Ever catch yourself saying, “I really wish I could learn Japanese but it ain’t ever gonna happen ’cause I can’t just up and move to Japan! Nor are there any native Japanese speakers near me… Guess I will have to put my linguistic dreams up on the shelf alongside competitive caber tossing and having lunch with Warren Buffet.” The bad news? Kilts and cabers can be hard to come by outside of Scotland. And you probably won’t ever share a cheeseburger and coke with the “Oracle of Omaha.” The good news? You can reach and maintain fluency in Japanese (or any other language) anywhere in the world using tutoring sites like iTalki.
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.
The holiday season is upon us, a time of fun, family, gifts, and gratitude. But it can also be a time when our language-learning habits fall by the wayside. Travel, new environments, disrupted schedules, less-than-restful sleep, and some formidable hangovers can all throw a wrench in our plans to continue making progress in our target languages. Here are my three best tips for keeping up on your language learning even when your daily routine gets turned upside down.
Interview with Michael & Ellen Robinson from Uncommon Dream on Learning Spanish & Raising Children Bilingually
Michael and Ellen Robinson first met in 2004 while they were studying Spanish in Mexico. Though Ellen had intended not to spend time with any other native English speakers while abroad, Michael’s charm and sufficient command of the Spanish language were enough to overcome her initial objections. They are now married, have two children, have visited 23 countries, and have lived abroad nine times. In the interview, they share key lessons they’ve learned while acquiring Spanish, living abroad, and raising children bilingually.