Become Multilingual in 2019


I just came from completing a course at the end of 2018 that showcased a revolutionary new method for learning a foreign language, and I wanted to report on my experience, encourage those who want to learn a foreign language to sign up for her webinar on January 10th, and to show how it has influenced my plan to learn foreign languages in the upcoming year of 2019.

1.  Language Master program–Description

Lýdia Machová is a polyglot who knows 9 different languages and has created a company called Language Mentoring which helps people around the world learn foreign languages in a way that is more efficient, more effective, and incidentally, more fun.

Here are the four principles of her Language Master course taken from her website https://www.languagementoring.com/  :

  • We must enjoy learning a language (if it’s not the case, the methods must be changed)
  • Mastering any language requires a huge amount of contact with the language.  (There is no shortcut; the work simply must be done.)
  • A great amount of contact is of no help if it’s just once a week.   You need [methods which will allow you] to learn often and in smaller amounts–ideally every day (ideally an hour a day, but this can be adapted.)
  • Language learning is only sustainable if you find a system–when you know your destination and the way to get there.

I have the passion for learning foreign languages–I remember being fascinated at the age of 6 by my American uncle’s ability to speak Spanish and switch effortlessly from one language to the other.   I ended up learning Spanish in high school, French and German in college, and Chinese and Japanese in graduate school.

But since I have been working full time as a professional, I found that I had little “free time” to pursue my passion of learning a foreign language.   I found that the traditional pursuit of learning a foreign language, having a class and learning from a textbook under the direction of a teacher, took more hours in the week than I had available.

When I discovered Lydia’s course, I was intrigued because it was not based on traditional methods, but on a unique combination of high-tech (apps, websites including YouTube) and some old-school methods involving writing in journals.   The most important thing about the method was not just that it was modular, but it was adaptable–if you had only 15 minutes a day to devote to language learning, you could still do something that day to keep learning the language.   If this approach seems intriguing to you, go to her website and catch her webinar which gives you a sneak peek at her Language Master Course.

2. Language Master program–my experience

The reason why I liked the system she showed in her course was because was adaptable to my busy schedule (one full-time job working 40 hours a week, 10 days a day for 4 days, alternating with three days off), and perhaps most importantly because it created a system very similar to a project plan your progress was steady and stable–if you skipped a day, your system would allow you to return to it without a fuss.   This is like the process of meditation, where if your attention wanders, you learn to bring it back to the focal point of the meditation without any judgment or any other form of mental drama.   To paraphrase a marketing slogan from Nike, you just do it.   Again and again and again.

In my case, I wanted to take my Chinese from its current level of Intermediate to Upper Intermediate–which in practical terms meant taking it from the level of the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) or Chinese Proficiency Test Level 3, which I passed two years ago, to the next level or Level 4.   I haven’t taken the test yet, but in the 8 weeks in which the course took place, I know that my listening comprehension at the least has gone up.

3.  Adapting my Language Master program experience to my Language goals of 2019

Lydia recommends for the duration of the Language Master program that you focus on one target language primarily.   In my case, it was Chinese, but you can choose any language you like.   For me, my current levels are the following based on the six-level language proficiency scale called CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) for languages, where A1 and A2 are Beginning, B1 and B2 are Intermediate, and C1 and C2 are advanced

Spanish–B1, French–B2, German–B1, Chinese–B1 and Japanese B2

My targets for the year are to move Chinese and Japanese up one level, to maintain my European languages at least at their current level, and to add one language Arabic, which means bringing that to the A1 level by the end of 2019.

To do this means creating a rotation where I study Japanese and Chinese once a day, one European language at least once every other day, and Arabic at least once every other day.   So every day I am learning Japanese, Chinese, plus one other language (alternating a European language) or Arabic.

I use Rosetta Stone (for speaking and reading), YouTube videos (for listening), Skritter (for writing Chinese/Japanese characters), Duolingo (for vocabulary), and Foreign Service Institute course lessons (for grammar) (see livelingua.com for free access to these).

The best way to start your language journey is the following:

  1. Are you learning a new language?  Try Benny Lewis’ Add1 Challenge–for details, see his website https://www.fluentin3months.com/plus-1/
  2. Are you increasing the proficiency of your current language?  Try Lydia Machova’s Language Master course–for details, see her website https://www.languagementoring.com/webinar-2019/
  3. If you have completed one of the above courses, and want to continue your progress, just keep an accountability sheet, which shows your a) focus areas for the language, b) the amounts of time per week you want to achieve as a goal for each area, and c) the apps you plan to use to achieve that learning goal for each focus area.
  4. Join a language-learning community–Benny Lewis’ Fluent in 3 Months blog shows you how!

I will see how far I get in 2019 with my language plan, but I have more confidence I will be able to achieve it because I have been through Lydia Machova’s course, and know that it works!   If I was able to achieve more progress in 8 weeks last year that I did for all the other weeks of the year, then think of how much I’ll learn if I use those same methods for all of the weeks of 2019!

In reality, there’s no “quick” way to learn a language–it requires work.  But the work doesn’t have to be dull, and Lydia’s methods make sure that you enjoy yourself on the way.   Yes, you can be a mountaineer and climb up the face of the mountain as a solo experience, but I would rather go with a group, and have fun with each other as we listen to the tour guide.   So let’s start climbing those language mountains together in 2019!

 

 

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