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.
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.
There is a lot to like about language learning apps. They allow you to squeeze in more language learning time throughout your day and allow you to outsource motivation to dopamine-driven “habit loops” that keep you coming back for more every single day. That’s the good news. The bad news? Apps alone will NEVER get you to fluency in Japanese. Read on to see why.
Richard Simcott is a “hyperpolyglot” who speaks over a dozen languages fluently and many dozen to various levels; a feat that led HarperCollins to name him one of Britain’s most multilingual people. He is also the co-founder of the Polyglot Conference, an annual event that brings together polyglots, linguists, and lovers of language from all over the world (the event will be online this year from October 16 to 25, 2020). He returns to the Language Mastery Show six years after our first conversation to talk about how he juggles so many languages, the “minimum effective dose” required to move a language project forward, and how he chooses which languages to pursue. He is a fountain of language learning wisdom and I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did!
Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, the host of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, and the creator of the Magnetic Memory Masterclass. He has refined his memory techniques learning a number of languages, including Biblical Hebrew, German, Mandarin Chinese, and Sanskrit, and has gone on to teach thousands of learners how to maximize their memories and create unforgettable associations. I like that his approach combines proven ancient principles with modern brain research, while focusing on practical application (e.g. remembering foreign language vocabulary) instead of impressive but ultimately useless memory feats (e.g. memorizing decks of cards or long strings of numbers).
Nick Velasquez is the author of the new book “Learn, Improve, Master: How to Develop Any Skill and Excel at It.” In the interview, we discuss the core principles, strategies, and tools you can use to master any anything, may it be reaching conversational fluency in Japanese or remembering more of what you read.
Chris Vasselli is a programmer, passionate Japanese learner, and the creator of the Nihongo iOS app, my go-to Japanese dictionary and reading tool for authentic Japanese content. We discuss his language learning journey, how to acquire Japanese the fun, natural, immersive way, and why you shouldn’t fear the Japanese writing system.
I first started The Language Mastery Show in 2009 as a short-term experiment. My initial goals were: ① To test drive the new medium of podcasting. ② To serve and empower independent language learners. ③ To have a good excuse to meet some of my linguistic heroes. Now eleven years later, I am happy to say that the podcast has exceeded all initial expectations. I’ve reached hundreds of thousands of people, interviewed 50 of the world’s best language learners, and befriended many in real life. Before kicking off Season 3 of The Language Mastery Show next week (launching on Friday, July 24, 2020), I wanted to go back and highlight some of my favorite lessons from the amazing guests that have shared their time and wisdom with us over the years, including polyglots, hyperpolyglots, linguists, professors, teachers, and passionate enthusiasts. I’ve learned countless lessons on how to make my own language learning more fun and effective along the way, and I hope you have gleaned some useful strategies, methods, and resources, too.
If you want to learn to speak Japanese with confidence, you have to actually practice speaking DIRECTLY. The problem with this is that it’s hard to find native speakers to practice with, keep yourself accountable, and speaking can be really scary! This is precisely why I designed the Japanese Conversation Accelerator, a live training course to get you having flowing conversations in just 1 month.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” Here are 7 essential principles you can follow to get fluent in Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, or any other target language. You can play with lots of different methods to find what works best for you, but violate these universal principles at your own perel!
A clear purpose is essential in any long-term undertaking like language learning. As Friedrich Nietzsche put it, “If you know the why, you can live any how.” But this WHY needn’t needn’t be something extrinsic or practical. In fact, intrinsic and emotional WHYs are often far more motivating and sustainable. All that matters is that your WHY motivates you day in and day out. Nobody else needs to know your real purpose.
My Japanese language learning journey has been anything but smooth or linear. Sure, I eventually figured out what works best for me, but it took a lot of trial and error. If I were to go back and start learning from scratch, I would certainly do things very differently. And I certainly have done exactly that as I’ve started other languages. At the same time, I am grateful for my missteps as they have proved to be one of the most effective teachers one could ever ask for. As Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legend Carlos Gracie, Jr. put it, “There is no losing . . . You either win or you learn.” I’d now like to share my “trail map” with you and point out my five biggest blunders so you can avoid them on your Japanese journey. You can then save your mistakes for practicing the language itself instead of “wasting” them on selecting your methods, materials, or beliefs.
Every so often we make seemingly small decisions that end up changing the course of our lives forever… For me, one such choice was taking an introductory linguistics class, which ultimately led to changing my major to Linguistics three years into an Industrial Design degree and launching me on a love affair that still consumes me to this day. I suspect that if you’re reading this blog, you too may be interested in linguistics, at least as far as it can aid your approach to mastering foreign languages. While a college degree in the subject can certainly help in this regard, the good news is that you can learn all the core principles you need from a small list of books, saving yourself four years and thousands of dollars! Read on to see the three linguistics books you need to understand how languages work, how they’re acquired, and how best to learn or teach them.
After two decades of learning foreign languages and one writing and podcasting about them, I’ve decided to quit this absurd undertaking. It turns out that the monolingual naysayers and forum trolls have been right all along. Life is short, so it’s high time I accept the truth about foreign languages, stop trying to empower independent learners, get a REAL job, and spend whatever leftover time I have on a more worthwhile habit. Read on to see the top three reasons I am throwing in the towel and shutting down Language Mastery.
Nelson Dellis is a memory athlete, 4-time U.S. Memory Champion, a Grandmaster of Memory, a high-altitude mountaineer, author, speaker, and all-around cool dude. He is now on a mission to reach conversational fluency in Dutch in just one year, applying all the memory techniques, mnemonics, and visualization strategies he used to train for memory championships.