Just like learning a martial art, mastering a foreign tongue requires ① time and effort (which is the real meaning of the term “kung fu”), ② the proper blend of “self-study” and “sparring,” ③ a great deal of patience, and ④ a focus on mastering the basics instead of always chasing flashy new moves or words. Read on for tips on how to put more “kung fu” into your language learning.
Kevin Morehouse is the man behind LanguageHero.co, a site dedicated to helping language learners start their journey, find allies, and stay the course. Kevin is a certified Italian teacher and soon to be certified in Spanish as well. In our interview, Kevin and I discuss: 1) The advantages and disadvantages of learning a foreign language in the classroom, 2) The problem with waiting until one is “ready” to start speaking, 3) The fact that immersion is a choice, 4) The power of social accountability (e.g. making commitments to other people), 5) The problem with letting emotions drive when/if one studies, 6) The importance of focusing on process over end goals, 7) The many linguistic and social benefits of working with tutors, 8) The fact that extroversion is not required to learn a language well, 9) What “Language Hero” is and why he created it, 10) Why learning a language is no longer a resource problem, but rather a confidence problem, 11) That the difference between polyglots and failed learners is drive, not ability, 12) A typical day of language learning for Kevin, 13) Kevin’s favorite language learning tools and resources, and 14) The dangers of uncontrolled Internet use.
I’ve been blogging about language learning for 6 years, teaching languages for over 10, and learning languages myself for 15. During this time, I have heard lots of excuses (and made a fair number myself I must admit) about why one/I cannot learn a language well. The most common three by far have been: 1) I don’t have enough time, 2) I don’t have enough money, and 3) I’m not good at languages. But none of these are the real problem. Read on to see what is…
Benny Lewis is a fun-loving blogger, YouTuber, author, language hacker, and technomad from Ireland (hence his nickname “Irish Polyglot”). He is the creator of the most popular language learning site in the world as of writing, Fluentin3Months.com, and has authored five books. He has demonstrated again and again that it’s possible to reach conversational fluency in a matter of months, not years as most believe. Benny’s philosophy on language learning is right in line with my Self-Guided Immersion™ approach, as exemplified in the following quote from his book Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World:
“…where you are isn’t what decides whether or not you’ll be successful. Attitude beats latitude (and longitude) every time. It’s more about creating an immersion environment, exposing yourself to native speakers, and doing everything you can in that language.”
Few of you probably know that long before I was “John the Language Guy” I was “John the Bike Guy.” I got my first real mountain bike in junior high school. It was a beautiful blue GT Tequesta it changed my life forever. Suddenly, my world was not limited to just the backyard or schoolyard. I could now go anywhere my 12-year-old quads could propel me! Reflecting back 22 years later, I now realize that when learning to ride a bike or speak a foreign language, the key is building robust procedural memories that you never fully forget no matter how long you go without riding or using the language. And how does one go about learning in the first place? There are 3 fundamental principles involved in all physical and psychological transformations…
With seven languages under his linguistic belt and an academic background in Applied Linguistics, Olly Richards of IWillTeachYouaLanguage.com has proven that he can both talk the talk and walk the walk. His infectious passion for all things language is a breath of fresh air in the increasingly cynical language learning blogosphere. In the interview, we discuss the under-appreciated importance of psychology in language learning, how he has had to alter his approach to language learning now that he is learning a language in country where it isn’t widely spoken (Cantonese in Qatar of all places!), his experience participating in Brian Kwong’s +1 Challenge (an approach he lovingly refers to as “crowdsourced motivation”), the role of teachers in language education, and the power of “negotiated syllabi”.