Who am I?
I began learning Japanese when I was 12, and haven’t stopped since.
After 15+ years, thousands of hours of practicing and much laughter at my expense, I speak conversationally fluent Japanese, Spanish and German. I’m learning French right now. I’ve had the good fortune to use the first three in business in a Fortune 20 company, teach Spanish to classes of adults, privately tutor students in Japanese, live in Japan, Germany and Colombia, and many other life-changing experiences I owe to the people who encouraged me to start learning languages.
Posting schedule: Once every two weeks.
This site: Uncommon ways to learn languages
Language Musings is dedicated to helping people learn languages in ways out of the ordinary . The essence of my philosophy is:
“To learn languages quickly and get close to a native-sounding level, you need to make learning an ongoing, essential part of your daily lifestyle.”
This is easier than it sounds. Making languages part of my lifestyle is what helped me become conversationally fluent in several tongues, and is what spurred me on from beginner to teacher in less than a year in Spanish.
More specifically: I hope to help people who:
- Have tried to learn languages and given up because it was too hard, they didn’t have the time, or couldn’t find the motivation
- Haven’t tried to learn yet, because they think it will be too difficult
- Are learning a language now, but aren’t progressing as fast as they want to
- Have always wanted to visit exotic places and impress the locals, or whose partners speak another language.
What this project is not about
Traditional ways of learning languages, boring grammar and rote-learning.
- Purely ‘conventional’ ways of learning languages, such as only sitting in a classroom staring at a whiteboard. I do think classroom learning is important, but this alone won’t help you get fluent fast.
- Teaching boring grammar or rote-learning vocabulary. There are plenty of other books and websites which can teach you this better than me.
- The inner workings of one language in particular. All of the techniques I write about can be adopted and applied to learning any language.
- ‘Passive’ language learning, where you are only listening or observing, rather than speaking.
Who am I to write about this?
I’ve spent 15+ years learning, teaching and dreaming in several languages. More than anything else: I’ve made thousands of embarrassing mistakes, spent countless hours studying and practicing, and lived locally for the languages I’ve studied. I started with Japanese in early high school, continued on to German after falling in lust with Germany and its culture, became conversationally fluent in Spanish after finding inspiration from my Colombian wife, and moved on to French hoping one day to sound as sexy as French speakers do. This hasn’t happened yet. Maybe one day.
Along the way I’ve lived in Japan, Germany and Colombia, tutored Japanese students, taught Spanish to classrooms full of adults, and tested myself with academia. On the geekier side, I’m certified in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (Level 2), German Goethe Institut’s European Framework, The Spanish Cat certification system, Alliance Francaise coursework, and I hold a Masters of Applied Linguistics from Macquarie University. Despite all this, I don’t believe academic study is crucial for becoming conversationally fluent in languages, and most of my writing doesn’t focus on an academic standpoint at all. Active learning you actually enjoy is much more effective than essay writing, assignments or any other form of textbook validation.
If you like, you can sign up to receive Email updates when I write to the site each week. If not, feel free to check back whenever you like, and I hope you find something useful here. I certainly don’t have all the answers yet, and am on a continual path of learning. There will surely be people out there (maybe you?) who have different ideas, and I would love to hear about them.
You can alsor contact me if there’s something you’d like to know, or something I might be able to help you with related to languages.