How to Translate 加油 to English? (And how not to)

A common Chinese phrase, 加油,seems to often be translated into English in ways that do not really make sense.

Here are a couple of options that work, there are other ways to say something with a similar meaning as well.

Literally it means ‘add oil’ in Chinese.


Tutoring Spanish #8 Jugo/Juego & Prima/Primera

We reviewed a few things for the upcoming test.

Started looking at verb conjugation for some verbs on a review list. Spent a bit more time on the irregular verbs.

Then looked at numbers from 1 – 1,000,000. Catorce and quince were a bit less familiar. And a few of the other numbers we reviewed. There are two ways to say some of the numbers,

por ejemplo

treinta y dos

Practiced speaking Spanish describing a typical day.

A few words that look similar but have different meanings are




Two other words that might be useful are ‘tarea’ and ‘usualmente’.

“Is 15 too old to fluently learn a language? I really want to be fluent in Russian or Japanese.”


No, it’s not.

Spanish at 15

I started learning Spanish at 15 and I would say I’m fluent. Could definitely keep improving at it, but I understand about 95% of what I hear and more sometimes (as well as less other times). Can express myself pretty well.

German at 19

I started learning German when I was 19 and can have conversations with people, my level is a bit lower than compared to my Spanish. At one point my German was better than my Spanish.

Chinese at 28

I started learning Chinese when I was 28. Not fluent yet, but I could be with more work. Have no reason to doubt I could get there.

Would I be better at any of these languages if I started earlier? Probably.

At the same time, I became better at German compared to Spanish and I started learning it later. When you start something is not the only factor in determining your ultimate ability.

“Child prodigies” with music sometimes stop playing music.

For me, I did not consistently put in work learning Spanish and German. Could maybe even make a graph of that.

I could speak either Spanish or German much better right now if I had approached it differently. But I can speak both in a way that could be described as fluent.

I would recommend starting now and dedicating yourself to anything you want to learn.

But don’t doubt you can do it.

English Listening Exercise #4 Penguin Drawings

About two drawings of penguins.


English Correction About Listen Speak Game


I’m often able to understand people learning English, but many times the structure is not quite right.

Let me know if you have questions about the correction.

Learning to roll the ‘r’ in Spanish

My Spanish student from China has been learning to roll the letter ‘r’. Being able to do that is necessary when you see a double r (‘rr’) in Spanish words like carro.

At first she did not think she could do this.

And I remember thinking the same thing as I first was learning Spanish. But I wanted to be able to do it.

So I listened and started trying to be able to roll the ‘r’. At first, it wasn’t comfortable and was hard to put into words. Eventually I got it.

She is starting to be able to roll her tongue, but the sound of ‘t’ is more comfortable.


For me, rolling the letter ‘t’ is a higher pitch and for the letter ‘r’ is a lower pitch. I can go higher in pitch than the letter ‘t’ also.


The transition from the ‘t’ sound to a ‘tr’ sound may be easier than the transition directly to the ‘r’ sound. Seems like the middle of the tongue is a bit lower in the mouth going towards the ‘r’ sound.

I also found this post by Benny about rolling the letter ‘r’.

Let me know if you have any thoughts!

Tutoring Spanish #7 El Viento y El Sol, Animated Story

Saw this video which I used in a lesson today.

Much of it was understandable for my first year Spanish student (from China).

We paused it to figure out some words. Some words we skipped over which I did not think were all that common

And some words you could figure out from what you saw in the video.

Talked about some related words. For example, we saw barcos and I talked about how botes are similar. But botas are more like zapatos.

Sonreir, reir, sonrisa

These three words are related. First is to smile, second is to laugh, third is smile (noun).

Double negatives

In Spanish you use double negatives, unlike in English.

More vocabulary

Wrote down some new words that could be useful.

Sentence structure

Also saw a few new types of sentence structure.

English Listening Exercise #3 Elephant Drawing

Difficult to Say English Words Video #1

A few words that people asked about who are learning English.



“How good will I be at German if I watch YouTube for 2000 hours?”

“How good will I be at German if I watch YouTube for 2000 hours?
I’ve watched around 175 hours so far. I basically started from scratch. I would estimate that I’ve got thousands of words in my passive vocabulary so far. I’ve also mastered the subjective-object-verb order naturally through extensive exposure.”

Have you tried talking to a German person yet?

And do you speak out loud what you hear?

If you try talking to a German person or German speaker now, you will have an idea of where your German is in a practical sense. You will know some things you don’t understand and maybe learn about what you have trouble saying and communicating (maybe issues with pronunciation as well).

And you can try again after another 100 hours to gauge your progress.

If it works, cool.  But I wouldn’t say it’s guaranteed to be effective.

I would not blindly pursue the strategy if it’s not working though. You figure that out by testing it. And I think you should try speaking German to a German speaker.