4 Tips for Learning a New Language

It isn’t easy to become bilingual. In fact, it can be one of the most difficult things that you ever do. If you’re up for the challenge, however, here are just four steps that you can take to increase your odds of success.

1. Start Small

This is where a lot of people go wrong. They load themselves up with textbooks, notebooks and flashcards and burn themselves out trying to learn everything within a week. A better way to become bilingual is to download an app or sign up for a language course where you’re given small, regular lessons that will be absorbed into your brain over time.

2. Consume Foreign-Language Media

Watch shows and movies in the language that you’re trying to learn. Listen to music and look up the lyrics. Try to read a popular book. Not only will this be much more entertaining than your standard lessons, but it will also expose you to natural, real-world dialogue that isn’t overly stiff and formal.

3. Get Professional Help

While there’s nothing wrong with being self-taught, it can become a heavy burden. If you need someone to help you carry this weight, consider signing up for German conversational workshops or Chinese language summer programs. Having guided direction can make all of the difference in your language-learning, especially if you’re a beginner.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice

At the end of the day, there’s no better way to learn a new language than to practice it with diligence. You won’t get any more fluent just by staring at your textbooks! You’ll need to crack them open and get to work. Aim for a consistent study schedule if you can; otherwise, just sneak in some language practice whenever possible.

These are just a few tips for learning a foreign language. As you can see, there’s a lot more to the process than simply conjugating verbs and memorizing funny phrases, so make sure that you’re fully committed before you begin. You’ll need a large amount of determination if you truly want to become fluent in a second language.

Five Qualities to Look for in a Baby’s Play Mat

A crib, a changing table, a baby carrier and a high chair are just a few things on the list of items parents get for their baby. A baby play mat is another familiar item on that list. Babies can use this type of mat for tummy time, napping, exploration and more. It’s important to find a high-quality mat for your baby. Consider these five qualities when evaluating any baby mat for your child.

A Large Amount of Roaming Space

A quality baby mat has plenty of room for a baby to crawling, roll or scoot around. A baby should feel free to move anywhere on the mat. More importantly, the mat should provide enough room for the baby to exercise while remaining on the mat instead of the floor below it. A parent shouldn’t be worried about the baby moving off the mat after being put down for tummy time.

Appealing Colors or Illustrations

Babies like to explore and observe the environment around them. Getting a baby mat with soothing colors or interesting designs can add to a baby’s explorations. If the mat is an appealing place to be, then a baby will want to remain on it all through tummy time. Parents who prefer to buy baby play mats online must make it a point to take a close look at its design and read the description connected with it.

A Soft, Comfortable Surface

A baby’s skin is very soft and sensitive. So, any play mat you choose should move against the baby’s skin in a gentle way. The surface of the play mat should remain in good condition even after months of use. Organic cotton is a favorable type of material for a baby’s play mat.

Durable Fabric

A baby mat with durable fabric will be able to withstand washes in the gentle cycle as well as time in the clothes dryer. It’s important to keep a baby’s play mat clean on both sides. The underside touching the floor can pick up dirt, dust and bacteria. Also, the surface of the mat picks up bacteria, dirt and even pet hair that is moving across the room. A play mat should always come out of the clothes dryer in clean, excellent condition. Even if a baby has a leaky diaper on the play mat, it should come clean after being put in the normal clothing washer found in a household.

Easy Storage

When a parent is finished using a baby’s play mat, it should be easy to put into a closet or even slip into a cabinet until the next time it’s needed. Easy storage helps a baby’s play mat to remain in good condition throughout a baby’s exploratory years. Plus, putting it in a cabinet or closet keeps it away from pets and other children who may try to damage it.

Lastly, taking your time to look for a quality baby play mat allows you to use it for one baby and maybe even his or her future siblings. After the babies are grown, a quality play mat can become a keepsake to treasure after the children are grown!


Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Maintaining Your Vehicle: Keeping Your Family Safe Starts with Inspections and Service

Most people know that routine maintenance and service is the best way to keep the family car running at peak efficiency for an extended period of time. But annual or semi-annual inspections are probably not enough, particularly if you do a lot of driving or are planning a long trip.

In the time between scheduled maintenance inspections, significant problems can develop, and the more complex they become, the more difficult (and expensive) they are to correct. Furthermore, the middle of a long trip is a very inopportune time to discover that your vehicle has issues.

So, here are some ways you can keep an eye on your vehicle. If the inspection reveals any issues, take your vehicle to a mechanic straightaway, because that’s the best way to both quickly resolve the problem and obtain peace of mind.


Cracks and chips, along with loose seals, are generally considered to be safety hazards, because they impede visibility, especially at night or during other low-visibility periods.

It may be possible to seal these hairline cracks or other flaws, to optimize visibility and also prevent the damage from getting worse. In other cases, it may be necessary to replace the entire windshield, and many auto insurance companies will either pay for this service or at least pay a large portion of the costs.


It is also fairly easy to check the tread on your tires, because most vehicles include wear indicator bars. Be sure and check the tread level on the spare tire as well. Avoid the temptation to drive more than a few miles on a spare tire.

Also, avoid multiple types of tires on the same vehicle, even if they are the correct size. This randomness often causes premature wear, especially if the odd tires are on the front where most wear and tear occurs.


To ascertain whether or not any brake components need replacing, look (or listen) for the following signs:


  • Screeching: This high-pitched squeal is a design function which tells operators that they need to replace their brake pads, because otherwise it is almost impossible to tell when they begin to wear out.
  • Grinding: If a rumbling sound replaces the screech, that probably means the pads have completely worn down and the rotors may be permanently damaged.
  • Fading: If the pedal sinks almost all the way to the floor before the vehicle responds, that usually indicates a leak either in the fluid or the air hose.

Vibration or pulling to one side usually indicates brake issues as well.

Fluid Levels

Generally, if the indicator light comes on, the fluid is already dangerously low, so a better practice is to manually check levels every six or eight weeks. Most fluids, except for oil, should last a long time, so if there are repeated issues with low levels, there is most likely a leak.

While there is no substitute for an experienced mechanic, especially if there are any problems with your vehicle, simple visual inspections can tide you over between full mechanical inspections.

Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Take Your Kids Camping Without Leaving the Living Room: Night Sky Projectors Can Make It Happen

Fall is well and truly here, the weather outside is frightful, and the fire is looking pretty delightful right now. But just because outdoor activities are put on hold, that doesn’t mean you have to stop taking the kids on weekend adventures – camping doesn’t have to be a summer-only experience. Grab a duvet and your coziest pair of pajamas, it’s time to bring the great outdoors, indoors!

Pillow Fort > Pop-up Tent

No outdoor camping trip is complete without a torrential downpour whilst you’re trying to put the tent up. The whole thing will be wet through before you’ve taken a step inside, and there is NOTHING worse than waking up to water dripping on your head. Of course, it may not rain, but why risk it? Trade the cold for comfort with your own indoor pillow fort! Gather together all of the blankets and pillows you can find, using light blankets for the roof, and more sturdy furnishings for the floor. The kids will love the excuse to rearrange the furniture – the bigger the better if you want to fit the whole family inside!

Fairy Lights > Fire Pit

You can’t start a fire in the middle of your lounge for obvious reasons, so opt instead for sparkling fairy lights. String them inside your pillow fort, branching out from the roof, or even bundle them up and make a DIY flameless fire pit to sit around and sing campfire songs. Granted, making s’mores is mildly more difficult with light than fire, but you’re indoors with an oven – what does it matter?

Delicious Dinner > Stodgy Snacks

Talking of food, one of the brilliant things about camping indoors is the food! Forget stodgy porridge and boring boil in the bag options, on this camping trip you can eat whatever you like! Cook everyone an easy, delicious dinner like these bonfire night baked potatoes and sit around the faux campfire, or stock up on popcorn and other snacks to watch a film in the pillow fort. Even a stack of pancakes for breakfast isn’t ruled out this time.

Board Games > Boredom

Having an indoor campout is a great excuse to switch off all of the electrical devices, and get the kids excited about doing something that isn’t watching TV. Cozy up at home and try doing all of the things you’d do if you really were camping. Think board games, card games, hang man or charades!

Clear Skies > Cloudy Skies

There’s something pretty magical about sleeping under the stars, but the weather won’t always be on your side. Don’t settle for the odd glimpse of the moon behind a cloud, bring the stars to you with a night sky projector. They range in standard, from basic children’s nightlight versions, to realistic planetarium projectors that show the night sky exactly as it looks outside. They make a soothing atmosphere for sleeping, or, if you’re clued up on constellations, do some star-gazing and take your children on a tour of the milky way!

Who said bedtime was boring?

Your Child’s Health is Important: Why Brushing is a Vital Part of the Day

The importance of teaching your children why brushing is a vital part of the day goes without saying, and it’s best to start teaching them the proper oral hygiene habits at a young age. Not doing so can potentially lead to early tooth decay, which can easily be avoided by taking the necessary time to teach them what they need to do (and doing it with the proper methodology).

So, what are the essential parts of the learning process?

Understanding your parental role

Parents should not be afraid to supervise their children for as long as they see fit, even until the age of 12. Not only do they serve as role models for the younger ones, they must also make sure to teach them the fine motor skills so they perform the brushing motions properly. Eventually, this will turn into a habit, and they will be willing and able to do it without you interfering.

How to make the process enjoyable

Children respond to praise and being scolded. Of course, you should strive to be more liberal with the former method than the latter. In other words, every time the kids do a good job, praise them for it! Now, to take things a bit further, why not turn the learning process into a game? Tell your kids they will be rewarded if they do a good job for a couple of weeks, perhaps with a new toy or something similar. That way, the learning process will become fun and they’ll also become motivated to give it their best shot.

Other things to keep in mind

  1. While it’s important to let the kids brush their teeth on their own, it’s a good idea to re-brush them yourself, just to be safe, knowing that no food residue will remain on the surface of the teeth.
  2. The appropriate amount of daily brushing sessions is 2 (in the morning and before going to sleep). Of course, it doesn’t hurt to brush them more frequently (for example, after a meal).
  3. Up to the years of 5-7, your kids should be using a toothpaste with low fluoride levels (250ppm to 750ppm). After the eruption of the new permanent teeth, you can up the fluoride levels to somewhere between 1000ppm and 1500ppm.
  4. Worn-out toothbrushes are less effective than the new ones. While there are differing opinions on how often they should be changed, the visual signs of wear and tear should serve as a good indicator.

The dangers of improper oral hygiene

By neglecting to practice proper oral hygiene, even kids at a young age could experience tooth decay. This can lead to unpleasant dental procedures, and no matter how good of a job the dentist performs, nothing can replace the natural teeth’s quality. Still, should it ever come to this, you can always count on Emergency Dentists USA to do their best to fix the problem.


By reading this article, you now hopefully understand why it’s vital to teach your kids the principles of proper oral hygiene. And if you aren’t putting the theory into practice yet, now’s the time to begin.