Today I got the opportunity to talk with Lindsay Dow, a British blogger and language tutor. Besides learning languages, she’s currently focusing on e-course creation so that she can bring her language teaching to a wider audience.
FTLOL: Tell our readers a bit about your background. Where are you from and where do you currently live and work?
LD: Hey! I’m Lindsay and I love languages. I live in a town called Milton Keynes in the middle of England. I work from home here for my company Lindsay Does Languages. We tutor English, French, and Spanish and blog and make videos about all things language.
FTLOL: How did you get interested in learning languages and how many do you currently speak?
LD: Croissants and Shakira.
I went to French Club in primary school and kept going because they gave you croissants at the end of term. I started learning Spanish because I wanted to translate Shakira. You never know where the inspiration might come from.
From there I’ve gone on to study Mandarin Chinese, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Dutch to varying levels. My current obsession is Japanese.
FTLOL: Do you have any special techniques or personal methods that you use to learn foreign languages? Are there any particular materials or courses that you find useful?
LD: A variety of materials is my honest answer to this one. Right now, I’m really into putting language learning into things I use everyday. For example, I created the Instagram Language Challenge (#IGLC) for this reason. If you’ll be using Instagram, why not use it for language learning? Language learning has to be fun for me.
FTLOL: If you’ve ever tried to learn more than one language at once, how did you organize your time? Are you able to give them all equal attention?
LD: Wow! This has happened so many times to me! Sometimes unintentionally, sometimes totally my decision!
It can be hard to devote equal time to multiple languages. I would say that when I’ve done it before, it’s worked best when one language is at a more comfortable level and the other is at a beginner level. But regardless of how much I try, I think it’s very difficult to give 100% equal attention to both.
FTLOL: Based on your native language, do you find any specific language families to be more difficult to learn than others? If so, what aspects in particular are challenging?
LD: My native language is English, so in theory Germanic languages are easier for me, but actually, I stand by the fact that German has been the hardest language I’ve learnt!
The reason for this is that all my studies prior to it (with the exception of a year of Mandarin Chinese) had been with Romance languages, so they came much easier the more I studied them.
However, German was my first experience with cases. I just didn’t get it. Now, I at least understand it, even if I do still make mistakes!
FTLOL: I’ve read on your blog that you teach online language lessons via Skype, and that one of your main goals in doing so is to help people so that they can learn to teach themselves in the long run. Can you discuss what this entails and how you approach online language teaching?
LD: Of course. So I think that there is a time and a place for a language tutor; however, the more languages you learn, the higher your confidence will become, and the better your skills.
By this point, I believe that you should be able to go on with language learning with minimal tutor input.
I see a big part of my tutoring role as being a coach to students as well – motivating and encouraging self-study in between time spent with me in lessons.
FTLOL: Do you think it’s necessary to go to a foreign country to learn a language? Can you achieve a high level of fluency without actually leaving your home town?
LD: It definitely helps, but I do believe that you can get to a high level of competency in a language without it. You know why? The Internet!
It’s easier than ever to create immersive environments in your own home and I can’t wait to see what the future holds on this front.
For me, the beauty of travel and it’s relation to language learning is the inspiration it provides to learn languages.
FTLOL: Do you have any advice for people who may want to start learning a foreign language, but who might not know where to start?
LD: Actually, I’m in the process of creating an online course for people exactly in that position! So I’d have to recommend that!
FTLOL: What’s next for you? Do you plan on learning any more languages, or will you work to further develop some of the ones you’ve already learned or are learning? Are you looking to take on any more clients in the future?
LD: I can’t see myself ever not learning languages. Right now, my focus is Japanese. I have a few ideas for languages I’d wish to look at next year.
After that, I have big travel plans for 2017, so that will involve lots of new languages learnt to lower levels, I’m sure.
Of course, if you don’t use it, you lose it. So I’ll definitely have to try and schedule some time to work on my older languages and bring them out of their brain boxes!
My priority right now is e-course creation to bring my teaching to a wider audience than for what I can reach with one-on-one clients. However, if you’re reading this and are interested in learning with me, you’re more than welcome to get in touch!
You can read more about Lindsay’s language adventures over at her blog here.