Help Me Help YouHowdy Language Mastery-ites! I’ve got a quick—but extremely important—question for all of you: How can I be of more help?

I started the Language Mastery blog in April 2009 with three primary goals:

To dispel widespread, insidious myths about language acquisition.

Especially the motivation-crushing triumvirate:

  1. “I’m too old to learn a foreign language”
  2. “I don’t have time to learn”
  3. “I’m just not good at languages, so why bother?”

To share time and sanity-saving tips I’ve learned as both a language learner and teacher.

I’ve been learning and teaching languages off and on for well over a decade, and in that time, I’ve observed a few key patterns that separate the many who fail from the few who succeed. The number one thing?

Attitude trumps all. If you’re fired up enough to learn the language and truly believe you can:

  • You’ll find the time no matter how busy you are
  • You’ll find target language input no matter where you live
  • You’ll practice speaking with native speakers no matter how stupid you feel

To help adult learners select kick-ass materials relevant to their goals, interests, and learning styles.

While methods matter, choosing the right materials is far more important. You may follow the latest, greatest, research-based methodologies, but if your materials are so boring or unrelated to your life that you never crack the book or load the app, it’s all for not.

What you study is more important than how you study. Students are subordinate to materials much like novice cooks are subordinate to recipes. If you select the wrong materials, the wrong textbook, the wrong group of words, it doesn’t matter how much (or how well) you study. It doesn’t matter how good your teacher is. One must find the highest-frequency material. Material beats method.” ~Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Chef

I’ve written many posts on these topics so far (see the Start Here category for my favorites), as well as pouring my soul into the ever-evolving Master Japanese guide (up to 539 pages as of writing), but I know there are still many questions I’ve yet to answer, holes I haven’t yet patched in, materials I haven’t yet reviewed, methods I haven’t yet discussed, and probably some emails from you that managed to slip through the cracks (I do my best to answer every email I get by the way, but Gmail’s over-zealous spam filtering means I occasionally never get emails from folks not in my contacts).

So here’s what I need from you. In the comments below, please share:

  • Specific topics you’d like me to address or expand upon (language learning, specific languages, linguistics, travel, culture, etc.)
  • Language learning methods you’d like me to cover in more detail or test out on myself (I’m always happy to be a Guinea pig in the name of science!)
  • Language learning materials, tools, books, sites, apps, etc. you’d like me to review
  • Polyglots, bloggers, authors, researchers, teachers, etc. you’d like me to interview
  • Anything else you’d like to see more or less of on the blog

 If you’re not comfortable leaving a public comment, feel free to email me instead (hopefully the Google gods let your message through!)

Onwards and Upwards,

John