#Polyglotproblems: Things you only need to worry about when you speak more than one language

polyglot_problem

A “First world problem” is a minor inconvenience for people who don’t have to deal with any pressing concerns – an advantage of living in a richer country or having a rich lifestyle. As such, it’s hardly something to genuinely complain about. Along the same lines, a Polyglot Problem is an inconvenience you only have […]

A “First world problem” is a minor inconvenience for people who don’t have to deal with any pressing concerns – an advantage of living in a richer country or having a rich lifestyle. As such, it’s hardly something to genuinely complain about. Along the same lines, a Polyglot Problem is an inconvenience you only have […]

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How do you get spoken practice in a less common language, when you can’t find native speakers?

how_to_find

On Monday (13th October 2014), I hop on a flight to Thailand – after which I’ll be hanging out in Asia for several months. Those of you subscribed to the email list will find out precisely where we go next, and what we’re doing, before anyone else But as you know, I’ve been very busy […]

On Monday (13th October 2014), I hop on a flight to Thailand – after which I’ll be hanging out in Asia for several months. Those of you subscribed to the email list will find out precisely where we go next, and what we’re doing, before anyone else But as you know, I’ve been very busy […]

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How to Start Learning a New Language (Right Now. Today. Seriously).

Just Don't Do It

Let me ask you a question: If you really wanted to learn a new language, what would you be doing right now to make that happen? The thing with language learning, and really with any goal or desire we have in life, is that we spend a lot of time thinking about what we want and talking about […]

Let me ask you a question: If you really wanted to learn a new language, what would you be doing right now to make that happen? The thing with language learning, and really with any goal or desire we have in life, is that we spend a lot of time thinking about what we want and talking about […]

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Introducing: Speak in a week free crash course (+ hundreds of inspirational speak-on-day-1 videos)

day2

Time for a big and really cool announcement! Yesterday, HUNDREDS of people started a new language project and posted a video of themselves speaking their new language on day 1. Why? Because I just created a (completely free) video course on how to start a new language from scratch and have a conversation within a week. […]

Time for a big and really cool announcement! Yesterday, HUNDREDS of people started a new language project and posted a video of themselves speaking their new language on day 1. Why? Because I just created a (completely free) video course on how to start a new language from scratch and have a conversation within a week. […]

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Time to Level Up! Examples of how you can use your language anywhere

superbenny3

The most famous example people know of me (and my friend Moses) levelling up, is when we went to a mall in Columbus Ohio and spoke over a dozen languages. I’ve had people email me to ask where are good places to level up, as if a list can be compiled. Actually, you can do […]

The most famous example people know of me (and my friend Moses) levelling up, is when we went to a mall in Columbus Ohio and spoke over a dozen languages. I’ve had people email me to ask where are good places to level up, as if a list can be compiled. Actually, you can do […]

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Stop hoarding language learning books/products and USE your language!

benny_gollum

People are always asking me which courses I use for my language learning projects, and what books I recommend, as if product choice is some huge determination in how successful you will be in learning your target language. What if it’s really just throwing money at the problem?

The solution isn’t to get as many courses as possible either – I ran a survey a while back, the results of which showed me that people who buy less materials are actually MORE successful in language learning!

Rather than spending time figuring out which courses work best for them, they just pick one, work with it and use it, while focusing much more on some kind of interaction with real natives (or native content) to improve their level. Your energy is better spent on doing something active with your language, not with your product/book research.

People are always asking me which courses I use for my language learning projects, and what books I recommend, as if product choice is some huge determination in how successful you will be in learning your target language. What if it’s really just throwing money at the problem?

The solution isn’t to get as many courses as possible either – I ran a survey a while back, the results of which showed me that people who buy less materials are actually MORE successful in language learning!

Rather than spending time figuring out which courses work best for them, they just pick one, work with it and use it, while focusing much more on some kind of interaction with real natives (or native content) to improve their level. Your energy is better spent on doing something active with your language, not with your product/book research.

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How to keep the conversation in your target language, even as an absolute beginner [Video of Benny Skyping in Japanese]

week1skype

Please note that this article was written in September 2013. In a change to my initial plan to wait a month before uploading conversations, here is my 10-day update – a video entirely in Japanese, and absolutely and utterly non-scripted (apart from the intro). I simply messaged my Facebook page, targetting just those in Japan, […]

Please note that this article was written in September 2013. In a change to my initial plan to wait a month before uploading conversations, here is my 10-day update – a video entirely in Japanese, and absolutely and utterly non-scripted (apart from the intro). I simply messaged my Facebook page, targetting just those in Japan, […]

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What’s your 3 month language project? Share your X-in-3-months, +1 challenge, or any other mission with us! Start TODAY!

uno

One thing I love about this blog is that when people see me struggle as a beginner learner, it reminds them that I’m not in this to present myself as a “guru” or language ninja, but that it’s all about trying to get people to be OK with struggling themselves. If an experienced language learner […]

One thing I love about this blog is that when people see me struggle as a beginner learner, it reminds them that I’m not in this to present myself as a “guru” or language ninja, but that it’s all about trying to get people to be OK with struggling themselves. If an experienced language learner […]

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The American accent mission: Singing Sinatra, and getting phonemes corrected

sinatra

Final reminder: on Monday I announce the next three month language mission on the Language Hacking League email list. It’ll be a good one!! Subscribe by entering your email in the top-right of the site to find out in advance of me announcing it on the blog! Today you get two fun videos about my […]

Final reminder: on Monday I announce the next three month language mission on the Language Hacking League email list. It’ll be a good one!! Subscribe by entering your email in the top-right of the site to find out in advance of me announcing it on the blog! Today you get two fun videos about my […]

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How to speak a language after just one or two hours (My intensive experience with Polish)

polishim

As you saw last week, I challenged myself to take five hours to learn enough Polish to help me get by on my brief visit to Warsaw.

In the end, I didn’t actually do that as planned… because I was so busy preparing for my TEDx talk (which will be completely different to the other one I gave, but still with the same topic of encouraging adult language learners – online in the next month or two), and working on my secret 3-month contract, that I only had two hours total time to invest into learning Polish.

Despite having even less time than I initially planned, I was pleased to learn what I needed and can even share the results with you on video!

As you saw last week, I challenged myself to take five hours to learn enough Polish to help me get by on my brief visit to Warsaw.

In the end, I didn’t actually do that as planned… because I was so busy preparing for my TEDx talk (which will be completely different to the other one I gave, but still with the same topic of encouraging adult language learners – online in the next month or two), and working on my secret 3-month contract, that I only had two hours total time to invest into learning Polish.

Despite having even less time than I initially planned, I was pleased to learn what I needed and can even share the results with you on video!

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9 of the most unlikely countries to find the language you want to learn

carna

In the last five months, I have definitely received the most double takes of my life whenever I said that I had been learning all my Egyptian Arabic in Brazil.

It’s just such an unlikely combination! Brazil has never had a huge or even tiny wave of Egyptian immigration. While there, I only managed to meet one single Egyptian in person in my entire 3 months. This was partially the reason I did it – to prove that even if there are no natives nearby, you can learn to speak the language entirely online.

In the last five months, I have definitely received the most double takes of my life whenever I said that I had been learning all my Egyptian Arabic in Brazil.

It’s just such an unlikely combination! Brazil has never had a huge or even tiny wave of Egyptian immigration. While there, I only managed to meet one single Egyptian in person in my entire 3 months. This was partially the reason I did it – to prove that even if there are no natives nearby, you can learn to speak the language entirely online.

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Tim Ferriss, interview on language learning

tim

Today I’m very happy to share an interview I did with New York Times best selling author, Tim Ferriss.

He got his fame initially for writing the 4 hour workweek, followed it up with the 4 hour body, and has just released the third in the series, the 4 hour chef.

The first book was about working well, and he inspired a lot of people to go location independent and start their own businesses after reading it (although I had been travelling for several years already myself when I first read his book), his second book was about living healthily, and to complete his healthy-wealthy-wise series, his final book is about how to learn.

Today I’m very happy to share an interview I did with New York Times best selling author, Tim Ferriss.

He got his fame initially for writing the 4 hour workweek, followed it up with the 4 hour body, and has just released the third in the series, the 4 hour chef.

The first book was about working well, and he inspired a lot of people to go location independent and start their own businesses after reading it (although I had been travelling for several years already myself when I first read his book), his second book was about living healthily, and to complete his healthy-wealthy-wise series, his final book is about how to learn.

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The most important skill a traditional learning approach will never teach you (+2 month Arabic video)

month2pic

Here it is; my official two month point in Arabic! Subtitles in English, Arabic and Portuguese via Youtube.

I had initially planned to go to the Egyptian consulate in Rio, to finally speak the language for the first time in my life in person, but there were issues in setting up a meeting there. Luckily, I randomly ran into an Egyptian-American, Ahmed, at a Couchsurfing meeting!

I decided to only speak English with him then and ask him if he’d be up for recording a video with me. We still spoke English before recording the video, so he had no idea what my level would have been at. The reason I did this, was so you could literally see the very first time I genuinely spoke the language face-to-face with someone in my life, the moment after I pressed record.

Sharing this key moment is good for tracking my progress, since I know people are curious about such important milestones of the mission, (unlike some friends of mine, I don’t tend to have a camera on my head to catch such moments in cognito!) but obviously breaking into Arabic suddenly, after not speaking it for over a day since my previous Skype session, meant I didn’t have quite the ideal kind of flow I’d like. In future, I’ll speak in the relevant language for several minutes before recording, so I have this flow.

Here it is; my official two month point in Arabic! Subtitles in English, Arabic and Portuguese via Youtube.

I had initially planned to go to the Egyptian consulate in Rio, to finally speak the language for the first time in my life in person, but there were issues in setting up a meeting there. Luckily, I randomly ran into an Egyptian-American, Ahmed, at a Couchsurfing meeting!

I decided to only speak English with him then and ask him if he’d be up for recording a video with me. We still spoke English before recording the video, so he had no idea what my level would have been at. The reason I did this, was so you could literally see the very first time I genuinely spoke the language face-to-face with someone in my life, the moment after I pressed record.

Sharing this key moment is good for tracking my progress, since I know people are curious about such important milestones of the mission, (unlike some friends of mine, I don’t tend to have a camera on my head to catch such moments in cognito!) but obviously breaking into Arabic suddenly, after not speaking it for over a day since my previous Skype session, meant I didn’t have quite the ideal kind of flow I’d like. In future, I’ll speak in the relevant language for several minutes before recording, so I have this flow.

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Why learning a language isn’t impressive at all. A look behind the curtain of these language learning magicians: You can do it too!

1month

When I met my first polyglot at age 21, I was floored. It was like looking at a wizard! He jumped into various languages, and could express himself with ease in each language!

And unfortunately, this is how most monolinguals look at it. It’s as good as magic. (Never mind that most of the planet speaks more than one language, and you are looking through it from a culturally skewed perspective).

When I see the reaction to some language videos online, I see that even though the person recording the video is genuinely trying to encourage language learning, sometimes people do have to just give up and say “I wish I could do that, but I’m not as talented/young/have as much time/blessed by a virgin monkey” or whatever random other thought appears in their mind at that particular moment.

When I met my first polyglot at age 21, I was floored. It was like looking at a wizard! He jumped into various languages, and could express himself with ease in each language!

And unfortunately, this is how most monolinguals look at it. It’s as good as magic. (Never mind that most of the planet speaks more than one language, and you are looking through it from a culturally skewed perspective).

When I see the reaction to some language videos online, I see that even though the person recording the video is genuinely trying to encourage language learning, sometimes people do have to just give up and say “I wish I could do that, but I’m not as talented/young/have as much time/blessed by a virgin monkey” or whatever random other thought appears in their mind at that particular moment.

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Your ego is the reason you are not speaking the language (My 3 week video: speaking with a native)

Week 3

One thing that separates the men from the boys in language learning is: Can you let go of your ego?

Perfectionist and elitist learners will never accept being perceived as less than geniuses the entire time, so they will never expose themselves to sounding “stupid”, as they may perceive it.

I learned a long time ago that speaking like “Tarzan” is an absolutely necessary stage to go through, so you get used to using the language in SOME way. You learn to get used to the embarrassment and get on with learning quicker.

In this video, you see me desperately trying to explain the simple sentence “I’m recording this Skype call” at first, and then later find a way to work around not knowing how to say “go out”, by saying “in the street”, rather than give up and say it in English.

One thing that separates the men from the boys in language learning is: Can you let go of your ego?

Perfectionist and elitist learners will never accept being perceived as less than geniuses the entire time, so they will never expose themselves to sounding “stupid”, as they may perceive it.

I learned a long time ago that speaking like “Tarzan” is an absolutely necessary stage to go through, so you get used to using the language in SOME way. You learn to get used to the embarrassment and get on with learning quicker.

In this video, you see me desperately trying to explain the simple sentence “I’m recording this Skype call” at first, and then later find a way to work around not knowing how to say “go out”, by saying “in the street”, rather than give up and say it in English.

MORE