Mattias Ribbing is a Swedish author, lecturer, and Grandmaster of Memory. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the 2016 Bulletproof Conference and was blown away by his highly effective methods and positive attitude. Contrary to what most people would assume, Mattias isn’t a savant and wasn’t born with extraordinary cognitive skills. He had average grades at school and struggled to remember what he had studied like almost everyone else. It wasn’t until he was 29 that he developed his impressive ability to remember. The secret, he discovered, was thinking in images. By visualizing specific 3-D images during a lecture, reading a book, or learning a new language, he created a memorable visual context that his brain could then attach the information to and more easily recall. In the interview, Mattias shares how to apply his powerful memory techniques to language learning, Japanese kanji, and even daily life.
Kerstin Hammes is the outspoken author of the Fluent Language blog, Fluency Made Achievable, and The Vocab Cookbook. She is a native German speaker, but has reached a native level of fluency in English, and abilities in a number of additional languages, including French, Italian, Latin, Spanish, and Russian. She is a great language teacher with an infectious passion for languages and charming sense of humor.
In today’s show, I talk with Chris Broholm of Actual Fluency, an excellent podcast and blog boasting an impressive number of interviews with brilliant language experts, zany polyglots, etc. (over 50 episodes as of writing), including many of my heroes and a few guests who have been on the Language Mastery Show. In his own words, Chris is not an expert on languages, linguistics, or learning, is not a great student, and is not gifted at language learning. While I think he is certainly being humble, I love how he shows that anyone can learn a language regardless of one’s level of introversion, aptitude for learning, location, age, etc. Unlike many who come to language learning as just a hobby, languages helped pull Chris out of severe depression and transform his life.
In today’s show, I chat with the man, the legend, the one and only, Italian polyglot Luca Lampariello. Over the past 20 years, Luca has reached a very high level in 9 foreign languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Swedish, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese. Luca is full useful tips and strategies, which he shares in depth at his blog, The Polyglot Dream. In the interview, we discuss: 1) How Luca got interested in languages. 2) Procedural vs declarative memory. 3) The weakness of rote memorization. 4) How to train your brain to learn better. 5) The myth that you have to be a genius to learn lots of languages. 6) The myth that you have to learn a lot of words to become fluent. 7) The myth that just reading or listening a lot will make you a better speaker. 8) The ability to translate and communicate are very different things. 9) Whether there is a proper order of acquisition for foreign language skills. 10) The myth that polyglots can speak all their languages perfectly. 11) The importance of maintaining previously learned languages as you take on another. 12) Luca’s daily language learning and maintenance routine. 13) The myth that intensity always equals speed. 14) Luca’s favorite tools for different stages of learning.
Aaron Myers is the man behind The Everyday Language Learner, a wonderful blog that aims to help the average Joe (and John, and Rosemary, and…okay, you get the idea) learn a foreign language in fun, effective, efficient way. Above all else, Aaron strives to empower learners by showing people how to learn, not just what. To that end, Aaron has written heaps of excellent blog posts, a host of useful language learning guides, including The Guide to Getting Started, Activities and Strategies for Everyday Language Learners, The Guide to Self-Assessment, and Stage: Before You Move Overseas. He also offers private language coaching for those who want more personalized help.
In our interview, we discuss: 1) Aaron’s daily language learning routine while learning Turkish. 2) The importance of practicing numbers spoken at real speed. 3) How to create learner-centric “Total Physical Response” (TPR). 4) The power of “Language Acquisition Projects” (LAPs). 5) Creating a corpus of comprehensible listening material. 6) Handcrafted text and audio materials. 7) How to maintain a language when you move back home. 8) The importance of preserving motivation. 9) The six pillars of learning a language: Accountability, Assessment, Encouragement, Knowledge, Planning, and Resources. 10) Why the imperfect method you stick with is better than the perfect method you quit. 11) How to be an independent language learner. 12) The power of “password phrases” (a.k.a. “power tools”).
Donovan Nagel is an Applied Linguistics graduate hailing from rural Queensland, Australia (the amazing soundscape you hear in the background of our interview) and the man behind the language learning site and community, The Mezzofanti Guild, and the Arabic learning site, Talk in Arabic. Donovan named the site after one of his heroes, Cardinal Giuseppe Gasparo Mezzofanti (1774 – 1849), a hyperpolyglot who Donovan felt a strong connection to given their mutual background in theology, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic, and the fact that they both focus on learning via contact with real people.