English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #22: Learn English with Your Favourite English Teacher, Rupa Sensei!

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Rupa Sensei is the English teacher you’re looking for, especially if you’re a Japanese speaker. In this episode Elle chats with Rupa about his journey from Melbourne high school graduate to Japanese ESL teacher to superstar YouTuber.

Elle: Hello everyone. And welcome to the LingQ English podcast with me Elle and today I have a treat for you listeners. I am joined by YouTuber Rupa Sensei, Rupa Sensei, how are you?

Rupa: Oh, brilliant you know, I’m feeling good today. Uh, woke up and just felt amazing today. Cooked some breakfast. I did a little bit of work and now I’ve got some coffee in me. So might be a little hyper today.

Elle: That’s fine. That’s fine. So you’re joining us from Australia, Melbourne, Melbourne. Is that right?

Rupa: That’s right, so Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia. This is where I was born and raised. And oh brilliant place. And it’s actually getting a little, a little nippy these days. We had summer, but now it’s starting to chill down a little bit.

Elle: Of course, right…

Rupa: How about yourself, you’re over in Vancouver, right?

Elle: Yes. Yeah.

In Vancouver.

Rupa: Shout out to all the Canucks.

Elle: Nice! Were just starting to get warm here. I mean…

Rupa: Oh brilliant.

Elle: Not, not very warm. It’s very wet. It’s basically a rainforest. So, but, uh…

Rupa: OKay. How’s the summers though, you get pretty hot in the summer?

Elle: You know, I’d say like 26, 27 degrees is hot here.

Rupa: That’s not too bad.

Elle: It’s nice. Yeah.

It might hit 30. That’s like, that’s a very hot day. Nothing like you, Australians.

Rupa: We get very hot. And it’s very dry, hot and dry summers.

Elle: Right?

So you’re from Melbourne, Australia, and that’s where you are now, but you’re usually based in Japan, right?

Rupa: That’s right. So, uh, that’s where I went when I was 18. So I finished high school and then I got a job opportunity to go be an ESL teacher in Japan. So I thought hey, well, what a brilliant opportunity. I was going to take a gap year anyway. So all the stars aligned and I was off to Japan and then I was stationed in a place called Ibaraki. Okay. So have you, have you ever been to Japan?

Elle: Yeah, I actually, I lived there for three years. I did the ESL thing too.

Rupa: That’s great. And yeah so Ibaraki is kind of like north of Tokyo and, well, it’s pretty countryside or Japanese they say “inaka”. And you know, but I felt that was such a great starting point into Japan. I could get so much of the culture there, they were so open  and willing to accept me and treat me as one of their own.

So, you know, I think of Japan as, as like my second home, you know, just the, the way that they treat me over there. It’s brilliant. And I’ve got the utmost respect to, uh, to Japan.

Elle: Excellent. So you went over 18, that’s really young to leave your home country.

Rupa: I was a young chap. Straight after high school and yeah over in Japan and I was…

and the funny thing is I was teaching the students, they were around 15 years old, middle school students. So there really wasn’t much age gap at all. If I happened to be teaching, um, high school students, they would have been the same age as me. What about that?

Elle: Wow, that’s great. So you went over and then, so had you studied any Japanese before Japan?

Rupa: So, so how, how I kind of got the, the job opportunity was because my, my high school, they, they taught Japanese lessons. And they had a partnership with one of their sister schools to kind of do a bit of like a, a transfer of the teachers. So some of the teachers from that school would come over here to teach Japanese and vice versa.

So I managed to snag in at the perfect time and I was, had a golden opportunity there and I feel blessed for the, for that. And that was what’s called a working holiday. So you do a bit of work, you do a bit of travel. Um, so after I finished up with the, with the school, I traveled around Japan, went over to Tokyo and ended up working in a, in a bakery.

And that was a great opportunity too. Just a random Australian bloke working in a Japanese bakery that would have been a surprise for them.

Elle: So your Japanese must have been pretty good, even then you started working in a bakery, your interacting in Japanese every day. So you enjoyed the language? Yeah?

Rupa: Oh, definitely. I think, you know, just having that kind of, um, The pressure of the bakery, you know, the, the, the head, uh, head baker he’s kind of talking to you in Japanese and all the customers are talking to you in Japanese. It gives you a lot of motivation to learn quickly.

Elle: I bet. Yeah.

So how did you go from then… um, so you went over, you were teaching English, you worked in this bakery, learned Japanese.

And how did you then start your youTube channel, which is a really successful YouTube channel for English learners, um, for Japanese, Japanese speakers or Japanese people who are learning English. Um, how did you move from… how did you start the channel?

Rupa: Yeah. Good question. So I started the, um, actually started off on Instagram.

So I, I, it was pretty much just like a real casual thing to do, and that was back when I was 19. So after I returned home from Japan after the first time. You know, I was 19. I was just about to start uni at university. And, um, I dunno, I think actually one day I watched on TV and this bloke, he was like, just doing this, um, like cooking show or something, travel show, and then he just dropped this, uh, one point, um, Japanese lesson.

So I thought, well, that’s a brilliant thing to do. So every day on Instagram, I did the, I did the reverse. I did the one point English lesson in Japanese, and it was also a really good way for me to, to keep motivated, to study Japanese because you know, back in Australia, most of my mates, uh, are Aussies. Um, I mainly just use English with all my family, friends and for school.

So I didn’t really have much motivation to keep learning Japanese. Um, but, but that was a way to just, you know, at least study for myself and then if people can benefit and learn English at the same time. Wow. That’s a, that’s a win-win isn’t it? So, so I kept doing that and I, I continued that for about 650 days.

Every single day I did that hour teaching one phrase on Instagram. Um, and then I decided to go over to YouTube and make more kind of long-form content. Much more kind of, you know, professional looking, uh, at least as professional as I can be. And then, and then, yeah, that started to takeoff really well, and actually going on from there, that’s about the time when I went to Japan for the second time and that way was through my university.

So just through like a study abroad and I did a one year over in Osaka.

Elle: Love Osaka. I went there one Golden Week and it was amazing. Yeah.

It’s such a vibrant…

Rupa: Yeah. They just had their Golden Week, last week, I think.

Elle: Right. Of course. Yeah.

It’s that time of year. Yeah.

I guess it, maybe wasn’t such a crazy Golden Week this year.

Rupa: Oh, that’s true. Yeah, absolutely.

Golden Week at the home, you know?

Elle: Yeah. Yeah.

So amazing. Your, your channel is just excellent. I was looking through some of the videos. I love how, especially the videos where you, um, kind of go through the, the English used in a movie or a TV series. Um, it’s just great for, you know, that immersion style.

It’s excellent so…

Rupa: THank you. Cause during the, the lockdown, cause I used to do much more kind of interactive videos where I would, you know, talk to people on the street or maybe interview someone like I did the interview with Steve. Uh, and he did his, he kind of showed up and spoke 20 languages and that video got, went really well

so that’s kind of how, I’m how I got into contact with LingQ. And that was so fantastic, but then once I got back to Australia and we had the lockdown, I just started watching a whole bunch of movies, almost a movie every day. And I think movies are such a fun way to learn a language. I learned Japanese through a lot of like media, like movies or TV shows.

So I thought, Hey, probably my viewers they want to do the same thing, but learn English instead of from me all the time. Maybe Tom cruise or Leonardo DiCaprio. And it makes it a little bit more interesting.

Elle: For sure. Yeah.

So I wonder, so your channel, you have almost, I think it’s like almost half a million subscribers right now.

Fantastic.

Rupa: Blows My mind, you know, I don’t know how I did that.

Elle: It’s excellent. I mean, you can see that you have just such an enthusiasm too, um, yeah, it just kind of, it’s great to watch, you know? It gets people into it.

Rupa: I think that’s just proof that anyone can do it. You know, I’m just some random bloke from Australia and I speak Japanese okay. But I’m only teaching English and that’s my native language.

So I think if, if I could do it, anyone can do it. If they want to start YouTube or some social media business, any, anything like that.

Elle: I wonder then if you get, you must get lots of messages and obviously comments on your videos. I wonder if there are some standout questions that you get from English learners.

Are there any areas that people… you get the same kind of questions about, whether it be pronunciation, you know, certain grammar points, um, are there things that crop up more often?

Rupa: Yeah. So I think, especially because my content kind of focuses a lot on listening and listening to native speakers in particular from the movies and stuff like that.

So I do get a lot of questions from, uh, you know, how to improve my listening or, or maybe the student they, they watched their movies and TV shows with thsubtitles, which is fantastic, but they want to, uh, start watching like English shows with English, subtitles, you know, make that transition, which is a pretty hard transition, you know? Even sometimes when I’m watching Japanese shows, I’ll, I’ll try my best, then I’ll check on the subtitles.

But sometimes it’s too overwhelming. So I’ll have to go back to the English subtitles. But really, I think for, for listening, one of the best advice I can give you is just time on the task, you know, where, um, this probably for, for all the skills in learning a language or, or all the skills in generally in life is just focus as much time as he can, and really give your, your brain time to get used to the sounds and the sound differences from your own language.

And that’s really gonna help you kind of get the, get the ease of the language you’re trying to learn.

Elle: That’s excellent advice. Um, and what would you, so that’s, uh, that’s great advice for listening, is there anything that you could, I wonder if there’s something for English learners that they could take action on, maybe like right now, tomorrow, soon, when they stopped listening, is there something that, um, some piece of advice you have that can help them really improve their English?

Rupa: Yeah, absolutely.

Elle: You know…

Rupa: as fast as possible. Hey, I guess that’s one thing, a lot of people, um, they say they want to learn like overnight, or, you know, after one week or one month, I think the, the most, uh, advice, the best advice I could give for that is just understand. It’s going to take a time. It’s going to take a long time.

I’ve been learning Japanese for about eight years on and off. You know, sometimes I study harder sometimes I don’t. Um, but it’s just going to take a long time to really get to, to a high level. But one, one good advice for kind of speeding up that process. If the student did want to, I actually got this from Steve.

When I was interviewing him, he said, just make a routine. So make it a daily habit. Um, he gave a great, uh, point. He said every morning when he’s cooking his breakfast, he’ll just listen to a podcast. Or some kind of, you know, listening content in the language is trying to learn. And I’ve been trying to try to pick that up as well.

I’ll put on a Japanese podcast or something and, or YouTube video. I think now we’re so blessed with a whole bunch of media formats, podcasts, YouTube, and everything like that, Spotify. Um, so yeah, I guess, yeah, I’m kind of rambling on here, but I guess my point would just be kind of try and make it a habit, make it a, really a habit and stick to it because I think this goes for any kind of habit, whether you want to lose weight or anything like that, we kind of do it for about 30 days or something.

And then we kind of, we kind of brush it aside and it becomes a once a week habit rather than an every day habit. But just really just trying to try and soldier on, you know, um, stick to that habit every day. And the best way to stick to a habit from my experience is try and make it as enjoying as possible, as joyful as possible.

So, yeah, so, you know, if you, if you want to improve, you’re listening and you’re trying to make that a habit, you have to really find some content that you would be interested in. So, so maybe not find a, like a dedicated um, English podcast, but maybe find an English podcast that you’re interested in. And it might be a little bit difficult at the start, but once you pick up a word here and a word there, you might be able to start connecting to dots, connecting the dots.

And I think LingQ is pretty good for that. You know, I’ve been playing around on that app and you can do a lot of, um, things like that.

Elle: Excellent. Yeah, it’s so true what you say, you fall, you get into a habit… most people bad at this, you get into the habit, you feel great, and then you just stop even one day you miss,

and then you’re like, oh, you know, it’s over. I may as well stop. But, uh, yeah, I think, I think you’re right. Find enjoyable content. Work it into your routine in a way that makes sense for you and is fun.

Rupa: Exactly.

Elle: Right?

Rupa: Yeah. Probably my other, my other main hobby, other than like doing English lessons and YouTube and stuff like that is fitness.

I’m really into fitness and. Yeah, going to the gym and dieting, and I have the exact same kind of, uh, advice for that. A lot of people will come to me and say, oh, how can I lose weight? How can I stick to a diet? The key to a successful diet is making the diet food delicious so that you want to eat more of them.

And I guess we can, we can put that same context to our, to our language learning, make that delicious language content.

Elle: Exactly. I like that. I like that. I was, um, I am still studying French and I also am studying just, just using, uh, Netflix shows and movies, and it almost feels wrong in a way, I’ve been kind of struggling with this.

I’m like, am I really studying French? You know, I I’m just watching movies and I LingQ through the transcripts and I am. Yeah, I am. Because like you say, you’re, I’m, I’m interested. I want to know what’s going on in this TV show in this movie. And then, so the French I’m, I’m getting it. I’m understanding more and more.

So, yeah, it’s kind of hard to move away from this, uh, traditional, you know, way that we’re taught in school. That’s it’s just textbooks and lists and, you know, it doesn’t have to be that way, especially… I mean, if you’re studying for a test, of course it’s different, you know.

Rupa: For sure,

Elle: Studying for fun. Yeah.

Rupa: Yeah. No, I think, um, I think, yeah, you know school, we kind of just did it for textbooks.

That’s the way I learned Japanese in school at, and actually no, I did… Sometimes the teacher would show like a movie or something and I always remember the, when they did show the movie, I was way more excited to learn, you know, rather than just textbook page 42 and just writing out notes and stuff like that.

Elle: Yeah, exactly. I remember our French teacher used to play us. It was like a French Simpsons or the Simpsons dubbed in French.

Um, so you’re, you’re now in Melbourne, is that, will you be going back to Japan or are you now based in Melbourne for good?

Rupa: So well, that’s one of the brilliant things about, you know, uh, working online and through YouTube and stuff like that. You can pretty much live anywhere as long as you’ve got internet connection and your trusty laptop.

Um, and a camera, I guess that’s pretty important. So yeah, absolutely. As soon as this whole situation starts to calm down a little bit, I’d love to do some traveling, you know, back over to Japan, um, and see some more of the world because I kind of went to Japan when I was 18. And then I went to Japan again when I was what, 21.

Um, and now I’m back here. So, so I would also like to see some other parts of the world too. So. I dunno, just go and, and, uh, go travel the world for a little bit.

Elle: Sounds good. Excellent. And what about for your channel and for the rest of the year, are there any plans, do you, um, are you planning to focus on the kinds of content that you’ve been putting out that fun kind of movie TV show based stuff?

Rupa: So yeah keeping up with the English lessons. And, uh, I think what’s important for any kind of content creator or YouTube is just listen to what the people are requesting, listen to what they want to see and, you know, check the analytics. We can kind of go in the back end, check the analytics, see what the people watch more of and, you know, keep doing that.

So, so that’s, that’s how I’ve done YouTube so far and it seems to be going all right. And, um, yeah, I just plan to keep, keep making YouTube videos. I think I’m so lucky to be in the position I am for, for being able to, I was able to leave my job. I used to work as a full-time as a salesman, and I was able to leave that.

And now I’m just pursuing this, uh, the YouTube lifestyle and it’s been going all right. And I plan to do it for, for many more years.

Elle: Fantastic. Fantastic.

Well, anyone who is interested in checking out your channel, I will pop the link, uh Rupa Sensei is the name of the channel and, um, best of luck with the channel and any, anything else for the rest of the year and beyond.

And thank you so much.

Rupa: Oh, no, thank you. It’s my pleasure. Um, shout out to all the LingQ team, Steve, Mark, yourself, everyone there. So it’s such a brilliant app. So guys, if you, if you’re wondering for what tool to use hey go download LingQ as well. I use it and I recommend it.

Elle: Amazing. Thank you Rupa Sensei.

See ya.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #21: YouTuber Aaron Fingtam on Learning Languages & Why Esperanto is Awesome!

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This week Elle is joined by language learning YouTuber Aaron Fingtam of Fingtam Languages. Aaron chats about the methods that work for him when it comes to learning a new language (currently Thai) and shares his passion for Esperanto.

Elle: Hi everyone and welcome to the Lingq podcast with me Elle. This week I am joined by YouTube polyglot Aaron Fingtam. He runs the channel Fingtam Languages, Aaron. How’s it going?

Aaron: Good. How are you?

Elle: I’m great. Thank you. I’m great. Thank you so much for joining us from Thailand is where you are right now. Correct? How long have they been in Thailand?

Aaron: Um, well, I came originally in 2019, um, and I was here for about a year. Uh, but then I rushed back to the United States, um, when the COVID pandemic started. Um, and then I was back home for like seven, eight, nine months, something like that. Uh, but then my wife and I came back to Thailand, uh, this December.

So we’ve been here for what, four months or so. So kind of on and off a little bit over a year.

Elle: And is it as beautiful as the pictures and videos? I really want to go it’s it’s on top of my list.

Aaron: Yeah.

Some parts of Thailand are really, really beautiful. Um, I live right in the middle of the city and I don’t know, I’m not a city person, so, um, but yeah, when we go on a little excursion out of the city, yeah, it’s great. I love it.

Elle: Excellent. I think I had got to get there. I will, after all this COVID stuff is over. Definitely.

Aaron: Yeah.

Yeah.

Hopefully it comes to an end soon.

Elle: Yeah. Yeah.

Fingers crossed. Well, yeah, we’re getting there. Um, so I was looking over your channel and on your about page and there’s a list of the languages that you know, so I read that you speak English, of course, Spanish, French, Esperanto, which I will ask you about, uh, in a little bit.

Aaron: Excellent

Elle: Thai, which must be… obviously you’re in the perfect place to be studying Thai and practicing your Thai. And right now you’re learning Greek as well, or are you just, you mainly focusing on the Thai right now?

Aaron: Um, I probably haven’t updated that since last summer. Yeah, so right now I’m actively learning Thai. Uh, last summer, I didn’t think I was going to be coming back to Thailand. So I was like, this is the perfect time for me to start learning Greek, which I’ve always wanted to learn.

Um, uh, that one’s on hold for now. I’m I’m active learning, learning Thai.

Elle: Fair enough. Okay. And so you like many of us, uh, when you were in school, you had a language, you were studying Spanish, you left high school without being able to speak it like most people, but then you, you discovered how to learn languages.

So, um, tell us what, what you mean by that. What, what method did you, um, did you find that worked for you, works for you?

Aaron: Well, I found that there’s actually a number of ways to go about learning languages. Um, I… so in 2015, I moved to El Salvador and I started learning Spanish. And then I started doing a lot of research on the best practices for learning foreign languages.

And I found Steve, I found Benny Lewis, Luca, you know, all of the, the really big YouTube polyglots and I started watching them. And a lot of them have different approaches to language learning, you know, Benny says, speak from day one and speak as much as possible. And then Steve says, read as much as possible.

You know, I mean, that’s an oversimplification of a lot of their viewpoints, but, uh, anyways, you know, everyone and then, uh, Stephen Krashen says, uh, just to take in as much input as you can, right? And so I started applying all of these methods and I really, what I found is that the only method that doesn’t work for me is the one

that everyone tries to do at least in the United States, which is go to class, do your homework, read the textbook, study grammar, you know, do your workbook exercises and prepare yourself for the test, but that doesn’t necessarily prepare you to actually hold a conversation in your target language. Um, so yeah, so I started, uh, trying to throw myself into as many conversations with people as, as early as possible, even knowing I was going to make tons of mistakes.

And just learning to let go of that and not care about it. And I also started trying to immerse myself in as much comprehensible input as I could. Um, and you know, I did a little bit of intensive reading and extensive reading. I did a lot of watching, uh, movies in Spanish. Um, you know, you can buy a pirate in DVD and all Salvador for like $1.

And so I did a lot of, a lot of illegal watching of movies in Spanish. Um, and one of the really big things I did was I would just, uh, speak Spanish to anyone that would listen to me speak Spanish. I, you know, there were some Americans and a lot of people that speak English in El Salvador. Um, but I would try to avoid them or if I couldn’t avoid, uh, someone who speaks English, I would do my best to stay in Spanish with them the whole time, even though it was much more difficult. And you know, most of my friends were understanding of that because they knew that I wanted to learn Spanish. So I eventually, I became fluent very quickly after six years of failed studies in school.

Elle: And then, and so how long, um, when you say very quickly, how long did you think it was roughly, that intense study period?

Aaron: Um, I showed up in El Salvador in January of 2000, uh… 15. And I really was not even able to have basic conversations because I was so focused in my mind of, uh, trying to conjugate verbs correctly and all of that stuff. Um, within a month I was able to have basic conversations with my friends and, um, with, uh, and then by June of that year or so, you know, five, six months later, um, I was translating for public speakers onstage, you know? Yeah.

Elle: That’s amazing. Wow. That is, that is very impressive. Um, then after the Spanish, is it French that you learned next?

Aaron: Uh, so I sort of start learning Esperanto that same year while I was in El Salvador. Um, the Duolingo course for Esperanto came out in May or June of that year and then I immediately started learning.

I had reached a sufficient level in Spanish that I felt I could start adding in another language slowly. The goal was to start implementing it slowly, but Esperanto was so fun that I couldn’t help myself. I just kinda threw myself in, um.

Elle: Go ahead.

Aaron: Yeah. And then French, I started learning that the year after that, 2016.

Elle: So it was Spanish, Esperanto, French was the order. Picking up on the Esperanto. So I, I honestly don’t know anything about Esperanto. So I looked online and Wikipedia tells me it is a constructed international auxiliary language. Of course I knew, I knew something about it, but, um, I didn’t know that definition actually. I knew it was a kind of a created language, so to speak. So tell us, for any listeners who don’t know what it means, what does that even, what does that mean? A constructed international auxiliary language. Um, what appeals to you about, uh, Esperanto. Why, why did you decide to let it?

Aaron: Yeah. Good question. Um, you know, I get asked that all the time,

why would you learn a language that no one speaks? That’s what people ask me. And of course it’s not true. Um, so Esperanto is a constructed language. That means someone just invented it. He, this guy, his name was, uh, Zamenhof and he was a doctor. He was a linguist and a polyglot. And back in the 1800s, he just invented Esperanto.

He made up a dictionary, he made up grammar rules. He started writing books in this language. He translated it and, uh, translated the Bible and some other books into this language. Um, and it, it, his original goal with this was that it would become a universal language that anyone can speak as their second language, but it’s the first language of no country. And that way, uh, when you have international deals and, and, um, uh, diplomacy and things like that, no one country is, has the advantage, right? Like at his time, I suppose French would have been the international language. And, and now you would probably say it’s English, which means that if you come from an English speaking country, your native language is English, you’re at a huge advantage because you don’t have to dedicate any resources to learning that language. Um, and, and, um, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re at, um, there’s a much lower chance of mistranslations miscommunication. Um, you don’t have to invest any money into, um, uh, translation of international documents cause they’re always just going to be in your language. Well, he, he wanted to sort of even the playing field, By creating a language that’s very easy for everyone to learn. And it is very easy. Some people say learning Esperanto is like 20 times easier, or it’ll take you like one 20th of the time to learn a lot of these other natural languages.

So very quickly, a lot of people started speaking this language with the goal of promoting it as, as the international language. And, you know, I, I believe the United, uh, Nations or the League of Nations and, and, uh, European Union. I think there’s even been, there’s been proposals to adopt it as, um, they’re like working language, and I don’t think any of them have ever really gone anywhere, but, um, there’s still people today who are still promoting that, uh, Esperanto as the, you know, the, the equalizing language, I suppose.

Um, yeah. I just made that term up. I don’t think…

Elle: that works though. I, I didn’t even think about what you said there about how coming from an English-speaking country, you do kind of have an advantage kind of in the world political or whatever stage. So equalizing is the right word, I think.

Yeah.

So, um, how many people… speak? Oh, sorry. Carry on.

Carry on.

Aaron: Yeah.

Good. Well, I was, I was about to answer your question. Um, It’s actually very difficult to measure how many people have learned Esperanto. You know, it’s not like you can just measure the population of Poland and say that we have this many native speakers of Polish.

Um, the myths are about 2 million people. I believe. Uh, if you look at Wikipedia and it’s maybe one to 2000 native speakers of Esperanto, um, Again, I don’t know how easy it is for them to calculate that or, or how they go about calculating that because Esperanto speakers are spread throughout the entire world.

And if you have someone who just used Duolingo to learn Esperanto for a year, and… also Esperanto is the only language I know of where you can come become basically fluent using only Duolingo, which was a feat that I previously thought impossible. Um, But, you know, there’s, that person would just go uncounted.

Um

Elle: right.

Aaron: Yeah.

So, so I don’t know exactly how many there are, but there are a lots of, I have many friends, um, friends who I know in person and also lots of friends online, who I speak only Esperanto with, you know, and it would be strange for us to speak English to each other.

Elle: Right.

Aaron: Yeah.

Elle: So, you say it’s…

Aaron: Sorry, we’re speaking over each other a little bit. I have attended a lot of in-person conferences and events and meetups and stuff. Um, there’s, there’s a very strong Esperanto culture of people who, uh, just love the language, but also they love the community. And so we get together a lot. We meet, there’s a lot of parties and fun, just fun events that are hosted entirely in Esperanto.

And it’s a very tight knit community. You know, if you find out someone else speaks Esperanto instantly, you’re great friends.

Elle: Um, you say it’s easy to learn. How, how long? I mean, I know it’s very difficult to say, how many hours do you put in a day? Um, how many languages do you know already? Do you have a good method in place? But how long would it take, would you say the average person to, to become fluent in Esperanto?

Aaron: Uh, so when I started learning, I basically threw myself very, very deeply into the Duolingo tree. And fo…, I was able to have basic text conversations on online Esperanto groups, like chat rooms within a week. And, um, in fact, if you, if you Google like “learned Esperanto in two days”, um, or “learned Esperanto in three days”, There are videos of Chuck Smith, who is… he, he created the Duolingo Esperanto course. And within, within two days of releasing the course, uh, he started, I guess, contacting people who had already finished the course. Man, you have to be really dedicated to finish a Duolingo course in two days or three days. Um, but within two or three days, he, he contacted people and he said, have you ever learned Esperanto before?

And they said, no, I just started with Duolingo two, three days ago. And they have an entire conversation entirely in Esperanto. Now that that’s rare, but I’ve also have, I do have friends who, um, uh, well, I should say a few years ago I went to this Esperanto… it was like, essentially Esperanto summer school.

It was a 10-day intensive Esperanto summer course, they call it and there’s people of all levels. You know, people who are very fluent in Esperanto and also beginners. And I made friends and I, and you know, your first question to everyone is how long have you been speaking Esperanto? And a lot of them said I’ve been speaking for only four months using only Duolingo and it’s amazing how fluent, you know, everyone has a different definition of fluent, but perfectly able to hold entire conversations after four months of using Duolingo with, uh, to learn Esperanto.

Elle: That must be such a boost in terms of, uh, just being a language learner. You know, you, you have this language and you can learn it fairly easily and quickly.

Um, I’m sure it must give people then that confidence, you know, that they can move on to, to master, so to speak, um, become conversational in other languages. So that’s something that’s great. I think about, about that.

Aaron: Absolutely. Yeah.

That’s also a lot of, that’s the reason why a lot of people promote the language.

Actually, that’s originally why I started learning Esperanto. I knew I wanted to learn other languages quickly. And I was like, well, if I can learn a language in a month, that seems like it’s a great stepping stone to help me learn, how to learn future languages and it, and it has been.

Elle: Um, so talk to us about Thai, a very different language to the ones that you know. So French, Spanish, Esperanto, and you did a bit of the Greek. Um, how are you finding it? Um, how, what, what are you using to kind of study? How’s it going in general?

Aaron: Um, I have found Thai to be more, my progress is slower than it has been for any of my other languages. Okay. Um, granted English, French, Esperanto, Spanish, all have a lot of similarities, a lot of cognates of many, very similar grammatical features. Um, so Thai is the first one that’s really separate from all the rest of them. And it’s definitely slower. It’s also a much less commonly studied language, so it’s hard for me to find resources, uh, dedicated to people who are learning Thai. There’s some out there. Um, uh, I it’s been, I’ve been studying for gosh, almost two years now. And I would say I’m a solid B level. I can hold basic conversations. You know, um, every week I have a lesson about half an hour to an hour long with my tutor and we speak entirely in Thai. I make it a point to never speak English, basically never, I would say 99% Thai. Um, and, and I can do it, you know, it’s not too painful.

As long as we’re talking about, uh, subjects that I’m familiar with. Um, so I, I do, uh, uh, conversation practice is very important for me. Um, speaking, um, uh, as well as comprehensible input. So I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix in Thai, um, and I’ve been reading graphic novels as well. I’m not quite at the point where I can understand, uh, you know, I, I bought a whole bunch of books and Thai and they’re just, they’re, they’re very…yeah, very complicated. Uh, it’s a very difficult writing system to master and I can’t follow along with that yet, but I find that if I’m reading a comic book, manga or a graphic novel or something like that, I can follow along with the pictures and, and, you know, that’s enough of a help that I can also read the title language as I read through.

So I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.

Elle: Excellent. And so any recommendations, you said Netflix shows? Um, I mean, I don’t know if everyone listening than could get the shows that you mention, they could search them, but are there any, or, uh, books, graphic novels, as you mentioned, or I could, you can tell me, I can kind of put, I’ll put a note in the description to you if you mentioned any, but yeah. Any stand out ones that you enjoy?

Aaron: Um, yeah, the one that I, the one that I started off reading is called Cookie Run. And it’s a story about a gingerbread man. Um, but it’s for it’s for like older children, you know, young, young teenagers, older children. Um, and I found that to be the most appropriate for my level.

Um, it was like interesting enough, cause you know, it’s a story and it’s kind of funny, to hold my attention. Um, And, and it was, uh, easy enough cause it’s for older children, uh, that I could follow along and there’s ton of books in the series. So I’ve read several of them now. And then later I moved on to a more interesting, like, uh, young adults, uh, oriented graphic novels and stuff like that.

Elle: Excellent. Well, best of luck with your Thai. Um, are there any, I know 2021 is a strange year, do you have any plans, language learning related or what’s in store for Fingtam languages, your, um, YouTube channel?

Aaron: Well, um, you know, I’m going just keep chugging along with my YouTube channel right now. Uh, I don’t plan on any, uh, any new languages anytime soon.

I do want to achieve a really high level in, um, in Thai. I’ve been basically every day, I forgot to mention this, every day I’ve been watching this YouTube channel called comprehensible Thai, which didn’t exist when I started learning. But, um, fortunately I just found that a few months ago and, uh, that’s been really helpful, but yeah.

Anyways, I’m, uh, uh, yeah, I’m just going to be doing more of the same for the next, at least next year or so until I move back to America and then we’ll see what, uh, where I go linguistically from there.

Elle: Excellent. Sounds good. Well, we can follow your journey. I’ll pop the link to your channel in the description and yeah, best of luck with the Thai and thank you so much for joining us, Aaron.

Aaron: Thank you. Thanks for inviting me.

Elle: Thank you. Bye bye.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #20: Learning Chinese with Luke Truman (1)

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

YouTuber Luke Truman taught himself Cantonese form scratch and went on to learn Spanish and Mandarin too. In this chat with Elle he shares his language leanring methods and tons of great resources for anyone wanting to learn Cantonese or Mandarin.

Elle: Hello everyone and welcome it to the LingQ podcast with me Elle and today I’m joined by another special guest, Luke Truman of the YouTube channel also called Luke Truman. How are you?

Luke: Yeah, I’m great. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me on, and I’m really excited to be here. Elle: Well, thank you so much for joining us.

So your channel. Uh, I was perusing, uh, today and last week, uh, you focus on Chinese. There’s a little Spanish. Uh, so, and I read in your “about” that you taught yourself Cantonese from scratch. Now, as someone who, I know you’re from the UK, English is your first language, seems to me like a language like Cantonese would be one of the more difficult languages you could teach yourself from scratch. So it’s pretty amazing. Um, how, how did that happen? First actually, why Cantonese?

And then how did you go about teaching yourself Cantonese?

Luke: Yeah so why Cantonese is kind of, for me, it was quite obvious choice although it might not be for most people. When I was at university, I played table tennis in the university clubs.

So I was around a lot of people from Hong Kong. And then I became really close to this one girl who later became my girlfriend.

Um, then we were dating after about two years I decided to start learning a bit of Cantonese because at the time I was going out for meals with her and her friends and I… when they’d speak in Cantonese I had no idea what was going on. So my original motivation, I guess, was just to really understand what the people around me were talking. And when I’d go out for meals, they’d always, you know, make an effort and speak to me in English. Maybe like one-to-one, but I always felt kind of like, not part of the group and left out

of the conversations because I could never join in. And whenever someone switched to English to speak to me, I always felt like they were accommodating me and I kind of felt a bit bad and a bit embarrassed. And also that if I’m going to be with this person, then I should probably try and learn that language. Elle: And so how did you go about, do you ever, I mean, this is, I know a number of years ago now, but how did you get into it? Cause it’s, I mean, you have to learn the Chinese characters. It seems really tough.

I mean, I guess you have, you had friends and a girlfriend who was speaking Cantonese, so that helped, but, um, what kind of method did you use to, to study Cantonese?

Luke: Well, I guess for the first maybe month or so, I didn’t really know what I was doing then I just kind of downloaded a few apps on my phone and just gave it a go.

I remember I was sitting in a car on holiday, I think it was in croatia at the time when I just started flicking through and trying to just learn a few words in that, you know, it was giving me words, like car and stuff.

And I did that little research about what Cantonese is I didn’t even know what a tone was. I didn’t… never heard of tones before. And when I was looking through the vocab, it was basically a few letters. And then there was this number next to it.

And now I know that the number was the tone, but at the time I didn’t even know what the number was. So I just ignored it completely. And I was like, that’s probably not that important. And then maybe, yeah, I kind of did that for a few weeks and then kind of stopped and didn’t really do anything. Cause I didn’t really get anywhere. And then. Um, I remember looking online and trying to Google how to learn Cantonese.

Um, and this website kept coming up over and over again, a website called Cantoneseclass101.Com.

So they’re run by, um, Innovative Language who also run, I guess, Chinese Pod 101. They’ve got them in every language, I guess it’s like Spanish Class or Spanish Pod or something. You know, they’ve got Italian Class, they’ve got loads of languages and it’s loads of kind of 10 to 15 minute podcasts with a short dialogue. And then they have, um, a complete transcript to the dialogue. So I started that for a bit and then maybe about a week or two later, I didn’t really make any progress. So I kind of just stopped again.

And then I was, because I already had the subscription, I was Googling online, you know, “how to learn Cantonese.” And I stumbled across this article by a polyglot called Olly Richards, who said how to use Cantonese Class 101 to actually learn Cantonese. And I was like, okay, well I have this program. I bought it already. I didn’t get anywhere before. So let’s just see what this guy has to say. And he made the big point of

basically don’t spend any time with a podcast because that, they’re just English waffle and you don’t need to know any of it.

You know, they’re just taking 10 minutes to explain one grammar poinbt and you get like maybe two or three words of Cantonese. It’s just not enough. So instead you want to shift your focus onto the dialogues and you want to read through many, many times, you want to listen to the dialogues on repeat, you want to look up all the words and you really want to practice your ear and focus on listening a lot from the start.

So I started doing Olly’s approach he outlined in the, in the blog post.

And I started progressing quite fast, a lot more than what I was doing before. And I thought, okay, we’re onto something here. So I took the same method and used it to apply to other resources like, um, the Teach Yourself Cantonese, complete, complete beginner course book, um, and did that for a few months.

And then after that I started speaking a little bit. So I started practicing and again, my first few times on Skype I didn’t really know what I was doing. So most of the classes are in English and kind of stumbled about a bit there.

And then, um, later I stumbled across a website called AJATT and I’m trying to remember of the timelines. I think I also discovered Steve at some point. And his videos along with that I also discovered websites like AJATT and they all emphasize the power of how powerful it is to immerse yourself in native audio and content and read and all that sort of stuff. So I then started putting an emphasis on watching a lot of dramas in Cantonese.

Initially I did it with English subs, subtitles for the first few months because my comprehension was really low.

And then after a few months I decided to kick the subtitles and rewatch the shows I’d already watched cause I already had the context for it. Um, so did that for a few months. And then maybe after I got to the point about nine months/10 months, and I also used a few other resources, um, that had like fast, full speed audio. But with the transcripts, um, Cantonese conversations by Olly Richard’s again was really useful. And I started to kind of reach this… I felt like I’ve hit this ceiling in terms of how far my ability to comprehend was.

Getting so I could understand basic things, but my vocabulary was really small and I couldn’t read and write. And if I wanted to jump into most native content and as I prepared for it, it was too difficult. So about nine months in, I started to learn Chinese characters. I found the book called Remembering the Traditional Hanzi by James Heisig or The Traditional Hanzi by James Heising.

I always pronounce it “Z” because that’s the way the Cantonese word’s pronounced. And I got called out for it before in a video so I wanna state…

and, and…I learned, um, characters that way. It basically teaches you the 1,500 most characters, um, in terms of breaking them down into components and while it does, doesn’t teach you pronunciation… I basically came to the ability to write 1,500 characters by hand and break them down. So instead of looking at a bunch of squiggly lines, I see, you know, I look at that and it’s part A plus part B, it’s not just a bunch of lines that have no meaning anymore.

So when I went into reading after that, and I started with short content with lots of audio and, you know, short chapters, or I could go through it and that worked really well. And I started picking up vocabulary really quickly. Now I could read, I could text with my friends.

I could, you know, look for subtitles and do all this stuff. I could read comic books. I could read books, not at first, but after a lot of time, I started to build up to that and I started to pick up words a lot quicker.

So then it was just a lot of consuming as much content as I physically can. And speaking as much as I can basically from there on out.

And I did that for about two years overall and got to a, like a pretty comfortable level to the point where I could go out with my friends and easily join in the conversation out for dinner. I can read a few, I read a few novels in Cantonese that weren’t crazy fantasy genre or anything like that, but they were like set in real life and I still had enough vocabulary to kind of follow what was going on longer than that.

So that’s more or less what I did for Cantonese. Elle: Wow. And to pick up on a few things, you said that, did you say you learned to write 1500 chinese characters. Did I hear you say that?

Luke: Yeah. With the first book? Yeah.

So I did, um, I did more since then, because I studied the second book, which has another 1500.

And then when I was studying Mandarin, after I went to Taiwan for a year and we had to write out a lot of essays by hand and we did a lot of handwriting for that.

But at the time I only did the first 1,500. Um, I don’t think the second book’s really worth it. I think the second book was pretty much a waste of time, but…

Elle: oh, okay. And so how many, how many Chinese characters would you say you, you know, like you could write at any given time?

Luke: Well, it varies a lot. So, cause I haven’t really practiced, um, writing up by hand since I, so I went for sabbatical for a year to study in Taiwan for Mandarin.

Um, when I left Taiwan at the time I, they basically had our tests would give us a news article to read and would read it and then basically write out what our opinions on the article, and just write it out by hand.

Um, so I could kind of do that at the time, but there was a lot of forgetting characters and paraphrasing or forgetting a character and then looking in the question to see if I’d written the character that I’d forgotten and I could kind of copy it.

So there was like, you know, it was, uh, things like that, but I kind of stumbled my way through a bit forgetting sometimes, some of the, some of the, um, radicals or sorry, the components, the wrong way around and stuff.

Um, but in terms of recognizing characters again, I, I don’t really use any sort of online system now. So I don’t track any of that, but I can read most, um, novels now, as long as they’re not too archaic in the language they use.

So some of the older books, there’s this really popular novelist from Hong Kong called Jin Yong who writes a lot about martial arts novels and because they’re quite old in the way, like it’s set in historical times, they use a lot of weird language that kind of is sort of half classical Chinese. So it’ll, as long as it doesn’t go to that sort of, uh, language attempt to be okay now. Um, yeah.

Elle: Wow. I can’t, I just can’t imagine writing. It’s an amazing accomplishment, I think, to be able to just write.

Cause I feel as though a lot of people who, uh, study Chinese, you know, Cantonese, Mandarin, or Japanese, maybe don’t go down the path of learning how to write the characters because, um, it’s really involved, takes a lot of time and maybe we’re not, you won’t really need to, to do it ever, you can just use… You’re on your computer or your phone. So, um, that’s a really, it’s a really cool skill. Luke: I completely agree. It’s not that practical and you forget them really quickly, but it was kind of fun.

So I enjoyed it.

Elle: Well, it must totally help… I mean, you say impractical, I guess kind of, but it’s, it must help with other aspects of learning the language. I mean, you’re writing it out, so that’s also reading and, you know, yeah. It helps for sure. I enjoyed that aspect of learning Japanese for sure. But when you said 1500 and the fact that, you know more than that to write out, that just blows me away. I think I could write like a hundred when I stopped studying Chinese characters, Kanji.

I mean, I’m very impressed. So then after Cantonese, did you move straight on to studying Mandarin or was there, or were there any languages in between?

Luke: Yeah. So I was planning a trip to Mexico with my family so I… and there was also a few Spanish dramas I wanted to watch. So I thought, you know, let’s just try and learn Spanish for a little bit. So I gave myself a kind of timeline of half a year to try and see how far I could get. And I just basically used similar methods to Cantonese.

Um, and just started really trying to just immerse myself as much as I can. Um, I used LingQ a lot for Spanish, which I found brilliant. I really like the feature of being able to import YouTube videos and then having the audio just so easily transferred into my phone in the app and just having a playlist of all the things that I’ve downloaded and going through on a system like that. It’s really easy to look at words.

So, and with some… When there’s a lot of cognation, I can at a relatively early stage jump into really interesting but short content and just do a lot of intensive work with that. I’m not, that’s what that I found really enjoyable. So I did that for about half a year.

Elle: Hmm. Excellent. And then you moved on to the Mandarin. Okay. Right. And so how, how similar are Cantonese and Mandarin?

Luke: Uh, well, the, the, the biggest overlap is obviously the Chinese characters are the same and this is always a complicated thing to explain, but effectively, um, standard written Chinese, which is basically based off Mandarin is the formal, um, written language in China, in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

And that is the same, obviously you have the traditional simplified character split, but in terms of the grammar and the word choice, it’s the same across all of them. And it doesn’t matter if you speak Taiwanese, it doesn’t matter.

You speak Cantonese or Hokkien or Shanghainese or Mandarin, you write the same way.

And that’s kind of how Mandarin’s worded. So it’s based off that. Um, with Cantonese, you can read it out colloquially as it’s spoken, but that’s really rare and only really seen in things like maybe in YouTube comments or texting or comic books and stuff like that. There are some novels, but they’re rare. Um, so that’s the biggest overlap. And then I guess the other bigger, biggest overlap is just in terms of, you know, vocabulary.

So a lot of things sound really similar to, if you take a common word, for example, like “ni hao” in Mandarin means “hello”. In Cantonese, you can pronounce it “ni hao”. So it kind of sounds close enough that you can kind of guess, and that helps, um, really speed up the ability to improve your comprehension by quite a lot.

Um, the things that always tripped me up is the endings of words. The “ao” sound and “oo” sound almost seems to be a one for one swap.

So if it’s an “ao” in Mandarin, it’s an “ou” in Cantonese and vice versa. And it just seems to like swap you around. So for example, I don’t know, “head” in Cantonese, his … and in Mandarin it’s … So if you’re trying to swap between the two, it’s almost for every word, it’s just kind of like the inverse with enough exceptions to trip you up. Yeah.

Elle: So do you find that you get, you get tripped up a lot when you’re, cause you’re actively, your language right now that you’re studying and really immersed in is Mandarin., right? And so do you find you’re often using the Cantonese? Luke: Yeah, I mean, when I was in Taiwan for like the first I did four semesters there and I think on my first day in class, on semester one, two and three, I had different teachers and then the teacher said on day one, “wait, do you know Cantonese?”

And they said that basically every semester until my last one, when I got a bit better with fixing my weird accent.

Um, so they could obviously tell where the way I pronounce certain words, wrong that it was kind of more towards the Cantonese pronunciation. Um, for example, the word for time is … and in Mandarin, it’s … so I’d always say … and kind of have that “ow” sound in Cantonese when it should be … and I do that a lot and that would be the most common one.

You can probably click on any of my Mandarin-speaking videos and see a remanence of it there still. Um, so yeah, I find that quite confusing, but I have gotten a lot better now. Um, I do still make mistakes, but it’s, it’s less of an issue now. Elle: And for anyone listening, who maybe is on the journey studying, uh, Cantonese or Mandarin, or is thinking maybe they want to give it a go because it is, it’s a scary thought.

I think, especially coming from an English as a first language point of view, um, it’s… people say it’s a very difficult language to learn. They both are. Uh, do you have any tips for anyone who is thinking about maybe starting that journey of learning to read the characters or just, just learning Cantonese or Mandarin?

Luke: Yeah. I mean, I guess, um, with a lot of these things, I kind of think sometimes we’re our own worst enemy.

So like one quote I really liked by, I think it was Mohammed Ali says, um, it’s not the mountains ahead that wear us out it’s the pebble in our shoe, you know, stuff like that. I think we feel like that a lot of the time, we spend so much time worrying about how hard it’s going to be, that if we just started and got going, you know, it would start progressing quicker than we thought. And then as soon as you start progressing, when you feel that, you’re going to be motivated to carry on.

So it’s kind of that, that first bit before you feel any tangible progress, it’s the bit that you most likely to give up in. So I feel like if you can just get started and feel some progress, then you’re going to be motivated and want to carry on. At least that’s what happened to me. Um, And when I didn’t feel progress by using inefficient methods, then I did give up after like a week or two. Cause I thought, well, this is pointless,

I’m not getting anywhere.

Um, I think the big thing for me is don’t be so worried about what you can and can’t say to begin with, because like you said, it’s, there’s, the sounds are very different. The tones are very different. The characters are very different and it’s all very new and a fun, it takes a long time for me to get used to. So I think just, regardless of whether you learn characters or not. I feel like putting a big emphasis on listening at the start is very useful.

Um, and with the characters, I did use a book called Remembering the Traditional Hanzi by James. Hiseig which, he has a Kanji version, which teaches us, like, I think or the Joy of Kanji, which is something like 2000.

The Mandarin one was 1,500. I don’t think it’s necessarily. Actually, I don’t think it’s necessarily relevant to learn that many characters in one go in the start at the beginning because it is quite dry. So unless you’re really a big like Hanzi nerd, then maybe you don’t do that.

I think there’s lots of really good courses out there that teach you the fundamentals of how characters work with only a few hundred. And then once you kind of get that basic knowledge, you can just move on. So, you know, once you understand that, okay, well, on… Most of them are sound plus meaning. So you have a sound component of the character that tells you roughly how it’s pronounced and you have a meaning that’s, you know, so for example, it might be … which is the one for copper. You’ve got the gold bit on the right.

And the one that looks kind of like a cave, it was HiSeig, it was a cave and that, and it’s pronounced … as well. So, you know, that’s the sound, that’s the meaning. Most characters are like that. And once you kind of get used to that in your head and you know what the basic elements are, it’s a lot easier. So there were a few courses out there. You can try that with, there’s um a book that Vladimir Skultety wrote which teaches about 300 characters.

He had a PhD in Chinese characters that, that I’ve heard really good things about that. There’s Outlier Chinese. I did a course also about 300 characters, long with that.

Again, he’s got a, I think a PhD in Chinese phonology and lots of crazy stuff. And I’ve got an interview with him on my channel and he’s his, knowledge on Mandarin just completely blew my mind. It’s like, he’s a very smart guy, so his course is very, very good as well. So just picking anything like that and just

getting a basic idea of what they are.

And then just trying to jump into just reading. And when you first get started, preferably something with audio is better because then you can, if you can kind of try and pair up the audio and the characters and not kind of put so much strain on your brain to recall sounds that you may or may not be able to remember.

Elle: Right. Well there we have it got us some excellent advice there. Some great. Uh, content. I’ll put the links in the description too, for anyone who is interested in checking those out.

Uh, you mentioned interviews on your channel, just there and you have some excellent ones. I see. Uh, is there anyone though, who you would love?

I was wondering who would love to have on your,channel? It can be, you know, unrealistic, like… the Pope or something. Is there anyone you’d love to have on? Um, yeah.

And if so, who and why?

Luke: I mean, yeah, I think Pope speaks in Chinese would be a great clickbait and I’d get so many views of that.

So, yeah.

Yeah.

Chinese, um, sphere. I guess the one that I kind of looked up to a lot was Dasha, which translates to like big mountain he’s Canadian comedian. Well, he was born in Canada, lives in China and has done for like maybe like 30, 40 years. And he speaks absolutely phenomenal. And it’s not that he just speaks like a native, he also makes lots of jokes and you know, he’s standing in front of a crowd of thousands of Chinese people, making them all laugh. It’s just completely blows my mind every time I watch one of his performances.

So yeah, I would love to get him on, um, maybe more realistic. Um, there’s also this other, I think he’s a polyglto he speaks a few languages called Laoma on … Again speaks really kind of, like really authentic Northern accent in China. And he has really, really good pronunciation. He has lots of videos, teaching English, pronunciation to Chinese people, he’s lived there for a long time and he speaks really good. So I’d love to get Laoma on the channek as well if, uh, if I got the opportunity.

Elle: Well, fingers crossed and to go back to Dashu, is that his name?

Luke: It’s Dashu. It’s like big mountain. Elle: Uh, I feel like making people laugh in the language, you know, making other people understand that language laugh is like the ultimate. I feel, you know, as it’s so nuanced, you know, comedy in different cultures. So yeah, I imagine that I would be, yeah, just, just would be an amazing feeling.

So, and he’s Canadian, you said? Luke: Yeah. Pretty sure he’s Canadian, yeah, pretty sure.

Elle: All right. Cool. Okay. Well, uh, all of these great pieces of content that you have mentioned, I will put in the description and also a link to your channel for anyone who’s interested in, checking it out. Thank you so much for joining us today Luke.

Luke: Thank you so much for having me on. I really enjoyed it.

Elle: Bye

Luke: Bye

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

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

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

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Remember to like this episode and follow or subscribe to the podcast from whichever platform you’re listening on.

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

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

Lina, how are you?

Lina: I am magnificent.

How are you, Elle?

Elle: I’m great.

I’m doing well.

Thank you.

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

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

Lina: I am.

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

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

Elle: Lovely.

I am so jealous.

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

Good for you.

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

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

Lina: Yeah.

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

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

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

Elle: Six and a half.

So what are those six and a half languages?

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

Elle: Wow.

Okay.

I’m always so impressed.

Okay.

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

Lina: Yes, exactly.

And people always wonder, hold on, hold on.

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

So then the life story comes out.

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

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

Elle: Very cool.

And whereabouts did you grow up then?

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

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

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

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

So yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am only wearing Japanese style clothes”.

And then I had another phase.

I had another phase with like French.

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

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

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

And so I wasn’t really happy.

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

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

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

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

So that would be the short answer for you.

Elle: Okay.

Okay.

So you were very focused.

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

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

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

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

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

So.

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

Lina: That’s a great question.

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

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

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

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

my methods around that time were really explorative.

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

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

I had the environment to just try things.

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

So, for example, learning for an exam.

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

I had vocabulary to learn.

I had to learn phrases that were very academic.

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

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

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

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

And so, you know, I focus on speaking.

I focus on really connecting.

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

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

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

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

Um, and that was a huge thing for me.

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

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

And I think it’s a process of discovery.

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

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

And then improving as I go along.

So I hope that kind of answers the question.

Elle: Yeah.

Oh, for sure.

And are you actively learning a language now.

Are you studying or maintaining as they say?

Lina: Yeah, so I learn languages every day.

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

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

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

So I’m looking at that at the moment.

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

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

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

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

Elle: Excellent.

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

What are you doing in those languages?

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

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

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

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

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

I do.

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

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

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

Elle: Um, your YouTube channel.

I was perusing today.

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

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

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

Uh, can you tell us a bit about that?

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

Lina: Oh, exciting question.

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

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

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

And it’s kind of.

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

And I think every human being is.

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

Um, and I never believed that.

Why?

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

And we, as human beings are holistic beings.

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

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

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

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

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

We need to address those.

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

Where are the limitations?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay.

I’ve learned this language.

Cool.

We’re done.

Um, which isn’t the case.

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

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

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

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

Elle: You’re very passionate.

It’s great.

It’s really exciting.

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

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

And, uh, yeah.

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

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

So.

Yes.

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

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

very exciting times.

Um, ah, is there anything planned?

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

Lina: Plans.

Yes.

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

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

expanding my company, which is Lena Vasquez Learning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check me out on Instagram, all of that stuff.

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

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

No, honestly, I just.

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

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

What, what is the universe trying to tell me?

Um, and how can I align with that?

So that’s my spiritual side coming through.

Elle: Ah, excellent.

Well, This is all wonderful.

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

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

Uh, Lina.

Thank you so much for joining us.

It’s been lovely.

Um, yeah.

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

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

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

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

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #18: Benny Lewis Opens Up About Mental Health Struggles & Helping Others

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

In part two of Benny’s chat with Elle Benny talks about the mental life struggles he has experienced over the past few years, how he is overcoming them and what he is doing to help people going through anything similar.

Elle: This podcast is brought to you by LingQ, the app that allows you to learn a new language from content you love.

With LingQ you can make anything into a language lesson, French YouTube videos, Korean dramas, Russian news, Japanese podcasts, whatever it is that you want to learn from.

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If you’re learning English, you can find the transcript of this episode and all past episodes as a lesson on LingQ, just click the link to the lesson in the description.

Sounds good.

And go back to something you mentioned just there about some struggles that you’ve had over the years.

I watched again, I actually watched this video when you first recorded it I think around six months ago, a video on your YouTube channel, where you share, uh, your struggles that you’ve had over the years.

Um, I think, I just want to commend you for posting it one, because it’s very honest, very open.

And I think… first off, I’m very sorry that you’ve been going through these struggles.

I think though, for someone like you to post this kind of video, where, you know, you talk about burnout, you talk about debt, uh, divorce, depression, you know, it’s really honest.

Uh, it it’s great that someone like you is, is doing this because, you know, mental health issues are issues we all struggle with.

And now is an especially difficult time for everyone in the world.

So thank you for posting it.

Um, It’s a video that I see is video, one in a series.

Uh, can you tell us a bit about that?

Are you going to, is this going to be a series where you kind of share your journey and discuss it, will you have guests on?

Interviews?

What’s uh, what’s the plan for that?

Benny: Yeah.

So essentially, like you said, I went through just some very difficult things all at once and that completely zapped my energy.

And it’s why I’ve essentially had to take a, a break from language learning, which very fortunately I’ve been able to get back into in recent months.

Um, and what I’ve found, people really appreciated sharing that because I think one of the difficulties with people who make content online, like myself, is there’s a tendency to share the ideal moments.

So the the most stereotypical version of this is you imagining someone posting on Instagram and only posting the happy highlights of their life.

And especially in the pandemic year, that’s been very difficult for a lot of people.

It can feel like everybody else is doing better than you, everybody’s lives are happier.

Everybody, uh, has no struggles that they’re going through.

And realistically, as I’ve opened up before I made the public YouTube video, as I opened up to friends, I started to see more and more that a lot of them are going through their own struggles that I was just completely unaware of.

And it’s just the, the stigma that, you know, sharing that life is difficult, it’s very hard for a lot of people.

So in starting that on YouTube, a lot of people have said they really appreciated it.

And they’d like to hear, because right now I’m in a much better place in a lot of ways.

I’ve, uh, I’m about two or three months away from completely clearing a debt that was a six figure debt that

I managed to get myself in, in New York.

So there are practical things about that.

Um, I was, uh, diagnosed with clinical depression and I had to actually take medicine for it.

Whereas right now I’m in much, much better spirits.

Not, I’m not exactly all the way back to where I was before, but I’m in a much, much better place.

And there are techniques that have helped me with that.

And there are life philosophies that I’ve learned that I think I can, I can share in a, in a public space in a way that may help other people.

And especially in this last year, I know a lot of people are… because my struggles were completely, they have nothing to do with the pandemic.

The worst year of my life was 2018.

So before any of this hit, so I’ve kind of been ahead of this curve of the world.

All going through this collective suffering.

And I’ve been able to work through it to, to a place where I’m much happier in my life.

And I’m much more honest with myself and others, because for a very long time, during those struggles, I was putting on a brave face.

And that is very unhealthy for a lot of reasons.

But for people listening to the podcast, obviously the most direct thing is I was a bad language learner for several years because I just did not have the energy.

I didn’t have the energy.

I didn’t have the motivation.

I didn’t have the confidence because so many things were going wrong in my life.

And I’m gaining that back now.

So I want to share that experience with other people who’ve maybe gone through something like a major heartbreak like I did, or something along those lines and seeing how can they get their mojo back.

And, um, at the moment the plan is to, uh, to just share each aspect cause there’s, there are multiple major life challenges I went through.

So kind of separating them out and saying, well, here’s how I dealt with this one.

Here’s how I dealt with that one.

And also being transparent with the fact that I’m still in a part of the process.

Cause I don’t want to, um, also fall back to what I said before of being just another guy on Instagram saying, Oh, life is amazing and I’ve solved all my problems and everything’s perfect now.

I think part of this, which is going to be a learning process for me as well, is to also be transparent about what I’m still dealing with and to show people that that’s okay.

And that life is never just about a black and white, either you’re in a bad place or you’re in a good place, but there is a process.

And then if people see, as I share the, even the current struggles I’m still going through that maybe that can help them feel like they’re not as alone.

And I’m absolutely not the first person to ever do this on YouTube, but I think the more people normalize talking about mental health issues and going through tough, tough life struggles, then the better it can be for everybody.

And then of course, uh, at the underlying side of all of this will be that ultimately my goal is to get my mental energy back, so it can be a better language learner.

So that theme is always going to be there that, you know, this long-term goal for my, um, my mental ability to focus and things will help me become a language learner.

Cause I know a lot of people followed me initially because of that.

They want to, they want to hear my language learning advice.

And so that’s kind of my plan.

Maybe eventually I’ll bring people on to interview and such, but I think for the moment, the most important part is sharing the personal story.

So that’s just going to be taking the series of like here’s how ident dealt with financial challenges.

Here’s how I dealt with, uh, having very, very low spirits.

And I think, uh, for, you know, part of that is problems.

I can’t solve people just need to have, um, professional help with dealing with something like depression, but it may be a lighter version of that.

People are just feeling low motivation.

I can help them to get to a better place.

Elle: Excellent.

Well, I am really looking forward to and will be following this series and I’ll also pop a link in the description for anyone else to your channel and your website and everything too.

Congratulations on almost clearing that debt.

That’s, that’s huge.

That’s a huge, that’s a huge milestone for sure.

And isn’t it just the way, everything seems to happen all at once, but, um, Like I said, it’s, I think it’s fantastic that, that you’ve been so and are being so open about it.

And, uh, I was reading the comments too, and yeah, people are, people are ready for this conversation, you know, you’re kind of championing this.

Let’s get rid of the stigma.

That’s that’s great.

Um, so apart from that series, uh, any projects, any events for the rest of the year?

Benny: Of course it’s, it’s difficult this year to, um, to be planning for events, but very fortunately, at least in the States, the rollout of the vaccines have made it a lot easier to begin making plans.

And I’ve started to see the hints of, uh, larger events forming, but ultimately I’m going to take most of the next year to continue my own personal mental health recovery.

And then when it comes to languages, uh, at the moment, I’m, uh, trying to see if I can get my mind to back with a single language first.

So I’ve decided to make that the Irish language and I, if I can, it’s bee, uh, it’s come in waves, that there are some weeks that I can do several days in a row where I I’m fully motivated and I’m able to push forward with, uh, doing plenty of study.

And I have a language lesson that goes very well and maybe I’ll even upload a video in the language.

And then other weeks where I don’t have that same momentum.

So I’m trying to see if I can find something that’s more sustainable in the longterm.

And once I’ve been able to do that successfully with one language, then I’ll be able to reactivate all my languages at that same momentum and have this longer term project of like, I’m mostly, and I think this is one of the issues I faced

while times were hard was you, you tend to be a lot more short-sighted and I just really wanted all my problems to be solved overnight if there was ever a solution for that.

Whereas now I can be a lot more long-term focused and thinking, you know, I’m not going to be the polyglot I was by tomorrow, but maybe I can be the same level of polyglot that I was before all these problems hit me a year and a half from that.

And if that’s the plan, what does that look like?

And that for, for me right now, it looks like getting my Irish, um, momentum and scheduling and like, uh, um, how to distribute my energy throughout the day.

So I’m definitely able to use this language and then move on to other languages.

And then, uh, hopefully sometime next year as the world is opening up again, I can start to consider going back into travel mode because that’s been something I’ve truly missed is living in those other countries, experiencing those cultures.

And of course, before I would do that, I would have the language learning project because learning a language ahead of a trip has always been a better experience for me.

Cause I don’t, I don’t want to be, I don’t want to be studying flashcards or something when I’m in the country.

I want to be just out and enjoying my time with people there.

So I would, I would share that experience like I did originally on the blog and get back into travel mode and, um, that’s kind of my, my long-term plan.

And of course, um, um, finding my energy with creating content again and making that mental health series and just making videos I enjoy making that are multi-lingual and using special effects and all these other cool tricks that I’ve picked up in the last couple of years.

Elle: So fun, I love your YouTube videos.

They’re really fun.

Especially the last one, the Aladdin one was as lots of fun.

So yeah, you can really see that, uh, you you’re enjoying it too.

So, um, I am looking forward to following your progress, your journey.

And as I said, I will pop the link to your YouTube channel and also your website in the description for anyone else who would like to follow along too.

Uh, Benny thank you so much for joining me today.

It was a pleasure.

Benny: Thank you very much for having me.

I hope I hope it was helpful to those listening.

Elle: Thanks, Benny bye-bye.

Benny: Bye-bye.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #17: Benny Lewis On His Language Learning Methods & The Importance of Making Mistakes

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

Benny Lewis, AKA Benny the Irish Polyglot, went from being sure he could never learn a new language to becomming fluent in seven. In this episode Elle chats with Benny about how he approaches new languages and his take on making mistakes.

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

With LingQ, you can learn a new language from content you love by turning anything into a language lesson: movies, TV shows, blog posts, news articles, anime, whatever you want.

Remember to like this episode and follow or subscribe to the podcast from whichever platform you’re listening on.

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I am very excited to have a special guest on.

He started the Fluent in Three Months blog.

He is also a YouTuber and an author, author of the book Fluent in Three Months, and also the Language Hacking series available for French, German, Spanish and Italian.

Uh, I am joined today by Benny Lewis, AKA Benny, the Irish Polyglot.

Hi, Benny.

How are you?

Benny: I’m very good.

Thank you so much for having me.

It’s great to be here.

Thanks.

Elle: Excellent.

Thank you for coming on.

Really appreciate it.

So, um, to start off, tell us where you are in the world right now.

You’re not in New York anymore, right?

Benny: Yeah.

I currently live in Austin, Texas.

Elle: Wow.

Okay.

And how’s it going?

I’ve heard.

It’s great, uh, the nightlife… I mean, I’m sure you’re not enjoying much of the light live right now, unfortunately, but food, music, I hear it’s a great city.

Are you enjoying it?

It’s interesting

Benny: just because this has become the new Silicon Valley of the States.

It’s got a lot of, uh, online entrepreneurs and creative types and such.

So that’s kind of the main reason I wanted to move here was to network with people like myself who are trying to make a difference online.

Elle: Oh, cool.

I didn’t know that about Austin actually.

That’s very cool.

Um, so I wanted to just tell you first off that when I told some family members that I was interviewing you this week,

they were like, “Oh, Oh, even I know who that is.”

So congratulations.

I guess I’m kind of bringing language learning to the mainstream.

Um, uh, I’ve been following you from many years ago now and, uh, I think what really resonates about your story is that you, like many of us, didn’t enjoy or didn’t get much out of studying languages at school.

Um, is it right that you studied, is it German and Gaelic?

Irish Gaelic in high school.

Benny: That’s Right.

Elle: And so when you left high school, you weren’t really able to converse in those languages?

Benny: No, unfortunately the approach I had in school didn’t work.

Elle: Yeah.

For a lot of us to have the same experience.

Um, so you’re intro to being able to actually learn a language to fluency came after college with Spanish, right?

Benny: Yeah.

I moved to Spain.

The first six months were not a success for me.

I did what a lot of people in my situation do, and just gravitated towards other English speakers.

So I always tell people that moving to the country doesn’t actually solve your problems when it comes to language learning.

Elle: Yep.

Same thing happened for me when I lived in Japan for three years, I did some study, but yeah, it, it happens right.

You do, you know, it’s the easy route, the people who speak English, you kind of do make friends with.

So what changed then?

So you went to Spain, uh, weren’t able to learn a language, uh, but it was the first language that you learned to fluency.

So what, what happened?

Benny: So what happened was, I think at first, when I thought maybe living in Spain would just magically solved my problem, when I realized that wasn’t happening, I was tempted to return back to the idea that I’m just not naturally talented in languages and it’s just my destiny to never speak, you know, another language.

I was holding onto that for a while.

Even if I. Was doing a few things, like I was going to group classes.

I thought maybe if I would read a book with a dictionary that might help.

And I’d like, you know, just looking up one word at a time without really trying to appreciate the reading experience.

And like, I tried a lot of different things, which didn’t bring me any success.

But what was interesting for me was I was part of this exchange program for engineers.

Um, um, there were, I, I was there for a very long time and I kept seeing other people from multiple countries arriving, uh, not having any Spanish initially, but then after a few weeks or a few months, they would start speaking.

And so it really challenged my belief that, you know, Oh, I’m an engineer, so I’m a technically minded person.

And if there’s some left-brain right-brain stuff happening, then that’s the reason I can’t speak the language.

And I kept seeing evidence to the contrary of new arrivals who arrived with no Spanish, but then eventually became to, um, they eventually developed the ability to have conversations.

So.

That challenged me.

And I would ask them, how are you doing this?

What’s your secret?

And I think when we first get into languages, we all want to know what that secret is, like is there one specific course or the one trick that you do that will solve all your problems?

And I wanted to hear that.

I imagined they would tell me something like when I sleep, I have this audio playing in the background and magically fluent because of that.

Um, it took a while for it to really sink in that what was different was that they were truly using the language.

I was just studying the language.

I wasn’t having any real experiences in it.

I would study it and then I would fail inusing it in any kind of social situation.

And so that kind of developed the philosophy I’ve had ever since then of if I want to truly use the language and, uh, uh, you know, there are different techniques, obviously with language learning, it depends on your goals.

And my goal is always the purely spoken focus at the beginning stages.

So I have to speak from day one.

And that’s what changed six months into that time in Spain, I tried an experiment where outside of my work, because I was an English teacher outside of that work, I would not speak a single word of English.

And it was a difficult process, but that showed me that maybe I can use some basic Spanish and I could start initially communicating with people.

And that gave me the confidence to then move forward with this broken Spanish.

And to truly use it as a means of communication and to develop it with time while I continue to live there.

And since then, I’ve kind of expanded on that approach with other languages where I truly try to speak it as soon as I can.

And to immerse myself in the language, even digitally immersing myself in the language is a completely different experience to more academic, purely study based approach.

So a complete mindset change, essentially.

Elle: Okay.

And, and so Spanish then was your first language outside of English that you learned to fluency, and then you, uh, what other languages then did you go on to, uh, to study?

Benny: I would have learned Spanish I want to say, like, I didn’t take any official, uh, examinations of my levels or anything, but my best guess would be maybe at a B1 level.

Um, lower intermediate.

And then I went on to live in Italy and I learned Italian probably to about the same, B1 level and pretty much replaced my Spanish.

So I was kind of starting to forget my Spanish.

And then I moved on to live in France for an entire year.

And, uh, I reached, uh, definitely reached B2 because I had my first

experience sitting one of the European common framework exams.

And I, I passed the B2 exam, uh, a little bit into my time in France, but again, I was forgetting my other languages.

So it was, um, that initial process was just going from one language to the other and then essentially replacing it in my brain.

And what changed was after France, I went to Brazil and I had a very different approach to, uh, the language in Brazil.

I wanted to both learn Portuguese while also actively trying to use my other languages.

And I would take advantage of living in a touristy place like Florianópolis, which had a lot of tourists from Argentina, so I could speak Spanish with them.

And then I would have occasional visits from people from France and I could try to switch into French.

And that was my initial true beginnings of becoming a polyglot and using the languages I had already gotten to a certain level, but not, not really pushed too much forward.

And then after that experience with Portuguese, I went on to live in other countries and got my, my Spanish level up a much greater notch.

And I was able to start working, uh, as a, as an engineer and eventually as a professional translator for these European languages.

And, um, I eventually started the blog based on that.

Elle: Excellent.

Wow.

Um, so you say your strategy or method is very much speak from day one and also have, uh, like a willingness to make mistakes.

I wonder if you have any, any advice, I find that the most difficult probably… and it’s one thing to know that you have to, that you should be willing to make mistakes and then, you know, to be, to try to move on afterwards.

But it’s, it’s tough.

I find, you know, cause it does, it does knock your confidence a bit.

Do you have any advice for anyone who is struggling with that coming back after, yeah, making those mistakes.

Benny: Yeah, it’s tricky because one thing I’ve noticed with a lot of language learners is a lot of them go into this with a very perfectionist mindset.

And they imagine the goal is to speak the languages as correctly as possible.

And I think ultimately that can be the goal.

Like if you want to sit a C2 exam or something, then you know, maybe a few years from now, then speaking the language with next to no mistakes can be something you can aspire to.

But as a beginner learner, I, I found that I’ve turned that on its head and I’ve actually intentionally had my goal make 200 mistakes today in the language.

And that changes things a lot because if, if I make a mistake, like if I’m having a Spanish lesson with you and then I, I, I use el instead of la, ma mess up the, um, the, the gender of a noun, then you could think of that as this is me failing.

This is another reason why I shouldn’t be speaking Spanish in the first place.

I made this mistake.

My Spanish is bad.

That’s one way of looking at it and that can be very demotivating.

You have so, so much evidence as a beginner, there’s so much that you don’t know that almost every utterance you’ll make in the language, you’ll use the wrong word, you’ll mess up your grammar or something along those lines.

It’s just more and more and more evidence that you’re not ready to use this language.

So I turned that on its head and I just decide at the, as a beginner learner, my, my approach, I like it to be dynamic.

I. It, it evolves.

It’s very different when I’m an intermediate learner, but as a beginner learner, my goal is to make as many mistakes as possible.

And that completely transforms the entire experience because when I make that kind of mistake where I’m using the wrong grammatical gender, or I don’t use exactly the right word order or whatever it might be.

Then, rather than that, reflecting on the fact that I’m failing at this project, I’m actually succeeding, uh, genuinely trying to use the language as a means of communication.

And the goal should not be, as a beginner learner the goal should not be to produce perfect utterances of your, your target language.

It should be communicating in the language.

And this is why the likes of if I’m, especially if I’m using the language in the country, for instance, and I need to ask directions, I think me saying the local language equivalent of “supermarket, where?”

Is absolutely acceptable.

That that’s missing the verb, the it’s missing so many things, uh, you know, technically, maybe the right way to say it is.

“Excuse me, kind, sir.

Could you direct me to the nearest supermarket?”

And, and that, that could be maybe something you would aspire to later, but so many people they think, because I can’t say that, “excuse me, kind, sir…”

a long phrase, I shouldn’t dare speak the language, but realistically I, um, and this for me is, uh, as someone coming from like a background in mathematics where things are just right or wrong.

Like it’s one or the other with languages.

I don’t look at it that way.

It’s not that your “supermarket where?”

phrase is, is a failure because it succeeds in you expressing that goal that you want to communicate something and you can try to get the gist of what they say.

You’re not going to understand everything.

If you understand just a couple of the key words.

Then communication can happen.

And this is one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned.

And I know people with anxiety as they get into languages that can really feel like, you know, ah, I’m such a failure.

Like I don’t know how to say anything.

And I feel the same way.

Even after learning many languages as I start a new language, I can feel like such a failure when I’m trying to speak it in a language lesson.

And I just accept that this is a part of the process.

Me hesitating, me using the wrong words, the grammar, not being eloquent, all of that has to happen for a beginner, it’s unavoidable.

So if you embrace that and just think to yourself, get, you know, get these mistakes out of your system, the more you practice, the faster you’re, you’re going to be making these mistakes, these mistakes less frequently.

Elle: Hmm.

That’s excellent advice.

And is that still then something you say embrace it, is that still something, when you approach a new language now you still have that nagging thing or is it like, Nope,

I know that I’m going to make, like you said, however many mistakes, get them out, or is it still something that is, uh, those fears are still there?

Benny: They’re they’re still like, I still have hesitations.

I still have moments when I’m about to start a call with a native speaker.

Um, I start second guessing myself and thinking, you know, maybe I should cancel this call.

I don’t feel like I’m ready.

And I didn’t study enough, uh, um, since my last call.

So I still have those doubts.

I’m, I’m better now than I was 20 years ago before I got into language learning at, uh, pushing through those doubts.

But they’re always there.

There’s always that lack of confidence and like, you know, should I really be doing this?

But I’m definitely better oatit now.

So the languages I’ve learned since then, like have, um, become an easier process for me as a result of that.

Elle: I think listeners would like to hear that someone who has learned so many languages can still feel that way.

So it’s okay.

We can, we can do this.

Um, so are there any languages that you’ve found are the ones that, you know, that you found particularly difficult or are there even any languages that you started to study and then were like, Whoa, I’m not ready for this or put it on the back burner.

Benny: It’s, it’s a very interesting question.

And a lot of people are always curious, you know, what’s the hardest language you’ve ever learned.

And I have a completely different philosophy when I look at my languages like this, and I know from a linguistic perspective or a theoretical perspective, it can be interesting.

To put two languages side by side and say, well, the grammar in this language is more complicated or this language has tones, therefore it’s harder.

And that, that whole line of discussion has just never been interesting for me because I don’t find it to be a useful concept to think about how difficult languages are.

So as an example, when I took on Mandarin, which I eventually got to lower intermediate stage when I took on Mandarin.

Um, a lot of people told me, well this is one of the hardest languages in the world.

And I didn’t want to hear that because that’s not useful to me.

This is just forms of discouragement and it doesn’t necessarily mean I want to plug my ears and go LA LA LA.

I don’t want to hear it, because there are, there are certain things that, uh, people can warn me about that can be very helpful.

Uh, to know ahead of time when I’m getting into a language that may pose more of a challenge.

But what I wanted to know was why is it easy?

And this is actually something I try to do when I begin any language.

If I, um, I’ve written blog posts, why Hungarian is easy, why Chinese is easy, which are so strange for a lot of the language community, because there’s this association that you have to keep saying this language is hard and here’s why on a, in a way, part of it is bragging rights.

You know, if you have successfully learned the language, it’s good for your ego

if the world thinks it’s a hard language, because then everyone thinks you’re smart.

And so I, I understand that, you know, if, if somebody successfully learns Mandarin, then it’s good for them.

If everybody says it’s the hardest language in the world, But realistically, um, whenever I try to learn a new language, I I’m a much more practical person, so I’m not actually that passionate really about language learning the process of language learning

isn’t what interests me.

It’s more the, I see a language as a tool or a means to an end, to open up this door to allow me to communicate with another culture.

So because of that, I don’t put a language on a pedestal necessarily.

So that’s why it’s something like, well, this language is harder than that is just not useful for me.

I care more about how can I advance my learning experience faster.

And then on top of that, there’s a lot of things that people don’t consider outside of the linguistics sphere for why a language is hard or easy.

Uh, I always think back when I was in Spain and the friend of mine was learning both French and Japanese and of course, Spanish and French are in the same language family.

So I presumably I said to him, well, obviously French is easier for you.

And he said, no, no, Japanese is easier for me.

And at first I was like, how, how is that even possible?

Because you know, all the cognates and like I had all these arguments and he said, well, I was forced to learn French in school and I don’t find it interesting.

Whereas I think Japanese girls are cute and I really liked the look of the language and I would love to move to Japan one day and these reasons are actually much more important than, it’s, it’s why linguistically yeah, you can put Japanese next to Spanish and French next to Spanish and give a very reasonable argument for why French is easier

and Japanese is harder.

But for, for an individual, the passion that they have for the language is going to completely transform its difficulty and how they, we use the language or they get exposure to the language.

It’s going to change that.

So that’s why ironically, something like Mandarin was easier for me to learn than Spanish because Spanish being the first language I truly tried, I didn’t have the right attitude.

And so I went through it very slowly and I kept second guessing myself.

I kept telling myself if people are going to laugh at you, people are going to be mad at you for speaking Spanish.

And that slowed me down.

Whereas Mandarin, I had enough experience, enough years with other languages, that I was a bit more confident to make those mistakes.

So I advanced a lot quicker, even though, you know, linguistically it’s obviously a much further away language and a lot of people would very reasonably argue why it’s harder, but it was easier for me because of this personal experience.

That’s, that’s often overlooked when people think about language learning.

Hm.

And is, uh, is Mandarin a language that you’re still active in learning?

Are you actively learning any languages right now or kind of maintaining, taking a break?

Yeah.

So generally I’m, I I’m all either in one mode or another, I’m either intensively learning one new language.

And if I’m doing that, then I kind of have to pause my other languages.

I know there’s lots of potty gods who are very good at multitasking.

I’m not, I can’t multitask.

So I can only focus on one language if I’m truly pushing it up to a very, uh, very different, higher level to where it was before.

Or I’m in maintenance mode where I’m essentially trying to keep all my languages at the level that they would have been when I stopped an intensive project.

So for a while, I was doing that with all my languages, including Mandarin.

And then what happened was I went through some very difficult years and that’s kind of knocked me off my tracks of maintaining that level of, of, uh, maintenance in my languages.

And now this year I’m reactivating that to, um, a much slower degree because my goal is maybe at the end of 2022, something along those lines to, to feel like I’ve reached the maintenance level in all the languages I had learned to high levels before, and then I’d be ready to take on a brand new project that I may in three months really intensively push it up.

So my Mandarin, I haven’t gotten back to that one yet.

It was a, I’d say about six years ago, that was the language where at the drop of a hat, I could get into conversations with people, but like anything, if you don’t keep up the work, you’ll start to, it’ll start to slip away from you.

But fortunately it is among the languages that I’ll be reactivating within the next year or two.

And I’ve already with that in mind, started to make like, a separate Instagram and Tik Tok accounts just in Mandarin, just so I can like upload videos in those languages.

Cause that’s one way that I enjoy my experience of using languages is making content online in them.

So this is kind of, in the, um, the version into 2021, 2022 years,

uh, different to how I would upload YouTube videos.

I’m already keeping that in mind and I’m getting better and better now at getting my momentum back with my languages.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #16: Polyglot Kerstin Cable Talks Languages & the Women in Language Event

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Kerstin Cable is a polyglot podcaster, YouTuber, language coach and co-host of the Women in Language event. I chatted with her about language learning (duh!) and especially her love for a lesser known language and the awesome event, now in its fourth year, Women in Language.

English LingQ Podcast #16 Polyglot Podcaster Kerstin Cable

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

LingQ is the app that allows you to learn a new language from content you love.

You can make anything into a language lesson: YouTube videos, TV shows, news articles, podcasts, whatever it is that you want to learn from.

Remember to like this episode and follow or subscribe to the podcast from whichever platform you’re listening on.

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

Today, I have a special guest podcaster, language coach and language learning content provider, and also cohost of the Women in Language event.

Kirsten cable, Kirsten.

Welcome.

How are you?

Kerstin: Hi, I’m doing great.

How are you?

Elle: I’m good.

Thank you.

I’m good.

Um, now it’s morning here in Vancouver, but you are in the UK, what time is it with you?

Kerstin: It’s seven minutes past 5:00 PM.

Elle: Okay, excellent.

So thank you so much for joining us after your day is done.

I’m sure you’re tired, but we appreciate it.

Thank you.

Kerstin: It’s a bank holiday so I’ve done nothing all day because bank holidays mean holidays, you know?

Elle: Yes, of course.

I forgot.

It’s Easter weekend.

Okay, lovely.

So you’ve had the day off.

Okay.

That’s good.

That’s good.

And you’ve have some sun in the UK I think.

Kerstin: It’s it’s super, super sunny.

Yesterday it was sunny and reasonably warm and I went swimming and this… today, so it’s all outdoor swimming because our swimming pools are still closed, and today it’s, it looks really warm, but it really isn’t.

This morning, there was snow.

Elle: Whoa, like where you are there was snow?

Kerstin: Yeah.

It’s just April, April weather.

Like it’s not staying down.

It’s just a little bit of.

“Yeah, I’m here too”.

Elle: Always unpredictable, A pril.

That’s true.

Kerstin: I know.

Elle: Um, so Kerstin you run the fluent… the website, fluent language.co.uk, and you offer resources and run a blog and also your wonderful podcast, the Fluent Show.

So tell us about the Fluent Show.

You’ve just, I think, are you at episode 210 now?

You just surpassed 200?

Kerstin: Yes, well researched.

We hit episode 200 last year, we had a little party.

We had a little quiz.

I love a quiz.

I am just so into quizzes.

So we had a big quiz and my, my friend Megan came from, she hosts a podcast called, Oh, they, sorry.

They host a podcast called Oh No!

Lit Class.

And they came and brought us this literature quiz.

It was amazing.

It was, it was so random and fun.

And since then, yes, I have had, I’m now in a new system where in this podcast, which is all about language, just from so many different angles

and what I don’t do is just do the kind of standard… I think it’s… it would be more of a standard kind of polyglot show if you just go “hello person who is so gifted and speaks five languages, tell us your secrets”.

I, I don’t do that as much because I find that language is in every aspect of our life and has so many different angles.

So I try to bring in as much variety as I possibly can.

So the season we’ve just finished is 10, 10 episodes is a season.

The season we’ve just finished was linguistic season.

So I had an academic who researches stylistics.

We learnt what stylistics is.

We talked about neuroscience and how there’s lightening in the brain and what that, what impact that has on how you speak in the language you choose, how you code switch.

That was incredibly interesting.

We talked about the languages of Western and central Asia.

And I had sort of, I have a cohost Lindsey who pops in every now and then.

So every season there’s two or three episodes where we just hang out, they’re much more relaxed and much less, there’s less, less and more content at the same time.

It’s just more laughs.

And we did Words of the Year 2020, and we did our tools.

That’s a staple.

We’ve done that for six years now.

Yeah.

So the podcast is just a lot of fun and an excuse for me to indulge my curiosity about all things to do with communication and languages.

Elle: Amazing.

And you just mentioned the words of the year 2020, I’m intrigued by that.

What, uh, what are some of the standout words that you guys talked about from last year?

Kerstin: Oh, Oh, Oh, a good one because we looked at words from the USA, not so many from the US because there’s just such a list.

We looked at the German words of the year, British lots of British ones, but also Australia and something that stood out in my mind.

Um, the big themes were obviously Coronavirus.

So “COVID”, um, “lockdown” word of the year.

And then in, in Australia they had, um, “iso-” sort of as a prefix, you know, like the little letters that go to the side of something, and in Australia, you can have, you can put on “iso-kilos” for example, and it’s just iso- this iso- that, and that’s something very specific to Australia.

Every year there seems to be something quite specific to Australia I really like.

Trying to remember what else there was… Black Lives Matter was the other sort of big theme.

And I think somewhere the word of the year was just “they”, so it was, it was, there was also, uh, the kind of extension in pronouns and in, uh, nonbinary.

The conversations that we’re having now.

So the language always reflects what’s on people’s minds.

And I love that so much about words of the year, it’s really, really fun.

Elle: Sounds like a really in-depth conversation.

Amazing.

Kerstin: It’s just a long, long list really.

Elle: Um, now since, ever since I found out that you are a person who, I don’t know if it’s a language you are actively studying right now, but you are someone who has studied the Welsh language, um, as someone from Wales who, um, knows people…

I know people who speak Wells for sure, but it is, it’s a very lesser known language.

They’re around 3 million people in Wales.

And I think around 20% of those people living in Wales speak Welsh.

I know that number, that percentage is increasing, uh, over the years, which is great.

Um, but so that’s around 20% of 3 million.

That’s not a lot of people.

And, um, yeah, I know you’re studying Welsh and I just spoke with Luca Lampariello actually and he said, He is, uh, one of his languages of the year that he’s studying as Hungarian and his, when he told his uncle that he was learning Hungarian, his uncle was like, why?

Why would you waste your time learning a language like Hungarian?

No one speaks Hungarian.

Well for Welsh, it’s even fewer people.

So I guess my question is to you, why Welsh?

And, and also have you had any, um, have you experienced like a negative attitude towards your interest in Welsh?

Any pushback, like anyone asking you, why would you do that?

Kerstin: I get a lot of “why?”

Definitely.

And, um, the answer that I have now learned is, I don’t know whether you’re going to understand me is “pam ddim?”

Elle: Okay.

Why not?

Kerstin: “Pam ddim?”

Is Welsh for why not.

And that is really… it’s there to be learned.

And I cannot express to you how much, how fun I find Welsh.

I don’t know why.

It’s just, it’s like my Bae.

I love it.

I love it.

It’s so much fun.

I really enjoy, um, “siarad Cymraeg” (speaking Welsh) , uh, “dysgu Cymraeg” (learning Welsh) , I just love it.

It’s so much fun and I am still actively learning.

Yeah.

Cause I’m super slow.

So I’ve been learning for five and a half years and I’m a level B2 now, so I can have my conversations, but to be honest, I’ve been having conversations of some description for years.

Cause that’s just how I do it, um, basically shout my five words at people and then call it a conversation.

She’s fluent.

I just… there are okay, there are, there are, there are specific whys is that I could point to, um, mostly to do with the fact that I live in the UK and I live in the UK as an immigrant, if you want to see it that way.

When I started learning, well,

I have to go one more step back, I guess, because I am from Germany and I am from quite near, um, from like almost a border region.

So maybe 50, if you drive 45 minutes from where I’m from, you’re in Luxembourg.

So I grew up near Luxembourg and France is really close and Belgium’s really close.

And there’s always been kind of languages,

like you can get, you can get easily get a Luxembourgish radio station, which is a language that is significant for our region.

It influences our dialect really heavily.

And the world at large, maybe doesn’t care about Luxembourgish, but I don’t think I ever really assigned value in that way of like, well, what do English speakers think is important that they never do any language learning anyway, like what did they know?

And I already knew, uh, Spanish and French and you know, I’ve done some Italian and I’ve done some Russian and blah.

So I’ve kind of done all the ones that you have to check off, German is my native language.

So I’ve got that one for free, which means I sort of was a little bit free maybe to, to play.

And once I started learning Welsh… it started when we went on holiday in Wales and you don’t run into necessarily, unless you go to specific areas, you don’t just run into people who happen to speak Welsh, but we were on the, in the car.

We had this podcast and the podcast was sort of teaching us the basics, “bore da” good morning, “prynhawn da” good afternoon, dah, dah, dah.

And I’m like, well this is fun to say.

These are all fun to say.

And, uh, all the signage is bilingual in Wales and there was just this part of me where the more I learned, well, the more I kind of started getting into it, the more I felt like, I describe it, like in a video game, you know, where you’re on the hidden level, that’s how I started to feel.

And then I went for the first time to the Eisteddfod which is the Welsh sort of cultural festival thing where everybody’s camping and yeah, it’s odd.

It’s amazing.

And I’m like on the mice camping right on the camping thing.

Um, and I woke up in the morning and my tent and around me there’s these children running around and people chatting and they’re all chatting and Welsh and I thought.

It’s real, like it’s alive.

It’s actually here.

And I felt like that amazing feeling.

You know, when you’re going on holiday or you’re traveling and you’re in a foreign country, I felt that, but in the UK, and I’m a big believer in, we don’t need to travel halfway around the world to find adventure.

And that gave me the kind of linguistic adventure.

So I feel like Welsh has given me so much, so much.

It’s ridiculous to ask why.

It’s ridiculous.

It’s absolutely… I don’t understand why people resist it because it is flippin’ it awesome.

Elle: Yeah.

It’s a bizarre, maybe I shouldn’t say bizarre.

It is bizarre.

I mean, there’s the pronunciation and the spellings in Welsh are something to behold, like, um, but yeah, I love that “linguistic adventure”.

That’s that’s a great, that’s a great term.

I like that.

Um, well, thank you.

Anyway.

I feel like you’re a bit of a, a bit of a champion for Welsh.

Um, thank you from the Welsh people, thank you.

Kerstin: Very undeservedly.

Don’t don’t make, make no mistake in my Welshclass every Thursday evening I get told all the time, Oh, I’ve got, I’m teaching four German and people, and there is a Syrian refugee who’s learning Welsh.

And that, you know, because the community is so small, everybody just seems to be like “here is a non-Welsh person learning Welsh.

Look at them!

I love it.

I think it’s a lot of fun.

I think I’m having so much fun with Welsh.

I’m so grateful to the language and its teachers.

Elle: Excellent.

So you, as I mentioned at the beginning of the episode, you co-host the Women in Language event with Lindsay Williams and Shannon Kennedy.

Kerstin: That’s right.

Elle: Uh, tell me about the event.

How, how long has it been running for now?

Is it you’ve had two?

Kerstin: No, we just finished our fourth

Elle: Oh four.

Wow.

Excellent.

Bad research there.

And so, um, tell us a bit about why you started the event and, um, yeah then how was the most recent one?

Cause it just happened last month, right?

Kerstin: Uh, yes, it happened in March.

Um, it was a little confusing because in 2020 we had, we moved from our usual slot, which was in, which is in March and we kind of moved it to September.

So that year just seemed to confuse everybody.

But women, Women in Language is an online language conference, a four day event.

We have about 30-ish speakers, 34, I believe this year.

And we ha… we host sessions all live all hosted by one of us, three organizers.

We host panel discussions.

We have got a very lively live chat running all the way through, and it’s a real buzzing event.

The idea behind Women in Language was to champion, we, we say champion, celebrate and amplify the voices of women in language.

And just, we can widen that out to less of heard voices in the sense that, you know, we’re totally open.

We’ve had nonbinary speakers, transgender speakers.

That’s that’s no deal.

The idea though really was from noticing, and obviously when you’re a woman in the polygot space, you notice more, right?

The things where you see the lack and we felt there was just a little bit of an imbalance in terms of media attention, for sure, general sort of the idea of what a polyglot, “like that, that image seemed to just be a load of guys.

Um, and then not meant the kind of here is an expert panel of people who are multi-lingual, and lots of …”that, all skewed man.

And I’m a strong believer in, this isn’t really about like what I, you know, like, I’m not saying I’m making, women in language exists and now the world is perfect.

I’m a strong believer in when I’ve got something that really gets me riled up and I get a bit ranty and I might’ve had a bit, might’ve had a rant or two about whatever, I’m such a graceful person.

That you’ve got to do something about it.

And I felt, not just me, it was sort of Lindsey, Shannon and I we didn’t sit down together and say, Oh, we are really unhappy.

Am I allowed to say pissed off?

We are really unhappy, you know, we didn’t sit down and say, Oh, something needs to change.

Instead we kind of, I had my rant and then that was it.

And then months later, Lindsay, Lindsay sort of brought up, Oh, I’m looking at International Women’s Day, which is the 8th of March.

And I thought maybe we could do some kind of an event thing.

Maybe I wanted to organize something.

Do you want to, do you want to, you know, do you want to help?

Do you want to do something together?

And I was like, Oh, that sounds amazing.

I just got really excited about it.

We brought Shannon in and then when we started looking at well, who could we have?

Who could we work with?

Really quickly realized we don’t have a one day event.

We’ve got like a festival here and we called it Women in Language to kind of set that flag down.

Um, but it isn’t an event about women.

It isn’t an event where we discuss women topics, whatever those are, and it isn’t an event that excludes men at all.

So now that we’ve just had a fourth one, you were asking about, um, something we’re very proud of is in the four years we’ve had over a hundred speakers.

So we bring, we don’t have a lot of repeat speakers.

We focus on bringing in new speakers every time, new voices.

We have improved in terms of diversity.

I would say our first one was like, people we know turns out they look like you, but it was, you know, we’ve certainly improved on that and I’m really proud of that.

And, um, it’s a really welcoming space, but the other thing from just sort of anecdotally looking for the names of registrants, we’ve had more guys this year.

Like, and every year just kind of get this movement going.

So people realize, okay, even if there’s just even if, even if there’s just a lot of women on stage, doesn’t matter, it’s still a really cool event.

And I personally don’t really see that many expert panels where it’s just women.

So I’m just so proud and delighted to be putting all that together and being a part of kind of putting it out in the world.

It is so much fun.

Um, and it’s only $29.

So we get a lot of participation and we try to open it up as widely as we can.

And yeah, it’s sort of become a movement and an event that has a name in the space, which I don’t know, I don’t know if we planned that, but here we are.

Elle: Here it is.

It’s fantastic.

And so then next year’s event is a safe bet?

It’s going to happen next year?

I know it’s early days.

You just had the fourth one, but…

Kerstin: Well, you know, if you’ve ever organized an event, you probably know that there’s moments where you think I’m never doing that again in my life ever.

There’s a good chance.

Yes, absolutely.

Absolutely.

And we would be in the Women, International Women’s Day sort of time slot.

So that’s the first, usually the first weekend in March, roughly.

Elle: Excellent.

Kerstin: Yeah.

Yeah.

It’s, it’s too special really.

It’s it’s a special time.

People really love it.

Elle: Wonderful.

Um, I wanna ask you, a lot of our listeners, viewers are learning English.

Hmm.

And, um, I’m sure other languages too.

And I always like to ask anyone I get on who has mastered, so to speak, languages outside of the native language, um, if they have any advice.

And from you, I would love to know, I noticed that reading through your website and listening to you that, kind of, inclusivity is a big,

big thing for you.

Um, and the message on your website is, you know, anyone can learn a language, doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, you can do it.

It’s really positive.

I love that.

Do you have any advice for anyone listening, who, um, might be thinking, you know, wondering if they actually can, if they, they’ve never learned a language outside of their mother tongue.

They’re wondering, can I actually do this?

I don’t know?

Do you have any advice?

Kerstin: So for those people, my advice would be to not spend too much time in wondering if you can do it and to just try.

Try try try.

And when you, because if you’re spending a lot of time wondering, can I do this?

Can I do this?

Then when something goes a little bit wrong or you make a mistake, then you’re already asking the question and then it’s really easy to go

“Ah, there’s the evidence.

I’m going back to bed”, don’t do that.

Don’t do that.

Instead, try to just find something that makes you really want to do it because there’s many things in life that you and everybody, you’re doing it.

Doesn’t matter if you can do it or not, right?

You’re just doing it because it’s fun.

You know, if you, I don’t know, go to the cinema, you don’t, you don’t go like, Oh, I don’t know.

Am I too stupid?

I don’t know what I understand this.

Like most of us, we have at least one thing in our life that we just do because it’s awesome.

And you would do it even if you weren’t sure that, you know, you could go all the way.

Like, you know, how many people play, play football slash soccer and they’re never going to be a professional player.

It’s not about that.

And if you treat languages like that, if you treat English like that… like find something really cool and just kind of follow that and stop asking, can I do this?

Because then a year down the line, you’ll be like, Oh yeah.

Oh yeah.

It turns out I can.

And that’s a nice feeling.

That’s great

Elle: advice.

Thank you.

Um, so what’s in store for you for the rest of 202?1 of course it’s a weird time, but things are still happening, the world is still ticking over.

What’s in store?

Kerstin: Well, the, there is, uh, at least one more podcast season coming and I’m hoping for, I’ve got plans for the next three.

So that’s good.

No, let’s do the next one first, which is, uh, it’s going to be a season about teaching.

So I’ve got a few interesting teachers.

We’re kind of talking more about teaching and something I really like, which is talking business because I’m a one-person business, which means you spend a lot of time thinking about all this kind of stuff.

And there i so much mindset and psychology.

I feel like we have a parallel with languages and I really like that space that the coaching, I guess, motivating space and the exploring how to overcome your inner hurdles and, you know, really sharing strategies and sharings.

What’s worked for me in the last nine years of doing this.

Self-employment thing.

So I’m really looking forward to that.

That’s the podcast on a personal level, I’m hoping to go home and see my family.

And this, this is weird, Elle.

You know what I miss almost as much, possibly some days more than my mum?

Elle: I hope your mum’s not listneing to this!

Kerstin: Well I can, I can talk to my mom on the phone, right?

But I can’t talk to the vineyards.

And I am from the Moselle Valley, which is all vineyards.

And I have found, like, I really miss just looking at the vineyards and just seeing that’s like my, my feeling of home is when I’m in a vineyeard.

Elle: And enjoying the products of the vineyard, I’m sure.

Kerstin: I mean I’ve got some in the fridge.

That’s fine.

I grew up in a wine-making family and yeah, vineyards, I think are really important to us.

So I felt, I never know, I never knew before the pandemic stopped me going for so long that I missed the landscape of my home.

And I really just want to, you know, just go home to, to see home.

Um, and that’s something I’m hoping that this year we’re gonna, gonna go back and going to, you know, I don’t care about traveling the world that can wait another year, but I really just want to go and see some vineyards.

So there is that, um, and I’m hoping to relaunch my online course for teachers in line with the teaching seasons.

So, but working on a few corporate business projects too.

Elle: Yeah.

Wow.

Busy, busy it sounds like.

I really hope you get to go home and enjoy the vineyards and best of luck with everything you have planned for 2021.

And thank you so much for joining us, Kristin.

Kerstin: You’re very, very welcome.

Croeso (welcome)

Elle: Bye-bye.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #15: @Lindie Botes​ Shares Her Language Learning Inspiration

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

Polyglot YouTuber, language mentor and self-confessed language nut Lindie Botes is an inspiration! In this interview she shares what sparked her passion for language learning and what she does when she loses motivation.

Elle: This podcast is brought to you by LingQ, the app that allows you to learn a new language from content you love.

With LingQ you can make anything into a language lesson, French, YouTube videos, Korean dramas, Russian news, Japanese podcasts, whatever it is that you want to learn from.

Remember to like this episode and follow or subscribe to the podcast from whichever platform you’re listening on.

If you’re learning English, you can find the transcript to this episode and all past episodes as a lesson online.

Just click the link to the lesson in the description.

Hello everyone and welcome to the English LingQ podcast with me Elle and today I have a special guest joining me, Lindie Botes.

Lindie, how are you?

Lindie: Hello, I am well, thanks.

Thank you so much for having me.

Elle: Oh, thank you so much for joining us today.

So Lindie, you are a polyglot YouTuber.

Uh, your YouTube channel Lindie, is called Lindy Botes, B O T E S. And you also have a website, Lindiebotes.com where you offer, where you run a blog, you offer, um, mentoring and resources,

I have a list here: Afrikaans.

Chinese, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysia, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, is that right?

Lindie: Yes.

Those are the lists of resources.

And not necessarily the languages I’m fluent in.

Elle: So any listeners, uh, learning those languages or interested in learning those languages, head over to Lindie’s website and check those out for sure.

Um, so Lindie, you’re joining us from singapore today.

Lindie: Yes.

Elle: So you are living and working in Singapore and it is 8:00 AM there, correct?

Lindie: Yes, we are on opposite sides of the world.

Elle: Yeah.

I want to say thank you so much for joining us when it’s so early for you have to be chatty so early.

I know it’s a lot to ask.

Thank you.

So I was looking over your website and YouTube channel a lot today.

And, uh, I saw on your website, you say, you know, sorry, 12-ish languages, I like that “ish”.

Um, can you tell us, uh, which languages you know?

Lindie: Well, the ish part is very important because I think everybody interprets like know or speak in a different way, right?

If I can, we have a very basic conversation about the weather,

does that really mean, I know a language?

I’m not so sure.

So last year I was, uh, learning 12, which means even if it’s the most beginner language, I was trying to learn it, but I would say I’m at least conversational, can help myself in around eight or so languages.

So apart from English, my home language is Afrikaans.

And then I guess in order of rough fluency, it would be Korean, Japanese, French, Mandarin, uh, Spanish, uh, maybe Hungarian, Vietnamese, where are we know it’s very early morning, I’m going to have to check my own website, but you know, they all kind of trail off at the end.

Uh, you know, learning a bunch, can speak a few.

Elle: Right, right.

And so you said you grew up in South Africa and, uh, I was looking, I looked online today.

I knew that there were many official languages in South Africa.

I read there are actually 12, which I was amazed by.

Do you think, did that have any impact on your growing up?

I don’t know how exposed you were to those languages on a day-to-day basis, but did that have an impact on your, your love for language learning do you think to some extent?

Lindie: Yes.

I didn’t actually grow up in South Africa.

I spent maybe more than half or half of my life in a few different countries over seas in the middle East and Asia.

But I did spend my last few years of high school and university in South Africa.

And yes, I was exposed to quite a few, uh, South African languages, but not necessarily from uh, a direct opportunity of being able to learn them.

But I always had friends around me who spoke different languages, and I was always interested in asking people like, can you teach me a new phrase in Tswana?

Or how do you say this in Zulu?

So I think if anything, the multicultural society that South Africa is, uh, inspired me to continue languages and, you know, be curious constantly and ask people about languages.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity or resources, especially now living overseas to continue those languages, but that did like, help encourage and motivate me to keep going.

Yeah, I would really love to learn.

I think I bought a Zulu textbook once and I would like to, it’s probably the most widely spoken South African language, but South African languages are also very, very regional.

So the Zulu spoken in KwaZulu-Natal.

KwaZulu-Natal, where it’s like very based is quite different from the Zulu spoken in my hometown, for instance, which is more like an amalgamation of different languages.

So even if you try to learn it, you really have to be in that context to sound more natural and pick up the local slang.

Elle: Right.

And so were languages something you were always interested in then even as a child, was there something that sparked the… you, you, I love on your website, you are self-professed language nut you say.

Yeah.

Was there a spark of interest?

Or, was it just always something you remember being interested in?

Lindie: I think there might have been a spark of interest around my last year of high school, or I distinctly remember spending more time learning Korean than I did studying for my final math exam.

Thankfully I passed, I suck at math, but I’m glad I had languages to keep me sane.

Um, but I think languages have always been a part of my life and I’ve seen it as like, well, this is normal.

Like growing up in international schools, everybody spoke different languages.

I was just like, Oh, I guess this is how life is.

You’ll always have people around you speaking different languages.

I never really realized that’s not always the case outside of an international school environment, that monolingualism does prevail in a lot of countries.

Uh, but I remember there was definitely a spark after I started learning Korean in 2010.

So around 2012, my last year of high school, I realized, man, this is really fun.

And Korean is actually quite similar to a lot of languages like Japanese, Korean, Cantonese, even Hokkien, like there, they all stemmed from Chinese languages and that really kind of snowballed into learning more languages.

So I took French at school as a school subject, and I always just thought, okay, school subject, whatever.

I just need to get good grades.

And it was only after that that I was like, man, I should have put more effort into it.

Languages are really cool.

Elle: And speaking of Chinese, as you just said, so you’re living in Singapore.

Are you working exclusively in Chinese now in your job?

Lindie: I wish no, Singapore working society is predominantly English, but a lot of my colleagues do speak Chinese at the office.

So we kind of mix a bit, but it’s mostly English.

Elle: Oh, okay.

And what are you doing?

You’re a UI/UX designers.

Is that right, in your job?

Lindie: Yeah.

Yeah.

That’s right.

I’m working at a local startup building their app and website.

Elle: Okay.

Very cool.

Very cool.

So tell us about your journey from kind of language learner, language lover, to YouTuber and someone who’s created this space, this community for language learners online, what made you want to do that?

Lindie: Hmm, I remember maybe would it be around eight years ago?

I was really inspired by a video by Tim Donor on YouTube.

And he’s that guy who went super viral and was on the news because he speaks a whole lot of languages.

But what I liked was the one video where he documented himself sort of speaking them all.

And I thought, Hey, this is really great to track your progress and just take a little like time, time-capture note of all the languages you are able to speak at a moment in time.

So I made a really bad video on my webcam from my computer back in high school.

And I was stumbling, fumbling through my languages.

Uh, but through that I discovered this very small at the time YouTube community of people who were, uh, interested in, in, in talking about languages, sharing resources and so forth.

And over the years, it has slowly grown.

Um, But I think the community part has really grown in the last maybe three years.

And that’s what really encourages me that, and that’s the best part that I like about languages online is being able to meet people.

And I’m these days, especially active on Twitter.

I think that is the new up and coming spot for, uh, language communities.

People are running language challenges and so forth.

So I think it was all just a natural progression as my channel grew, the other social media channels.

Um, I started documenting my languages more and meeting people with similar interests.

Elle: Hmm.

I have to say, I agree with the last, you said last three years the community has exploded.

I I’ve been working, I think for link for five years now.

And definitely I’ve seen, yeah, just so many more, so many more people are interested, uh, you know, getting involved and I have to say it still is maybe more male dominated for whatever reason, I find that very strange, but now there are more and more women like yourself, um, YouTubers and content providers.

And I just, I love seeing that.

So, um, yeah.

Um, I wanted to ask you if you have any advice for, maybe, maybe selfishly, this is for me, but also any listeners who are struggling with motivation right now, it’s clear from your channel, from your website, that you’re very focused, motivated, organized.

I love that aspect for sure.

Um, it’s really inspiring.

Uh I’m right now, not very motivated.

I’m studying French.

I was really motivated last year.

I don’t know what happened.

I kind of fell off and then I never quite got it back.

So I wonder if you have any tips, advice for listeners and me, or do you ever get into a bit of a slump or you’re not so motivated to study and if so, what has worked for you?

What do you do to get, get yourself back in the game?

Lindie: All of the time.

I really feel you about those language slumps.

I don’t know if this is going to help you or make you feel even more scared, because when I started learning Hungarian two and a half years ago, I was like super motivated and excited and ready and learning every day for about three months.

And then it trailed off for two years until I restarted Hungarian this year.

So that was like a two year break.

And I actually just used that time to wait for the motivation to come back.

Um, and it’s, it was really circumstantial for me.

Like at that time when I stopped, I really had to focus on Chinese and then I moved to Singapore and then I had to take a Korean exam.

And finally, after that, I was like, you know what I have free time now, let me try Hungarian again.

So the one approach which might not work for everyone is really to just wait it out.

Like if you don’t have necessarily language goals, like I need to pass this exam, I’m moving to this country, I’m marrying someone who speaks this language.

If you’re kind of just learning for fun, sometimes you might just want to wait for it to come back.

But again, that could take two years.

So the other approach apart from just relying on your emotions and how you feel is, um, creating a study system for yourself and, uh, starting very small.

I realized that with, also with these online communities, people are so, you know, fired up.

Like I’m gonna finish this textbook and, you know, meet 10 language partners and write five essays.

And then it kind of trails off.

It’s like new year’s resolutions, then you don’t do it.

So as long as you start very, very small every day, you need to start building a daily habit.

Um, uh, I’m trying to use this in different aspects of my life.

So I’m working on an ebook now for learning Korean.

And I was just like, man, I don’t know how to write this.

I just, it’s taken me forever.

And a friend of mine said, just do 10 minutes a day, just 10 minutes.

And then you can try and do more if you feel like it.

And I was like, well, yeah, just committing to 10 minutes is so much easier than thinking I have a whole book ahead of me.

So you can use that same thinking for languages.

I’m just going to study French for 10 minutes every morning, and then you’ll see, it’ll get easier and you can build on from there.

Another final tip for maintaining your motivation is to spread it out throughout the day.

You’ll feel a lot less motivated if you schedule in a one or a one-and-a-half hour block to study.

So if you break that up and say, you’ll review your vocabulary in the morning, you’ll listen to a podcast in the afternoon and you’ll play on LingQ in the evening then you can spread that out throughout the day, and that’s a lot more manageable and you won’t get burnout.

Elle: Okay.

That is great advice.

That was great.

I need to take that on for sure.

I think I need, I think I’ve waited it out now.

I’m feeling the urge to get back into the French.

Lindie: Good

Elle: So you’re currently, are you maintaining languages or are you, you’re studying Hungarian you said, is that your current language?

Lindie: Yes.

So for this year, I’m choosing two main focus languages for every quarter.

Uh, so we just finished Q1 the first three, four months of the year, I’m really bad at math, um, and it’s early.

So I was focusing on Tagalog and Hungarian.

Um, and I think I do want to continue those languages for the next quarters goals, uh, because I’m still beginner in both of them.

So at the moment Tagalog and Hungarian are the main ones for me and probably Spanish as well.

I really need to improve my very basic Spanish.

Elle: Wow.

So three very different languages.

I know Hungarian isn’t…. is it true that Hungarian is, is in a language family of its own, or it doesn’t belong to any of the language families?

Lindie: It is quite an isolate, but you’ll find grammatical similarities with Turkish and Finnish and sometimes words that sound similar, but it’s pretty on its own there.

Yeah.

Elle: Hmm.

Wow.

Well, best of luck with those.

So, sorry, three, so each quarter you’re doing two to three different languages.

So over the year, so nine over the year.

Wow.

My goodness.

And I’m just, with my French…

Lindie: No, we shouldn’t compare.

I wish I had like time to dedicate a whole year to French.

That would be awesome too.

Elle: So what, uh, what lies ahead for 2021 for you?

Any, any events or projects planned even though the world is obviously a very strange place right now.

Lindie: Yeah.

I think, uh, online language conferences are going to keep springing up.

So I hope to be attending and participating in more of those, uh, as well as working on my Korean ebook.

Uh, so I, I think it’s been a lot of years of just making videos and now I want to see how I can continue videos, but also take whatever I’ve put out in my videos into more digestible formats on other social media channels or in writing.

So that’s probably my main project for this year.

Elle: Excellent.

Well, a busy, busy rest of the year it sounds like, Lindie.

Thank you so, so much for joining us again so, so early in the morning, I know it’s hard to be chatty at the best of times.

Maybe that’s just me, but I really appreciate it.

And yeah, maybe we will chat again.

Um, but best of luck in the meantime, with your projects and your language learning.

Lindie: Thank you so much.

It was great talking to you and I wish you the very best of luck with your French as well.

Elle: Thank you so much.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #14: Polyglot Luca Lampariello​ Talks Language Learning

Study the transcript of this episode as a lesson on LingQ, saving the words and phrases you don’t know to your database. Here it is!

In this week’s episode Elle chats with internet polyglot Luca Lampariello about the languages he knows, what sparked his interest in language learning and the strategies he uses to ensure he doesn’t mix up his languages.

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Welcome everyone to the English LingQ podcast with me Elle and today I have a very special guest internet polyglot, Luca, Lamparriello, Luca, how are you?

Luca: I’m good Elizabeth, what about you?

Elle: Excellent.

I’m good.

I’m good.

I’m well, thank you.

So the first question I want to ask, actually, before I ask it, uh, anyone, any viewers or listeners who don’t know of Luca, you are an internet polygot and language coach, you run the website, Luca Lampariello.com and also the fantastic and helpful YouTube channel also called Luca Lampariello.

So.

I want to ask you the question

I’m sure most people will want to ask you when they meet you and discover that you are a polyglot.

How many languages do you speak and what are they?

Luca: Well, this is always a tricky question.

I always reply that I’ve been learning 14 languages, mine included, and those are Italian, which is my mother tongue, um, English,

french, let’s see if I remember them in the correct order, Spanish, German, Dutch, Russian Swedish, um, Portuguese, Chinese, uh, Hungarian, Greek, and, uh, Polish.

I already said Russian, I think.

And Danish now learning Danish should be 14 if I haven’t forgotten anything.

Elle: Wow.

Okay.

It never ceases to amaze me when I meet someone like you, who

speaks multiple languages, not just three, four, but 14 is incredible.

Luca: Let’s say that speaking… it, it depends on the definition of speaking.

I would say that I might be speaking.

I mean, I can, you know, communicate, I can get by sometimes at a high level.

Sometimes I can get by, let’s say functional, but the, the, the term speaking is always a little bit vague.

So you have to define that a little bit more in detail, but let’s say that I’ve been – learning for the sake of simplicity and brevity – let’s say that I’ve been learning 14 languages.

Elle: 14.

Amazing.

And I heard Hungarian in there.

I heard that that’s the, one of the most difficult languages to learn.

Can you confirm or deny.

Luca: It’s a tough nut to crack.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is the most difficult language.

I would say that it’s very different than anything you’ve ever learned before.

So that, that in and of itself poses some difficulties.

But I would say that it’s refreshingly simple for certain things and it’s, it’s a challenge for others.

So I would say, I always say that no matter how difficult the language is, if you want to learn it, you will go for it.

There is no language that is impossible to learn if you want to learn it.

I know it sounds trivial, but that’s actually how it is, you know?

Elle: And so what sparked this passion for language learning for you?

Luca: I think my thirst for knowledge, and I have to thank my grandmother and my family in general for that, cause they always have, um, motivated me to learn my, uh, my house, uh, the house of my parents and this house where I live right now has always, has always been full of books.

And I’ve always grown up seeing my parents and my grandparents talking about culture, reading books.

I remember my grandfather was very passionate about mathematics.

He was a scholar.

He was a mathematician.

And, uh, there were hundreds and hundreds of books in all languages.

And I think this environment made, you know, my father, my grandfather and my family, they’ve always made an impression on me.

And I remember one fate… Fateful moment that was, um, when I was around, uh, 10 or 11 I had to start middle school.

And I remember the summer where we were in the garden and my grandmother was sitting there and she told me, Hey, uh, Luca, come here.

I want to show you something.

And she showed me a Latin book and a French, uh, and mathematics.

The three things that we worked on, she said, Hey, do you want to give it a try?

And I remember I hadn’t even started school, middle school yet, but, um, we just started delving into mathematics and French.

My grandmother was really passionate about this, you know, she could have just, um, been sitting there enjoying the summer instead, she wanted me to learn and I remembered that I immediately took a liking to, uh, you know, French, Latin, especially French and Latin, but also mathematics.

And this, uh, this thirst for knowledge, this intellectual curiosity that my parents fostered in me.

And then, you know, it, it just sparked something that always stayed there.

So I always wake up in the morning saying this is a good day to learn something new.

And I think that languages are a part of that.

It’s not just languages.

You know, I have a degree in electronic engineering and I’m extremely passionate about history, philosophy, astronomy.

So it’s not just languages, but I think that the, this intellectual curiosity has caused me to explore, you know, as many domains as possible and language learning is one of them.

So what makes me tick is the fact that in particular, when it comes to language learning is the fact that, it might sound trivial, but the truth is that every language you learn not only makes you rich, but also gives you concrete, uh, possibilities in life.

It allows you to connect with the world.

Just one language, going back to what you were saying before Hungarian.

My uncle who lives here, not, not far.

He just, uh, when I told him that I wanted to learn Hungarian, he just looked at me.

He said, Why, why would you learn Hungarian?

Nobody speaks Hungarian.

I said 10 million people speak Hungarian.

They only live in Hungary and that’s a place I go to quite often.

And even if it were just two people in the world, if I could speak Hungarian or any other exotic or, you know, forgotten language with one person, that would make a difference to me.

Uh Lomb Kato or Kato Lomb, amazing hungarian polyglot, used to say that language learning is something worth learning, even uh, a little bit, even a couple of words, you never… even a couple of expressions said in certain circumstances can put a smile onto a strangers, uh, you know, face.

And so, uh, as far as I’m passionate about everything, everything makes me tick.

Um, but in particular language learning has very concrete, uh, you know, consequences.

You can do so much.

And my life has changed in so many ways that I cannot even start to, you know, you can’t even fathom the ways in which language learning can change you, change your outside and your inside.

Elle: So amazing.

I love that attitude waking up and just being excited for what the day brings, what you can learn and discover that, that’s a great attitude to have, for sure.

Luca: You know, it’s a funny thing, um, that I, when I say that I wake up at five o’clock or six o’clock in the morning, most of my friends go like, what?

You wake up at five o’clock in the morning?

And I say, do you know why I wake up at four o’clock, five o’clock now four o’clock is too early, it’s because I want to learn.

That’s what makes me tick.

That’s what makes me, uh, stand up.

That’s what makes me, you know, open my eyes and say, this is a new day to learn.

Literally what makes me stand up and start my day is the fact that I always tell myself, this is a good day to learn.

You know.

Elle: Amazing.

And you are now, you share this passion with others in your, in your coaching.

So you are a language coach.

And I wonder if you have, uh, uh, is there a kind of guiding coaching philosophy that you have?

What do you emphasize when helping people learn a new, a new language?

Luca: I think that the most important thing nowadays that people lack is actually learning how to learn.

So I’m very passionate about, uh, you know, in general learning how to learn, how the brain works, neuroscience and everything.

And I think that’s particularly important now, because if you think about it,

nowadays, we have all the information we want.

Just one click away.

There’s a YouTuber that says, that says that if all we needed was more information, we would all be billionaires with a six pack.

That’s not what we need.

So it’s not, you know, it’s… information is not what we need.

We have information overload.

We have even too much, but what people lack is actually how to actually make it happen.

Uh, some 30 years ago, you know, I, I couldn’t even imagine the, the resources, the possibilities that we have nowadays.

I Remember that I was learning Dutch some 25 years ago now, I don’t remember… 1999, and I could only find a couple of books.

And I did not use the internet at that time.

And those books looked so precious.

Right now we have oh so many possible resources.

The problem still is that a lot of people come to mw, they go to my website or they see my channel and the endearing, the wonderful messages that I got, like: Luca, I’ve learned so much.

I didn’t know this, I didn’t know, I didn’t know how to use YouTube to learn languages or stuff that are, are evident for me cause I’ve been, I’ve been doing this for years, but they’re not evident for a lot of people that have the resources, but… they have the tools, but they still do not know the craft, how to use those tools to learn more effectively.

And if there’s a philosophy to language coaching it’s this: you cannot teach a language, but you can train people to use their brain to the best of their possibilities to learn a bunch of languages.

And the other important thing is to believe in themselves.

If you’ve never learned a language to fluency, and this is something that I’ve learned in my experience, people do not believe.

You start learning for real

when you start believing that you can do it.

It’s like being… I’m on a quest to being at the peak of a mountain.

If you’ve never done it before, if you’ve never learned, I dunno to play the guitar or if you’ve never experienced something, you still don’t believe that you can do it.

So on the one hand, I work on the psychological factors, the psychological, let’s say circumstances and biases and, uh, beliefs that people have towards learning and towards themselves.

And the second thing is I provide the infrastructure within which they’re going to operate, that is, the methods.

And the third thing is that these methods are unique to each person.

So I do not give a

one size fits all fits old method.

And I adapt it to the single learner and these coaching sessions that I’ve been doing for, I think, 11 years.

I’m very proud of those.

I’ve been, um, I’ve been helping hundreds of people from all walks of life and, uh, all of them walk away, uh, very satisfied because, not because… I always say it’s not me.

They thank me: Oh Luca, thank you so much.

You’ve changed my life.

It’s like, you want it to change your life and you have done it, you just sought help, some guidance, and then you walk the talk and walk the path.

That’s what, at the end of the day counts.

I’m just a, a guidance who helps you, you know, achieving the goals that are there that are achievable.

It’s just, you have to believe it and, you know, walk the talk or walk the path.

Elle: Excellent.

And you know, something that I always, I always wanted to ask… I’ve asked Steve this question before, and of course you and Steve go way back.

I was actually looking at his channel and the, the first time, but I can see that you spoke with Steve was nine years ago.

So you guys go way back.

Anyway um, what I am fascinated by as someone who knows some Japanese and is now learning French is how you don’t get the languages mixed up.

I am studying French and I keep coming up with with the Japanese, even though I am not fluent in Japanese.

And I am amazed at that, it just keeps happening.

I feel like there’s some special… do you have a switch?

And I know you did a fantastic interview with, uh, Lindie Botes on this and she’s coming on the podcast, actually, I’m speaking with her tomorrow.

So how do you keep your languages separate?

How do you not get mixed up?

Luca: It’s an interesting question.

Um, the thing is that, uh, our capacities, our language competence changes, uh, constantly changes depending on the circumstances, depending on the use of the languages that we make.

But, um, you’ve noticed, you said to yourself that, for example, if you’re learning French and you’ve been learning Japanese, then when you try to learn to speak French, then Japanese comes to the fore, so to speak.

And this is because in the, in the brain we have mainly two mechanisms.

One is of storage.

So we put stuff into our long-term memory and it stays there.

And then we have the mechanism of retrieval, which is based on the protocol predicated upon the mechanism of… which is called survival of the busiest.

In other words, the brain is good when you, when you do something repeatedly, you’re telling your brain that, that is important then you reinforce let’s say the neural network or the, you know, the neural bonds.

And when you’re using it less, you’re telling your brain that, maybe that language or that thing you’re doing less is less important.

So it is in the background.

So, um, this is the case, for example, if people are learning a language like Italian, and then they move to Spain, so they learned the language to fluency

then they go to another country, uh, be it Spain, France, Germany, and then they start speaking the other language.

And then when they tried to speak Italian, then just the new language that they’ve been using comes to the fore, you know, and this is because, um, because there is some sort of imbalance between the languages that you use.

So the solution, or if there is a solution, is to use these languages on a weekly basis.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that you have to use all your languages on a daily basis, because this is not realistic for most people, people have stuff to do.

You know, they’re not, uh, all language nerds who just hit the books are just spending all their time learning languages.

Um, So in my case, and I’ll tell you in a second, what I do, but in general, uh, you know, if I have to give a piece of advice, that realistic piece of advice, let’s say, I think that it’s important to have some sort of plan where if you have two or three languages, you make sure that you find time to do both of them.

For example, in your case, if you’re learning, say French right now, it’s important for you to dedicate 10, 20, 30 minutes, depending on the amount of time you have to, you know, to French, but also you should make sure that you do some Japanese in the background so that you’re telling your brain both Japanese and French are important because, um, If you do not do that, um, you know, there’s a possibility of mixing languages and this is even, uh, this problem is even worse.

If the languages are similar, but as you’ve seen Japanese and French are completely different and you still make… it’s not, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that you’re mixing that up, it’s just that you have to imagine that you have like, in your head, like a highway and you have two cars and they’re conflicting.

They’re getting both into the neurocircuitry and in order to let’s say, have, have two different highways, you have to use both of them in different circumstances.

So I always say, uh, I always give this piece of advice to people who ask me how can I avoid mixing languages?

Um, I would say you have to pay attention to the timing, how you learn languages, you know, uh, if you learn two at the same time that are very similar, you’re going to mix them up.

If you learn one well, and then you learn the other one.

A little bit later, uh, it, it, you can leverage the knowledge that you have in, in one language.

Uh, but the timing is really important.

And then I would say, try to use both of them or whatever, if you have two, three languages, try to use them, um, at the same time every day.

Albeit a little bit for each, uh, because otherwise your brain is just going to decide that one is more important than the other.

And it’s going to take over, so to speak, in one language, it’s going to take over to the detriment of the other.

So in my case, just to answer very quickly, uh, to how I do things, I have designed a life that I would, you know, people might think you’re a language nerd, you’re a language buff,

so all you do is language learning.

I live a completely normal life through my languages.

It’s just that I, I do not.

I, uh, I learn foriegn languages to live a better life.

I don’t live a life, I don’t live to learn languages, which is a very important distinction.

I’ve designed a life that revolves around languages and I use eight languages on a weekly basis for a number of reasons.

And for example, when I give coaching lessons, I have Russian clients who are learning French, French clients who are learning Russian, uh, German clients who are learning Spanish, Spanish clients were learning german, Italians who are learning German.

So yeah.

I get the possibility of speaking all these languages, you know, speaking in the language, explaining grammar in another language.

So this in and of itself allows me to use, um, six, seven, eight languages.

I have a team that supports me and I work with, and we speak Italian, Spanish, English, uh, I speak languages at home.

Uh, so I go out with my friends, so on a let’s say that there are, there’s a core of eight languages that I use on a weekly basis.

And then the other languages, I speak to them a little bit less, but you know, uh, something’s got to give, as they say, it’s impossible to, to keep up with 14 languages.

Elle: For sure.

So there could potentially be a day in your week, where in one day you would speak six to eight languages?

Luca: Let’s say that it ranges from a minimum of four to a maximum of 10.

Normally in the last, I would say in the last two or three years, it’s between four and 10, but never more than 10.

I don’t think I’ve ever spoken more than 10 languages in the last two years.

Elle: Oh, wow. That is amazing.

Uh, are you actively learning a language right now?

Are you maintaining, but I guess in your work, like you just said, you are maintaining, but are you kind of going after a language right now?

Luca: To me there’s a big difference between system one, I call them system one and system two system.

One is the set of languages that, in which I’ve learned, let’s say I’ve reached a level which allows me to… I formed a core.

And once you form a core, I would say, for, you know, for the use of uh, for the sake of brevity and simplicity, uh, I would say that, um, the core is when I reach a B2, let’s say.

Uh, but, um, I have, let’s say eight of them that are in this system, system one.

And then I have, uh, three that I’m actively pursuing and they are Hungarian.

Danish, uh, and Greek.

So every day I try to learn three languages at the same time, although it’s a little bit difficult, but, uh, that’s what I am actively pursuing.

These are the three languages, and then you have the other languages in which, I just live them,

I just use them in multiple ways.

And I, in this way I maintain and I even improve them.

But these are two separate systems.

Elle: Okay.

Wow.

So Hungarian, sorry, Hungarian, Danish.

And.

The other language…

Luca: And Greek.

Greek, Hungarian, Danish.

Elle: Very different languages.

Luca: Indeed.

I do things, the stage they find themselves, um, uh, in these languages, defines the way I learn them.

So actively pursuing them means to sit down and to do some what I call deliberate practice in order to learn, while the other ones I can just use them, simple practice.

Well, deliberate practice is something that requires intention and attention, to sit down and with the specific aim of learning, saving words, practicing with a, with a tandem or a tutor, which is a slightly different way of doing things than just maintaining languages.

Elle: Wow.

Um, now I know obviously with the pandemic projects, events are a little strange and different this year, but, uh, is there anything in the works for you Luca for the rest of 2021?

Any interesting projects?

Luca: Yes indeed.

I’m working on a course.

So I’m working on producing the, my, the first course on, you know, language learning.

I won’t tell you what this is about, but it’s a, it’s a cool course.

And then I will, the next one is to work on the book I’ve been talking about for the last 10 years, and it’s about time for me to get it out, and then let’s see.

I’ve just figured it out I need to do one thing at a time, and I think these are the two biggest projects for this year.

And then let’s see what 2022 brings, will bring.

Elle: Amazing.

Wow.

Well, that is exciting, a book.

Wow.

Um, well thank you so much, Luca, for joining us today.

I know that our viewers, listeners will have, they’ll just find it very, very interesting.

And, um, maybe we can chat again one day for the podcast.

Um…

Luca: It would be my pleasure.

Elle: Thank you so much.

Thank you.

Luca: Thank you, Elizabeth.

Bye.

Bye bye.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #13, One Year Anniversary of the COVID-19 Pandemic Pt. 2

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

In part two of their chat on the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic Mark and Elle talk about how this shared experience may shape social norms, pandemic experiences of people they know and viscous raccoons!

This podcast is sponsored by LingQ.

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LingQ is a language learning tool that allows you to turn anything in your target language, into a lesson.

Podcasts like this one, YouTube videos, Netflix shows, news articles, blog, posts, whatever it is you’re into.

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Elle: …because no one else, you know, everyone else wants to stay healthy.

Thank you very much.

Mark: For sure.

And I wonder, you know, while with, with all the mask wearing everything is down.

Mask wearin, obviously paying more attention to not being as gross as you say.

And, uh, even when you are near people, trying to maintain more distance.

Elle: Yes.

Yeah.

Not a bad thing, you know, like in, we’ve both lived in Japan and masks are the norm there.

If you feel even a little sick, you wear a mask.

I remember this time last year, I was an early adopter I guess you could say of mask wearing,

so I’d go down to Safeway in my mask and people would look at me like I was crazy.

I felt that way.

Maybe it was just me.

But I do feel as though at the beginning there was, there was definitely some…

Mark: No question.

Elle: Hm, do you, do you really need that mask?

That seems a bit extreme, but now of course, it’s commonplace.

Mark: Yeah and I remember thinking, you should wear a mask.

You feel self-conscious wearing a mask because you’ve never worn one.

Most people aren’t wearing them.

And I remember being in the bank with my mask on talking to you, there’s a, there’s a… A lot of banks will have someone at the front that’s like welcoming people or whatever it was.

And, um, eh, like she was not that young, this lady I’m like, she didn’t have a mask on I’m like, why don’t you have a mask on?

Elle: It’s interesting that the different approaches to this.

I had a naturopath appointment I remember a couple of months ago.

The naturopath’s mother.

Um, so my naturopath is in her seventies, her mother works the reception.

So this is a woman in her nineties and she wasn’t wearing a mask.

So I came in with a mask and there’s a station for, you know, hand sanitizing, but she had no mask on.

I wanted to say, one: why are you here?

And two, just at least wear a mask.

But yeah, it’s, she didn’t feel the need.

She obviously felt safe.

Mark: Yeah, it is interesting.

It is interesting.

I…what I wonder is, given the prevalence of masks now, has it been long enough that like in Asia, in the future, when people are sick, will they put a mask on?

I mean, they should, but, but will they?

Like… it’s still going to be… There will have to be some trends setters there I think.

To kind of make that part of part of the culture.

Like it is there in Asia, but I mean, I have no question that, or there is no question that it has to, has to has to work.

I mean, in Asia where I guess they, I mean, they have so many more people in, in, uh, smaller spaces.

I think that they obviously must have a significant impact.

We’ll see, we’ll see if that’s one of the changes that ends up lasting.

I have my doubts.

Elle: Yeah, I did too, actually, but we’ll see.

Time will tell.

So um, we’re coming into spring into summer now, thankfully.

Uh, do you have any… and restrictions are loosening, obviously we have the, um, vaccine, uh, how is your summer looking?

Different from last summer

I imagine.

Do you have any plans?

Mark: Well, last summer we were planning to do a trip to Europe actually.

Uh, uh, so that kinda got put on hold.

And then we thought about, or talked about trying to do it this year, but the consensus was, well, there’s no point going if it’s going to be half, half open or whatever, like it’s… might as well, wait another other.

So that, um, realistically, no real other plans for the summer.

Going to be local and, um.

There, it’s going to be more sort of, I guess, last minute, I mean, maybe go, who knows, whether to… yeah or go to the Okanagan or something, um, otherwise just be around.

I mean, it’s such a nice time of year, right?

Don’t tend to normally travel that much in the summer because it’s so, so nice here.

Um, the odd, you know, visit to friends up the Cunshine coast, uh, trip like that, but, um, tend to be around.

Uh, so no, no real plans.

How about you?

Elle: I think we might try… we, um, I have a two year old son and, uh, we, uh, thinking maybe trying to go camping on Keats Island with him just for one night this year, do you know Keats Island?

Mark: It’s nearby, like by whatever Gambier, Keats, it’s all over there.

Yeah.

Yeah.

So kind of, I don’t know, like a half hour boat ride from West Vancouver.

Um, yeah, so we’ll see.

I don’t know how, I don’t know if, the logistics of camping with a…we’ve never camped with him before, and the logistics of camping with a two year old.

I don’t know… who is like very high energy and like doesn’t sleep at the best of times.

Elle: How do you…

Mark: I was gonna say…

Elle: Do you lock them in the tent ?

Mark: I foresee some sleep challenges for everybody.

Elle: Yeah, for everyone.

Mark: I kind of feel like it’s kind of what camping… the image of camping is that anyway.

Birds chirping at four in the morning and stuff.

That’s maybe just me.

Elle: No, it’s yeah, it’s tough.

The last time we, we camped on Keats we had Sailor, uh, our dog was with us and there were raccoons around the tent all night.

So she just growled and barked all night.

It got to a point where, because we could hear them scratching around.

I’m like, Oh, it’s just mice or something.

I was like “Sailor, my dog, there’s nothing there.”

And I, I put the flashlight on and there was the biggest raccoon I’ve ever seen just standing in front of the tent, like ready.

It was funny days later, but we didn’t sleep at all and so it wasn’t, it was kind of not worth it because I was just miserable and tired.

But it’s a beautiful place, Keats Island.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been.

Mark: I’ve been to Gambier, I’ve been to Bowen but I haven’t been to Keats.

Elle: It’s very, yeah, they’re all very much the same.

Just beautiful rocky little beach and gorgeous other islands in the distance.

Mark: The thing with raccoons is how unfazed they are by people.

They just do not care at all.

They look at you like, “what?”

Elle: This is my Island.

Yeah.

And they can be vicious.

Yeah.

I lived in the West End of Vancouver and, uh, There were, uh, around the time I was living there, there were raccoon attacks.

People would walk out of their apartment to go to work and the raccoons would just run up to them and attack them.

Mark: Yeah.

We had a friend that got bitten by a raccoon, but she, the raccoon was kind of attacking her dog and the dog laid down and played dead.

And she’s like worried that her dog was getting, um, yeah.

And so she went over and kind of, I can’t remember if she kicked the raccoon or tried to throw it off her dog or whatever she did.

So the raccoon bit her and then, and then I think went, ran off whatever, and then she picked the dog up and was, and there’s blood on the dog.

And, but the dog was fine.

It was her blood.

Elle: Oh no.

Did she have to get a, like a rabies shot?

Mark: I think so.

I think so you don’t want to get bitten by a raccoon.

Uh, so you get stitches and rabies shots and… yeah.

Elle: Wow, where was this, in Vancouver?

Mark: West Vancouver.

Yeah.

Yeah

Elle: Okay.

Good to know.

Don’t just don’t mess with West Vancouver raccoons.

I think most dogs, they like to bark at raccoons, but I don’t think they really chase them down.

They know better.

Mark: Yeah.

Elle: Yeah.

Yeah.

Would not be smart for sure.

Well, hopefully we are back in the office pretty soon when we get our vaccines.

Life can go back to whatever normal looks like after this pandemic.

Mark: And I think even if as, as more at risk people get their shots I think that the hospitals will have fewer patients and obviously fewer people die.

I mean, at a certain point, if there’s nobody in hospital and nobody dying, then maybe they relax things anyway, because you know, if, if everybody else is most likely just going to get sick, then maybe… although you hear the stories of the long-haulers or whatever.

Friend, or a guy I know that his son got it,

and, um, wasn’t that sick maybe for a couple of days, felt a bit sick and, uh, but lost his sense of smell.

That was in November, still doesn’t have it back.

Uh, otherwise feels fine, but I, you know, you’d be worried that you’re never gonna be able to smell again.

Elle: Yeah.

And that must have, that affects your eating and everything.

Oh, that’s, that’s terrible.

How old is he?

Mark: 19 I think, the kids.

Something like that.

Yeah.

Yeah.

So I think all things being equal, better get the vaccine.

Elle: Yeah.

A hundred percent.

Yeah, exactly.

You might not be someone who reacts badly in the moment, but yet these, this is happening and we don’t know who… like you say, he’s 19.

Mark: Should be fine, right?

And kind of was fine, except he has lost his sense of smell.

Yeah.

Elle: Oh God.

Yeah.

Yeah.

My mum also lost her sense… she has it back though, when she had it, she lost her sense of smell and had a headache.

Um, but yeah.

Mark: Yeah so your, your mum had it.

That’s right.

I forgot that.

Elle: Um, my mum had it, my sister had it.

They’re both, uh, they both work in healthcare in the UK, so it was kind of, not inevitable, but they were high risk.

Mark: It just seems like it’s way more prevalent over there anyway.

I talked to my brother and his family and they know, like, I don’t know, 25 people that have had had it or whatever.

I mean, I don’t know anyone, like few people that I know of have had it, but no friend, I don’t know, real close acquaintance has had.

So it just itseems maybe we’ve been lucky here, I guess, just way less prevalent.

Elle: Exactly.

Yeah.

And I guess we’re less packed in, a place like Vancouver, as opposed to I think your brother’s in London?

Mark: Yeah, yeah, he is.

Yeah, hm.

Elle: Let’s get that vaccine and…. until the next pandemic.

Mark: Yeah, hopefully we’ll be set up better the next time.

Elle: Exactly yeah, it’ll be a breeze.

Yeah.

Well, thank you, Mark.

Interesting chat as always.

And, um, we will catch up again for the podcast I’m sure.

Mark: Ok, thanks Elle. For sure.

Elle: Thank you.

Mark: Bye-bye

Elle: bye.