In a change from my initial plan to wait a month before uploading conversations, here is my 10-day update in Japanese. This video is entirely in Japanese, and absolutely and utterly non-scripted (apart from the intro). I messaged my Facebook page, targetting just those in Japan, and Junpei offered to let me record a chat […]MORE
While proving that “virtual immersion” is indeed possible, and while I do genuinely hope to inspire language learners over the coming months, no matter what language you are learning, what will be motivating me to keep going on a day to day basis will be the fact that I’m going to travel Japan next year.MORE
Hey everyone! I’m back after a summer away and my batteries are recharged for the next huge 3-month-to-fluency language project, that I’ll announce soon to those of you in the LHL email list (sign up on the top right to find out!) I had a fantastic time, and will tell you how it went next […]MORE
The decision I made seven years ago to study Chinese at university changed my life. Right from the beginning I decided that I didn’t just want to learn some Mandarin, I wanted to be proficient. I wanted to speak the language to an advanced level and be able to read a newspaper and write characters with ease. It’s fair to say that I got stuck in immediately, and got completely immersed in my studies!
Seven years later, I can’t say that I’m perfect and don’t make any mistakes, or that I understand and know how to say everything. There’s still a lot of room for me to improve, but I have achieved my original goal. I can speak Mandarin fluently, and I know all the simplified and traditional characters other than the really rare ones. I speak and use Chinese every day, and it has really become a part of my life and a second language to me now.MORE
My US travels continue for a few weeks, so I am happy to accept guest posts with interesting or inspiring stories! If you have a cool idea message me on this page (but please read the guest post criteria first). This one was a story that is all too familiar from successful language learners, but […]MORE
Today’s guest post is from Judith Meyer, who writes at Learn Yu and is one of the most accomplished polyglots I’ve ever met! We met at an Esperanto event, and have since hung out in Berlin. Of course, I made sure that she contributed to the Skype Me Maybe music video last year! Despite her […]MORE
In less than two weeks, I’m going to hit my anniversary of not having had a base anywhere in the world for ten entire years. I’ve essentially been a “homeless vagabond”, even if leaning more towards the flashpacker style of doing it with a laptop, and having a roof over my head the whole time (well, […]MORE
“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.”
—Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM
Making mistakes is a fundamental part of every cognitive process, whether solving a math problem, making important decisions, or trying to convey meaning in a foreign language.
What’s more, making mistakes and learning from them is not simply a human skill. According to scientific research (link: http://www.sciencenewsforkids.org/2012/08/monkeys-mistake-detector/), animals not only learn from their own mistakes, but they can learn by observing their peers messing up. In the animal world, avoiding blunders may dramatically improve one’s chances of survival. Both humans and animals learn to live and live to learn. Human beings, however have a unique skill: the ability to process and ponder their mistakes.
This can be an advantage as well as a disadvantage. Let me explain why.MORE
(Note: Flow courses are currently discontinued, you can learn about my new courses here) I’m a musician, and I advocate learning language with your ears instead of your eyes. But I often get pushback for this view: “You can’t just assume that everyone is an auditory learner like you. Personally, I’m a visual learner so I […]MORE
So, I’m Julie Ferguson and I have nothing on Helen Keller! I am, however, severely deaf and partially sighted.
My parents realised that I had a hearing problem when I was 2 years old, though I didn’t get my first hearing aid until I was 4. Unfortunately, when I was 4, nobody could understand me babbling away in my version of English, except for my mum and my brother. Apparently, I was bad. I couldn’t even pronounce my own name (it sounded like Ooee Fehuhoh).
I was sent to speech therapy for intensive work before I started primary school, and I remember working on all those weird sounds especially “spoon”. My particular hearing loss makes it difficult to hear consonants, especially s, h, and f.MORE
Today’s post is my serious attempt to list every possible reason why we don’t learn a language, and to offer possible suggestions to overcome them. (Note that in the post after this, I am looking for the opposite to reasons why we can’t and I want to hear your success stories that could potentially inspire millions […]MORE
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan As I wrote earlier in the week, my […]MORE
Over the years, I’ve had a lot of missions, goals, projects or whatever you want to call them (16 of which I’ve blogged about, so far) to learn languages and take on many interesting other objectives. Generally on this blog I try to see the good in what I can, and I consider each project […]MORE
On Wednesday, I’ll be arriving in Warsaw to give a TEDx talk. Unlike the first one I gave, which was completely made up on the spot and only the second time I ever had a stage to myself like that, this time I have been preparing for it in advance and want to give a completely different but really powerful talk that could inspire many language learners. It should hopefully be up on Youtube in a month or two!
I’ll only be in Poland for 3 days, but I’m going to have a unique mission this time of giving myself 5 hours to cram for Polish to become as effective a tourist as I can be! Right now, I don’t know any Polish at all (other than likely common vocabulary that many languages share), and I’ve been too busy with a full time contracted job I have here in Berlin (much more on the top-secret reason I’m in Berlin later) as well as preparing my talk over the last week.MORE
I get asked by people every day what the “secret” is to learning another language, and they don’t seem satisfied with my answer of there is no secret; you need to work hard, speak often and early with people, make many mistakes and use it for real etc. So you know what? The “truth” is […]MORE