Moses McCormick is a great language learner and polyglot, in this post I share 5 lessons we can all learn from him.
One of the first great inspirational people I found when I was searching for language learning about 2 years ago was Moses McCormick, who uploaded these hour (sometimes several) long videos that showed him walking around various locations just striking up conversation with people in foreign languages.
Perhaps even more impressive was that every video was SUBTITLED! Can you imagine going through hours of footage with questionable audio to add English subtitles from all sorts of languages.
This is what Moses does though. So even if you speak none of the languages he walks speaks in the videos, you can still follow along the conversation.
Based on these videos I have come up with 5 lessons we can learn from Moses McCormick.
1. WORK HARD
Moses not only puts in a ton of book hours back in his home office, he also spends many, many hours out in the “battlefield” where he is constantly seen practising all his languages.
The first lesson we can learn is that to become successful at anything, including languages, we must be willing to work hard at it. Note that, hard does not mean 8 hours a day, although you can do that I find that regularity is better than these crazy marathon days.
It also saves you from burning out.
Moses also learns a lot of languages at the same time, which is something I'm not a big fan of, I find that once I'm learning more than 1 I start drifting away and getting distracted from my main goal. Moses, however has obviously found a way to combat this.
2. GET OUT IN THE FIELD AND LEVEL UP
As can be seen on his YouTube channels he often goes out in the field, which can be anything from a Chinese restaurant to a regular Wall-mart.
Due to the ethnic diversity of his city of Columbus, Ohio, he easily finds loads of people to practice with.
If you have the opportunity to do this, do it!
If you do not have the opportunity to go out and meet speakers in the wild as Moses does, you CAN do it over the internet instead. There is the first option of paying community tutors from iTalki (generally something like $10 an hour).
The second option is to use sites for language exchanges such as interPals.net. This simulates the battle field experience and allows you to level up from your own home.
What is levelling up? Levelling up in language learning is a term Moses, an avid video gamer enthusiast, borrowed from the video game industry.
In video games levelling up typically means your character becomes stronger and better.
Which is exactly what happens in language learning when you get out in the wild and start using the language.
Although the term is somewhat arbitrary and there are no specific rules for when a level-up has occurred, it's a fun way to combine a game concept with language learning.
3. DON'T BE SHY
To be able to go out into the field to level up, you have to throw caution to the wind and forget about your shyness.
Moses recommends, that you ask the person you intend to talk to, a question in English, for example: Do you know where I can find olive oil?
Once there is contact, you can casually ask where the person are from and if they speak the language of that place.
I'm personally quite shy to approach strangers, but watching Moses videos on YouTube has given me renewed motivation, because I see somebody else doing it. And as Moses says, once you have done it a hundred times it's a piece of cake.
Update: If you're struggling with this, consider giving the course “Say Goodbye To Shy” a try.
4. LEARN THE SCRIPT
This is a bit of a technical point, but the reason Moses is so successful in speaking so many languages is that he applies the fact that almost all first-encounter conversations follow a script that contain exactly the same questions an answers.
This is similar to the Speak from Day 1 course, Benny Lewis did previously.
Basically you learn, by heart, the sentences of language that you will need in the beginning. These sentences could be something like:
– I'm from Denmark
– I'm studying Russian because I find it interesting
– Russian is a very hard language
– I've been studying for 6 months
– So on and so forth.
If one had to learn all the individual words through vocabulary building or courses, then it would take a very long time to be able to create these sentences on the fly.
Why not just learn them from the beginning, so you can get out and speak the language from a very early point, thus giving you huge boosters to your motivation?
Moses has created a method based on this approach called the FLR METHOD, which basically teaches you exactly what he is doing.
This means that the scripts area already written for you in convenient audio and textual formats.
Go check out The FLR Method, he has over 30 different language courses to choose from.
5. HAVE FUN
The final and most important lesson is to just have fun with it.
Whenever you make something into a fun experience, learning and motivation to learn more increases ten-fold.
One thing you can be certain of when you see Moses' videos is that he always has a great deal of fun.
The priceless reactions of strangers when they hear him speak their language is what drives him, he says. It's a lot of fun, and humans are motivated by fun.
So get out there and have some fun, the Moses McCormick way.
Go check out Moses McCormick
– YouTube Channel (Highly recommended)
PS. I'm trying to get Moses on the Podcast and I will also supply a FLR METHOD Review soon!
Update 2016: I have tried on multiple occasions to reach out to Moses and get him to come on the podcast, but he has not yet replied to any of my communication, unfortunately.