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.
Language schools can be a wonderful place to learn more about your target language, meet fellow learners (who can become both study partners or even lifelong friends), and get your linguistic and cultural feet wet before (or even while) immersing yourself in a new culture and foreign tongue. However, language schools can also be a major impediment to the very goal you go there to achieve: learning a foreign language as quickly and efficiently as possible. This may come as a shock to those who have been conditioned to believe that classrooms are the only place, or at least the best place, to learn a language. Read on to see the top ten disadvantages of formal, classroom-based language learning.
Chinese characters are arguably the most intimidating part of getting started in Japanese or Chinese, but I believe they can also be the most enjoyable if tackled correctly. This article shares the tips, tools, and psychology you need to master kanji and hanzi.
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.
The Polyglot Project, a collection of language learning tips from polyglots and language enthusiasts across the globe (including yours truly), is now available as both a physical book on Amazon and as a free PDF download. This tome of language awesomeness contains over 500 pages of language learning goodness from 43 authors!
As a language learning addict, I follow lots (and I mean lots) of polyglot blogs and podcasts. It is always interesting to see what has worked (and what hasn’t worked) for successful language learners. While most agree on the vast majority of language learning DOs and DON’Ts, there is one area that always seems to cause heated debate: input (i.e. listening and reading) versus language output (i.e. speaking and writing). Here’s where I throw down on the issue…