Mastering a foreign language is at once extremely complex and predictively simple. On the one hand, you have to learn the nuanced meanings of thousands of words, internalize hundreds of grammar patterns, and be able to understand and use these terms and structures at rapid speed. On the other hand, most of the complexity happens at a subconscious level. Our brains do almost all of the heavy lifting for us if we get enough exposure and practice. In essence, you just have to show up. But how you show up matters. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t learn languages by osmosis. Just being around foreign languages is not enough. Read on to see the 3 essential ingredients you need to ensure that this exposure will lead to fluency.
In this first episode of the year, I would like to experiment with a new format. I have some exciting interviews lined up in the coming weeks, but I’d like to kick things off with a new segment called The 3 Foundations of Mastery. If you already subscribe to my Language Mastery Monday newsletter, you will already be familiar with this framework. So what are the three foundations and why do they matter? 1) Foundation 1 is Mastering Your Mind, which means conquering fears and self-limiting beliefs that are blocking your path to fluency; 2) Foundation 2 is Mastering Your Day, which involves building better habits and learning more efficiently. 3) And Foundation 3 is Mastering Your Environment, which means creating your own immersion wherever you happen to live. Ready? Let’s get started! Listen to today’s episode to hear this week’s tips for mastering your mind, day, and environment.
Studying Linguistics in university changed my life. It lead me to travel the world and dive into the languages and cultures of far-off lands, including Japan, Bangladesh, and Taiwan. Linguistics also helped me develop a greater appreciation of my home language and culture, including the many regional dialects, accents, and linguistic varieties found right here in the United States. Perhaps the greatest lesson from Linguistics was learning the difference between “prescriptive linguistics” and “descriptive linguistics.” This critical distinction accounts for the vast majority of the language-related arguments I’ve had with friends, family, and internet trolls. So what is the difference and why does it matter? Read on to hear my two yen.
As Greg McKeown puts it in “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”: “The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that I mean our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution. One of the most common ways people―especially ambitious, successful people―damage this asset is through a lack of sleep.” That was certainly true for me in my 20s and 30s, when I regularly burned the candle at both ends in a foolish quest for productivity. I now know that my chronic sleep deprivation (and all the coffee and alcohol I used to self-medicate) significantly impaired my studies and work. May it be acquiring foreign languages, writing books, or launching businesses, more sleep would have made me more productive, more effective, and more efficient. So what is an optimal amount of sleep? And what kinds of sleep do we need to optimally consolidate, encode, and recall new words, phrases, and structures? Read on to find out.
Since starting the Language Mastery Show in 2009, I have interviewed over fifty of the world’s best language learners, including some “polyglots” who speak five, ten, fifteen, or even more languages! One of the most impressive such individuals is Lindie Botes, a South African UX designer based in Singapore who speaks 12+ languages to varying degrees, including Korean, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and Hungarian! So how did she acquire so many languages when most people struggle to learn just one? And just as important, how does she maintain the languages she has worked so hard to acquire? She has many interesting methods, but the one I find most intriguing is “language stacking.” Read on to learn more about what the method is and why you should try it, too.