After two decades of learning foreign languages and one writing and podcasting about them, I’ve decided to quit this absurd undertaking. It turns out that the monolingual naysayers and forum trolls have been right all along. Life is short, so it’s high time I accept the truth about foreign languages, stop trying to empower independent learners, get a REAL job, and spend whatever leftover time I have on a more worthwhile habit. Read on to see the top three reasons I am throwing in the towel and shutting down Language Mastery.
Author, polyglot, and “langpreneur” Olly Richards from I Will Teach You a Language returns to the podcast six years after our first chat to share what new lessons he’s learned and how a high-altitude near death experience led him to the power of stories in language learning. Olly has been quite the busy bee since we last spoke, going on to build one of the most popular language blogs on the planet, launching a series of in-depth language courses, and publishing 16 short story books with Teach Yourself (with more coming soon, including a Japanese edition)!
Jan van der Aa is a Brussels-based polyglot and entrepreneur from the Netherlands, the co-founder of the language learning site LanguageBoost, and the co-founder of Langpreneur, an event series and podcast dedicated to helping language lovers, teachers, influencers, podcasters, YouTubers, etc. turn their passion for languages into profitable, scalable online businesses.
Arieh Smith, a.k.a. Xiaomanyc (Xiǎomǎ, 小马), is a popular YouTuber who loves practicing Mandarin on the streets of New York and surprising unsuspecting native speakers. From 24-hour crash courses in new languages like Korean, to learning additional Chinese dialects like Cantonese and Fuzhounese (which are really mutually unintelligible languages), his viral linguistic exploits have entertained and inspired millions of learners around the world. In our conversation, he shares why and how he learned Mandarin Chinese, tips for mastering Chinese characters and tones, and strategies for going from zero to basic conversations in days instead of years.
Many TED Talks make you think, but this one gave me so many FEELS! I absolutely love Safwat’s story and how he overcame fear and resistance to be himself, own his voice (Pakistani accent, stuttering, and all), and continue creating his unique flavor of animation.
As I’ve interviewed dozens of polyglots (those fluent in multiple languages) for The Language Mastery Show, I’ve discovered that the world’s best language learners don’t succeed because of outlier intellects or unusual genetic predispositions. They succeed because they develop and stick to daily habits and routines that provide the input and practice their brains need to a acquire a language. And guess what? You and I can do exactly the same thing, whether we want to learn our first foreign language or our fifteenth. One of the most important daily habits I’ve observed is that polyglots are extremely efficient with their time, and find ways to sneak in a little language study here and there no matter how busy their work or personal lives may be. Here are three ways that polyglots squeeze in daily language practice.