Susanna Zaraysky is a self-proclaimed “language geek”, a speaker of 7 languages, and the author of “Language Is Music: Over 100 Fun & Easy Tips to Learn Foreign Languages”. She has been featured on CBS, BBC Radio, CNN, NBC, and Univision, and now thanks to me, the world’s most famous podcast! Just kidding. In our interview, we discuss the weaknesses of traditional language education, the power of music in language acquisition, the importance of developing a resonance for one’s target language and culture, and the fact that you can learn any language, anywhere.
Paulino Brener is educator, performer, social media manager, and one of the few people I know who has managed to successfully blend all of his passions (foreign languages, teaching, crafts, social media, and performance arts) into one. And get paid to do so! In our interview, he discusses creative ways to harness one’s passions in foreign language learning, whether as teacher or learner.
In my interview with Jason West, the creator of English Out There, we discuss the weaknesses of traditional English schools, methodologies, and materials, and how his approach aims to overcome them. I especially enjoyed his effective, no-nonsense approach to language learning, his efforts to bridge the gap between traditional classroom-based learning and independent study, and his willingness to share before-and-after speech samples of his students.
Arkady Zilberman, creator of Language Bridge and a former simultaneous interpreter in Russia, addresses what is perhaps the greatest impediment to adult language learning success: cross-translation to and from one’s native language. Few learners are probably aware this sub-concious process goes on at all, but Arkady’s extensive experience learning languages, interpreting, and experimenting on himself and other learners have proven that it does indeed occur. As he points out in our interview, even many seemingly successful foreign language learners still translate to and from their native language, but can just do so at such a rate that they can’t perceive the process.
Randy is on a mission to learn a new language fluently every year. His current project is Italian, with Lithuanian as a side-project saved for weekend fun. Randy has his language-learning head screwed on tightly, and I firmly agree with his contention that learners can reach “conversational fluency” (the ability to talk with native speakers on a variety of topics) in a year if you spend enough time doing the right things. As we both have observed, most learners neither spend enough time nor do the right things.
In this interview with Clint Schmidt, LiveMocha’s [former] Vice President of Marketing and Product, he shares what he thinks makes LiveMocha unique and he introduces some exciting new products coming down the pipe. He also responds to some of my grilling questions about the role of grammar in language learning.