Frequently Asked Questions: What Do I Mean by “Mastery”?

One of the most common questions I receive is, “What do you mean by ‘mastery’?” First of all, “mastery” does not mean “perfection”. Such a thing doesn’t exist in languages. And even if it did, it would not be a “S.M.A.R.T. goal” (covered in detail in my Master Japanese and Master Mandarin guides) and is therefore irrelevant to our purposes as language learners. So if “mastery” does not equal “perfection”, what does it mean? Read on to find out.

Enough.

Enough. This word should be your mantra when learning a language. When you find yourself procrastinating, making excuses, and putting off speaking practice out of fear, this string of six letters can help put you back on track…

Put Some “Kung Fu” Into Your Language Learning

Just like learning a martial art, mastering a foreign tongue requires time and effort (which is the real meaning of the term “kung fu”), the proper blend of “self-study” and “sparring”, a great deal of patience, and a focus on mastering the basics instead of always chasing flashy new moves or words.

Your Problem is NOT a Lack of Time, Money, or Ability…

I’ve been blogging about language learning for 6 years, teaching languages for over 10, and learning languages myself for 15. During this time, I have heard lots of excuses (and made a fair number myself I must admit) about why one/I cannot learn a language well. The most common three by far have been: 1) I don’t have enough time, 2) I don’t have enough money, and 3) I’m not good at languages. But none of these are the real problem. Read on to see what is…

Interview with Stephen Krashen: Linguist, Researcher & Education Activist

Stephen Krashen is one of my heroes. He is a linguist, researcher, education activist, and professor emeritus at the University of Southern California. I have wanted to meet him since I began studying linguistics in university, and finally had my chance at Ming Chuan University’s 2009 “Annual Conference on Applied Linguistics” in Taipei, Taiwan. He then agreed to conduct the following interview via email. Note that this interview was originally only available to newsletter subscribers, but since I am now offering Language Mastery Insiders a new bonus each month, I decided it was time for everyone to have the chance to enjoy Krashen’s unique brand of intellect and humor. Enjoy!

Is Learning a Foreign Language Worth It?

The latest episode of Freakonomics Radio really caught the attention of this language nerd. Titled “Is Learning a Foreign Language Worth It?“, the episode looks at the economic benefits and opportunity costs of learning a foreign language. At first glance (or rather, first listen), the economists they interview seem to make a pretty strong case against teaching foreign languages in U.S. schools. Fortunately, the economic arguments against language learning are based on two major false assumptions…

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