Learning & MemoryPodcast

How Learning A New Language Will Change Your Life w/ Olly Richards

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“Language learning is something that brings such incredible joy and fulfillment into your life in ways that you probably can’t imagine if you haven’t tried doing it yet.”
— Olly Richards

Greetings, SuperFriends!

This week, we’re joined by Olly Richards, the world-renowned language learning expert behind IWillTeachYouALanguage.com. Olly speaks no less than 8 languages, and has taught tens of thousands of people all over the world how to learn languages quickly, easily, and without all the headaches. Also a successful entrepreneur and author, having written numerous books and online courses, and he even hosts his own top-rated podcast.

In this episode, I wanted to connect with Olly and hear what he has to say about language learning. Does he agree with past experts we’ve had on the show? Disagree? How and why? How do his own strategies for accelerated language learning mesh with my own framework?

In this interview, Olly and I really hit it off, and we jammed about everything from language learning, to memory techniques, to why all of this is so important. Olly shares some interesting and often surprising thoughts on how best to learn a language, and even tells us about some cool resources that I’d never heard of. It’s a great episode, packed with actionable takeaways, and whether or not you’ve ever been intrigued by language learning, I think you’re going to really enjoy it.


This episode is brought to you by SuperLearner Academy – home of my exclusive masterclasses. Check out a free trial using the link above today!

This episode is brought to you by SuperLearner Academy – home of my exclusive masterclasses. Check out a free trial using the link above today!

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Who is Olly Richards, what does he do, and how did he come to speak 8 languages?!
  • Why is language learning so important, even in today’s day and age?
  • The surprising financial, health, and social benefits of learning an extra language
  • How does learning a language compare to learning music? How do the skills transfer?
  • When and how did Olly Richards realize that the “normal” way to learn languages was broken?
  • What is the fastest that Olly Richards has ever learned a language?
  • How does Olly Richards teach people to learn a language in about 3 months?
  • What languages does Olly speak, and at what level? Which were the most challenging?
  • A surprising step-by-step walkthrough of how Olly Richards tackles a new language
  • A description of how to choose the materials you learn from
  • Why do people screw up when they try to learn a new language?
  • How does Olly tackle learning grammar?
  • How much of our communication is actually grammar-dependent? (Interesting!)
  • Have Olly’s language learning skills transferred into how he learns everything else?
  • How does Olly Richards learn, and how does it compare to what we teach in our courses?
  • What products and services does Olly depend on?
  • What books have most impacted Olly’s life?
  • What’s the biggest takeaway from this episode?

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Olly Richards:

“As anybody who has fallen in love with a language will tell you, it’s not about the translating .”
“Conversation is the art of adapting what you say to communicate it to someone else.”
“It’s not that the so-called ‘school’ system of learning languages is bad, it’s just one very small piece of a big puzzle.”
“You can get to a point very quickly where you can really use the language…and from that point onwards, it’s one long journey of iteration.”
“Unless you have an exam to learn next week, just chill out! Enjoy the process.”
“What I do well is I don’t mess up. I don’t stop!”
“Most people aren’t systems thinkers.”
“There comes a point where the rules just give you a headache, because there are too many exceptions.”
“Any knowledge that you want, anything that’s missing in your mind, any disconnect… somebody out there knows it..”



Jonathan Levi is an experienced entrepreneur and angel investor from Silicon Valley.

After successfully selling his Inc 5,000 rated startup in April of 2011, Levi enlisted the help of speed-reading expert and university professor Anna Goldentouch, who tutored him in speed-reading, advanced memorization, and more. Levi saw incredible results while earning his MBA from INSEAD, and later went on to teach a best-selling online course on the subject. With this unique skill, he has become a proficient lifehacker, optimizing and "hacking" such processes as travel, sleep, language learning, and fitness.

  • blipton

    Would have been nice to expand on the idea if certain tools are better for certain languages.. for example, Skritter for Chinese was mentioned, what about Chineasy, which seems to take a very different approach.

    What about the 800 pound gorillas of Rosetta Stone and DuoLingo, would have been interesting to hear his take on these.

    There’s also some (audio) books from Richard Pluma,Nate Nicholson, Barry Farber, with promising titles like Babel No More and Becoming Fluent.

    Any discount code for Language Learning Foundations?