LEARN JAPANESE THE FUN WAY

Want to get really good at Japanese and actually have fun along the way?

You just need the right tools, attitude, and guidance.

Welcome to Language Mastery! I’m John Fotheringham, an author, linguist, teacher, and traveler. I have been learning and teaching languages for over two decades and have seen first-hand what works and what doesn’t. And what have I learned?

  • Anyone can learn Japanese regardless of age, income, or zip code with the right attitude, methods, and materials.
  • Most adult learners fail because they spend all their time learning about Japanese instead of actually practicing in Japanese.
  • You DON’T need to spend thousands of dollars on Japanese classes but a little investment in the right tools and materials can go a long way.
  • You DON’T need to force yourself through boring Japanese textbooks. Fun, modern, relevant materials are readily available online.
  • You DON’T need to be “gifted” at languages, but you DO need to figure out what methods fit your learning style, schedule, and personality.
  • You DON’T need to move to Japan. Creative use of technology allows you to create a Japanese immersion environment no matter where you live.
  • You DO need to maximize your exposure to Japanese everyday through input (listening and reading) and maximize your active output (speaking and writing).

And that’s it! You just need to show up and put in the time on a consistent basis and your brain will do the rest. We are all hard-wired to pick up the languages around us (even as adults) if you get enough input and output. The key to staying the course is actually enjoying the process by picking materials, topics, and activities that are inherently enjoyable. To that end, I have dedicated the Language Mastery blog, podcast, and newsletter, as well as my extensive Master Japanese guide, to helping you create fun, engaging, immersive environments no matter where in the world one happens to live.

 

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A selection of my favorite blog posts that summarize the Language Mastery philosophy

Do You Really Need More Language Learning Resources or Just More Courage?

We’ve all been there. We find ourselves standing in the language section of Barnes and Noble staring lustfully at the colorful rows of shiny new books, thinking naïvely to ourselves, “This is the missing resource. If I just buy this book, I can finally make some real progress!” It’s a perfectly naturally instinct and I admit that I have succumbed to it an embarrassing number of times. I’ve excitedly purchased language learning books that ended up sitting on my shelf unopened. I’ve joined online membership sites, bought apps, or made in-app purchases, only to rarely if ever open the sites or apps. It saddens me to think of how many trips I could now take using the money I have wasted on language learning tools and resources I never ended up using. You would think I would have learned my lesson by now, but the frustrating truth is that I will likely do the same thing again. Why do so many of us fall into this trap again and again?

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Do You Have to Move Abroad to Learn a Language Well?

Is it ideal to learn Japanese in Japan and Mandarin in China or Taiwan? Yes. Is it a mandatory condition? Absolutely not. Let me be clear: living in Japan and Taiwan for a number of years was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I go back to visit as often as possible. But while living in a Japanese or Mandarin speaking country can certainly provide learners of these languages many advantages, it’s critical to understand that it’s not a requirement for success. In today’s world, “I can’t learn Japanese or Mandarin because I live in rural Kansas” is an excuse, not a reality. With Internet access, a little creativity, and a lot of hard work, you really can learn any language, anywhere.

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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.

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The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Language Learners

Most of you are probably familiar with Stephen R. Covey’s best-selling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change”. I’ve listened to the audiobook a number of times and return to it whenever I am feeling overwhelmed, adrift, or caught up in “the thick of thin things”. Many of the 7 habits actually apply quite well to language learning (especially when it comes to prioritizing and making time for study), but I’d like to tweak them a bit to make them more specific to what it takes to become a highly successful language learner.

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33 Life Lessons Learned Living & Working Abroad for 10 Years

33 years. 13 countries. 19 addresses. Here are 33 life lessons I’ve gleaned over the past 33 years living on the planet earth, especially the last decade living as a “stranger in a strange land” in Japan, Bangladesh, and Taiwan. I hope they offer you some vicarious expat wisdom, and more importantly, impetus to move abroad yourself.

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Why Most Fail in Language Learning & How You Can Succeed

If an adult fails to learn a foreign language (and most do), most of us assume they simply don’t study hard enough or just aren’t good at languages. It’s certainly true that some learners are lazy, and given the same methods, certain folks tend to pick up languages faster than others. But neither of these is the real issue; both are but symptoms of the underlying problem: 1) Crappy Methods, 2) Crappy Materials, and 3) Crappy Attitudes.

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The NOT To Do List for Successful Language Learners

To do lists seem like a good idea in theory, but they have one major disadvantage: there is an infinite number of potential to do items. With this in mind, Timothy Ferriss, best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek (and a speaker of 6 languages), recommends “not to do lists” instead. Since they isolate a finite set of behaviors that are getting between you and your goals, they are far more effective than traditional to do lists. This tool applies perfectly to language learning, where most learners waste a lot of time on ineffective methods, bad materials, and counter-productive attitudes.

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Showing Up is the Key

OK. Everyone knows that quote by Woody Allen or whoever about showing up. You know, 70% of winning is showing up. Well, Woody Allen, that daughter-dating scoundrel, lied to you. The truth is 70% of winning is showing up is a bunch of bull!

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