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Polyglot YouTuber, language mentor and self-confessed language nut Lindie Botes is an inspiration! In this interview she shares what sparked her passion for language learning and what she does when she loses motivation.
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Hello everyone and welcome to the English LingQ podcast with me Elle and today I have a special guest joining me, Lindie Botes.
Lindie, how are you?
Lindie: Hello, I am well, thanks.
Thank you so much for having me.
Elle: Oh, thank you so much for joining us today.
So Lindie, you are a polyglot YouTuber.
Uh, your YouTube channel Lindie, is called Lindy Botes, B O T E S. And you also have a website, Lindiebotes.com where you offer, where you run a blog, you offer, um, mentoring and resources,
I have a list here: Afrikaans.
Chinese, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysia, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, is that right?
Those are the lists of resources.
And not necessarily the languages I’m fluent in.
Elle: So any listeners, uh, learning those languages or interested in learning those languages, head over to Lindie’s website and check those out for sure.
Um, so Lindie, you’re joining us from singapore today.
Elle: So you are living and working in Singapore and it is 8:00 AM there, correct?
Lindie: Yes, we are on opposite sides of the world.
I want to say thank you so much for joining us when it’s so early for you have to be chatty so early.
I know it’s a lot to ask.
So I was looking over your website and YouTube channel a lot today.
And, uh, I saw on your website, you say, you know, sorry, 12-ish languages, I like that “ish”.
Um, can you tell us, uh, which languages you know?
Lindie: Well, the ish part is very important because I think everybody interprets like know or speak in a different way, right?
If I can, we have a very basic conversation about the weather,
does that really mean, I know a language?
I’m not so sure.
So last year I was, uh, learning 12, which means even if it’s the most beginner language, I was trying to learn it, but I would say I’m at least conversational, can help myself in around eight or so languages.
So apart from English, my home language is Afrikaans.
And then I guess in order of rough fluency, it would be Korean, Japanese, French, Mandarin, uh, Spanish, uh, maybe Hungarian, Vietnamese, where are we know it’s very early morning, I’m going to have to check my own website, but you know, they all kind of trail off at the end.
Uh, you know, learning a bunch, can speak a few.
Elle: Right, right.
And so you said you grew up in South Africa and, uh, I was looking, I looked online today.
I knew that there were many official languages in South Africa.
I read there are actually 12, which I was amazed by.
Do you think, did that have any impact on your growing up?
I don’t know how exposed you were to those languages on a day-to-day basis, but did that have an impact on your, your love for language learning do you think to some extent?
I didn’t actually grow up in South Africa.
I spent maybe more than half or half of my life in a few different countries over seas in the middle East and Asia.
But I did spend my last few years of high school and university in South Africa.
And yes, I was exposed to quite a few, uh, South African languages, but not necessarily from uh, a direct opportunity of being able to learn them.
But I always had friends around me who spoke different languages, and I was always interested in asking people like, can you teach me a new phrase in Tswana?
Or how do you say this in Zulu?
So I think if anything, the multicultural society that South Africa is, uh, inspired me to continue languages and, you know, be curious constantly and ask people about languages.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity or resources, especially now living overseas to continue those languages, but that did like, help encourage and motivate me to keep going.
Yeah, I would really love to learn.
I think I bought a Zulu textbook once and I would like to, it’s probably the most widely spoken South African language, but South African languages are also very, very regional.
So the Zulu spoken in KwaZulu-Natal.
KwaZulu-Natal, where it’s like very based is quite different from the Zulu spoken in my hometown, for instance, which is more like an amalgamation of different languages.
So even if you try to learn it, you really have to be in that context to sound more natural and pick up the local slang.
And so were languages something you were always interested in then even as a child, was there something that sparked the… you, you, I love on your website, you are self-professed language nut you say.
Was there a spark of interest?
Or, was it just always something you remember being interested in?
Lindie: I think there might have been a spark of interest around my last year of high school, or I distinctly remember spending more time learning Korean than I did studying for my final math exam.
Thankfully I passed, I suck at math, but I’m glad I had languages to keep me sane.
Um, but I think languages have always been a part of my life and I’ve seen it as like, well, this is normal.
Like growing up in international schools, everybody spoke different languages.
I was just like, Oh, I guess this is how life is.
You’ll always have people around you speaking different languages.
I never really realized that’s not always the case outside of an international school environment, that monolingualism does prevail in a lot of countries.
Uh, but I remember there was definitely a spark after I started learning Korean in 2010.
So around 2012, my last year of high school, I realized, man, this is really fun.
And Korean is actually quite similar to a lot of languages like Japanese, Korean, Cantonese, even Hokkien, like there, they all stemmed from Chinese languages and that really kind of snowballed into learning more languages.
So I took French at school as a school subject, and I always just thought, okay, school subject, whatever.
I just need to get good grades.
And it was only after that that I was like, man, I should have put more effort into it.
Languages are really cool.
Elle: And speaking of Chinese, as you just said, so you’re living in Singapore.
Are you working exclusively in Chinese now in your job?
Lindie: I wish no, Singapore working society is predominantly English, but a lot of my colleagues do speak Chinese at the office.
So we kind of mix a bit, but it’s mostly English.
Elle: Oh, okay.
And what are you doing?
You’re a UI/UX designers.
Is that right, in your job?
I’m working at a local startup building their app and website.
So tell us about your journey from kind of language learner, language lover, to YouTuber and someone who’s created this space, this community for language learners online, what made you want to do that?
Lindie: Hmm, I remember maybe would it be around eight years ago?
I was really inspired by a video by Tim Donor on YouTube.
And he’s that guy who went super viral and was on the news because he speaks a whole lot of languages.
But what I liked was the one video where he documented himself sort of speaking them all.
And I thought, Hey, this is really great to track your progress and just take a little like time, time-capture note of all the languages you are able to speak at a moment in time.
So I made a really bad video on my webcam from my computer back in high school.
And I was stumbling, fumbling through my languages.
Uh, but through that I discovered this very small at the time YouTube community of people who were, uh, interested in, in, in talking about languages, sharing resources and so forth.
And over the years, it has slowly grown.
Um, But I think the community part has really grown in the last maybe three years.
And that’s what really encourages me that, and that’s the best part that I like about languages online is being able to meet people.
And I’m these days, especially active on Twitter.
I think that is the new up and coming spot for, uh, language communities.
People are running language challenges and so forth.
So I think it was all just a natural progression as my channel grew, the other social media channels.
Um, I started documenting my languages more and meeting people with similar interests.
I have to say, I agree with the last, you said last three years the community has exploded.
I I’ve been working, I think for link for five years now.
And definitely I’ve seen, yeah, just so many more, so many more people are interested, uh, you know, getting involved and I have to say it still is maybe more male dominated for whatever reason, I find that very strange, but now there are more and more women like yourself, um, YouTubers and content providers.
And I just, I love seeing that.
So, um, yeah.
Um, I wanted to ask you if you have any advice for, maybe, maybe selfishly, this is for me, but also any listeners who are struggling with motivation right now, it’s clear from your channel, from your website, that you’re very focused, motivated, organized.
I love that aspect for sure.
Um, it’s really inspiring.
Uh I’m right now, not very motivated.
I’m studying French.
I was really motivated last year.
I don’t know what happened.
I kind of fell off and then I never quite got it back.
So I wonder if you have any tips, advice for listeners and me, or do you ever get into a bit of a slump or you’re not so motivated to study and if so, what has worked for you?
What do you do to get, get yourself back in the game?
Lindie: All of the time.
I really feel you about those language slumps.
I don’t know if this is going to help you or make you feel even more scared, because when I started learning Hungarian two and a half years ago, I was like super motivated and excited and ready and learning every day for about three months.
And then it trailed off for two years until I restarted Hungarian this year.
So that was like a two year break.
And I actually just used that time to wait for the motivation to come back.
Um, and it’s, it was really circumstantial for me.
Like at that time when I stopped, I really had to focus on Chinese and then I moved to Singapore and then I had to take a Korean exam.
And finally, after that, I was like, you know what I have free time now, let me try Hungarian again.
So the one approach which might not work for everyone is really to just wait it out.
Like if you don’t have necessarily language goals, like I need to pass this exam, I’m moving to this country, I’m marrying someone who speaks this language.
If you’re kind of just learning for fun, sometimes you might just want to wait for it to come back.
But again, that could take two years.
So the other approach apart from just relying on your emotions and how you feel is, um, creating a study system for yourself and, uh, starting very small.
I realized that with, also with these online communities, people are so, you know, fired up.
Like I’m gonna finish this textbook and, you know, meet 10 language partners and write five essays.
And then it kind of trails off.
It’s like new year’s resolutions, then you don’t do it.
So as long as you start very, very small every day, you need to start building a daily habit.
Um, uh, I’m trying to use this in different aspects of my life.
So I’m working on an ebook now for learning Korean.
And I was just like, man, I don’t know how to write this.
I just, it’s taken me forever.
And a friend of mine said, just do 10 minutes a day, just 10 minutes.
And then you can try and do more if you feel like it.
And I was like, well, yeah, just committing to 10 minutes is so much easier than thinking I have a whole book ahead of me.
So you can use that same thinking for languages.
I’m just going to study French for 10 minutes every morning, and then you’ll see, it’ll get easier and you can build on from there.
Another final tip for maintaining your motivation is to spread it out throughout the day.
You’ll feel a lot less motivated if you schedule in a one or a one-and-a-half hour block to study.
So if you break that up and say, you’ll review your vocabulary in the morning, you’ll listen to a podcast in the afternoon and you’ll play on LingQ in the evening then you can spread that out throughout the day, and that’s a lot more manageable and you won’t get burnout.
That is great advice.
That was great.
I need to take that on for sure.
I think I need, I think I’ve waited it out now.
I’m feeling the urge to get back into the French.
Elle: So you’re currently, are you maintaining languages or are you, you’re studying Hungarian you said, is that your current language?
So for this year, I’m choosing two main focus languages for every quarter.
Uh, so we just finished Q1 the first three, four months of the year, I’m really bad at math, um, and it’s early.
So I was focusing on Tagalog and Hungarian.
Um, and I think I do want to continue those languages for the next quarters goals, uh, because I’m still beginner in both of them.
So at the moment Tagalog and Hungarian are the main ones for me and probably Spanish as well.
I really need to improve my very basic Spanish.
So three very different languages.
I know Hungarian isn’t…. is it true that Hungarian is, is in a language family of its own, or it doesn’t belong to any of the language families?
Lindie: It is quite an isolate, but you’ll find grammatical similarities with Turkish and Finnish and sometimes words that sound similar, but it’s pretty on its own there.
Well, best of luck with those.
So, sorry, three, so each quarter you’re doing two to three different languages.
So over the year, so nine over the year.
And I’m just, with my French…
Lindie: No, we shouldn’t compare.
I wish I had like time to dedicate a whole year to French.
That would be awesome too.
Elle: So what, uh, what lies ahead for 2021 for you?
Any, any events or projects planned even though the world is obviously a very strange place right now.
I think, uh, online language conferences are going to keep springing up.
So I hope to be attending and participating in more of those, uh, as well as working on my Korean ebook.
Uh, so I, I think it’s been a lot of years of just making videos and now I want to see how I can continue videos, but also take whatever I’ve put out in my videos into more digestible formats on other social media channels or in writing.
So that’s probably my main project for this year.
Well, a busy, busy rest of the year it sounds like, Lindie.
Thank you so, so much for joining us again so, so early in the morning, I know it’s hard to be chatty at the best of times.
Maybe that’s just me, but I really appreciate it.
And yeah, maybe we will chat again.
Um, but best of luck in the meantime, with your projects and your language learning.
Lindie: Thank you so much.
It was great talking to you and I wish you the very best of luck with your French as well.
Elle: Thank you so much.