Learn English Podcast #41: Becoming a Diplomat & Making Friends on Omegle with @ColeLangs

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Today

I am joined by a wonderful guest Cole of the YouTube channel Cole Langs.

Cole, how’s it going?

Hi, Elle.

It’s going great.

Thank you so much for having me.

I’m really excited to be here.

Excellent.

Well, thank you for coming on.

You’re joining us from New York city today, right?

Yes, Manhattan.

Oh, wow.

Fantastic.

And how are things in NYC?

Uh, extremely, extremely busy as usual.

It’s just normal city noises, but…

excellent.

Everything’s great.

So Cole.

You run the channel cole Langs.

Uh, I love your about, uh, tab really, you know, to the point you say, uh, I

love languages and going on adventures.

Wonderful.

Um, so tell us, uh, what kinds of videos do you create on Cole Langs?

Sure.

So one of my greatest passions in life is language learning.

So I…

the crux of the channel is just me sharing my experiences with others.

I, I love learning languages from all around the world.

I love using them to interact with people.

I love learning things about foreign cultures, geography, um, pretty

much anything I can do to open my mind about the rest of the world.

I, I, I like to experiment and see what I can see, what

I can learn from other people.

Great.

And, um, what then inspired…

or do you remember when you first became passionate about, uh, specifically

languages and language learning?

Oh yeah, of course.

So I actually didn’t…

I’m I’m 22 now I’m, I’m about to turn 23, but I didn’t get into

languages until I was 17 or 18.

Um, everyone at my high school had to learn either Spanish or French,

and I chose Spanish simply because there were more speakers, but I,

I didn’t really care at the time.

To me, it was just another subject.

Um, and I went through about four years of that.

And, um, then I got an amazing opportunity to go to Spain with

my high school Spanish class.

And once I got there, like everything changed for me.

It was the first time I’d been abroad and after getting into a country

where everybody speaks and interacts in a different language it just,

it was mind blowing to me just to see people conducting their lives

like I conducted mine in the US, but in a different language, it just,

it made it feel so much more real.

Right.

And it was just like this code that I really wanted to crack.

Like I wanted to figure out what people talked about on a daily basis and how

their culture was different than ours.

Once I got back to the US, um, I started learning Spanish on

my own, and then I decided I wanted to be an exchange student.

So I went to Taiwan for a year, learned Mandarin Chinese.

Um, there were a bunch of other exchange students there.

My best friends in the world are from like Mexico and Brazil and

some other, um, European countries.

So I would just ask them to give me like a word in their language every day.

Like, how do you say hello?

And how do you say, how are you?

And they tell me, and then by the end of the year, I was able to have simple

conversations and a number of languages.

So to me, it was just like a fun game of trying to figure out what

other people around the world liked and how they spoke with each other.

I, I just, I, I love it so much.

Amazing.

So that’s so wonderful you got to do that.

High school was the Spanish trip.

And then when you were an exchange student, was that

in college or university?

Was that also high school that you went over to Taiwan?

That was also high school.

Wow.

So it was through something called the rotary youth exchange program,

which I had never heard of before, but, um, the, an announcement went on

in my high school and said like, Hey, you want to live in another country?

You know, come check out rotary.

So I went through that whole thing.

It’s a really long process.

And I ended up getting, um, arguably the hardest exchange location

because of how different the culture and language languages are.

But, um, I was, I was open to the challenge and it was

the best year of my life.

Fantastic.

And so Spanish.

And, um, Mandarin.

And then have you, uh, learned or studied any languages after that?

Yeah.

Yeah.

So, uh, ever since I was a kid, pretty much I’ve wanted to be a diplomat.

So I’ve studied all the official language, official languages of the United nations.

So English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, and Arabic, although

I’m still a beginner in Arabic.

And then also, um, Portuguese, German, Italian, Dutch, and, uh,

a little bit of a few others.

so a few.

Okay.

yep.

Wow.

So what is the tra trajectory for a diplomat?

Andare you you still on track, is that something you still want to be?

Uh, yeah, definitely.

Um, well, my degree is in international relations.

Okay.

And, and you pretty much have to get a master’s degree to, to go into this

field because it’s so competitive.

Like most people know several foreign languages to a very high level.

Um, and the first step of the process is, is you have to pass this really hard test

called the foreign service officers test.

And it, it tests you on a myriad of different subjects.

Like the, the state department, the governmental agency who conducts the

test, they said that the best way to prepare for it is to simply be curious

and to read and to have a habit of learning things, because there is no

like curriculum you can study in order to pass your test, it’s, you’re tested

on such a broad array of topics that you have to accumulate all this knowledge

over a period of many, many years.

So I’ve actually taken the test twice and I failed it both times, so…

oh dear

who knows?

Maybe I’ll get it next year.

And it’s on like, Current events, world history, geography, just a mix of…

anything, anything I’ve I’ve got, I’ve seen…

brutal.

Well, actually I’m, I’m, I’m not allowed to discuss like anything in

any questions about the test, but, uh, yeah, the topics range from like history

and culture to geography, economics, mathematics statistics, pretty much

everything you learn in in school.

Goodness.

I had no idea.

Wow.

That’s tough.

You got it.

The next one, you got it.

Here’s hoping.

Is there an official or unofficial number of the languages, the official languages

of the UN that they want you to know?

Um, I think it’s up to you.

They definitely prefer it if you can speak several languages, um, it

just makes you more attractive as a candidate, But, um, as far as languages

go, um, they do have a list of what they deem to be critical languages.

I, I believe right now they’re, uh, Arabic, Korean, Russian, uh, Pashto,

Urdu, and, um, blanking, um, Persian, Persian, the language spoken Iran.

But they, of course they welcome anybody with language skills.

Okay.

And critical.

Meaning they, they have few people who speak these.

So they, if you speak them, they will, you’d be more likely to get on?

Exactly.

There’s, there’s a really large demand for, ah, for people who speak those

languages and not enough supply.

Wow.

I did not know that.

Okay.

Wow.

Best of luck with the whole diplomat thing back to the channel though.

So your channel is super fun.

Um, You do a lot of the, uh, kind of Omegel Omegle…

we talked about this before we started recording, seems like

people pronounce it both ways.

I wanted to try and pronounce it right so I don’t seem as old as I

am, but I’m gonna go with Omegle.

Um, first off for our listeners who don’t know, who are all as old

as me, or maybe older, uh, what is Omegle and what do you do on Omegle?

So Omegle is basically a chat roulette site, where you go on,

you turn on your webcam and you get paired with a random stranger.

And the fun thing about it is pretty much anything can happen.

And I mean, like literally anything, I, I try to use it to practice

languages, but sometimes you, you meet some weird people, but you can

also meet some really cool people and have really like deep conversations.

Like I’ve, I’ve met I’ve, I’ve made some genuine friends on there that I’ve,

I’ve spoken to for like hours at a time.

So it’s a really fun site.

Uh, if you know how to use it, you can add interests and if someone

also put in that interest, then the website will match you together.

So I like to put like languages and travel and stuff like that…

so, or geography maybe.

And, uh, I just go on there and try to practice some languages

with people and see what happens.

yeah.

And surprise a lot of people in the process of course.

That’s gotta be so fun when you know it’s coming, you know?

It’s because I can’t help myself.

Like, like the first question is always like, where are you from?

And if it’s from a country that, that speaks a language that I

know, I, I can’t help myself.

I have to say something in the language, even if I’m like really bad.

Uh, it’s, it’s such a good way to break the ice and make a

connection with someone no matter what you’re doing or where you are.

Exactly.

And as you say, even if you don’t speak it well, that other person though surely

appreciates you even saying anything.

It’s like a, it’s just cool, right?

Someone’s trying to connect with you.

You know, trying to speak a language you know or your

mother tongue, it’s very cool.

Yeah.

That’s actually one of the things I, I try to get across on my channel to

people is that you don’t need to be really good at a language in order to

have an impact on someone else or even yourself, like just knowing a few words

or phrases can brighten up someone’s day.

Especially if that person is really used to like speaking English or,

or another language in their daily life and may not get to hear their

native language a lot of the time.

And do you have a favorite, uh, interaction that you’ve had on, on Omegle?

Oh God, there, there have been so many.

Awesome, amazing people, but also, um, some really weird people.

So I’ll, I’ll start, I’ll start with the latter.

So the very first time, the only reason I started making Omegle videos

was because I, someone left me a comment that said, Hey, you should

go on Omegle and practice languages.

I’d never gone on Omegle before.

And one of the first interactions I had was with this, uh, Finnish guy who, um,

elected to remain anonymous, who spoke over easily over a dozen languages.

And we just had this really cool back and forth like, oh, you

speak that, oh, you speak that.

Yeah.

Yeah.

I speak a little bit.

And he even shocked me with, uh, like some Taiwanese.

Which was really cool because I had just gotten back from Taiwan.

So it was so cool to hear that language again.

Um, so that was definitely one of the cooler ones.

Uh, weird ones…

I mean, take your pick, you know…

I can imagine I’m sure we all can.

Again, we talked about this before we came on, the, the old version of Omegle

is Chat Roulette and yes, I had some experiences with suddenly a naked person

showing up when you shuffled to the next or just people who were there to maybe not

just have a nice conversation, you know?

Yeah.

Something else in mind.

bit of an ulterior motive, perhaps.

Yeah.

Yeah.

But I, you mean a wide array of people.

I, I had a guy, um, serenade me with a guitar, like a jazz guitarist.

I’ve had people try to play pranks on me.

Try to test me on geography, probably for like a TikTok or a YouTube video.

You just get every single kind of person under the sun.

Right.

You never know what you’re gonna get, the old Forest Gump quote.

Yeah.

I’ve seen those geography ones actually now I come to think of it, like scrolling

on something where they ask you like five countries that start with whatever.

I dunno, but Hm…

it seems like a very interesting place, yes.

you could say that.

Yeah.

Uh, back to the language learning, I didn’t ask you when we talked about,

when you told us, uh, the languages that you have learned that, you

know, uh, what language learning, learning methods, uh, work for you?

So I’ve gone back and forth, um, with a lot of different methods.

Personally, I like the whole input approach because I don’t necessarily need

to learn a language out of necessity.

So if I were to, um, if I had to speak a language in very little time,

then I’d focus on output, which is simply just speaking and writing.

There’s really no way around that.

You just have to keep doing it until you get better at it.

Um, Getting a tutor, a native speaker tutor helps a lot.

Um, I, I always say that everything changes once you meet someone who

speaks that language, that, uh, can be very patient and understanding of you.

And, and of course, most people are, but if you have like a

dedicated tutor, it helps so much.

So, um, what I usually do is I just try to get like a lot of the basic

words, basic verbs, like to live, um, to work, uh, to want, um, modal verbs.

Um, common questions.

Like where are you from?

Uh, what’s your name?

How do you say this in this language?

And then I just build off of that with, uh, interacting with a lot

of people by using apps pretty much anywhere I can, I can get, I,

I can get, uh, words and phrases.

I.

excellent.

There, there really is no like golden method.

I know everyone looks for that one, like universal method.

That’s gonna make you fluent in a language in one week, but it really doesn’t exist.

You just have to find what works for you and whatever you enjoy the most

will allow you to progress the fastest.

If that makes sense.

Yeah, totally.

Totally.

What, um, what language or languages are you learning now, or do you, are you one

of those people who just kind of exists studying every single one or catching,

you know, doing something, not every single one, but you know, some people

do a little something in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening?

These polyglots.

I, I wish I could.

I wish I could study every single one.

Honestly.

Let’s see…

I was I’m I’m learning a little bit of Hindi today.

Oh, nice.

Um, but other than that, I just, I try to live my life in different languages.

Like I have a lot of dead time, everyone does, where you’re doing

something where you could be doing something else at the same time.

Like I like to go for walks.

Sometimes I have to clean and cook, exercise.

So when I do, when I do activities like that, I turn on a podcast

or a song in another language.

And that helps me to retain what I’ve learned or even to learn new words.

If it’s, if it’s a podcast, uh, built for learners um, but when I go out, when I

go outta my way to deliberately sit down and do my input learning, I, I usually

only focus on one or two languages at a time and then review what I’ve learned so

that it stays in, in my memory for longer.

Um, but I don’t really worry too much about maintaining my languages

because I know that at any given time, I can just kind of, uh,

what’s the word like revitalize.

Right.

Yeah.

Like, remember what, what I’ve learned because, uh, cause while, uh, cause

like recall is one thing, right.

And storage is, is, is another once you have those words in your head,

they’re, they’re there forever.

Um, your recall might get a little rusty, but once you see.

Again, in like a text or a song or any sort of medium it’ll, it’ll

come back to you and you’ll be able to use it very easily once again.

Right.

And that’s been the case with all of your languages?

Is there, are there, is there one or more that you find that’s difficult?

Um, I, I would say, I would say Chinese has been very difficult.

That’s why I elected to study it in a formal setting at university because

it it’s so much easier to have…

uh, well, first of all, being able be able to practice it several days a

week so that you can really nail down those common words and phrases, ’cause

most of, uh, learning the language requires mastering the fundamentals.

I think that’s something that people neglect a lot.

So that to get to that intermediate or advanced level, you really have to

nail down those, those fundamentals.

And a lot of people don’t like to go back and uh, review, like I want to

eat this and those common questions.

Um, out of pride, perhaps, but I, I find that’s where, uh, the

most of my progress comes from is going back to the fundamentals.

Excellent.

Well, Cole, tell us about what’s in store for Cole Langs and just

you in general for the rest of the year and, uh, and moving forward.

Oh, God, I actually have some really big plans I haven’t talked

about on the channel yet, but what the heck let’s do it, so, okay.

Exclusive.

Yeah.

So I, I have a goal, I have an ultimate YouTube goal I’d like to achieve.

Um, I call it, well, I don’t have, I don’t have a name for it yet, but

it’s pretty much like my four or five year plan on YouTube is I want to

speak a hundred different languages with native speakers in person.

Cool.

Okay.

And.

Huh, just learn enough of the language to connect with people.

That’s kind of the standard because that’s, that’s why we learn languages.

Right?

It’s all about people at the end of the day.

Wow.

Do you have, do you know the a hundred or you just gonna kind of choose as you go?

Not yet.

Um, after about, uh, like number 50 or 60, the amount of resources there are for

other languages drops off significantly.

So, um, I’ll, I’ll have.

Kind of cross that bridge when I come to it.

But, um, I, I think it’s definitely doable yet uh, utterly ridiculous, or

it sounds utterly ridiculous to the point where people want to, uh, uh, tune

in to kind of join me on my journey.

So that’s, that’s kind of, the idea is I want to explore as, as much of the world

as I can and educate myself as much as possible about the human experience.

Wow.

Well,

Iy doesn’t sound ridiculous.

It sounds intriguing and yeah, like exciting for sure.

Thank you.

I’m glad you think so.

When you get down the list, you should try Welsh.

Oh yeah.

That’s already on the list.

Oh, perfect.

Okay.

I always have to try and be an ambassador for Welsh, so…

wow.

So, oh, so it’s a four to five year plan and the a hundred languages.

And in each one you wanna be able to engage with a native speaker

and just like have a kind of, you know, a back and forth conversation.

Yes exactly.

Um, enough to explore the culture and to make a connection with

someone who speaks that language.

Right.

Fantastic.

I love it.

Wow.

This is something to tune in for and subscribe to your channel for everybody.

Oh, thank you very much.

Wow.

Okay.

So yeah.

Well, I mean, for listeners who do subscribe, I guess you’ll have a name for

it once you talk about it on your channel, but, um, yeah best of luck with that.

That sounds very, very cool.

Awesome.

Thank you very much.

well, listen, Cole, thank you so, so much for joining us and, um, yeah, I

wish you all the best with the, the, uh, exam there um, the UN ambassador exam.

I’m trying to think of what it’s called.

What is the name of that exam again?

I’m, I’m very fascinated by this, the fact that they don’t

really there’s no curriculum.

I wanna check it out online after.

It’s it’s called the, the FSOT or the foreign service officers test.

Okay.

Well, best of luck with your next attempt at this to me sounds brutal exam . Um,

and best of luck with Cole Langs and this amazing, uh, hundred languages challenge.

And again, yeah.

Thank you so much for coming on Cole.

Yeah, of course.

It was my pleasure.

Thank you so much for having me.

Cheers, bye-bye.

Cheers.

Bye-bye.

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