Today I have a fun announcement; watch the video for all info and then check out this Fluent-in-3-months-esque link to get your own copy.
Where I got the idea
Essentially, I got the idea from wearing the “Labhair Gaeilge liom” t-shirt I wore a while back, since by wearing it, seven different people in Dublin approached me to speak Irish/Gaeilge with me. This would not have happened without me essentially having a sign saying that on my body, since there is no other way to know I speak other languages just by looking at me, outside of a place where you expect to hear the language.
The world needs a t-shirt with “Háblame en español” or “Parlez-moi en français” or whatever it may be.
Now, as well as this, I got people asking me again and again where could they get their own “Cunning Linguist” tshirt since they saw me with it on so much. I never really said it, but actually all that a friend of mine did for me as a present was go on a t-shirt printing website, put that text in a pre-made (and pretty bland) speech bubble, my website address on the back and then buy it. Unfortunately, doing this (fun front and customizable back) made it €20 ($26) PLUS postage. And honestly, the quality was really bad – I've had to throw it out recently because it was just too damaged with loads of holes in it after just a year and a half of use.
So I simply couldn't recommend that particular company to other people. The t-shirt was poor quality and the dialogue image was quite boring, even if the message itself was funny. I'm glad to have had that fun initial t-shirt for a while, but it's time to move on!
I wanted to help people with a useful t-shirt, so I looked around everywhere to see somewhere that could make customizable t-shirts, that weren't as expensive, and from a good provider so you could trust the quality. As well as this, I needed something way better than the 15 or so character limit offered by so many sites. That may be enough to fill in the gap for “I love [enter your love's name here]”, but for someone to say they speak multiple languages?
Also, the dialogue bubble needed to be WAY nicer than the plain one I had in my old t-shirt. A dialogue bubble with a picture of the world (like the logo on my site) is way more fitting for a language learner!
After confirming that they've worked with other bloggers very well, I got in touch with Campus Customs and we actually spent most of the last year toing and froing emails to set up this huge project.
Cunning Linguist OR Polyglot OR Language Lover front, and totally customizable back
Now, I knew everyone wouldn't want it to say “Cunning Linguist”!! That's just too cheeky for a lot of people (if you don't get the joke, then say it quickly and you'll notice it sounds like something else…), especially since a linguist isn't the same as a language lover. Despite this, I have to say that in some places, especially in English speaking countries where people get the joke, I've had so many complete strangers come up to me and compliment me on the hilarious play on words.
But since that may be too risqué for many, I made sure that the options “Language Lover” (generally more understandable) and “Polyglot” (more specific and accurate, even if a less known word in English.. for the moment 😉 ) were available instead, also in the same dialogue world bubble.
Richard has so many languages that you can speak with him that we decided to use the two or three letter country equivalent for the list and say “Pick a Language… Any Language!” before them. Even so, we got very close to the 140 character limit!!
He must like the t-shirt a lot because he made the new “Polyglot” t-shirt image you see here, to be his new Facebook page image!
Moses could have picked a multitude of languages, but with his Level Up skills, he just blasts into languages anyway by asking strangers where they are from! At the moment however, he's learning Esperanto and since nobody is ever going to say they are from anywhere that would let him know he can use this, it makes sense to put it on his t-shirt! Rather than “Speak Esperanto with me” it says “It's so much fun to learn many languages” (my own translation).
Then Judith and Anthony both went for the “Language Lover” t-shirt and their own language choices on the back.
In case you didn't see it clearly in the video, my own t-shirt has this text on the back:
If you are not sure what to write, then I'd highly recommend you go with “Speak X to me” for your given language. Omniglot has a great list of translations of this phrase to a bunch of languages! If the language is missing, or if you have another idea for a phrase, ask in the forums, or ask a native speaker!
I had simply written “ASL with me” and tried my best to try to represent this in American Sign Language, by using the Wingdings font, and as cheesy and silly as it looked, it worked!!! Someone stopped me at a Starbucks and used sign language with me, all thanks to that t-shirt you saw in the video.
While “Speak X to me” keeps it simple, I wanted to make sure that you could write ANY message you like to fit in with your personality. I find that using fun and strange to translate phrases shows people you know more than the basics of their language, and it's a great way to break the ice. Each one of these on the back of my own black t-shirt is a fun phrase from each language that can open up many interesting avenues of discussion.
Or you could stick to one language and write a phrase that's longer, such as an inspirational quote about language learning.
Note that we went through a lot of coding to make sure that you can input any script you like!!! Arabic/Chinese/Hebrew – any character that works in most online interfaces (even Wingdings, which I used in my ASL t-shirt you would have seen in the video!) Thanks to those above who helped me test this out to make sure it was working properly in time for the big launch.
This t-shirt is $14.99 plus postage, comes in both men and women's versions, several colours and many sizes, and can be delivered anywhere in the world, but since Campus Customs is based in the US, postage to North America is cheaper. However, as someone pointed out in the comments, once you buy 2 or more t-shirts then the total price for t-shirts sent to Europe becomes much better.
Send me photos of you with your t-shirt on with any language buddies you make!
When you get one yourself, wear it out and see if you can meet people or show them the languages you are learning or can speak well, and if you meet someone and practice your language with them, make sure to tweet or email or Facebook or Google Plus me a photo of the two of you while you were your t-shirt! I'll be glad to share it with the Fi3M community to let them know how easy it is to make new friends when it's clear you speak their language because you are walking around with a sign on you telling them so!
Please note that Campus Customs are responsible for all t-shirts, so get in touch with them for any queries about your orders. They have good support and will get back to you to solve the problem in no time.
I can't wait to hear all your stories of how your t-shirt helped you find a cool opportunity to practise your language! Get your copy here!! If you want to do something beyond “speak X to me” then make sure to ask in the Fi3M forums, or to run your phrase past a native BEFORE you make the order, so you are sure it's written correctly.
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.