Is There Such a Thing as “Bad English?”

Is There Such a Thing as “Bad English?”

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.

Is Poor Sleep Hurting Your Language Learning?

Is Poor Sleep Hurting Your Language Learning?

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.

How & why to use “language stacking” to learn or maintain multiple languages at once

How & why to use “language stacking” to learn or maintain multiple languages at once

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.

How to improve your listening, reading & spelling skills with Clozemaster

How to improve your listening, reading & spelling skills with Clozemaster

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.

3 Wise Lessons from the Legendary Laoshu

3 Wise Lessons from the Legendary Laoshu

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.

AJATT’s Khatzumoto on How To Immerse Yourself in Japanese Anywhere in the World

AJATT’s Khatzumoto on How To Immerse Yourself in Japanese Anywhere in the World

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 & Chinese Through Self-Guided Immersion

Polyglot Lindie Botes on How To Master Japanese, Korean & Chinese Through Self-Guided Immersion

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 vs. Japan on how to master Japanese through immersion

Matt vs. Japan on how to master Japanese through immersion

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.

5 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Japanese Language Learners

5 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Japanese Language Learners

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 on How To Master Mandarin Chinese Through Play

Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett on How To Master Mandarin Chinese Through Play

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

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.

Focus on the “Process” over the “Product”

Focus on the “Process” over the “Product”

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.

Sam the Japanese Translator on How to Master Japanese & Break Into the Translation Industry

Sam the Japanese Translator on How to Master Japanese & Break Into the Translation Industry

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.

Mandarin Blueprint Founders Luke & Phil on How to Master Chinese Characters, Tones & More

Mandarin Blueprint Founders Luke & Phil on How to Master Chinese Characters, Tones & More

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.

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