What’s it like to start learning a language?: Lauren’s 6 Week Update

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I’ve now been studying Russian for 2 hours a day for 6 weeks. In some ways, I can’t believe it’s already been 6 weeks. In other ways, I can’t believe it’s only been 6 weeks! I’m so pleased that I’m able to actually communicate in my “Tarzan” Russian with my teachers – some of which […]

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What can you do in 4 hours? Benny’s first Indonesian class

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Inspired by Moses McCormick’s unfiltered uploads, I’ve decided to share an unedited crucial moment in my language learning processes; both the first time I’ve ever spoken the language and my first ever class. What I did was study four hours over 2 days last week, starting from absolute scratch, and then on day 2 of studying […]

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Juggling Languages: The Balancing Act That All Polyglots Must Perform

Polyglottery is a bit of a balancing act. Because we only have so many hours in a day, we can’t learn all languages. But when you have the itch for language learning like I and so many other polyglots do, you sometimes can’t help but to take on a new language challenge even though you […]

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How to Start Learning a New Language (Right Now. Today. Seriously).

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Let me ask you a question: If you really wanted to learn a new language, what would you be doing right now to make that happen? The thing with language learning, and really with any goal or desire we have in life, is that we spend a lot of time thinking about what we want and talking about […]

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Stop hoarding language learning books/products and USE your language!

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People are always asking me which courses I use for my language learning projects, and what books I recommend, as if product choice is some huge determination in how successful you will be in learning your target language. What if it’s really just throwing money at the problem?

The solution isn’t to get as many courses as possible either – I ran a survey a while back, the results of which showed me that people who buy less materials are actually MORE successful in language learning!

Rather than spending time figuring out which courses work best for them, they just pick one, work with it and use it, while focusing much more on some kind of interaction with real natives (or native content) to improve their level. Your energy is better spent on doing something active with your language, not with your product/book research.

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My Japanese Skype Call After One Week

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Please note that this article was written in September 2013. In a change to my initial plan to wait a month before uploading conversations, here is my 10-day update – a video entirely in Japanese, and absolutely and utterly non-scripted (apart from the intro). I simply messaged my Facebook page, targetting just those in Japan, […]

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My Conversation in Polish After One Hour’s Learning

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As you saw last week, I challenged myself to take five hours to learn enough Polish to help me get by on my brief visit to Warsaw.

In the end, I didn’t actually do that as planned… because I was so busy preparing for my TEDx talk (which will be completely different to the other one I gave, but still with the same topic of encouraging adult language learners – online in the next month or two), and working on my secret 3-month contract, that I only had two hours total time to invest into learning Polish.

Despite having even less time than I initially planned, I was pleased to learn what I needed and can even share the results with you on video!

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Tim Ferriss, interview on language learning

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Today I’m very happy to share an interview I did with New York Times best selling author, Tim Ferriss.

He got his fame initially for writing the 4 hour workweek, followed it up with the 4 hour body, and has just released the third in the series, the 4 hour chef.

The first book was about working well, and he inspired a lot of people to go location independent and start their own businesses after reading it (although I had been travelling for several years already myself when I first read his book), his second book was about living healthily, and to complete his healthy-wealthy-wise series, his final book is about how to learn.

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The most important skill a traditional learning approach will never teach you (+2 month Arabic video)

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Here it is; my official two month point in Arabic! Subtitles in English, Arabic and Portuguese via Youtube.

I had initially planned to go to the Egyptian consulate in Rio, to finally speak the language for the first time in my life in person, but there were issues in setting up a meeting there. Luckily, I randomly ran into an Egyptian-American, Ahmed, at a Couchsurfing meeting!

I decided to only speak English with him then and ask him if he’d be up for recording a video with me. We still spoke English before recording the video, so he had no idea what my level would have been at. The reason I did this, was so you could literally see the very first time I genuinely spoke the language face-to-face with someone in my life, the moment after I pressed record.

Sharing this key moment is good for tracking my progress, since I know people are curious about such important milestones of the mission, (unlike some friends of mine, I don’t tend to have a camera on my head to catch such moments in cognito!) but obviously breaking into Arabic suddenly, after not speaking it for over a day since my previous Skype session, meant I didn’t have quite the ideal kind of flow I’d like. In future, I’ll speak in the relevant language for several minutes before recording, so I have this flow.

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Pulling Back the “Magic” Curtain of Language Hacking

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When I met my first polyglot at age 21, I was floored. It was like looking at a wizard! He jumped into various languages, and could express himself with ease in each language!

And unfortunately, this is how most monolinguals look at it. It’s as good as magic. (Never mind that most of the planet speaks more than one language, and you are looking through it from a culturally skewed perspective).

When I see the reaction to some language videos online, I see that even though the person recording the video is genuinely trying to encourage language learning, sometimes people do have to just give up and say “I wish I could do that, but I’m not as talented/young/have as much time/blessed by a virgin monkey” or whatever random other thought appears in their mind at that particular moment.

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