Learn Any Language


The concept of Language Islands is intended to help one navigate topics that occur frequently in conversation. By creating simple texts that are easy to memorise, these texts or Islands can be used as standard responses in conversation to talk more fluidly and with ease.

It's a technique explained by Boris Shekhtman in the book "How To Improve Your Foreign Language Immediately.[1]"

Islands are sets of pre-defined speeches on common topics that one "can swim to when you feel as if you’re drowning in a difficult conversation"[1]. Reciting one of these speeches gives confidence both to the speaker and the native listener, and allows a mental pause before plunging back into less familiar water.

This should not be confused with the linguistic term "language island[2]" (Sprachinsel[3]) which is an exclave of a language that is surrounded by one or more different languages

What is a Language Island?[]

A language island is one or more short paragraphs about some specific subject in the language being learned. The objective is to memorise the paragraph(s) to ensure easy production with excellent pronunciation.

One island by itself may not very useful; the idea is to have several, easily recallable islands. Typically, Language Islands might be about:

  • yourself (to introduce yourself in a conversation)
  • where you live
  • what you do (student, work, retired, etc.)
  • things you like to do
  • hobbies and interests
  • music, movies
  • travels
  • family
  • things you need to do such as shopping
  • travelling (directions, tickets, hotels, restaurants)
  • whatever you want to talk about

The people who have used “language islands” successfully say it really helps their confidence, their conversations and it really speeds their progress. You will soon find yourself branching out from your islands, using parts of the information, the sentence structures and the vocabulary.

Ideally, islands are first created in your native language from the things you normally talk about. Then they would be translated into your target language by a native who, ideally, would also help you with the islands and especially with the pronunciation.


A Dutch/English Language Island for Chatting on Skype


  1. 1.0 1.1 http://andrewblackman.net/2013/04/how-to-improve-your-foreign-language-immediately/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_island
  3. Peter Auer, Frans Hinskens, Paul Kerswill. Dialect change: convergence and divergence in European languages. str. 221. "The term 'Sprachinsel' was used for the first time in 1847 to designate a Slavonic community surrounded by a German-speaking population close to Konigsberg, East Prussia cf. Mattheier 1996. 812"