English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #19: Polyglot Lina Vasquez on Her Language Learning Journey & New Direction

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Lina Vasquez is a polyglot YouTuber, author and self-empowerment coach. In this week’s episode of the LingQ Podcast Elle chats with Lina about how she came to know so many languages, what inspired her to start her website and YouTube channel and the interesting and exciting new direction her channel and career have taken recently.

Elle: Hello everyone and welcome to the LingQ podcast with me Elle.

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If you’re learning English, you can find this episode as a lesson on Lingq in the description.

Today I have a wonderful guest YouTuber, language and self-empowerment coach and author Lina Vasquez.

Lina, how are you?

Lina: I am magnificent.

How are you, Elle?

Elle: I’m great.

I’m doing well.

Thank you.

We’ve had some sun in Vancouver recently, so I’m feeling revitalized.

You’re on the East coast of the States, right?

Lina: I am.

I just got back from three weeks in the Dominican Republic.

So my sunshine vitamin C is upgraded, I think for the next three months.

Elle: Lovely.

I am so jealous.

I feel like, yeah, we all, everyone needs a sunny beach getaway holiday right now.

Good for you.

So, Lina, as I mentioned, you are a YouTuber and you’re known for your language learning content.

I was looking at your YouTube “about” page today and you speak, is it seven languages?

Lina: Yeah.

So it’s one of those things, you know, it switches.

Some, I feel like some days it will be eight.

Some days it’ll be six, but I say that I fluently speak six to seven and then I can dabble in a whole others, but you know, we’ll say six or seven, six and a half.

Elle: Six and a half.

So what are those six and a half languages?

Lina: So English, German, Spanish, French, Latvian, Portuguese, and Russian.

Elle: Wow.

Okay.

I’m always so impressed.

Okay.

Um, so you are actually to pick up on that, like, so you said Latvian, so you’re Latvian-Australia, correct?

Lina: Yes, exactly.

And people always wonder, hold on, hold on.

I literally had this happen to me at the airport actually the other day where they look at, they looked at my passport and they said, but your surname is Hispanic.

So then the life story comes out.

But yeah, I’m :Latvian-Australian, and my dad is Peruvian or my stepfather.

So I have his surname and grew up with a trilingual, tri-cultural family you could say.

Elle: Very cool.

And whereabouts did you grow up then?

Were you, did you move around when you were a kid or did you grow up in one, one of those countries that you’re connected to?

Lina: Yeah, so I was born in Latvia and I spent kind of the first seven years of my life between Latvia and Australia.

Um, but I say I was raised in Australia and then I grew up there.

I did my schooling and then later moved to Germany to do my university studies and started my business there.

So yeah.

Elle: So what then, well, I mean, you were exposed to so many languages growing up, I guess that obviously had a big, played a big part in your love for languages, but was there a, I ask polyglots this a lot, because sometimes there was a moment or a language that really sparked that passion for language learning.

Um, was there such a moment or a language for you?

Lina: Yes, but it was, it was multiple languages.

So for me, it actually started funnily enough, with Japanese.

I don’t think many people know this, but I had, I was a very imaginative as… and creative as a child.

And I remember when I was about 10 years old, I just had this random phase.

Um, because I had a, there was a new girl at my primary school from Japan and she had literally just flown in from Japan.

And we had these like pen, we had a pen pal situation and I got really obsessed with, with Japanese culture and the language.

And so I started, you know, on the weekends writing different characters and things like that.

And I even, I went through this phase and it was, was, you know, I say obsessed because I said to my mum, “mum, we are only eating Japanese food.

I am only wearing Japanese style clothes”.

And then I had another phase.

I had another phase with like French.

That was the same thing, um, when I was 13, but I would have to say that the most serious step, uh, where that passion was really ignited happened yeah with French or with German around the age of 13 and 14.

I don’t know what it was, but I think.

You know, I just, as I said, I was very imaginative and had a lot of dreams in my life.

And so I wasn’t really happy.

Um, or I’d never felt like I belonged and finding these books in different languages made me feel like there was another world out there where I could belong.

And so I think that sparked my dream as a teenager.

And I was adamant, I said, I’m going to live in Europe.

I’m going to move overseas and kind of planned my life and career from, from that stage.

So that would be the short answer for you.

Elle: Okay.

Okay.

So you were very focused.

You always had a plan from the get-go it sounds like.

Um, And so I want to talk about your, you are an author, as I mentioned, and I wonder if… you wrote the book, the ebook, The Busy, uh, Linguists Bible.

I wonder if, this is a kind of two-part question then I guess, so you’ve been learning languages, been passionate about language learning since you were so young, have your methods changed, um, and how?

And then also I’d love to hear a bit about, our lessons as well definitely be interested ebook.

So I’d love to hear a bit about, uh, the, kind of the message of the book, the ideas that you put forth too.

So.

Yeah, what about your methods has changed over the years and what are your methods for language learning?

Lina: That’s a great question.

Um, and I think you bring up a really important point because when people speak of methods, I think they think it’s something like a checklist that it’s, you know, you get given a piece of paper and you just do exactly these steps and voila you’ve learned to language.

And I think what’s… like with anything, we, as humans are transient beings.

And so the methods that we use are also going to be transient depending on what, you know, your, the relevance is for why you’re even learning a language.

So, you know, when I started languages, uh, in the sense of, in the educational sphere and learning them for exam purposes and for high school and stuff like that,

my methods around that time were really explorative.

Like I had no idea what I was doing, but I was good at them.

And I think it was because I knew how to listen and.

I had the environment to just try things.

Um, so like anyone, and I think you’ll find this with many polyglots you ask them this question and you will never get a fixed answer because it really depends on your why.

So, for example, learning for an exam.

Like when I had to pass, you know, university exams and write essays in German and French and whatnot, that’s a very different learning style.

I had vocabulary to learn.

I had to learn phrases that were very academic.

Whereas now the way that I learn languages, it’s always, it always comes down to the question, what is my purpose?

And my purpose has always, the underlying purpose, I mean, has always been to connect to people.

So even when I go into a like here, for example, um, near Washington, there are, you know, in the States, there’s a huge Latino community, which I’ve now discovered.

So if I go into a store and I hear somebody speaking Spanish, I want to be able to connect with them on a heart level, not just on a mind level.

And so, you know, I focus on speaking.

I focus on really connecting.

So making mistakes, learning how to navigate everyday situations and then when the need arises, so for example, when I create content in a new language, as I did recently with Brazilian Portuguese, then I will look into grammar more and then I will have,

you know, I will go into more of kind of a structured learning style, but I’m not a very structured person.

Like you give me structure for learning the language and I will go in the complete other direction.

Um, so I think the biggest thing with that, and I guess this is kind of advice that I can give people as well is it’s really also important to understand your personality and your cognitive preferences.

Um, and that was a huge thing for me.

You know, I found it really difficult to answer this question of what methods do you use.

Cause it was like, I know what works for me, but I also want to be able to show others what works for them.

And I think it’s a process of discovery.

I mean, what I say now and what I’m doing now could change next week.

Um, but I would say it’s just become a process of putting just less pressure on results and achievement and actually communicating.

And then improving as I go along.

So I hope that kind of answers the question.

Elle: Yeah.

Oh, for sure.

And are you actively learning a language now.

Are you studying or maintaining as they say?

Lina: Yeah, so I learn languages every day.

Um, I do a lot of things in different languages, even if I wouldn’t put the title of like, I’m learning it right now.

So for example, um, the people that I work on projects with and stuff like that from all over the world.

So every day I will learn a little bit of Hindi, for example, because I also love yoga.

So I’m looking at that at the moment.

Um, I will learn random Dutch phrases, but in terms of maintaining, um, that’s probably the best word to use for what I’m doing now, rather than, you know, focusing on like, hey, I’m going to go learn this language now.

And in that language, I’m really focused on the depths at the moment.

So improving my Spanish to a higher level, improving my French to a higher level, using those languages to kind of align more with my career goals.

So that’s kind of what I’m focused on at the moment.

Elle: Excellent.

And with the French and the, um, Spanish is there, is there content that you’re enjoying, or is it more that you’re just trying to have conversations with people?

What are you doing in those languages?

Lina: Um, so I navigate the Clubhouse space a lot at the moment.

So if you, if you know of the app Clubhouse, so I host two rooms there a week, and so we get a whole mix of people and, yeah, I’ve primarily been conversing in Portuguese and Spanish and French, uh, using German.

So I kind of, I don’t know, these opportunities arise and then I adjust my, I guess, daily routine to fit those in.

Or if I see, Oh, um, like for example, on Instagram, I’m creating a lot of multi-lingual content now, which allows me to quickly see, okay, where my gaps are in what I can say, how I can say it.

Um, and so I kind of actually go backwards in a way.

I do.

I find the gaps and I learned from there, or I go and seek out the information that I need rather than picking up the information first and trying to learn everything at once, which I think is a huge, uh, error that a lot of people make.

They just, they look up a course and they go, okay, when I go do this course, or I’m going to go read this book, but don’t question,

well, what actually matters for me right now in my life in terms of how I want to use the language?

Elle: Um, your YouTube channel.

I was perusing today.

And, um, you obviously create content around language learning, of course, but it’s taken a, kind of a new direction lately.

Um, maybe like three or four months ago, uh, you did a live, and kind of talked about, you know, this new, um, you know, you’re obviously always going to be known for languages and you work with languages, like you say every day, but your new angle on your channel and with your just content in general is the whole self-empowerment,

um, you know, stepping into your higher power, self esteem, spirituality kind of arena.

Uh, can you tell us a bit about that?

Why you moved more into that kind of area and what is in-store in terms of content?

Lina: Oh, exciting question.

Um, well, I won’t give away too much in the sense of the next steps, that’ll be something for you to see because I’m still in the process of evolving it, to be honest.

But, um, it has a lot to do with my vision, for my purpose, I guess, in life.

And my life’s mission in serving the educational realm.

And it’s kind of.

It comes down to the way that I also define myself is I’ve always been multi passionate, not just multilingual, but multifaceted.

And I think every human being is.

And so the thing that I’ve always struggled with to be honest has been, um, either other people or society trying to fit me into one box or that notion of you just need to be one thing.

Um, and I never believed that.

Why?

I don’t know, but I always believe that whatever you do, you can see, you can carve your own path in life.

And we, as human beings are holistic beings.

And so I started to come almost into this barrier in the language space of, it was very much just about cerebral capacities.

It was about strategy and semantics and language and in the sense of just words, but that’s not what language is.

And so, you know, I went and I studied psychotherapy.

I looked into, I started looking into trauma and healing and spirituality, and really just owning those parts of myself.

And I think that is a huge thing that is missing in this space is, you know, we talk about limiting beliefs, for example, and we talk about giving tips and hacks on how to learn a language better, but there are so many layers behind that that I think we haven’t touched on yet, which is, you know, why is it that people complain or people have these fears around learning a language that come from the way that they were taught it at school?

We need to address those.

And so that’s why I’ve taken that route into looking into the deeper issues of okay, how is identity actually expressed through language?

Where are the limitations?

Why do we have such a disconnection in the world or these biases and stereotypes?

And I really, you know, see my mission through my life and through this whole purpose of, or not purpose, but exploration of just my experiences to not only put that forward from my own experiences, but also from others.

And so the shift that my channel is, is taking is, um, at the moment I’m kind of developing two separate series.

So moving into actually talking about more about my experiences and, and looking at it through the lens of language, but also highlighting all of those other areas of self-expression self development relationships, because language is just the vessel of that I think.

And the more we explore ourselves and simultaneously explore other languages, we give ourselves, I mean, we enable ourselves to be able to express our, our, you know, our heart, our soul, who we are, and also understand that that can change.

And I think that in the language space, there can be this tendency to view it as a stagnant thing.

Okay.

I’ve learned this language.

Cool.

We’re done.

Um, which isn’t the case.

So yeah, I just kind of wanna wanna help people be the best versions of themselves by giving them as many tools as possible and not just limiting myself and through that others, um, into thinking that they just need to do one thing or be one thing.

Um, and to understand that language is just one part of it, but looking at it deeper, you know, looking at okay, how can language be used to express my fullest self?

My truest self, how can language, how can I understand my own heritage languages or the culture I live in to understand my place in the world?

So I could, I could talk about this all day, as you could tell.

Elle: You’re very passionate.

It’s great.

It’s really exciting.

I feel like this is such a perfect time to be creating that kind of content and, and empowering people in that way, because of course you spoke of trauma.

Well we’re in this, still in this global trauma with this pandemic.

And, uh, yeah.

I’m so I’m really looking forward to seeing what you create.

And I love the videos that you already have in the channel around that topic too.

So.

Yes.

Um, and, well I guess maybe the rest of 2021 is very much focused on this new kind of direction that your channel is taking.

You have, now, when you base, like you said just outside Washington on the East coast of the States, so, wow,

very exciting times.

Um, ah, is there anything planned?

I know, of course it’s tough to plan anything these days, but, um…

Lina: Plans.

Yes.

Elle: Any online, you know, there are still events happening online and um, yeah, what’s, what’s, uh, what’s on the cards for Lina Vasquez for the rest of 2021?

Lina: Well, uh, as I mentioned just before this year is very much focused on

expanding my company, which is Lena Vasquez Learning.

And so I’m looking at really, well launching a course this year around how to learn, but tapping into all of those elements of, you know, eradicating the limiting beliefs that you hold, giving people tools to actually learn better, enhance their learning through things like meditation and yoga and doing that in a multilingual way.

So that’s the key focus and so LVL, which is the, yeah, the acronym for Lina Vasquez Learning and also it’s about leveling up.

So, um, yeah, basically just expanding on that.

Um, I’m going to be hosting a lot of Clubhouse rooms and a couple of events that are in alignment with, um, another concept, which is A Million Dreams, which you can also find online.

Um, so we are in the process of creating essentially a, almost like a happiness university, like a global happiness university.

And so my company is kind of a branch off of that and just transforming the education system, starting with language.

So for anyone that’s interested, can, you know, look at my website.

Check me out on Instagram, all of that stuff.

But, um, no, yeah, that would be kind of the main thing for 2021.

And planning, I’ve kind of avoided using that word because had you asked me three weeks ago, what I was doing or a month ago, I actually was planning on going to Australia and that all fell appart.

No, honestly, I just.

I think, um, I always see rejection is redirection.

So if something’s not working out, I kind of take a moment and, and step back and think, okay, why is this not working out?

What, what is the universe trying to tell me?

Um, and how can I align with that?

So that’s my spiritual side coming through.

Elle: Ah, excellent.

Well, This is all wonderful.

I’m going to pop all the links to everything you just spoke about, um, in the description.

So any listeners who want to check out Lina’s website, YouTube channel, Instagram, all that will be in the description for you to click on.

Uh, Lina.

Thank you so much for joining us.

It’s been lovely.

Um, yeah.

Best of luck with all your endeavors over the next year and beyond.

Lina: Thank you so much, Elle, thank you.

Yeah, I’m just, I’m very grateful, very humbled, um, to talk to you today and to be here and to be able to connect with everybody as well, who’ll be listening.

So thank you so much and yeah, have a beautiful day.

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