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El sábado sabedor: Flat tour & random items, MJ flashmob, interviews with Benny

| 73 comments | Category: saturday post

Since I’m planning to be way more active on the blog from now on, I’m aiming to write three posts a week, sharing lots of interesting new ideas about travel/language hacking.

To help keep up the flow, my Saturday posts will be more general ones covering several different topics briefly, and sharing some links and videos that I found interesting or that are relevant to the Fluent in 3 months project.

I got the idea of Saturday posts from a good friend of mine Karol Gajda, who has a cool blog over at Ridiculously Extraordinary. He calls his “Sweet shit Saturday”, occasionally changing the title, so along the same lines I’ll rotate between various strange titles in other languages! Today’s one el sábado sabedor.

Crazy reasons why I travel with certain items

Have a look at this video tour of my apartment in Budapest:

It’s a nice place to live in, but since I made this very quickly (just in English this time) I’m sharing it with you for another reason. Can you answer the question Why do I always travel with hundreds of earplugs, a stethoscope, two leprechaun hats and a giant calculator?

These are not for the obvious reasons. As I said in the video, I don’t have problems sleeping and neither would my Couchsurfers – so that’s not why I have earplugs. I have a first-aid qualification, but I’m certainly not a doctor so saving lives is not why I need a stethoscope. There are different reasons I need each item.

Write a comment below to share what you think the reason is for any particular item. Even if you are wrong, I’m actually more interested in the funniest, craziest and most clever ideas for why I would need these items to enhance my travel and language learning experience. My favourite responses will be added to the shortlist in no particular order and selected using to be absolutely fair. The winner gets a copy of the Language Hacking Guide (or if you already have one, then you get a free language coaching session).

Note: The competition is over, the winner was Sam! But feel free to invent new reasons in the comments below ;)

Try not to repeat an answer someone has already given, and make sure it’s interesting! Reasons why you need the guide will make no difference to the decision process, which will be entirely random after I select the best answers. I’ll write a post next week that reveals how these items have been very helpful. Edit: Here it is!

Interviews with Benny on the web

Authors of other websites have been getting in touch with me lately to interview me about my travels and language learning strategies. In these interviews I mention some important tricks that I haven’t covered on the blog yet! They also discuss the mentality I have while travelling. Check them out:

Never Ending Voyage: Nomadic interviews – Benny Lewis.  Erin & Simon have a great blog that details their travels and tips, and they have been breaking into the blogosphere in great style this year. They blog about location independent living and I especially like their tips on eating well as a vegetarian in tricky countries (since I’m one too). Their interview with me had the best questions of all interviews I have had so far, since they have been following my project closely and have read the Language Hacking Guide so know what I am really about.

Vagabonding: Case study – Benny Lewis. I’m a huge fan of Rolf Potts and his travel mentality. He is currently on an amazing journey trying to prove (over six entire weeks) that you can travel without any baggage at all with regular video updates. So I was honoured to be included in a case study on his site.

Niche Interview – Learn any language in three months. The other interviews above are actually text interviews, but this one is an hour of audio. I went into huge details regarding many aspects of my travels and language learning and answer specific questions I tend to get asked a lot (does speaking various languages help my love live, how and why do I choose my languages, and some important motivational ideas).

For video interviews with me, check out this previous post, or for an interview in Spanish (which was live on the radio to make sure I was under sufficient pressure) have a listen here (translation transcript included).

Michael Jackson’s “Bad” – flashmob in Budapest

I love flashmobs – one of my favourite ones was the pillow fight in Buenos Aires that I was a part of with over a thousand others. So, once I heard that they were doing one in Budapest to celebrate Michael Jackson’s birthday, I had to check it out!

I went to the final rehearsal to try to learn the dance, but since it was in Hungarian and I had only been exposed to the language for three weeks, it was too hard for me to follow the instructions – especially since they had been training for weeks already. Even so, I learned a couple of basic moves next time his music comes on at a disco!

Check out this video I made to document the actual flashmob itself in front of Budapest’s Basilica.

It reached several Youtube thousand views after just a couple of days, and even though I knew it was going to happen I got my own surprise when Wally/Waldo made a brief appearence!


Any thoughts on the flashmob, or the interviews? Write them below after your guess for why I have these strange accessories with me as I travel!


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  • Armeleo

    Good idea to post 3 times weekly.

    Saluton kara. Estas granda plezuro legi viajn konsilojn :-)

    Armelle Esperanto

    • Benny the language hacker

      Dankon Armelle ;) Mi povas legi multegan en la intervjuoj ;)

  • Polly

    Hundreds of earplugs : to give to your new neigbours who might not like your singing late in the evening/night.

    A stethoscope : for listening through the walls. A great listening excercise!

    Two leprechaun hats : one for yourself and another one that belonged to the actual leprechaun you used to travel with but who’s ended up in witness protection or you lost.

    Giant calculator : because it’s not really just a calculator: it’s a secret box for candy and classified information!

    • Benny the language hacker

      Haha excellent answers!! :D You’ll definitely make it through to the random selection round. :) You only needed to give one, but these are all very clever!

  • Martin

    Why do I always travel with hundreds of earplugs, a stethoscope, two leprechaun hats and a giant calculator?
    Calculator: because it is really comfy to calculate things that way. At least that’s why I have one. 2 hats: in case one gets broken, or for pair dressing, and because it is fun to dress up. The stethoscope might be for playing doctor, but the earplugs give me a hard time. Do they help to stabilize shaky furniture? Or isolate doors and windows against noise? No idea.

    • Benny the language hacker

      The shaky furniture is actually a clever enough way to use earplugs I hadn’t considered :P

  • Bob

    earplugs: lighter then poker chips
    calculator: convert earplugs to local currency
    Two leprechaun hats: to wear while playing poker.
    Stethoscope: to see if someone is passed out or dead. :)

    • Benny the language hacker

      Where did poker come into everything suddenly? :P But earplugs as currency is genius!

  • Seán Ó Briain

    Why hundreds of ear-plugs? These are obviously special ear-plugs that filter out the frequency range of the English language. This allows the almighty Benmeister to immerse himself in anything other than English!

    The stethoscope is for when the Benmeister is on the hunt, in the wilderness. Such a humane hunter is he (unlike the Hyena), that he check’s his prey’s pulse before eating it. It pays to make sure your dinner is dead, before you eat it!

    The two leprechaun hats are obviously for pulling women. At first, Benny tries his rugged charm. If that doesn’t work, out comes the hat – to which no woman can resist. At the time of posting this, Benny has already bedded 167 women by virtue of the hat. In comparison to the slap he received through his rugged charm – we can only assume that the hat is the key to eternal love.

    As for the giant calculator. It serves no purpose. Benny just likes to push buttons on things. Sometimes, he jumps over the counter in shops just to push the buttons on the cash register. So why a big calculator? Simple! Bigger buttons!


    • Benny the language hacker

      English-filtering earplugs! Amazing idea :D I’ll patent them :P
      Although the hunt idea is off – notice in the post how I reminded people that I’m a vegetarian ;)
      Hilarious answers, thanks Sean!

  • Fast Jay

    Obviously you use the stethoscope and the leprechaun hat to prove that you are a famous Irish doctor. Quite worried about the loud music in bars/discos you go out giving away earplugs, however if you meet an interesting girl you can offer to give her a routine checkup. By typing the price on the calculator you can convince her it’s quite cheap and even give out discounts.

    • Benny the language hacker

      Famous Irish doctor! :P

  • Olivia Cox

    It’s all part of a scheme to rob banks to fund your travels!

    Earplugs: are used to pelt guards with, distracting them.
    Stethoscope: used to find out the combination for the valut lock.
    TWO leprechaun hats: to carry your loot, of course!
    Giant calculator: Can be used to knock unconscious anyone who gets in your way AND to add up all your new cash!

    BTW: love this blog and I can’t wait for more frequent updates. :)

    • Benny the language hacker

      Oh god that one made me LOL. Using the hats to carry my loot would make them very useful indeed!

  • Fiona

    Hi Benny – I love your blog! Your flashmob post made me realize that I want to do that too so I’m going to add “be in a flashmob” to my list of things to do this year!

    I’m not really sure if you want me to make a serious or a funny guess… so for the stethoscope I’ll guess so you can hear yourself pronounce words when you are practicing

    for the 2 leprechaun hats I would say so people approach you and try to talk to you so you can practice.. and it make it fun and lighthearted so people are in a mood to play and have fun with you – 2 because 2 leprechauns are always more fun than 1 (and people love to wear hats in pictures)

    the giant calculator to help you with numbers especially if you are buying things – they can punch in what you owe and there’s no miscommunications

    the earplugs – that’s a hard one but I’m going to guess that it’s an icebreaker – something like, here are some earplugs because I’m going to be butchering your language – again, it makes it easier to practice and have them help you when you first make it funny

    I’m learning spanish – I realize that my biggest block has always been saying that “I’m not good at languages” so now I say – “it’s easy for me to learn spanish”!

    I hope I win your guide!

    ps – my sister married a guy from cavan – she met him a couple of summers ago when we went to Dingle for a cousin’s wedding!

    Thanks for you blog and good luck with Hungarian!

    • Benny the language hacker

      So far you are the most accurate to the actual use Fiona! All will be revealed soon ;)
      You’ll be in the draw. I’m afraid the randomgods will be the ones who decide though!

      • djc463

        well there are some good humorous posts, and since this one is the most accurate I’d like to just make one tweak for my prediction. Earplugs are for plugging your ears when you practice speaking aloud to hear your accent and progress. I feel with my ears plugged I can focus more on my voice, maybe Benny does too.

  • Antonio Hernandez

    The hats are for your various photos, such as giving free hugs, and also as a great ice-breaker.
    The earplugs are for listening to yourself better pronunciation what you are saying; to better listen to the monologue from an internal POV.
    The stethoscope is for listening to your heart slow down before your studies.
    The big calculator is because your crazy :-P
    You can give me a free consultation for giving this such serious thought :-) be damned!

  • Joona Here.

    Earplugs: you build a small, noise resistant fort out of those to your flat and use that as your primary study location (outside of social situations).

    Stethoscope: you use it to hypnotize yourself in to language learning trance

    Leprichaun hats: Other one serves as a cloth to keep the tea in your teapot warm while you use the other as a basket for your veggies and stuff.

    Giant calculator: In the winter you use it as a sled, in the summer you use it as a surfboard. Of course, it also serves as a calculator what you use to keep track on the number of languages you speak (as well as the people who say that their native language is the hardest in the world).

    • Benny the language hacker

      Excellent suggestions :P

  • Benny the language hacker

    Everyone is coming up with such complex stories! I wasn’t expecting such great imagination from so many people :D

  • Benny the language hacker

    It’s always worth a try! “If you’re not in, you can’t win” ;)

  • EricW

    Earplugs: One of the first phrases you learn in any target language is “Excuse me, Miss, but I don’t think I’m using these the right way.” Then you point to the earplugs, which are stuffed up your nose. You have so many of them because REALLY, who would use a pair after they’ve been up a guy’s nose?

    Calculator: When some people get bored, they throw cards in a hat. When YOU get bored (and when he’s not working the earplugs angle) you soak the earplugs in water, freeze them, and try to do math by throwing them at the calculator from across the room.

    Stethoscope: The reason you got such a good deal on the apartment is that you have an agreement with the landlord to check for mice in the walls from time to time. In that case, why WOULDN’T you have a stethoscope?

    The two leprechaun hats: As a gentleman and a lunatic, you like being able to tip the big one and still have the little one underneath, like an old-time cartoon character.

    Wonderful flash mob video! The only place you could pull something like that around our way is at the mall…there’s just not that much pedestrian traffic down our way!

    • Benny the language hacker

      Glad you liked the video! I love your suggestions :)

  • Catherine

    My real guess is that they are simply all conversation starters: easily asked-about items that can make people laugh and smile. Bbut if I had to be creative, I´d say that:
    Clearly the earplugs are to give to girls you meet to help them separate their toes for pedicures :) And the calculator is a must in poorly lit marketplaces!

    • Benny the language hacker

      Great guess!

  • Benny the language hacker

    Actually I prefer to type 5318008 – there was a Spanish calculator trick too, but I’ve forgotten it…

  • Mariane Machado

    earplugs: every time Benny flights by airplane, he takes one as a souvenir. So this bag actually shows how many times he traveled.
    giant calculator: Used to calculate how many earplugs you have.
    Two leprechaun hats: Benny is a gentleman, so one is for him and the other for the coachsurfer he is hosting.
    Stethoscope: It is not easy to rent an appartment, and benny has to rent one many times, every time he travels, so he uses this Stethoscope to pretend to the owners of the apparments that he is an important doctor. It is always easier to get some trust from the owners when you say you are a doctor than saying you are a translator.

    • Benny the language hacker

      Wow, that would be a hell of a lot of flights clocked over the years :P A great idea! I actually do pick up some earplugs to add to my collection if I don’t use them though!

  • GlobalButterfly

    Gorgeous flat Benny! You’re right, what a view!!!

  • Anonymous

    How random! Still, it’s nice to see what other people carry.

    I think like all good gentlemen, these are merely tools for nights on the pull:

    200 Earplugs: So show off your world record in juggling ear plugs

    Stethoscope: This is clearly part of an elaborate chat up line, I would guess something to do with melting a heart.

    2 Leprechaun hats: Quite simply because you are sexy and Irish, and you need to prove this, if the accent and one hat doesn’t do it, then wearing the second certainly will.

    Giant Calculator: For those nights where the ear plugs, stethoscope and leprechaun hats haven’t worked, you can return home and type in 5318008.618, turn your calculator upside down and amuse yourself.

    • Benny the language hacker

      While I do like to flirt, it’s not quite everything I do :P haha But great guesses!

  • Anonymous

    How random! Still, it’s nice to see what other people carry.

    I think like all good gentlemen, these are merely tools for nights on the pull:

    200 Earplugs: So show off your world record in juggling ear plugs

    Stethoscope: This is clearly part of an elaborate chat up line, I would guess something to do with melting a heart.

    2 Leprechaun hats: Quite simply because you are sexy and Irish, and you need to prove this, if the accent and one hat doesn’t do it, then wearing the second certainly will.

    Giant Calculator: For those nights where the ear plugs, stethoscope and leprechaun hats haven’t worked, you can return home and type in 5318008.618, turn your calculator upside down and amuse yourself.

  • Jen

    earplugs – used as a plug for the navel piercing that you inexplicably woke up with one morning in Thailand (no alcohol or drugs involved–just OJ…but you still can’t remember how you got it)
    stethoscope – used for eavesdropping on the neighbors through your apartment wall when the weather is awful (can’t go out) and the tv is out (can’t watch local language tv) for “immersion practice”.
    two leprechaun hats – one for you and one for a friend for random photo ops
    giant calculator – to help your mom balance her checque accounts wherever you are

  • Sandra

    Hola Benny,

    He pensado que para romper la tónica del inglés, no vendría mal un comentario en otro idioma :)

    Te llevo siguiendo desde hace tiempo pero es la primera vez que escribo. A ver si acierto alguno de los usos de esos raros objetos.

    1. Los tapones se los das a la gente que viene a compartir tu sofá. Y lo haces para evitar que te odien mientras repites una y otra vez las canciones en [idioma que estés aprendiendo, ahora húngaro] que te ayudan a aprender vocabulario y pronunciación.

    2. El estetoscopio es para escuchar la respiración de los locales y conseguir parecerte un poco más a ellos en tus misiones idiomáticas.

    3. Los sombreros irlandeses son para romper el hielo y hacerte fotos locas con locales mientras practicas su idioma.

    4. Y la calculadora es para teclear los precios en las tiendas y aprender los números al escuchar cómo te los repiten mientras estás comprando algo.

    No tengo ni idea de si habré acertado algo pero ha sido divertido.

    Sigue así, me encanta tu blog y tu persistencia con los idiomas. Suerte con el húngaro :)

    • Daniel Hershcovich

      Gracias por escribir en Español – así he aprendo como si dice en esta idioma las palabras de que Benny ha hablado :)

      No se Español muy bien, pero quería responder en Español por que es la mejor manera de apprender una idioma – tratar y hablar (o escribir, en mi caso).

    • Benny the language hacker

      Muchísimas gracias Sandra! :) Me encantan tus ideas :D Que me escribas más en el futuro!! ;)

  • Anonymous

    Earplugs: As the object in an object lesson to remind people of the value of speaking a new language vs. just listening to it.
    Giant calculator: makes a great “secret case” for any book you may tote around.
    Stethescope: To be worn with a white lab coat to help you convince the local ladies that you are really a doctor.
    Two leprechaun hats: One for you, and one for your puppet in your Irish vantriliquist act!

    BTW: I really enjoyed your post about using hours vs. years to measure language learning effort. Excellent concept. Highly motivational in my Italian language acquisition efforts. Keep up the great work!

    • Benny the language hacker

      Haha, everyone thinks I want to pretend to be a doctor to pick up girls. That would be pretty pathetic :P

      Glad you enjoyed that previous post! Sometimes a swift kick up the ass can best help motivate people ;)

  • Daniel Hershcovich

    You’re obviously trying to learn Sign Language in parallel to your other language-learning efforts around the world.

    The earplugs are to make sure you don’t cheat by switching to verbal language – just as the best way to speak a foreign language well is to just speak it and avoid resorting to your mother tongue, you can’t really learn Sign Language if you speak out loud to convey the ideas you don’t manage to express in Sign Language.

    The calculator is the the semi-legit way you found to cheat – not by speaking out loud, but by typing down what you want to say when you don’t remember the signs, and the thing that you want to say is a number.

    You need a big leprechaun hat to put on the head of the native Sign Language speaker you learn from, and the small one to wear on your own head. It symbolizes the fact that the other person is the more experienced one, in case a deaf person comes and wants to ask for directions – they shouldn’t ask the one that’s still learning, because although speaking as early as possible is a good idea, in Sign Language it might be dangerous, because unlike spoken languages, it involves hand gestures which have to be controlled to avoid rude gestured, or worse, slapping someone by accident.

    The stethoscope is just a way to feel a little like deaf people feel – they don’t hear sounds, but they can feel vibrations like you feel when you put a stethoscope in your ears and put it against someone’s heart. It opens another, more intimate, channel of communication.

    • Benny the language hacker

      Great suggestions – that would certainly help to learn Sign Language!

  • Andrew

    The earplugs are actually for your nose for when you get on the subway in various countries due to the fact that they tend to stink (I’m not picking on anyone in particular here, most of them do) with body odor and your sensitive Irish constitution can’t handle it :PThe stethoscope is for listening to your native-speaker neighbors through the walls–this allows you to practice your active listening comprehension even when you’ve got no one in your own apartment to talk to. It’s a wonderful method because you’re actually listening to two native speakers having a real live conversation in real time. I can just imagine you sitting there on the couch with your stethoscope pressed up against the wall with one hand while the other hand flips through a dictionary to look up words you hear :DThe two leprechaun hats are for you and a friend to wear when you go out so that when people hear you speaking English they won’t mistake you for Americans (I’m American so I can say this without being considered terrible :) )–it makes me a bit sad but I understand why you have to do this.The giant calculator is for when you end up arguing with a local vendor about the price of something: you whip out your giant calculator, do the numbers, then hold it up in front of them and say “SEE?!!?!?!?!!!” with your eyes bugging out and a look of desperate frustration on your face. ….That being said…I’m glad you posted the interviews, I haven’t time to watch them now but I will come back and do it. Also, I’m curious to see how long you’ll be able to stay on this strict 3-posts-a-week schedule you’ve set up for your self, as I’ve tried to do something similar several times before and I’ve found the answer is typically “not long”, lol. Cheers,Andrew

  • NielDLR

    In the event that you encounter a rainbow in a foreign country, you pluck out your stethoscope to listen to you heart to find the origins of the rainbow. You then call your two leprechauns and then send them off to both ends, to make sure you get the gold. When they come back you take your Giant calculator to work out how much coins you have collected. The earplugs are then given to bystanders just before you tally the final amount, as to prevent hearing loss from your thunderous victory roar!

  • Greg

    So many good entries but you all are missing one important part. The stethoscope is actually for listening to the pulse of trees in an attempt to revive the dead language of Old Entish. Such a feat would catapult Benny to the very top of the all time masters of language. Good Luck!

    Also, Budapest looks like a very beautiful place. I’ll have to get over there some day :)

    • Benny the language hacker

      Entish!! That would definitely make me stand out as a polyglot :P

  • KetchupSoldier

    Hundreds of Earplugs: When you hear a bilingual announcement, you immediately don the earplugs to prevent your brain being tainted by too much English. Then you throw them out because the earplugs themselves are tainted by English sound waves.

    Stethoscope: You want to see if people’s hearts beat in rhythm with their native language.

    Two leprechaun hats: How else are you going to travel from country to country than on your magic rainbow (which can be summoned only by wearing TWO leprechaun hats)?

    Giant calculator: You REALLY want people to know that you need help with math.

  • Benny the language hacker

    Good job on the Vagabonding mention ;)

  • Elena

    Ma… è possibile che nessuno qui veda cosa ovvia?
    The second leprechaun hat is the one Benny will lay over the head of the polyglotesse of his dreams the day he find her somewhere in the world. Benny viaja con muy poco equipaje pero nunca se olvidaría de llevar algo tan importante.
    À bientôt Benny, je vraiment adore ton blog. Bisous =)

    • Benny the language hacker

      I am indeed always looking for the polyglotesse of my dreams, but I never considered “crowning” her for the honour :P Grazie gracias et merci !

  • Mike

    Stethoscope: Perhaps a clever reminder of what you enjoy and/or a metaphor for language learning. It’s basically ‘an instrument for listening to body sounds’. You are listening from the outside to gain knowledge of the inside (the language)! Cheesy I know…

    Two leprechaun hats: Knowing how you are creative with your packing, clearly the bigger hat is to balance essential items on your head and hide it with the hat as you’re passing through the airport. The smaller one could be a lucky charm (luck of the Irish!) and to serve as a reminder of ‘home’.

    Calculator: It’s giant as true to Murphy’s Law you can never find the damn thing when you actually need it. Can be used both to bargain/haggle with people or just communicate prices when you first arrive somewhere and struggle with numbers. Plus as a learning tool: put in a random calculation, read it all out in the language you are learning.

    Earplugs: Starting to run out of ideas now! You said you didn’t use them for noise cancellation but I know people that use them to help with ‘Airplane Ear’, ears popping or painful with the increasing pressure on planes. I guess they’d also double as a ‘please don’t disturb me I really need my sleep’ sign, even if you don’t really need them! That or they’re a practical gift to give with people you meet as a thanks for letting you practise their language with them. Something to remember you buy.

    That’s it, I can’t think of any more crazy suggestions… :P

  • Jostefani

    I’ve been following this blog for a while, and I love it!

    Out of curiosity, Benny, just what is the price estimate of that flat? It seems awfully spacious for the price that I’m guessing ;)

    I suppose the leprechaun hats were to exaggerate/show the locals in your country about Ireland? That’s my best guess, really.

    • Benny the language hacker

      In this blog I’ll very happily be fully transparent about my progress in language learning…
      However I’ll keep the exact price I pay for things like my apartments private ;) It’s also awfully spacious for the price I would have guessed!

    • Benny the language hacker

      In this blog I’ll very happily be fully transparent about my progress in language learning…
      However I’ll keep the exact price I pay for things like my apartments private ;) It’s also awfully spacious for the price I would have guessed!

  • Caryn Dossantos

    Easy. Earplugs gets nasty so you have to throw them away and need a fresh supply. Ear cheese and all that. The two leprechaun hats are for your two mime acts. One in which you act as a leprechaun doctor (thus the steth) and the other as a math professor (thus the calculator) – and the earplugs are used to drown out any negativity from naysayers as to your obvious acting talent.

  • Gregg

    Earplugs=so you can hear yourself a little better/concentrate
    2 leprechaun hats=um because your irish & people see you as more approachable/fun
    stethoscope=also helps to hear yourself & is good if you get sick!
    giant calculator=its fun & the silly approachable thing can apply here as well

  • Leslie

    Why do I always travel with hundreds of earplugs, a stethoscope, two leprechaun hats and a giant calculator?

    You obviously have a crowd of invisible leprechauns following you everywhere who only appear at night. At night you’re forced to have to cover everyone nearby’s ears with them when you guys converse in your irish accents.

    The stethoscope is to break into vaults and safes for money so you can feed this large crowd of leprechauns with their lucky charms and gold.

    The hats are to crown your favorite leprechaun’s of the kingdom for the week. Everyone wants to be your pet.

    The calculator is to add them all all up accompanying their bills.

  • stilvoid

    Right, I’ve read all the other posts and the answers are obvious:

    Earplugs: Like me, you suffer from inner ear pain when flying – earplugs alleviate that pain. They work wonders for me at any rate. Alternatively, you use them to block out noise when you’re on the bus to a night out so you can get in some last minute memorisation of the choice phrases you’re planning to use this time…

    Stethoscope: The most intriguing item but easily explained. As a seasoned traveller, you’ll have locked away your valuables in many a ho(s)tel safe only to find that, because this is the fifth different hotel this month, you’ve forgotten the combination. Safecracker Benny.

    Two leprachaun hats: In a busy nightclub it’s easy to lose track of the new friend you just made so you give one hat to them and one for yourself. Easier than trying to phone your mates and shout “WHERE ARE YOU?” in a language you’re still getting to grips with.

    The giant calculator: Simples. Having travelled with the same items of luggage for quite some time, you now know the weights of every individual item you own. Before checking in to a new airline you’ve never used before with their own unique combination of baggage allowances, you quickly work out what things should be packed in your suitcase and what’s going in hand luggage – and what you’re going to stuff down your coat lining ;)

    • Benny the language hacker

      The hats are indeed pretty conspicuous – would make it easy to find people!

    • Benny the language hacker

      The hats are indeed pretty conspicuous – would make it easy to find people!

  • Nicolaï

    Earplugs: for observing your own accent while eliminating external noise.

    Calculator: to remind yourself to calculate hours and not years spent language learning.

    Stethoscope: For listening to the air as it is expelled from the chest while speaking.

    Leprechaun hats: To fill your bag, thereby preventing you from bringing excess stuff, ensuring your travels are human-centered.

  • Andrea from Italy

    Why do I always travel with hundreds of earplugs, a stethoscope, two leprechaun hats and a giant calculator?

    Earplugs: because the secret of language learning is… in avoiding listening to what people ask or answer. The communication is entirely in the eyes, facial expressions and hands gestures. Words are just a consequence.

    Stethoscope: because the REAL secret of language learning is… just in your heart. What you say, hear, see is just eyewash. Just close your eyes, don’t move any muscle at all, connect your heart with your friends’ through the magic stethoscope… and shut up, let them find their way.

    Leprechaun hats: because the real ULTIMATE language learning holy grail is… to do it the Irish way. People tend to think communication is a human thing. Absolutely wrong! It’s an Irish invention. Before the Irish landed to planet Earth to charmy save mankind, human beings were just little sad insignificant islands. Lately this seem to be changing, ever since they started to clumsily imitate the Irish, but it’s like there’s always something missing. Luckily, Benny always keeps t it inside his magic bag, even if he’ll never reveal it…

    Giant calculator: to keep up-to-date the huge number of idiots asking him for the REAL secret of language learning :-)

    • Benny the language hacker

      Hahaha I like the calculator one! I do get quite a lot of those requests for a one-line magic answer :P

    • Benny the language hacker

      Hahaha I like the calculator one! I do get quite a lot of those requests for a one-line magic answer :P

  • Liz

    I don’t know about the earplugs, the stethoscope, or the giant calculator. But, by strange coincidence, I can tell you about leprechaun hats.

    Today, shortly after reading your post, I took a Chinese lesson in which I discovered that “to wear a green hat” is an expression meaning that your wife is cheating on you! So I think the answer is obvious! (Kidding, but the Chinese might not see it this way–I was warned that these are likely one aid you might not want to use should you ever come to China for three months.)

    Ah, what are the odds I would discover this? Maybe you can use your giant calculator to figure THAT.

    • Benny the language hacker

      Interesting cultural reference!!

    • Benny the language hacker

      Interesting cultural reference!!

  • Benny the language hacker

    That was by far the most complex suggestion! It must have taken you a while to come up with it :D Quite enjoyed this little search for my soulmate’s mother story :P

    • Yalphax

      :) Not too long. Only a few minutes once I sat down and thought about it :)

      By the way, I have now stopped speaking english for 3 days and I am happily surprised at how much Estonian I actually know and how much easier it was to do this than I expected! Life seems better here too now! I can’t wait to see how well I’ll be able to speak in 3 months time.

      Thanks again Benny for sharing what you do!

      • Benny the language hacker

        Good job on your Estonian! :)

  • Benny the language hacker

    5318008 is better than 58008 ;)

  • Keith Mander

    Benny – may I ask how much the monthly rent is for such a place?

    • Benny the language hacker

      I’ve already been asked this in a comment above. My answer:
      “In this blog I’ll very happily be fully transparent about my progress in language learning…
      However I’ll keep the exact price I pay for things like my apartments private ;) It’s …spacious for the price I would have guessed! “

  • Benny the language hacker

    Revealed in the next Saturday post :)