Videos: Baker, David Walsh & Cody McKibb interview Benny

Baker over at ManVsDebt has just uploaded a video interview with me that summarises some of my philosophies and strategies in language learning.

I had the pleasure to do this interview with him in Thailand, and we discussed some aspects of language learning that I write about on this site, for almost 40 minutes! Some readers of the blog might be interested in watching a few minutes of it – I’ve included it and several other video interviews in this post.

For those coming from Baker’s blog, check out a funny video I made with him and others on the beach in Ko Phi Phi. His family and he himself are really cool in person and I’m so glad that I got to spend some time with them!

Some budget relevant posts on my blog that Baker’s readers may be interested in include Why you don’t need to be rich to travel the world, and even if travel isn’t for you, you can definitely learn and practice a language for free without traveling. You can see some language relevant posts by checking out the most popular list on the right. Like Baker, I have a debt that I have to pay off too, but I’m not letting that stop me from living my dreams ;)

The videos are originally in this post on his site, but I’ll add it here too (in two parts):

Cody on Thrilling Heroics

I was actually quite active in Thailand getting to know other bloggers and several of them wanted to sit down and record a chat about language learning with me. One of the coolest people I met in my time was Cody McKibb, another location independent worker who tries to encourage others to live a similar life, and on this post he shows another video with me, that I’ll also share here. Some topics we discuss are the same as those in Baker’s interview, but there are other questions of course. This one is half as long though:

Cody and Baker and several others work together on an amazing site called Untemplater, which discusses how young professionals can try to break free from the usual trend and live their dreams. It has some inspirational and practical advice and discusses the kinds of principles that I’ve applied myself to have the freedom to travel etc.

David Walsh & Benny

One last interview is with David Walsh, a very active entrepreneur that I enjoyed chatting with, and you can check that out on his site. This one is different – rather than discussing language learning strategies I discuss the mentality I’ve had as a blogger and how I think this will help me to try to be able to earn a little bit from this site, to ease financial pressure, when I make my Language Hacking Guide available.

The idea to write the guide and some changes in how I’ve been blogging were highly influenced by these amazing people that I met while travelling through Thailand. They are good friends and I look forward to meeting them again some day!

Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed these videos!



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  • Andy Hayes

    You've been quite busy it seems – great interviews!

  • Caio Rocha

    Benny, Hi. I'm Brazilian, I got to know your blogh through Couchsurfing and I was wondering: What's your horoscope sign?




  • Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks Andy!

  • Benny the Irish polyglot

    Caio, my birthday is displayed on my Couchsurfing profile.

    Sorry but I'm not going to encourage backward bronze-age systems like astrology. Feel free to go ahead and make your own analysis of me based on hydrogen being burned trillions of kilometres from here, but I'd rather not hear it if it's all the same to you!

    I miss Brazil! Can't wait to get back :)

  • troy

    Hey Benny: really enjoyed finding out more about your background and what you do. I'm also a “technical person” and thought I didn't have any aptitude for learning languages! I've come to a lot of the same conclusions as you about jumping in and grammar being much less important (than I initially thought). Please keep up the good work!

    One question: what are your thoughts about attacking the move from fluency to near-native fluency?

  • Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks Troy! I like your blog title – reminds me of my Carioca mission!

    I think attacking near-native fluency is totally possible, but involves quite a large amount of commitment and a new approach. I got music lessons to improve my rhythm in Portuguese and a teacher patient enough to make me repeat the same sentence over again dozens of times until I was saying it better. This meant that after 3 months (starting from fluency) I was successful in convincing Cariocas that I was one of them for 20-30 seconds if I was focused. I think if I had kept this up over a longer term, that time period would have been extended and come way more naturally.

    Near native fluency is definitely possible, but involves a focused strategy and openness to criticism that was hard for me at first since I was already speaking “fluently”. Then plenty of exposure of course helps more than anything.

    Boa sorte!!

  • troy

    Music Lessons–cool idea! My Brazilian wife (the most patient person in the world) helps me, but there is a balance between getting free Portuguese lessons and maintaining marital harmony :-)

    I gotta say that passing for a native, even for 0.5 minute, is totally impressive. My accent is pretty decent, but even a small mistake with gender gives you away immediately. So I used to cheat by not saying the endings of my adjectives too loudly :-) More seriously, I find there is a trade off between speaking everything exactly correctly and speaking fluidly. In the last 3 years I've switched from favoring the former to favoring the latter.