Kris Broholm: Polyglot Beginnings: The Right Mindset for Learning a New Language

Jun 05, 2016

Every time I get interested in something, I find some podcasts on the topic to listen to. When I started learning languages on my own, it led me to The Actual Fluency Podcast by Chris Broholm (through an interview about Esperanto with Chuck Smith).

Apart from the podcast, Kris published a very short e-book called Polyglot Beginnings summarizing his experience and lessons he learned from the guests on his podcast. By short I mean 30 pages of rather sparse text. He touches on several language learning topics like the benefits of learning a new language, setting goals, and methods. Surprisingly one chapter covers how to pick a language to learn which I didn’t expect at all.

Most space is given to setting goals and the advice here is good: push yourself but don’t overreach, use SMART goals, use empowering phrasing, hold on to your motivation, and set both short- and long-term goals. The chapter on methods is very short and basically saying “everyone has a different style, find yours”. The brevity of this chapter is slightly compensated by a list of resources with bit of annotation at the end.

Like the podcast, the book could use more structure and more rigorous approach (be it more storytelling, motivation, science, or anything else), but Kris is enthusiastic about learning new languages (and he hasn’t picked easy ones) so I’m grateful he took the time and courage to write it down and give it to the world.