The Language Mastery Show

John Fotheringham

The Language Mastery Show brings you conversations with the world's best language learners. Get an inside look at how polyglots, linguists, and everyday people master languages the smart way, and how YOU can, too. I'm your host, John Fotheringham, a linguist, teacher, and the author of Master Japanese and Master Mandarin. For more language learning tips, tools, and immersion resources, visit LanguageMastery.com. read less
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Episodes

Former Airborne Cryptologic Linguist Ian Fritz on What He Learned at the Defense Language Institute & Spying on the Taliban
Dec 4 2023
Former Airborne Cryptologic Linguist Ian Fritz on What He Learned at the Defense Language Institute & Spying on the Taliban
Ian Fritz is the author of What the Taliban Told Me, a nuanced look at what it was like to undertake intensive language training at The Defense Language Institute (DLI) in not one, but two languages (Dari and Pashto), serve as an "Airborne Cryptologic Linguist" (ACL) in the United States Air Force (USAF), and spy on the Taliban from low-flying gunships. During his two tours in Afghanistan, he eavesdropped on the Taliban for hundreds of hours, shared intelligence with various Special Forces units on the ground, and—according to official records—totaled 123 "insurgents EKIA" ("enemies killed in action"). But the more conversations he heard below, the more conflicted he became about his job, the war, the killing, and even his desire to continue living. His increasing linguistic fluency and cultural familiarity had humanized the enemy. It created a "moral injury" that Ian feared would never heal... In the interview, we talk about Ian's experience learning languages at DLI, his experience as an Airborne Cryptologic Linguist, what he would do differently if he started a new language from scratch, and his best tips for beginner and intermediate language learners. 📝 For show notes, visit LanguageMastery.com/blog/post/ian-fritz. 📧 Get expert language immersion tips in your inbox each week!  Join my FREE weekly newsletter to get the tips and tools you need to get fluent anywhere in the world.  👉🏼 ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠LanguageMastery.com/newsletter⁠⁠⁠⁠
Language Coach Stéphane Angeles on How to Use the "Barbie Method" & Improve All 4 Language Skills
Sep 15 2023
Language Coach Stéphane Angeles on How to Use the "Barbie Method" & Improve All 4 Language Skills
Coach Stéphane Angeles is a language coach who helps expats speak better Spanish through expert habit formation strategies, accountability, and one-on-one guidance via Zoom and audio check-ins. In the interview, we discuss: Why you should use a walkie talkie app to practice listening and speaking.Why you should practice writing daily (and how it can help you speak better).How to use the strategies of "Time," "Place," and "Target."The critical importance of mindset and psychology in language learning.Why TV shows are such an ideal language learning tool.Why children's books and TV shows are NOT ideal for adult learners.How to get repetition without boredom.The most common mistakes language learners make.Why you don't need to memorize grammar rules to speak a language well.Why you need to practice ALL 4 skills: listening, speaking, reading & writing.Why the language itself is not the hard part of learning a language.Why you should avoid the "comparison trap" with polyglots on YouTube.Why you shouldn't believe everything you think.Why there is no such thing as a "perfect" language resource or method.How to use the "Barbie Method" to practice multiple languages. To learn more about Steph and her Spanish coaching, check out her Spanish Speaking Academy. For show notes and links to resources mentioned, visit LanguageMastery.com/blog/post/coach-steph. 📧 Get expert language immersion tips in your inbox each week!  Join my FREE weekly newsletter to get the tips and tools you need to get fluent anywhere in the world.  👉🏼 ⁠⁠⁠⁠LanguageMastery.com/newsletter⁠⁠⁠
How Real Fast Spanish Founder Andrew Barr Went From a Monolingual Aussie to a Budding Polyglot
May 13 2023
How Real Fast Spanish Founder Andrew Barr Went From a Monolingual Aussie to a Budding Polyglot
Despite doing well in other school subjects, Andrew Barr failed French in secondary school. Upon hearing this news, his supportive father assured him: "The Barrs don't do languages. We do maths and sciences. You will never have to speak of a word of French again!" It turns out that this prediction was a bit of the mark. Today, Andrew speaks multiple languages and has built a successful business teaching languages at Real Fast Spanish. In this deep dive into Andrew's language learning journey and philosophy, you will learn: How a multilingual climb up Mount Kilimanjaro inspired him to learn languages (and led to befriending a French actress).The importance of high-quality language input (high-yield listening and reading content).The power of learning with other people (teachers, tutors, and exchange partners) and why you need to avoid the input-only trap.Why motivation, consistency, and discipline are the essential 3 essential ingredients of successful language learning.Why Andrew decided to start learning Polish (his first non-Romance language) and the surprising origins of his family name.The ideal order of operations for learning a new language from scratch and why you should master sounds first.The 24-hour rule for new vocabulary and the simple $5 language-learning tool you should carry with you everywhere you go.The language-learning advice Andrew would give to his younger self to break through his earlier stories and self-limiting beliefs.Why learning a language is akin to learning to play the guitar (you have to learn by doing, not watching).Why your feelings about a language-learning method are more important than the method itself.Why pursuing pleasure in language learning is not always the answer and why Andrew studies flashcards in Anki even though he doesn't enjoy it.The most common mistakes that native English speakers make in Spanish (and how to sound less like a "gringo" by changing just one sound).Why correctly pronouncing vowels is more important in Spanish than getting consonants right.The critical difference between "accent" and "pronunciation" and why the latter matter much more.Andrew's 2 essential language-learning principles: 1) readiness to learn, and 2) high-quality practice.How to build early confidence by setting the bar low and having specific goals in each conversation. 📧 Get expert language immersion tips in your inbox each week! Join my FREE weekly newsletter to get the tips and tools you need to get fluent anywhere in the world. 👉🏼 ⁠LanguageMastery.com/newsletter
The 3 Foundations of Language Mastery
Jan 9 2022
The 3 Foundations of Language Mastery
Happy New Year! I hope your 2022 is off to a great start. In this first episode of the year, I would like to experiment with a new format. I have some exciting interviews lined up in the coming weeks, but I’d like to kick things off with a new segment called The 3 Foundations of Mastery.  If you already subscribe to my Language Mastery Monday newsletter, you will already be familiar with this framework. If not, what are you waiting for? Head over to LanguageMastery.com/newsletter to get expert tips and tools in your inbox each week. So what are the three foundations and why do they matter? Foundation 1 is Mastering Your Mind, which means conquering fears and self-limiting beliefs that are blocking your path to fluency.Foundation 2 is Mastering Your Day, which involves building better habits and learning more efficiently.Foundation 3 is Mastering Your Environment, which means creating your own immersion wherever you happen to live. One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the last 20 plus years of learning and teaching foreign languages is that you can't master a language unless you also master your mind, your day, and your environment. Harnessing your psychology, wrangling your schedule, and designing your learning environment can each be extremely difficult, especially in our modern world of distraction and instant gratification. But master these three foundations you must if you want to have any chance of getting fluent in a foreign tongue. These factors are what really make learning languages difficult. The languages themselves are learned more or less automatically if you show up and give your brain the input it needs. (And yes, get tons of active practice, too, of course.) But YOU have to constantly decide to show up and put in the time instead of choosing easier activities that provide a more immediate hit of dopamine and serotonin (Netflix + Cherry Garcia, anyone?). Language learning can provide these “feel-good” hormones, too, but the rewards live on the other side of much more time and effort. So to help you win this mental battle, I will be sharing powerful principles and short, actionable tips each week that will help you develop the mindset, habits, and environment you need to learn any language, anywhere. Ready? Let's get started! Listen to today's episode to hear this week's tips for mastering your mind, day, and environment.