Please watch this and then copy and paste this link
(or short-link http://youtu.be/0x2_kWRB8-A )
to your Facebook wall, or to Google+, twitter or your other favourite social media source. If you’re too busy to watch it now, copy and paste it anyway and then you have an easy place to find it later when you do have time! O:)
I really hope this new and improved TEDx talk will get lots of views, inspire many new language learners and even be considered to be used in the main TED stream to ultimately reach millions!
Even though you may be well aware of my language learning advice, this video shares a new aspect of why I failed at my first attempt to learn Spanish which I have not discussed on the blog yet, and I go through the five most commonly used reasons why adults don’t learn languages and explain ways around them. It also includes clips of the most impressive polyglot videos online within the talk! Read the Rest!
The great thing about blogging, compared to traditional print media, is that you can update posts as often as you like. With that in mind, I’ve decided to make this the go-to page for the most comprehensive list of completely free online resources for learning and practising many languages, that you may find online!
I will constantly be coming back to this post to make sure it is up to date with the latest and best links. Read the Rest!
Recently, I requested some of your success stories and the most inspirational one that came my way by far was from a Scottish lady, Julie Ferguson. She has had a hearing problem her whole life, that has gotten worse with time, and in recent years has started to lose her sight too, being officially registered as partially sighted and needing to use a white cane.
Despite these obvious huge challenges, she has a passion for learning languages that means that nothing can stop her. She has learned French, Spanish, Swedish, Gaelic, and even how to read Japanese!
Rather than let her hearing and seeing setbacks hold her back, and fit into other people’s narrow expectations of how she should live her life, she is actually the one that others rely on whenever she travels thanks to her language skills.
Whenever you start listing many excuses that hold you back from learning your language, keep in mind that some people have much greater challenges than you can possibly ever imagine, but come out victorious nonetheless. Julie is a great example that the only true limitation we really have in this life, and what will always decide if we are successful or not is our own will and determination.
No matter what challenge you have, I hope this story reminds you that there is never a good reason to give up! Over to you, Julie!
So, I’m Julie Ferguson and I have nothing on Helen Keller! I am, however, severely deaf and partially sighted.
My parents realised that I had a hearing problem when I was 2 years old, though I didn’t get my first hearing aid until I was 4. Unfortunately, when I was 4, nobody could understand me babbling away in my version of English, except for my mum and my brother. Apparently, I was bad. I couldn’t even pronounce my own name (it sounded like Ooee Fehuhoh).
I was sent to speech therapy for intensive work before I started primary school, and I remember working on all those weird sounds especially “spoon”. My particular hearing loss makes it difficult to hear consonants, especially s, h, and f. Over the years, I’ve learnt to get around that by learning to lipread and to extrapolate from what I did hear. Read the Rest!
My secret mission that is taking up the vast majority of my time in Berlin continues (don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it when the time is right! For now, it’s so secret that I can’t even give clues as to what it is or when I can tell you about it!), but it’s time for one final mini-mission!
Next weekend I’ll be flying back to Budapest to spend the weekend at the first ever Polyglot Conference, and will get the chance to meet a few well-known online polyglots in person for the first time (several of which did the Skype Me Maybe music video with me), as well as some other friends you’ll have seen make appearances on this blog including Christine, Susanna, Balint and Brian, and fun people I’ve been in touch with online for a while and am really looking forward to meeting! Read the Rest!
I asked those following my Facebook, twitter and G+ pages what their favourite quotes or short inspirational ideas were, to inspire language learners and got some real gems! I also did my own research online and tried to include some quotes on this blog that people have really enjoyed.
And finally, I searched long and hard for the best Chinese proverbs relevant to language learning and went the extra mile to provide the original Chinese (simplified and traditional) along with the pinyin pronounciation, with tone marks.
If I missed any really good ones, make sure to let us know in the comments and I’ll keep this post updated! Definitely share your own quotes with us! They can be specifically about language learning, about learning in general, or any words that you feel can be applied to inspire language learners, from famous people, or that you have simply come across that have inspired you. I hope the comments will be as interesting as the post itself!
Don’t forget to share this post with your friends (using the floating share buttons on the left) to spread some inspirational language learning encouragement! When you do that, I recommend adding a note to your share with your favourite quote on this page! Enjoy!
Famous and historical figures on language learning
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” ‒ Nelson Mandela
“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.” ‒ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language.” ‒ Ezra Pound,
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
“We should learn languages because language is the only thing worth knowing even poorly.” – Kató Lomb
“To have another language is to possess a second soul”- Emperor Charlemagne
“When a person has an accent, it means he can speak one more language than you” – Fernando Lamas
“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” ‒ Frank Smith
Anonymous quotes on language learning
“You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.” – Czech proverb
“Grammar: The difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit”
Man lernt Grammatik aus der Sprache, nicht Sprache aus der Grammatik. (You learn grammar from language, not language from grammar)
“Grammar is like a really powerful pharmaceutical: helpful in small doses, but fatal when overprescribed.”
Is fearr Gaeilge briste na Béarla cliste [Broken Irish is better than clever English]
Chinese proverbs (with original simplified/traditional Chinese and pinyin)
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…. 千里之行﹐始于足下 [千裡之行﹐始於足下] Qiānlǐ zhī xíng, shǐ yú zú xià
Failure is the mother of success …. 失败是成功之母 [失敗是成功之母] ….. Shī bài shì chéng gōng zhī mǔ
Making a thousand decisions, even the wise will make a mistake…. 智者千虑必有一失 [智者千慮必有一失] Zhìzhě qiān lǜ, bì yǒu yī shī
“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” …. 不闻不若闻之，闻之不若见之，见之不若知之，知之不若行之；学至于行之而止矣 [不聞不若聞之，聞之不若見之，見之不若知之，知之不若行之；學至於行之而止矣] Bù wén bù ruò wén zhī, wén zhī bù ruò jiàn zhī, jiàn zhī bù ruò zhīzhī, zhīzhī bù ruò xíng zhī; xué zhìyú xíng zhī ér zhǐ yǐ.
One step at a time (Crawl before you walk)… 循序渐进 [循序漸進] Xún xù jiàn jìn
Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as travelling ten thousand miles. (A pound of practice is more worth than an ounce of theory.)…. 读万卷书不如行万里路 [讀萬卷書不如行萬里路] Dú wàn juǎn shū bùrú xíng wànlǐ lù.
Try to save the dead horse as if it is still alive. (Nothing is impossible)… 死马当活马医 [死馬當活馬醫] Sǐ mǎ dāng huó mǎ yī.
Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself. …. 师傅领进门，修行在个人 [師傅領進門，修行在個人] Shī fu lǐng jìn mén, xiū xíng zài gè rén.
When we get to the mountain, there’ll be a way through (Every problem has a solution)…. 车到山前必有路 [車到山前必有路] Chē dào shān qián bì yǒu lù
Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere… 学习是永远跟随主人的宝物 [學習是永遠跟隨主人的寶物] Xuéxí shì yǒngyuǎn gēnsuí zhǔrén de bǎowù]
Generally, when we say “talented” what we actually mean is “responds well to known/popular/existing teaching methods”.
“You don’t know a language, you live it. You don’t learn a language, you get used to it.”
“Toddlers aren’t better than you. They just have no escape routes”
“Don’t do your best. Do something. Make the best of it”
“Learning grammar in order to use a language is like learning organic chemistry in order to make a sandwich.”
General quotes to inspire language learners
“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”
“A year from now you will wish you had started today”. – Karen Lamb
“Do or do not, there is no try” – Yoda
“It is not important to be better than someone else, but to be better than yesterday.”
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over” – Richard Branson
I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammad Ali
“The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake. You can’t learn anything from being perfect.” – Adam Osborne
“Everybody’s a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its life believing that it’s stupid” ~Albert Einstein
“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” –Frank A. Clark
“Life begins where your comfort zone ends”
“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.” – Thomas Watson, IBM
“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare” – Japanese proverb (行動のともなわないビジョンは、ただの白日夢。ビジョンのない行動は、ただの悪夢。 )
Fall down seven times, stand up eight – Japanese proverb (七転び八起き, “Nanakorobi yaoki”)
“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now” – Chinese proverb (Couldn’t find original on this – if you know it, let us know in comments!)
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett
“If skill could be gained by watching, every dog would become a butcher.” – Turkish proverb
“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.” – Roger Crawford
“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” — James Joyce
People’s favourite quotes from this blog/twitter/Facebook
“The difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is how high you raise your foot.”
“I’m a proud imperfectionist. Perfection is impossible, so by default perfection is for losers.”
“Learning languages isn’t about being smart, it’s about being tenacious.” (inspired by this comment)
“Any idiot can learn a language… perhaps I have to be that idiot.”
“A language is a tool. A means to an end. It deserves as much “respect” as a toaster does. Bend it to your will and communicate!”
“Stop making excuses and get the hell on with it!”
“If you always keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, you’ll have serious trouble putting on your trousers. Aim high, dive in unprepared, don’t take it all so seriously, and you may actually get somewhere!”
Note: Last week’s top reasons we don’t learn languages and their retorts now has 32 reasons (originally 22 when I published it) and is quickly becoming the most detailed post on the blog with links to the most relevant answers! Check out the latest additions for some more inspiration, and make sure to share it with your friends to show once and for all that there are no good excuses not to learn! If I missed anything, let me know in the comments on that page!
In my own success story, I consider all the many friends that I have made around the world, thanks to learning new languages, to be the coolest part by far and the force that drives me to continue and try to share this wonderful experience with as many other learners as I can.
Today I am hoping that as many of you as possible take just a minute or so to drop a comment to share with us and share your success stories!
Seriously, take a couple of minutes right now to write something, even just a short comment! The nature of the two topics of conversation we have open to discussion means that you must have something to say about either one
The first post, which is quickly becoming one of the most in-depth references of the blog in terms of covering many aspects of language learning and providing useful links, is about reasons why we don’t succeed in learning languages, and retorts for why we can. If you are a struggling language learner and feel there is something stopping you then you should find a suggestion in that post, or can write a comment on that page to let me know what hasn’t been discussed yet!
In this post however, I am looking for success stories. I want to hear your inspirational stories of overcoming your challenges to learn a second language, how you succeeded, and the wonderful benefits you got from being able to use that language (whether your interest was spoken, or written, or reading etc.). I am especially looking for unique, funny, interesting, special and inspirational stories to help inspire other language learners, but normal everyday Joe stories are quite welcome too! Read the Rest!
Today’s post is my serious attempt to collect every possible reason why we don’t learn a language in list format, and to offer possible suggestions to overcome them, or to request your solutions to these problems! I will be updating this list to add new reasons based on your comments.
I am genuinely going to try to get the number of reasons and their possible retorts up to the high double digits, because I want there to be no more excuses for us to remain monolingual throughout our lives. Because of this, I will start with what I feel are the main reasons I have heard, or that I believed at the age of 21, and offer a quick thought or link(s) to a possible solution to or reframing of the problem.
If any of these apply to you, please consider my reply to them seriously and follow the links in each point to blog posts where I dive into it in more detail.
As an engineer, I do feel many problems can be looked at analytically and a possible solution offered up when you think about it logically enough!
So without further ado, here are some reasons I have come across, and my suggestions for them. Please reply in the comments below with your own challenges, and other commenters can chime in with their own suggestions! I’m also interested to read other solutions to the reasons I’ve already presented here. Read the Rest!
See the guy at the top-right and in the main image of all posts (other than guest posts)? That's me Benny! I have been travelling for almost a decade, while discovering new cultures and learning new languages and encourage others to try to learn their target language too. You can read more about my story and about this website here.