Dr. Gareth Popkins is a lawyer, historian, and former English and Welsh teacher who is fluent in German, Russian, and Welsh, advanced in French, conversational in Hungarian, Finnish, Italian, Portuguese, and Basque, and now hard at work on Japanese. We first met in June 2019 at the Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava and I knew right away that I wanted to have him on the podcast to share his language learning story and tips. As he puts it: “I’ve got fluent because I really wanted to and I kept going, despite myself. It’s sometimes said that an expert is someone who’s made all the mistakes in the book. If so, I’m that expert. I’m still experimenting. I’m still learning…. and still making those mistakes, of course.”
Master Japanese 9.0 is Here: Learn Japanese WHEN You Want, WHERE You Want & HOW You Want Through Anywhere Immersion
After six months slaving over a hot keyboard, I have finally finished a massive update of my comprehensive Japanese how-to manual and resource guide, Master Japanese: How to Learn Japanese through Anywhere Immersion. I began the update with the simple intent of fixing a few typos and adding a few of the latest and greatest online resources that weren’t available when I published the last edition. But as I got underway, I decided to make this a major overhaul of the guide (which will celebrate its tenth anniversary in December 2019!). The new and improved version includes a host of improvements and additions, including: 1) New resource recommendations for apps, anime, books, manga, podcasts, videos, and more. 2) Completely new chapters on increasing motivation, building discipline, and conquering fear (3 of the most common challenges I hear from language learners). 3) A new look and layout that makes the guide easier to read and navigate. And hey, more ninjas!
10 Common Thinking Errors That Cause Depression & Anxiety and Block Your Path to Fluency in a Foreign Language
I have struggled with depression off and on for much of my adult life. If you’ve ever been severely depressed, you know just how hopeless and meaningless life can feel and how difficult it can be to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. Until recently, I thought that my depression was a product of genetics, my environment, and dietary factors. I now know that the primary cause of my depression has been something internal all along: my thoughts. It turns out that cognitive distortions were the real culprit, and that by identifying and talking back to the twisted thoughts, one is able to recover from depression and anxiety, beat perfectionism and procrastination, and stop self-sabotaging your language learning goals. Read on to see the ten distortions and how to overcome them.
We live in a world obsessed with speed and efficiency. “Faster” is almost always equated with “better” (other than with sex of course). We want our food fast. We want our abs fast. And we want our language skills fast. But the older I get, the more I’ve learned to value slowness. Read on to see why you should savor the language learning process the way you would a fine meal or nice glass of wine.
Despite blogging about languages for over a decade and interviewing dozens of polyglots for The Language Mastery Show and my Master Japanese book, I realized earlier this year that I had not yet attended any of the polyglot events around the world, including the Polyglot Gathering, the Polyglot Conference, or LangFest. When I honestly asked myself why, I realized that the answer was fear. Fear of being judged. Fear of not belonging. Fear of being thought a fraud. I told myself, “A true polyglot speaks 5 or more languages fluently. I only speak a few.” After finally mustering the courage to attend a polyglot event—the 2019 Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava—I now realize just how ridiculous I had been and how much potential fun, fulfillment, and connection I have missed out on all these years. In an effort to spare you from the same self-limiting beliefs, here are five reasons why you should attend a polyglot event even if you don’t consider yourself a polyglot.
Lýdia Machová, PhD is a polyglot, language mentor, interpreter, TED speaker, the former head organizer of the Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava, and the founder of Language Mentoring, a site that shows people how to learn any language by themselves. Her 2018 TED Talk, The Secrets of Learning a New Language, has been watched nearly 4.5 million times, and has brought the language learning secrets of polyglots to a much wider audience than ever before. In the interview, we discuss: 1) Why Lýdia passed the reins to other organizers for the 2019 Polyglot Gathering. 2) How Lýdia got interested in languages and why the traditional classroom approach didn’t work. 3) How non-traditional methods like reading Harry Potter and watching Friends helped her acquire languages quickly and more enjoyably. 4) How Lýdia defines “comfortable fluency” and what language level she aims for in each new language. 5) Why you should think in terms of hours not years when learning a language. 6) Why success in language learning depends on interest and finding effective methods, not being “good at languages.” 7) Lýdia’s thoughts on the “Critical Period Hypothesis” and why you can learn a language at any age. 8) Why there will never be a “good” time to start speaking so you might as well start practicing as early as possible. 9) How you can use simple language to speak around words you don’t yet know. 10) Why speaking a foreign language is about applying the words you know, not translating word for word from your mother tongue. 11) The four core principles of effective language learning: ① having fun, ② choosing effective methods, ③ taking a systemic, habit-based approach, and ④ maximizing contact with the language. 12) How to use David James’ “Goldlist Method” to learn vocabulary quickly and easily. 13) Why language apps such as Duolingo can be a useful adjunct to other language activities, but why apps alone are not enough to learn to speak a language. 14) The critical difference between “passive recognition” and “active production.” 15) Why Lýdia always elicits specific language learning goals from her clients first and then adjusts her recommendations to fit them. 16) Lýdia’s thoughts on the “I don’t have time” excuse. 17) Why you should focus your time on a small number of core apps or resources. 18) How to fully leverage a single resource with multiple methods.19) Lýdia’s words of encouragement for new language learners. 20) Why you don’t have to be a “polyglot” to attend events like Polyglot Gathering, Polyglot Conference, LangFest, etc.