Jake Gill (高健) is a Chinese educator, former “Teaching Chinese as a Second Language” graduate student, and the CEO of Skritter, an innovative language learning app that helps Japanese and Chinese learners master characters through active production (i.e. writing on the screen) instead of passive recognition. In the interview, we talk about how and why he learned Mandarin Chinese, why traditional language classes won’t get you fluent in a language, what he would do differently if he were to start learning Mandarin over again, the limitations of app-based learning and following “the golden path,” the importance of following your passion and curiosity in languages, how to learn to write Chinese characters the “write” way, Jake’s current language learning routines and favorite resources, and the importance of daily habits and focusing on process over outcome.
I am a big believer in goal setting and have an entire section dedicated to creating specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound language learning objectives in my books Master Japanese and Master Mandarin. Why? Because if you don’t know where you want to go, how in the heck can you ever get there? But it’s critical to understand that goals are just the first step to align your compass. Goals alone won’t get you very far on your journey. The real magic is found in the “process”―the collection of daily habits and activities (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) that will inch you closer and closer to your fluency goals over time.
Do you live and breath languages? Do you want to make a good living using and refining your language skills every day? Then professional translation might be just the ticket. In today’s episode, I chat with my friend Sam, who is a professional Japanese translator and one of the best non-native Japanese speakers I know. We talk about how he learned Japanese, how he broke into the translation industry, and his tips for doing the same.
Stuart Jay Raj is an Australian polyglot, applied linguist, author, musician, and cross-cultural business consultant based in Bangkok, Thailand. He has presented at two TEDx events (once in English and once in Mandarin), and is the author of Cracking Thai Fundamentals: A Thai Operating System for the Mind. In addition to teaching and writing extensively on effective language acquisition, he has also applied his impressive language skills as a multilingual facilitator in various specialized industries (including aerospace, oil and gas, hospitality, and cyber security) and as the co-host of a Thai travel show called Neua Chan Phan Plaek (เหนือชั้น 1000 แปลก) that explored fascinating people, places, and things around the world via local languages. Stuart holds a degree in Cognitive and Applied Linguistics from Griffith University, and speaks over 15 languages, including Thai, Lao, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Indonesian / Malay, Spanish, Italian, Danish, Hindi, Vietnamese, Burmese, and various other Asian languages and dialects.
There is a lot to like about language learning apps. They allow you to squeeze in more language learning time throughout your day and allow you to outsource motivation to dopamine-driven “habit loops” that keep you coming back for more every single day. That’s the good news. The bad news? Apps alone will NEVER get you to fluency in Japanese. Read on to see why.
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!