Today I've written a guest post on Lifehacker entitled “How to successfully learn a new language this year“, to give some suggestions for those who aren't sure where to go with their learn-a-language New Year's resolution. This is the second time in a month I've posted on that site, the last one being a post where I answered tonnes of general language learning questions in comments in December.
Anyone from Lifehacker, don't forget to subscribe to the Fi3M RSS feed, and follow along on Facebook, twitter and Google+, and sign up to the email list on the right of this site, as I share many other language learning links, and general encouragement for new learners in each of these. Also, don't forget to check out my TEDx talk!
I'd like to follow this up with some cool links to inspire you to get started, not on a resolution (let's face it, most resolutions are simply not strong enough or specific commitments, which is one of the things I brought up in that guest post), but on your language mission.
Missions and challenges around the Internet
A mission mindset is what keeps me going: Having a very specific target in a very specific timeline, being public about it and making that mission your absolute priority.
In fact, the next post on the blog will be a success story from an Fi3M reader and newbie language learner who applied this mentality to his own life and succeeded in his own three month language mission. He found inspiration and a language partner on the Fluent in 3 months forum.
But there are of course other communities out there with some cool “mission” mentalities. Both the How to learn any language forum and Reddit have groups of people taking part in what is called the Total Annihilation Challenge (TAC). Read this thread on HTLAL to see how many people are taking it up, or see this subreddit specifically about it. In both cases there are separate threads/subreddits specifically about TACs for particular languages that you can join along with.
Don't need to travel – get daily practice on Skype, and listen to premium podcasts for free
Keep in mind that you do not need to go to the country to successfully learn your language. I have just spend 3 months in Brazil learning Arabic, where all my spoken practice (bar one in-person meeting and applying for my extended tourist visa at the Egyptian embassy) was entirely through Skype. The resource I used almost exclusively for these spoken sessions was italki, where you can find both free exchanges and affordable one-on-one lessons.
Italki are offering their own challenge to language learners, just this month. If you sign up for 10 lessons this month they will give you free access to one of Englishpod, Ruspod, Spanishpod, Frenchpod, Italianpod and Arabic Anywhere – each of which are very popular premium-access language learning podcasts. (In a similar style to Chinesepod, which I used myself and found very helpful). After signing up for a profile, click “Learn more” on the homepage after “win free lessons”.
See the immense variation of languages you can speak in person in the states!
Next, my friend Moses McCormick who I met in Columbus, Ohio, and who I levelled up with, in a mall in Columbus in a dozen languages, is going to spend this year showing people just what I said above; that you don't need to travel abroad to get language practice.
He will go around the states to many different cities, demonstrating how many in person conversations he and his two friends can have in dozens of languages with many cultures. He has set up a Kickstarter page to discuss his immense project. Check it out for some inspiration, and make sure to contribute if you can, and you could even be a part of his documentary about languages in America.
I'll of course be meeting up with him in the summer and joining along in the documentary, for part 2 of our level up adventures!
Other links and top ten posts of Fluent in 3 months over the last year
As well as the above links related to getting into a “mission” mentality with your language, rather than a resolution one, I included several other links and suggestions in my lifehacker guest post. It ended up being too long, and had to be edited down, so here are a few links that I wanted to include in that:
Language courses, and have a native say it for you. My first round of Language Hacking Links from three years ago is one of the sites most popular posts and includes lots of essentials worth checking out. This includes Rhinospike and Forvo to listen to how individual words should be pronounced, or to enter entire sentences to have native speakers read them back to you!
Learning with texts – a free feature on this site that (after logging on) lets you import texts you find online in your target language, and read it with instant clickable dictionary access to every worth and a tracker so you know which words you already know. Also lets you download your list of important words into Anki format.
In the longer version of my LH guest post, I also recommended people check out Duolingo for an intro to their target language. Here's an interview I did (in Spanish) with the site's founder, and a detailed review of Duolingo.
While all these links and tools may be a huge help to language learners, it's important to realize that it's not about what apps you have installed, or what courses you have bought, so I'd like to share some words of encouragement from this blog, by selecting my top ten Fluent in 3 months posts (out of 82 total) of 2012.
The right mentality and attitude is often the best tool by far that you could possibly have in learning another language, so I really hope you will read and consider these seriously:
- Don't travel to learn a language! Why it's your ATTITUDE, not your latitude and longitude, that counts
- The language gene delusion
- Unnecessary elitist standards: get rid of them and fluency is yours for the taking
- No pain no gain
- How I learned to speak fluent Italian while working a 63 hour per week job
- The underestimated usefulness of pre-fluency
- How many words do you need to speak a language fluently?
- 6 short videos to help you configure your very own reality distortion field
- When disliking learning languages can be a really good thing
- The only way to get far quickly is to get out of your comfort zone (my typical day learning Mandarin)
If you missed any of these posts, please do check them out!
Thanks for reading, welcome to all the newcomers from Lifehacker, and best of luck with your language missions in 2013! I look forward to reading your comments on any of this below!