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

Please watch this and then copy and paste this link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x2_kWRB8-A tedxwar

(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!

Background of new talk

A couple of years ago, I gave a TEDx talk in San Antonio, to try encourage language learners. There were a few problems with this though: it was the second time in my entire life on stage, and as such I hesitated a lot and it came across as less professional.

I also made it all up on the spot without any preparation and didn’t cover points I had wanted to when I saw my time running out. As well as this, when the video was uploaded, they misspelled my name as Bennie in the unchangeable imprint into the video and the title of the video was the verbose and confusing one of “TEDxSanAntonio – Benny Lewis – Fluent in Three Months – Rapid Language Hacking”.

And finally, the “Tengo la camisa negra” t-shirt was a little distracting. :P

With all this in mind, and with a few years of speaking experience under my belt, it was time for my second attempt at the TEDx stage, at Warsaw!

I think it worked out a lot better this time! I prepared my talk in advance, so I was much more confident, ran it through a few people for feedback (including a friend of mine, Derek Sivers who is an experienced TED talker), I implemented images and several videos into the talk so that it flows a lot better, and rather than do it alone, those in the videos are actually polyglot cameos (several from the Skype me Maybe music video). Despite all this the video is shorter than the first one!

So do check it out, and let me know what you think of it in the comments below. Please do share it with your friends, because I think it’s the most compressed form of intensive language learning encouragement that I have made to date, and what I hope to be among the most encouraging videos for struggling language learners that you’ll find online!

Thanks a million! :)



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  • Guest

    Nice shirt! Great point regarding motivation being key in language learning!

  • http://twitter.com/TravelEscapism Travel Escapism

    Nice shirt! Great point regarding motivation being key in language learning! Great talk overall.

  • disqus_IKDngpnrLq

    Finally! I have been waiting for this video.

  • http://www.creativityandlanguages.com/ Peter

    Good talk!! soo much better than the previous one!! I think it will motivate more people. Maybe you could speak slightly slower, but overall my congratulations for the talk and the willingness to keep improving.

  • http://www.janafadness.com Jana Fadness

    Nice shoes. =P And great talk! I’m going to share it right now. =D

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      Appreciate the share Jana! Hope all is well!

  • ASBusinessMagnet

    I think the San Antonio video was better in some respects. While here you managed to overlook more points and show that not everyone but you is a frustrated language learner, as well as elaborately use images and videos, in the San Antonio video you took time to relate to people as a former frustrated language learner. Here, you literally show a bunch of polyglot videos and say that at the age of 21 you wanted to be like them, expecting the same reaction from the audience, and then say “nope, “I want to be like them” is the wrong motivation”. Also, the San Antonio talk was built like a flowing story, so every (or at least most) points were nicely covered and the “there are seven days in a week and someday is not one of them” and “a whole new world will begin” quotes nicely fit in while a story was being told. Here, you monotonously list off the points and then tack on the quotes to the end, and the motion isn’t maintained. Other polyglots who you were talking to about the talk just wanted to be featured, and once they were featured they complimented you, so they overlooked these issues.

  • Andrew

    Great video, I think Moses is my favorite polygot, because he travels as much as I do(which is not that much) yet he knows all those languages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matteo.cheri.5 Matteo Cheri

    Just fantastic ^^ Benny you are a real inspiration ^^
    Salutojn el Italio!

  • http://www.facebook.com/virginia.hanley.5 Virginia Hanley

    Oh, Benny, I really enjoyed this talk, but of course, I am already in your camp. Just open your mouth and make mistakes. It’s about communication, not perfection. Since my PC sometimes loses audio, I turned on the captions, and oh my! It was funnier than DYAC! Have you tried it? I will have to watch again without the crazy captions, which were so amusing they distracted me.

  • Caymane

    I think it’s better than the other talk. The points are more concise and it seems more encouraging and motivating than the other :-)

  • LuzBlanca72

    I’ve learned all of my foreign languages, except for German, after the age of 30 and learned how to SPEAK all of them. I learned German in school as a child and learned everything BUT how to SPEAK. So, age is a poor excuse.

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