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

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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.

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

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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

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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?

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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.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #33: How to Work and Thrive in Japan the Chad Zimmerman Way

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 a lesson, an English lesson, I’ve created one for you on LingQ using the transcript and the audio. The lesson link is in the description. LingQ is a fantastic tool for studying content of interest in your target language.

You can find anything online and create a lesson with it, working through the words and phrases saving them to your own personal database. There are vocabulary exercises, there for you also, and as well, you can start a language challenge on LingQ. So I will also pop the link to the challenges page in the description.

I’m currently in a French 90-Day Challenge, which means I am going to hit targets set by LingQ in French over 90 days. And my goal is to, by the end of those 90 days have read my first novel in French. Check out the challenges on the challenge page and join me. Doesn’t have to be in French. There are lots and lots of languages you can do a challenge in. And if you’re listening on Google, Apple, Spotify, SoundCloud, please give us a review, like share or follow. Really really appreciated. Today I am joined by another wonderful guest. He is a YouTuber. He creates content around learning Japanese. He’s also a Japanese translator and an author. Today I am joined by Chad Zimmerman. Chad, welcome.

Chad: Welcome. Hi, uh, you are talking me up a lot. I have a lot to live up to just by the intro.

Elle: Yeah.

I mean, it’s impressive. It’s impressive. Just take it in.

Chad: I, look, I will act in my official capacity, which is YouTube because I technically make my income from that everything else… although I guess in years past I was paying my rent with it, but with COVID I’m stuck back here in the states, so I can’t do everything I was doing full time, but I definitely, I can, I can accept YouTuber and hobbyist language enthusiast.

Elle: Okay.

Hobbyist language and tips like that. Whereabouts in the states are you joining us from today?

Chad: So I’m in Denver, Colorado, the beautiful Rocky mountains. This is where I’m normally from. And I would be in Japan right now, except for obvious reasons. I’m a little bit shipwrecked over here. So yeah.

Elle: Pesky pandemic. Um, when were you last, when were you in Japan?

Chad: So I weirdly enough. So I was in Japan, I left to come back here for the holidays.

So I left like early December of 2019. Right.

When it was getting hairy and but, mind you, I went through China. So I was in China for a couple of days on a late layover in December of 2019. I come home and then by like January, February, they’re like, oh, China’s popping off. I’m just like, wow, that’s sketchy.

And then all of a sudden everything shuts down and the world’s closed and I’m like, wow, that is, talk about just like Indiana Jonesing, the hat under the door.

Elle: Yeah, exactly. At the last minute. And so you’re stuck, not stuck in Colorado. Colorado is a beautiful place.

Chad: Yeah.

I love it here. I just, uh, most of my work is in Japan nowadays.

That’s like where I make all my money. It’s where all my friends pretty much, since I was 18, are. Um, so it’s, it’s kinda sad, but it’s kind of good too. Cause you know, you get to see the family, you get to be in America for a while and forget why you love it here.

Elle: Exactly. Yeah.

You get to spend that quality time that you… it’s like a bonus quality time with family, right?

Usually living abroad. Yeah.

Chad: My mom had a hard time when I was gone.

Elle: Oh, I bet. I bet. Yeah.

Did you say you left when you were 18?

Chad: Yeah.

So my first time I was over there, I don’t remember if I was 18 or if I just turned 19, it was that… because my, my birthday’s in January and I left that month, but I don’t remember which exactly when it was, but I pretty much, I was, I solved the trap of college.

I was like, if I go to a college, I’m going to get $50,000 in debt. And I have friends that by the way, uh, even now they went to school for Japanese. They have degrees in Japanese and they’re waiting tables. And I was like, I don’t want to be 50K in debt and wait tables. So seeing the trap, I sold everything I owned that wasn’t stuck to the ground, bought a one-way ticket and went over there, went to a language school to start, so.

Elle: Okay.

And did you know any Japanese before you went?

Chad: Almost none. Yeah, I was, I was a bit ballsy back then.

Elle: So you went over, you’re 18, you go over, you start learning Japanese. And how long ago was that now?

Chad: Oh, well, oh man. Longer than I want to admit. So my, my first trip, when I first went over there, um, it was to try and figure out this, like, how do I go to school over there?

So that trip was only like a month, maybe two. Uh, I was staying, I was living in a closet at a church for free because I had nowhere to stay. I had no money.

Elle: How did that happen?

Chad: I mean, so I’m a Christian, but I just, I found churches that were in Japan. There’s not a lot of them. And I just wrote them and found one that spoke English and the people were very sweet.

Uh, but they were like, yeah, if you want. Come on over, we have this, they said guestroom, and then you show up and it’s an actual closet. And I was like, Hey, you know, I’m not on the street. Cause I, I did not have a plan to sleep anywhere. Cause I spent all my money on my flight. Right.

So I was over there figuring stuff out.

And when I was there, I learned about language schools and I learned about, I’d… I met some people that were in translation and interpreting as a career, and they didn’t, either didn’t have college degrees or they just got certificates. One of them, that’s how I found out about the JLPT, which was a huge theme of my channel till I passed the N2 a couple of years ago.

Elle: Congratulations.

Chad: Thank you. That took way longer than I thought.

Uh, and then…

Elle: I was just speaking just recently to, another, uh, YouTubeer, uh, I dunno if you know Denny Mintsaev.

Chad: I don’t think I do.

Elle: He created, he’s a YouTuber and also he’s Russian and he creates, uh, YouTube videos about learning Japanese, anyway, he’s trying for his N1 and also same thing…

Chad: I gotta to talk to him. I’m going to Russia this winter.

Elle: Oh

Chad: I had no idea he existed.

Elle: I will connect you. Yeah.

He’s… there we go. Perfect. Yes.

But yeah, the JLPT super, super difficult. I’ve heard from any, anyone who’s taking it, taken it, so. Sorry, carry on.

Chad: But yeah, so I just learned about that path and then again, it was like, I was faced with this thing where I tried to get into back home before I left I was thinking about community colleges. And I got, no, I applied for FAFSA, which is my country’s like, here’s free money to go to school. I got nothing and I was a pretty good student and I had good grades and, uh, you know, self-supporting at that point. So I was just shocked me that I couldn’t get anything.

And so it was like, oh, I can go into all this debt for something I didn’t know if I even wanted. Or I could just live the thing I wanted to do. I could find a way to do that. And so to this day I just found a way. So after that trip, I came home and I told my parents, you got one year left with me. I am, I am cabooting over to there and I’m going to go to school.

And I was one of the first student, I was in the first group, the first class of students when Genki turned into an actual recognized language school with the state. So they could issue student visas.

Elle: Right.

Chad: So I was at Genki JACS um, but I was also… Genki JACS is fine, but the truth was, and for anyone that’s considering going to language schools, here’s some great advice for you, a lot of rich Europeans use that to go to Japan for basically a vacation. So what happens is you go to school and you’re serious. You’re like, I want to learn this language. I’m going to get fluent. This will, I’m doing this with my life. I want this. And you’re in a class full of people that could not be bothered less.

And so they advertise it as like, oh, you know, the class is all in Japanese and the teachers will only speak to you in Japanese. And these students, like the minute the bell rings, they switch to English. All of them from Germany, from Denmark, uh, from Russia, they just, they don’t speak in Japanese. And then they all hang out only with each other outside of class time.

So like nobody’s actually interacting with Japanese people. And that’s when I was like, yeah, this school is not going to get me fluent. I need to get me fluent. And so that’s when I like I rejected my native language except for YouTube videos. And I just head first in and I met people I’m still great friends with, um, two of them helped me start my business.

One of them I’m helping them start an exporting business from Japan. A couple of them are like really great friends of mine. One of them is a pro skater. One of them’s, uh, getting into real estate in Japan. So now he wants to break into America’s market. So he, you know, goes through me. But that all that started because I was like, I don’t even know how to hold a conversation, but I need to learn this language.

So I think I’ve told this story before. I don’t think you’ve ever heard it. Um, the way I made the friends that are like my best friends to this day, I was walking through Fukuoka right by Canal City, which is this big mall by a canal. And there’s all these skateboarders that always hang out. And I just saw them and they looked like they were sweating like crazy.

They were so hot and it was just miserable. This is like Japanese in July, Japan in July. So, oh, it’s horrible. It’s like, I refuse, I will stay inside and I saw them and I was like, this is my chance. They’re roughly my age. They look friendly, but I don’t know how to talk to them cause I, I was very rudimentary.

So I went to a convenience store, right by there I bought $20, it was one of my last $20 cause I was a broke student. I sold everything I had to go there. And bought alcohol and water and drinks from the convenience store. And I brought it over to them and I was just like here.

Elle: Good plan. Did it work?

Chad: They talked to me till one in the morning, all day took me, they took me out to dinner.

They took me to the beach and we all, we did the sabiki fishing, which catches these little mackerels about this big. They skewered them and we grilled them on the beach. Like they started a fire and we had a bonfire at night and then they gave me their Line, which is like Facebook. And they were like, Do you want to come do this again tomorrow?

And I did that every day for six months. And that’s what got me really proficient when I was like at my peak, peak of Japanese.

Elle: Wow.

Chad: The school did really nothing. It was slowing me down if anything.

Elle: You took it into your own hands, literally.

Chad: Yeah.

Elle: Amazing.

Chad: Anyone that goes, this is the same thing with working out, right.

Language is the exact same process. If you go, I need someone to go to the gym with me, you’re never going to go because you’ll find someone to go with you and then they’ll stop. And then what motivates you?

Elle: Yeah

Chad: You need to be pushing yourself. You need to be your biggest motivator. And I found that just going this school was literally like imprisoning me almost.

Cause I didn’t want to go. They were too slow, but I had to go a certain amount of courses. Otherwise I’d forfeit my visa.

Elle: Uh oh.

Chad: And so it was this really nasty situation at that point. It’s nothing against Genki, they’re super nice people, but they know their audience. They’re playing to, you know, wealthy Europeans that essentially want a long holiday.

And that’s cool. But I wanted to be fluent really bad. I wanted to talk to these people that are like my best friends and like not struggle.

Elle: And really connect.

Chad: Yeah.

Yeah, definitely. I’m sure anyone that’s learned a language knows how surface level a language partner is when you’re not really deep in the language, but once you’re deep in the language, uh, some of my best friends to this day, it’s not even Japanese people.

They’re just people I helped with the language. Uh, the girl who… I have a book, but the girl who draws this book, I’m helping her with her… she’s Russian, so TOEIC the English fluency test.

Elle: Oh yeah. Yeah.

Chad: I think, um, yeah, one of the best people ever, and we are so close, but it’s, it’s that connection you want with a deep level of language learning and you only get that if you have a really deep level of language learning.

Elle: Right.

All right. And at what point then did you become a translator? Obviously you’ve passed the, the JLPT N2.

Chad: Yeah.

Elle: Which is the second kind of highest…

Chad: There’s five levels.

Elle: Yes.

Chad: And, and two’s the second highest, I guess.

Elle: Right.

Chad: I don’t know if people are listening to this and they’re not familiar with Japanese.

You could try and use the, uh, what’s it European framework. It doesn’t fit very well, but it’s kind of like a B2/C1. It doesn’t fit super well, but somewhere in there. Right.

Uh, but I was translating. And so this is one of the remarkable things that I found out. I know so many people that have like degrees in Japanese, like masters degrees in Japanese, and they can’t get a translating job because they’re Japanese sucks. Like if you can walk into an interview and confidently talk to the person and show them, you know what you’re talking about and like, it’s just not a problem. Why wouldn’t they hire you? In fact, they could technically, they could pay you less because you don’t have the paper next to your name that says Chad Zimmerman, PHD.

You know, all the other nice things. So they don’t have to pay you as well as someone with a degree. So they’re actually inclined to give you translation jobs. If you don’t have a degree, if you’re good, so the N2 doesn’t make you good. I know a lot of people that have an N2 that are pretty mediocre and that’s not being, it’s not being mean.

It’s saying that you can study for the test and not study Japanese.

Elle: Yeah.

Chad: They’re different things really. My thing was for the longest time I studied Japanese pretty well, but I never studied test taking ever. So I was like, I know all this stuff on the test, but I just, I, I can’t, I always run out of time.

Um, I don’t always understand why they’re phrasing the test or a question a certain way. And so I knew I had the a…I mean, passing on an N2 is 50%. It’s really not that good.

Elle: But tough test though, right?

Chad: It is but still 50% is like on a test that’s like, wow. So the thing that I learned, and this is part of the reason I do textbook reviews was again, it’s a big difference between just learning the language and being able to express that language on a test.

I mean, you’re an English speaker. There’s a big difference between being in a class and understanding the topic that’s being taught, whatever it is, it could be history or language could be Spanish and being able to replicate that on a monolingual test of that thing. Like there’s lots of people who can understand the topic or explain it, but they fail tests. Happens all the time. There’s a reason, even at my old high school, they separated English as a second language students, even if they were fluent in English from the normal, like you were native born in America, this is your first language because there there’s a difference between someone that has… like they’re born and raised in the language and they understand from the very beginning how tests are taken in that language, how the books are supposed to be read in that language, um, how to interact in the class with that language, how to interact with the material and someone that although learned it to a proficient level was never exposed to tests or reading assignments or worksheets or whatever.

There’s just a… and it’s not, it’s not a bad thing. It’s just reality. It’s the same thing with me in Japanese. Right? I was not born in Japan. There’s a lot about Japanese I don’t know. And it’s not just words or grammar. It’s like culturally, there’s like a way that they handle tests and test taking. Um, the way that information is presented is different.

And you can get to a point where you’re exposed enough to the language. A lot of people do this with crazy immersion that you can almost replicate that native thing. And that’s awesome. Uh, but I was not there. So I kept failing and then I found these textbooks that are…they, they’re not really teaching the language, they’re just helping you articulate what you already know into a test format. And that’s what helped me pass was being like, oh, so there’s actually a method to this that I didn’t understand.

Elle: Right.

Like being let in on something. Yeah, for sure. So you mentioned that you do a book reviews, textbook, or Japanese language resource reviews on your channel. Um, what is some of the better books that you’ve come across in these reviews that you’ve been doing?

Chad: Oh, okay. I mean, I could talk about, I don’t know if there’s good. They’re standard. Right? There’s, there’s more, um, normalized methods of learning. So a lot of these books I’ve held, I’ve reviewed like over 30 so far.

So I don’t know if I’m the most, like, I have the most reviews of Japanese resources on YouTube, but I’m probably up there.

Elle: That’s a lot. Yeah.

Chad: So after holding all of them, most of them are exactly what their categories… like it’s, you know, you have an absolute beginner book or maybe the beginner split into several books, intermediate books, and then I count it as other, I don’t think advanced textbooks really exist in honesty.

Okay.

Um, so I would say the bit, the biggest bonus with going with standardized books, these are books that are widely available. The ones that people most often use, that the reason you’d want to do that is there’s more of a commute. To help support you if you don’t understand something rather than going and, mind you I’m a third-party author, but rather than necessarily relying on a third-party author, because you might be working through this week’s review.

So the one I’m putting out on Wednesday is Japanese The Manga Way. It’s like teaching you Japanese grammar through Manga, which is a really cool book. And I, I have a lot of really positive thoughts about it, but if you’re relying on that book as your primary, imagine coming across an issue and you don’t know how to articulate what the issue is

because what you’re saying is, oh, this book explains it this way. So let’s say they refer to like ko, so, a, do words. So kore, sore, are, dore uh, koko asoko, right? Like the ko, so, a, do words, they call it that. But there’s actually a word for that. Like what those words are, there’s a grammatical word, or maybe you’re a part of a book that says, uh,so like “i” adjectives are, what was it…

I think. I’m tired. I never actually learned the actual grammatical terms for those cause in Genki, which is the textbook I started with, they didn’t teach you “here’s what mean in Japanese”. I just learned what an “i” adjective was or “na” objective. Right? I think it’s… I think. I’ll let the commenters shred me if that’s wrong.

It probably is. Uh, but imagine if you came from a background where you were talking about the Japanese term, cause that’s the book you used and people are like, what’s that? And you don’t know how to articulate this as an “i” or a “na” adjective. Right? And so there’s a safety going with the mainline books. And so what I like to show people is I compare them to the mainline books.

So if you want to know if you’re a new beginner and you’re like, I don’t know at all where to start the mainline beginner books, like the ones that are bread and butter, most communities use them are Genki both one and book two, Mina Nihongo both one and two. Um, I would say those honestly make up 80% of the market.

Elle: And Japanese for Busy People.

Chad: That’s uh, that’s, that’s a big one, but that’s not… the numbers, you can even look on Amazon. They’re not selling anything close to what those other two books sell.

Elle: Oh, interesting. I always thought they were… I used them. So maybe I was biased.

Chad: Well, they, they used to be really big. I have a couple versions of theirs on my shelf. I really should have done this in my study.

I have like a giant wall of Japanese resources. Um, but they’re just, that’s the thing is there’s also by the way, current. So that’s right now, like you’re listening to this, but let’s say in five years, you’re listening to this and you go, oh, maybe Genki is still the thing there very well might be a new thing coming out.

In fact, Tobira, which is a really, that one exploded in the intermediate books. Uh, they’re putting out a beginner series because they didn’t have one. And that one, from what I hear is really pulling punches with Genki and doing the things that people want from Genki, but it’s not in there. So that very well might take over.

But I’m saying for safety sake, if you’re too, excuse me, I coughed, for safety sake, if you would like to go over, you want to learn the language, but you want to be a part of a broad community to help you. If you have questions, the mainline books are those two and then it, however, Uh, pretty much intermediate is like Tobira still Mina No Nihongo cause they go farther.

Uh, and then what was that other one? Uh, Genki has an intermediate book that’s pretty popular now. It’s not, Genki, it’s a whoever prints Genki. An Intermediate Approach to Integrate… or An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese. That’s a very long English name. That is, so those are like the intermediate books.

And honestly, after those, it’s like now you’re picking hairs. I tried to go into. ..It’s like, what is it advanced or late intermediate or advanced textbooks? Um, I mean, you’re at a certain point where you hit that and it’s just like, you could just use native materials, like a dictionary, a grammar dic… like a regular dictionary on your phone, a grammar dictionary.

Um, I have several of those on my channel I’ve reviewed. And then just turn on Netflix with Japanese subtitles or read any Manga and you’ll be fine. Like you you’ll have plenty of exposure to be able to figure out the language at that point.

Elle: Okay.

Tell us about your book because I know you’ve written a few, but the Japanese resource book that you’ve written, learn Kanji with Yokai.

Chad: Yeah.

Elle: Is so Cool. Tell us about it.

Chad: So that, that was really fun. I should have talked about more of my translation work, cause that also led into me guiding and doing translation with my own business. But I’ll give you guys a gist of this. I translated for a long time on my own. I worked, I was translating originally.

I was on those sites that were like, we help you find translation work. And I was always translating like instruction manuals for like Ikea furniture. That’s one of the, that’s one of the ones I remember doing. It was all these little dumb projects and it never, it paid, but it wasn’t like amazing. And so I was like, I’m going to do this stuff on my own.

And so I started building up, uh, contacts in Fukuoka where I’m at with different universities. There’s a women’s university I worked a lot with, um, and I started doing a lot of translations for robotics companies, uh, for textbooks. For, uh, like I did a lot of translating of teaching materials for teaching English and Japanese at these universities.

And that was my kind of big entrance into it on top of Ikea furniture, I guess. But again, they, they didn’t ask for a degree. I didn’t have my N2 at the time. I was just like, I could walk in and talk to them and go, do you need help? And, and that was enough for them. That was well, yeah. I mean, potentially if you can speak, who cares.

The… once that was done, uh, this was mind you now I have an exporting business I run in Japan. I have a tour guiding business I run in Japan. I do, I still run both of those to this day. Um, I got a hold of a group of people that are, uh, both they’re artists, they’re musicians and illustrators and stuff in Russia, learning English through the illustrator of the book.

Her name is Svetlana. We met on a language exchange web. And so we just got together the four of us and I essentially, uh, I remember, so me and her, cause we were working on English stuff with her. We were reading, uh, I think I want to say his name. Right? Cause I don’t speak Russian that great. Afanasiev. He’s the, he’s like the brothers…

well, he’s like the brothers Grimm of Russia. He, he was a, was it ethnographer? He basically collected children’s stories from Russia back in like the late 1800s. Oh, okay. And so what was awesome was I worked with this team. They had access to the original scans of his work, the stuff from the 1800s and they’re native Russians.

And I’ve worked with teams in translation. So I kind of managed a team where I’d go, here’s our deadlines. Here’s our timelines. Here’s your guys’s jobs. Cause they haven’t, you know, they know the languages, but they’ve never done the actual task of translation. And so they would translate, you know, parts of the text.

People would start illustrating it cause there’s lots of really cool illustrations on the books and they would send it to me. I would edit the English and they, I would essentially help them learn English while we were doing this cool project. I would send it back. They would look at my English, make sure what I was saying was…

’cause, you know, sometimes they might phrase something and I go, well, here’s how you actually say that. And then they go, oh, that’s not what I was trying to say. And then we have to call and work that out, right? That’s kind of, the work of a translator is, um, there’s a spectrum. So there’s like a word-for-word translation and a thought-for-thought translation.

Elle: Okay.

Chad: And so in that space, And see, I didn’t even go to school to be a translator I just figured this stuff out, but a word for word translation is like the actual word on the page, the equivalent to that word in English, like sheep, sheep, cow, cow. Right? The problem is sometimes that does not like, if you say just the words and put it in English, it makes no bloody sense.

So it’s kind of like in English, I think there’s this old term. I think you’re British or something like that, I can hear from your accent.

Elle: Yeah.

Welsh.

Chad: There’s something like, he’s just sitting with his thumb in his ear and it’s like, it means you’re kind of being lazy.

Elle: Okay.

Chad: I think

Elle: Don’t think I’ve heard that one.

Chad: Or like, what about, about kicking your heels?

Like you’re just sitting there like not working. Right.

So if I were to actually put that in Russian or vice versa, you might be like, “kicking your heels”? With the…

Elle: right.

Chad: Right? Cause you literally have the word to kick your heels and then they’re like, and what it means is you being lazy, like, go, go do something.

Uh, and so what would happen is I would understand they’re kicking the heels in this metaphor and I would change it. And then we go, no, no, no, no. This is supposed to mean that the person is lazy and I go, oh, so now we need this and then I can translate it over more for thought-for-thought. Cause we’re trying, the goal is always word for word, but when it word for word doesn’t work, you move for changing the words in order to convey the actual meaning, the author intended.

Elle: Right.

Chad: And you know, these are just skills you learn when you translate. So anyways, we finished the book. It’s awesome. I have it over here. I don’t have all of them, but I have this one. So if you’re into Russian, you can check this out. This is the actual book that we translated ourselves with our, with our lovely team.

Uh, and it, you can buy it on Amazon with the rest of my stuff, but this was super fun. This was like one of the funnest things I’ve done and especially working, uh, with them. I just, I don’t know. It made me realize I really like doing this for myself. And so me and Svetlana, who was the illustrator, she made the cover of this, which is like super …

Elle: Amazing.

Chad: She’s. Yeah, she’s really good. She’s very good. She’s, she’s an architect normally. So she, even in her career, she does like artistry stuff. Uh, and so we, after that project was done, we were like, ah, breathe out. You want to make another one?. Yeah, let’s do it. And this time we decided to do it with my expertise, which was Japanese.

And that’s how we did this guy, which is learn Kanji with Yokai. And so she illustrated it. I did all the Japanese inside. I have a cool, I have a hands-on review, so I’m not going to go over it here. But, uh, this book was like my baby, and this showed me that man, I’m really passionate about helping people.

And I think that’s, what’s different about me and my approach to all this is there’s lots of really great YouTube channels to teach you Japanese. You know, you want pitch accent, go to Dogan. You want to like crazy immerse yourself and get really good, really fast? Go to Matt versus Japan. Those are my buddies.

Like they’re, they’re great folks. Um, I’m not trying to teach you Japanese. I’m trying to help you learn, um, as best as I can. Yeah.

So that could be motivation that could be helping you pick the right resource that could be helping with like a very particular problem. Uh, I’m not a teacher of Japanese.

That’s just not what I do. I teach people or at least help them acquire language. That’s what I like to do. I like helping. So I teach helping, which is a weird statement, but that’s what I did with this book. It helps teach you Japanese in a fun way, in a creative way. Um, and it’s something that hopefully will make a lot more of these books, not just with Yokai, but with anything, like learn Kanji with geography or some other things.

I really love doing it, but that’s how these…

Elle: That’s a very cool idea. Yeah.

I, I, I’m very impressed by it. I have to say. Yeah.

Chad: So she she’s wonderful, by the way she sends her best, I told her I’d be coming on here. Um, but yeah, that’s…

Elle: She’s is she based in Russia?

Chad: Yeah.

So she’s, she’s in Moscow. Uh, she’s a 3d visualization or something like that or training to be, but she was an architect forever.

So she’s just unbelievably talented in art and in languages, she’s like really good at English. And so the two of us kind of work well together. And so we just kind of go, let’s put out a book in six weeks and then Learn Kanji with Yokai happened.

Elle: Boom. You did it. Well I’ll pop the link to the book in the description so people can check it out of course. And also I’ll pop a link to your channel, Chad Zimmerman, uh, tell us, all of us who are gonna race over and subscribe what you have in store. What’s the plan for the channel?

Chad: Yeah.

So the channel is going to keep up with that theme I think of helping you learn. I’m not teaching Japanese, but I’m helping you.

And farther than that, like way beyond even the language. Um, I realized that I figured out something that a lot of people really want, which is how can I make a life out of this Japanese? How can I go to Japan and do all this stuff? Maybe you guys saw the trap that I saw of like, yeah, let’s just get really into debt and then have no jobs afterwards.

That’s a great idea. Um, and so for people that want to make Japanese a part of the, um, or any language, but I focus on Japanese cause that’s my main language. I know a little bit of Russian just from working with these teams, but not enough, not enough to do very much.

Is that your next language? Do you think

Elle: that you’ll focus on Russian?

Chad: Maybe. I have no idea. I think so. Cause I already, so I had to know, this is a sidetrack, but I had to know Greek and Hebrew because I’m in a master’s program right now and they require, you know, that cause you have to be able to read like ancient texts for my course. And so I already know, like biblical, Greek and Hebrew, uh, that’s not hard.

There’s only 2000 words really in both languages. Like it’s not, it’s not extensive. It’s, whatever’s in the book and the book doesn’t have that many words. Uh, but I think Russian might be just cause I don’t know. I like Russian. It’s just, I don’t think I’d make a channel out of it very much. Um, I, I would like my channel to be more universal, like about linguistics and, and about doing what I’m doing. Like how can you become a translator? Um, how can you, like, I run a guiding business. How can I start my own business? I run, I wish I could show you it’s off screen. I have a wall of probably 2000 Manga volumes just right here. I’m an exporter of these. I export them from Japan to here and I sell them.

I have used denim jeans from America that I sell in Japan for a lot of money. So that’s on this side. I have my Japanese, my Japanese fly rod company. I export Japanese tenkara rods over there. I’m looking at them. So I found a way without everyone says you meet, oh, just get the degree and then go teach English over there and be miserable.

Yeah, because everyone knows how horrible that job is. Everyone likes to say, it’s fine. And we all know it’s not a fun job.

Elle: I did it. You know it had it’s ups and downs. For sure.

Chad: You see how you answered that to me, that tells me what you don’t actually want to say. I think most people do that as a cop-out because they go, I want to live in that country and this is my way to do it.

And what I want to say is there is a way to, to build your life that way. And I want to help people. There’s another way. There’s another way. And it’s your way. You don’t have to… Even for me, I haven’t had a boss, like an actual boss since I was 18. I’ve worked for myself and I’m almost 30. I’m doing well.

I’m almost 30.

Elle: It’s okay.

Chad: But…

Elle: Your thirties are the best.

Chad: Ah, okay. So I’ve, I’ve been self-employed I found a way and I just want to help other people, cause I have gotten so much joy and benefit and fun. I’ve met my best friends. Um, I have made things I never thought would be made. My life is completely changed because of Japan and Japanese.

And I didn’t do it the way that everyone else told me I had to. And so that’s what I want my channel to be is. So if you guys are interested, hopefully after this, if you find me at all charming, uh, you can go check out my channel. I’m Chad Zimmerman on YouTube uh, and I put out a video every single week. And it’s either about Japanese or Japan.

Obviously the Japan side is a little slow right now, cause I’m not allowed in. So those videos are, those videos will come. But when I’m allowed back in, you’ll get a lot of content about living in Japan, working in Japan. What it’s like, how I did it, uh, as well as all the other countries I did. I just got back from Georgia, put out a 40 minute video there.

I’m going to go to Russia this winter, obviously. So. Lots of really cool, interesting language things that I never thought I would get to do all because of Japanese. So if that sounds cool, maybe check me out.

Elle: Fantastic. Yeah.

And I’ll pop, like I said, I’ll pop the, uh, the link to your channel in the description, along with your book.

Um, listen, Chad, this was such a great chat. Thank you so much for joining us and, um, yeah. And enjoy the rest of your evening. No, you’re in you’re an hour ahead. So enjoy the rest of your day.

Chad: I’m right next to you. So thank you so much for having me. This was really, really fun.

Elle: It was great. Thank you, Chad.

Bye bye.

Chad: Bye

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #32: Improve Your English Pronunciation with Lisa From Accurate English

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

Lisa of Accurate English has some actionable tips for anyone hoping to improve their English pronunciation. Don’t forget to check out the Accurate English YouTube channel for more!

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 have created it for you on LingQ. The lesson link is in the description. With LingQ you can follow the transcript and audio, so read along as you listen. You can slow it down, speed it up. You translate words and phrases you don’t know. You can then do vocabulary activities with those words and phrases. So an excellent way to study a language. If you feel like challenging yourself also, why not start a LingQ language challenge. I’ve also put the challenges page link in the description so go check that out to see if your language is there. We have many, many languages. I just started a language challenge in French, it’s called the 90-Day Challenge. So I am dedicated to intense french study for 90 days. And my goal is to read a French novel for the first time. So I’m going to read a Stephen King novel in French.

So by the end of the 90 days, I will have leveled up my French skills and also finished a novel in French for the first time, so pretty cool. If you’re watching or listening on YouTube, Spotify, Google, or Apple podcasts, SoundCloud and you would like to give us a review, a like a, share, a follow we would greatly appreciate that.

This week I am joined by a very interesting guest. Her name is Lisa Mojsin. She is an accent reduction specialist and founder of Accurate English, which is a training center in LA. Lisa, thank you so much for joining us.

Lisa: My pleasure Elle. Great to be here.

Elle: And so you’re joining us from LA right now. How, how are things in sunny LA or is it sunny?

Lisa: It’s very sunny. It’s usually sunny. And that, that’s one of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles. The sunshine is important to me. It makes me happy.

Elle: Yeah. That must be nice waking up most days and knowing that it’s going to be just a lovely day.

Lisa: I, I never take it for granted. I still appreciate it.

Elle: So, Lisa, as I mentioned, you are an accent reduction specialist. For anyone listening and a lot of our listeners are studying English and hoping to improve their pronunciation and accent, what is an accent reduction specialist, and what kind of techniques do you use to help English learners with their accent?

Lisa: Well, an accent reduction specialist does, uh, one of two things. Um, I either help people reduce their strong accent and very often it’s for professional reasons.

There’s something about the way people speak that’s holding them back professionally. And then they usually come to me because there’s some kind of crisis, they’re not getting the promotion they want, or someone complained to them I don’t understand this person. And it’s, it’s an emergency in a sense.

So when people come to me, they know that in order to get ahead in their careers, they have to speak clearly. And they have to be understood every time they speak. Um, or they, they want, um, they want to go after their dream job, but they don’t even dare go for the job interview because they’re so… that the moment they start speaking, when people hear their heavy accent, they’re not going to get the job.

So that’s one type of student that I see. And of course, because I’m in Los Angeles, I work with people in Hollywood, people who are born in another country, but they’re actors, they’re living in Los Angeles and they need to compete. Uh, acting, acting in LA is already extremely competitive. When you go on an audition, there are so many people that want that one job.

And so if you have an accent, then you might not get the job because of that. So people who already are maybe quite advanced, who already have a very good accent, uh, but all it takes is making one mistake during your audition. You might have a script where there’s a word you didn’t pronounce correctly and suddenly the director or the casting director might say, you know what?

I don’t think we’re going to hire this person for this role. They have a strong accent and no, they do not have a strong accent they just mispronounced one or two words, but it’s perceived as a strong accent. If you need to sound a hundred percent like a native speaker. So those are the other types of people that I’ve spent my career working with.

And as far as, uh, what techniques I use, it really depends on the individual. Um, I would say my number, the number one thing that I do is I find out, uh, the psychological aspects to why they came to see me because so often they already have so many blocks and so many insecurities about the way they speak.

And that’s already going to interfere in how well they speak and, um, how much progress they make. A lot of times they hate the sound of their voice. Well, we’re going to have to record your voice and that’s part of your homework. You’re going to have to regularly record your voice. A lot of them say, I’ve had people say, you know what, I’m not doing that homework because I refuse to listen to myself.

I really don’t like the way I sound. And so I try to make them feel better about their image, uh, anything related to the way they speak, uh, their accent, their voice. So the number one thing I do is I tell them, you sound a lot better than you think you do. And I’m telling them the truth, because like I said, when they come to me, usually there’s some kind of crisis, some kind of emergency, and they’ve probably created that crisis and made it even bigger than it is.

They’re sometimes traumatized. So I want them to relax and to have it be a fun experience because when you make it fun, when you say I can do this, this is going to be interesting. We’re going to work on interesting scripts and different topics that are not so boring and not. So, um, just by the book, um, they get excited about it.

And then I feel like I’ve broken that barrier and now I can reach them because there’s nothing worse than somebody who is so terrified and they don’t think they’ll ever make any progress. Then I feel like the lessons won’t even be very effective. So that’s the starting point.

Elle: And are there any, uh, you’ve been doing this, you, you founded accurate English, I believe 20 years ago, 20 or a little more than 20 years ago?

Lisa: Yes.

Elle: So you’ve had lots of students come through. Are there any, um, standout success stories that you recall specifically, and are there any things that you think those students did, that others didn’t that that made them successful?

Lisa: Definitely. Uh, as I said before, the attitude is extremely important. My favorite types of students to work with, because that’s when I see the most success, is people who have, who have had success in other areas of their life.

Let me give you an example. I worked with a young man who was an actor and he had, I could tell when he came in that he was very focused. He was, uh, just, uh, there was something confident and driven and focused at the same time. And through the course of getting to know him, I found out he had a black belt in martial arts, and I said to myself, aha, okay, this person knows how to work hard.

I don’t know enough about martial arts, but I know it’s hard to get a black belt. And I knew it took a lot of discipline. And so he had that discipline. And that, that drive and the success story was that, um, he came back, he had a few lessons with me and then he came back maybe six months later, later he said he just wanted to get a review to see how he was doing.

And I, there was zero accent. He sounded totally American. And I said, what did you do? He said, well, I just did what you told me. And so what I had told him, uh, these mistakes that you’re making in order to fix them, you need to speak with yourself daily, talk to yourself. And so that’s a, he said, Lisa, every time I woke up, I would just talk to myself in English for an hour or for two hours.

Um, and that did it. But he, he, you know, you speak to yourself, but you’re thinking about how you’re speaking. So if you’re making a particular vowel mistake or constant mistake, you’re paying attention when those sounds. And you’re making an effort to pronounce that well, and it worked, it worked. So I love that.

I love that.

He just said, well, you know, of course this is going to be hard, but I’m going to do it every single day. And that’s, I love that. And a couple of other success stories, I would say the ones that really inspire me is I had a couple of ladies separately from different countries. They were both in their seventies who made great progress.

And so when I get somebody who says, oh, I’m 25 or I’m 30, is it too late? Listen, I’ve had people in their seventies who made very good progress. And also these two women were, um, just, uh, successful, driven, uh, and inspirational their, their whole life was, they learned how to learn. They learned how to overcome challenges.

And when you have that mindset, you can do a lot and age really doesn’t matter. And I suppose my final story is, um, it’s always nice to see actors when I turn on the TV and suddenly there’s a commercial and I worked with someone on that commercial. That’s fun, you know, that’s, that’s always exciting. It’s like, oh wow! We did it.

Elle: I bet .You’re seeing your work in action. You know?

Lisa: I know, I memorized the whole commercial myself site, the whole ad. So I’m saying it with them because we went over it so many times and that’s, that’s always really fun just because in LA you get these types of people to work with and it makes your job fun.

Elle: I bet I actually was when I was looking through your channel, I was especially interested, I am a huge movie TV fan, and I watched the one video, sorry, I forget his name now, but, um, the actor who was in The OA, I recognized him from The OA

Lisa: Oh yes, Ego Mikitas.

Elle: Because that’s an excellent show. And I was like, wow, that’s so cool. It must be very cool to work with…

Lisa: it is an I, I also like film and I, and I, and so part of my job is also, I try to keep up with what’s happening in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, because so often they say, you know, I have an audition with such and such director. And so I like to keep up, so I know who these people are and what my students are going through and what they’re experiencing. Yeah.

Yeah.

Elle: Do you bumped into… this isn’t so much a language and accent reduction question, but do you bump into, do you see famous people all the time in LA? I feel like, people often say, you know, I live in LA and I, I see, you know, Leonardo DiCaprio walking down the street. Is that actually true as someone who’s lived in LA for a long time?

Lisa: Well over the yearsI mean, yeah. I mean, I’ve been in LA most of my life. Yeah, absolutely. I’ve seen lots of famous people, but, uh, I think depends. It depends on the neighborhood where you live or which if you go to certain restaurants, you’re much more likely to see them. But I would say, if you’re coming to LA as a tourist, hoping to see a famous person, chances are very strong that you will not owe this person.

That’s just, you know, it’s not that common, but in the course of just living here, yeah, you do, you do. I’m trying to think of who I, I mean, obviously lots of them, lots of them, you know, Tom, Tom cruise, uh…

Elle: whoa. That’s like the biggest…

Lisa: I don’t know if your, your viewers know who this is, but she was very famous in my mother’s generation. Sophia Loran.

Elle: Oh yeah.

Lisa: I was standing next to her in a bookstore and I said to myself, you know, She looks really familiar. Does she go to my gym? Suddenly? Somebody said, oh, miss Lauren. And I said, that kind of stuff will happen. Or I’m just like, okay, I know this person.

Elle: Wow. She’s an icon. That’s amazing.

Lisa: That does happen. Sometimes in the most, I was in some really weird, kind of like tiny little hole in the wall restaurant and I saw somebody that I had recently seen on TV. And it’s something you think, wait a minute, aren’t you supposed to be in this glamorous place? So, no, they’re not necessarily at the glamorous places.

They’re just at the market, for example.

Elle: Yeah. They’re just regular people, I guess, until they get so much money they don’t have to even go out, leave their mansion compounds, who knows? Yeah.

So Lisa, Accurate English, um, is your, uh, your training center, but also, uh, the YouTube channel that you run is called Accurate English and it is just packed full of amazing videos, super helpful for anyone who is wanting to reduce their accent, improve their English pronunciation. What would you tell someone who’s a new subscriber to your channel? Where would you tell them to go? Where should they start?

Lisa: Gosh, you know, there are so many videos there at this point, um, I think if they’re specifically focused on reducing their accent, I do have a playlist where I talk about different sounds, but I would say any one of my videos, depending on, even if I’m in, or sometimes I’m talking about grammar, I’m still integrating, uh, pronunciation in it. Um, because every, the reason I call my company, when I started it, I decided to call it Accurate English, English.

And now my channel is called accurate English because I believe, um, I’d like to, it’s important for me to focus on all aspects of English. So it’s not just about pronunciation. I really believe that all of the different things go together. So for example, if you’re working on your accent, chances are that you’re also want to improve your vocabulary.

Chances are you feel like you don’t quite have the expressions that native speakers do. Uh, so if I’m teaching maybe the most or some of the recent videos have been interviewing native speakers and analyzing not only their accent, but the expressions they’re using. So if you just watch one of my videos, you will be getting an accent reduction less.

Almost certainly.

Elle: Right. So, Lisa, is there anything that someone listening to this episode could do tomorrow or even straight after listening to improve their pronunciation, their English pronunciation?

Lisa: Yes.

I would say the number one thing you should do is listen to the melody of the language. English is about stress and reduction, stress and reduction.

That’s such an important component of pronunciation and accent. Uh, we stress the key words. So stress means longer vowels, louder and higher in pitch. So if you’re going to say a sentence “I need to talk to you”. If your language is pretty flat and each word gets equal stress, it might be difficult to understand your sentence, but we’re going to ask ourselves, what is the key word I want to talk to you?

The keyboard is talk. So talk has a really big vowel. It’s “ah” so we’re going to say it like this. “I want to talk to you. I want to talk to you.” So when you open your mouth on the stressed part of the sentence, it makes your accent better. It makes your speech much clearer. Uh, and, uh, it sounds natural.

Uh, but if you stress every word “I want to talk to you”, it’s not going to sound right either. So do Americans… ask yourself, do Americans speak quickly or slowly? Both. They mumble, they speak really quickly on the unstressed parts of the sentence, but the, they emphasize and they slow down on the key words.

So “I want to talk to you”. And then the same thing, ask yourself the same question related to individual words. Usually there’s one vowel inside that word that needs to be stressed. So if we say, um, fantastic, three syllables. So the second syllable is going to be stressed. So we open our mouth really big. Fantastic.

So open your mouth more, prolong the vowels on the stressed parts of the words and the stress words in the sentences. So that’s fantastic. Open your mouth. That’s fantastic. Otherwise, you’re going to…that’s fantastic. If you’re not moving your mouth, your accent is going to be difficult to understand.

Elle: Excellent.

Lisa: Listen to the, listen to, uh, the stress, listen to the melody and remember, yes, native speakers do slow down on keywords and I speak quickly with everything else.

Elle: Wonderful. Okay guys, anyone listening who wants to improve the accent pronunciation these are some things you can do as soon as you, as soon as you finish listening.

Thank you, Lisa. Um, so Lisa, you aren’t just an accent reduction specialist, you are also a polyglot. What languages do you speak?

Lisa: Well, I majored in French and German in college. I was absolutely passionate about, uh, studying languages. And then I taught myself Spanish and I’m always learning other things, other languages, trying to, trying to figure out how they work. These days I don’t have so much time to, um, to really devote to mastering any languages. But, um, what of my, one of the things that I really like to do is to learn about how other languages work to to be able to help my students. For example, when I work with Russian students and I work with their pronunciation, there’s a mistake that they tend to make.

That makes me curious, well, wait a minute. How does Russian work? Because everyone’s doing that. So then I do research in Russian pronunciation and that helps me, uh, to better prepare myself and to better explain to them what they’re doing and what they need to do. So that’s something that I’m really fascinated about.

And I’ve done that with Japanese as well. For example, Japanese has like sa se su so, but then they don’t say, see, they say shi, shi, they change that S to an S H when there’s an I that follows. Well, that explains a lot because Japanese people frequently say make Mec-shi-co instead of Mexico. And it’s because they don’t have a C they change everything to shi.

Or instead of saying situation, they say shi-tuation. And that kind of stuff really fascinates me. But, um, I, uh, used to be a French teacher. That’s how I started. Yeah.

I taught French in high school for a short amount of time. And later I got a master’s degree in English and that led to changing my career and teaching English.

But French is my first love. And I taught English in Germany when I was in my twenties. And that was exciting too. And that’s when I got a chance to improve the German that I had studied in college.

Elle: Amazing. So languages really are and have been your life?

Lisa: Yeah. Yeah.

I love languages, but my favorite thing is teaching English.

Elle: So you speak these other languages, uh, did that influence the way that you help people with the English?

Lisa: Absolutely. Very much. So I always remember my favorite teachers when I was studying different languages and people who’ve inspired me. You don’t become a good teacher without having good role models in the past. There are so many different techniques that teachers use. I remember there was one professor in Germany. When I lived in Germany, I was in a city called Konstanz in the south of Germany, near the Swiss border. And I took German classes at the university. There was a teacher whose method was amazing. She was so experimental in the way that she taught German.

And she did so many interesting exercises and she brought in real life, and we read the newspaper in German, and then we had to memorize all the vocabulary of the newspaper article and we had to pronounce things correctly. And, uh, I do that a lot. I bring in different things like, like newspapers, we read them and we, the goal, the goal is to sound like a native speaker, not only in your pronunciation, but using the advanced vocabulary that you’re learning from the newspapers.

I think the most important part of it is that I know that it’s really challenging to learn another language and to change your accent. It’s really hard work. But I also know that if you’re passionate about, if you have to find something that really excites you about it, and when I was a teenager, I really wanted to go to Paris.

I watched some French movies and I fell in love with French and I, I just romanticized it and that motivated me. It made me work hard. And then when I was 19, well, I went to Paris when I was 16 and then I went again when I was 19. And I had a teacher at UCLA and I think this is the story that really is my favorite one.

I had a teacher at UCLA who taught us French phonetics and French pronunciation for the whole semester. And she would give us dictations and we needed to write French sentences, just using the phonetic symbols. That class was super difficult, but it changed my life. After that class finished, it was summer vacation and I went to Paris and I remember going to a boutique, a store. And the lady said, which part of France are you from? And I couldn’t believe it. I thought I’m not from France, I’m from the United States. That was the greatest compliment you could possibly give me because I really, really wanted to speak French with a good French accent. And it was because of that teacher who taught us French phonetics, who taught us how to hear the subtle difference between the vowel sounds of French and the nasal consonant sounds. And I didn’t know that before. And so then when I started teaching English at Santa Monica College, and I had students from, a lot of students from all over the world who had studied English for many years, But when they spoke, people couldn’t understand them.

I thought, why is no one teaching them pronunciation? Why is no one teaching them accent reduction? Like, like Madame Brichant. That was her name, Madame Brichant. Uh, Madame Brichant changed my life and I don’t think I would be doing this job if it weren’t for her. And she was teaching French at UCLA. Long time ago.

Elle: Wow, what a compliment, eh? Where in France are you from? I bet you would just like…

Lisa: Oh, and I know that my students want that same thing. You know, the actors in Los Angeles who are from other countries, they want that same. They want it. They want to hear “you sound like you might be from Texas”, “you might be from New York” instead of, oh, you know, typical thing is that my students tell me, you know, Lisa, I just said, hello and somebody said, “where are you from?” Or I said one sentence and they said, “oh, you’re Russian, aren’t you?” And there’s nothing wrong with having an accent. There’s nothing wrong with that. But after a while, it gets tiring. Every time you open your mouth, if you live in the United States and you have a foreign accent, you go to the store. “Oh, what a charming accent.” That gets annoying. I had a student who is an architect from France and she said, I want to talk about my designs and my architecture plans to my clients, but they say, “oh, you know, I love your accent. And by the way, I was in Paris. Five years ago. And I went to this place…” and it gets tiring.

It’s gets really tiring. So even if they don’t necessarily eliminate their accent, if they reduce it and neutralize it so that people don’t necessarily always know, oh, you’re from India or you’re from Italy or you’re from wherever that makes them feel better. That’s, it’s just, and it’s exciting when I can help them achieve those goals. If that’s what their goal is.

Elle: Right. Excellent.

Um, so Lisa, anyone who is listening and is going to subscribe to your YouTube channel, Accurate English, uh, after this, what can they expect from your channel uh, moving forward, what’s in store?

Lisa: A lot of exciting things I want to do with the channel. Um, I love interviewing native speakers in Los Angeles, and I particularly try to find people from different professions because my students, the viewers are potentially in these professions. And when the people that I interview use the vocabulary and different expressions, idioms related to those professions, it helps not only with their accent because I teach them how to pronounce those things. But also it’s so important to keep expanding your knowledge of vocabulary, terminology, all sorts of everyday idioms that people in that job might be using.

So I have a lot of people that I’m planning to interview. In addition, I’m focusing more on grammar and writing a grammar course. And, uh, I love teaching grammar. I, uh, really, really am passionate about teaching grammar. And I think that’s sometimes overlooked. We emphasize too much just, uh, how people sound with their accent and maybe increasing vocabulary, but you have to have this strong foundation.

You have to know that when you’re saying a sentence, you’re saying it correctly. And that’s how I learned the languages that I speak. I started with grammar and I like feeling confident that when I say a sentence in French, it will be grammatically correct. Well, maybe these days it might not be because I don’t use it so much, but I remember at one time, you know, we had so many advanced grammar courses and tests that when you know why you’re saying something and why you’re using this particular verb tense, whatever it is a certain construction, you feel a lot more confident and you can communicate professionally. You can write email. And so I want to take my channel more into that direction. Correctness of speech, not just accent, but also all aspects. That’s why the channel is called Accurate English. I believe the goal should be aiming to make everything accurate, your grammar, your pronunciation of vocabulary usage and so on.

Elle: Fantastic. Well, I will pop the link to your channel in the description. And Lisa, thank you so, so much for this chat full of packed, full of really useful info, especially for our, um, English learners. Yeah.

Thank you so much and enjoy the rest of your evening in LA.

Lisa: You too in Vancouver.

Elle: Thank you. Bye-bye.

Lisa: Thank you so much. Thank you. That was fun. Bye-bye.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #31: Polyglot Professional Soccer Player Will John Talk

Study this episode and any others from the LingQ English Podcast on LingQ! Check it out.

Will John is a professional soccer player who is currently closing in on his ninth language! In this episode of the English LingQ Podcast Elle chats with Will about his career, how he learned all those languages and the exciting new channel he has created to help other language learners.

Elle: Hello everyone and welcome to the LingQ podcast with me Elle. If you are studying English, remember that you can study this podcast episode as a lesson on LingQ. I’ve added the transcript and the audio and created a lesson just for you. You can find the link to it in the description. If you have never used LingQ before, it’s an excellent way to study a language. You can study from anything you’re interested in. So take an Italian blog post or a Russian news article, Japanese movie, whatever it is, you can create a lesson with it on LingQ, work through the words and phrases that you don’t know, creating your own personal database.

It’s a fantastic way to learn from content you’re actually interested in and make a breakthrough in your target language. Speaking of making a breakthrough, if you would like to challenge yourself, we have a challenges page on LingQ in many different languages. So I’ve also popped the link to that page in the description. I’m actually starting a French 90-Day Challenge this September.

So I will be challenging myself to reach targets each day. And actually my goal is to read a novel in French for the first time over the 90 days. So join me if you want to level up in your target language, doesn’t have to be French, can be whichever language you’re studying. If you’re listening on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, wherever, please show us some love. Give us a like, or share a follow. We really, really appreciate it. This week I am joined by someone a little different. You guys are used to me interviewing YouTubers and this week’s guest is a YouTuber, but he’s also a professional soccer player. THis week I am joined by professional soccer player, YouTuber and polyglot Will John. Will, thank you so much for joining us.

Will: Thank you. It’s always good to be back and talk about languages. So I’m excited.

Elle: Great. And whereabouts in the world are you joining us from today?

Will: I am in Croatia. So I’m in Zagreb, Croatia, obviously originally from the U S but I play football over here and in Zagreb.

Elle: Excellent. Okay. And it’s your evening in Zagreb?

Will: It is evening. It is 7.15 In the evening. It is a nice chill afternoon.

Elle: Lovely. THat’s a part of the world I really need to get to, Croatia. One day. Um, so you’re playing soccer there?

Will: Yeah.

You keep calling it soccer and with that accent, it just doesn’t sound right.

Elle: I’m trying. I know I was going to say in the beginning, soccer or football and I have the impulse to say football, but, uh, yes, yeah of course.

Will: No, I played, I played outside of the US you know, I played, I played in the MLS and, uh, I grew up playing soccer in the US but uh, since then playing outside of Europe, I’ve gotten used to calling it football.

And in my house, my dad is from Nigeria and we would call it football. You float in between. It’s not a big deal, but yeah it’s football for all these years.

Elle: Okay. Oh, so you say football yourself? Okay. So I’m going to say football from now on. It feels right. I feel strange saying soccer. Um, so good based in Croatia now for the next little while?

Will: Yeah.

So at least yeah the season is just starting. Seasons in Europe, most of them start in August and they’ll end in May or June. So we’ll have a break there in the winter and because of COVID, you know, I have not been back to the US. This Is the longest I’ve been outside of the US. Normally in between my seasons I will, um, I will go back, uh, at least for a little bit, but it’s been almost two years. I think it will be two years.

Elle: Oh

Will: You know? Uh…

Elle: Wow

Will: Yeah, one of those things. So I’m enjoying it. I feel very comfortable outside, you know, as a professional football or you spend a few times, I’ve spent a large part of my career in Scandinavia.

Uh, large chunk in Serbia and in Croatia. This is my second stint in, in, in Zagreb. So I know this place very well. I speak the language and, you know, it’s, it’s a whole lot of fun.

Elle: Amazing. So it’s just taking you all over the world at this soccer playing career. That’s very cool.

Will: I think, I think in, uh, Steve and I probably talked about this in the last, uh, I think I’ve been to 60 countries? I think so, but I need to make a count and it’s all because of soccer. If that, I think there’s only maybe three countries that were not, three or four, that and were not soccer related.

Elle: Wow. You need to get one of those maps or you scratch off the foil scratch off countries. You’ve been to, put a pin in there.

Will: Yeah.

Yeah.

I’ll get to them all eventually.

Elle: Yeah. Yeah.

Um, so let’s talk about soccer before we kind of move into the languages. Um, when did you know that you, I’m, I’m assuming it’s from a really young age, you realized you wanted to pursue soccer as a professional career.

Will: That is a question I get a lot and as a footballer, most, most guys don’t have a moment I’ve noticed, but I have very specific, I have a very specific story. Number one, my father was a professional footballer himself. So it was always part of, it was always part of my upbringing, but I never considered it. Uh, I had almost a, uh, uh, an insane, an epiphany one day when I don’t, and I don’t remember to this date, I don’t know why I wasn’t in school, but I wasn’t. I dunno if I was pretending to be sick because I wanted to watch the game or what the deal was. But, uh, someone scored a goal in the Champions League Final. This is in the year 2000 Real Madrid was Valencia, 1-0. I can remember everything about it.

I just happened to be, you know, at home it was, I shouldn’t have been. And, uh, this guy scored a header, Fernando Morientes scored a header and went off on this crazy celebration. I mean, he ran from the goal like 70 yards back to his bench to celebrate with his team. And I had the chills the entire time. And I’ve talked about this, I’ve told this story on, on one of our podcasts, um, that we have.

And, uh, it was then that I just knew I’m supposed to do this. That was what I knew I was supposed to do. What I’m doing now and that’s pretty early. I think I was 15. Uh, yeah. And so that’s basically the moment that I knew. And then I left college early, um, which is hilariously another one of my funny stories on the podcast, because I know exactly where I was sitting.

And I know the moment where I said, I’m not going back to class. And, uh, just a few months I went pro so that’s my story.

Elle: The Eureka moment. Um, so you were 15 and how is your, uh, your goal celebration now? Do you ha… do you do something wild and crazy because of that? Or are you more subdued?

Will: Oh, no, I’m I’m, I guess I’m somewhat in between, you know, it’s… the funny thing, when you score goals, I’ve played in all sorts of different clubs on all different parts of the world. Play, uh, you play at clubs where there’s, you know, 40 to 50,000 people.

And then I’ve played at clubs where there’s not a lot of fans at all. Like I say not a lot, just a few thousand, right? Or you have big stadiums, but empty crowds and stuff like that. Uh, and so, um, your celebration, it’s a lot of adrenaline. It’s really hard to explain. Strikers, and I’m not a true striker, they’re adrenaline junkies, but scoring goals is like being an adrenaline junkie. You want that feeling over and over again, and the higher the stakes, the better, you know, the better, it feels the, if it’s the last second of the game, you start chasing that stuff. And, um, when you start to have success with it, it just is, you know, so yeah, to, to, to answer your question, my celebrations depend on the moment.

Uh, but, uh, they’re not that subdued. I tend to have fun. I might do something dancing, you know…

Elle: Nice! No back flips or anything?

Will: Funny you should mention backflips. Two years ago, I decided that I would learn how to do a back flip. And it wasn’t because it wasn’t because for a celebration, everybody then was like, you got to do that as your celebration, you know, like, that’s your new celebrate?

I’m like, no, I just wanted to do a back flip. Uh, and, um, so yeah, I just went to a gym, uh, sorry I went to the place where the gymnast, uh, like, uh, I don’t know what you would call that gymnastic setup. And they’re like all these little, little girls and, uh, you know, honestly, mainly, mainly little girls, but they have an open gym where adults come in.

And so before that, the little girls are in there and they’re doing like triple axe flip, back flip flying through the air. You have no idea how they’re doing it. They have no fear and I’m like, okay, can I do this back flip? Like, I’m just like barely trying to do it, like a little kid. So yeah. Anyway, that’s what’s up.

Elle: And did you, can you do a back flip?

Will: I can, I can I, can I learned it in an hour. It’s not that hard. It’s getting over your fear. Like everything is the, is the thing.

Elle: Okay. Yeah.

I was going to say, you learned it in an hour? I remember trying, I kind of have done a back flip in high school and it did not take me an hour and I was terrified. So I think you’re definitely right. You need to just switch off, if you can, the fear that you’re going to break your neck, because it really feels like you’re going to break your neck. As soon as someone, they come away, you know they’re holding your back. And then as soon as they’re not holding your back anymore, it’s like, ah, am I going to die?

Will: Yeah.

Elle: Yeah. Okay. So you mentioned there that, you said you’re not a true striker. I don’t know football, soccer, whatever you want to call it at all, I have to admit. So what position do you, do you play?

Will: I’m uh, I’m an attacking midfielder, uh, or what would be considered more, a second striker. So, uh, for those of, of the people who don’t really aren’t into soccer, uh Ibrahimović is, uh, if you know who that is, Zlatan Ibrahimović generally a fairly famous person or all right, we’ll go with, uh, Lionel Messi, uh, who you, hopefully have heard of.

Elle: Yes. I know Messi. I know who Messi is. Yes.

Will: Messi’s not a true striker. He’s a guy that plays a little underneath. He’s quick. He’s fast. He’s really technical. He’s really good with his feet. That’s my style and position. I’m also left-footed. I like to run a little bit behind where we try to cause problems without being the main guy.

Those big number nine, uh, striker guys, they get a lot of the attention from the big defenders. I try to avoid those big tackles with those guys.

Elle: Okay. Okay. That sounds wise. Does that mean you get less chance to score then or how does that work?

Will: It means I have to be more creative. I’m more involved in the buildup of the play.

It means, it doesn’t mean that I won’t get a whole lot of chances to score. You do. Um, but it’s generally the guy who’s your, generally, we call that number nine, he’s the striker. That guy’s always at the near the goal. He’s, that’s your job, just score goals. You know, it’s my, my job to provide and you know, to score.

Elle: I see. Okay. So let’s talk a little about the languages then. So as I mentioned in your intro there. Um, maybe I didn’t. You speak, you know eight languages? And you mentioned before we started recording that you’re closing in on your ninth language. So, um, first off, what are those languages? And I’m interested to know if you kind of moved into, as you moved around the world, did you collect these languages?

Were there extras? So yeah, first off what languages do you know?

Will: Okay. So I’ll, I’ll, I’ll the easiest way for me to do this as chronologically, uh, because I always forget when I try and tell people. Um, my, my mom thought it would be a great idea for me to learn Spanish when I was very, very young. Um, so I did not watch English, um, cartoons when I would come back from school and she also got me, she placed me into a Spanish like tutor, uh, class for some few kids after school. So, uh, Spanish was pretty heavy when I was little and I didn’t even realize I could speak it, but by the time I was 13, 14, my comprehension was excellent. Um, and, uh, I took a liking to languages then came, uh, Italian and French. Both of those languages were collected without going to the countries. I had not… my Italian is great and I have four or five days in Italy. So for those people out there that think they have to go there to learn, it’s nonsense, you have more than enough resources. Now, back then I had to go to the college library and find a TV that had RAI uh, their, their news, uh, thing to listen to Italian. So, uh, that’s Spanish, French, Italian, those are, those are those then German, which I’ve been to quite a bit.

I learned alone, uh, Croatian that’s from here, Danish, because I played there, uh, in Denmark, uh, Russian, because I played in Baku, Azerbaijan, and decided to learn Russian. Um, and, uh, did I still forget one after all? Uh, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Danish, Croatian, Russian, English. And right now closing in on number nine will be Swedish because I spent most of my time during the pandemic in Sweden.

Uh, so, yeah.

Excellent.

Elle: Swedish. I’ve heard tha,. I kind of dabbled a bit with Swedish too, but I heard it’s generally easy to learn coming from an English background. How are you finding it?

Will: Uh, after having learned Danish, which is pretty interesting. I moved to Sweden and started when I was there. Just for fun.

I would speak Danish to people. They were not having it. They make so much fun of Danish. The pronunciation is very different. I mean, they make fun of each other a whole lot, but my vocab was, was great. And if you’re an English speaker and you’re wanting to learn a Scandinavian language, Swedish is pretty, pretty easy.

Elle: Okay, excellent. Uh, did you with the languages, did you decide, you know, in your teens or as a kid that you wanted to be someone who spoke lots of languages or did it just kind of happen as you moved around in your career?

Will: Uh, I can, I can say pretty comfortabl this was by design. Uh, but I guess you could also say not, right?

I didn’t, I didn’t forcethat moment on me, on myself when I was 15, uh, that kind of put this, put these, the wheels in motion. Uh, but when I was 16, I read, uh, The Count of Monte Cristo. Uh, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that book, uh, but it’s about a guy who more or less goes through some challenges uh, to become the hero of the story.

He has to overcome learning languages, understanding all sorts of math and physics, and being able to travel the world and doing all that stuff. And I really, it had a very large impact on my, on my youth, my youthful mind, uh, at 16. And so I thought this is what I want. I want to be able to learn 10 languages.

I said that I wanted 10 and I was 16 then. Uh, and so we are 20 years from that now, and I’m at nine. So I underestimated my ability. Um, I think I’ll, I’ll be able to go past that. I, I have the desire to, but, uh, no, it was very much by design. I, the methods for getting it done, that was chaotic, you know, uh, trying to figure out how to learn a language, uh, and what the best way is for you yourself, you know, specifically or…

that’s that, that was the challenge.

Elle: Right. And what kind of methods have you landed on then? Do you, have you honed the methods that you use and that you’re now using for Swedish?

Will: Yeah.

Um, which is… funny enough that, that’s what we’re going to be getting into in our new YouTube channel, which is Goluremi languages.

Uh, because going through that was, it was like I said, very tough. And so now, yeah, it’s a combination of a lot of things that you guys do. Uh, because comprehension is, is, is, um, incredibly useful. And one of the cool things about LingQ is finding, um, finding information, I guess you could say that’s comprehensible at a level that you are, uh, and that’s also interesting, but at your level, when you’re a beginner in a language is so important and so hard, because it’s really hard.

Okay. If you’re going to learn English, there’s a lot of resources, admittedly Spanish. Yes.

But for many of the other, other languages you need to find something that you can read that’s comprehensible that you can listen to, that you can understand immediately, you know, the natural approach and learning things from, uh, I believe his name is Stephen Krashen, uh, is, is who came up with, with that understanding that that is important.

And TPRS, uh, for the people that, you know, teaching proficiency through storytelling, right? Uh, through reading and storytelling.

Elle: Yep.

Will: Those were huge boosts. Uh, I definitely, when I started German, I made the mistake of going the grammar route at first thinking, they said the grammar is tough in German and you got to understand it.

And I said, okay, I’ll understand it. Let me go and try and dive in… disaster for the first, you know, couple of weeks. You almost want to, you want to give up, throw the books out the window. So. It’s very simple. Yeah.

Now I start off with very, very basic, I find the most basic of basic things to listen, to, uh, and speak.

And I enjoy writing, uh, as well. So when I write all my notes are hardly in English. Um, so yeah, I break down and I will break down a whole lot more of my, my method over there on Goluremi Languages.

Elle: Yeah, let’s talk about the channel. So you have two channels. So the Will John channel is all about soccer skills. So you teach soccer skills and now this new channel Goluremi is going to be focused on language learning?

Will: Yeah.

Yeah.

So what, uh, everybody who’s checking us out can see what we do is kind of a fun level up thing that a lot of polyglots are doing as well. So I will just go into the street and just start randomly talking to people and it’s a whole lot of fun. So the first video out, you can just see me in the Mall of Scandinavia, actually in Sweden, just finding random people to talk to in different languages and all the craziness that that happens with with that and surprising foreigners, uh, you know, with that it’s, which is fun over here in this part of the world is there’s not a whole lot of black people that speak Russian or, uh, Croatian in these Eastern European languages.

So it’s always funny for them. But, um, yeah, we have more than that channel. So, I mean, the company has, we have a podcast channel as well, which is called the 11th Commandment and, uh, we have all sorts of guests on and that’s where Steve, uh, actually was, was on as well. So, so yeah, we’re, we’re busy.

Elle: So what can people who will go and subscribe to your language learning channel and the podcast, what can they expect for the next little while? What type, what kind of content?

Will: Okay. So yeah, we are going to do a whole lot more of obviously the level ups and doing a whole lot of surprise, but the idea will be to, and you’ll see this in the channel intro, which is, uh, the, the video that’s up there, there right now.

Um, the idea will be to give people a simple avenue into learning how the best polyglots have, what they, you know, what they’re doing because that’s one of the things that I fight and combat against in, on our soccer channel is that, of course, now that anybody can just make a video, you probably want to make sure you’re getting, at least from some people who can show. You wouldn’t go to, don’t come to me to learn Chinese because I don’t speak Chinese. You really don’t want to listen to me about that. I won’t teach Chinese. I promise you, uh, and, uh, so in that it’s, it’s our hope that we can have people like Steve on, um, and that we will do a lot of these and I’ll actually want to display, um, a lot.

So we will have subtitles for everything of course, but I will, it’s always fun to see conversations, uh, in tons of different languages, always with English subtitles, and hopefully as we grow our community, um, we’ll have plenty of other, other subtitles for people, but, uh, we’ll have top five videos on best way to learn Spanish, the best way to learn X Y and Z language. And we’ll do some of those interviews just in, in those languages. And we’ll bring on different people like that in order to do that. And on the podcast channel, we, we bring on some of those interesting people. I just got off now with a guy who was a former mercenary because of what’s going on in Afghanistan.

We thought it would be cool to have somebody on to speak about what’s going on in the world and stuff like that. We’ve had, you know, all, all sorts of people from, you know, obviously we have footballers on somebody like Steve, a former Canadian diplomat is also cool, cool to have on, uh, yeah. They come from all walks of life.

The idea is just to learn from people who are doing really, really cool things and, uh, talk to them about their stories and just hear interesting things.

Elle: Fantastic. Well, it sounds amazing, super interesting. And I especially love the, the whole, you know, approaching people and speaking to them in their, in their language, those types of videos.

Will: Always fun

Elle: Yeah. A lot of fun. Yeah.

Listen Will, thank you so, so much for joining me today. It was a great chat and, um, yeah, I’ll pop the links to your two channels and to the podcast that you mentioned, uh, today in the description. So everyone go check them out for sure. Uh, yeah. Thank you so much for joining us and have a great rest of your evening in Croatia, in Zagreb.

Will: I will. Thanks a lot. I will throw one more thing out there. All of the clips for languages are also on Tik ToK, so that’s just Goluremi, yes. They’re all, the Goluremi Languages and all that stuff. It’s all on Tik TOK as well if you’re just, if you’re a bite-size social media type person who can only pay attention for 30 seconds, Tik Tok’s your friend.

Elle: Yeah. All you Tik Tok teens out there. I feel like I’m too old for the whole Tik Tok thing. I don’t, I can’t. Okay. Cheers Will, thank you so much. Bye.

Will: See ya.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #30: Learning Japanese, Taking the JLPT & Rubik’s Cube with Deni Mintsaev

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

Deni Mintsaev creates videos about learning Japanese, his travels in Japan and… Rubik’s cube! Elle chats with Deni in this episode of the LingQ Podcast about his methods, the content he’s enjoying and taking the infamously difficult JLPT.

Elle: Hello everyone and welcome to the LingQ podcast with me, Elle. English learners, don’t forget you can study this episode and all past episodes as a lesson on LingQ, the lesson link is in the description always. If you’re studying any language, in fact, you can use LingQ to study from content you’re interested in: podcast episodes, blog posts, TV shows, news, whatever. Make a lesson with it on LingQ and study from content of interest. And don’t forget to give us a share, a follow, a like or a review on whatever podcast platform you are listening on. We really appreciate it. This week I am joined by a guest all the way from Russia. He is a YouTuber. He creates videos about learning Japanese currently it’s his language. And also something language learning well, unrelated to language learning, which we will get to so stay tuned. This week I am joined by Deni Mintsaev. Deni. Welcome. Thank you for joining us.

Deni: Hello. Thank you for having me.

And so, uh, joining us from, uh, Russia, as I mentioned, uh, how are things in Russia these days and whereabouts in Russia are you joining us from?

I am currently in Moscow. I’m just here for the summer break. I am studying abroad in the United Kingdom. Uh, but, uh, I, right now I’m back in Moscow. I just finished my exchange year in Japan. Uh, and yeah, it’s not too bad here. Uh, so yeah.

Elle: So… good. Excellent. And did you grow up in Moscow?

Deni: Yes. Yes. Uh, so I lived here for pretty much all my life. Uh, I mostly just stayed abroad for study. Uh, I’m now going into my fourth year, um, which will be now, uh, back in the UK. Elle: Oh, in the UK. Excellent. And so you just left, uh, Japan, right? You were just, you were just a few months in Japan.

Deni: My third year was an exchange year, uh, which I spent in Japan, uh, well, to be precise, it was a little over eight months.

Um, and, uh, yeah, now I’m going into my fourth year, which will be back in the UK. Elle: Excellent. And so, as I mentioned, uh, at the beginning in your intro, you are studying Japanese, you’re really hardcore studying Japanese, um, and creating lots of videos about your journey and help, helpful the videos for other people studying Japanese. So, firstly, what got you into Japanese and why did you decide to study Japanese?

Deni: Well originally, uh, I got some kind of idea to maybe try and learn it through just watching stuff in Japanese, which was at the time mostly just anime. Uh, and I thought it would be interesting to watch it in the original, uh, version, uh, without any subtitles, uh, just like I do anything in English or anything in my native language.

Uh, so that’s where I got the initial idea. And then once I actually started learning Japanese and talking to some Japanese people online, I grew more and more attached and more and more, became more and more interested in the culture and the kind of everything surrounding Japan. And it kind of just spiraled out of there.

Elle: I see. It is fascinating culture. Right. So how many years has it been now that you’ve been studying the language? Deni: It’s now been five and a half years, a bit more than five and a half years even. Um, and yeah, it’s been quite the journey. Uh, most of the time I spent, uh, doing self study. Uh, it is my major in university, but that’s mostly just because I needed to pick some degree. And that was what I decided to go with, but I’ve still continued to mostly study, um, in my own time with my own uh, method. Um, so yeah.

Elle: Excellent. And so tell us about, you say your own, your own method. What, uh, what is your method, how you going about studying Japanese, the self study part?

Deni: Well, uh, I’m kind of now in the stage where you just need to watch a lot in Japanese. Listen, read, just consume as much as possible. Uh, and I can, I’m pretty much good to go with that. The only exception is the writing, obviously Kanji, you can’t learn passively. You have to sit down and actively study the different characters. And, uh, right now I’m sitting at a bit over 1700. I’ve not really done much a study recently. Uh, but yeah, overall, uh, I’m able to converse with relative ease. Uh, um, I can talk about, uh, all sorts of topics and I don’t really have much difficulty with that. Um, well listening is a bit more tricky, uh, as well as reading because there, uh, you never know what kind of stuff you can encounter. And it very, very much depends on the material, uh, you’re consuming. Uh, I would still say that stuff like anime or TV shows are not very easy for me. Uh, but I can watch YouTube videos and understand them quite well. I would say.

Elle: Excellent. Wow. That’s a great stage to be at where you’re kind of able to enjoy the language, enjoy content in the language. What, uh, what kinds of content are you watching right now for anyone listening who is maybe at a similar level in Japanese? Um, can you suggest any YouTube channels or you said anime, shows, movies.

Deni: Yeah, well, uh, lately I’ve been watching a little bit more anime again. Uh, I’m watching Attack on Titan right now. Uh, and I’ve also, uh, spent a lot of time watching YouTube. I quite like watching, uh, like video game let’s play videos. And, uh, there are certain games that are popular in Japan.

So I like to watch some of those channels. Uh, there’s a very, uh, interesting channel. For me, I, I really, I find it very enjoyable, uh, on YouTube called Nichijō-gumi and, um, yeah, it’s like a, uh, a group of friends, uh, who all play, uh, like video games. And I don’t know, they have, they have a very good like energy and a good chemistry with each other. So it’s quite fun to watch. Uh, well, yeah, that’s mostly it. And then as for reading, uh, I’m trying to read. But more like the light novel type of thing. Um, because I’ve mostly read manga, which I still do. Um, but now I’m, I’m still going through my first, a proper book in Japanese. And, uh, it’s taking a while, but I’ve not been very, very intensively reading it. Uh, but it’s not too bad if, uh, um, if I can use a dictionary, it’s not really too bad. Elle: Ok. And what’s the book? Deni: Oh, uh, it’s um, A Windup Bird Chronicle, uh, by Haruki Murakami. Elle: Yeah, I’ve read that in English. I wish I could read that in Japanese, but yeah, I read that. I, I really, I really liked that book. He’s such a great author. Deni: I’ve read the most books, uh, from Murakami, uh, out of the different books I’ve read. Um, but only in English and Russian, never in Japanese.

Elle: Great. Right. Well, good luck with it. At least you have, Murakami has, is still writing too. And he has, uh, he has lots of books so, you can get through all of those in Japanese maybe, that’s a challenge. Um, so Deni you, uh, studying or have studied in the past for the JLPT.

Deni: Yeah.

Elle: Tell us, tell us what is the JLPT and, um, how have your experiences been with taking it?

Deni: Well, I have taken it a good number of times at this point. I think I’ve taken the N3 once, I failed that one, uh, I’ve taken the N2 three times and finally passed it on the third attempt. And I just recently took the N!. Uh, but I don’t have the results yet. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was very difficult though.

I there’s pretty much no chance that I passed it but I just kind of did it for fun to try and see what it’s like. Uh, yeah.

Elle: I think that’s wise. Yeah.

Just to get an idea, you know, go in with no expectation of actually passing maybe. And like you say, you think you maybe didn’t, um, but getting an idea of what it’s all about, and then you try again. I’ve heard it’s, for anyone listening who doesn’t know first off what the JLPT is, it’s the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. And it, I believe there are five levels, right? N5, N4, N3, N2 and N1, N1 being the final one, the most difficult. And I’ve heard that it’s extremely difficult. So, um, yeah. And you can, there you go you can confirm, so, wow. Okay. So you’ve tried the N1. And when will you get your results? Do you know?

Deni: I should get them sometime this month. Um, but I checked a few days ago and, uh, I didn’t have my results yet. Um, I did do a little better than I expected though.

Cause I went in completely expecting that I would just really, you know, just the worst possible result. But the first, the first section was exactly as I expected. Uh, however, the, the reading and listening was not quite as bad. It was still pretty difficult, but I at least did better than I expected. Uh, so at least there’s that. Elle: Well, you never know, you never know, fingers crossed. So I’m assuming then there’s a listening, a writing, a reading and a speaking aspect? Deni: So there are three sections, um, for the first two are done together. Uh, you’ll have to just kind of manage your time and it’s up to you, uh, to spend as much time as you want on each of the sections. I think the first one is, uh, vocabulary and grammar. And the second one is where you have a text and you read it and then you answer a question. Um, and then the listening is done separately, uh, where they play a CD for you, for the big like room of, um, students. And you just answer questions. Uh, some of the questions you don’t even see the answers written down, they also say out loud the different ones. Um, pretty much the whole test is multiple choice, by the way, I should have mentioned that there. Yeah.

So it’s, uh, not the best test to actually show one’s ability. Uh, but I guess it, it does show it in some way, but it shows, uh, from what I can tell from what I’ve heard, it shows a lot more how well someone prepared for the exam, uh, versus how well you speak perhaps. Elle: Hmm, that seems like most tests for language learning, right? How well are you, how, how well can you prepare for a test? How well can you understand a test as opposed to yeah actually conversing in a language or knowing the language?

Deni: Well, there is one that I can think of that I thought was pretty well done, uh, which was pretty well made, which was the IELTS exam for English.

Um, and that one had, it’s a very different format. There are some things that are multiple choice, a lot of them, um, like there’s a big section where it’s writing and you just write like an essay or something like that. Yeah.

And, uh, there is also a section where you speak to an actual person. Uh, so it’s, uh, it’s a fair bit better. I would say.

Uh, I’ve taken now one without doing any preparation and got um, 8.0, out of nine. Uh, so it has a weird grading system. Um, and, uh, yeah, nine is the max. Uh, but you know, like they say for a lot of, uh, tests, uh, even a native speaker is not going to get the nine out of nine without, you know, putting in hours and hours, uh, preparing for the test.

Uh, but I got 8.0 overall, um, without doing pretty much any prep.

Elle: Fantastic. Okay. That, that, that makes way more sense, actually speaking to someone face to face and so they can assess your language ability that way. So. Okay. So Deni, tell us about your time in Japan. Like I mentioned, you just left a little while back.

Deni: Yeah, just a month ago.

Elle: Okay. Uh, so. Did you experience any culture shock? Oh, was this the, was this your first time in Japan? First off?

Deni: It was actually my second time. Uh, first time I went there in 2017, uh, for one week. uh, for one week.

Elle: Okay. So this is your first time staying for an extended period.

Deni: Yeah, it’s actually, that was my longest consecutive time spent in another country because, uh, due to the pandemic, I couldn’t even come back for like a break for a holiday. Uh, so I had to stay there until the end of my year.

Elle: Ah, okay. So you hadn’t intended on staying for the full, like the time you had wanted to come back, but then COVID. Deni: Yeah.

When I was studying in the UK, I would always come back for the holidays, uh, to see my family. Um, but I, that was, that was not an option in Japan.

If I came back, then I would have not gone back again. So to continue my second semester.

Elle: Right. And now of course, this question is, maybe you would have answered differently if it weren’t a pandemic, but, uh, what would some of the things that surprised you about Japan? And did you experience any culture shock while you were there?

Deni: I wouldn’t really say so. Uh, I think I’ve already experienced culture shock remotely from because, um, even like throughout my years, learning Japanese before I went there, um, I had a lot of experience communicating with Japanese people and I’d already kind of had, uh, some, a couple of moments of culture shock. Uh, so that was not really as big of an issue.

I did have, um, the situation which I’ve had in the past. Where sometimes when somebody doesn’t really want to talk to you, they can’t really say, or even give you a hint. They’ll just ghost you. Uh, obviously that’s not everybody. Uh, but some people like that in Japan, unfortunately, because it’s a very closed down country. Uh, people, even among Japanese people themselves, they seem to be quite closed down. Quite an unfortunate situation. So I made a friend there, uh, during my stay, but one day they just stopped replying for some reason, uh, that’ll just remain a mystery. I’ve had that experience in the past. So I wasn’t much of a culture shock, but it was still kind of a bummer overall. Um, it was obviously not as, as good of an experience as I was hoping for before the pandemic started. Uh, but I did at least managed to, um, sneak in a few, uh, trips here and there. Uh, when we had like the, you know, the, a better periods, uh, in terms of the cases COVID cases, um, there were, I had a trip to Oita, uh, on the Kyushu island.

Uh, I had a trip to Okinawa. Uh, I had, uh, like a smaller trip, uh, to neighboring, uh, Kanagawa, whoa, sorry, Kanagawa was where I was living. Um, in Shizuoka Prefecture. Uh, I actually went on a few hikes and one of them was in Shizuoka Prefecture where, uh, me and my friends, uh, from the UK were studying, uh, on the same course as me, uh, we climbed the, Mount Aichi

I think it was called. Okay. Oh, uh, oh actually, that’s not what it was called Ashitaka I think it was the name of the mountain. Um, and from Mount Ashitaka you get the perfect view of Mount Fuji. Uh, and that was a very nice experience. Um, it was 1,504 meters above sea level at the peak. Uh, that’s high that’s high up. Elle: Did you get the whole. Kind of altitude, not altitude sickness, but the, you know, deep breathing.

Deni: Um, but me and my friend went to another hike where I did feel it. Uh, we, and we started a much lower there. Uh, it was, um, oh shoot I don’t think I’ll be able to remember that one. Uh, but there was another mountain, uh, on the, in the west of Tokyo prefecture where it’s very rural. Um, yeah. That mountain was 1,736 meters at the peak. And we started at 340 meters above seal. So that was a big difference, like altitude change, uh, and, um, at about a kilometer altitude change. So that was a 400 meters above sea level where me and my friend really started feeling it. Um, and at one point we even went through a cloud, uh, which was quite the experience.

Elle: I bet. Yeah.

I remember when I was in Japan, I, I climbed Mount Fuji with some friends and they had these, uh, we had these oxygen tank, not tanks, but like a little aerosol mini oxygen inhalers. And I thought, wow, we’re not gonna not going to need those. My friend actually really did need it. Um, he was feeling really dizzy and this was a very fit person too, way fitter than me.

I think it just depends on your physiology or something, but, um, yeah, a lot of these people were just like sucking on these oxygen inhalers as they kind of trudged up in a, in a line up Mount Fuji, but that was an experience for sure. Um, so Deni, tell us about your channel, for everyone who’s going to rush into subscribe after listening. Your channel is, uh, named Deni Mintsaev and you, as I mentioned… it’s your name, you, uh, create content about your, um, language learning journey with Japanese. What can people expect moving forward for your channel when they subscribe?

Deni: Uh, I’ve actually never really thought about specifically making videos about Japanese. I just really make videos about whatever I’m interested in and if it’s Japanese at the time, then that’s what I’ll make a video about. Uh, I actually still, uh, want to make a video. Uh, where I made a video before I left, uh, where I spoke Japanese. And the idea was this was actually from a comment that somebody left, uh, suggesting this, that I record myself speaking Japanese before leaving, and then once I return, uh, I still need to the return video.

Uh, so that’ll be interesting. And, uh, I recently, um, Made a, a video, which I had a lot of fun making uh, about my adventures in Japan, uh, I would definitely recommend people to check out that one. Uh, I detail my different trips that I went on and show all sorts of photos. And, uh, yeah, I had a lot of fun making that one, so I hope you guys will see it and enjoy it.

Elle: Excellent. Give people that, that travel bug, which I know a lot of us have, who haven’t been able to travel for sure. So, obviously you’re all about the Japanese right now. Do you think you’ll move on to another language sometime soon? Or are you sticking with the Japanese for the foreseeable future?

Deni: Uh, I’m actually taking a little bit of a break. Uh, I I’ve done this many times in the past. Um, uh, so I’ll probably get back to Japanese very soon. I don’t think I’ll be switching to another language quite yet. But yeah, I’ll be getting back on the Japanese train and the thing I’m the most interested in right now is the writing. I just want to learn more and more Kanji so I can read more, uh, because I’ve kind of been enjoying reading more than, um, watching stuff lately. So, uh, when it comes to Japanese. So I think I’ll, uh, focus more on that. Um, as soon as I, you know, get the, get the kick to, uh, to learn from it. Uh, but yeah, I, I have a few different hobbies that I, uh, work on from time to time. Uh, so I might make videos about other things too.

Elle: Okay. Well, one of those hobbies is something you also create videos on, on this channel, and I want to ask you about it.

So your channel is about language learning, but also about Rubik’s cube which I find fascinating, this whole thing. I’ve never been able to complete one. So maybe that’s why, I haven’t really tried not mathematically minded at all. But, um, I wanted to ask you, do you think that, uh, your interest in kind of the strategy and the way your mind works around Rubik’s cube has helped you in any way learn languages? Deni: I, I would say that maybe it’s the opposite, that it’s the same kind of interest. Uh, just like subconscious interests that I have that has made me interested in both of those, uh, Rubik’s cubes aren’t really as much about maths as there are just about I guess, logic. Um, and there is also a lot of logic when it comes to languages.

Um, and yeah, because you know, there is a grammar rule. Uh, there are, uh, also in Japanese, you have the Kanji, uh, which there’s also some logic in how you write them, uh, and how you read them. Uh, there are all sorts of things that are about languages that are, um, kind of that make you think. Uh, and yeah, I, that’s something that kind of interests me a lot. Um, in the same way I find programming interesting. Kind of makes you think and yeah, just different things like that.

Elle: Great. There’s a great movie on Netflix. I’m not sure if you’ve seen it at, uh, and I don’t remember the name right now, of course, but it’s about the championships. It follows a bunch of the people who are training to be… I think there’s a championship in the states. Um, I’ll find the, the title. Deni: Are you talking about the Rubik’s cube championship? Oh, oh yeah, the Speed Cubers yeah.

Elle: Okay. I thought that was such a great film. It was, it wasn’t just, you know, it was so well done in that it wasn’t just about Rubik’s cube. It obviously followed these people and you got to know them and everything that they get out of being part of the Rubik’s cube community is just very, very sweet. Deni: Yeah.

I actually met a lot of those people and, uh, I thought, cause that was, um, most of the filming was in the, in Australia, at the world championship in 2019. And I went to that one and I played a lot.

Elle: Oh, no way! So you were there when they filmed that exact…

Deni: Yeah, was watching the, the filming crew, um, and, uh, I have a video that I made myself as well.

Elle: Oh, nice. Is that on your channel?

Deni: Yes. Uh, I think it’s just called like world championship in Australia or something like that. Uh, I uploaded it at the end of 2019.

Elle: Fantastic. And do you, are you in the movie? I know they show the audience a bit. Did you ever see yourself?

Deni: No.

Elle: You didn’t make the cut. Okay. Excellent. Well, listen, Deni, thank you so much. That was a really interesting chat. Uh, I will pop the link to your channel and the content you mentioned. And that movie that we just talked about too, in the description, uh, best of luck with taking the, the JLPT N1, uh, maybe you passed this this first time you took it, who knows, but if not best of luck.

Deni: I hope that I at least got like a 70 or something like that, although that’s out of 180, not out of a hundred, so it’s a low bar, but it’s a very, very difficult. Elle: Yes. Like I said, I’ve heard, I’ve heard, I know one person who living in Japan, who, who passed it quite recently and he was just over the moon, the amount of work that went in to him actually finally getting it. So, um, but yeah, best of luck. And, uh, yeah thank you so much for joining us Deni and, uh, yeah have a great rest of your week.

Deni: Thank you for having me too.

Elle: Bye-bye.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #29: Polyglot Olly Richards Chats about his Story Learning Method, YouTube channel and a Near-Death Experience!

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

Olly Richards discovered the power of learning a language through stories the hard way… a near-death experience! In this episode Elle chats with Olly about his language learning journey, how he developed his story learning method and the awesome and creative videos he is creating for his YouTube channel.

Elle: Hello everyone and welcome to the LingQ podcast with me Elle. Remember, if you are studying English, you can study this podcast episode as a lesson on LingQ, the audio and the transcript. I’ve created it for you and the lesson link is in the description. In fact, on LingQ you can find a full course, so every episode of this podcast is there for you to study as an English lesson.

LingQ is a game changer tool for language learning. You can create a lesson from any content you find online. Perhaps you want to start reading your news in Spanish in the morning, or watching movies in Japanese, you can make a lesson with it on LingQ and start enjoying content in your target language. If you’re enjoying the podcast, please feel free to give us a review on Apple, follow us on Spotify or SoundCloud, subscribe on Google Podcasts. Whatever showing love is on the platform that you’re listing on. It is greatly appreciated. This week’s guest joins me from across the pond in the UK. He is a teacher, language learner, YouTuber and author. Today I am joined by Olly Richards.

Olly, thank you for joining us.

Olly: The pleasure’s all mine. Thanks so much.

Elle: Excellent. And so how are things in the UK right now?

Olly: From what perspective?

Elle: Uh, yours and I guess, you know, why not talk about COVID? Why not? If you want to.

Olly: Well, I mean, I’ll give you the quick version. COVID’s, uh, actually on the way out. I think we’re, most people here are mostly vaccinated for the most part.

Um, I think we did slightly better than, um, than, uh, than other places. Things are Opening up. So like, yeah, it’s the end in sight here after a  pretty abysmal year or so. And then personally, things are great. I’m doing what I do. I’m writing books, I’m making courses, making loads of YouTube videos.

YouTube is kind of my pet project at the moment. So, uh, so yeah, I’m enjoying, enjoying life.

Elle: Excellent. Yeah, and I have to say, I did notice that you’ve been making a lot of YouTube videos lately, it’s great, on your channel: Olly Richards, which I will add a link to of course. So Olly, as I mentioned, you are a language learner and you know, is it eight languages I think I saw online, or has that changed?

Olly: Yeah, I tend to, I tend to say 8. It’s my least favorite question because as time goes on, you know, you forget some languages and other ones go up, but yeah, I I’ve definitely, I’ve definitely learned, uh, 8 languages to a good level. Those would be, uh, after English obviously French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Cantonese, Arabic, and then smatterings of a few others like German and Thai.

But, um, yeah, it’s all kind of, it’s a massive sort of smorgasbord of stuff. Um, all kind of in flux at any one time.

Elle: Right.

Excellent. And, uh, now I have to ask you, uh, I love asking… you are a polyglot, you speak all these languages, so I love asking polyglots who come on, what sparked their passion, what motivated them to start this language learning journey.

And I’ve had all kinds of interesting answers, but I’ve never had near death experience. So tell us about that.

Olly: Yeah.

So the near-death experience, well I’m going to get to that, cause that, that was actually how, that’s what sparked my interest in stories and teaching through stories. It wasn’t how I got interested in languages in the first place.

Like, so I grew up, I grew up like your classic monolingual, English guy and no contact with languages at all. I mean, I did French classes at school, but that’s about it. Um, but when I was 19 years old, I, I was living in London and I got a job in a cafe where I was just, uh, I came across, uh, people, everyone working in that cafe – and it was, it was Caffe Nero in Seven Dials for anyone who  knows London,it’s  still there to this day, I sometimes pop in. Uh, everyone who was working there with me was from it was from different countries. So there were Italians and Swedes and I kind of got talking to these people and I was just like blown away by how interesting their, their backgrounds were.

I was kinda thinking of what do you, what are you doing in the, in London? And then I realized that these people were all, not only speaking their own languages, but they were speaking English and, uh, and often each other’s languages too. So I just found it all very, very interesting, and that kind of just sparked this interest in learning languages.

So I started learning French. And then, uh, shortly after that, my girlfriend decided to break up with me, sent me into a tailspin. I ran away to Paris. So I lived in Paris for six months and kind of learned French there. And then it was just, you know, flood gates were open after that. Um, but the, the near death experience you referred to was a few years later, I was trying to learn Spanish and not doing very well.

And, uh, I was traveling through Argentina when I was in this tiny village, up in the mountains, on the border of Argentina and Bolivia, um, called Iruya. And, um, and it was very, very high up high altitude. And I woke up in the middle of the night, one night, uh, in this hostel and I couldn’t breathe. And I thought, well, maybe, maybe it’s just something to do with the Malbec I’d been drinking that night. So I… but it didn’t get any better. And I still couldn’t, I still couldn’t breathe. So I ran outside of the balcony, like starting to panic thinking, what am I going to do? And it got worse and worse and I literally could not get any oxygen.

And so I was kind of, sort of sitting there on the end of this balcony heaving thinking, this is, you know, this is the end. And then luckily of course the breath did eventually come back after a few minutes. Um, but I was too scared to go back to bed at that point. So all I could do is sort of sit down.

So I’m just sotr of sitting down on this balcony, looking out over the, this, this kind of this huge valley. And, uh, all I had with me was this Spanish book that I bought from some secondhand shop or something a few weeks earlier. And of course never touched, but I was too scared to go back to bed. We didn’t have iPhones back in the day.

So I just picked up this book and started reading and it was kind of, it was really hard work cause my Spanish wasn’t very good, but I kind of kept, plowed through as I must have sat up for two or three hours reading this book. And, um, didn’t think I’d understood all that much, but was was just about following the plot, which is something key that we might come back to later.

Anyway, the next day I woke up happy to be alive. And I was walking down the street in this, in this village, um, and I found all these words popping into my head. I was like, it was these random Spanish words, like… which means the Bishop. Um, and then I thought, well, that’s weird. Cause normally I, you know, I don’t remember learning these words.

And then, you know, normally I have to try really hard to remember words, but these words are somehow stuck. And then I realized it was because I’d sat up for hours last night, reading this book, and I’d certain words had been, had come up in the story over and over again. Um, and so it, that kind of was one of those kinds of Eureka moments.

And then, so I kept on reading the book and then eventually went back to see my friends in Buenos Aires where I’d been staying before. And all of a sudden I realized I was so much better at speaking. I could speak in more complete sentences cause I had all this vocabulary. Now I can understand a lot more of what people were saying.

So it just sparked this big interest in, in stories. And so from there on, I kind of went… this was many years later, but like, I started to try to develop a way of teaching languages using stories, because it was so powerful for me. And, uh, and loads of people like stories after all. So that was, yeah. That’s how, how that happened.

Elle: Wow. My goodness. So did you ever, um, Not to focus on it, just for a second to come back to what happened to you. Did you ever find out what that was?

Olly: I think it was, I think it was just, I think it was just altitude, you know, that’s, that’s what happens when, when you’re, when you’re so high up. I mean, it was right up on top of a mountain in the Andes.

Uh, so I guess that’s what it was. I mean, maybe I was drugged or something. If I was, then they didn’t do a very good job of stealing my stuff.

Elle: No, the plot  thickens though  near-death experience or attempted murder? Um, so previous to that, what kind of methods uh… so that’s when, as you said, there’s the kind of focus on stories began. Previously what kind of methods had you used to study languages?

Olly: What I used was all I knew, which was what I’d done at school. So when I was at school, uh, you know, it was a very traditional learning. It was, um, you know, repeat after me, grammar, conjugation tables, uh, memorizing lists of words. That’s all I knew as far as I was concerned, that was, you know, that’s how they taught us at school.

It must be the best way to learn, right? So, so, um, that’s all I did every time I, I had started a new language. Uh, I would just kind of go down to the European book shop in Soho, um, w where it was at the time in London. And, uh, I would, I just, I just thought, I’d see whatever, whatever textbook I liked the look of and buy it and just work through it and then, you know, make my own paper flashcards and things like that.

Uh, you know, it’s, um, it’s, it’s a very, very traditional way of doing things. And, you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve sort of learned since that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with doing it that way. In fact, lots of people do have quite a lot of success, but it’s what comes afterwards that, that matters. You know, I actually think more and more that the method itself is just a way to get started.

The journey from kind of competence to actual fluency is it’s down to something a lot more kind of fundamental, I think. But yeah.

Elle: So was Spanish the first language then that you would say you became, as you say, very competent competent or fluent in?

Olly: No, I’d say it was probably, it was probably French. Um, but I was living in Paris, so it was kind of, it was, I had that advantage.

What changed was that when I, when I left France and I went back to the UK, I kept learning languages. Right.

But I had to figure out how to keep learning languages while not being immersed in the country, which after all is most people’s situation. Right?

Elle: Yeah.

Olly: So really for most language learners, um, you know, it’s not that living in the, in the country is necessarily a panacea because there are plenty of people who go to live abroad and don’t learn the language to any good degree. Uh, but for the, for the ambitious, dedicated learner, living abroad is a huge advantage because you just have access to the language all the time. But for most people, you know, the challenges, how do I learn a language as a busy adult living at home, you know, by myself? Well, maybe with the help of a teacher a little bit, but that that’s the challenge that most people face and that’s, that’s who I also try to, to help with the stuff that, that, that I do.

I’m very focused on the practical side of life.

Elle: So you run the website, I will teach you a language.

Olly: That’s right, soon to become soon as it becomes storylearning.com. Depending on when people are watching this, we’re actually, we’re actually… cause because the method that I now teach using stories, I call story learning, um, and so we’re actually changing the name of everything over to story learning.com. Uh, but that, that may or may not have happened by the time this goes live. So, but anyone watching this well into the future. Will uh, will yeah. Story learning.com sould be where it’s at.

Elle: Storylearning.com. Okay.

Excellent. Yeah.

So we’ll talk about the story learning method in a moment. I just want to mention your short stories series, because two of the past guests I’ve had on this podcast have mentioned them. So I always ask, uh, you know, what would you recommend, uh content-wise and I’ve had two people now say Olly Richards’ short stories, readers, which are available online have, were really helpful for me.

So I believe, for cantonese and for Spanish. Yes. Cause that’s right. They’re offered in Spanish and Cantonese, right?

Olly: No, not, not, not exactly. Not exactly. Not Cantonese, but we do have Spanish and we have, we have about 20 languages at this point of which Spanish is one. Yeah.

Elle: Wow. Okay.

Excellent. I’ll uh, I’ll put the link in the description for those, but so they came before you developed this kind of story learning method, or I guess they were…

Olly: Yeah, and so the way, so the way, the way it happened was that I, um, so I’ve been searching for these ways because I found myself learning through stories. Right.

And, um, the way that I was learning was up, I was just getting, getting books and reading those books and.

And that’s fine once you get to a certain level, but it’s not much comfort for people who are kind of just getting started or who are kind of at a lower level because reading novels is pretty tough and you’ve either got to be already be at a good level, or you’ve got to be extraordinarily persistent, um, uh, in order to kind of make your way through and all.

So what, so my first where I went first was to think, okay, well, I want to write stories that you can, that can be useful for them. Um, and you know, graded readers are hardly a new concept, but, but graded readers have always been traditionally extremely dull and boring and, you know, there are often kind of, you know, it would be a translation of like Sherlock Holmes or Jane Austen or whatever, which is fine, but it’s not my cup of tea.

So I wanted something more, more fresh and modern and fun. Right.

So, so I started writing short stories, um, in originally in Spanish and then after that in many other languages. Uh, and, and, and I kind of really went down this rabbit hole of figuring out here what exactly do learners want in, um, in the books like this? Uh, because I think a lot, it’s probably, it’s probably to look at these books and think, oh, well, he just wrote a few stories, but actually I did a huge amount of research into everything from like how long should the average sentence be?

Uh, what genres of stories should we have? Um, what’s the ideal chapter length? I mean, I I’ve, I went deep on this stuff. Um, yeah. Uh, and so that’s why I think these books have become so popular because it is exactly what people need when they are at a, kind of A2, upper beginner level to start reading. So they came first and then, but that’s still not a method for beginners.

So I started to think like, well, I’ve got these, I’ve written these books and they’re, they’re super popular. I want to do something that, I want to create something so that complete beginners in a language can learn using stories too. So it took me a couple of years to figure it out, but then eventually I, I, I kind of created my story learning method, which is, which is specific specifically for beginners.

So if you want to learn Japanese or Spanish or French or whatever, um, I would start to create these courses whereby um, so that you’d have these courses that were based entirely on stories, but you add onto that tuition and, um, and activities and things like that, that they get you, um, actually kind of processing the language and learning. Um, and so that, yeah, that came after, because it wasn’t obvious to me how to do it. Well, I could have, I could have thrown something, I could have thrown something together at any point, but I really wanted to do it well. Um, I’ve got a long, a long background in teaching. Um, so I kind of, I was quite, you know, insistent on, um, on doing that the right way.

Elle: Excellent. And what’s what did you used to teach before?

Olly: Well, when I was a lot younger, I taught music for a few years. Um, I used to teach piano and guitar cause I have a background in music. Um, I have a degree in, I have a degree in jazz piano, which not many people know.

Elle: That’s very cool.

Olly: And I used to, I used to play professionally. That’s like what I did for the longest time. Um, and then I came to a kind of crossroads in my life and I decided to go and teach English so I moved to Japan, taught English in Japan for a few years. And then did my, you know, certificates, diplomas. I did a master’s degree in applied linguistics, you know, I’ve really kind of… whatever, when I, when I do new things, I tend to kind of go, go at it quite hard.

So I went down the full on teaching routes. I almost went and did a PhD and all that, but I didn’t do that in the end. Um, but yeah, so I’ve got quite extensive experience as a, uh, as a TEFL teacher and teacher trainer and kind of academic ish.

Elle: Wow. And do you, are you by any chance left handed?

Olly: Yeah

Elle: No way. Okay.

So the last podcast episode with, I don’t know if you know Nate of Nate’s adventures, YouTube channel, he mentioned your, uh, your readers. Uh, he said that apparently people who have musical talent or are able to play, uh, instruments multiple or just one, and are left-handed are apparently more likely to, uh, be good language learners, whatever that means.

Or be maybe interested in language learning, but there you go. So you point his point. I’m going to ask every guest moving forward.

Olly: Yeah, I mean, yeah, it’s, it’s, I, I’m not aware of any kind of research that shows that. I mean, the difficulty is that, I mean I’ve got, it’s often people ask me like Ddoes a musical background give you, help you have a better accent? Or does it help you or does it help you with languages? And my, my feeling on that is yes, it has helped me in certain ways. It does with my accent in other languages, I think tends to be, tends to be quite good, better than, I mean, there’s plenty of things in my languages that are not good, but accent is, accent, I I’m, I’m better. Yeah.

And also the thing of, um, I actually get the discipline of training yourself to get good at something that was once hard.

Elle: Right.

Olly: Which is what is what classical music in particular trains you to do. Um, but in general, the thing is that for every example of someone who has a background in music and he’s good at languages, you can find 10 examples of people who are just as good at languages with no musical background.

Elle: Yeah, like Steve I think for example.

Olly: Right. Um, yeah, Steve doesn’t strike me as a musician. He, maybe he is.

Elle: I don’t, I don’t think he plays anything. I could be wrong.

Olly: I could, I can imagine him sort of sitting in some izakaya in Japan seeing someone  kind of do some crooning or some, all Japanese songs or, but yeah. It’s, I don’t know. I don’t, I don’t really know.

Um, I remember speaking to Stephen Krashen about this, about the musical question and, and, and he, and he, he replied quite similarly, like, you know, our, our intuition, like likes… based on intuition we’d like to think that there’s a connection, but it’s not born out in research as far as I’m aware.

Elle: Yeah, for sure. Yeah.

Um, so as you mentioned, you have your short stories, your reader short stories in whichever language, are available in 20 languages. I won’t ask to recite those.

Olly: Yeah aproximately.

Elle: That’s, that’s amazing. Um, what about your, so your story learning method, which is more focused on beginners, what languages are those available in?

Olly: Yeah, so this my story learning courses are basically, yeah, they are just your standard beginner courses, just like any kind of beginner textbook or, or, or whatever. Uh, and we have those in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, uh, Chinese, Korean, Turkish, Portuguese and Russian.

Elle: Wow. Okay.

Olly: Yeah.

Elle: Okay, you heard it here first. Um, so I want to talk, as you mentioned about your YouTube channel, you’ve been making a lot more videos on your channel, Olly Richards. Um, how’s that going? And what do you have any kind of projects in the works? How’s the channel going?

Olly: Yeah.

So the channel’s going great. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks for asking and anyone who’s listening and watching go subscribe to the channel on YouTube because I’m putting out some very, like I’m trying to, I’m trying to, I’m having a lot of fun with the channel. So for example, recently I published a video on how Mormon missionaries learn languages, which has done super well.

And I also find like videos of celebrities speaking, speaking languages, and, and kind of talk about how, about how they are, how they do it and give some kind of commentary and things and things like that. So everyone go subscribe to, to that. Or you can just search Olly Richards on YouTube and drop me a comment and say hi, cause I love to get those comments.

Um, but most of all, it’s, it’s a way for me to just kind of, I guess it sounds corny, but it’s a way for me to express myself really, because I I’ve always been a content creator. I started my website and this whole business started off as a blog. Back in 2013. I just, you know, I heard, I heard, I read, I heard about this guy, Benny Lewis and how he was blog blogging.

And, um, so I thought, well, I could, I could do that. So I started a blog and then that all developed into, you know, everything that’s happened since has kind of developed from that. But my first passion around this was always, um, blogging. Cause I just, I’ve got a long background in languages, language learning, teaching, and I wanted to create stuff.

Right.

I wanted to blog about my experiences and um, and so… that I did that I did for years and years, but, but one of the trends that’s happened, you know, on, on online in recent years is the video has become so much more, um, important, you know? And, and so I’ve been, yeah. I’ve decided I decided to get, to make a go of my, of my, of my YouTube channel.

So I can, I’ve learned how to do YouTube. I’ve been uploading videos on and off about seven years, but I just never, it was always like a way to make my blog more interesting by making a quick video of me speaking Cantonese or whatever. Um, but I recently, I sort of decided to, you know, quote unquote, “do YouTube” or “learn YouTube”.

So I, um, I, I took it quite seriously. I recruited a team who helps me, uh, with the channel or kind of a production team and, um, have been making or experimenting with all these different videos. And, and I just love to have ideas. I have like a million ideas a minute. I’ve always been that way. And so I, YouTube is kind of a very cool way to just have an idea and be able to put it out there.

So, like, for example, I remember watching the US presidential elections last year. Yeah.

Uh, and thinking to myself well that’s interesting, because I’ve watched these, these debates that they had. And, and it’s complete cliche now that you’ll get, you’ll get someone who’s like speaking to the audience in English and then they’ll turn to the camera and speak in Spanish.

I thought, well, that’s kind of weird. I know why they’re doing it, right? But it’s also quite cool. Wouldn’t it be fun to make a video with like, talking about the Spanish that they use. And, and so I just made this video on, on US presidential, analyzing us presidential candidates. I found some clips of them speaking Spanish.

And then just talked about it. And that for me is just so fun to do. And so I use YouTube as a way to just, just, just kind of get my thoughts and ideas out there. And, um, and fortunately it seems to be really resonating with people.

Elle: So are you actively learning a language right now or are you in  that polygto maintain mode?

Olly: Yeah.

Well, what I’m actually doing right now is I’ve, I’ve gone back to learning Kanji. So Japanese or Chinese characters in Japanese, it’s like been a bit, a bit, a bit, a bit of a love-hate relationship with, for me for four years. But I haven’t, I have to say in the last few years in particular, I haven’t been all that active with language learning, um, as much as before. And I often think about why that is. I’m very influenced by my surroundings, right? So I’ve often traveled a lot and, um, you know, my ideal… well, my ideal scenario for learning a new language is either when I’m, when I’ve got a community of people around me. For example, when I lived in London, I had a bunch of Brazilian friends, learnt Portuguese, or else when I travel or go to the country.

So when I went to Japan, learnt Japanese, um, and, but then kind of right now, I’m in a stage of life where I’m quite like, um, I’m quite chilled really. Um, I live in like in, in, in a little village, in the middle of the countryside in England, I hardly ever hear foreign languages. Uh, so I don’t kind of have this big, or I haven’t had this, this, this real urge to be studying for, for a while, but it, but it kind of comes back in fits and starts. So recently I’ve kind of decided, right, it’s time to properly learn to learn, to, to, to read and write Japanese, like… like I said, that kind of big unfinished project.

And so I’ve got, I’m working on that currently, so I’m, um, I could tell you how I’m going about it, if you like, but given that I haven’t had that much success in the past, I’m not, not sure it’s particularly useful information. Um, but yeah. Um, but I do maintain languages a fair bit. I mean, I always regularly speak Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Cantonese, French from time to time.

Um, um, but yeah, it always kind of changes. I I’m, I’m always very I’m full of admiration for people who are, who dedicated lots of time every day to actively maintaining languages, even, even without a, um, a particular reason do so. Cause I’m, I’m just not like that. I I’m, I’ve always been someone very much kind of led by my surroundings.

Um, so, so yeah, but I suspect when the world starts to open up again properly and, um, and, and, and more traveling is to be done. I suspect I might, I might pick up the bug again quite quick.

Elle: And how about your kind of entertainment time then? Do you find you watch movies, TV shows, read books, blog posts in the different languages, you know, or do you kind of just gravitate towards maybe English or the langauges you know best?

Olly: It’s the same answer, right? I don’t do stuff for the sake of the languages, right? I know this is probably a quite, it’s probably quite an uncommon answer among the, the guests you have here. Cause I know a lot of people are just incredibly dedicated to the way that they kind of structure their time to practice different languages.

See, for me, it’s never, it’s never been in about the language as such. It’s always been about what I can do with that language. So I’m, it’s not that I’m particularly interested in learning Japanese it’s that I want to be able to communicate with my Japanese friends and talk to them in Japanese. It’s not that I necessarily love the act of learning Portuguese, it’s because I love to go and hang out with, with Brazilians in Brazil.

I just love being there. So like, so when I don’t have that immediate environment, it’s not something that I just really seek out. Um, so it’s difficult. I do think about this sometimes. I mean, I, I will watch movies in Japanese and Portuguese and stuff. Well, whatever, um, but, but again, like I say, it’s just not something that I, I try and force.

I think one kinf of relevant question here is what it means to maintain a language. Because I think for me, the languages I’ve learned fall into kind of two categories, the languages I’ve learned and I, and I’m still pretty good at, and then the languages that I’ve learned and I’ve kind of let them fall away.

And I very much believe that once you’ve learned the language to a strong level, which I normally, uh, pinned down at about a B2 level, B2 or higher. You never lose that language. Right?

So for example, my French is probably not great right now. But I still understand everything. And given 15 minutes of practice, I can get it back to a good level, even though I haven’t really spoken to for 20 years when I, when I was last in France, but that’s, but that’s quite common among, among people who, who have got languages to that kind of level are going to B2 or, or, or above level.

And so when I think about the languages that I’ve, that I’ve had at that level or I’ve got to that level still, I, I’m not worried about losing them because I know that the day that I need them, I’ll get it, I can get them back very quickly. So for that reason, I just choose not to spend my time in some arbitrary maintenance mode.

Um, but rather I just, I just do what I want to do in my life. And, you know, if languages are part of that, great. If not, no worries. Um, I know I’ll come back to them later, so yeah, I’m very, I’m very much, um, I’m very kind of Laissez-faire with that, that, that, that kind if thing. It’s not very practical, not very practical, practical help for people, but that’s the truth.

Elle: But that’s like, you know yourself, right? You’re not going to force it because, and also if you do force it, if you’re like, Hey, I’m going to spend X amount of time each day on these different languages and you’re not necessarily enjoying it, you’re just doing it as a chore, is it really that helpful? You know, maybe.

Olly: I think it can be helpful. I mean, if  you’re spending a lot of time, if you’re spending regular time, picking up a language, it will have an effect.

For sure. For me, it’s more a case of, I won’t enjoy it if I’m forcing it. I, you know, I, I, I’m always, I’ve always been very busy. I’ve always worked hard and I have, I have a lot of things I like to do. Um, you know, I spend a lot of time, you know, walking, cycling, for example, seeing family. Uh, so I don’t, I don’t feel like I have time to do something that I don’t really want to do and, you know, maintaining languages that, that maintaining languages where, where there’s no particular outcome there, it kind of fits into that category.

Elle: Right.

I See.

Olly: Sorry.

Elle: No, don’t apologize. Um, so for everyone who’s listening and watching, who’s going to rush to Olly Richards, your YouTube channel, what can they expect from your channel moving forward for the rest of the year and beyond?

Olly: A lot of fun language stuff is what you can expect. You’re not going to find videos of me saying, you know, here, here is my six month uh, Korean progress or anything. It’s, it’s I used to do that, but I don’t do that anymore.

I, what I try to do is I try to think what will people enjoy, what will people find interesting? Um, so I’m working on a video right now, for example, about the defense language Institute. So the green Berets in the US, what methods they use to train their special forces to learn languages faster.

Um, I’m working on, uh, on, on some videos about, um, about different, about different languages, obviously. Bit of a statement of the obvious. I’m working on, I’m working on a video right now about how we create our book. So like when we’ve got these, you’ve got these books in different languages, or how do we create a Brazilian Portuguese book and that, or how do we make a Korean book? Making A video describing all of that. We’ve got, um, you know, videos of like celebrities speaking Japanese and things like that. And I’m having a great time, uh, at their expense. So yeah, a lot of, a lot of stuff where I’m trying to sort of,but this isn’t, this isn’t frivolous. I’m trying, I always try to sort of talk about different language topics, and then tie it back into what you can take away from it.

So if I’m, if I’m making a reaction video to Colin Firth speaking Italian, I’m not sure. Well, he speaks great Italian by the way. Yeah.

And you can, if you want to see an example of that um…

Elle: I do, because that just makes him more attractive. I’ll check that out right after.

Olly: But what I’ll try and do is I’ll kind of I’ll I’ll, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll try to like analyze it and then tie it back to what you can take away from that.

Right.

So, so actually I try to make it informative and educational as well as, as well as fun. So yeah go now, go subscribe. Like I say, um, if you’re listening to this and leave me a comment on my video, say that you came from the, from the LingQ podcast and, uh, I will, uh, I’ll look out for those because I love getting, I love, uh, I love getting comments from people.

I love hearing from people that come from different places.

Elle: Excellent. Well, I will of course pop the link in the description to your YouTube channel Olly Richards. Also, I will teach you a language.com. Actually no, it will be storylearning.com moving forward. So I’ll just say story learning. I’ll change the link when it, the website changes in the description and also a link to your excellent readers, which polyglots are raving about on this podcast as well.

So, um, listen, Olly, thank you so, so much, it’s been a great chat. I wish you the best of luck with the story learning method and with your YouTube channel and, um, yeah, thank you so much for joining us today.

Olly: All right. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

Elle: Cheers. Bye-bye.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #28: Learn Spanish with Nate of Nate’s Adventures

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

Nate’s Adventures is a fun channel and a wealth of knowledge for anyone studying Spanish. In this episode of the LingQ podcast Elle chats with Nate about where his love for Spanish started, his preference for grammar (whaaaat?) and what he hopes his next adventures will be.

Elle: Hello everyone and welcome to the LingQ podcastwith me, Elle. Are you learning English? If so, I have made this podcast episode into an English lesson just for you. Actually you can find all past podcast episodes as English lessons on LingQ, there’s a full course there. I’ll always add the link to the lesson in the description.

If you’ve  never used LingQ before, it’s an excellent way to learn a language. You learn from content you love, that means you choose the content: podcast episodes, YouTube videos, news articles, music lyrics, whatever you’re into. You can create a lesson on LingQ and work your way through it translating words and phrases you don’t know, adding them to your own personal database. If you enjoy this podcast, please give us a like subscribe, follow share, and if you are listening on Apple Podcasts, feel free to leave a review. That way we can get in front of more listeners and help them learn English too.

I am joined this week by another wonderful guest. I’m joined by Nate of the YouTube channel Nate’s Adventurous. He is a language coach and also YouTuber. Nate, thanks for joining us. How are you?

Nate: Very good. Thanks for having me. I’m really excited to chat with you today.

Elle: Excellent. Me too. Uh, whereabouts are you joining us from today?

Nate: I am joining you from Los Angeles, California.

Elle: Oh, very, very cool. And how are you guys doing down there in terms of the heat? Are you, were you in that whole heat dome?

Nate: Yeah, it was pretty hot. Um, it’s, it’s still definitely very hot, but not as bad as it was, um, a week ago or so, but yeah.

Elle: Excellent. I guess down there you’re more prepared. Is it mostly air conditioned?

Nate: It is. Yeah, it is. Yeah.

Elle: Good, good. That’s great. That’s much needed in a 40 degree hell hole heat wave that we just had here, so, okay. Good to hear. Um, so Nate, you run the channel Nate’s Adventurous as I mentioned. You focus on Spanish and your story is one thing that jumped out to me when I was reading your bio, you’re a little different from the YouTubers I’ve had on before in that you actually learned a language in high school.

Nate: Right. That’s correct. That is correct.

Elle: Wow, so like you’re in the minority. I would say most people in general and also the YouTubers that I have on are like, no, it didn’t work for me in high school then I went on to find my own methods. So how is it that you learned Spanish in high school?

Nate: Sure. Yeah.

Yeah.

Good question. Very common question. So, you know, it’s funny actually, because like you said, I am definitely in the minority. Um, to be honest, I mean, I can’t speak for everyone here, but I feel like it’s kind of one of those things where, you know, when most of us are in high school, we’re not necessarily interested in actually learning the language when we’re in school, it’s typically I need to meet a requirement or I just need to pass my classes or whatever, so I can go to college kind of thing. So sometimes I feel that, you know, because when people are in high school and they’re like, oh, I just want to pass a class. And that’s it. Um, but also for me, I just, I loved it. You know, I, when I started taking classes, I was like, oh man, this is amazing. I love this. And so I just enjoyed it. And then, because I enjoyed it. I paid attention and then I learned.

Elle: Excellent. It’s as simple as that. Did you have a, did you have a particularly good teacher would you say, or what was it more like you say your, your interest was sparked by the language?

Nate: Definitely a mix of both. Um, you know, I had, I had great teachers throughout high school. Uh, the majority of them were Mexican. Um, just because, you know, LA is very close to Mexico. Um, but yeah, it was definitely a mix of both, um, me taking an interest to it.

And also my good teachers. Also, it’s funny because I don’t know if this applies to me, who knows, but I’m also, I’ve read that, um, a lot of the times, if you’re left-handed, uh, or you play an instrument or something else that can help you learn a language easier. And for me, I’ve grown up playing instruments and I’m left-handed.

So who knows? Maybe I have a little edge.

Elle: Interesting. I haven’t heard that before. Huh. Now I need to ask people when they come on if they’re left-handed or play an instrument just to do my own research. And, um, what, uh, what musical instruments do you play out of interest?

Nate: Guitar, piano, a little ukulele, but mainly the guitar.

Elle: Okay.

Nate: Yeah.

Elle: I wonder if people, people listening can comment if they, mostly they are language learners, because they’re listening for that reason, if they play an instrument. Okay.

Um, so tell us about your channel Nate’s Adventures. Obviously the focus is on learning Spanish.

It’s a super fun channel from perusing it  myself. I’m not learning Spanish, but I enjoyed especially the video where were you surprised the online teacher with your Spanish. You were fumbling along and then burst out with this perfect Spanish.

Nate: Sure. So I actually started my YouTube channel when I was in high school. I was 17 and I was like, man, it’d be really cool to be, do this YouTube thing. You know? So Nate’s Adventures was born. And at first my channel was just me going around, doing fun stuff, going camping, and going rock climbing. And then one day, this was maybe just over a year ago, I was like, you know, let’s speak Spanish. You know, I feel like making videos about it would be a good way to practice. And I thought to myself, you know, I want to share the language with people and I want to share with people just how cool it is to know another language, whether that’s Spanish or another language.

Um, And yeah, so I wanted to make kind of silly videos. I wanted to make like entertaining videos kind of funny videos, as opposed to the typical like, Hey, like, this is how you learn the predicate tense or here’s the subjunctive mood. Like things like that. You know, the reality is, is less people are going to find that to be interesting or entertaining.

Right. It’s not as fun. So I started making these silly videos, you know, surprising teachers with funny Spanish or, you know, going out and trying different food or hanging out with my friends, speaking Spanish, um, things like that. And then the channel started doing pretty well. Um, especially like the silly teacher videos and videos like that.

Elle: People love that . These are hard times, especially now. Um, so your website, Spanishwithnate.com, you offer Spanish, uh, coaching. What kind of methods would you say you use in your spanish coaching?

Nate: Definitely. Okay.

So good question. Um, I’ve never been asked this before, so this is a good question.

Um, well it depends, it really depends on what the student needs and what their goals are, because I don’t want to teach someone grammar if they just want to go, you know, on a trip to Mexico for a week or two, you know, then we’re going to focus on, you know, simple phrases and things like that, that they can, can have down.

Um, but typically I actually really like teaching grammar. I feel like a lot of times people think that grammar is this horrible thing. Maybe it’s just the word grammar. People are like, ah, that’s scary. Um, but I’ve never understood how you could learn a languageto an intermediate or advanced level without learning some grammar.

Um, you know, I always say you, you know, when you’re learning Spanish, First off, you got to learn the present tense, the preterite tense in the imperfect tense. And then like the informal future is important, but like, if you can get those down, not extremely difficult tenses, you have a, you know, a good amount of the main grammar that’s used.

It’s kind of like the 80/20 rule, you know, learn 20%, most important stuff then you have 80% of the language, right. Um, and then from grammar that comes along with, you know, doing flashcards through, you know, whether it’s Quizzlet or Amki, um, are two great softwares for, for learning vocabulary. And then it’s reinforcing the things you’re learning in a classroom or in a book, or a course, whatever, reinforcing that by going out and speaking with, with native speakers, whether that’s in person or via, you know, an online app like like Tandem or Hello Talk, um, That’s kind of it, really using the language, uh, you know, that’s kinda the best way.

Elle: Okay.

Again, you’re an outlier in that you enjoy grammar. You mentioned in the bio on the website that, um, learning, learning Spanish has changed your life. I mean, of course in that you have this now coaching business and YouTube channel, successful, 50,000 subscribers. Congratulations.

Um, so in what ways has learning Spanish changed your life?

Nate: Yeah, absolutely.

So, yeah, like you said, definitely the business side of it. I would have never expected that. So it’s pretty incredible. And really, yeah, that I can, you know, survive and make some money doing what I love. That’s amazing. Um, Yeah, to be honest with you I cannot imagine my life, what my life would be right now, if I had never learned Spanish, um, because seriously it is such an integral part of my life that like every day something going on in my life is relating to Spanish, especially in these past few years, um, with creating these videos and everything.

Um, but I mean, just the opportunities that it gives you, um, you know, to be able to like travel to Mexico or Spain or wherever, and just chat with the locals, have these deep connections with people. Um, one of the most meaningful things for me and this never gets old for me is meeting a stranger, Spanish as their first language, and, you know, they can speak some English, you chat with them a little bit in English, then you say, oh, you speak Spanish. You speak to them in Spanish. And they just do a 180. They’re a whole new person. That is one of the coolest things to me. Like I always say this in any interview that people do with me.

It’s like, I love the quote by Nelson Mandela, if you speak to a man in a second language, you’re speaking to his mind but if you speak to a man and his first language, you’re speaking to his heart. And it’s cheesy, but it’s so true. It’s like connecting with people on a deep level is like one of the most meaningful, satisfying things i, I feel like I’ve, I’ve find in my life. Um, so yeah, just the relationships I’ve been able to build and the places I’ve been able to travel to. Um, the workout now that I get for my brain in Spanish.

Elle: Yeah, no doubt. Yeah.

You’re, you’re obviously an advanced, um, speaker of Spanish so maybe you just, you just have advanced content in mind when asked this question, but I wonder if you have any book, podcast, movie suggestions for anyone listening, who is interested in studying Spanish or just is looking for a great movie?

Nate: Sure, absolutely. Yeah.

Okay.

Actually, um, uh, Olly Richards, uh, I’m sure you’re familiar with him. He has some great books in Spanish. Just go “Olly Richards, you know, books in Spanish” whatever. He’s got those good short stories. Um, I just watched this movie called Tell Me When, um, it’s on Netflix. Um, it’s, it’s a beautiful movie it’s set in in Mexico City.

That’s really cool. I love Coco. Coco is my favorite movie in Spanish so…. Go see Coco in Spanish. Please go watch it cause it’s awesome. Um, but yeah, those are my recommendations.

Elle: Okay.

So would you… your life is obviously revolves around knowing Spanish and, um, coaching it. Are you thinking about another language anytime soon? Or are you just all about the Spanish?

Nate: Sure. Well, for me, when it comes to language learning me personally, I don’t want to know a little of a lot of languages. I want to know a few languages at a pretty high level. So obviously I’m already there with Spanish currently, I’m working on Mandarin Chinese. Um, and I’ve been doing okay, much slower process now that I’m kind of in the adult world so to say, you know, I can’t, it’s harder to go to, you know, Spanish or Chinese class, you know, 45 minutes every single day. Um, you know, with everything that’s going on in my life. But, um, Yeah, that is, that is the current language I’m working on right now.

Elle: And will you be using any of the methods, I know it’s, it’s difficult to say because you actually basically became conversational in Spanish, in high school, which was how long ago?

Nate: So I started when I was 14, which is seven years old. Yeah.

Elle: Seven years ago. Okay.

So will you be using any of those same things kind of methods to study Mandarin or is it a whole different thing now?

Nate: Sure. Great question. Um, yeah, you know, me personally, I actually love the classroom setting, um, when it comes to learning a language, uh, being in person with the, with the teacher, because something that I found that helped me a lot when I was learning Spanish was asking a lot of questions.

So, you know, if you’re not sure about something you’re still confused just being able to ask questions constantly is so valuable. Um, but yeah, still I think grammar is so important. I think understanding that is really important. It’s, it’s kind of a mixture. It’s kind of like this base where it’s like build your base off of grammar, then move on to learn new vocabulary and then reinforce the grammar, the vocabulary via speaking with people, listening to audio, you know, watching movies, immersing yourself in the language.

Elle: Okay.

Cool. And will you start making videos about your Mandarin learning journey?

Nate: I don’t know. You know, I’m not at any level close enough to where I think I could. Um, it might be interesting, like you said, do a little journey thing, but I think honestly, um, my channel has kind of become um, primarily Spanish focused and a lot of my viewers come from Latin America and Spain.

Um, so I think my channel will stay primarily Spanish focused. And actually I have, I have an idea where I might create a new channel where I teach people, um, where I’m actually teaching Spanish. Cause right now, You know, entertaining videos, conversations, things like that. I might make another channel and do both, um, you know, Hey, you know, let’s say we’re going to learn 25 great travel phrases from Mexico, or, you know, whatever.

Elle: Right. Okay.

Excellent. In terms of, uh, the channel Nate’s Adventures then you have had some great guests on, um, Steve Kaufmann LingQ co-founder of course. Um, are there any other guests in the works or are there any, is there anyone you would like on?

Nate: Good question. I think it’d be interesting to talk to EIenna. Um, he seems like, yeah, he seems like a really nice guy.

I met him once at this like online language conference. It was awesome. Um, and we got to chat a little bit, but, um, I’ve never really gotten to have like a full in depth conversation with him, but yeah, Ford Quarterman. He’s a pretty good, cool guy. Like watching his videos. Um, he he’s like a gringo guy. He travels around in Mexico.

Makes fun videos. Um, be cool to talk to him. Yeah.

I mean, there’s so many interesting people. I love speaking with people kind of in this space. Cause you know, everyone’s got their unique stories and, and uh, I think it’s cool because in the language learning community, there’s, there’s just like a very strong connection and everyone’s very worldly and it has many cool stories to share.

So yeah.

Elle: Yeah. And it’s such a growing community too, and I’ve spoken about this before, in other episodes, but it blows me away. Every week, every month, it seems to be a new channel popping up. I love it. It used to be that they were very few, um, kind of YouTubers or, you know, known people for the language learning niche community.

So, yeah. That’s very cool.

Nate: Yeah, absolutely.

Elle: And how about for the rest of the year and moving forward for your channel do you have any plans for kind of projects, different videos?

Nate: Definitely. Yeah.

So with regards to my YouTube channel, um, my goal is, so I have one year of college left or uni. I don’t know if that’s what you say in Canada.

Elle: Yeah. I guess… no college I’m from the UK so we say uni. In Canada yeah they say, I guess they say college.

Okay.

Well

Nate: college or whatever. I’ve got one year left. So my goal is finish school. And then once I’m done, um, if I’m making enough money to be able to just go travel around, I’d love to go to Mexico for a bit, um, and just make fun videos there.

Um, other parts of Latin America. I’ve been to Spain, but who knows? I might go back. Um, I really, I think the, what would be awesome for Nate’s Adventures is to turn it into, um, less of like surprising teachers with perfect Spanish, things like that. Because to be honest, those videos do great.,They get lots of views and they entertain the fun to make.

But a lot of times I feel like a one trick pony and I just get bored of them. So to have like a combination of those kinds of videos with like these fun travel videos, like, Hey, we’re in Mexico City and we’re trying out these really cheap tacos versus real expensive ones, things like that would be super fun.

Elle: Sounds fun. It sounds super fun. And what are you studying in college? Actually, I didn’t ask you.

Nate: I am studying marketing. Yeah.

Elle: Okay.

Well, I mean, so far you’re doing really well with the channel, maybe using those expertise that you’re learning along the way,

um, Nate. Fantastic interview. Thank you for your tips and advice. I want to ask you one last question actually, what would you say to anyone who is thinking about starting a journey, a Spanish language learning journey, and maybe needs confidence or advice?

Nate: Sure, absolutely. Well, just get started. I always say, like I said, you know, I don’t mean to come back to the grammar, but just get yourself like a simple grammar textbook.

You can just go on Amazon, you know, you know, Spanish grammar textbook for beginners, whatever, just so you can get started. And my other piece of advice, it’s cheesy, it’s general, whatever is just enjoy yourself because at the end of the day, Yes, learning Spanish is a journey. It’s a process. Sometimes it’s gonna be harder than others, but at the end of the day, you’re learning the language to do something fun.

Right? You want to enjoy it. You don’t want to hate the process because learning Spanish is not this thing where you can learn it in a month and, you know, speak this beautiful Spanish. Like it takes time. That’s the reality, it’s with anything, you know, it takes time and it takes hard work. Um, but you need to have fun during the journey, because I always tell people, people are like, wow, your Spanish is so good. I’m like, thank you. But I’m still learning. I’m still getting better. It’s kind of, it’s important to have that mindset, you know, immerse yourself, love the language, have fun, um, and be consistent.

Elle: I like that one. I need to take that advice in my language I think for sure.

Well, great advice, Nate. Thank you so much. Best of luck in your final year of college and best of luck moving forward with Spanishwithnate.com and Nate’s Adventures. I’ll pop the links to both of those in the description. And yeah, thank you so much for joining us, Nate. It’s been a great chat.

Nate: Perfect. Yeah.

Thank you, Elle I appreciate all your questions.

Elle: Excellent. Bye-bye.

Nate: Adios