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.
Resources, Concepts & People Mentioned
- Fluent Forever app
- Fluent Forever book
- Middlebury Language School
- Anki spaced repetition flashcard app
- Japanese phonology
- Minimal pairs
- Barry Farber, author of How to Learn Any Language: Quickly, Easily, Inexpensively, Enjoyably and On Your Own
- Antonio Graceffo: Writer, Fighter & Linguist
- Interlanguage fossilization
- The Four Levels of Processing: ① Structure, ② Sound, ③ Concept, and ④ Personal Connection
- Spaced Repetition
- Benny Lewis on how to learn a language in hours, not years
- James Clear on how to stop procrastinating by using the “2-Minute Rule”
- Routledge Frequency Dictionaries
- Understanding Second Language Acquisition by Lourdes Ortega
- The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention by Guy Deutscher
Complete transcripts are coming soon. Enter your email below to be notified when they are available.