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.
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.”
On August 28, 1963, The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., an American activist, humanitarian, and pastor gave what would become one of the most famous speeches of all time and a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement. The masterful address, usually known simply as I Have a Dream, was delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in front hundreds of thousands of people who had joined the “March on Washington.” If you’ve never watched the speech, or haven’t seen it in a while, please take a moment now to relive a bit of history and honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And for extra points, follow the links in the post to read the speech in Japanese, Chinese, or Spanish!
This is part two of my special two-way interview with Danish podcaster Kris Broholm, host of the Actual Fluency Podcast. We talk about how learning languages and connecting with the polyglot community gave his life purpose, launched a new career, and has allowed him to meet and learn from hundreds of the world’s best language learners. Kris also shares expert tips on how to launch and scale a language business. I really enjoyed our wide-ranging conversation, which Kris jokes was, “…a bit like Inside the Actor’s Studio, except about languages instead of acting. And of lacking James Lipton…”
In 2015, the Danish podcaster Kris Broholm joined me on the Language Mastery Show to talk about how discovering the polyglot community helped pull him out of depression and give his life direction. His podcast, Actual Fluency, is now one of the most popular language podcasts on the planet, with 166 guests to date! Though Kris speaks multiple languages, he sees himself not as a language expert, but as a “language learning journalist” who highlights the expertise of the world’s best language learners. In this special two-part two-way interview (which is also being shared on his podcast), we each talk about lessons we’ve learned in the last four years, patterns we’ve observed after talking to so many polyglots, and how our respective blogs, podcasts, and language businesses have evolved.
Pronunciation & Dialect Coach Ruben Adery on How to Master Your Accent & Sound More Like a Native Speaker
Ruben Adery is a pronunciation and dialect coach who helps learners, actors, singers, etc. develop native-like foreign accents. I first met him at the 2019 Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava where he gave a talk titled The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Immitating Foreign Accents to Help Master Any Language. The content of the talk itself was great, but the really impressive part was that he had the audience fooled for the first five minutes that he was from Israel when he is in fact from Los Angeles!