“Lose the perfectionism. The locals will be super-impressed that you’re actually trying.” – Michelle Dale
Travel is one of my absolute favorite things to do. That’s why I couldn’t wait to interview, Michelle Dale for our new Language Mentors series.
Michelle left the United Kingdom at the age of 23 to pursue a dream of real freedom, and she now lives and works abroad full time on her business Virtual Miss Friday. Through her business she supports people around the world in building an online business that they love — so they can spend their lives travelling if they want to!.
This fun video gives a delightful peek into the digital nomad lifestyle that Michelle leads:
Michelle speaks English, French, Arabic and Greek. Her children are multilingual as well. She covers a lot of ground in this interview. From living and working abroad to learning languages. It’s all here. So, let’s get started!
Language Mentors: Learn a New Language in 90 Days
Language Mentors is our new feature where we interview polyglots, language teachers, language learners and even folks from outside the field of language learning. We’re getting straight to the point, asking for their top tips on language acquisition, steadfast motivation, and rapid learning.
We want to give you the inside scoop on what it takes to learn a new language, fast (in as little as 90 days).
We’ve actually seen hundreds of people learn a new language to a conversational level in just 90 days. You can do it too by putting what you learn from our Language Mentors into practice.
And if you need extra support, then join us in Add1 — where you’ll make lots of new friends who share your goal of learning a new language fast (plus you’ll have a 15 minute conversation in your new language after 90 days — we guarantee it).
Read on to learn some of Michelle’s language learning secrets. And get to know some fun facts about the globetrotting polyglot at the same time.
What Are the Top Three Activities You Would Advise to Have a 15 Minute Conversation in a New Language after 90 Days??
- Hang out with the locals. Ideally those who don’t speak much of your language. Cobble together a conversation using whatever words you know. Fill in the blanks with hand gestures. Don’t worry about making mistakes.
- Use associations wherever possible. Anchor words in using smells, people, objects, places, sounds. For instance learn “what’s the time?” and every time you look at your watch, say it.
- Have fun! Treat it like a game. How many words can you learn in a day and remember at the end? Write them all down. And aim for at least 5-10 per day. Try to use the ones you remember from the previous days in the following day.
What Are Your Top Three Favorite Places for Studying a New Language?
- It’s always the country where they speak the language It’s the quickest way to learn.
- I like audio lessons as well. I go to a beautiful location, order a cocktail and chill out. I put my audio lessons on and relax into the learning experience.
- With friends! I go out and do various activities with native speakers. I ask a lot of questions about how to say things during the activity. It could be as simple as ordering a drink. Or taking a boat trip.
What Are Your Top Three Favorite Memories of a Language Win?
- Learning some phrases that only the locals would know. And saying them randomly in conversations. It really makes people laugh and is a brilliant ice breaker.
- Ordering my first taxi ride where I was directing him to where I needed to go without saying a word in English.
- Haggling to get the local prices and not the tourist prices. Who’d of thought a language could save you money?
What Are Your Top Three Favorite Activities to Do in One of Your Target Languages?
- Listening to music and singing in Arabic. There are some incredible lyrics that occur in foreign songs that you don’t often get in English. Songs tell you a lot about the culture, traditions. How people live and love.
- Enjoying local family dinners and having conversations over good food. I love sitting down with people of all ages. Discussing what we’re eating. How it was cooked. Where the recipe came from. Where the ingredients came from. Food is a universal topic in any language.
- Listening to stories. It’s so beautiful to be able to understand people's life experiences. We can learn so much about life from different cultures. We open up to new ideas and ways of thinking. We can take away life lessons of gratitude and get perspective.
What Are the Top Three Roadblocks You See Learners Face?
- Trying to be perfect all the time before you speak. It will never happen and slows down the whole process.
- Trying to learn a language you don’t really enjoy. It can be much slower. I loved Arabic from the first word. I wanted to speak it, learn it and live it. I would always try through simply responding in Arabic when someone spoke to me in English. When I didn’t understand I would say so. Really wanting to learn because you have fallen in love with the language is what matters.
- Boring methods of language learning. If you feel bored from the style of teaching, you will find it difficult to retain the words. Find the style of learning that suits you. If it’s textbooks, great! If it’s audios, super. Or if it is simply flying to the country and throwing yourself in the deep end, go for it.
What Are Your Top Three Keys for Dealing with Those Roadblocks?
- Lose the perfectionism. Rome wasn’t built in a day and a language isn’t learnt in a day either, so it’s going to take time. Don’t feel embarrassed when making mistakes. The locals will be super-impressed that you’re actually trying.
- Fall in love. Immerse yourself in listening first of all. Listen to music, listen to the TV, listen to people talking. If you love the sound of the language you know it’s the right one for you.
- Try different styles of learning. Stick to the ones that engage you the most. Everyone can learn. It’s not about the language it’s about the interest.
What Are Your Top Three Favorite Places to Practice Speaking a Target Language?
- Coffee shops, restaurants and bars. Anywhere where there are lots of different people from all different walks of life.
- Local friends and family homes. Travel is such a unique and social experience. Many places will welcome you with open arms.
- Work! Take a job even if it voluntary or pays very little. It’s a great way to learn for a few hours a week or more. Pick grapes. Go to a children’s hospital. Whatever you fancy.
What Are Your Top Three Relaxing Study Habits for Laid Back Days?
- Audios! Beach. Margarita. Audio language lessons.
- Hanging out with friends and practising the language. It could be contributing to cheering on a football team, playing crazy golf or dancing. These aren't ‘heavy conversation’ activities. It’s a lighter way of speaking
- Watching my favourite TV shows or movies. If you’re in the early stages of learning you might want to watch very familiar ones that are dubbed. Or choose ones with your native language subtitles. If you’re feeling brave skip the subtitles and see how much you can follow.
What Are Your Top Three Favorite Cities?
- El Gouna, Egypt. It’s the place I’ve chosen to keep as my base. It’s in my absolute favourite country. But it has many comforts and qualities of European life. It’s like having the best of both worlds. My kids go to British school here with a variety of children from all nationalities. This makes for a real multicultural upbringing. And it’s on the beautiful Red Sea with pretty much 365 days a year of sunshine!
- Barcelona, Spain. It’s a city full of vibrant colours, history, culture and fun! I love watching the street entertainers. Eating the incredible food. And enjoying the beautiful walks down the old streets of the city. It’s a place that has something for everybody.
- Tbilisi in Georgia. For me, this was a big surprise. In the spring and summer, Tbilisi has a lot to offer. It’s a mix of old and new. A melting pot of Eastern European and Arab cultures. Great cafes, food and nightlife. You can lose yourself in the incredible wine bars in the old town. It’s fairly cheap to stay and economical to eat with plenty of things to do.
What Are Your Top Three Pearls of Wisdom for Language Learners?
- Live it. You have to try to do ordinary day-to-day things in the language as much as possible. Shop at the supermarket and ask where the cheese counter is.
- Love it. Immerse yourself. Enjoy the language so you don’t get that frustration when you can’t quite seem to remember that one word or phrase.
- Use it. Don’t be lazy or shy. Whenever you have the chance to use the language, do it!
If You Were Going to Try the Add1, What Language Would Attempt to Learn?
Arabic. Because I love it and want to get better at it!
What Are Your Top Three Favorite Places for Working?
- I absolutely love working from the beach. Be warned! If you want to record videos, don’t go on a windy day because the audio is terrible.
- Cafes and bars, for sure. I sometimes (ahem) indulge in a glass of wine while running my business from my laptop.
- Co-working spaces are usually a great way to meet like-minded people. And also get that feeling of being part of a group. Sometimes working online can get a bit lonely. Co-working spaces are a brilliant way to have the best of both worlds.
What Are Your Top Three Favorite Digital Entrepreneur Tools?
- My laptop and mobile phone. I would be completely lost without them!
- Apps! I use apps for lists, for habits, for communication.. I love having everything organised and running smoothly. With so much to think about, apps are a huge help.
- Something to take video and pictures. Being a digital nomad means you get to see so many awesome sights. You can work from amazing locations. It’s wonderful to be able to share that with the world and inspire others to live their dreams.
What Are Your Top Three Favorite Memories of a Digital Entrepreneur Win?
- I remember packing my life into two suitcases and thinking what the hell more do I need? Minimalism! I literally can pack up and move my life in a couple of days, it’s complete freedom when you don’t have a lot of stuff.
- The moment I landed and got off the plane from my first one way ticket after leaving my country. I won’t lie. It was a scary thing for a 24 year old girl to start travelling alone. But the moment I landed I knew this was the life for me.
- Being home with my kids. What more could any mother wish for? To have the freedom to work from anywhere. And the ability to be full time with your children. It’s something I will always have total gratitude for.
What Are the Top Three Ways You Keep Yourself Motivated During an Intensive Work Period?
- Take breaks. Nobody ever won a prize for making themselves ill with overwork. Take care of yourself so you can perform your work at optimal levels of productivity and focus.
- Focus on the prize at the end. How you’ll feel once that project is complete. Or how happy you’ll be when your clients have their requests fulfilled. Or what you’re going to spend the money on. Give yourself a treat and something to look forward to.
- Change locations. They say a change is as good as a rest. If you’ve been working out of the coworking space for a few days, switch to a nice little cafe. Or head to the beach bar. It will help change the mood. And give you a fresh perspective when things feel overwhelming or stale.
What Are Your Top Three Favorite Workday Rituals?
- Journalling! The first thing I do every day is write in my gratitude journal. What was I grateful for the day before? Small wins are everything. I also review my goals and get clear on what I want to accomplish that day.
- Visualisation. You have to live the dream in your head before you can make it a reality. I spend 10 minutes a day just seeing myself where I want to be in my mind. Living my life as if I’d already achieved my goals.
- Do something for your own business. It’s all too easy to get caught up in working on client projects. Don’t neglect marketing and building on your own business. Or projects that really matter to you. It could be learning a new skill. Doing a business building activity. Working on self-development. Or networking.
What Top Three People Have Greatly Influenced Your Lifestyle?
- Paul Scheele from Learning Strategies. He creates Paraliminals which help train your brain to shift old belief patterns. You can then easily focus on health, success and abundance. His work has really helped me maintain a positive attitude and stay focussed.
- Carl Harvey who used to do the podcast called The Big Life for Mindvalley. He went on to start teaching his methods for business development. I took a course of his once to polish my webinar strategy. I ended up doing my first six figure gross sales launch using my experience and the things I’d learnt from his course. It was awesome.
- The Nature of Personal Reality by Jane Roberts is a must read book. It's perfect for anyone wanting to explore spiritual growth. I applied a lot of what the book suggests into my own life. It is similar to The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles. Both are brilliant books that are well worth a read if you’re into creative self-development.
What about You?
Which of Michelle’s tips resonates most with you? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section. And to our Add1 participants, best of luck on your language adventure!
Want to learn a new language in 90 days? Come join us in Add1.
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.