Language Master Key



My book Language Master Key: How to Unlock Your Brain’s Ability to Learn Any Language is now available for sale at Amazon. To purchase the book, click the link for your region:

United States:

Other regions:

If you’re learning a new language, then you have to learn four different skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Out of all these…

Listening is the most important skill to develop.

You can learn a language without reading or writing it, the way humans did for tens of thousands of years before the development of writing systems. But you can’t learn a language without hearing it.

Hearing a language–its sounds, its rhythms, its intonations–is vital to your brain being able to process it, learn it, and absorb it.

In my time as a language student, I’ve had over twenty language teachers, I’ve taken dozens of language courses, and I’ve read over a hundred language-related books and textbooks.

Something I noticed in my studies: the aural component of language is downplayed. It’s not outright ignored. It’s just not paid nearly enough attention, especially in traditional language classes.

So I wrote Language Master Key to try and give the subject the attention it deserves.

The book provides:

  • An explanation of exactly why sound is so vital to your brain’s ability to process language
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to take advantage of this phenomenon yourself
  • A detailed guide on how to perform the activities in the program
  • A sample 21-day program for you to follow, based on one of my personal favorite ways to study

This 30,000-word book took me several months to write and to get just right. It draws on over a decade of my experience as a language learner, translator, and professional technical communicator. It’s on sale for $7.99 $4.99 US dollars (or whatever the equivalent of that is in your country’s currency).

If you considering that…

…an hour with a tutor goes for $10 to $20…

…commercial language learning courses and software costs anywhere from $50 to $300…

…a language class costs $150 to $500, or much more if you’re paying university tuition…

…airfare for immersion courses cost several thousand dollars…

…then $7.99 $4.99 is a reasonable price for a tool that will tell you exactly how you can get where you want to be in your language goals.

If you are familiar with a previous version of the book, this version contains the following updates:

  • It’s been formatted for Kindle and Kindle readers.
  • I’ve made updates and corrections based on feedback received from readers.
  • References have been added.

So check it out and let me know what you think.


  • Riley

    Hey LS–
    I just recently discovered this blog, and I’m a newfound fan! I’ve started your book and I look forward to reading it in detail. I take issue with your treatment of deaf writers in your introduction, though. I don’t think it’s lack of sound that affects their writing, so much as the fact that they are late learners of English. For many of them, ASL will be their first language and they weren’t exposed to English (via either writing or signed versions of English, which exist, and are distinct from ASL) until a later age. Also they certainly communicate in English significantly less than most hearing Americans. All I mean is that the difference is probably due to lack of exposure and late exposure to the language, rather than any kind of psychological/perceptual/cognitive effects of modality (speech vs. sign).

    • Ron G.

      Hi Riley, thank you for your comment and the input. (And thanks for the compliment too!) You very well may be right. But I’ve heard deaf educators treat deafness as being associated with learning disabilities, at least with regards to English literacy, due to an inability for hard of hearing people to hear patterns in the language. I don’t know if this is no longer the recognized view, but that’s the way it was taught to me.

      In fact, somebody in our training session (the one referenced in the book) tried to say that teaching deaf students was similar to teaching ESL students–i.e., basically saying that their lagging behind in writing and reading ability was because English was a second language to them. But the head of the deaf education program at my university was adamant that that was not the case, and insisted that if you didn’t treat deafness as being associated with learning disabilities, then you weren’t giving the students the instruction they needed.

      Now…let me fully admit that I am not in any way an expert on deafness or special education, so I’m fully open to revising my opinion and the text in my book, but I’d like to see a little more info and weigh the evidence before I do. (I’m thinking I’ll at least throw in some more explanatory text in there because the last thing I want to do is somehow disparage or insult a population.)

  • Kelvin

    Amazon won’t let me buy this: “This title is not currently available for purchase” :(

    • Ron G.

      Hi Kelvin! Uh oh…hmm..if you don’t mind, would you do me a favor send me an email at When you do, I’ll take care of it. Sorry you’re having difficulties, but thanks for letting me know.

  • Emma Sibley

    I’ve just finished your book, and found it to be so helpful. It’s just what I needed, and I’m devising my own plan now using the ideas from it. Thanks so much!

    • Ron G.

      Great, thank you for the kind words. :) Please keep me posted on your results. I’m really interested to see how you progress.

  • Melina

    Hello Ron. I am new to your site. I looked on Amazon for Language Master Key, and it is only showing the Kindle format. Is the print copy still available?

    • Ron G.

      Hi Melina. Welcome! Yeah, it’s only available on Kindle. Sorry about that. If you shoot me an email at, I’ll see if I can find a halfway solution.

  • VictorCastilloTorres

    Hi!, I just discovered your blog and bought your book, I’ll let you know my opinion when I finish reading it 😀

    • Ron G.

      Great! Thanks for giving it a shot and for checking out the website.

  • Michael

    Hi Ron, I just wanted to drop by to say I really enjoyed your book, I’m an experienced language learner and found myself nodding along for the majority of it.

    I just got back from living a year in Colombia and found once you get to an advanced level, listening remains crucial. I can basically express any idea in Spanish, and I understand general conversations easily. However, if the answer came back mumbled or full of Colombianisms I was in trouble! Hence I’m going to continue to focus on my listening skills in my two learned languages as you’ve described in your really useful book.

    • Ron G.

      Man, this made my day. Thank you for the compliment. I’m glad it helped, and I’m really glad to hear the perspective of an advanced language learner.

      I want to hear more about your Colombia trip when you get a chance. Partially because I’m jealous, but also because I haven’t had the full immersion experience like that myself. (My two years in Germany doesn’t count, for several reasons.) Your Spanish must be on point now.


      • Michael

        It was a great year. It wasn’t full immersion, as I usually spoke English with my wife (who’s also Australian). However, it was Spanish all day every day at the office. Tough work by 5pm the first few weeks, got easier after that!

        I can relate to the Dunning-Kruger effect you mention in the book though! I never quite believed I was any good, partially also because Colombians are not that impressed if you speak Spanish (our theory was, living in the middle of Latin America, they think everyone does – many Australians would think the same about English!). However by the end I received a few compliments from the locals, which was really nice.

        I’m going to miss Colombia (heading back to Australia), but I also know how easily an immersion environment can be set up to continue with the language acquisition. As you describe, a pair of headphones and an internet connection go a long way!

        • Ron G.

          Man, that’s so cool. I’m glad you didn’t get discouraged and kept going.

          I really do hope you keep the momentum going. I got up to about an A2 level when I left Germany, but since I’ve gone I’ve actually learned a ton more German here in the US. It sounds like you enjoy the language too, so you can become a Spanish virtuoso in no time.

          Thanks for telling me your story! It’s inspiring!

  • kalv

    Hi Ron, I just recently bought your book and found it very insightful. Before I get started with my plan I have a few questions.

    1. What is your opinion on free listening with subtitle translations. Does that defeat the purpose of free listening?

    2. I want to include transcriptions as well as listening and reading. Would you recommend doing transcriptions before or after the listening and reading exercise?

    Thank you.

    • Ron G.

      Hi kalv!

      Re: 1 — Someone asked me something similar recently. When I was researching the book, I found a study that said a combined Reading/Listening strategy improved reading, but not listening. Now, that was one study and I try not to put *too* much stock into isolated research. At the same time, I do think there’s value in only listening.

      My recommendation, then, is use that strategy as an active listening activity, and keep free listening “pure” as much as possible. If you sub some reading/listening in for free listening, it’s probably not the end of the world, though.

      Re: 2 – Transcription first is the go-to method, because part of the challenge and benefit is “hearing” the right language when you’re coming to a completely new text. However, if you’re finding transcription a little too challenging, try the listening/reading first to ease you in. It’ll be much, much easier, almost like training wheels.

      Please keep me posted on your progress! I can tell you’re motivated and I’m excited to see how you do.

  • ustek

    Ron, you’re very good at Spanish as far as I can appreciate it.
    And the idea of listening to it instead of studying it in a classical way came to me when I opened a textbook in February of this year. When started with the alphabet I understood quickly that I would never make it. So I after a bit of reconing I decided to “convert” myself into a child who knows how to speak and understand a language but has not yet been at a school. After about a month of trying multiple audio courses I bumped into Pimsleur LA Spanish and realized- that is I’m looking for. After seven months of listening I’m at Level II, Lesson 27 and switch the a new lessong when I make 1-2 errors. I feel extremely satisfied and try to talk with every possible Spanish speaking person, watch movies and read subtitles, listen to radio etc.. Just recently I’ve already started writing down ALL lessons an looking into grammar books to answer any question I have. At Lever III I’ll continue the course but add the classical method which includes: Writing, Listening, Reading and Grammar. I think your book is about this approach. I’m Russian, over 65, English is my second language.

    • Ron G.

      Ustek, thank you for the kind words. It’s nice to meet you.

      Congratulations on your progress with Spanish so far! You and I definitely have very similar approaches to language learning, and it’s great hearing your perspective.

      One thing I like to do, which is similar to Pimsleur, is finding my own phrases, writing them down on flashcards, and learning them in a “Pimsleur style.” It’s a little tricky to find phrases with an audio component, but it’s possible with some effort. This is a way to advance beyond Pimsleur, while maintaining some variety after you switch to the classical method.

      Please keep me informed about your progress. I’m very interested in hearing how your progress goes.

  • Liz Watt

    I love your website, Ron. It’s so helpful and genuine. No hard sales tactics, just honest advice. I’m off to Amazon to buy your book now :)

    • Ron G.

      Hi, Liz! It’s nice to meet you, and thank you very much for the kind words.

      Please let me know if you have any questions about the book or want to brainstorm ideas. Which language(s) are you studying?

  • Brett Slansky

    Really great book!!! I am studying Mandarin Chinese and the strategies really do work.

  • Dana Brindle

    Dear Ron,

    Hi there, my name is Dana Brindle. I’m on the editorial team at AFAR Media, an experiential travel brand based in the U.S.

    We’re looking to create a story (to be published online) that provides tips for adults looking to learn a new language. To do so, we are hoping to interview a polyglot who would be willing to offer up some tried-and-true advice on the best way to tackle this process.

    Would you be interested in being interviewed for this story, and providing some language-learning tips? You’re widely famed for your mastery of language, and I think that our readers would really benefit from what you have to say!

    Please let me know your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.

    All the best,