One of the most common questions I get asked is, “What is the easiest language to learn? What is the hardest?” My answer is rarely what the individual expects, nor is it usually the neat, tidy, TV-friendly answer they hope for…
You may be surprised to hear that flashcards can be a rather controversial topic in the language learning world. Some swear BY them. Some swear AT them. So where do I fall in the flashcard continuum? Am I for or against them? Read on to hear my point of view and my tips for getting the most out of flashcards if you decide to use them in language learning.
If you’re lucky, you already know exactly which language you want to learn next. Congratulations! You can skip the following post and get back to bingeing Game of Thrones. But if you are among those struggling to decide which language to learn next, this post is for you. There are approximately 6,500 languages spoken today, and this massive number of options can quickly lead to what psychologist Barry Schwartz calls “the paradox of choice.” Many of us get stuck in “paralysis by analysis,” endlessly weighing pros and cons in a foolish effort to make the perfect choice. There is no perfect choice, of course, so we often make no choice at all. Or if we do manage to choose a language, we are left with a nagging fear that we made the wrong choice. Are we missing out on a more fulfilling adventure? Would another language be more useful in our career? So what to do? While there is no right answer to the question, “What language should I learn next,” there are at least some useful criteria we can use to narrow down the list of options. We can then spend less time deciding what language to learn and more time actually learning it.
While at a Christmas dinner party recently, I was asked the standard American icebreaker: “So, what do you do?” “I’m a linguist and an author who writes about language learning.”
“Oh? What languages do you speak?” “I’ve dabbled in a few, but I mostly focus on Japanese.” “Wow, that’s a really hard language! You must be really smart.” I knew this exclamation was coming since it’s the same response I almost always get when talking about language learning, but it still makes me cringe every time. Many people, even those who have never studied the language, assume that ① Japanese is difficult, and ② you have to be really smart to learn it.
So is Japanese difficult? And does it require great intelligence? Read on to see my answer to both.
FAQ: How Can I Change the Display Language on iOS, macOS, Android, Windows, Kindle, Facebook, Instagram, etc.?
With just a few taps or clicks, you can change your smartphone, computer, social media accounts, web browser, and more into language learning powerhouses. Instead of studying random flashcards or boring textbooks, you can get fun, contextual, relevant exposure to your target language throughout your day as you do tasks you would already be doing anyway. Instead of trying to create new habits, this approach allows you to leverage firmly established habits that are already part of your daily routine. Instead of having to choose to spend time with the language, exposure becomes the default.
In this excerpt from my Master Japanese guide, I answer a number of frequently asked questions about why and how to learn Japanese kana. Even if you only want to learn to speak Japanese, I highly recommend investing the time to learn hiragana and katakana as they will help you improve your pronunciation and significantly expand the number of language resources available to you on your learning journey.