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.
We all have days when we’re unmotivated to put in the time. We all endure embarrassing linguistic and cultural gaffes that can make it hard to get back on the horse. And we all encounter learning plateaus when lots of effort leads to little perceived progress. All normal, but frustrating nonetheless. When such challenges inevitably arise, I find it helpful to read the accounts of experienced language learners who have faced (and overcome!) similar hurdles. While reading about language learning is certainly no substitute for actually learning a language, we can gain a great deal of vicarious wisdom from these linguistic “Yodas” who have journeyed before―and farther than―us. To that end, here are five of my favorite language learning blogs that can help keep you motivated through the ups and downs of language learning and provide useful tips to overcome the most common obstacles.
If you will visiting or moving to China, you would do yourself—and those you meet—a big favor by memorizing these top ten tips from Learn Mandarin Now: 1) Learn at least a little Mandarin. 2) Avoid fake taxis. 3) Prepare yourself to use squatty potties. 4) Avoid taboo topics: politics, Tibet, Taiwan, human rights, and Internet censorship. 5) Learn to bargain (the national sport!) 6) Cash is king. 7) Don’t refer to elderly individuals by their name. 8) Never stick chopsticks in your rice bowl. 9) The number 4 is bad luck. 10) Avoid bad luck gifts like clocks, white wrapping, and green hats. Read on to learn more about each.
If you are learning Mandarin Chinese, check out this video interview Olly Richards from I Will Teach You a Language recorded last year. Olly is a great interviewer and even went to the trouble of getting a complete transcript made of the interview (available for free on his site). In the interview, we discuss: 1) My journey to learn Mandarin Chinese. 2) The ways in which Mandarin is actually an easy language. 3) How to learn Chinese characters the way Will Smith would. 4) How to best learn tones. 5) The myth that you need to move to China or Taiwan to learn Mandarin. 6) Differences between the Mandarin spoken in Mainland China and Taiwan. 7) The importance of chéngyǔ (成語, “idioms”), which are usually 4 characters in Chinese. 8) My top 3 resources for learning Mandarin Chinese. 9) More about my Master Mandarin guide and how it can help beginning and intermediate learners.
The long wait is over. After many months of hard work, late nights, and early mornings, I have finally finished the second edition of my Master Mandarin guide. What’s New? 1) A new 300-page PDF version of the guide (nearly twice the length of v 1). 2) An EPUB version for use on iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other EPUB readers. 3) A MOBI version for use on your Kindle or in any of the Kindle apps (iOS, Android, etc.). 4) A new Chinese 101 chapter that covers the most important elements of how the Mandarin language works. 5) Tons and tons of new tools and online resources. 6) New discount codes for iTalki, Chinese Learn Online, and WaiChinese. 7) New expert interviews with Benny Lewis from Fluent in 3 Months, Olly Richards from I Will Teach You a Language, Jake Gill from Skritter, Vladimir Skultety from Forever a Student, Chris Parker from Fluent in Mandarin, Ash Henson from Outlier Linguistics, and Adam Menon from Chinese Learn Online. 8) New cheat sheets including: The Most Common 500 Words in Mandarin, complete lists for Remembering Traditional Hanzi and Remembering Simplified Hanzi, a Hanyu Pinyin chart, a Time Adverb chart, a SMART Goals work sheet, and a weekly study plan.
Learn Mandarin Now asked over 50 language bloggers (including yours truly) to list their 3 favorite tools for learning Mandarin Chinese. They then combined all the results into the super sexy infographic below and a comprehensive post (available on their site). What are your favorite tools? Any must-haves not listed here?