Judith Meyer’s Hangout #ADD1Challenge

Judith Meyer is one of the 90 participants in the #ADD1Challenge #A1C5 .

She is a polyglot with 12 languages “under her belt”.  I enjoy reading her blog articles. Check out this Hangout session.

Some of Judith Meyer and Brian Kwong’s ideas:

  • Fluency is something that you reach on a topic by topic basis.
  • Keep track of hours learning in a spreadsheet
  • If you can’t find a word in a Skype call, don’t get sidetracked trying to explain one word.  Try saying the word in another language, to see if it is similar, and move on. She prefers just enjoying the conversations on Skype.
  • Use text chat to write down new vocabulary and any grammar mistakes from a tutor session. so tutor doesn’t have to correct you by voice.  Then review after the session.
  • A lot of polyglots report that they have different personalities in different languages they are studying.  Observe natives to see their style.  You can’t have American type banter when conversing in German, it doesn’t work.
  • You can create a new personality for your target language.  Don’t be frustrated as a beginner not having enough words to fully express yourself.
  • Avoid language wanderlust impacting your motivation by planning stuff ahead.
  • Add1Challenge limits you to one language at a time, because you aren’t effective learning more than one in a short time period (3 months for a challenge).
  • How to plan ahead to get the most out of a Skype session?  Focus on a specific topic.
  • Over-learning a topic, for example talk about the weather, so that you are comfortable whenever the topic comes up in the future.  Spend an entire tutor session talking about the weather, and you will get “critical mass” of expressions to use so you reach fluency in that topic, rather than lots of sessions spending just 1 minute discussing the weather.
  • If you are not happy with the progress you’ve made, look back on your spreadsheet to see how much time you’ve spent.  Logging is important.  Our memory tries to trick us.
  • Ideas for studying a language when I am tired and my energy level is low.  Try any type of imitation (examples:  copying a text, repeating after, singing along to a song).  It is not as difficult as coming up with phrases yourself.  Imitation is better than passively watching TV shows.
  • Some times when you are following a routine for studying, you will have days when your brain doesn’t have room for new material, and those days at least do a passive activity.
  • Don’t schedule your learning time at end of day when you know you will be exhausted.
  • How to determine when you are first starting out what are the most important words to learn?  Some basic questions always come up when you meet a native speaker.  Who are you?  How come you can speak our language? Who taught you? Why are you learning our language? Have you been to our country before? If so, which cities? Would you like to go?  Are you planning to go?  So these are the questions you need to answer for yourself.  Write out your answers ahead of time.  That is the first step.
  • To figure out which words are relevant to you, notice which words you are trying to say that you do not know.
  • When you are a bit more advanced, think “How often would I use this word?  Once a day, once a week, once a month? once a year?”  If it is once a year, I am not learning that word.  I just discard it.  It is a habit polyglots need to develop to be really efficient language learners.  Figure out what is necessary FOR ME for the way I speak and topics I talk about.
  • Judith is more of an introvert who loves reading, so it is a challenge learning a language that has no vowels, which requires quite a large number of words learned before it can be easily read.  Arabic was hard for her to find reading materials.
  • How to deal with flashcards getting boring?  Use Anki when you can’t do anything else, those snippets of time when you are riding a subway or waiting in line.  Use Anki when you are in a comfortable place, like in bed in the morning or sipping a cup of tea.  Anki has been a part of Judith’s life for 5 years, and it is a big part of how she builds her vocabulary.
  • Brian likes to type when he is doing flashcards, so he can be actively interacting and feel successful when he gets the answer right.  Judith likes to go through cards really fast, I know it, I don’t know it, because she wants to recall the words very fast in conversation.
  • Important to see words often enough that they stick.  If not through flashcards, then reread material that use those words.  Create your own sentences with these words. The difficulty is to get exposure to the words enough to retain them.
  • Judith found that for European vocabulary, she could get by, but for Asian vocabulary, she needed flashcards.  Find a spaced repetition method that is fun for you.  If it is boring, you won’t do it, but you need words to keep showing up. Duolingo, for example, lets you see the same words but in new contexts, so it is fresh.

Judith’s blog is LearnLangs.com.

Learn more about #ADD1Challenge.



Full disclosure, I have struggled with #A1C5.  It has been 20 days, and I dropped out of my study group because trying to speak with someone with years difference in learning was too stressful.  I’ve felt overwhelmed.  I’ve fallen into the pitfall of reading Facebook posts and watching youtube intro videos for other Add1Challengers, instead of focusing on language learning (especially the loss of my flashcard practice).  While other people are feeling excited and motivated, I am drowning in fear and adrenaline and exhaustion.  Not sure Add1Challenge is a good fit for me, although I am hopeful it will get better, and I still like the aspect of being part of a community.

If asked by a beginner learning Korean, I would recommend Korean Digital Academy.

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One Response to Judith Meyer’s Hangout #ADD1Challenge

  1. I should be writing down the vocab! I’ve already forgotten what 함께 is! haha


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