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!

Topics Discussed

  • Why anyone who loves language belongs at a polyglot event, even if you don’t consider yourself a “polyglot.”
  • The origins of the first Polyglot Conference and how the event has evolved over the years.
  • Why perfection isn’t possible in languages and why mistakes are an inevitableand often helpful—component of learning a language.
  • The power of visual input and why focusing on pronunciation first is ideal.
  • Why successful language learning is really just successful goal setting and habit formation.
  • A day in the life of Richard’s language learning projects.
  • The weekly “minimum effective dose” required to make progress in a language.
  • Why shorter, more frequent learning sessions are better than longer, less frequent learning sessions.
  • How Richard balances learning new languages and maintaining those he’s already learned.
  • How Richard chooses which languages to learn and the critical importance of having a strong WHY.
  • The 2020 Polyglot Conference [Update: This year, the event will be online from October 16 to 25]


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