Combining learning languages with your hobbies: My first video in Czech!

Combining learning languages with your hobbies: My first video in Czech!

Benny

I think today’s title is pretty self-explanatory! Rather than write too much this time, I wanted to show by example. One of my hobbies is of course making videos about my travels and giving advice that I think people may find interesting (like How to take as much as you like in your hand luggage, What is RSS and how is it useful and more recently, How to start learning Italian). That would be an interesting hobby in itself, but since I like learning and practising languages, I’ve combined both and actually translate most of my videos to all languages that I feel that I speak fluently. I can continue doing this in any country of course, so it’s been one of the many great ways of maintaining a good level in all of my learned languages.

But I have just decided to take it an extra step and apply it to languages that I am learning…

The International Youth Congress of Esperanto – video in Czech (with subtitles)

I had promised to make a video in Czech at the end of my stay here, but I am going to break that promise and deliver one right now!! I recently spent a week with hundreds of Esperanto speakers, and since it happened right here in the Czech Republic I thought that I might as well make this video in Czech! Not just so that I get to practise, but also since I sincerely think (well, hope) that Czechs will find this video interesting.

I am still far from fluent, but I also believe that we should never wait until we are “ready” before trying something with languages, since that day may never arrive if you put “ready” on an ever rising pedestal. Even though I’m still not so comfortable with my Czech, I decided to ignore such unhelpful thoughts, and any embarrassment I may feel, and show the world how “bad” it currently is!! :) I also wanted to share the wonderful experience of my Esperanto week with you all anyway! Without further ado, here is what Czech with an Irish accent sounds like:

(You can also watch this video in Esperanto; I promise that I speak that better!!)

Considering I’ve only been studying Czech for about 6 weeks, I’m pretty pleased with how I am speaking! Some of you may have been curious to hear my current level anyway, but hopefully a native actually understands what I’m saying :P Of course, this is no reflection on actual fluency level, since speaking in a quiet room to a microphone, with a script that a native proofread and corrected for me, is a far cry from having a natural and leisurely conversation! But that will come soon enough ;)

Make speaking the language more interesting

We all have plenty of pastimes and I’m no exception. No matter where I am, and I have found that doing things I normally do anyway in the language I wish to practise has been the best way to encourage me to really speak it. Of course, if you’ve applied my most important advice for speaking a language you’ll be doing this anyway. But let me give a couple more examples to illustrate what I mean.

Back when I was really getting into Spanish and looking for any chance to practise it, someone suggested that I read the newspaper daily. I tried this for several days and it was not helping; I was bored and the political vocabulary was discouraging me; this was quite a bad idea for one very simple reason: I don’t read the newspaper in English! I never have. I get my news from other sources. This is one of the many reasons that I don’t like the standard academic approach. I never find the material that they teach to be personally relevant. I don’t care so much about the examples and articles that they give, and sometimes the words that they suggest that I should learn are words I would not usually say (even if they are common).

So think about what you actually do in your free time and try it entirely through your acquired language! I’ve played chess in Italian, read computer and men’s health magazines in French, taken dance lessons in Spanish, windsurfing lessons in Portuguese, flirted with pretty girls in Esperanto and chatted in MSN and Skype in Irish Gaelic. Whether my level was good enough or not for any of these activities was never an issue because I enjoyed doing them all and would do them anyway even if I wasn’t learning any languages. This makes it more fun, so when you do have to learn a word your motivation is completely different than it is for something you aren’t so interested in. It also makes it more natural, which is the whole point! It’s natural for natives, so why shouldn’t it be natural for learners too? :) It’s true that to have full command over a language, you need to learn vocabulary that you may not use so often, but until you decide on reaching that stage, why not learn everything you need specifically to live and enjoy your life?

If you are into wine tasting, or political discussions, or attending concerts of particular types of music, then why not try doing that when abroad too? It’s a much less touristy thing to do in many cases and the best part is that you will have common interests with others going to these meetings/events who will likely be locals! It’s an excellent way of making friends in a new place, considering that you aren’t just focussed on the language, since you are doing something else that you enjoy anyway. I’ll be trying this myself and looking for such groups in Prague to expand my social circle to locals that I would get along with and share interests with (rather than just looking for any local friends, just because they speak the language). You can find such events advertised in weekly event magazines, online, in university advertisements billboards etc. in many major cities. If you aren’t living in the country itself, then you can start with online equivalents (such as Yahoo groups about your interest, but in the language you wish to practise etc.)

Do you also combine your hobbies and past-times with your language learning? Do share in the comments, and give us all (including me) some more inspiration and ideas! Oh yes, and let me know what you think of my Czech :D

The International Youth Congress of Esperanto – video in Czech (with subtitles)

I had promised to make a video in Czech at the end of my stay here, but I am going to break that promise and deliver one right now!! I recently spent a week with hundreds of Esperanto speakers, and since it happened right here in the Czech Republic I thought that I might as well make this video in Czech! Not just so that I get to practise, but also since I sincerely think (well, hope) that Czechs will find this video interesting.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ04Y085alM

I am still far from fluent, but I also believe that we should never wait until we are “ready” before trying something with languages, since that day may never arrive if you put “ready” on an ever rising pedestal… Click the post title to read more and leave comments

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  • http://www.chucksmith.de/ Chuck Smith

    That’s really good advice! When I was taking an intensive French course in Strasbourg, I would take time out from the class to visit a weekly board games club in the city. It really accelerated my French learning, because there, unlike with my classmates, I couldn’t just switch back to English. :)
    .-= Chuck Smith´s last blog ..German Course – Innovative, effective way to learn German! =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Board games club in French, great idea :)

  • http://www.chucksmith.de/ Chuck Smith

    That’s really good advice! When I was taking an intensive French course in Strasbourg, I would take time out from the class to visit a weekly board games club in the city. It really accelerated my French learning, because there, unlike with my classmates, I couldn’t just switch back to English. :)
    .-= Chuck Smith´s last blog ..German Course – Innovative, effective way to learn German! =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Board games club in French, great idea :)

  • Jana

    Wow, vaše čeština je velmi dobrá! A rozhodně srozumitelná! Podle videa to vypadá, že jste si ten týden opravdu užívali :)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Díky! :)
      Jano, můžeme si tykat? :P

      • Jana

        Samozřejmě! :D
        S tímhle mám (dokonce jako rodilá Češka) vždycky problém… vykání / tykání v češtině :) Myslím, že angličtina (i jiné jazyky) jsou na toto mnohem flexibilnější!
        Ale jinak je čeština nádherný jazyk a jsem moc ráda, že je o ní i v Irsku zájem ;)
        Takže, hodně štěstí!!

  • Jana

    Wow, vaše čeština je velmi dobrá! A rozhodně srozumitelná! Podle videa to vypadá, že jste si ten týden opravdu užívali :)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Díky! :)
      Jano, můžeme si tykat? :P

      • Jana

        Samozřejmě! :D
        S tímhle mám (dokonce jako rodilá Češka) vždycky problém… vykání / tykání v češtině :) Myslím, že angličtina (i jiné jazyky) jsou na toto mnohem flexibilnější!
        Ale jinak je čeština nádherný jazyk a jsem moc ráda, že je o ní i v Irsku zájem ;)
        Takže, hodně štěstí!!

  • Harry

    Can’t watch YouTube – censorship, gotta love it.

    Can you make it local?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Don’t know what you mean, I’ve uploaded hundreds of videos to Youtube and nobody has ever had problems viewing them. You may be behind a firewall or it may be blocked from your workplace. There is no “making it local”; Youtube gives a Geolocation option, which is for information purposes only, but only particular accounts related to copyrighted material (music/TV shows etc.) are location blocked. Try it on another computer and it should work ;)

      • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu/ balint

        If I’m not mistaken the reason why Harry can’t watch the video, because he is China, and YouTube is blocked there.

        BTW, congratulations Benny, even if it wasn’t “real’ speakin, after 6 weeks it is very good! Keep up the good work!

        (Sorry for the double post, I can’t delete it)
        .-= balint´s last blog ..Féléves összefoglaló =-.

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

          Ah yes, I forgot about that!! The Great Firewall of China :P
          (I deleted your other post ;) )

  • Harry

    Can’t watch YouTube – censorship, gotta love it.

    Can you make it local?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Don’t know what you mean, I’ve uploaded hundreds of videos to Youtube and nobody has ever had problems viewing them. You may be behind a firewall or it may be blocked from your workplace. There is no “making it local”; Youtube gives a Geolocation option, which is for information purposes only, but only particular accounts related to copyrighted material (music/TV shows etc.) are location blocked. Try it on another computer and it should work ;)

      • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu balint

        If I’m not mistaken the reason why Harry can’t watch the video, because he is China, and YouTube is blocked there.

        BTW, congratulations Benny, even if it wasn’t “real’ speakin, after 6 weeks it is very good! Keep up the good work!

        (Sorry for the double post, I can’t delete it)
        .-= balint´s last blog ..Féléves összefoglaló =-.

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

          Ah yes, I forgot about that!! The Great Firewall of China :P
          (I deleted your other post ;) )

  • http://www.anthonylauder.com/ SplogSplog

    Well, your pronunciation is astonishing after just six weeks.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Nah, it’s not so astonishing :) For example, I got rid of my English “r” when I learned Spanish, Italian etc. and all the other sounds just take a bit of practise, but are completely doable. I still don’t see what the big deal with ř is for example, but I suppose if you don’t have the rolled r already it must be much harder.
      And on top of that, I could record each segment 3 or 4 times and pick the one that sounded best :P Under normal circumstances I’m still hesitating and stuttering a lot. Sadly I wouldn’t speak that quickly and confidently in person yet!
      Nevertheless, thanks for the compliment!! I’ll admit that I did want a bit of external encouragement, so that’s a big help! Confidence is by far one of the most important aspects of aiming towards fluency, so thanks for the help! ;)

      • http://www.anthonylauder.com/ SplogSplog

        I again applaud your progress and your can-do attitude. Don’t dismiss ř as easy though – it is more slippery that you may think. The biggest problem I came across with ř is that it doesn’t have a single pronunciation. It varies quite dramatically in different situations.

        For example, the way ř is pronounced in “Tři” is more trilled – relying on vibration at the front of the tongue – compared to, say, in “Ředitel” where it involves minimal trilling and much more vibration in both the upper part of the throat and the middle of your tongue.

        Mastering these different pronunciations seems to me like a long journey rather than a destination. Every time you start to think you have it just right, somebody will say “Oh, that’s a good start – you are making progress”. I find it pretty humbling :-(

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

          Yes good point! I shouldn’t belittle the ř when I’m still not that familiar with it. Nevertheless, my “can-do attitude” wins every time over any humbling words people may throw at me ;)

  • http://www.anthonylauder.com/ SplogSplog

    Well, your pronunciation is astonishing after just six weeks.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Nah, it’s not so astonishing :) For example, I got rid of my English “r” when I learned Spanish, Italian etc. and all the other sounds just take a bit of practise, but are completely doable. I still don’t see what the big deal with ř is for example, but I suppose if you don’t have the rolled r already it must be much harder.
      And on top of that, I could record each segment 3 or 4 times and pick the one that sounded best :P Under normal circumstances I’m still hesitating and stuttering a lot. Sadly I wouldn’t speak that quickly and confidently in person yet!
      Nevertheless, thanks for the compliment!! I’ll admit that I did want a bit of external encouragement, so that’s a big help! Confidence is by far one of the most important aspects of aiming towards fluency, so thanks for the help! ;)

      • http://www.anthonylauder.com/ SplogSplog

        I again applaud your progress and your can-do attitude. Don’t dismiss ř as easy though – it is more slippery that you may think. The biggest problem I came across with ř is that it doesn’t have a single pronunciation. It varies quite dramatically in different situations.

        For example, the way ř is pronounced in “Tři” is more trilled – relying on vibration at the front of the tongue – compared to, say, in “Ředitel” where it involves minimal trilling and much more vibration in both the upper part of the throat and the middle of your tongue.

        Mastering these different pronunciations seems to me like a long journey rather than a destination. Every time you start to think you have it just right, somebody will say “Oh, that’s a good start – you are making progress”. I find it pretty humbling :-(

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

          Yes good point! I shouldn’t belittle the ř when I’m still not that familiar with it. Nevertheless, my “can-do attitude” wins every time over any humbling words people may throw at me ;)

  • cestina

    I cracked ř by itself pretty early on but had problems with stř and skř for a long time. I always avoided appointments on a Wednesday…. And I still double check when I hear třináct and čtrnáct – I don’t always easily hear the difference between them.

    Great video Benny……

  • cestina

    I cracked ř by itself pretty early on but had problems with stř and skř for a long time. I always avoided appointments on a Wednesday…. And I still double check when I hear třináct and čtrnáct – I don’t always easily hear the difference between them.

    Great video Benny……

  • Barbara

    klobouk dolů. nikdy sem si nemyslela, že by se někdo mohl tak perfektně naučit česky. A za tak krátkou dobu. Jsi fakt jednička :)

  • Barbara

    klobouk dolů. nikdy sem si nemyslela, že by se někdo mohl tak perfektně naučit česky. A za tak krátkou dobu. Jsi fakt jednička :)

  • Jiří Herby Kysilka

    Wow, tak to teda koukám – pro Čecha je vždycky tak trochu k neuvěření vidět, že to někdo s češtinou “zvládnul” – takže klobouk dolů ;-) (the last idiom means something like – I’m really impressed;) Po obsahové stránce tvoje čeština zní celkem dost pokročile, jen by to chtělo trochu zapracovat na výslovnosti. Ale pro praktické dorozumění to takhle určitě dostačuje.

    Jinak moc děkuju za to, že jsem mohl objevit tvé stránky – stalo se tak zhruba před půl rokem a probudilo to ve mně pohřbenou touhu učit se jazyky. Tak jsem se pustil hned do několika zároveň – a taky to jde :-) Vidím pokroky každým dnem. Jen je občas náročné mezi tím vším přepínat.

    Zajímalo by mě, jestli víš, odkud se ta vášeň pro studium jazyků bere – já jsem na to zatím nepřišel – jasně, že je fajn moct si popovídat s lidmi v jejich rodném jazyce, jasně, že je to někdy praktické – ale stejně mám pocit, že je v tom alespoň v mém případě něco hlubšího – vždycky, když se učím nová slovíčka, když čtu knížku a obdivuju v ní krásu daného jazyka… Je v tom poetika, je v tom hudba, je v tom krása myšlení lidí, kteří daným jazykem mluví… Ale nejsem si jistý, jestli je tohle vůbec pravda…

    Summary: Just wanted to appreciate your Czech – I really admire anybody who is able to speak our beautiful but fucking language composed basically only from exceptions at this level :-) Even when I know that Czech is only one of your many languages ;)

    And I wanted to thank you – I came across your blog quite accidently and it triggered my sleeping interest in languages – and made me fulfil my dream to learn Spanish, French and Portuguese (although it’s not advisable, I started all of three at once – it also works – just need to add that I already learned Spanish several years ago – and managed to forget everything;)

    I wanted to express my gratitude by producing peace of genuine uncensored Czech ;) It’s something that would make me happy in your place – but I don’t know if you’re using Czech since 2009 – so I don’t know if I didn’t cross the border – I didn’t censored it in any way ;)

    Anyway, thank you and keep up being who you are ;-)