Training in martial arts has been one of the most rewarding, meaningful pursuits of my life, and I highly encourage you to give one a try if you’ve yet to don a dougi (道着, “training uniform”) or hit the tatami (畳, “straw mats”). Martial arts training has numerous benefits: ① Increased focus, discipline, and self-control. ② Improved strength, flexibility, agility, and bodily awareness. ③ A better chance of defending oneself from bullies, criminals, rapists, etc. But learning a martial arts offers another potential advantage that few people talk about: highly contextual Japanese immersion! Read on to see three reasons why martial arts is an ideal context for learning Japanese, and a few of the most popular bujutsu (武術, “martial arts”) to choose from.
Lindsay McMahon is the co-founder of All Ears English, a podcast and site dedicated to helping people learn natural English in a fun, relaxed way by focusing on “connection, not perfection.” The show, co-hosted by Lindsay (“The English Adventurer”), Michelle Kaplan (“The New York Radio Girl”), and Jessica Beck (“The Examiner of Excellence”), is ranked in the Top 20 Most Downloaded podcasts in Japan, Korea, China, and Brazil, and has been downloaded more than 50 million times! In the interview, we discuss: 1) How living with an 18-year-old French exchange student at age 10 sparked Lindsay’s passion for foreign languages. 2) Lindsay’s experience living and learning abroad after university, including her life changing 1.5 years in Tokyo. 3) How Lindsay got certified in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). 4) The pros and cons of living in rural or urban areas while abroad. 5) How to prepare for standardized tests (e.g. the JLPT, IELTS, TOEFL, etc.) so that you actually learn how to communicate at the same time. 6) The most common mistakes that English learners make and how to overcome them. 7) Why there is no “best” dialect of English and how to choose the right one for your needs. 8) How to stay focused on connection and communication instead of mistakes. 9) How to lower the “affective filter” (psychological blocks to understanding and producing the language). 10) The critical cultural difference between doing business in Japan and the U.S. 11) The most common mistakes Japanese learners of English make. 12) The problems with linguistic interference and direct translation. 13) Why language “immersion” is superior to language “learning.” 14) What Lindsay has changed her mind about in the last few years. 15) How Lindsay prioritizes her life, work, learning, etc. 16) Where she sees All Ears English in five years. 17) Lindsay’s favorite ESL resources, apps, and online tools. 18) The importance of moving on to authentic content instead of only sticking with learner content. 19) The power of having an “internal locus of control” and how beliefs about control and choice vary culture to culture. 20) Lindsay’s future travel plans and why she plans to continue traveling throughout her life. 21) Why you need to keep your eye on what matters.
Tamara Marie is a language coach and the founder of Spanish Con Salsa, a site and podcast that help you learn Spanish through through music, travel, and cultural immersion. In the interview, we discuss: 1) Why high school Spanish probably won’t prepare you for traveling to a Spanish speaking country. 2) Why music and dance are such powerful tools in language learning. 3) Why “Spanish is not Spanish” and why you should focus on learning the sounds and vocabulary of a specific Spanish dialect based on your goals and travel plans. 4) Why you shouldn’t consider languages “easy” or “difficult.” 5) Why one size never fits all when learning a language. 6) Why you need to beware of “false phonetic friends” when learning Spanish. 7) Tamara’s tips for learning languages through songs.
John Dinkel is the CEO and founder of Manga Sensei, an online education company that teaches Japanese through fun, effective, modern mediums, including a weekly comic series, a daily 5-minute podcast (the #1 Japanese language podcast on Spotify), and a free 30-day course on the basics of Japanese. John began his Japanese journey as an LDS missionary in Nagoya, Japan, an experience that changed the trajectory of his life, showed him the necessity of making mistakes, and lead him to start his business and share the lessons he learned. In the interview, we discuss: 1) How John went from a rural farm in Nebraska to a Japanese metropolis. 2) Why you need to make as many mistakes as possible to learn a language. 3) How the LDS approach to language learning is different than traditional courses. 4) The critical difference between chikin (チキン) and chikan (痴漢). 5) John’s frustration with traditional Japanese language education in universities and how it lead to the creation of Manga Sensei. 6) Why John focuses on practical application (and why he didn’t learn the Japanese word for “coffee” until a year into his learning journey). 7) What to do if you are struggling with spoken Japanese. 8) Why John still uses roumaji despite being able to read kana and kanji. 9) John’s favorite Japanese learning resources for beginning, intermediate, and advanced learners. 10) How John learns Japanese in the shower each morning. 11) Why you have to make 10,000 mistakes to get fluent in a language.
The journey to fluency in a foreign language can be loads of fun at times, but it also includes inevitable challenges and setbacks. You will misunderstand others and be misunderstood yourself. You will unintentionally say offensive things or make cultural gaffes. You will butcher grammar. You will order the wrong food and get on the wrong bus. But as frustrating or painful as these mistakes can be, it’s critical to understand that they don’t block the path to mastery. They are the path to mastery. Screwing up and figuring out where we went wrong is an inevitable, mandatory part of the leaning process. The only true mistake is the one we don’t learn from.
Sara Maria Hasbun, a.k.a. Miss Linguistic, is a polyglot, translator, linguist, and the Managing Director of Meridian Linguistics. She speaks Spanish, French, Mandarin, Korean, American Sign Language, Nicaraguan Sign Language, and Indonesian, and has also dabbled in Thai, Cantonese, and Malay. In the interview, we discuss: 1) How Sara Maria got interested in languages, and went from a struggling Spanish student to a full-fledged polyglot. 2) How studying linguistics has helped her learn foreign languages better. 3) How she learned to mimic immersion environments anywhere in the world. 4) The power of probabilistic, statistical learning, and the importance of learning language through high-frequency chunks. 5) Why you should “spam your brain” with language learning input. 6) The power of using online tutors and the importance of removing pain points between you and spoken practice. 7) The importance of getting the sounds of a language into your head. 8) The similarities between learning a language and working out (and how doing both at the same time is a powerful combination). 9) Why you shouldn’t discount the power of passive learning, “dead time,” and habit pairing. 10) The insufficiency of rule-based learning. 11) Why you should work with multiple tutors. 12 ) The power of the “monologue method” and 30-day challenges.