FAQ: Should I Use Flashcards to Learn a Language?

FAQ: Should I Use Flashcards to Learn a Language?

You may be surprised to hear that flashcards can be a rather controversial topic in the language learning world. Some swear BY them. Some swear AT them. So where do I fall in the flashcard continuum? Am I for or against them? Read on to hear my point of view and my tips for getting the most out of flashcards if you decide to use them in language learning.

Interview with Shannon Kennedy, founder of Eurolinguiste

Interview with Shannon Kennedy, founder of Eurolinguiste

Shannon Kennedy is a language lover, traveler, musician, and writer. She has written extensively for Fluent in 3 Months and Drops, and is also the Language Encourager and Community Manager for the Add1Challenge. In 2018, she co-hosted the inaugural Women in Language event, an online conference to champion, celebrate, and amplify the voices of women in languages. In the interview, we discuss ① why majoring in music led Shannon to start learning German, Italian, and Spanish, ② how her self-study methods differ from how she had learned languages in school, ③ why learning is short, frequent chunks of time is more effective than longer study sessions, ④ her daily habits and how she fits in language learning around work and motherhood, ⑤ why kids don’t learn languages better than adults, and ⑥ why discipline is more important than motivation when learning any skill.

3 Reasons to Learn Japanese Through Martial Arts

3 Reasons to Learn Japanese Through Martial Arts

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.

The Case for Slow: Why Faster Isn’t Necessarily Better in Language Learning

The Case for Slow: Why Faster Isn’t Necessarily Better in Language Learning

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.

5 Reasons to Attend a Polyglot Gathering or Conference Even if You Don’t Consider Yourself a Polyglot

5 Reasons to Attend a Polyglot Gathering or Conference Even if You Don’t Consider Yourself a Polyglot

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.

Interview with Lýdia Machová, Polyglot, Language Mentor & TED Speaker

Interview with Lýdia Machová, Polyglot, Language Mentor & TED Speaker

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.

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