The Language Mastery Show

Interviews with the World’s Best Language Learners

The Language Mastery Show brings you interviews with the world’s best language learners. Get an inside look at how polyglots, linguists, and language lovers master languages more quickly, and learn the habits, methods, and mindsets you need to succeed in your own language learning adventures. Each guest shares proven strategies for reaching fluency, overcoming fear, speaking with confidence, and having more fun along the way. I’m your host, John Fotheringham, a linguist, teacher, and the author of Master Japanese and Master Mandarin.

★★★★★

The real deal!

John is a true language aficionado. Knowledgeable, motivating, entertaining… he hunts out the best guests and does awesome interviews which are inspiring for aspiring language learners. Great stuff!

Olly Richards

I Will Teach You a Language

★★★★★

Great Language Learning Advice

John’s philosophy and approach are spot-on: You don’t need to be gifted, spend tons of money, or move to another country to learn a language. You just need to be dedicated and consistent.

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★★★★★

Wonderful Tool

I really love this podcast. I wish there were more resources like this. It is truly refreshing to hear people who know what they’re talking about and are not just trying to sell something. I was teaching a Russian class when I stumbled on to this and I had my students listen to selected episodes as homework. The host and all of his guests are realistic. They are not salesmen. They are not dogmatic. They enjoy languages and they are eager to be helpful to new language learners. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Show Notes

Polyglot Mike Campbell on how he mastered Mandarin, the power of proper pronunciation & why he launched Glossika

Polyglot Mike Campbell on how he mastered Mandarin, the power of proper pronunciation & why he launched Glossika

In this episode of the Language Mastery Show, I catch up with my old friend Mike Campbell, the founder of Glossika. A lot has changed in the seven years since we last spoke at a Starbucks in Taipei, Taiwan, and it was fun to learn more about the innovations he’s made at Glossika, his work to save endangered languages, and how his views on applied linguistics and language acquisition have evolved. In the interview, we discuss: 1) Mike’s journey from Latin to French to Mandarin to the aboriginal languages of Taiwan. 2) Why language teachers should laugh at their students. 3) Why children make good language teachers. 4) How native Mandarin speakers use pronunciation shortcuts to speak more quickly and easily. 5) The importance of learning the International Phonetic Alphabet. 6) How to sound more like a native speaker by learning allophones. 7) Why real Mandarin tones in the “wild” rarely match what you see in textbooks. 8) Why Chinese characters are more like roots than vocabulary, and why this makes Chinese much more “semantically transparent” than English. 9) Why you should learn to speak before you learn to read. 10) Why “culture” and “language” are distinct entities. 11) Why there is no such thing as a “primitive” language. 12) Why there are no vague languages, only cultures that express politeness through vagueness. 13) Why you should focus on verbs and mostly ignore nouns when starting out in a language. 14) How to learn indigenous or minority languages. 15) How people can help save endangered languages. 16) Why the media has grossly exaggerated the current rate of language extinction. 17) Mike’s effort to use Glossika as a tool for empowering speakers of minority languages. 18) Why Glossika’s “Mass Sentence Method” is more effective than isolated vocabulary and how it differs from other spaced repetition systems. 19) Why Glossika is like a gym (just like with building muscles, you have to stick with the regimen and put in sufficient reps before you’ll see results). 20) Why maintaining the “habit of the habit” is more important than your study volume on any given day. 21) Why Glossika is especially powerful for rejuvenating languages you’ve previously studied. 22) Why Mike leverages “role and reference grammar” in Glossika and how their tagging system overcomes the limitations of other grammatical hierarchies. 23) Mike’s favorite classic novels and stories for learning foreign languages. 24) The power of creating immersion in your daily life by changing your phone’s display language. 25) The role of language in identity and cultural pride. 26) The power of having a language in your biology instead of just in your technology. 27) How languages expand your worldview and improve your problem solving abilities.

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Interview with Lindsay Williams of Lindsay Does Languages

Interview with Lindsay Williams of Lindsay Does Languages

Lindsay Williams has been hooked on languages ever since childhood when she got a taste of French—and the free croissants that accompanied the class! Since then, she’s gone on to learn Spanish, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese, Esperanto, Indonesian, Korean, Guarani, and more. Along the way, she developed a passion for teaching languages, too, and has taught learners in Costa Rica, refugees in the U.K., countless learners online, and even employees at a garlic bread factory! She now dedicates time to inspiring independent language learners and online teachers, sharing a wealth of useful tips and tools on her popular site Lindsay Does Language. She has also created one of my favorite new podcasts, Language Stories, a documentary series that highlights various languages around the globe and the people who speak them. In the interview, we discuss: 1) Lindsay’s language “origin story.” 2) Her most memorable language learning experiences. 3) The most common learner mistakes and myths. 4) Her daily language learning routines and “minimum viable daily habits.” 5) How to create “onion goals.” 6) The importance of being kind to oneself and seeing mistakes as evidence of growth, not proof of failure. 7) What to do when motivation and willpower wane. 8) Why one size never fits all in language learning.

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“Grandmaster of Memory” Mattias Ribbing on how to master your memory & optimize learning

“Grandmaster of Memory” Mattias Ribbing on how to master your memory & optimize learning

Mattias Ribbing is a Swedish author, lecturer, and Grandmaster of Memory. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the 2016 Bulletproof Conference and was blown away by his highly effective methods and positive attitude. Contrary to what most people would assume, Mattias isn’t a savant and wasn’t born with extraordinary cognitive skills. He had average grades at school and struggled to remember what he had studied like almost everyone else. It wasn’t until he was 29 that he developed his impressive ability to remember. The secret, he discovered, was thinking in images. By visualizing specific 3-D images during a lecture, reading a book, or learning a new language, he created a memorable visual context that his brain could then attach the information to and more easily recall. In the interview, Mattias shares how to apply his powerful memory techniques to language learning, Japanese kanji, and even daily life.

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★★★★★

More please!

I just binge-listened to the whole backlist of episodes. Gosh, this is an absorbing show.

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