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.
I’ve written before about whether or not you can learn a language well using smartphone apps. The short answer? It depends. Some language apps can help, but none can replace the primary tasks that will actually get you fluent: tons of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Moreover, most language apps teach languages indirectly and out of context. Not exactly a recipe for fluency. But there are a few apps that do a pretty good job of providing contextual, direct practice. Clozemaster is one of them. Instead of trying to teach you words in isolation as many apps do, the gamified app teaches you vocabulary in context through mass exposure to complete sentences. So how does Clozemaster work? And how can you get the most out the app and ensure that you aren’t wasting your time? After thoroughly testing the app, here now are my best tips for how to use Clozemaster and maximize its effectiveness.
I was greatly saddened to hear that American polyglot and YouTuber Moses McCormick—a.k.a. “Lǎoshǔ” (老鼠, )—passed away on March 4, 2021 from heart complications just shy of his 40th birthday. Though his life was brief, his profound legacy lives on in the millions of people he inspired through his popular YouTube videos, courses, and language coaching. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of meeting Moses in person or having him as a guest on the Language Mastery Show, but I have been watching his videos for years and have learned a lot from his practical, playful approach to learning new languages. Read on to see what I consider to be the three most important pieces of practical wisdom from Moses, teachings that can help you banish perfectionism, bust through fears, reach fluency faster, and have much more fun along the way.
Khatzumoto is the man behind the popular Japanese learner blog All Japanese All the Time (or AJATT for short). While attending university in the United States, he figured out a way to immerse himself in Japanese language and culture nearly 24 hours a day. In an extremely short amount of time, he managed to reach an impressive level of fluency despite not living where the language was spoken and even without many of the learning tools and resources now readily available (he began his journey in 2004).
Polyglot Lindie Botes on how to master Japanese, Korean, and more through interest, immersion & self-study
Lindie Botes is a polyglot, YouTuber, blogger, and UI/UX designer on a mission to master 12+ languages, including Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and more. She is originally from South Africa, but has lived all over the world and now calls Singapore home. Though she loves foreign languages, she sees them not as an end but as a means to break down the barriers that otherwise divide us.
Matt is the creator of the popular Matt vs. Japan YouTube channel and the co-founder of Refold: The Roadmap to True Fluency, where he shares the methods he used to reach near native-like fluency in Japanese in just 5 years. I am a big fan of his immersion-based approach to language learning (which aligns well with the approach I share in Master Japanese), his mission to create a more streamlined path to fluency, and his commitment to giving Japanese language learners the tips and tools they need to succeed.
Have you been so busy working, studying, or downing eggnog lattes that you forgot to get a gift for that special someone in your life? Read on for some great last-minute gift ideas for those you know (including yourself!) learning Japanese. All of them are digital products that can be emailed to the recipient, so there’s no need to worry about shipping times. I’ve also made sure to select gifts that focus on action and application, not theory and academic study. Have a wonderful holiday season and a fruitful New Year!
Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett (a.k.a. “Miss Panda”) is an intercultural language consultant and trainer, the author of Let’s Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda! and First Mandarin Sounds: an Awesome Chinese Word Book, and the host of the Playful Chinese podcast. I love her approach to language learning, especially her emphasis on play and having fun. As she puts it eloquently, “Playing is learning. Learning is playing.”
Skritter CEO Jake Gill on How to Level Up Your Mandarin & Learn to Write Chinese Characters the “Write” Way
Jake Gill (高健) is a Chinese educator, former “Teaching Chinese as a Second Language” graduate student, and the CEO of Skritter, an innovative language learning app that helps Japanese and Chinese learners master characters through active production (i.e. writing on the screen) instead of passive recognition. In the interview, we talk about how and why he learned Mandarin Chinese, why traditional language classes won’t get you fluent in a language, what he would do differently if he were to start learning Mandarin over again, the limitations of app-based learning and following “the golden path,” the importance of following your passion and curiosity in languages, how to learn to write Chinese characters the “write” way, Jake’s current language learning routines and favorite resources, and the importance of daily habits and focusing on process over outcome.
Skritter has been on my radar for quite some time, but the need to sit at a computer was less than ideal. With the release of their iOS apps, however, Skritter has finally been given the touch-based format it deserves.
I am a big believer in goal setting and have an entire section dedicated to creating specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound language learning objectives in my books Master Japanese and Master Mandarin. Why? Because if you don’t know where you want to go, how in the heck can you ever get there? But it’s critical to understand that goals are just the first step to align your compass. Goals alone won’t get you very far on your journey. The real magic is found in the “process”―the collection of daily habits and activities (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) that will inch you closer and closer to your fluency goals over time.
Do you live and breath languages? Do you want to make a good living using and refining your language skills every day? Then professional translation might be just the ticket. In today’s episode, I chat with my friend Sam, who is a professional Japanese translator and one of the best non-native Japanese speakers I know. We talk about how he learned Japanese, how he broke into the translation industry, and his tips for doing the same.
Luke & Phil from the Mandarin Blueprint on how to learn Chinese from home during quarantine, why you should focus on listening first, and how to crack characters & tones
If you have a burning desire to learn Mandarin Chinese but feel overwhelmed at the very thought, then today’s podcast is a must-listen episode for you. Yes, to the uninitiated, Chinese characters look like a random pile of squiggly lines. True, the wrong tones could lead to you inadvertently calling someone’s mother a horse! But don’t let this scare you away, because today’s guests, Phil Crimmins and Luke Neale, have created an innovative language course called the Mandarin Blueprint designed to take these worries away.
Polyglot & applied linguist Stuart Jay Raj on how to leverage your languages skills in business, master Mandarin tones & deinstitutionalize language learning
Stuart Jay Raj is an Australian polyglot, applied linguist, author, musician, and cross-cultural business consultant based in Bangkok, Thailand. He has presented at two TEDx events (once in English and once in Mandarin), and is the author of Cracking Thai Fundamentals: A Thai Operating System for the Mind. In addition to teaching and writing extensively on effective language acquisition, he has also applied his impressive language skills as a multilingual facilitator in various specialized industries (including aerospace, oil and gas, hospitality, and cyber security) and as the co-host of a Thai travel show called Neua Chan Phan Plaek (เหนือชั้น 1000 แปลก) that explored fascinating people, places, and things around the world via local languages. Stuart holds a degree in Cognitive and Applied Linguistics from Griffith University, and speaks over 15 languages, including Thai, Lao, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Indonesian / Malay, Spanish, Italian, Danish, Hindi, Vietnamese, Burmese, and various other Asian languages and dialects.
Polyglot, language coach, and course creator Nick Godwin on how to learn conversational Japanese through “Nominikeeshon” & doing what matters
Nick Godwin is a British polyglot, English language coach, and course creator living in Tokyo, Japan. He specializes in helping advanced English learners break through plateaus and helping beginning Japanese learners to communicate through by focusing on practical skills that matter. In addition to running the English language learning site ByLingua, he also helped develop the popular story-based course Japanese Uncovered, and recently launched a blog that blends his love of language, learning, and intentional living called Minimalinguist.