Gabriel Wyner is a polyglot, former opera singer, the author of the book Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It, and the creator of the new Fluent Forever app, the most funded app in crowdfunding history. I highly recommend his book and app, especially to anyone who struggles with foreign language pronunciation or making new words stick.

In the interview, we discuss:

  • How opera led Gabe to learn French, Italian, and German.
  • How a summer German immersion program proved he was not “crappy at languages” as he had previously believed.
  • Why opera is the perfect career for those who want to get paid to become multilingual.
  • The visceral difference between simply “pronouncing” a language and actually “thinking” and “feeling” in it.
  • Why you shouldn’t learn a language through translation (“It murders you before you start.”)
  • How images are a faster, more effective way to build new linguistics connections.
  • Why you should start with pronunciation training first.
  • How minimal pair training helps you learn pronunciation quickly and better notice your progress over time.
  • Why you can’t make old memories go away (the groove remains!), but how you can make new memories more powerful (making the groove deeper).
  • Why images (and the meanings they represent) create stronger memories than spelling and sound.
  • Why personal connection (“self-reference”) is the ultimate memory “supercharger.”
  • How self-testing with flashcards can make your study time five times more effective than simply presented yourself with information.
  • The critical difference between “recalling” and “reviewing.”
  • The power of “uh….?” moments and how spaced repetition can help optimize them.
  • Why modern digital flashcards are not really “flashcards” at all, but rather “computerized tests.”
  • Why language learning doesn’t take nearly as much time if you can actually hold onto what you learn.
  • Gabe’s “minimum viable” daily and weekly language learning habits.
  • How to get immersion “chunks” wherever you are.
  • Why frequency dictionaries are linguistic gold.

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