Meet Maneesh Sethi. Maneesh is a friend, an inventor, and a fellow language learner (he has been a DJ in Berlin, and spoken on stage in Italian, among other things) with a very particular passion… For years, he has been obsessed with solving the problem of maintaining motivation that we all face in trying to […]MORE
Last summer, a huge publication asked if I would write an article for them about How learning languages will help you chat up girls. … As nice as it would have been to be in that big magazine, I said no thanks. Then, since it was just before the World Cup, they made me a […]MORE
One of the most popular posts on this blog is my 29 life lessons learned in travelling the world (for 8 years straight). I’ve personally been to a couple of dozen countries, but then there are people like my friend Chris Guillebeau. He has been to every single country on earth! I’ve met Chris on […]MORE
Time for the final update on Lauren’s 6-week-challenge! She successfully completed her mission, and was able to socialize, make new friends, and have fun in Esperanto. You can see it all happen in the video at the bottom of the post. But first, I’ll hand the blog over to her, to share her thoughts: 1. […]MORE
We are now just a few days away from the Polyglot Conference that marks the end of Lauren’s 6-week project to learn Esperanto, and she’ll get a chance to use it to make new friends!
Because of that, rather than throw her in the deep end, in this last video I put her face-to-face (digitally) with an Esperanto speaker she didn’t know and she had to make conversation. Unlike in the last video, she only prepared a couple of questions, but most of her dialogue is spontaneous.MORE
Time for another weekly project update! We have been really busy this week since getting to Amsterdam (fun things coming on the blog very soon!) so we focused the video on a chat with Lauren.
Since the first conversations we tend to have with new people we meet tend to be predictable, I told Lauren some example questions I’d like to ask her and she prepared her answers in advance. This kind of conversation may be the kind she may have on meeting someone and using the language for the first time, so it’s really helpful to know what she wants to say in advance.MORE
This last week was a pretty crazy one! We left Ireland by driving to the ferry port, getting a ferry (with the car) across to Wales, driving to Manchester, flying from Manchester to Cherleroi, getting a train to Brussels, and then on to Bruges, and finally in AMSTERDAM. Wow!
To mix things up a little, I passed the commentary microphone over to Lauren this week! She prepared what she wanted to say and wrote it all out herself. I only glanced at it, so a few minor mistakes may have snuck through but you can hear how she is doing to use the language with a prepared script. You also get to see how we got around studying without Internet (since we rely on websites like Lernu/Memrise a lot), and see some funny moments in our interactions.MORE
Time for another progress update on the makings of a new polyglot… from scratch! We are recording literally every single second of language learning and use of the language, so the greatest realizations can be caught on camera.
The goal of this week was initially to get comfortable using the language in other senses, like communicating via email with people.
I have been coaching Lauren, rather than teaching her, and wanted her to get exposure to Esperanto in as many ways as possible other than talking to me, to give her similar conditions to any other learner. I rarely ever translate things for her, and mostly answer her questions with another question to help her find the answer herself better.MORE
The most famous example people know of me (and my friend Moses) levelling up, is when we went to a mall in Columbus Ohio and spoke over a dozen languages. I’ve had people email me to ask where are good places to level up, as if a list can be compiled. Actually, you can do […]MORE
What comes to mind when I say the words “goal setting”?
a) Yes! I’m there!
b) I never bother
c) I know it’s important, but…
I’ve known people who fall into all three camps. Some people seem to have a natural ability to set goals and stick to them. Others just get started and don’t bother with goals.
But when it comes to language learning in particular, I suspect there’s a fairly large number of people who fall into the last category.
I’m a classic example of this. I’m great at setting goals – I can set goals and decide how I’ll achieve them all day. Sometimes I actually do 🙂 But, inevitably, after a certain period of time, I fall off the log. I can’t, or don’t, follow through.
Happens every time.
I have massive respect for people who are strong at goal setting and have the stick-to-it-iveness to follow through. But what happens if you just don’t work that way?MORE
In the 1960’s, Pepsi took its “Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation” slogan to China, which was not well very well received. The reason? In Chinese, this translates to “Pepsi brings your relatives back from the dead.”
Clairol and Canadian Mist’s German Blunder
Canadian Mist, a brand of whiskey, failed in German markets because “Mist” in German means “manure.”
The same happened to Clairol when it attempted to sell a curling iron called the “Mist stick” to German markets. Who wants to put a shit stick into their hair?
Coors Spanish BlunderMORE
Karen who runs Immersia offers these words of encouragement – I love seeing the same realizations from such a wide range of people, and am happy to share hers with you today, especially since she has such an interesting and different background. Over to you Karen: ——— I was born in the Ukraine and my […]MORE
Can you believe this is my first ever blog post about Russian? Very timely with how much it’s in the news lately, David, who has his own travel blog where he documents his and and his Russian girlfriend’s travel adventures, wrote to me with some encouraging words about this language. On another fun side-note, someone […]MORE
“Japanese is really freaking difficult.”
“Japanese is really freaking vague.”
“Japanese is really freaking illogical.”
These statements have three things in common.
Let’s be honest. I can take it. Americans aren’t exactly known for our foreign language ability. Often, we speak English and we simply expect the rest of the world to do so as well. There are many reasons why this problem has developed, but that’s not the purpose of this article.
As with all stereotypes there is both a bit of truth here as well as many exceptions. I’m an American diplomat (or Foreign Service Officer as we’re officially known) and it is not only helpful in my job to learn foreign languages, it is required.MORE