New How-To video series: Language Learning resources (& 6 week Esperanto challenge)


After months of book tours, and enough of a work backlog that I’ve had to hire full-time help, it’s finally time for me to get back into making videos again! 😀

Since this year I’ve decided to focus on improving the languages I already know, I wanted to give you a look into the process of how I go about slowly improving my languages over the long term, maintaining them, and pushing myself into mastery in my top languages.

As such, I’ll be making a heap of new videos that I can produce with much more consistency than I ever did during my hectic intensive learning projects!


Case Study: Learn Spanish in 11 Weeks


Update to my Japanese project coming tomorrow! Until then though, I thought I’d share this excellent video by my friend Scott Young, who has guest posted here and whose Spanish project I introduced you to 3 months ago. This video was edited by Vat, who was also learning Spanish intensively. I think it’s an amazing […]


Benny’s Japanese: Skype conversation over the half-way point [+ new language discussion channel]


This week, I can finally do what I had wanted to do last week and give you a full example of how my conversations tend to be going, right now a little after my half-way point in the Japanese project!

At this stage, I can handle straightforward question and answer exchanges pretty well, but my grammar and vocab still need serious improving, and will continue to be the focus for the next weeks. I’m also not so confident about explaining a concept for a few minutes and did a really poor job at describing what “Couchsurfing” was, especially when the lack of important vocab held me back.

As well as this, my accent and pronunciation need lots of improvement. I’m aware of such issues, but they will definitely take the back seat to higher priorities for now.


Very quick look at Benny’s current Japanese level. Suggestions (with whom, about what) for longer upcoming video updates?


Sorry that this video is so short! Starting next week, I’ll get back into weekly updates until the end of the project with maybe just one break (so that’s six more videos up until the week my 3 months runs out), but I hope this teaser snapshot shows you more or less how I’m doing right now!

The reason the video isn’t longer is because my Skype recording software crashed after 4 minutes, which is a pity because Yuri asked me interesting questions and we had a real exchange (you only hear her say a couple of words in this video), discussing how my parents visited me here in Valencia.


English words in Japanese: Music video with Japanese learners

benny japanese2

Wednesday was my one month point in the three month Japanese challenge, so to really make my mark I wanted to record one last video with a prepared script before I get into recording spontaneous Skype (or in person) chats for the next two months. To really make it count, I decided to record a music video!

This video is quite an oddity because it is entirely in Japanese… and yet many of you who will have never learned any Japanese will understand quite a lot of it even without reading the lyrics that are edited into the video. And that’s because the video is made up entirely of words Japanese has borrowed from English, but said as closely as possible to the Japanese pronunciation (written in the Katakana script every time).


Tour of my home in Japanese after learning it for 2 weeks!


A little tradition I’ve kept up since starting the blog, is to give you a video tour of almost every place I temporarily call home! For instance, in English I showed you my penthouse in Rio, my lovely flat in Medellín, the flat around the corner from the Danube in Budapest, and the beach cottage […]


My Japanese Skype Call After One Week


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, […]


“Hacking language learning”: My new and improved TEDx talk that includes the best polyglot videos online. Please share!!


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!


“Skype me maybe” – Inspiring music video sung by 17 polyglots in over 30 languages


After a LOT of work to prepare the lyrics, round people together, send way too many emails, have contributors pick verses and languages, give them feedback for several different takes, blend it all together, get through the immense task of video and sound editing, and making sure everyone was happy with it… “Skype me maybe” is finally ready for the world! :)

As you can see, the storyline is that I’m a hopeless language learner, ready to give up, when 16 of the Internet’s most famous polyglots show up to give me some encouraging words… in the tune of Carla Rae Jepsen’s “Call me maybe” that was popular this year, and inover thirty languages. Yes, it’s as crazy and as good as it sounds! :)


Mission update: There are no quantum leaps in language learning progress – but that doesn’t mean you can’t sprint!


Today’s video marks the half-way point of my mission to learn Egyptian Arabic to fluency in 3 months, while in Brazil. The above video shows how I’m doing after 44 days, and you can follow along with the basic interaction by activating the subtitles in English, original Arabic, or Portuguese.

Unlike in the previous video, this time I tried to interact much more with the person I was talking to.

Today it was Henry, an Egyptian who lives in Australia, and it was the first time we ever talked. He’s a reader of this blog, and offered to let me record our Skype conversation.

I’m glad to say that I understood over 80% of what he said to me (although of course, he was speaking slowly and basically for my benefit). I think I explained my points more or less at a good enough level considering I’ve only been learning the language for about 6 weeks, although I am indeed speaking very choppy and could have used much better words.


Translation: Frequently Asked Questions for translators (video in French with subtitles)


This video was actually recorded two months ago, just before I left Brussels. I had the chance to finally meet up with Christine Schmit in person – she is the one who translated the Language Hacking Guide to French (here is the sales page in French for “Domptez les langues étrangères”). She is from Luxembourg, but made the trip to spend a few hours with me. You can see more about her on her site Languages and Translation.

As you may already know, I worked as a freelance translator for several years myself too – specifically just for technical documents related to my specialisation of electronic engineering. You can read in detail about my background before getting into it, and how I managed to start my location independent work as a translator.