Woman outside typing on laptop

One thing I love about Canada is the opportunity for my children to receive a free bilingual education through the French Immersion program available at many public schools.

Some say, “You’ll never use French unless you want to work for the government or be a French teacher,” but actually, I’m not worried about whether my kids use their French in any practical way.

What compels me most about a bilingual education is this: learning in another language teaches you more than just the subject matter you’re studying. A successful French Immersion student needs to learn a lot of problem-solving skills (for example, how to complete a difficult French homework assignment when your parents don’t speak French) and develop good study habits. And because the option to drop out of the program is ever present, students need to find an inner motivation to persevere, whether that be because they have a specific career goal in mind or simply because they’re the type of person who values a healthy challenge.

These skills and habits transfer to other domains of life. For example, some of the skills and habits needed to learn a second language are similar to those needed to be a more productive writer.

Duolingo to the Rescue

With one child already in the French Immersion program and two more headed that direction, this is my chance to learn along with them. To refresh my own very shaky French and start building more vocabulary, I’ve been using a popular language-learning app known as Duolingo. (The app is free and I’m in no way affiliated with it.)

Duolingo won’t make you bilingual on its own, but it can teach you a base vocabulary, provide you with a general understanding of sentence structure, and act as a launch pad for further learning.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned by studying French on Duolingo—lessons that also hold value for those of us who call ourselves writers:

1. Never underestimate the value of practice.

A lot of writers just want to see their work in print; they don’t really see the value in writing stuff that will never be read by others. I used to be one of those writers, but now I know from experience that taking time to practice is the only way to change your mentality from “Must get published” to “Must write something true and meaningful.” That’s the difference between mediocre writing and great writing. click to continue reading >>


Literary Journal Seeks “Features Editor” & “Fiction Director”

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UPDATE: Please note that the fiction director position has now been filled.  Many of you know I’m the managing editor of an online literary magazine that has taken off quite nicely over the past couple of years. Well, our team at Compose Journal has a couple of exciting opportunities available at the moment: we’re looking for a features […]

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I Dumped My S.M.A.R.T. Writing Goals, and This Is What Happened

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It’s a new year: a good time for change, for adopting new writing habits, for setting goals. Haven’t we heard, probably for decades now, that the best way to get things done is to set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals, and write them down? My husband is one of those business-y types who loves to rib me about […]

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Your Free Trial of The Author Accelerator Book-Coaching Program

I’m so excited today to be able to share with you this 30-minute video session with book coach Jennie Nash, and to be part of a special offer she’s extending to readers of Write It Sideways: a free week’s trial of her new book-coaching program, Author Accelerator. Jennie and I first connected years ago when […]

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7 Tension-Building Tips for Writing Action Scenes

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Today’s post is written by Joan C. Curtis. She’s the author of four business books and a new mystery, The Clock Strikes Midnight. The best writers know how to create action scenes that cause readers to fly through the pages, dying to know what happens next. As a reader, I lose myself in the action and […]

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I Got Published in “The Writer” Magazine

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I’m happy to share some exciting news with you today: an essay of mine was purchased by The Writer a few months ago, and it appears in the November issue. The piece is called “Stand out”; the cover line is “Make your mark in literary journals.” Although “Stand out” is not available online, the November issue is on […]

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