reach an intermediate level of Korean but that’s going out the window in 2021. It’s 日本語 time! I can’t freaking wait. 


Sidenote: I feel like I should add that the older I get the less I feel obligated to put so much emphasis on the CEFR levels.

They’re still a useful way to gauge where I am in my language learning process, but I’m more interested in my ability to use the language how I want. Yeah, I might be A1, but if I can hold a 15-minute conversation then that means more to me than anything else.


Textbooks black women having a conversation person holding a cellphone


Now, goals are all well and good yeah, but what am I going to use to actually accomplish them? Well, I’m glad you asked.




A few months back I discovered that I had hella italki credits on my account. I think my teacher at the time had to cancel the sessions I’d bought because she was working on her master’s thesis or something. Either way, there’s money chilling in there and I’m going to put it to good use.

Because I already have a friend in Korea that I speak with on a regular basis, I’ll only be using it for German and Japanese.

With Japanese, I’ll need an actual teacher, preferably one who provides their own materials.

My German is much stronger so I’ll be looking for a community tutor to have consistent conversations with. I need to get used to using it regularly again.




It’s no secret that I love textbooks. I know they’re not as flashy as apps (which I also love) but I feel so much more accomplished when I finish a textbook chapter!

I don’t know what kind of shenanigans go on with German textbooks but I’ve never had one. Ever. And I wouldn’t even know where to start looking for one. The best I can do is reference books. At this point, any textbook I’d find at B2 level would probably be mostly reading and writing anyway. I’ll just use articles on the interwebs and social media.

I have a plethora of Korean textbooks. I can feel you judging me. Don’t judge! They all do different things I swear. I prefer the Ewha set and plan to continue working out of those.

For Japanese, I technically have the Genki textbook. I bought it because that’s what we used when I learned in high school. It’s very much structured for classroom learning rather than solo learning but I think I can finesse it.




I also love apps but I’m starting to be more selective about which ones I use regularly. The main app I’ll be working through is Lingodeer. I did a review of the app last year. 

I’ve only tried it out for Korean so I’m excited to see how it approaches Japanese. Especially with Kanji. Originally I planned to only use it for those two but I might slide over to German occasionally as well. 




I need more German podcasts. I only have one that I listen to regularly and lowkey it’s been kind of depressing since it’s a travel-related podcast, haha. 

I’m on a true crime kick so if anyone has a favorite German-language podcast in the genre please let me know! And if all these apps and companies want to really do something unique, they can make it easier for us to find podcasts in our target language that aren’t just “Let’s learn this language!” 

If there’s anything last year showed me it’s that I don’t have to do all the things even though I desperately want to. While I won’t say I’ll never dabble in anything else this year, I’ll be keeping my focus on these core three languages. 

What about you all? Are you learning any new languages this year? Keeping up with some of the new ones from last year? 

Pin a picture for later

Sisters Only Language Summit Recap

Sisters Only Language Summit Recap

This past weekend we held the second Sisters Only Language Summit and it was everything we could have asked for. Obviously, it’s difficult to condense a whole day of programming but I’ll give it a shot. Let’s do a short recap!


Raising Multilingual Children with Tiara Harris aka Chocolate Sushi Roll

I don’t have any kids myself but a lot of our past attendees said they’d love to hear from mothers who are actively teaching their kids to be multilingual. Enter Tiara aka Chocolate Sushi Roll. She’s raising both of her children to be fluent in Japanese! Even though the presentation was focused on kids, I had a few takeaways for myself.

You can find more awesome videos about how she’s teaching her kids to be multilingual on her Youtube channel.


Total Immersion: How to Go from Absolute Beginner to Fluent Abroad with Shahidah Foster

If you’re a black woman in the language space then you’ve probably heard about Shahidah. Not only did she reach German fluency without formal teaching, but she was also able to reach her long-term goal of working abroad in Germany. Her presentation had excellent advice on how to get your language game up to par for making the transition.

You can find out more about her absolute amazingness at Black Girls Learn Languages.


Panel Discussion: How to Get started on your language learning journey.

One of our missions for the summit is “Expanding the Community of Multilingual Black Women.” And this includes women who don’t yet speak another language. Panelists spoke about their experiences getting started with language learning, as well as how being a Black woman specifically affected those experiences. It was much needed and you should definitely check them out:


Morenita mommy

Errol is a trilingual copywriter and translator who is raising her son trilingual in Spanish, English, and Japanese.


Speaking Tongues Pod 

Elle Charisse is the creator of Speaking Tongues Pod where she has conversations with multilinguals on varying topics.


Ethnic Ties

Acacia is the founder of Ethnic Ties, a company that offers personalized language and culture-based travel assistance for those who want to be prepared when going abroad.


African Language Presentations

Although many of us are learning European languages, there was a desire to highlight more languages from the African continent. And your presenters definitely delivered. I have a couple of lessons to book! We had presentations on:


Pamela Vera presented on Shona history and language.


You can learn Amharic with Yeabsira over on iTalki.


Glory presented on Swahili. She’s also knowledgeable about touring Tanzania!


Thando gave us a history of isiZulu. Definitely check out her Youtube where she gives tips on learning the language. You can also book a lesson with her!


Turn Your Language passion into profits with Tamara Marie

I was lucky enough to be present when Tamara first conceptualized Spanish Con Salsa and since then she’s grown it into something truly great. She dropped some priceless gems about building a business in the language space.

You can check her out at Learn Spanish Con Salsa and also take a minute to listen to her podcast!


Language proficiency test prep by……..Moi!

And finally, there was yours truly. I did a presentation on things you should do to prepare yourself for a proficiency test. I know the world is uncertain right now but if you wanted to certify for work or school then it’s the perfect time to get your studying in.


If you missed the summit live, (and you are a Black woman) you can still purchase recordings HERE.

Learn Korean with LingoDeer

Learn Korean with LingoDeer

Today I want to talk to you all about LingoDeer!

I actually tried LingoDeer for the first time a couple of years back. I liked it well enough but it didn’t seem too different from other language apps. I’m so glad I gave it a second chance.

Now, personally I’m more of a textbook learner so the apps I use are never intended to be a one and done type of thing. I need apps to supplement my textbook learning well. I also don’t believe that any app will be able to get you to fluency in a language on its own. That being said, LindoDeer can help establish a solid foundation as it covers more than apps I’ve used in the past.

If you can’t go through the whole post right now check out the TL;DR below. I tried to hit on the most important aspects.



  • One of the most comprehensive language learning apps I’ve tested out.
  • Decent variety of languages to learn and learn through.
  • Excellent variety of exercises so that you don’t get bored while learning.
  • Like Duolingo, lessons are grouped by topics and vocabulary/grammar skills. Unlike Duolingo, LingoDeer provides Learning Tips that give a grammatical overview of concepts you’ll be covering.
  • Covers all four study areas in some capacity: Reading, writing, listening, speaking. The writing in particular is more involved than I’ve seen in other apps.
  • Price is an excellent value for what you receive.
  • Travel phrasebook available to learners on free plan.
  • Suggestions for improvement include expanding on the “Fluent” section by offering short stories or news texts.
  •  *Note: There are options to purchase just one language or the full suite of languages. While buying one language is ever so slightly cheaper, it’s honestly most sensible moneywise to purchase the whole suite. You never know what you’ll want to learn in the future!*










    Visit the Website

    Download on Google Play

    Download on the App Store

    getting started

    First thing’s first, choose your language! Though they started out with just Korean, Japanese, and Chinese, they now offer 11 different language options. In addition to those three they also have: English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Vietnamese, and Italian.

    English not your first language or you’d prefer to use another language to learn? They’ve got you covered. For Korean alone you can start your studying in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Indonesian, and Italian.

    Obviously, for the purposes of this particular review, I’m only going to be looking at studying Korean in English.

    Once you decide on which language you want to learn, you’ll have the option of choosing your level. This is one of the first things that I truly appreciated.

    I’m still a beginner in Korean but for something like German, I wouldn’t have wanted to be forced to start from scratch. If you’re at a more intermediate Korean level you won’t have to trudge through lessons on learning the alphabet and basic sentence structure.


    If you’ve ever used Duolingo the main Learn tab will look familiar to you. It’s essentially a skill tree with specific topics and the option to test out at different points. Once you choose a skill to work on there are a variety of different exercises you’ll come across.

    Then you’ll start the actual lesson. If you click the settings in the top you get a few choices to personalize your experience including changing the background color, changing the font size, toggling sound effects and animation, spacing, and (most importantly) the ability to turn off romanisation.

    You guys already know how I feel about books/apps that have the reader rely on romanisation too long. It’s an asset in the complete beginning stages (i.e. learning the alphabet) but beyond that, it can become a hindrance. The LingoDeer app does a pretty decent job of walking you through learning Hangul so you won’t even need it for long.

    One of the things that set LingoDeer apart is their Learning Tips. Unlike Duolingo (and most language apps to be honest), they give you more information about the focus of the unit topic you chose, the vocabulary, and also the grammar concepts you’ll be covering. They can also be favorited for review when offline!


    There are a ton of vocabulary and grammar exercises. If you’ve used any popular language learning app the majority of them will be familiar to you. However, there were still a couple that managed to surprise me! Here’s a rundown of the types of activities available in the lessons:

    • Select the correct picture for the given English word.
    • Listen to the sentence and record yourself saying it as well. There’s an option to slow down the speech. You can also listen to your own recording and play it back to compare it with the native speaker.
    • Listen to the given Korean word and choose the correct written option.
    • Match the Korean and English words with each other.
    • Read the question in Korean and choose the correct answer.
    • Complete the sentence with the given vocabulary.
    • Choose the correct vocabulary word and put it into the correct location in the sentence.
    • Choose the correct vocabulary word.
    • Choose the word that doesn’t belong in the sentence.
    • Compose the sentence using vocabulary words.
    • Type the sentence out in Korean.
    • Choose the Korean Word that Matches the given English word.

    Additionally, if you want to do some “silent studying” you can toggle the sound on your lessons.

    There’s a learning level called Fluent Korean where the exercises are conversation-based. At first, I thought it was only for advanced through intermediate but it starts at the beginner level! You can choose from all kinds of situations from shopping to a conversation with a friend.

    For each dialog, there’s an option to hit almost all of the study areas.

    Listen and Learn


    In Listen and Learn you’ll run through example conversations with explanations for vocabulary and grammar concepts. My favorite feature here is the ability to turn the sentence translations on and off. It’s a great way to test your comprehension quickly.

    I also appreciate being able to change the length of the pauses between the sentences and it will give you a play by play explanation of every word in a sentence. You can even star/save the word to review later on.

    Speaking Exercise


    It allows you to record the sentences from the aforementioned dialog and listen to yourself in comparison with the native speaker’s dialog.

    Writing Exercise


    Using the same sentences as before, finish the sentence (Fill in the blanks)/type out the conversation. You can either use the syllable blocks provided or, if you have a Korean keyboard already installed on your phone you can use that as well. A key takeaway for me is that this exercise definitely tested my ability to actually remember and comprehend the conversation rather than just generally recognizing words in context.

    It’s no secret that I love to travel. I love that the app comes with a pretty extensive Travel Phrasebook. If you’re studying for a future trip to Korea it’s nice to have everything all in one place!


    LingoDeer has a separate review mode to go over everything you’ve completed so far. The five-minute quiz is a test of everything you’ve learned so far. You get five minutes to get through as many questions as you can! There’s also the option of focusing on reviewing either vocabulary or grammar concepts individually. It’s a flashcard system similar to Anki.

    Finally, there are the knowledge cards again that have more information on any concepts you’ve been introduced to. You can favorite them and also save them to your phone.


    There’s also a few extras that I appreciate:


    • A dark mode for those of us who don’t want the blinding light of the heavens beaming out from our phone.

    • Leader Boards

    • Achievements

    • The ability to change the voice (man or woman)

    • You can set a specific time to get notification reminders or even turn them off if you don’t like them

    • You can turn off different sound effects and animations

    • You can download files for offline learning

    • A detailed Learning History. It shows the number of days in your streak and the total number of minutes spent studying. What I’m absolutely obsessed with is that it tracks, by day, how much time you’ve spent studying. So if you’re like me and sometimes forget, LingoDeer has you covered.


    LingoDeer is one of the most comprehensive language learning apps I’ve seen. It has features of some of my staples (Anki) and the price is fantastic for what it offers. The only feature I would like to see added is an expanded ‘Fluent’ section. While it’s helpful to walk through conversations, I would love to see these same features applied to longer texts. Something along the lines of short stories or news articles.

    Visit the Website

    Download on Google Play

    Download on the App Store

    Pin It on Pinterest

    Deprecated: Directive 'allow_url_include' is deprecated in Unknown on line 0