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Language Mentors #10: Luke Korns – World Traveler, Continuous Documentary Maker (for 2+ million subscribers)


Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. ?

“Ordering food is the first thing I like to learn in my new languages and waiters are always patient and flattered that you even tried! No pressure.” – Luke Korns

I’m really excited to have interviewed Luke Korns for our Language Mentors series!

From a young age, Luke Korns wondered how movies were made and couldn't wait to get his hands on his first camera.

Then in 2011, he decided to create a YouTube channel that would be a continuous documentary sharing his adventures, weird thoughts, and creative ideas. Since then, his channel has grown to have more than two million subscribers.

Luke now travels the world as he creates his continuous documentary. He says:

“I'm a person who moves around a lot. I'm obsessed with other worlds and doing all I can to access them. I'm a filmmaker in order to maintain my ideas and adventures which otherwise would be lost in time, forgetting things is one of my biggest fears! This is one of the top motives that inspires me to take out my camera and capture the moment!”

Luke in the middle of the wilderness in Norway.

You can find Luke on YouTube. He also has a Spanish language YouTube channel.

Language Mentors: Learn a New Language in 90 Days

Language Mentors is our popular series where we interview polyglots, language teachers, language learners and even folks from outside the field of language learning. We’re getting straight to the point, asking for their top tips on language acquisition, steadfast motivation, and rapid learning.

We want to give you the inside scoop on what it takes to learn a new language, fast (in as little as 90 days).

We’ve actually seen hundreds of people learn a new language to conversational level in just 90 days. You can do it too by putting what you learn from our Language Mentors into practice.

And if you need extra support, then join us in the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge — where you’ll make lots of new friends who share your goal of learning a new language fast (plus you’ll have a 15-minute conversation in your new language after 90 days — we guarantee it).

Read on to learn some of Luke Korns’s language learning hacks. And get to know some fun facts about a creative polyglot at the same time.

What is your favorite place to study a new language?

My favorite place to study a new language would be anywhere with a speaker who has a goal to learn English, and that's the extent of it. It could be in a coffee shop, the beach, on a long midnight walk.

I feel as if I learn the most with a partner who is as passionate as I am to learn a language. Sharing our struggles and correcting each other to me are extremely valuable.

Luke climbed up to the top of this construction in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.

What are your top three favorite study tools when you first start learning a language?

  • A notebook because I see the value in physically writing down notes.
  • Duolingo because it's Duolingo.
  • And an app called Tandem which is used to connect with language partners all around. This debunks the myth that you have to immerse yourself in another culture to advance in a language and I love that!

What are your top three favorite memories of a language win?

  • Being in Costa Rica and having my first conversation in Spanish even though I understood less than half and I'm not even entirely sure what the general topic was but communication was achieved!
  • Having a deep conversation with my friend and totally forgetting I was speaking a second language.
  • When an old lady at the store asked me what part of Peru I was born in. (Her hearing must have been shot because my gringo accent is quite prevalent, but I was flattered anyway!)
Luke Korns exploring South Korea with one of his best friends, Julian Latif.

What are your top three favorite activities to do in one of your target languages?

  • Order food because it's the first thing I like to learn in my new languages and waiters are always patient and flattered that you even tried! No pressure.
  • Meet new people! In arguably every introduction, the same five template questions are asked and I can expect them and practice my answers!
  • Do normal everyday activities that I would do with my American friends. I love losing the idea that I'm speaking a foreign language.

What are the top three roadblocks you see learners face?

  • Being insecure about your accent and errors.
  • Understanding some people perfectly but struggling immensely to understand others.
  • Losing yourself in conversations due to the rate at which natives speak.

What are your top three keys for dealing with those roadblocks?

  • Realize that nobody cares. Put yourself in their shoes, if someone was struggling to speak English to you, provided you are not a terrible person, you would never belittle their attempts and you would do everything in your power to understand them through their errors and accent.
  • Meet more people. There are dozens of different styles and flows people use when speaking a language, and although this makes cracking every aspect of the language all that more difficult, I think it's what makes language so cool. STYLE.
  • Listen to key points, you can dominate and be active in most conversations given just the basic idea. This isn't failproof, of course, but you'd be surprised how active you can be in a conversation without understanding every point and sentence.

What are your top three relaxing study habits for laid back days?

  • Listening to music. I'm not a fan of watching foreign films and TV when I'm trying to relax as I always feel like my top effort has to be given to comprehension — depending on my level.
  • Going over old notes. I always am surprised how many words I have forgotten that I can reactivate simply by glimpsing over them.
  • Reading, if the language has a Latin-based script. Reading, to me, is by far the easiest way to practice because there's not strain on accent and speed. You go at your pace in your voice.

What is your favorite YouTube channel for learning a language?

For Spanish it would be SuperHolly, she makes tutorials for English speakers learning Spanish and is also a friend of mine!

What are your top three favorite cities?

  • Lima, because I moved there on a whim without doing an ounce of research and it ended up being the coolest place I've been to. (It took me a few months to realize how cool it was though.)
  • Tokyo, it's just another planet there.
  • New York City, probably the most linguistically diverse city on the planet and something about that melting pot energy makes me excited.
This was taken on one of Luke's last days of his year long stay in Lima, Peru.

What are the most challenging things you do in your target language?

  • Talking on the phone, without visual context clues — it's difficult! Not to mention phone quality has never been anywhere near top-notch.
  • The clarity at which people speak! For me, speed wasn't the challenge itself, but how words are meshed together. It is how humans naturally speak, but really hard to crack if you're not native!

How do you keep yourself motivated during an intensive language mission?

Just keeping in mind that the learning graph has ups and downs and plenty of plateaus. It's all part of what makes the end goal. Also, keeping in mind that my goal is to communicate, not to be perfect.

What surprises has learning a new language given you?

My personality seems to slightly change in every language I attempt to speak. It's fun and completely unintentional.

Sometimes without even trying I'll start to think in Spanish, and then I become conscious of it, and then, can't stop.

What about You?

Which of Luke’s tips resonate most with you? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section.

Want to learn a new language in 90 days? Come join us in the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge.

A big thank you for Luke for sharing his thoughts and winning strategies with us.

To learn more about Luke, visit his YouTube channel.

author headshot

Elizabeth Bruckner

Language Coach

Elizabeth an acupuncturist, writer and tenacious language learner. She attempted to learn a second language 10 freaking times before finally grasping the art of learning.

Speaks: English, French

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