Learn English Podcast #42: Improving Pronunciation with AI-Human Technology

Study this video as a lesson on LingQ

Hi everyone and welcome to the link podcast with me Elle.

Today’s guest is Alexander Appel.

He is the co-founder of Lingo Mii, which is a hybrid AI-human English

pronunciation learning platform.

Before I chat with him, just a reminder that you can study all episodes of this

podcast on LingQ as an English lesson, listen to the audio and read along

with the transcript translating all the words and phrases you don’t know, adding

them to your own personal database.

You can then do vocabulary activities with those words and phrases.

You’ll see them highlighted differently in future lessons.

And don’t forget, you can create lessons of your own on LingQ with anything that

interests you in your target language.

So videos online, YouTube, Netflix shows, movies.

If you like to study from music lyrics, you’re really into the news

and wanna read the news in your target language, the world is your oyster.

You can create lessons with content you love.

Don’t forget to give us a, like a, share a review wherever you are listening.

We really appreciate it.

Alexander, thank you for joining me.

How are you today?

I’m good.

Thank you for having me, but everything’s going fine.

Excellent.

Good.

And we were just talking before I hit record.

Uh, we’re both in this, uh, heat wave.

You are in Colorado, right?

Yep

Right now.

And how, how hot is it today for you?

I think it’s in the nineties, maybe touching a hundred.

Oh my God.

Yeah.

Oh no, no, no, not good at all.

All…

I have two big, huge fluffy Japanese Akitas and they’re

like, I’m I’m not going outside.

I love those dogs.

They’re so, so cute.

Oh, that must be so tough.

They wearing huge fur jackets all the time.

Oh yeah.

A hundred percent.

Yeah.

Keeping mine inside.

I have a dog.

I walked her at eight o’clock this morning and she jumped in the

river and now she’s just collapsed.

Yeah 31 degrees.

Um, a little hot.

Yeah.

yeah, just a little bit.

Just a bit.

Yeah.

so, um, Alexander, as I mentioned, you are co-founder of Lingo Mii

and it’s an AI-human hybrid English pronunciation pronunciation system.

So tell us a little bit about how Lingo Mii.

Yeah.

So just for starters, we have two platforms on it.

We have one for our students, and then we have one for our teacher side.

For our students, all they have to do is just read the content,

speak to it, and then it’s going to grade them on intonation,

phonics, emotional and pausing.

Pausing is like, is the conversation actually going

or I’m going to be like hi….

you Know.

So it’s going to really kind of get a real world feeling and give the

students a grade on how the mouth and the tongue can have different

movements to help them better be understood by native English speakers.

For the teachers platform, the most difficulty that teachers have

today is actually getting talk time outside of the classroom.

So the way that they’re able to implement this is they can customize and input

their own content and it instantly gets translated into speaking activities.

It also has a scheduling feature and it also has, um, uh, uh, progress.

So what that means is that they can view and hear students to

help them prep for the next class

excellent.

Wow.

Um, and, and so I took a look, uh, around bit at Lingo Mii.

Do, do people who use the, um, system need to know the IPA, the

international phonetic alphabet.

So we, so yeah, so like, that’s always like a great question we come, come by.

The, the biggest thing with that is that we have learners who love it and they’re

just like, oh, that’s all I want to know.

And then we have our casual users that don’t really care.

So for that, I think it’s a good mix of that people who want to know

it or people who are interested.

It’s a good thing to just get a grasp of, especially for people who are

in, uh, Japan, because they always categorize things by Kanji or characters.

Right.

So they, I always tell all my students just think of an IPA as an character of

a sound and they grab it and they kind of think of it as a little bit easier.

But for the most part, it’s just easier to just know the mouth and the tongue

movements where you can see it at the beginning, middle or end of words.

Right.

I like that.

That’s a really good way of explaining it to Japanese students.

Yeah.

That’s like a kanji.

Okay.

Um…

definitely.

Yeah.

So then you spent some time, uh, teaching in Japan, correct?

Yes.

Yes.

I did about three years and I was teaching, uh, in schools and privately.

Nice.

I did three years too teaching in Japan, but I…

when were you there?

I actually creeped you.

That’s not the right thing, I did my research and looked at

your LinkedIn and said 20…

just creeping

…around 20, just creeping around the internet.

So we got it.

2018 is it that you were there?

Yeah, so I started, uh, 2017 February and then I left about 2020

right before the pandemic in March.

Oh, wow.

Okay.

Like literally the week I, I transferred through, uh, Korea.

And everyone’s in a hazmat suit and everyone’s just freaking out.

It was like, oh, okay, Hey, what’s going on?

Oh, oh, wow.

So you hit it like just as it was exploding then?

Yeah.

Yeah.

I was staying with my, one of my best friends in his family

and I was just joking around.

I’m like, oh, if I wanted a free seat on the train, I’ll just

cough cuz we didn’t know the seriousness of it back then, right?

And his dad just starts laughing and cracking up.

I’m like, what’s going on?

He’s like, I just came from Tokyo this morning.

That’s what I did the whole, uh, train, just cleared out.

I was like oh!

So what would’ve happened?

So you left before the lockdowns happened, but what would’ve

happened if you’d stayed?

Was it the case that if you were in Japan, you got to stay, but if you left, you

couldn’t come back in as a non-Japanese?

Yeah.

So I guess like, if I, if, if I didn’t leave, like I still had my

job and everything and they, they wanted me and, uh, actually, at

the time I had a modeling contract in Tokyo and acting contract.

So like, actually right when I hit my plane, my agent called me.

He’s like, we have like five auditions for you.

There’s uh, nothing I can do right now, but, um, so I could have kept

all that still going, and it was no problem, but I wanted to take a, a

stab at the business world and I wanted to do it with a Japanese company.

So I jumped in, I went into sports marketing, and then through just

the grapevine, I met my founder, Kyo Ueda, where we, we just kind of

sat in LA at a language exchange, a Japanese one, actually, and he was

the only person to speak Japanese.

So we just hit it off and we kept going over ideas and ideas and

ideas of why it was so difficult to learn languages, especially English

for non-native English speakers.

And we found out reading and writing wasn’t a problem.

We found out people who just wanted to listen didn’t have any problems, uh,

majority, but speaking was the difficulty.

And that’s where we came up with this idea of that we really wanted to give back.

And from a young age, my mother, she used to teach pronunciation.

She was actually my school nurse.

Oh, really?

Yeah.

Yeah.

So like I would hear her just teach people constantly.

And then I ended up starting teaching all my friends pronunciation

who were Japanese in college.

And then it went into all my…

when I was in Japan, that was my specialty.

So I just kind of kept going and going.

So it was kind of a blessing in disguise of me coming back in COVID.

Yeah.

Right, right.

And you’re usually based, you were saying before we, I hit record that you’re yeah.

Usually based out of LA, right?

Yeah.

We’re usually based in LA and we travel a lot back and forth, uh,

to Japan for just opportunities.

And I’ll be actually upcoming this month.

I’ll be doing a lot of traveling.

I’ll be probably in New York in September, California in August, and

then Texas the beginning of August.

Okay.

Wow.

So yeah, I just got a lot of, a lot of stuff going on.

Just no big deal.

Um, and how are you finding actually, I just wanna not related,

but how are you finding traveling?

I haven’t traveled for ages because I’ve heard it’s a nightmare, but how…

No, actually I’ve, I think it’s the best.

Like, well, like at the beginning I used to travel a lot during it.

Like right when COVID hit, I actually, uh, jumped on my motorcycle one cross country

and, you know, just did that for a while.

And then traveling on airlines it was like super cheap.

No one was on flights.

So it was like, no problem.

And now the price is starting to peak, but people are still kind

of, uh, a little worried, which is fine, but you usually get that

middle seat free and no one’s there.

So you kind of get the extension of it.

But the problem is that prices are going up.

Yeah.

Oh man.

Especially when I just came back from Tokyo two months ago, uh,

every single time I had that middle seat, so no problem.

That is…

what a score.

Yeah.

That’s fantastic.

As long as your luggage actually arrives with you, I guess is the, one of the

things that’s been going wrong a lot.

Oh really?

Anyway.

Yeah.

I didn’t know.

Anyway, that’s good that you haven’t experienced that.

Anyway back to, uh, pronunciation, English pronunciation.

So, um, you have this experience teaching in Japan.

what would you say are the, I guess just speaking from the Japanese native

speaker or mostly Japanese native speaker perspective, but what are

the most common issues that people have with English pronunciation?

Yeah, so like the, the biggest one is that it’s kind of everyone knows are R and Ls.

It’s the, the, the biggest one out there and there’s little tricks for that.

So for example, like when my mom used to teach this to get kids, she used

to focus on kids who had to speak better, that couldn’t roll their Rs.

Actually, my sister was one of ’em her name’s Ari.

And she would say “awee”.

Oh, that’s cute.

It was until my mom was like, I want you to speak correctly.

Uh, But, um, the funny thing was, is just, I always tell people, I’m like, if you

don’t wanna do the mouth that’s exercises, go to McDonald’s and go get a milkshake.

And they’re like, what?

I’m like, because when you drink through a straw, it’s going to be,

uh, such a high density it actually strengthens that tongue to curl.

Huh?

Okay.

So that’s the problem because with R one of the biggest problems

with that is that the tongue comes up right in front of the teeth.

It doesn’t touch it.

And then in the back it arcs.

Okay.

So it kind of looks like this.

And that’s a very, very hard movement for a lot of people.

So what I do is for, for mine, I go either drink a milkshake for a little

Hi everyone and welcome to the link podcast with me Elle.

Today’s guest is Alexander Appel.

He is the co-founder of Lingo Mii, which is a hybrid AI-human English

pronunciation learning platform.

Before I chat with him, just a reminder that you can study all episodes of this

podcast on LingQ as an English lesson, listen to the audio and read along

with the transcript translating all the words and phrases you don’t know, adding

them to your own personal database.

You can then do vocabulary activities with those words and phrases.

You’ll see them highlighted differently in future lessons.

And don’t forget, you can create lessons of your own on LingQ with anything that

interests you in your target language.

So videos online, YouTube, Netflix shows, movies.

If you like to study from music lyrics, you’re really into the news

and wanna read the news in your target language, the world is your oyster.

You can create lessons with content you love.

Don’t forget to give us a, like a, share a review wherever you are listening.

We really appreciate it.

Alexander, thank you for joining me.

How are you today?

I’m good.

Thank you for having me, but everything’s going fine.

Excellent.

Good.

And we were just talking before I hit record.

Uh, we’re both in this, uh, heat wave.

You are in Colorado, right?

Yep

Right now.

And how, how hot is it today for you?

I think it’s in the nineties, maybe touching a hundred.

Oh my God.

Yeah.

Oh no, no, no, not good at all.

All…

I have two big, huge fluffy Japanese Akitas and they’re

like, I’m I’m not going outside.

I love those dogs.

They’re so, so cute.

Oh, that must be so tough.

They wearing huge fur jackets all the time.

Oh yeah.

A hundred percent.

Yeah.

Keeping mine inside.

I have a dog.

I walked her at eight o’clock this morning and she jumped in the

river and now she’s just collapsed.

Yeah 31 degrees.

Um, a little hot.

Yeah.

yeah, just a little bit.

Just a bit.

Yeah.

so, um, Alexander, as I mentioned, you are co-founder of Lingo Mii

and it’s an AI-human hybrid English pronunciation pronunciation system.

So tell us a little bit about how Lingo Mii.

Yeah.

So just for starters, we have two platforms on it.

We have one for our students, and then we have one for our teacher side.

For our students, all they have to do is just read the content,

speak to it, and then it’s going to grade them on intonation,

phonics, emotional and pausing.

Pausing is like, is the conversation actually going

or I’m going to be like hi….

you Know.

So it’s going to really kind of get a real world feeling and give the

students a grade on how the mouth and the tongue can have different

movements to help them better be understood by native English speakers.

For the teachers platform, the most difficulty that teachers have

today is actually getting talk time outside of the classroom.

So the way that they’re able to implement this is they can customize and input

their own content and it instantly gets translated into speaking activities.

It also has a scheduling feature and it also has, um, uh, uh, progress.

So what that means is that they can view and hear students to

help them prep for the next class

excellent.

Wow.

Um, and, and so I took a look, uh, around bit at Lingo Mii.

Do, do people who use the, um, system need to know the IPA, the

international phonetic alphabet.

So we, so yeah, so like, that’s always like a great question we come, come by.

The, the biggest thing with that is that we have learners who love it and they’re

just like, oh, that’s all I want to know.

And then we have our casual users that don’t really care.

So for that, I think it’s a good mix of that people who want to know

it or people who are interested.

It’s a good thing to just get a grasp of, especially for people who are

in, uh, Japan, because they always categorize things by Kanji or characters.

Right.

So they, I always tell all my students just think of an IPA as an character of

a sound and they grab it and they kind of think of it as a little bit easier.

But for the most part, it’s just easier to just know the mouth and the tongue

movements where you can see it at the beginning, middle or end of words.

Right.

I like that.

That’s a really good way of explaining it to Japanese students.

Yeah.

That’s like a kanji.

Okay.

Um…

definitely.

Yeah.

So then you spent some time, uh, teaching in Japan, correct?

Yes.

Yes.

I did about three years and I was teaching, uh, in schools and privately.

Nice.

I did three years too teaching in Japan, but I…

when were you there?

I actually creeped you.

That’s not the right thing, I did my research and looked at

your LinkedIn and said 20…

just creeping

…around 20, just creeping around the internet.

So we got it.

2018 is it that you were there?

Yeah, so I started, uh, 2017 February and then I left about 2020

right before the pandemic in March.

Oh, wow.

Okay.

Like literally the week I, I transferred through, uh, Korea.

And everyone’s in a hazmat suit and everyone’s just freaking out.

It was like, oh, okay, Hey, what’s going on?

Oh, oh, wow.

So you hit it like just as it was exploding then?

Yeah.

Yeah.

I was staying with my, one of my best friends in his family

and I was just joking around.

I’m like, oh, if I wanted a free seat on the train, I’ll just

cough cuz we didn’t know the seriousness of it back then, right?

And his dad just starts laughing and cracking up.

I’m like, what’s going on?

He’s like, I just came from Tokyo this morning.

That’s what I did the whole, uh, train, just cleared out.

I was like oh!

So what would’ve happened?

So you left before the lockdowns happened, but what would’ve

happened if you’d stayed?

Was it the case that if you were in Japan, you got to stay, but if you left, you

couldn’t come back in as a non-Japanese?

Yeah.

So I guess like, if I, if, if I didn’t leave, like I still had my

job and everything and they, they wanted me and, uh, actually, at

the time I had a modeling contract in Tokyo and acting contract.

So like, actually right when I hit my plane, my agent called me.

He’s like, we have like five auditions for you.

There’s uh, nothing I can do right now, but, um, so I could have kept

all that still going, and it was no problem, but I wanted to take a, a

stab at the business world and I wanted to do it with a Japanese company.

So I jumped in, I went into sports marketing, and then through just

the grapevine, I met my founder, Kyo Ueda, where we, we just kind of

sat in LA at a language exchange, a Japanese one, actually, and he was

the only person to speak Japanese.

So we just hit it off and we kept going over ideas and ideas and

ideas of why it was so difficult to learn languages, especially English

for non-native English speakers.

And we found out reading and writing wasn’t a problem.

We found out people who just wanted to listen didn’t have any problems, uh,

majority, but speaking was the difficulty.

And that’s where we came up with this idea of that we really wanted to give back.

And from a young age, my mother, she used to teach pronunciation.

She was actually my school nurse.

Oh, really?

Yeah.

Yeah.

So like I would hear her just teach people constantly.

And then I ended up starting teaching all my friends pronunciation

who were Japanese in college.

And then it went into all my…

when I was in Japan, that was my specialty.

So I just kind of kept going and going.

So it was kind of a blessing in disguise of me coming back in COVID.

Yeah.

Right, right.

And you’re usually based, you were saying before we, I hit record that you’re yeah.

Usually based out of LA, right?

Yeah.

We’re usually based in LA and we travel a lot back and forth, uh,

to Japan for just opportunities.

And I’ll be actually upcoming this month.

I’ll be doing a lot of traveling.

I’ll be probably in New York in September, California in August, and

then Texas the beginning of August.

Okay.

Wow.

So yeah, I just got a lot of, a lot of stuff going on.

Just no big deal.

Um, and how are you finding actually, I just wanna not related,

but how are you finding traveling?

I haven’t traveled for ages because I’ve heard it’s a nightmare, but how…

No, actually I’ve, I think it’s the best.

Like, well, like at the beginning I used to travel a lot during it.

Like right when COVID hit, I actually, uh, jumped on my motorcycle one cross country

and, you know, just did that for a while.

And then traveling on airlines it was like super cheap.

No one was on flights.

So it was like, no problem.

And now the price is starting to peak, but people are still kind

of, uh, a little worried, which is fine, but you usually get that

middle seat free and no one’s there.

So you kind of get the extension of it.

But the problem is that prices are going up.

Yeah.

Oh man.

Especially when I just came back from Tokyo two months ago, uh,

every single time I had that middle seat, so no problem.

That is…

what a score.

Yeah.

That’s fantastic.

As long as your luggage actually arrives with you, I guess is the, one of the

things that’s been going wrong a lot.

Oh really?

Anyway.

Yeah.

I didn’t know.

Anyway, that’s good that you haven’t experienced that.

Anyway back to, uh, pronunciation, English pronunciation.

So, um, you have this experience teaching in Japan.

what would you say are the, I guess just speaking from the Japanese native

speaker or mostly Japanese native speaker perspective, but what are

the most common issues that people have with English pronunciation?

Yeah, so like the, the biggest one is that it’s kind of everyone knows are R and Ls.

It’s the, the, the biggest one out there and there’s little tricks for that.

So for example, like when my mom used to teach this to get kids, she used

to focus on kids who had to speak better, that couldn’t roll their Rs.

Actually, my sister was one of ’em her name’s Ari.

And she would say “awee”.

Oh, that’s cute.

It was until my mom was like, I want you to speak correctly.

Uh, But, um, the funny thing was, is just, I always tell people, I’m like, if you

don’t wanna do the mouth that’s exercises, go to McDonald’s and go get a milkshake.

And they’re like, what?

I’m like, because when you drink through a straw, it’s going to be,

uh, such a high density it actually strengthens that tongue to curl.

Huh?

Okay.

So that’s the problem because with R one of the biggest problems

with that is that the tongue comes up right in front of the teeth.

It doesn’t touch it.

And then in the back it arcs.

Okay.

So it kind of looks like this.

And that’s a very, very hard movement for a lot of people.

So what I do is for, for mine, I go either drink a milkshake for a little.

bit, but if you don’t wanna get the calories, I totally understand.

So I tell ’em to touch the tip, pull it back and then with your mouth, do

this weird motion where you tuck the bottom lip, cuz it’s gonna force it.

And I that’s one of the, the hardest ones for, for Japanese people to get.

The second one is the TH the TH sound with like “the”, because

again, we have that curling of the tongue and it vibrates through.

So they’re always going to do the air through the teeth and they’re going suck.

And I say, okay, the easiest way is we just put that

tongue out a little bit more.

I say, it’s not gonna be perfect, but a few times we practice

it, it’s gonna come through.

So those are two of the hard-hitting ones except for, oh.

And then the last one would be B and V.

B and V.

Okay.

Yeah.

So like bet and vet.

And, and again, like, these are just like little tiny tips to help people, but it’s

very easy once, you know it, cuz bet all you have to do is just, uh, tuck both

of the lips as in “bet” and overdo it.

That’s why I always tell my students and for the V sound have your bottom

lip to tuck it under the teeth “vet”.

And that’s all it is.

And people, when I, when I teach ’em that within a few lessons, maybe one or two,

their B and V kind of just become normal.

Fantastic.

Wow.

Um, I find, I find too, I don’t know if you found this in Japan.

Those are like the technical issues with pronunciation, but a big thing I found

was the kind of social or let’s call it like personal, like confidence issue.

Yeah.

You know, because as you say, you know, you need to stick your tongue

out to make that proper TH sound and a hundred not used to doing that.

That’s a little silly.

Maybe you might, you don’t wanna look odd or like, you know, definitely found that,

uh, in Japan, a country where people are very, you know, maybe not, they’re not,

so, uh, what’s the word I’m looking for?

Extroverted.

Outgoing.

Generally…

outgoing.

Yeah.

That’s a better word.

Outgoing.

Yeah.

Generally speaking of course.

Right.

But, um…

hundred percent.

Yeah, I found that too, for sure.

Have you had any…

how long has Lingo Mii been, been up and running now actually?

Yeah, we’ve been, uh, I think next month is gonna be about a year.

Oh, wow.

So super fresh.

Yeah.

Yeah.

So we’re fresh.

We actually just launched our, our MVP in May, but then right now we’re actually

restructuring it because we wanted to really add in that teacher screen.

So we’re gonna have everything finalized and finished by September

I think so that we can relaunch it.

Okay.

Yeah.

And as you mentioned, it’s a system for, uh, teachers and for students,

are there any kind of reviews or feedback that you’ve had so far that

you’ve been especially happy to hear?

Actually, yeah, there there’s a couple, um, we, we instantly have feedback from

our teachers and they love the idea of it and they want to implement it.

And they really see this beneficiary for speaking.

Cause again, it hits on that confidence thing.

And I I’ve dealt with this a lot where people didn’t wanna make

these weird mouth movements, but I, I tell ’em just do it for a week.

Go do it by yourself, go practice with the app.

And then once they do, they get over that fear, cuz then it goes away.

Cause you don’t have to do it so big.

And then they have more confidence in speaking or asking me even questions.

Cause the, the biggest problem for the teacher’s side they’re like I’ve

had people who have a 900 TOEIC but they can’t introduce themselves.

I said, yeah, I’ve been there too.

And that’s the problem.

They know the material, but they don’t feel confident in telling me it.

So for the teacher side, fantastic.

Cuz they love all the implementations and everything.

And for the student side, the biggest thing that they, they wanted is

they wanted instant translation.

So what we did is we took that note and then, uh, we also took um, a

look at the market and saw how we can actually help both fields more.

So we built an instant translation that can instantly read.

So we have that up actually for our web edition, where people can just type

in and they instantly get fed their information and scoring, but then we’re

also fixing and we’re creating that right now is basically a walkie talkie.

So say that you’re in a classroom with like five people and you have your

homework or your assignment from the teacher, cuz it’s uploaded, and then

you go, man, I really want to practice you can hit that person up and then

you guys can practice the conversation together instead of the AI so that

you guys can do the walkie-talkie.

Yeah.

So we have that because we all know schedules, no matter

what language we learn…

i, I remember when I was learning Japanese and I was like, I have no one to practice

with, like, and I have no feedback.

So it just, it just killed me.

So, and I would always be at home or I’d always be at.

So I didn’t have that time.

So this is kind of built for those people who want to have that extra

study who want to have that extra thing.

And how is your Japanese?

Did you get, are you still it’s getting with it?

Are you doing it still yeah?

It’s still good.

Uh, so like for, sometimes in our meetings we speak English,

but then I have to switch.

And then especially when I, when I was in Tokyo for about two months, I was

there from April to May, the end of may.

And I was going to so many networking events and they were like, oh, you

have to pitch in, uh, Japanese.

I was like, uh, okay, like, we’ll give this a try, no problem.

So, and like for business side, it really like scaled up.

But like my casual is still pretty good.

I can get by.

Let’s put it that way.

If I, if I need to go have a good conversation, make some people laugh.

That’s not a problem.

Oh, excellent.

That’s a great position to be in.

Nice.

yeah.

So, um, what’s in in store for Lingo Mii?

As you said, you’re about to celebrate your kind of one year anniversary.

Yeah.

So right now we’re actually, um, just getting revamped up.

So right now we have, uh, three schools in talking.

Some of ’em are actually kind of big players of that…

they want to get in and try our products.

So we gave them our web edition for a month to try out.

Then next we’re gonna start, uh, rolling out when our updates come out so that

they can use it so we can get our pilot.

So when our pilot comes in, we get our test feedback, then we can jump

up and start selling even more.

But right now we have three universities that are in, uh, sorry, one university and

two language schools that are interested.

Excellent.

Wow.

So lots going on.

Wow.

Yeah, just busy, busy, busy.

excellent.

Well, Alexander, thank you so much for chatting with me.

I’ll pop the link of course to Lingo Mii in the description.

Okay.

Um, yeah.

I hope the weather the cools down for you there in Colorado,

and your dogs are not too hot.

I know I’m surprised when you were talking about how Canada was so hot.

I was like, man, I thought it’d been a little bit colder right now.

Yeah, it’s not usually, I mean, last year we had the whole heat dome thing.

If you were in LA, you, you must have had it too.

Got to 41 degrees here.

I was in, I was a little bit south.

So at that time I was always, I was always at the beach, but, uh…

yeah.

I don’t know if this is the norm now.

I hope not, but, um…

Man I hope not.

Yeah.

Well, we’ll see.

Hopefully it gets better.

Yeah.

Yeah.

Fingers crossed.

Well, uh, have a great rest of your day Alexander and thank

you so, so much for joining me.

Yeah.

Thank you too.

And thanks for having me on and hope everything gets blessed

with you in your career.

Cheers.

Thank you.

Take care.

No problem.

Bye

Bye

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

Study this video as a lesson on LingQ

Hello everyone and welcome to the link podcast with me your host Elle.

If you are an English learner, why not study from this podcast episode

or any past podcast episodes?

I create a lesson with each one on LingQ.

The course is called English LingQ podcast.

2.0, the link to today’s lesson, so the lesson for this

episode, is in the description.

LingQ is a tool that allows you to study from content you’re interested

in, in your target language.

So you can take anything you’re interested in from the internet, whether it be

a podcast like this one, a YouTube video, maybe you’re interested in

studying your target language from music lyrics, whatever it is, you

can create a lesson with it on LingQ.

When you study from content that you find interesting, you’re more likely

to enjoy it, stick with it and actually learn the language, reach your goal.

If you’re not interested in creating your own lessons, we have tons and

tons of lessons in dozens of languages already within the libraries on LingQ.

So go in, take a look around and there’s bound to be something that you will enjoy.

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.

Learn English LingQ Podcast #:40 The Most Popular Commercial Actor in Japan! (1)

Study this video as a lesson on LingQ

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

Remember all you English learners listening I have created a lesson for you

out of this episode and all past episodes.

You can always find the link to the English lesson in the description,

you can read as you listen, translating words and phrases.

You may notice that things look a little different, that is because we’ve done a

huge redesign it’s basically a new app.

With LingQ 5.0, you get a cleaner, more accessible library, more

comprehensive daily goal and streak system, expanded access to more

content, streamlined reader experience, a very cool listening experience

listening mode is my favorite new feature I have to say, as well as other

customization options like dark mode.

So go check it out if you haven’t already.

This week’s guest joins us from Japan and it is extremely early in the morning

so I very much appreciate him taking the time I’m joined this week by actor and

producer dante Carver, Dante how are you?

I’m good.

Thank you for having me.

Um, I know it may not be as early over there for you guys, but that you

may be busy so I appreciate you all taking the time to listen in as well.

Well, like I said, I appreciate you.

I’m not a morning person.

I don’t know if you are, but, uh, hopefully you are.

With, with coffee I am.

Perfect.

Of course essential.

So Dante, I am going to talk about your extremely successful career

in Japan and get into all that but I want to first roll it back to

before you even left to go to Japan.

So you’re from Brooklyn, New York.

Is that right?

Uh, yes.

Originally from Brooklyn, New York.

Um, my childhood was spent in Europe, Italy in Germany, uh, respectively, um,

but visited, uh, 80% give or take of Europe because at the time my parents

were of the mind, we don’t know when we can come back or have the opportunity.

So let’s see as much as we can.

Also traveling when I was a kid was much cheaper and easier.

Um, then teenage years I moved back to the U S and um, then eventually,

you know, bounced around from one state to another because of work

and eventually went to Vancouver for three months, um, which was quite fun.

Uh, and then here in a nutshell, yeah.

Yeah, my, my parents, um, mother’s side have a family in Italy as well.

So the idea of being abroad outside of the United States is always a blessing.

Um, because you get to learn about, uh, your history or the

history of family members, other cultures, things of that nature.

So moving around is something I’m quite used to, um, if I’m in one

place for too long, I actually feel strange because I’m used to moving

every two to four years give or take.

So this is the longest time I’ve been in one place without moving to another.

And how long have you been in Japan now?

Um, so off and on total this would be 17, but, um, it hasn’t all been together.

Oh, I see.

I was here for the first five, then all of my productions for almost like

a two year stretch, even if they were Japanese productions were outside.

Oh, I see.

Bouncing around quite a bit.

I had an apartment, um, fun fact had an apartment for a year, but only

spent exactly 13 days in the apartment.

What a waste of money.

I guess you have to have a base, you know?

Yeah.

Um, cause at that time that was when I had officially moved to Tokyo because

when I started out, I was in Kyoto and Osaka and at that time the agency I

was with suggested that I come to Tokyo because uh, I could book more work more

regularly because being in Kansai there just wasn’t a lot of work going on.

Right.

It’s like, okay.

So I moved to Tokyo and then it was like, Hey, we’ve got this movie

coming up so we’re going to be going to, uh, Nepal and the Philippines

and this place and that place.

And I mean, I had a fantastic time.

I, I miss traveling to other countries, but yeah.

In time I guess.

Yeah.

Wow.

So when, before you left the states, right?

You came from the states to, to Japan.

Did you know any Japanese at all?

Ha ha no.

So kind of like a reverse host family.

So I had a Japanese host family, um, there in the states that I was actually

teaching, uh, the kids English to.

And as a present, they gave me a Doraemon dictionary.

They were trying to help me learn a few words and phrases.

So for the most part, I could say like, um, uh, where’s your passport?

Where’s the station?

Uh, where’s the restroom?

Kind of thing.

Thank you.

And you’re welcome.

Very important.

It’s amazing how those little simple things mean a lot when you need it.

Yeah.

Then when I came here, study-wise a lot of that came from uh, memorizing

my scripts and we Utada Hikaru because that’s my absolute favorite singer.

Utada Hikaru was, um, she was also born in New York and, uh,

two days after me, uh, July 19th.

And she basically she’s like one of the most famous Japanese singers of all time.

There’s like records that she hits no other performer had hit.

Um, but the reason I liked her was because of her tones and the style of music.

I was introduced to her by some friends in university who are actually from Japan

and my friend’s like, Hey, listen to this.

And it was basically a, it was a mix of different artists, but

there is a song called First Love.

And again, I didn’t speak Japanese, but the tone of it, that

piano chords keys in the back.

I don’t know, it just resonated.

I was like, this is really cool.

Who is this?

Wanting to learn more.

And then that was kind of like the secondary open door to that.

And I say secondary because as a child, I studied Shotokan karate with my

father, but then we moved to Europe.

So you know that halted, but I’ve always had a, um, an interest in Asia.

Um, so my mother and I used to watch martial arts movies, kind

of like my, the doorway for me.

Um, they used to be this thing called the Kung Fu Theater that would come on TV.

Um, and when I was watching it, they were reruns, which I didn’t know until

I got older because, you know, they were really old movies, but had always been

into martial arts, things of that nature.

Then that kind of got me into wanting to learn more about Asia and its

respective countries, because as a child, you don’t realize they’re all

different until you’re in school.

And then from there that just, you know, that was it.

Yeah.

And did you, did you go to Japan with the idea in mind of, you know, I’m

going to act and produce, and this is the career trajectory that I want?

Well, the funny thing is my original plan was actually to go

to China first to study for a year and a half at the Shaolin temple.

And then from what I learned over there with the flight to Japan, because

I wanted to basically try my hat in Power Rangers and become a writer.

And I’m deadly serious.

I loved, I love power Rangers.

Uh, you know, I, I grew up watching them and it’s like the, the idea of a

non-Japanese actor or a foreign actor um, sometimes saying foreign feels weird.

So if I react weirdly to it, apologies, um, but being a

non-Japanese actor in a Japanese production, hadn’t really been done.

And as a African-American it hadn’t been done.

So it’s like, well, why not?

The idea is I just want to try it, but what really got me into coming is my

plan going to China, it got canceled because there was, um, very much

similar to now there was an outbreak.

So the entire program was canceled and scrapped, but I had already quit my job

so my apartment, all that kind of stuff.

So my Japanese friend’s like, why don’t you just come visit us?

There’s a tourist visa for 90 days.

Come see the country, come see us and kind of rethink of what you

wanna do and then go from there.

So basically it was kind of a way to keep me from going into depression mode

of, you know, the dream being busted.

When I came over the first week, I was scouted by four agencies.

And from there that was kind of my…

well, maybe I should try it out here and, you know, rethink it.

Went back to the states, um, had some family stuff to take care of.

And then about a year later, uh, 2005, I came back to Japan and that’s

when I, uh, basically kind of started doing modeling and um, bit acting.

Cause I didn’t speak any Japanese.

So the stars aligned for you to end up in Japan, basically.

Uh, yes, yes, yes and no.

The only reason I say no, because there were 121 auditions that I didn’t get.

Um, and I used to, I used to have a notebook that I would write down what

it was and why I didn’t get it, if they’d let me know why I didn’t get it.

And, uh, it literally came to the point where my parents were like, Hey,

we’re going to send you an e-ticket.

So, you know, if you want to come back, you can.

And I was asked to come on a set as an extra for Vodafone.

And I talked to my parents like, should I take it or just fly back?

And my dad’s like, you’ve been there…

you’ve been there this long trying just go ahead and do it.

I had gotten jobs, but no contracts.

And I wasn’t, like I mentioned before I was in Kansai so going from Kansai

to tokyo I’m paying out of pocket.

So that’s where I’m losing a lot of that money.

So it was a, it was a very hard, hard, tough road, but worth it in the end,

because I’m also a very persistent person.

And, you know, I had some people Stateside that were very

supportive of me not making it.

So it was, uh, it was like, okay, no problem.

I’ll do my best to make it.

Wow.

So they told you that?

They said we don’t think this…

how so?

Like, Ooh, it’s not a good idea, you should try something else?

So for the most part, it was uh, family-wise always supportive

as long as I’m doing something positive, they’re always on board.

Um, but for those people, those motivators, as I like to say, um,

we’re pretty much like, well, you don’t speak the language, you don’t

look Japanese, those kinds of things.

And it’s like, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent.

Um, you know, it shouldn’t be a deterrent for anybody, uh, going anywhere.

You know, if anything, it should motivate you to, to try harder or

to try and make the connections with that culture and that, and those

people because you are different.

So I just use that.

So every audition I didn’t get was fuel for, I’m going to make it,

going to make it, going to make…

to the point where there was 564 yen left in my bank account.

When I came back to Tokyo from Vodafone.

It was…

Learn English LingQ Podcast #39: Writing a Best Selling Novel | with Nazanine Hozar (1)

Study this video as a lesson on LingQ

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

Remember if you’re studying English, you can study in this podcast

episode, along with any of the past episodes as an English lesson on

LingQ, I’ll always pop the lesson link in the description of the video.

LingQ is an excellent way to learn from all kinds of content.

My favorite thing to do right now is study French with Netflix shows.

Super easy to do all you need is the LingQ importer, go to Netflix, find

your show, make sure it has subtitles in your target language, click and viola!

You have your lesson.

I like to then go through the transcript before I watch the show, then watch the

show with the subtitles on in French.

You can do it with movies and not just Netflix, all kinds of other streaming

services as well as YouTube of course.

So give it a try.

If you use Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple, or Google to listen to your

podcasts, remember that we are there.

The links are also in the description and don’t forget to give this

episode a like, a follow, give us a review, show us some love.

We’d really appreciate it.

This Week, I have a treat for you listeners.

I am joined by Canadian.

novelist Nazanine Hozar.

Naz, How’s it going?

Hi, Elle.

How are you?

Good.

I’m good.

Yeah, I’m good.

Thank you so much for coming on.

So your debut novel…

I just want to tell you, first off I loved, loved, loved, loved.

Um, I read it when it first came out and I could not put it down.

It was one of those books where I was like, looking forward to going to bed.

Cause I read before I go to sleep.

Um, and yeah, I would just be like so excited to read Aria.

And I remember that the, uh, I had quite a few pages left until I finished it one

night and I had, I just had to finish it.

So you made me probably late for work one day.

So thank you.

You’re welcome.

Um, so Aria is a coming of age story.

The protagonist Aria, um, follows her life in, in Iran, primarily in Tehran.

Yes.

And, um, she is kind of mothered by three flawed women.

Aren’t we all…

yeah.

Uh, fantastic.

I just want to read actually part of the review, one of the reviews you

got from Margaret Atwood no less.

Another amazing, amazing Canadian novelist.

So she said about Aria: a sweeping saga about the Iranian revolution

is as it explodes told from the ground level and the center of

chaos, a Doctor Zhivago of Iran.

Yeah.

That must have felt pretty nice!

It still hasn’t hit me.

I still haven’t absorbed, absorbed that.

I don’t think I ever will.

Quite crazy.

Congratulations first off, I want to say.

And, um, yeah, so my first question to you is I always want to know

if, especially when a novelist…

about a novelist’s first novel is the story of Aria something that was kind of

in you waiting to burst out or did you decide to write a novel and then think,

okay, well, what story do I want to tell?

And it kind of came from there.

Oh, that’s such a…

you know, nobody’s ever asked me that question before.

Oh really?

People have asked Like, is it based on you?

Or, um, or, you know, what inspired it?

But no one’s ever sort of broken it up into that, those two kinds of

categories, because what basically happened was there were parts of it that

were inside me from a very young age.

And then when I then came to realize that I had to write a novel about it, I started

writing those, those feelings out that I had had since maybe I was five years

old, but then I realized that a novel can’t just be somebody sort of feelings

and emotions worked out through the page.

There has to be structure.

There has to be sort of plotting, there has to be motivation, there has to be

some kind of form and shape that, that, that is a much more of a practical

thing and a tangible thing, instead of just, you know, whatever feelings

you sort of had about life since a certain age, since a very young age.

So then I had to sit and go, okay, well, I have these…

this sort of concept, this character, these various people.

And, you know, I know that it has to end up here in some way, end up where the

ending is and sort of follow their lives.

But now I have to really come up with ideas of how to, in a way novelize it and

turn it into a structural thing, a form.

And so then I had to really, I guess, put on the real creative hat of, of, of

thinking, okay, I know these themes are the things I want to explore now, how do

I create stories around it to do that?

So it’s a combination of both, you know?

So yeah, that’s very interesting.

Actually, it’s the first time I even thought about it in

that way that you just asked.

So yeah.

Good question.

So you mentioned there the process of writing and the form.

That always fascinates me.

One that someone can write something, a novel, period, but your novel Aria

is an epic, uh, complex tale that expands the early 1950s to the ’80s?

The early ’80s, yeah.

Yeah.

So.

I like, how do you even…

do you even go about, like you, did you do tons of research?

Were they like a million different drafts that you had to write and

different input from different people?

Like what was the process?

Yeah, I did.

I did a ton of research, um, especially for about a year, year

and a half-two period timeline there in the, in the middle of writing.

Um, and I basically at the Vancouver public library, I would go there every

day before work, when, when you and I used to work together, I would hide

myself in the, sort of in the, the, in the bowels of like, you know, old newspaper

clippings and like time magazine and New Yorker, New York Times, and various

like La Monde, you know, Parisian, you know, French newspapers of what

was going on politically at the time.

And then kind of what you have to do with, with research, because you don’t want the

novel to kind of turn into a textbook, you know, like a historical text, you

want it to become a real living thing.

And so what you have to do is you have to forget all that research.

So you have to…

oh, I see.

At least for me, I don’t know how other people write these types of things.

And then I had to sort of like push it out of my mind, kind of hope

that through some kind of osmosis I had absorbed all of that stuff.

And then when I had to particularly write the scenes that had to take

place later on in the novel, then I had to kind of go, I never did that…

I don’t know…

that’s just, you know, and it just have to sort of come through and then…

yeah.

And I’m really interested in informant structure as well.

Like, and, and how sort of, you know, I, I kind of wanted this, like basically

there is a main character and then these three mother figures, but there’s

as you know, several other characters.

And so how do you…

you’re sort of telling this world is sort of unfolding, according to the

point of view of all these different people with her at the center, you know,

this person is like the nucleus of…

Aria is the nucleus of this, all of that, all of that is taking place.

And so the research was there and then you have to forget the research then,

um, when you ask about like, how do you write something like epic like that?

I don’t know if I’ll ever write a, a novel that’s that big.

I might, I mean, the novel I’m writing right now, I think will

be much smaller, but you know, at least a hundred pages or so less.

Um, but the only way that I can explain that, because you say, you know, you

don’t know how people write novels.

If you break it down and simplify it, it, it is possible.

And all you really have to do, and this may sound strange, but you just

write one word after another word after another word without like having huge

expectations or thinking, looking at it as this kind of Goliath of a task right?

The obstacle is the way.

Yeah, exactly.

And so you write one word and you write another word write another

word and you count those words.

I mean, that’s what I do.

I sit and I say to myself, I’m going to write, you know, if, if it’s

a really good day, I’m like, I’m going to try for a thousand words.

And then you’ll sort of see in my, uh, cause I usually hand write before

I transfer to, to the computer.

Oh wow.

Yeah.

Okay.

Um, not always, but you know, when I was writing Aria, sometimes I had to do it on

my phone, on the bus to work or to class.

So I’m like take texting it on my phone, emailing it to myself.

But, um, right now I have a bit more freedom.

So, um, Uh, you’ll see that in my notebook I’ve handwritten.

And then you’ll see, like on top of the words you’ll see numbers.

So I, then I just count it, like, did I reach a thousand?

Did I make a thousand?

And, and so, and I don’t know if I’m going to keep those thousand words, probably

out of every thousand words I write, I probably will only keep like 200 or if

I’m lucky 300, but that’s, you just have to, you know, approach it in that way.

And then eventually something arises.

Yeah.

Yeah.

Did you ever doubt yourself, um, through the process, like scrap

this and start a different novel?

Uh, I never, I never doubted the idea, that it should be a different novel.

I doubted whether I could ever get it done.

If you could do it?

Yeah, and not get it done.

I knew that I could like finish the story, but then what I doubted

was that it would be any good.

First of all, it’d be terrible.

No one would want to read it.

I think I wrote, before I even showed it to anyone to read, to give me feedback,

like close friends that I had chosen.

I had chosen a couple of close friends that I thought were really good readers

who are writers and creative people.

Before I even submitted it to them, like the full draft I think I had

written it, I had written seven or eight drafts by that point.

And then, and then, yeah.

And then when I finally were…

sold it and I worked with my editor, I don’t know how many more

drafts we did, maybe two or three.

Yeah, I did at least 10 drafts and that’s on the low side.

Like there are people who do like 20 drafts of a novel,

like I think I’m on the low…

I think that Aria was on the, um, the lower end of draft rewrites.

Yeah.

At 10.

Wow.

Yeah.

Minimum.

Yeah.

Yeah, you have to, but like, you know, when you say, when you use

that number, it’s like, okay.

Out of that, 10, four were huge rewrites.

Learn English LingQ Podcast #38: How Polyglot Steve Kaufmann Uses LingQ 5.0 (1)

Study this video as a lesson on LingQ

Hi there and welcome to the LingQpodcast with me Elle and my beautiful,

gigantic corn plant in behind me here.

English learners.

Remember you can study this episode and all past episodes of the podcast.

I’ll always leave a link to the English lesson on LingQ in

the description of the video.

If you’re listening on Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple, Google,

wherever, give us a like, give us a review, show us some love.

We really, really appreciate it.

Anyone listening or watching who has never used the LingQ before

today’s episode is all about LingQ.

I’m joined by LingQ co-founder and polyglot who speaks 20 languages, Steve

Kaufmann, we’re going to discuss the new version of LingQ, version five,

which was just released on the web.

So stay tuned if you are a language learner who’s interested in hearing

about how LingQ has changed, the improvements, how Steve is using the

new version to study languages also.

Steve, how are you?

Good morning Elle.

Good morning.

And Where are you…

yes, me too.

Me too.

We have something very special to chat about this morning.

Uh, where in the world are you joining us from?

Well, you can see my bookshelf behind me.

Yeah, it’s my, uh, portable bookshelf.

No, I’m in Palm Springs and my wife and I come down here in the winter during

the sort of rainiest months in Vancouver.

And so I’m in Palm Springs.

I’m going to chat with you today about LingQ version five.

So a brand new, all new LingQ, which was just launched.

It has been launched for a little while on the iPhone app now and was

launched two weeks ago on the web.

So we’ve of course, within the LingQ team we’ve been using version five for over

a year now, just testing it, figuring out, you know, getting rid of all the

bugs and making it as good as it can be.

So what would you say first off are the, the major changes that

anyone who was using the old LingQ and will now start to use the new

LingQ will notice in version five?

The biggest thing is to me, the initial thing is just uh, I find

that the look, the look and feel the environment that you are in when

learning languages is better, it’s more pleasing, it’s graphically better.

And I think he’s worth thinking about LingQ, like LingQ…

it’s not a product that is sort of stationary, stable, uh, ever since

we started and things keep changing.

Um, you know, user interface, standards change they’re

influenced by different things.

So our library has more of a Netflix look because Netflix didn’t exist

when we started LingQ back whenever it was 15 or more years ago.

Um, I think is an amazing project.

I think people don’t realize how many people are involved.

We have developers and other people, uh, on our team who live

in Ukraine, who live in Macedonia, in Korea, in Bolivia, in Ghana.

I’m sure I’ve left a few countries out, Canada of course.

So it’s, it’s, it’s an example of the world we live in, which is very

international with lots of different locations and people collaborating and we

all follow the technology as it changes.

And I think what…

let’s start with what people won’t notice.

They won’t notice the fact that LingQ has been completely rewritten, uh, because

we needed a platform that makes it easier for us to make changes going forward

because everything is constantly changing.

And so that’s, to me is the biggest thing and think it’s a different

look and it’s a new platform which will enable us to more easily add

functions and improve functions.

I think that’s the biggest thing, but I can get into more detail on

functionality that I particularly like.

Sure.

Yeah.

Please do what, uh what’s, what is your favorite change?

Okay.

My favorite change is the library because language learning starts

with content, comprehensible input, compelling input, content.

So we have more content available now, not only in our libraries, but

also through these external links, which allow us to bring things in more

easily from YouTube or from podcasts.

Uh, and it’s easier to find things in the library and not only that

it’s easier to import things.

So if you have something of interest to you, again, it’s easier to bring

it in and slot it into a course.

So to me, one of the biggest improvements is it’s just easier and more attractive

to handle content, and content is…

that’s the curiosity.

That’s the thing you want to learn about that pulls you into language learning.

So I think that’s very important.

Yeah.

I have to agree.

I really, really love the way the library looks.

And it is…

the way the category categories are, which you can customize, you can choose

which categories you’d like to see.

And there’s just so much content.

A lot of people don’t like to, or don’t want to import, they don’t want

to find content online themselves.

And that’s fine.

Because within the library, it’s so easy.

There’s just so much, so, yeah.

That’s, I think that’s probably my favorite change too.

Yeah, I think that’s tremendous.

The, um, now the lesson page, now you said we, we had it for a

year and worked out all the bugs.

Of course not all the bugs.

It’s so difficult to anticipate, there are different screen

sizes, different browsers.

There’s so many different combinations.

So while we had a team of QA people working to iron out the most obvious bugs.

There are still a few things there that have to be ironed out.

But, uh, the other thing I think right up front that I really like is we

have replaced the avatar with coins.

And not only that, we, you now get credit sort of on a granular

basis for so many more activities.

Uh, you know, for every page you’ve read for, uh, listening, even down

to, uh, you know, not having listen to the whole, uh, of the lesson.

So I found myself in the old system in order to maintain my streaks, I had to

go and create X number of LingQs, but very often I have so many saved LingQs.

I want to go back and read something again.

Where there are no blue words uh, just yellow words.

In other words, words that I have have previously met and looked up,

but still don’t know, but I wasn’t getting any credit for doing that.

Now, if you go in there and read again and you find a, a word that’s a yellow

word, that’s maybe status one and you move it to status two or sad as three

a you’re getting credit for that.

Or if I go into the vocabulary section, and this is something that I like to

do, and that I recommend to people.

Uh, I’m not a big fan of flashcards.

Other people like flashcards.

That’s great.

I like going through lists of words.

So I go to the vocabulary section and typically I’ll

choose only status three words.

These are words that I’m somewhat familiar with, but not yet confident

that I know, but typically in amongst those words, a certain percentage,

maybe 20% are words that I already know.

So typically if I’m reading, I eventually come across these

words and I’ll move them to known.

But if I go into my vocabulary section and say, I just want to see

status three words, then all those words will show up in one list.

Then I can go through the, those words and move them to known.

And as I do that, I get lots of coins for doing it.

And just as an aside, I can filter, I can either see these words in

alphabetical order, which is very helpful because you’ll find three

or four or five words that have the same prefix and others begin with the

same letters or with the same letter.

And you’ll start to see connections in meaning between words that have similar

beginnings very helpful, or I will review these words in order of their frequency.

And so there obviously aren’t going to have a higher percentage of known

words in those status three words where the words are higher frequency, not

always, but that tends to be the case.

So doing all these different activities or even, uh, you know, listening, I’ll

be listening on a, say a playlist and I’m getting credit in the form of coins.

Now, some people would say, what are the coins good for?

You can’t spend them.

You can’t buy anything with them, at best you can repair a streak.

That’s fine.

But it’s just that.

It’s just an indicator of where you are.

Uh, you know, there’s so many things in life where we get

points or we get a score, a grade, you can’t do anything with it.

It’s just a measure of what you have achieved.

What I think is important about coins is it measures your activity level.

And I always say, it’s not, it’s difficult to measure how good you

are at any given time, because you might be better one day and not as

good the next day for any number of.

But as long as you are active, you are heading in the right direction.

And the coins is an indicator that you’re being active.

Yeah.

And you mentioned the avatar there.

Just want to say that some people did like the avatar.

We will be saying a farewell in our special way to the avatar and allowing

people to share what their avatar looked like at the end of version

four, but, um, yes, I agree coins much better way of tracking activity.

We can’t satisfy everybody.

You know, there are people who prefer the look of the old LingQ, prefer the avatar.

At some point, though Mark and his team have to decide going forward

what’s in the best interest of most people in our learning community.

Exactly.

Now importing, you, you do a lot of importing on LingQ,

uh, what do you think…

cause this is another favorite part of aspect of the new version

for me personally, what do you think of the new import page where

you actually add your content?

Absolutely.

Whether I’m using the browser extension or whether I’m using, you

know, actually import, you know, and dragging something in, it’s so

much easier to find the course, you know, where you want to put this…

I can’t, I can’t explain in detail why it’s easier, but it’s just so much easier.

So I go to the import page, I just find it so much easier to manage.

I can drag and drop audio files.

I kind of go through all of it, but it’s just so much less of a chore to import.

And that’s important because in language learning, every time we

simplify things, every time we make it easier to do something where,

you know, we’re increasing the intensity of the learning experience.

If I spend all kinds of time looking for content, importing content,

something didn’t work, and I’ve spent half an hour/ an hour now I’m

trying to create learning content.

Whereas if it’s very easy to do and I’ve got it right away.

And this includes by the way those external links I’m into, uh, an

item of content here that is at my level and of interest to me.

And I did it quickly.

And therefore I can spend more time with the language.

So I think that’s very important.

Let’s talk about, uh, the lesson page and the improvements

that have happened within it.

What are your favorite improvements in the lesson page?

Um, well, I, I like if I’m on the browser, uh, in other words on my

Learn English! LingQ Podcast #37: How to Learn Korean with Ian of @Korean Patch – 한국어 패치 (2)

Study this video as a lesson on LingQ

the tongue is hitting the roof, … and it’s, and it is shaped accordingly.

So a lot of the characters have this very visceral feeling to them when you learn

how they work and you can kind of, I don’t want to over-hype the writing system,

but you can kind of visualize what you’re doing in your mouth while you’re reading.

If you know a lot about how the system works.

I don’t think most people do know that, but, but that’s how it was designed.

I had no idea.

So do you have any Korean content recommendations?

Maybe this is more for intermediate and advanced learners.

Movies, YouTube channels other than yours, that, uh, that you are into?

Yeah.

Okay.

So the two best things that I think a, someone who wants to be able to

speak Korean well, of course reading, I think reading is a different skill.

I think we can agree on that, but if you want to listen and speak well,

I think, uh, obviously you have to do a lot of listening, right?

And so I think the two most powerful Korean language resources in the

world are Netflix and YouTube.

Those are like just overpowered resources and they’re both

extremely popular in Korea.

So Netflix of course, is producing world famous TV shows right here in Korea.

Like you may be familiar with what’s called in English Squid Game.

Right.

Of course, yeah…

In Korean it’s called … yeah.

Yeah.

How do you say it in Korean?

… oh, okay.

Yeah.

A squid is called an … so game of course is game.

But, um, um, other things like The Sea of Silence and whatever that are really

popular all over the world, these are made here in Korea and uploaded straight

to Netflix and you get all the,you know, multi-lingual subtitles and same

language subtitles, which a lot of native Korean streaming services don’t include.

There’s no Korean subtitles.

I don’t know why they do that.

But, um, and YouTube is also extremely popular in Korea.

There’s tons of YouTubers that are making just hundreds of hours of

content a day that I’m sure you can find something you enjoy from.

My channel has great content as well, but, uh, yeah, I I’ll give, I’ll

give one specific recommendation to, for people who are learning Korean.

There’s a, there’s a great comedy YouTube channel.

It’s called … if you want, if you can read Hangul, you can find that, but, uh,

they have a ton of high quality, fully subtitled, funny material you can learn

from that I’ve been using for years.

Oh, super.

I’ll get, I’ll get that from you and I’ll pop it in the description for

anyone who’d like to check that out.

Yeah.

And so did you watch Squid Game?

What did you think of it?

Oh yeah, of course.

Yeah.

I saw it when it, when it first came out.

Um, it’s a very Korean show, I think so, so, so I have not

experienced the show in English.

I watched it in Korean and listened to.

We have participated in online discussions about it in Korean, not in English.

I’ve only read about what people say about it in English.

I do get the vibe that, um, it’s a little bit more meaningful

in Korean than in English.

I think it’s a little bit more deep.

Yeah.

You know, for example, like all the games that they play and stuff,

those are totally foreign concepts to, you know, non-Korean speakers

or non Korean people, I guess it has nothing to do with your ethnicity, but

people who don’t know Korean culture.

Those games are not as ubiquitous as they are here.

Like when you see the symbols, you’re like, oh, okay.

They’re going to do, you know, … now.

Whereas it’d be like, if it would be like in America or in North America, if we

were doing like hopscotch or like jump rope, if these were the games, you know?

So yeah.

I loved it though.

It was cool.

Yeah.

I think I read on the BBC actually that people were saying to watch it

in Korean and to watch it in English were kind of two different experiences

and they missed out the nuances, uh, when it was translated into English.

So it’s interesting.

It’s kind of sad for, uh, uh, non, uh, Korean speakers.

A lot of the characters too are like characatures of things

that are happening in Korea.

And if you don’t know anything about Korean society, you’re

like, uh, why is there, uh, an Indian or Pakistani character?

Why is there this North Korean girl, like what what’s going on?

And if you live in Korean society, you know, you know what’s up, you know why

these people are here, but otherwise I think a lot of people are just confused.

Like why are there foreign people in this Korean thing?

You know?

So you get that out of it too.

So tell us about Korean Patch.

Um, I mentioned that you have your comprehensible Korean series.

Um, yeah…

What, what kinds of videos are you making and what is the

plan for the channel for 2022?

So we are, we, I, all…

there’s more than one of us.

What we’re doing is trying to build a catalog of materials for

people who are learning Korean who want to become authentic speakers.

That’s kind of a word that I’ve, I’ve come up with, but, um, I’ve been

teaching people language and learning languages for, you know, most of my

life, um, all of my adult life, for sure.

And, uh, I think there’s a big difference between someone who is like fluent or

proficient and somebody who is authentic.

I think we often run into people who are not the most eloquent speakers

in their language, in their target language, but other native speakers

of that target language totally received them like a native speaker.

And then sometimes there are people who are, you know, like super, super fluent.

They have a really high, like academic level of the language, of

their second or third language, but it’s, something’s wrong, you know,

something’s like not quite there.

And I think that happens to a lot of people who learn Korean

because the cultural foundation is just super different.

A lot of people don’t understand how to kind of pretend to be a Korean,

if that makes any sense, how to create a Korean cultural persona.

And so what we’re trying to do with Korean Patch, this year and going forward

is create, uh, courses and hopefully initiate some discussion about the other

things besides language that people need to learn about in order to be really

authentic, you know, members of Korean speaking earth, if that makes sense.

So the first thing that we’re working on, uh, we actually just released,

uh, Beta version of the course, um, and sold out in like two hours.

So people are clearly interested in this, which is great.

Uh, yeah.

Thank you.

We are uh…

so the first thing that we’re talking about is learning regional dialects and

how that’s pretty important in Korean.

Um, future things that we’re going to talk about are like how you should be learning

Chinese characters to improve your Korean and, uh, you know, how to improve your

pronunciation and things like that.

I’m not really interested in like teaching people basic grammar

or any of that kind of stuff.

But I do think that there are a lot of things that native speakers know about

their language subconsciously that if you ask them, they would say, I have no idea.

Like for English speakers, maybe it would be things like a Greek and Latin roots.

You know, we’re able to just like pull these from the

ether whenever we need them.

And you can hear words like antidisestablishmentarianism and you

know what it means right away, but someone who’s learning the language,

if they don’t spend any time learning that these words are built of these

little components, I think they really struggle to be natural…

um, both in their understanding and in their production of the language.

And so Korean has a bunch of things like that, and we’re going to try to

eliminate those and then share them with people in a way that that English

speakers can understand hopefully.

That’s excellent.

So lots of plans, lots of fantastic stuff for anyone studying Korean

currently idea or anyone who wants to start studying Korean.

Perfect.

Um, I will pop of course the link to your channel in the description.

And also if I can get that, um, that YouTube was a YouTube channel?

I’ll pop that as well.

Okay.

Perfect.

Great.

Well, Ian, thank you so, so much for joining us today, uh, early in the morning

and best of luck with Korean Patch.

Okay.

Thank you very much.

It was great to meet you.

I appreciate your time.

Thanks.

You too.

Learn English! LingQ Podcast #37: How to Learn Korean with Ian of @Korean Patch – 한국어 패치 (1)

Study this video as a lesson on LingQ

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

This week’s guest is joining us all the way from Korea, but before I chat to

him, just a quick reminder, if you aren’t a LingQ user, what we’re all about.

With LingQ you can learn languages from content you are interested in.

So if you enjoy podcasts like this one, you can take the episode with the

transcript and the audio, work your way through it on link translating any of

the words and phrases you don’t know.

Those words and phrases will look different in future lessons.

So you can keep track of the words you’re learning, the words you

know, any new words that come up.

There are also vocabulary exercises you can go into, if that is your thing.

Lots to help you make a breakthrough in the language you’re learning.

This episode is available on LingQ, the lesson link is the description.

This week, I am joined by a guest all the way from Korea.

It’s morning for him afternoon for me, I’m joined by Ian of the

YouTube channel Korean Patch.

Ian how’s it going?

It’s going good.

It’s good to see you.

Excellent.

You too.

Thank you so much for coming on.

So as I mentioned is, so for me right now, it is Tuesday afternoon and for

you, it is Wednesday morning, correct?

Yes, it is Wednesday morning.

Yeah.

Okay.

And I am not a morning person.

I was going to say, I always thank people for joining us in the mornings

because I’m also not a morning person.

So thank you.

I Know how it is to be chirpy in the morning.

It’s not cool, but thank you.

So, uh, whereabouts in Korea do you live?

So I live in sunny Busan, the beautiful giant city way at

the bottom of the peninsula.

It’s the second largest city in Korea.

Yeah.

Excellent.

And you say sunny.

So is it what’s the temperature like right now, for example,

on an average day in January.

Yeah.

An average day in January.

So it’s actually is the worst day of all days for you to ask me this question,

because it’s actually cold here today.

It’s like in Celsius, it’s like minus one, but this area is subtropical.

So it it’s very different than my hometown of Chicago, which is super cold.

Here it barely ever freezes.

So I really liked that.

It’s nice all year.

Yeah.

This is kind of like the vacation city in Korea.

Ah, Okay.

You know, I’ve heard, I had heard of it before, but there’s also that

famous movie of course, Train to Busan.

That’s it, right?

Train to Busan?

Exactly

Yeah.

Okay.

Yeah.

Train to Busan.

Excellent.

I don’t know how much of that movie takes place in Busan though.

Fair enough.

I have seen it, so…

oh, you know what?

Here’s the, here’s a Busan movie thing.

Oh, if you’ve seen Black Panther, the, a Marvel movie, they filmed a

bunch of that movie here in Busan.

So right near where I live actually.

Were you like, did you see them filming?

Uh, no, but some of my friends did.

I was working, but they did like a big chase on the bridge, a car chase.

Pretty cool.

Ah, I love that.

I live in Vancouver and it’s a, it’s a film location, filming location, for sure.

And yeah, sometimes you spot sets and it’s always so exciting.

Like, is it a cheesy movie or is it like, The Matrix or…

The big one.

Right, yeah.

So, as I mentioned you run a channel called Korean Patch.

It’s for Korean learners.

First off, I now know what Korean patch means, because I watched your video where

you explained, but could you explain to our listeners, uh, any of our listeners

who don’t know what that term means.

Korean patch.

Yeah.

So in Korean, there’s kind of a funny, like slang term that people

use to talk about uh, foreigners who are really good at speaking Korean.

So when you install the language pack for a piece of software or a video game or

something, they usually call that the…

which means Korean patch, or they’ll call it the … or something like that.

But…

which is the writing system.

But, uh, when people in Korea, see a foreigner that like unexpectedly

speaks Korean really well they’ll say something that’s like, wow, they’ve

installed the Korean patch clearly.

So, uh, that, that’s just kind of an expression they use to

say, like, this is a person who really speaks the language well.

Right, right.

Excellent.

I like that.

Do you ever get that?

Sure.

Yeah.

I’ve gotten that before.

Nice.

Awful.

If you were like, no, no, never.

Yeah.

I’ve never received a compliment ever.

Not once.

Not once.

So you come from Chicago as you just said, uh, how long have you been in Korea now

and what brought you to Korea initially?

So I’ve been in Korea for almost five years.

No, a little over five years, almost six years actually.

Um, I came to Korea right after I finished college.

So I graduated from college and then pretty much like a month later, got on

a plane and moved over here to work, um, just to take like a year off from, uh,

you know, working after finishing school.

Cause I was pretty, pretty burnt out.

Um, and now I’ve been here almost six years.

Haven’t left.

Just like that.

It’s flown by I’m sure.

Is the plan to stay longer, are you kind of, is this your kind of

home now, do you think, are you open to going back to the states?

I’m not particularly literally interested in going back to the states.

Um, I really like my life here and I’ve, I’ve been able to build a good

life here, which a lot of foreign people probably can’t say in Korea.

And so I’ve started kind of shifting my career focuses on helping

people to do what I’ve done, which is, you know, build a life here.

And did you speak any Korean before you left from the sites?

None, not at all.

I mean, I’ve always been like a language enthusiast, so I know, you know, I knew

before I came here, like, oh, they say, you know, … or something like that.

But, um, and I grew up with a lot of Korean people around me.

So maybe, maybe that’s, uh, why the language wasn’t so exotic to

me from the very beginning, but I didn’t really speak any Korean when

I came here, I couldn’t read either.

I kind of learned how to read on the plane on the way over.

As good a time as any to start.

Nothing else to do.

How did you go about learning?

Well, I tried a lot of stuff.

So I have a really traditional language learning background in that

I did the normal American study of language for 15 years at school.

Um, you know, that normal pipeline that most people don’t learn a language from.

Um, I actually learned a lot of French by doing that.

Um, and I got really good at French and I love learning languages and all that.

But, uh, when I tried to apply that to Korean it did not work

very well when I first got here.

And so that’s, that was like the first thing that I did and I

kind of gave up really quickly.

And so what I ended up doing, uh, that was effective was a, a lot

of listening and reading things I couldn’t really understand and

repeating that until I could.

And that’s pretty much what I did.

So I think, I think this is a, this fits right in with LingQ and,

uh, you know, this whole sphere of comprehensible input based language

learning, that’s basically what I did.

And that’s kind of how I’ve fallen into meeting people like you is cause

I’ve been looking for the others.

Yeah, I was going to say, after, um, watching the videos on your channel,

the comprehensible Korean series that you run, I was going to ask you…

we need to get that on LingQ.

It’s perfect.

It’s just, you know, you, um, out doing things in Korea, speaking

in Korean, so it’s not just, you know, talking at the audience about,

you know, vocabulary or whatever.

It’s very cool.

So, and really well done.

Well, thank you.

Yeah.

The idea behind that was to try, and I’m hoping other language learning

channels will start doing this too, is to try to make materials that people

would be watching anyway, like people are watching Korea travel logs anyway.

So we might as well try to like hijack the format and adjust the language so

that it’s more accessible so that people actually like experience it in the

original language, as opposed to just turning on English subtitles and you know,

saying whatever I’ll learn Korean later.

This is too hard, you know, that was kind of the idea behind it.

Okay.

Excellent.

And do you have any, I know you mentioned, so you got right in and

started consuming content that was difficult because you obviously really

wanted, you were interested in it.

Right.

Um, do you have any other advice for anyone who is thinking about

starting a Korean learning journey?

Someone at the very beginning.

Yeah.

I mean, if you’re at the very beginning, I think the best thing you can do is

spend a lot more time than you want than you would normally spend, uh, learning

the writing system and the pronunciation like system, because if you’re able to…

you know, Korea has this pretty unique benefit among Asian languages

where Korean does not really use Chinese characters very much anymore.

They have a phonetic writing system that is very easy to learn.

They actually have like a proverb here.

That’s uh, uh, a wise man can learn this in a week and a fool

or, oh man, I just messed it up.

Lucky me.

A wise man can learn this in a weekend and a fool can learn it in a week.

That’s kind of the idea.

Okay.

A weekend!

Really?

You can see, you can see the one that, uh, where I fall.

I’m in the I’m in the fool category clearly, but, uh, but the, the, the

language, you know, there, like, um, even the world writing prize

is named after the Korean king who invented the writing system that

Korean uses today called Hangul.

He’s King Sejong.

Yeah.

If you look that up, you can see that’s like the, I think it’s the

Nobel prize for advancements in writing systems or something, but

don’t quote me on that, but, uh, the writing system is really easy to learn.

And if you’re able to learn how to, um, read the words you can’t understand

yet and say them out loud, the language becomes much easier to parse

and much less like heavy, you know?

Much less overwhelming when you start listening to people actually speak

because Korean is like, it is one of the most difficult languages for

native English speakers to learn.

So there’s basically nothing in common.

Yeah.

That’ll do it.

That’llmake it tough.

Yeah.

I really do like the way I have to say that Korean script looks.

It’s very, it’s, it’s beautiful.

So that must be a big motivator if you agree, but…

It’s really cool.

Yeah.

Yeah.

It’s even, it’s even designed to look like what’s happening inside the mouth.

So like individual characters.

Yeah.

So for example, like the character that makes a … sound … it’s shaped like

a, um, like a seven, kind of, and it’s to show that in the back of the mouth,

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #36: Chat with Pop Surrealist Painter & Comic Book Artist Camilla d’Errico

Study this video as a lesson on LingQ

Elle: Hello everyone and welcome to the LingQ podcast with me Elle. If you’re studying English, don’t forget that you can study these podcast episodes as English lessons on LingQ. Work your way through the transcript as you listen, translating words and phrases as you go. Those words and phrases will then be saved in your own personal database.

You can study them in vocabulary exercises, and they’ll be highlighted differently in future content. Excellent way to level up your English so check it out. The lesson link is in the video description. Don’t forget you can also start an English challenge on LingQ, check out the challenges page to see the different challenges that we have.

Another great way to boost your level and make a breakthrough with your English. This week. I am joined by a very cool guest. She is a comic book artist and pop surrealistic painter and creator. I’m joined today by Camilla d’Errico. Camilla, how are you?

Camilla: How are you doing, Elle?

Elle: I’m great. I’m great. Thank you. And thank you so much for joining me. You’re joining me from Vancouver Island today, right?

Camilla: That’s right? Yes. I used to live in Vancouver for, uh, oh my gosh so many years. And then just last year we moved to Vancouver Island and it’s amazing.

Elle: Yes, I bet. I got a kind of a mini tour of your places just before we recorded. It looks beautiful. How is, uh, what’s the lifestyle like on Vancouver Island?

Camilla: Island life is like being semi retired. Uh, it could, it could be because I think we moved into retirement community without meaning to, we’re just, we were like, Hey, that house looks nice. And then we’re like, wait a second. Everybody here is like, oh, like there’s no one under 70 or like ok. Yeah, so it’s, so it’s so peaceful and quiet.

You see golf cards, you know, like just motoring every day past the house. And I’m like, oh, there you go. You’re just like Phil going golfing. It’s really quiet. And honestly, it’s such a difference from, from living in Vancouver where I lived in, uh, or my husband and I, we lived in a loft that was just in the middle of downtown, right in the middle.

And it was just loud. There would be sirens honking. There would be people screaming or talking, or it was, it was quite… it’s, it’s very, very different. And I love it. I love this quiet, peaceful like life.

Elle: Excellent. It sounds lovely. It does. Camilla I want to talk a little about how you got into art essentially.

So were you always a bit of an arty child, were you always drawing doodling or did it kind of come later?

Camilla: Totally. So my mom, uh, she said that when I was born, she said my hands were that of an artist. She just knew right away that I’d be an artistic. And I mean, my mother, my mother was a midwife in Italy too. So like she saw a lot of babies.

Uh, and I don’t know. I mean, she was always so encouraging. When my mother, uh, when my parents immigrated to Canada, they ended up having a daycare center in the home, you know, they just, and I was surrounded by children all the time. And I was coloring in coloring books and painting and doing all these artistic things.

And uh, I think maybe it was meant to be, and maybe it was just that my mother was encouraging, but I always was drawn to cartoons and art and beautiful things. So yeah, it was, um, I think if I could have been, I would have been born with a crayon in my hands.

Elle: It sounds like the perfect blend. So you’re born with kind of skill and these hands and then you have parents who nurture that, especially your mum.

Camilla: So my parents, like they wanted to be… they’re um because my parents immigrated, they wanted me to have a really good life. So they, they were scared initially about like me being an artist, like, okay, you know, the starving artist is… there’s a saying for a reason, but they, so they were like, yeah, they were very encouraging, but also very practical.

And I think that really helped me develop as a professional artist. So it wasn’t just like a hobby, as soon as they realized I wanted to do this, like as a career, they’re like, okay, well you’re, if you’re going to do it, you get them to do it right. And I’m like, yup.

Elle: Is anyone in your family, were your, your parents are they artistic? Or anyone, your aunts, uncles, grandparents that you know of?

Camilla: So my mom, um, she’s artistic, and then my great aunt, my great aunt. My great, why can’t I say it? My great grandma. So she was very artistic too… and yeah, there was a, cause I guess it runs in both sides of the family.

Um, my sisters didn’t get any of it though. It was like all condensed into me. Um, just, but they’re, you know, my family, I think they’re creative thinkers and they definitely are very unique in how they approach life. And so it’s not just like, Um, yeah, so my family’s creativity kind of comes out in different ways.

And for me it was a very visual kind of way.

Elle: And did you know then from a young age that art was what you wanted to do for your career then?

Camilla: Oh yeah, I actually thought that, um, so I was really big into dinosaurs. I don’t know if you were, but I was like obsessed with dinosaurs. And I thought, oh my gosh, this is the best thing ever.

I could just have a career of drawing dinosaurs. I thought that was what a paleontologist did. When I learned that, nope, we have to go into the hot sun and dig up dinosaur bones, and then there’s all this other, and I’m like, I have the, I mean, I’ve got this skin the color of, you know, mozzarella.

So I would have burned so quick. I mean, I burn, I get sunburns just being indoors. So imagine if I had gone outside. Um, so yeah, but, and so after… and it’s funny because, um, you know, my mom being like, so like around kids all the time, we watched a lot of cartoons and it wasn’t until The Little Mermaid, the Disney movie that I was like, I turned to my mom and I’m like, oh my gosh, this is so… I love this so much.

And my mom mentioned, she was like, yeah, well, that’s somebody, you know, that’s a career right there. I said what do you mean? I’m like, well, she’s like, well, people get paid to do to do that. Like people get paid to um, like, are you kidding me? People get paid to animate. And my mum was like, yeah, like that’s it.

I’m going to be an animator. So I, and that was when I was 12 and I was like, yeah, I’m going to be… no, younger than that, I don’t even remember. And my mom was like, okay, well, if you want to be an animator, you have to like, take all of the electives in high school and, you know, go to courses. So that was what I had planned to do.

Now, I apparently I’m just a terrible animator. I actually was like the worst. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the repetition of it. Uh, so it wasn’t for me. So I found other avenues to express myself creatively.

Elle: And did you go to school for art?

Camilla: Yeah, I did. So I went to, um, uh, the Kelowna University and I went there and I did a semester of fine… of um practical arts before I ended up going to the, the Vernon college to do the animation program.

So I learned, and I mean, I took all sorts of electives in high school. And then when I did the, after I did the, the, uh, graduated from the animation program, I, I went back to the school, um, in Vancouver and that was at the Capilano University. And I did the Idea Program, which is design illustration and painting.

So I had a very, I have a very, uh, like well-rounded creative history, you know?

Elle: So I mentioned in your intro that you are a pop surrealist painter and creator, because you don’t just paint you create jewelry, fashion, like toys, you’ve done so much. Very cool. Um, so, so what is pop surrealism?

Camilla: So, you know, it’s funny, I didn’t even know that pop surrealism existed until somebody mentioned it to me years ago.

And so pops realism is basically a faction of the low brow movement, art movement, which developed in the seventies. And it was this movement of artists who were doing a bit darker stuff, but more cartoony, you know. It was a branched off from what the traditional art was, you know, like realism and pointillism and abstract, like they were taking, uh, essentially like cartoons and elevating it.

And so pop surrealism, it’s the lighter side of that. It’s um, Yeah, it’s it’s, uh, it’s, it’s really fun. So it’s like essentially taking pop art and then twisting it with surrealism. So I fell into that without knowing it. I was just painting girls with, like I was, my style was inspired by animation, which anime in the Japanese style.

And, and portraiture is from Italy. You know, like I’m, uh, obviously my, my background is that. And so I was always obsessed with the Renaissance. And so it was like a, an amalgamation of the two. And because I did this kind of surreal element of having like giant animals on a little girl, like, like small heads, it was like, oh, that’s surreal.

And I got, like, I just was absorbed into that movement of art.

Elle: You were doing it before you even knew there was a name for it, essentially.

Camilla: Yeah, exactly. I didn’t even know. I was like, cause the movement was in Los Angeles mostly and I’m, I was in Vancouver and I didn’t even know about it until a collector from Los Angeles kind of mentioned it, you know?

Elle: An you say animals on the heads, I’ll show some images, um, for those, uh, people watching and links of course, to your art for those who are just listening, but I especially love the tentacles of yours. Just so cool.

Camilla: Oh, thank you. Well, you know, and it’s when I started out, I mean, I’ve been doing this for so long that there’s been so many stages in my career. So I started out with like, um, head gear, the helmet girls, and then it evolved into girls with, um, animals on their heads.

And now it’s, I’m slicing rainbows. It’s so much fun.

Elle: Yeah, has there been, uh, like you say, you’ve been, you’ve been at this for a while. You have so much work. Has there been a kind of highlight of your career so far?

Camilla: Oh my goodness. Um, well that might be an easier question if I wasn’t a Libra that can’t make decisions.

So I definitely know that I think a pivotal show for me was my, um, my Niji Bambini show, which means rainbow children. And it was a point in my career where I took off from doing just girls, like with animals. And it became the rainbow, the rainbow children. And like, this is, this is one of mine.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #35: What Does It Take to Be A Pro Wrestler?

Study this video as a lesson on LingQ

Elle: Hello everyone and welcome to the LingQ podcast with me Elle. Remember English learners, you can study this podcast episode along with all the other episodes in the podcast as an English lesson on LingQ. Work your way through the transcript, translating words and phrases you don’t know while you listen. It’s an excellent way to level up your English. If you’re up for a challenge, check out the LingQ challenges page. There are all kinds of different challenges in lots of different languages. I’m currently just over halfway through my French 90-Day Challenge. I’m reading a Stephen King book in French, which is challenging and also super fun.

If you’re listening on Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple, Google, please feel free to give us a, like a share or a review. We greatly appreciate it.

Today. I am joined by someone from the exact same city as me, Cardiff in Wales. He is a pro wrestler and he runs a wrestling Twitch channel. I’m really excited to be joined today by Shay Purser.

Shay, How’s it going?

Shay: Hey Elle, how’s it going? It’s good to see you. I’m happy to be on, yeah I’m. Uh, yeah, excited be on. Good to get to do something different.

Elle: Excellent. Well, it’s great to have you, um, I’m usually interviewing people in the language niche or I have been. And so it’s really, it’s going to be interesting for our listeners, for sure to, to learn about wrestling something I really know nothing about to have to say. So I’m really looking forward to learning something new. First off, uh, you are joining us from Cardiff in Wales, as I said, um, where I also come from, how is life in Cardiff?

Shay: Yeah, it’s good. It’s changed a lot in the past like decade. It’s always been an evolving city, but, um, yeah, in the past 10 years it’s really taken a like cultural leapfrog and it’s a really fun city to be in. I like… it’s nice to see something always changing in the cities and there’s always something to do. So you really can’t complain.

Elle: Yeah, it, it’s such a beautiful city too. So Shay, wrestling… first off, I want to know how a guy from Wales where wrestling, isn’t really huge and it’s not like we have wrestling in high school or primary school. How did you even get into wrestling?

Shay: So, yeah um… it Just so happened that the one wrestling event in Cardiff, and for the most part in South Wales was two doors up from where I lived.

So when I was like five years old, I, um, started going to shows and watching like people that would eventually become my trainers, just starting their careers. Uh, and I, I watched like two or three shows and then I fell out of love with it. Um, then around the age of like 10 or 11, I, um, I hate television wrestling by the way.

That was the other… I didn’t, like, I thought it was fake, obviously. Uh, but I thought the stuff that I was watching was real, uh, just to let everyone know it’s all fake. I just was convinced by the illusion, the illusion of television. The like, oh, the television stuff is fake, but the stuff that I’m watching in this community center is real.

When in reality, it’s the exact same thing.

Now I use the, I use the word fake as I like a umbrella term. Predetermined is the word to use. Um, We we work together in the ring to create the most interesting match possible for the audience is the way to think about it. Injuries still happen. I’ve torn my MCL. I’ve had multiple concussions, uh, but, um, yeah, not a fun time, but, uh, I, uh, But in the same vein about some really fun experiences in it.

Uh, and I eventually started to understand this aspect of wrestling and started to really appreciate it and started to watch all kinds of wrestling. I was watching wrestling in community centers in America on YouTube because I thought it was cool and interesting and different than I’d go and uh, and then I really started to get back into it when I was a pre-teen into teenager.

I really started to enjoy wrestling again. Um, I started going to live events, so started bouncing around city to city and just trying to find out everything from what was going on in Japanese wrestling to what was going on in American wrestling to what was going on in European wrestling. I started to dig into the Britishwrestling scene and I was like, okay, I want to do this now, how old do I have to be to start? And in Britain we’re notorious for starting incredibly young. So I found a training school in Newport, which is about a 20 minute train journey from where I live. Uh, and I phoned up the trainer and I’ve always had like quite a deep masculine voice anyway.

Like I, I hit puberty voice-wise at like 13, so it really, uh, it really, so I pick up the phone and he didn’t even question my age. Where are your parents? I was like, ah, I’ll be okay. And then, yeah, I kind of weaved in from there and I started a training in Newport originally. Then I went up to the Midlands to go and train with a man who is now one of the biggest themes in wrestling, which is great.

Um, and then I bounced around the United Kingdom scene over to America. I’ve done, I’ve done a lot of bouncing to train and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been fun.

Elle: So is it then, is it a growing scene in the UK, the wrestling scene since you started?

Shay: Uh, so I, as I started, I’d say the year after that, or if wrestling came into what we call a boom period, uh, and it, it really started to flourish.

Um, and it was a really, uh, it definitely, you know, uh, we eventually got to a point where in British wrestling, people were selling out the SSE Wembley, which is the smaller Wembley next to the actual Wembley stadium. Uh, we had people, uh, going to the hydro in selling it. We have people going to the NEC these huge shows are happening to the point where like WWE began to capitalize on it, major companies now view British wrestling as somewhat of a battleground, which is incredible. Um, admitedly due to to the pandemic we’ve had quite a big fall off and some other factors as well. Uh, but there’s a bit of a rebuilding scene in the United Kingdom right now. And I mean, if you look at it objectively as well, a lot of the people that were around five to six years ago are doing incredibly well for themselves now.

And that’s great. Like it’s, it’s good to see a lot of people that were around are now able to live their dreams full time. And a lot of the people that are still around helping rebuild or have found their own paths that make them incredibly happy. So yeah, the scene’s on its way back up again, after a bit of a dip.

Elle: Great. And I feel like it must be in the US too, just because, I say that I don’t know it’s just because there’s that show on Netflix, um, Glow.

Shay: I was going to say Glow actually, um, started… there’s now a, uh, women of wrestling it’s called, they’re having a reboot essentially, which is inspired directly from Glow.

Uh, and that has been, the amount of wrestling that is influenced by mainstream culture is incredible. And the fact that if wrestling gets mentioned in passing in something, wrestling suddenly gets a massive turn upwards, and it is really beneficial. It’s, it’s bounced back and forth. And I think like wrestling is at its best when it tries to keep up with pop culture.

Um, Uh, at like at it’s always the most fun, like, I dunno. I just really enjoy that.

Elle: Yeah. And there’s that movie too, I don’t know the name, with Florence Pugh, that British…

Shay: FIghting with My Family.

Elle: Yeah. I thought that was such a lovely fun film.

Shay: Yeah. Yeah.

It was a great, it was a great, um, I said this cause a lot of I’ve watched it with a lot of wrestling fans and wrestling fans are quite like ambivalent towards it for the most part. Some people liked it. Some people didn’t. I thought it was great because I was like, well, the target audience for this is young women. I was like, this is like, girls are gonna watch this and want to become a wrestler. It was like that that’s…

Elle: That’s good for wrestling.

Shay: I was like, that’s good for wrestling. That’s good for film. I was like, that’s good for everyone. Um, I know the family quite well, uh, wrestling in general is quite like a tight knit circle. So like, you tend to be like, uh, like two degrees of separation from every wrestler. Like it’s like, it’s like, oh, it’s like that guy who knows that guy he knows that guy and then I’m friends with The Rock plug. It’s like, it’s that kind of vibe.

Elle: So let’s go back to something you said earlier, and we talked about it being fake and you said as a predetermined show. So how predetermined I wonder. Do you go when you train, are you basically uh, rehearsing like a show?

Shay: So that’s a really interesting question and it varies. It actually does vary from where you go.

Uh, wrestling has different cultures, and I think that’s a really cool thing about it. So the way people wrestle in Mexico to the way people wrestle the United Kingdom to the way people wrestle in Japan is it’s the same sport and we will all wrestle each other, but we go about it very differently. The same way a basketball team might play very smashmouth offense and try and get to the basket to score two points. And another team may stay at the perimeter and try and shoot three. We’re playing the same sport, but we’re going completely different ways about it. Um, and that that’s kind of like that in wrestling as well, where like, um, So I like where I’ve trained and in the United Kingdom, we tend to train for practical situations.

So you’ll, you know, work with each other to make sure no matter what happens, you’ll get a good wrestling match and then maybe you’ll work on other things, but it’s primarily, you’re getting it down and making sure it’s okay, then you’ll go to, um, maybe Japan where they do tend to go a week or two in advance and prepare everything and make sure everything’s at least somewhat clean and smooth.

Elle: That doesn’t surprise me.

Shay: Yeah. I was going to say, I was also going to say the cultures of the wrestling replicate the actual culture very well too. Um, uh, and, um, then in America there’s kind of, uh, America’s kind of, um, uh, Again, ref representative of the real world. America’s kind of a melting pot of wrestling culture where like there’s a Mexican wrestling culture, there’s a British wrestling culture, there’s a Japanese wrestling culture there.

And it kind of, it’s a bit of a melting pot and you can go there and really do anything. And yeah, it really does vary on where you go. It’s really interesting.

Elle: Right. And speaking of the states, what about like Olympic wrestling? That’s a completely different thing, right?

Shay: Yeah. Completely different. But we do see a lot of Olympic wrestlers transition to wrestling because I think there’s this thing about being so fluid with your body and being able to move very cleanly that translates to wrestling. And also fundamentally just being coachable because wrestling is a, uh, something that involves, like you could be the best actual wrestler, as in the fundamental moves of wrestling in the world, you could be the best, but if you can’t pick up a microphone and talk, you’re never gonna succeed in the industry.

And that’s, that’s the performative side of it. Or at least people will have you believe that there are other ways of succeeding, but, uh, um, like you can, some people may, and that’s a great thing about it as well, some people could view… legitimately the wrestling is the one sport where you could be the best wrestler in the world to one person and the worst to another.

And there’s no real, it’s incredible.

Elle: And is there any, there’s no beef between, you know, the Olympic wrestlers and the other kind?

Shay: I don’t think so. I think we take it very in stride. Like, um, the only animosity I’ve ever felt is like from MMA fighters tend to be quite like, oh, like again, that’s a big generalization.

I’ve met some great ones. Um, I did, uh, I I’ve worked with people like Ben Askren and they’ve been great. And they’ve been super like nice and supportive of wrestling, but the issue is they can, the issue is you can never really complain because some of the most successful amatuer wrestlers of all time have gone on to work for WWE and be professional wrestlers.

So it’s like, it’s like, it’s like an, also the big thing, even if it’s not all levels, there’s uh, money and like, uh, a lot more money in professional than there is amateur, because amateur wrestlers don’t get the contracts. They don’t get, they don’t, you don’t see amateur wrestling on TV every Monday night.

Whereas you do see professional wrestling on TV every Monday night. So it’s a, it’s a logical transition for a lot of them.

Elle: Yeah. How about the skills to be a good wrestler then, as you mentioned, it isn’t just physical. It’s more personality. And that makes total sense. WHat else do you need?

Shay: It’s crazy, there’s so many different… so a base level, so I’ll describe like, and there’s several different aspects of wrestling as well, so like if you’re a television wrestler to an independent wrestler, there’s a lot of different things you tackle and take on, but the, the, the, the actual in ring, uh, physics, you, first of all, have to be, to be able to carry your opponents. You have to have enough endurance to be able to continue between an eight to sometimes 60-minute match. Sometimes you can go 60 to 70 minutes in matches. I’ve seen, I’ve been in those matches. It’s insane.

I have wrestled people that are 4’2″ and uh, 80 pounds. And I’ve wrestled people who are 7′ tall and 300 to 400 plus pounds.

Elle: And you have to be able to lift that 300 pound person?

Shay: It’s a, it’s a, it’s a help. It’s a help. Um, uh, especially when you’re training, you have to do a lot of training with people that are heavier than you.

It’s kind of like the worst case scenario, you know, run, run around with a guy who’s 6’8″ on your shoulders for 10 minutes. You’ll never do it in a match, but do it to get used to it. Um, get, get that uh… and then there’s this other aspect where the entire time you’re working with your opponent.

So you have to also have great communication skills. You have to have, uh, the ability to convince everyone who is watching the feeling you’re trying to convey as well as the stage performance side of it. And then on top of that, you’ve also got to go and sell your merchandise afterwards. You probably had to set up and help pack down the ring as well.

You’ve probably, you’ve probably driven five to 10 to 20 hours if you’re in the states, like it’s, there’s so many things that go into wrestling. It’s, uh, it’s endurance for the mind and body. There’s the acting side. It’s a lot, a lot of things go into it and there’s a… yeah, definitely. Um, it’s definitely, uh, something that, it takes a lot of determination, skill or passion. One of the, one of the three usually.

Elle: Right. Yeah.

I guess the passion for sure. As you say, you’re traveling, you’re spending so much time, hurting yourself.

Shay: Yeah. Like I said, I’ve had multiple concussions. I’ve broken my hand. I’ve torn my, I tore my MCL. I’ve torn my ACL.

Um, I, yeah, I’ve had a rough time of it. I perforated my eardrum, which is a horrible thing. It was a horrible thing when communication is key in wrestling.

Elle: And just a horrible thing in general.

Shay: Yeah. Um, yeah, not fun. It was… the best way I could describe it as well it’s like being underwater, like it was like, I, it sounded like it just sounded for a week like I was underwater. I certainly don’t have perfect hearing anymore, but, um… it’s a, we do it for what we love. Hey, we do it for what we love. That’s what I always say.

Elle: And what about your most recent injury? Before we started recording you told me about your wrist.

Shay: Oh, yeah. Um, so I do a separate job. Uh, again, like I said, stage performance comes with professional wrestling, uh, shout out to Bingo Lingo. They’re an 18 plus bingo company based in the United Kingdom. I am one of their, uh, stage performers, or they’re also known as grannies and apparently injury just follows me in life. Uh, I’ve managed to break my wrist and, um, Just there.

If you’re, if you’re watching, if you’re just listening, you won’t be able to, but it’s, uh, it looks like I’ll, I’ll describe it for someone that may be listening, it looks like it looks like a cartoon shark bite. It’s actually like that. That is exactly what it looks like.

Elle: Oh my goodness. How, how long ago was that surgery?

Shay: Uh, I’m three and a half weeks now. Post surgery. Four and a half to five post injury. I think so. Yeah.

It’s a pretty, it’s been, it has been a time. Yeah.

Elle: Ooh. Okay. Well Bingo Lingo.

Shay: I’d recommend checking it out.

Elle: I look into to that for sure. And that’s just inCardiif or is that around the UK?

Shay: It’s all around. It’s all around. It’s all around Europe. Now we did offer some in Ibiza last month. Yeah.

Elle: Why does it have to be, well, I mean an 18 plus I guess it’s gambling, but 18 plus you mean it’s run in the clubs?

Shay: Yeah, it’s run, it’s run in nightclubs and it’s catered towards it’s catered towards like a student. I mean, I say it’s catered to students hen parties, everything. I dress up as an old lady and, um, my job is to get everyone hyped up and excited, but I, I, I, one of my taglines as a wrestler is that I am more than a wrestler.

I think this encapsulates it.

Elle: Right. Okay. And do you incorporate any wrestling moves?

Shay: We actually do. Like, it was weird. They came up to me and they went, so obviously an iconic number in, I think British culture and every culture is the number 69. Um, uh, and that there is a, there is a move where I will jump on to my other Bingo Lingo granny partner in a 69 position, which is a very common training thing we do in wrestling.

I was like, oh no. I was like, oh, this is easy. I was like, I’ve been doing this for years.

Elle: So tell us about your, now I don’t know the lingo around Twitch because I do not use Twitch. I honestly, I don’t even really know if I understand fully what Twitch is. Maybe my listeners are as old as me and don’t know either. First, what is Twitch and what are you doing on Twitch?

Shay: So Twitch is a video streaming platform and you’ll, I’ll emphasize the word video. So Twitch got its brand and build by being a livestream service that would primarily stream video games and people would play on there. The most famous Twitch stream or streamer that I can think of is a guy called Ninja.

He’s become quite popular in like modern culture. He’s known as being like the Fortnite guy I think a lot of people call him, um, and it became a big gaming platform. A lot of people went on there, game and get viewers because we live in a world where people like to watch people play games. People like to watch people share their common interests and like to interact in a community where they can feel like they can share those interests.

And it’s really cool. And the Twitch live chat is perfect for that. Twitch has slowly started to expand now um, and it’s grown into a bit more of a. Um, well, multimedia platform, you can do anything from whatch someone, uh, cook on there, to what someone, uh, bake on there. I mean, that’s the same thing. Nevermind… you can go on there to watch someone react to sport. That was a horrible comparison. Could watch someone cook on there. Now you can watch someone play sport on there. Uh, there’s literally anything you can think of is probably being streamed on Twitch. As an example, last night, I streamed myself being turned into Pat Butcher for Halloween.

If you don’t know Pat Butcher, she’s a popular EastEnders character. She’s about 60 to 70 years old. So turning this into a 60 to 70 year old woman from the East End of London was certainly interesting.

Elle: She has a very, a very unique look, shall we say.

Shay: Definitely unique, but I’ve done everything from that to, um, I put, uh, during the height of the summer heat wave, I put a paddling pool in my front garden, set the camera up and sat on my street and just talked to strangers and asked them about how their day was going.

Um, and that’s kind of like, that, I think that does show… and then on top of that, I do daily sports streams where I’ll talk about the news and wrestling and, um, Football really or anything. And it’s not just about like, you may, you may not even be interested in the topic that I’m talking about. Like, I guarantee that several of the football and MMA fans that were watching me last night were not interested in watching a makeup artist talk to me about how Pat Butcher’s eyeliner is done, however, On the flip side, I believe my LGBTQ audience that would have tuned into whatch the Pat Butcher stream probably don’t have the biggest interest in how Ciryl Gane is going to overtake Glover Teixeira, in the, uh, in MMA. Like they probably don’t, there’s not those shared interests, but I think the, I think again, I used the term melting pot earlier.

I do use my stream as a melting pot to several people. Also, the more I stare to the people who are watching this on video, you can see a slight tint of scar on my eyes from the Pat Butcher look, I haven’t washed all of it off yet. I only just noticed.

Elle: A little bit of a mascarra is good for any time. Any person, any time. Emphasizes the eyes.

It’s all good. It sounds like you’re just have such a fun life where you’re able to do what you love, incorporate your passions into these different activities.

Shay: I think like, um, I have like a big thing, like I’ve actually actively taken a bit of a step back from wrestling in the past since the pandemic, because I had a big realization with this with 18 months off of wrestling.

I don’t know if this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, a real, like a real… am I going to, am I going to, for the rest of my life pursuing this singular sport, is this all I want to do? And the answer I came up with was, no, but I don’t want to stop. So I had to kind of find a compromise within my head.

Well, if I just carry on doing this for the rest of my life, I won’t be happy, but if I give up on it, I’m taking a huge part of my life that I’ve enjoyed so much and will continue to enjoy it. And I, I, I hit a crossroads when I went, tell you what I think I’m going to do wrestling, take an active step back and try and look into other things to pursue. Twitch came up at that time, I started Twitch and I was like, well, this is incredible, I absolutely love this.

Um, and as Twitch took off and I managed to very luckily get a contract with Twitch’s sports accelerator program. I, uh, I really wanted to take all of this under my wing. And then I was like, well, what else can I do to enjoy myself? Because in the meantime I was working jobs I wasn’t enjoying, uh, I was just not something, you know, when, when you, when you, when you’re trying to, like, I honestly, if you’d like as a bit of a pursuit of happiness and I wasn’t pursuing happiness. So I, I took myself back to a point where I could, I found a means of income that will make me safe. And then I found the most enjoyable way of doing it. And I think I’m doing well at the moment. The plan is just to keep growing and keep making myself have more fun and daring myself to do more things.

Elle: So you, are you saying that no more wrestling in the future, you would just stick to the….

Shay: No, I am, I will still be wrestling. I’m still, I’m just being actually I put a large video, uh, on my, uh, Instagram and Twitter explaining it, but essentially I’m just taking a bit of an active step back from… I’ve gone from training five times a week and wrestling three times a weekend to wrestling on my own terms. Now I want to be able to, I’ll still be training hard when I have bookings to come up to, but those bookings are going to be a lot less frequent because I’m very much, very much happy doing what I’m doing. I think I just have to put myself first and that’s it. I think that’s the important thing as well.

I think a lot of people get burned out from their passions and sometimes forget what their passions are. I love wrestling more than that. Like I, in the, in the time I’ve taken away from it and the step back I really appreciate how much I love it. And I actually have, like for the first time in a while, a real want to wrestle, I’m like, oh, I really, really re I have a hunger to wrestle.

Now. I’m like, I want to get back into a wrestling ring and I’m stopping myself. I’m like, I’m like, oh, I really want to get back into a wrestling ring and then I’ll get offered something. Then I’ll pause and go, no, I’m still gonna wait. I want to, and it’s like, I’m making myself hungry, I’m hungry and like driving my own passion back up.

And it’s really, yeah. I I’d say it’s a really nice thing that I’ve been able to do. And I found otherfulfillment in the meantime with stuff like Bingo Lingo and Twitch, which has been great.

Elle: Yeah. I was going to say, when you, when your passion becomes a chore, I think that’s the best thing to do is take a step back.

And now, like you say, you have this renewed passion, desire, interest in wrestling.

Shay: It’s so true, especially when you can like speak to other people that have gone to where you want to be, or like maybe have reached where you want to be and you see them snd you go, actually, it doesn’t look like the best thing on earth.

And it’s like, I think I’m, I’m gonna, it’s like, if, if all of this work leads me to something that may not fulfill me, I think I’m going to be okay. Uh, I think, I think I can, I think I can work on other avenues and other, other ways of making myself happy and I really say I have. And the other thing is to make work I’m proud of, and that is something you need full creative control over and very sadly in wrestling, you don’t always get given creative control.

Uh, so I I’m very cautious of that. I want to make sure that when I’m like 50, 60 years old and I look back on like my scrapbook of memories or my obituary, that is just pretty much my Instagram and I can look at it, I can look at it and just go, I really enjoyed that, that really made me happy. I’m proud of myself, and I think that’s really hard for a lot of people to do nowadays, but I think, I think I’m on my way.

Elle: Excellent. So what is in store for your Twitch channel?

Shay: Uh, yeah, we do, we do like a bunch of different content on there. I’ve always had big, uh, big plans. The big thing we did at the start of the year, which I’ll definitely be doing again, uh, in the coming months was, uh, we did a, I stayed up for 25 hours.

Um, and streamed with a bunch of guests, popular wrestlers from companies such as AEW, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and other places joined me. Uh, it was, it was, uh, tormenting. Um, uh, it was hard, but we, we raised over, I think 1500 pounds for charity, but we donated that to local food banks in Cardiff, uh, in the Midlands and in each city that I wrestled in while I was out in America.

Elle: Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, listen, Shay, this was super interesting. I learned a lot. I think my listeners hopefully did also. Um, yeah, I want to thank you so much for joining us and best of luck with the channel. Best of luck with Bingo Lingo and all that good stuff. I hope you don’t have any more injuries because you’d think having a break from wrestling, your body was getting a break, but it seems that’s not the case.

Shay: So the re the, the real funny thing is I’ve been, I’ve been in, I’ve been injured every October for the past four years. And there is something about the spooky month. There is something about spooky month. Yeah.

Elle: Okay. Well, at least now, you know, next October, just lock yourself in your house.

Shay: Bubble wrap.

Elle: Don’t go anywhere. Yeah.

Shay, thank you so so much. Uh, I hope it heals well, your wrist and, yeah, thanks for joining us today.

Shay: No worries. Thank you so much for having me.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #34: Big Bong on Entertaining in Different Languages

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

Elle: Hello everyone and welcome to the LingQ podcast with me Elle. If you would like to study this podcast episode as an English lesson, I’ve created it for you. The lesson link is in the description. The lesson is on LingQ. You work through the transcript, listening and reading and translate words and phrases that you don’t know. While you’re on LingQ why not check out the challenges page? We have various challenges in many different languages so see if your target language is there. I’m currently studying French, and so I’m in the French 90-Day Challenge. I’m about halfway through. I’m meeting targets for 90 days and I’m using the challenge to read my first novel in French. For those of you listening on a podcast platform, Apple, Google, Spotify SoundCloud, please give us a like a share a review. It is greatly appreciated. This week’s guest is YouTuber, performer, teacher and language learner, Big Bong. Bong, thank you so much for joining us. How’s it going? Bong: Thank you for having me. Not too bad. Thank you. How are you?

Elle: I’m good. I’m good. Thank you. So, um, so I’m in Vancouver, Canada, and you today are joining us from Montreal in Canada, right? Bong: That’s correct. Yes.

Elle: And how is life in Montreal? I haven’t been, I need to get there. I know it’s a beautiful city. Bong: Yeah, well, it’s the same country, but, uh, as you know, it’s a very, a very big country, so it’s, it’s uh, we have a three hour, three hour difference, but, uh, the weather right now is pretty similar to Vancouver I would say. It’s a very cloudy, foggy, uh, we, we feel like winter is coming. Elle: Yes. I was going to ask you actually how is early fall/ late summer. So the same. Yeah.

We’re having a… Bong: The same yeah, but when we have the nice colors, you know, orange, red, and yellow, but that lasts for about two weeks.

And then after that, it’s just all gone and winter is what follows. Elle: Right.

So not so many… because in the west coast of Canada, we have a lot of evergreen trees, I guess, more deciduous trees on the east coast, right?

Bong: Well, actually what we do, but, uh, yes, we do. We do. Um, but, uh, yeah, we have all sorts of trees. So depending on where you are, sometimes you don’t see any leaves. Sometimes if you go skiing… like we have, we don’t have huge mountains like in Vancouver, but, uh, it really depends where you are, but, uh, yeah, right now we still have a bit of a greenery, but it’s going to be gone soon, I think in a couple of weeks or a month. Elle: Yeah.

Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s all of a sudden, it seems very wintry. Yeah.

Funny how that happens.

Bong: It’s Canada, right? Elle: Yeah.

Yeah.

At least we don’t get too, well, I guess in Montreal that you get a lot of snow in the winter, right? Bong: Yes, we do. And it’s very nice for skiing, but again, we don’t have the same mountains, so it’s not as enjoyable as on the west coast, unfortunately, but, uh… yeah, we do with what we have. Elle: And so did you grow up in Montreal?

Bong: Nope. I was born and raised in France and I moved to, uh, to Montreal, uh, almost seven years ago now and, uh, by myself and, uh, yeah, it’s been a pretty, uh, nice experience so far, I would say. Elle: Yeah.

You staying for kind of the foreseeable future?

Bong: Yeah, well, I came here with a working holiday visa and it was like, yeah, this is a good place to, to live so I’m just going to stay a little bit. And then after that, I completed a master’s degree at a university here and now I’m working. So, you know, time flies by, but, uh, Montrealkeeps me here so I’m staying. Elle: So you grew up in France. So tell us about your, your kind of childhood, cause reading up on you. I, I read that you spoke multiple languages growing up. Is that right?

Bong: Yes. Well, multiple is, is a big word. So I was born in France. My father is half French, half Lebanese. And unfortunately he, uh, he’s never spoken the language so Arabic was not part of the languages I could speak growing up. And also my Lebanese families, uh, everybody in my Lebanese family is fluent in at least English, French, and Arabic.

So they would speak French to us. There was French and my mother is Japanese so my mother tongue is literally Japanese. It’s the first language I’ve ever spoken. Um, and, uh, yeah, so it’s mainly the two languages. And after that at school, we started English, German and Spanish. Um, and, uh, and after that, uh, graduating from university, actually at the French university, I started a bachelor’s degree in international affairs. And I was, uh, I was lucky enough to go to Korea, South Korea, uh, to be an exchange student there. So Korean was also a language i, uh, a language that I studied in, uh, at the time.

Elle: Okay. I’d say that’s multiple languages. I think most people, I just spoke one, so yeah. That’s, that’s very cool. So, so, uh, so the French and the Japanese, and then at school, um, English, German, Spanish, have you gone on to study, uh, more languages after that as well?

And sorry, the korean.

Bong: Yeah, there’s Korean. And then by myself, uh, well I have a lot of friends from all around the world. And so, uh, I have friends, uh, in Italy. I have friends in, uh, Brazil, so, uh, it’s not too far from French and Spanish. So I decided to start learning for, uh, my, uh, my trip, uh, like for, for eventual travels there.

Uh, and also Chinese ’cause uh, apparently I have a few Chinese people watching my channel. So I might, you know, maybe develop that a little more, Chinese and, uh, Arabic of course, for my family. So again, it’s very difficult because it’s easier for them to speak English or French, but then I’m trying to, uh… and Arabic, you have MSA, which is the Modern Standard Arabic, but then you also have dialects, and I’m focused on the Lebanese one and also Russian, but that’s just for fun. I like reading different alphabets. So I started Russian and, and Greek, but mostly to be able to read and not necessarily to be fluent in the language.

Elle: I see, okay. So that’s a big motivation for you then the different, um, scripts? Bong: Yeah.

It’s yeah, it’s fun. And then, you know, if you meet people who can actually read them, you can kind of, uh, you know, write secret messages to each other. I think this is fun.

Elle: So then how many languages, I know this is a tricky question, would you say that, you know? Cause I, as you said, some you can read some but not, not so much speak. Um, what would you say if I were to ask you how many languages do you know? What would your response be?

Bong: So I would say, I would say that, yeah, it’s a tricky question because even Japanese, I haven’t studied in Japanese, so it’s not a language I’d be, you know, maybe I might not be able to professionally work, uh, in a Japanese environment, but, uh, I usually say that I’m fluent in French, English and Japanese, and, uh, I can survive in a Spanish, German and, uh, and speaking countries and Korean as well. And after that, like the languages I know. So I know the, the basic in, uh, in Russian, Arabic, uh, and Chinses.

Elle: Okay, so it’s safe to say languages are your thing. You enjoy it. Okay. So you are a teacher also as well as a YouTuber, which we’ll go into, we’ll talk about your channel in a bit. You teach French and Japanese. Tell us about your teaching style. Do you have a teaching style?

Bong: Well, I’m not a teacher anymore. I used to teach actually, I’m not a teacher cause I haven’t studied that at university. I’m not qualified to be called a teacher. Elle: Right.

Bong: So I would, yeah, I would use more tutor just to be politically correct. Say I’m a tutor, a mentor. Absolutely. And actually I would have been more like a coach because, um, my, I see myself as a motivator more than an actual, um, teacher. I’m not the one who brings the knowledge. I’m more the one who motivates you to, well, I… who used to do that, motivates you to, uh, um, “okay it’s time to learn”. Uh, “have you done your homework? Show me.” Uh, more that approach than actually a teaching. Okay. We say that, that way we do things this way. Uh, though I do play a… I play a persona. I play characters on my YouTube channel, a French teacher, a Japanese one.

Uh, but I, I think there’s more, um, performance oriented than actual teaching. So people can learn through that, but it’s really, I’m not you, you wouldn’t be able to become fluent thanks to my content. It’s more like, uh, entertaining and even someone who doesn’t necessarily want to, uh, learn English, French or Japanese could learn a few words or expressions just for the general knowledge. Uh, so that’s more my approach than being a teacher or tutor or, so I used to do that before it’s now, um, I have a full-time job working in communication and marketing. I have my YouTube channel, but I do not teach anymore. Uh, the following question was, uh, how do I, so there’s teaching and there’s learning. So my methods, uh, would be, uh, so, you know, when we think about a, uh, Uh, a language learner.

We usually have in mind, someone who is sitting at a desk, surrounded by books and who spends, uh, who spends hours studying, uh, I’m not really like that. I’m more of a field guy. And the way I learn languages is really being, um, traveling or, uh, through the internet and meeting people and, and speaking and trying to, uh, uh, how to say that?

Really, you know, um…

Elle: Encourage?

Bong: Yeah.

On the field and, and, uh, and having no choice, but to ask, how would you say that? Or, uh, so, so I’m that person don’t get me wrong. I’m not, I’m not saying that I don’t like reading books, but it’s not the way I learn languages. And, uh, so yeah, traveling was mainly the way that I learned languages. And again, as you said, as we said, uh, I, um, I started learning English, Spanish and German when I was in high school, back in France, but it’s really when I traveled, uh, in those countries that, uh, my, my level skyrocketed. So yeah, so, so when I’m by myself and I can speak to someone. For example, I usually use the shadowing technique, which is to watch content, TV show podcast or a movie, and just repeat after the person learning by heart, everything that’s being said. Uh, so yeah.

Elle: Great. I find that really effective too, the shadowing technique. It’s kind of exhausting I find. Maybe I’m too low a level. Yeah.

It’s effective for sure. I like what you said there about a coach, as opposed to a teacher.

I feel like that’s what most people… you think you need a teacher to give you all the technical details of the language, but I think most of us actually do need a coach because it’s such a long, you know, struggle a lot of the time learning a language. You need, even just someone saying, you know, you are doing well still, keep going.

Bong: Yeah.

Elle: Yeah, for sure. Uh, but you don’t, you’re not doing that anymore. You’re busy, you’re busy. You are running your YouTube channel and you have a full-time job. Um, so tell us about your YouTube channel.

Bong: So that’s the thing. So I said, I’m not really a teacher, uh, but I see myself more as a performer. And at the beginning, when I started my channel in 2015, it was more a portfolio, uh, to showcase my, uh, my acting skills.

Uh, because back then I wanted to explore that, um, you know, theatrical, uh, projects, improv or anything that’s related to audio visual, the playing characters. Yeah.

So that’s also my way of learning languages, you know, playing, cause we don’t have the same behavior when we speak a different language because it’s very cultural. It’s not just the linguistic, it’s also, you know, the body language, how you express yourself, uh, through, uh, your voice, the pitch. Uh, that’s funny also sometimes people, uh, see me switch from speaking French to answering the phone to my mom and, and, um, and speaking in Japanese and they say you have a completely different voice. So yeah, one thing I hated, uh, while watching TV shows or movies is when, uh, actors or actresses were chosen and they were supposed to play someone from a country, but clearly you could tell that they didn’t speak the language from the country. And, uh, and I do respect the work. You know, that the actors, they, uh, do their best and they’re, uh, followed by a coach. But sometimes, uh, actually many times, uh, especially in American productions, I felt. Come on, you know, if it’s a small country like Tuvalu or a, I think Tuvalu is a small country, right? Elle: Yeah.

Bong: It’s very difficult to find someone who speaks Tuvaluan, but, uh, French or Japanese, and then come on it’s not that hard, you know? In Hollywood you have a lot of Japanese speaking people, French speaking people.

So why would you choose someone to pretend who speaks French and for an American audience? That’s fine. But, uh, as a French speaker, I’m like, nah, So I decided to include that as part of my portfolio and, uh, and show that I could speak different languages and that will be my strength as an actor. Uh, but then also, you know, play comedy with that.

And then after that on YouTube, there’s a guy called, called Jake Wardle, also known as, uh, Truseneye92. And he made that video, uh, of him performing 67 different accents in English. And it was very motivated by that. I’m like, wow, that’s impressive. And he’s the best when it comes to that. Uh, but I thought that’s never been done in Japanese, so why not give it a try? So I did, there’s actually an actor, his name is, uh, Tamuri, Tamuri-san, he, uh, he’s good at, at accents, but he doesn’t speak the languages, but he’s just good at, uh, playing the stereotypical person from a country. And so she got very famous for that. Uh, but for me it was more like the linguistic.

How can you really exaggerate, um, the accent because their letters or their, uh, pronunciations that, for example french people are not able to say in English or in different languages. So I decided to do that in Japanese. And it was my first viral video. It was in 2017 and a lot of people like the video showed it and, uh, it was like, okay, well I have my niche now.

So it’s going to be comedy, uh, languages, accents. And I did the same with French, which was, which was also very successful. And so there is a thing for accents, uh, because if you think about it, we might speak the same language on paper, but if two people are not able to understand each other, then for me it’s the same definition of speaking two different languages. Like French from France, French from Quebec in Canada or Spanish from Spain and Spanish from Puerto Rico.

If two people from these countries, uh, speak, they might not be able to understand everything. And sometimes it’s even, you know, just half of the conversation. So it’s enough to say, okay, it’s different languages. Um, so yeah, from then on, I had a new audience that was more focused on language learning.

Uh, and I went along with it. So, so yeah, that’s where I’m at now… Elle: So are you still, I know you mentioned earlier, your full-time job is not in any well it’s marketing and communications. So do you still now pursue the kind of acting performing outside of YouTube? Do you go to auditions?

Bong: Yeah.

Well, auditions less because it’s a bit more difficult with my full-time job, but I have an agent for, uh, um, you know, to appear as an extra in movies. So that’s a bit more cash on the side, and then it’s also, uh, you earn credits and, uh, so you, you couldn’t really call yourself an actor when you’re doing just extra work, but it’s fun you on a, on a set. And it’s nice to see all the cameras, all the actors. We have a, there are a lot of, uh, big productions at the same in Vancouver, but in Montreal we have a lot of American productions coming here because it’s cheaper. Elle: Right.

Bong: So there was a movie actually. Um, Fatherhood with Kevin Hart. Uh, and I was, uh, I appeared two seconds in there and a lot of people were like, oh wait, I saw you in that.

Elle: Oh no way, people could actually see it was you? That’s great. That’s great. Bong: Yeah.

So, so it’s fun. Of course. I’d like a bit more, uh, if I can, but it’s a very difficult, uh, an unstable environment. So for now I have my job, I have my YouTube channel, so it’s perfect right now. So yeah, not asking for more.

Elle: Okay. How about the, uh, the French speaking, uh, movie and TV industry there, is there a lot of call for…

Bong: Right, so that’s, that’s a bit tricky here because, um, they have a different accent, uh, which I could fake it, but it’s, it’s not authentic. And, uh, and I think they’re looking for local people, so. So, yeah, on the paper, I I’m allowed to work here. Um, and they, they also enjoy, enjoy, they, uh, they’re trying to, to, uh, you know, uh, promote also diversity cause I, I fall into that category as well, but, um, to be honest, no, every time I have additions for, uh, uh, for French speaking content, uh, yeah, it doesn’t work because, because of my accent. Elle: Uh, that’s so… dang! Cause you speak French and you’re in this French speaking movie and TV industry city. Must be annoying, but at least, like you say, more American production companies are in Montreal.

Cause it’s cheaper to film there. So you get those opportunities.

Bong: And they’re more flexible with the English. Actually you can have a British accent, then you can have an American accent. You have a Canadian accent. They’ve been more flexible with auditions and things like that. But to be honest, uh, the work I do is mostly for, uh, ads or uh, yeah. Extra or yeah, things like that. Not too serious at the moment, but we’ll see. Maybe I’ll be contacted by an agent soon and it’s going to change, but for now I’m happy with that with YouTube and my current job. Elle: Excellent. So Bong, tell us about, uh, the languages that you are currently learning. Are you actively studying any languages?

Bong: Yes. Um, actively again, it’s very relative, but, uh, there was supposed to be in 2000 and in 2020 there was supposed to be the polyglot conference, uh, in Mexico. So I started, uh, so I know Spanish from before, but, uh, I decided to, to be a bit more intense in my learning, uh, but it was postponed, uh, it was postponed on 2020 in 2020, 2021.

Uh, is it going to happen next year in 2022? I don’t know, but yeah, um, um, I’m focused on Spanish right now, also Italian and Brazilian Portuguese, um, because of, uh, of trips, um, uh, planning. Uh, Korean, I put that on the side. German as well, unfortunately. Um, and sometimes I have language learning apps, uh, and I’m learning also Russian, but it’s slowly, it’s really slowly step-by-step so. Elle: Just four languages, no big deal.

Bong: But again, you know, it’s like maybe 15 minutes, 15 minutes every day, each language, sometimes Spanish a little bit more, but it’s not too intense. Elle: Okay. And so I know you before you mentioned, uh, being in the country, a country where the language is spoken was a big motivator for you. You just throw yourself in, but of course you, you are unable to do that right now. So what kinds of, um, methods do you use, you say 15 minutes a day, what are you generally doing in a day for each language?

Bong: Right. So, um, actually, you know what, Japanese is also one of them because I don’t really have a lot of opportunities to speak Japanese. So I’m kind of losing my mother tongue. So I do have a partner, a Japanese girl, and you know, the conversation is very, uh, natural, but still sometimes I forget words and it’s good to remind me. Or sometimes, you know, very technical terms, especially for during the pandemic. There are a lot of words that I forgot, for example, the vaccine, um, um, quarantine, you know, these kind of words that have forgotten Japanese.

It’s good to know because there’s a kind of vocabulary I would, I use, uh, on a daily basis when I speak Japanese, because that’s what’s happening right now. Um, so, so the ideal situation for me is to have a language partner, a language buddy. Uh, I do have that for Spanish. I do have that for Japanese. Uh, my level in, um, Portuguese and Italian is not there yet, so I still need to learn a bit more by myself.

Uh, but, um, so yeah, I try to call, usually I say, okay, wait 15 minutes. And it’s an exchange. So we call for 30 minutes and then it’s 15 minutes of. So my Japanese, uh, partner, she wants to learn French. So we speak 15 minutes in Japanese, 15 minutes in French, uh, for, uh, Spanish. It’s the same. She’s from Columbia. And we speak half an hour of not half an hour, 15 minutes in Spanish and 50 minutes in English, but it’s always a bit longer than that. Uh, but yeah, if you can find a language buddy, of course at the beginning, when you don’t even know the grammar or any, you know, structure, it’s very different. Uh, but, uh, I guess it’s pretty easy to get to the plateau. And then after that start speaking, um, so that’s what it looks like. I’m trying to call maybe twice, three times a week for Japanese and Spanish. So during the evening after work, uh, one day would be Japanese and one day it would be, um, uh, Colombian Spanish. And during the weekend I would have a break, you know, intense language learning.

Uh, and apart from that during the day when I have a uh, during my lunch break, just have an app and play on it for about 15 minutes again. And I think, uh, it’s, I don’t know if it’s working pretty well for me, but, uh, it’s better than nothing. And by the end of the day, I’m looking back and I’m like, yeah, I learned something today. You know?

Elle: Exactly, right? You think once you’re in it, you can’t see how much you’re progressing, but yeah, you are always for sure. Excellent. Well, um, tell us a bit about your channel then. What can anyone who will go from this interview and subscribe to your channel expect from the channel moving forward?

Bong: Yes. So that’s also a very tricky question because, um, as you know, I read of course, a lot of articles about how to grow your channel, how to have more subscribers, but the problem is that, uh, and everybody says that, although the experts, they say, if you want to strive, you need to find your niche. My niche is the language and culture.

But you have to stick to it. And usually when you study a language, then it’s supposed to be one language. Actually, it’s not true. I have a lot of friends who, who their channel is about learning any language, but, uh, but to be more successful, I should ideally just stick to one language. Okay, I’m going to teach French iand it’s the only thing we’ll be doing and maybe have another channel for just Japanese. Uh, but for me, it’s really like, no, I don’t really follow that rule. I’m just doing whatever. Uh, so you’ll find videos of me singing. You’ll find videos of me, uh, again with playing different accents, um, you know, impressions and things like that. You’ll see me teach, uh, playing characters to teach Japanese, French. Uh, I’ll invite people also that’s something I’m very, um, uh, I like doing, because it changes, uh, you know, just speaking to a camera, editing can feel pretty lonely. So sometimes I have guests. So it’s a bit more enjoyable for me too. Uh, and, um, yeah, I would learn a new language.

I did that with Romanian. I did that with, uh, uh, Arabic. I did that with a couple of languages and also accents as well. So yeah, it’s very difficult to say what type of content I make, but, uh, Um, I’m trying to be as entertaining as possible. So yeah, again as a performer, I think if I had to describe my channel, uh, in one word that would be, uh, entertainment.

Yeah.

To be entertained. Uh, and yes. Yeah, if you, if you, uh, I hope that’s my hope that if you watch my video, one of my videos, at least be able to learn one thing. Uh, and, and if I can, I can put a smile on your face, then that’s also what I’m aiming for, but if not, then that’s fine. Elle: Excellent. I like that. It’s authentic. It’s self-expression, you know, people are… people like that, you know, it’s real. Excellent. Okay. Well, thank you so, so much for joining me today, it’s been a great chat. Uh, I will pop the link to your channel, and I know you’re active all around Instagram and, uh, TikTok I think as well. Okay. So I’ll pop those links in the description and yes thank you so much. And enjoy the rest of your day, I guess what are we? You’re in the afternoon now in Montreal, right? Around 2.30.

Bong: Yeah.

Elle: Yeah.

Well, there we go. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon and evening and yeah thank you so much for joining us.

Bong: Thank you so much.

Elle: Thanks bye-bye.

Bong: Bye.