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  • Good morning everyone. Hello, hello.

  • Welcome to the second day of our talks, really happy you made it all on time.

  • Did you guys have a good time yesterday at the Culinary festival?

  • and the Amos's concert? It was amazing, right?

  • I'm glad to hear that.

  • But today we're continuing with the talks and I would like to

  • share something with you which is really important to me

  • and something that I feel passionate about.

  • And that is the way polyglots learn languages.

  • As opposed to the way languages are often learned

  • in the traditional way, that means in schools and language schools

  • because I think there is a great great difference.

  • And I've been trying to deal with this problem for several years now

  • because I think that the ways that majority people learn languages

  • and the ways that polyglots learn languages could be combined.

  • And I think that clearly, the way that we polyglots learn languages,

  • that way seems to work, right?

  • So I'm trying to apply these methods also to help other people to achieve just that.

  • I have a special name for a type of people who are struggling

  • to learn a foreign language and cannot succeed even with one language.

  • I call them the time-keepers.

  • A time-keeper is a person whom you ask 'do you speak German?'

  • and they will reply 'oh well, I have had 8 years of German at school'

  • or they say

  • 'I've been going to a course in French or whatever language for 4 years'

  • and they always tell you the time, have you noticed that?

  • But they hardly ever speak the language.

  • So I call them the time-keepers,

  • they always count the time that they've spent learning the language,

  • but they don't have many results to show for that.

  • And on the other hand, we have the polyglots.

  • People just like you, besides their name tags from last polyglots gathering,

  • who manage to speak several foreign languages fluently.

  • Now the question is how is that possible?

  • How is it possible that there are these 2 groups of people, that seems to be

  • so different which such different results when it comes to their language learning

  • and this is exactly the question that I've been asking myself

  • and trying to find the solution for that.

  • First, before I start. I'll quickly introduce myself.

  • First of all, I'm a passionate language learner.

  • I really really enjoy learning languages.

  • I learn usually a new language every two years,

  • this is the system that I've had so far

  • and I like to practice them anytime I can,

  • for example, at the polyglot gathering.

  • I also happen to be a professional conference interpreter.

  • And maybe some of you saw the talk at the polyglot gathering 2015, where

  • I talked about the pleasures and pains of working as a conference interpreter,

  • where I tried to explain what this profession is really about.

  • And I have a new profession, I'm a language mentor

  • and this is something I made up

  • because I realised that I want to help people learn languages,

  • but I don't want to teach them. And this is my approach

  • to teaching people languages,

  • I mentor them so that they can learn languages just like polyglots do

  • using the same techniques and strategies.

  • And finally,I happen to also organise the polyglot gathering this year

  • so you might know me in this role as well.

  • Now, I will start my presentation with showing a few examples

  • of how some polyglots learn languages,

  • I picked a few that I'm sure you would probably know of

  • and I will briefly introduce their strategies to learn their languages

  • so we can see what it is actually?

  • How do polyglots approach language learning?

  • And what methods do they use?

  • So the first person I'll introduce probably does not need

  • any introduction at all.

  • I'm sure we all know Benny Lewis from fluentin3months.

  • Well Benny has a very interesting method, an interesting way to learn languages.

  • It's called 'Speak from day 1',

  • so Benny goes out there, doesn't speak the language at all,

  • he just collects a few words,

  • phrases, goes among the people and the country where the language is spoken

  • and start speaking with them and learning what he receives as a return.

  • And so he collects more and more vocabulary and practices and practices,

  • makes a million mistakes a day and this is his approach of learning languages.

  • And I'm sure, well this is the languages he's learned so far.

  • It may be not totally updated. Maybe they are a few more missing ones,

  • but this is just to show what can be achieved with such a method.

  • I'm sure you all know Steve Kaufmann who is here with us as well,

  • at this gathering, who has a slightly different approach.

  • So he doesn't go for speaking right away, but instead he gets a lot of input first.

  • So he listens and reads massively before speaking,

  • before producing a speech and in this way he's been able to learn

  • a bunch of languages himself.

  • I think this is also not the complete list right now,

  • and actually I had a Skype lesson with Steve before the gathering

  • where he was learning Slovak.

  • And I was really impressed in his Slovak skills after just one week of learning

  • and he told me that he's listened and read a lot of Slovak stories

  • and clearly it works really amazingly.

  • Then I don't know if you know Lucas Bighetti,

  • but he's also here with us,

  • in this gathering. And Lucas has quite an interesting method himself.

  • I saw him at the last polyglot gathering with all these languages on his nametag

  • and I practised a few of them with him

  • and I was really impressed at the level that he was able to use those languages.

  • And I looked at them and I said,

  • ''Lucas, you have all these languages there but I see no Esperanto,

  • have you ever really thought about that?'

  • He was like 'no, not really. I don't know'.

  • I said 'You know what? let's make a challenge.

  • I'll help you learn Esperanto

  • and I think it would take you maybe 3 days or so'.

  • It actually took him an hour.

  • In that 1 hour, I explained the 16 grammar rules that Esperanto has

  • that you need to know in order to really know this language.

  • So after an hour, we were speaking Esperanto and I said

  • 'gosh, this is too easy'.

  • So I said 'OK, challenge number 2, I'll help you learn Slovak,

  • and of course this would be easier for Lucas than for many other people

  • because he already spoke 3 Slavic languages

  • very very well; Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian.

  • And it took us about a day before we did a recording on video

  • about how we speak Slovak,

  • it was just amazing. Whenever I show these to Slovaks,

  • the conversation after one day, they just cannot believe it,

  • they say 'this is impossible, no one can learn our language in just one day'.

  • And Lucas seems to have a method for that, it's a method that he developed

  • with Jan van der Aa,

  • who you might know as well, and they call it "Language Boost".

  • And it's about 500 most frequent words in a vocabulary, in a language

  • that they learn with example sentences and then using these sentences

  • and these words,

  • they can express many many things in very simple terms

  • and they can communicate with just this 500 words

  • and then of course they continue learning different vocabulary.

  • So this is Lucas's approach.

  • Then I don't know if you've heard about Gabriel Wyner,

  • and Gabriel has an interesting method based on flashcards,

  • based on space repetition system.

  • And what is interesting is that he doesn't use translation at all,

  • so he uses pictures of things that he can take a picture of

  • or he uses a cloze test; a word missing in a sentence

  • when he wants to practice grammar.

  • And in this way Gabriel managed to learn a lot of languages himself

  • and he has a very interesting story

  • about how he actually came up with this method,

  • but we don't have time for that today, unfortunately.

  • So this is the flashcard system with no translation.

  • And then we have Luca Lampariello who bases his learning mainly on translation

  • and this is interesting, because Luca doesn't use flashcards at all.

  • He's not a flashcard friend or a flashcard user.

  • And yeah, it works amazingly for him, he's learned a bunch of languages

  • to a very high and impressing level,

  • I think we all know that, and his method seems to be working just as well.

  • And then I would like to introduce 2 more people to you, Robin McPherson,

  • I don't know if you met this guy.

  • He was told several times by his parents, teachers, friends when he was young

  • that he doesn't have a talent for languages.

  • He's just not good at languages and probably should dedicate his life

  • to something else

  • because languages don't seem to be the thing for him.

  • Well he proved them wrong later on because today he speaks

  • a bunch of languages really well on a very fluent level.

  • And he does this by using a special method which I personally call the

  • "Dissection method".

  • I don't know whether he uses it particularly,

  • but he basically takes a recording on YouTube, for example,

  • a short video with subtitles in 2 languages

  • and he dissects it to very little parts, chunks of phrases

  • that he puts into Memrise

  • and he keeps learning them over and over and over again

  • and this way he manages to speak the language very well

  • after a very short time.

  • So this is Robin's method.

  • And finally I'd like to introduce David James who I'm sure many of you know,

  • "Uncle Dave"

  • who's not with us at this gathering unfortunately,

  • but you know him probably from the previous ones.

  • And David's method is called "the Gold List method",

  • have you heard about that?

  • If you haven't check it out, because it's really cool.

  • I love it and I've been using it for several years and it works amazingly.

  • You basically just write lists of vocabulary and you re-write them

  • every 2 weeks or more in order to distil the vocabulary

  • that you have in your long term memory

  • and keep re-writing the vocabulary that you still don't.

  • This is really a fascinating process which works because anytime you rewrite a list,

  • you find out that your brain has remembered 30% of the vocabulary

  • and you have it in the long-term memory. It's just an incredible method,

  • very simple, very easy to use and very effective.

  • Now we could continue, now this is David's languages that he's learned.

  • And we can continue with many other polyglots,

  • many of them are here with us today.

  • I took just a few random pictures from the last gatherings

  • and I could have a presentation about every single one of you

  • and describe the methods that you use and it would be very different, right?

  • Because everybody has their own system to learning languages

  • and all these systems seem to work clearly because all of you

  • have several flags on the nametags; the languages that we can speak.

  • So what I'm trying to say with this is that every polyglot has their own way

  • and the question is: "what do these polyglots have in common?", right?

  • and I'm going to discuss this in the second part,

  • but firstly I'll just briefly explain my own method.

  • I'm sorry the discussion would be right after the talk.

  • So just to briefly explain my methods,

  • I start with the "bidirectional translation method"

  • or "the back translation method" as I call it.

  • So I translate whole text from my mother tongue into the foreign language

  • so that I can use the phrases and learn them in context,

  • it's very similar to Luca Lampariello's method.

  • And afterwards I have 4 pillars of learning a language

  • and I always keep these 4 pillars

  • and it's helped me to learn all the languages that I speak today.

  • First of all, I make sure that my language learning is fun.

  • If it's not fun, if it's not enjoyable, it's not a method for me.

  • So that's why I work with materials that I pick myself, I like them,

  • I'm interested in reading the texts or listening to the recordings etc.

  • and I do it in a way which is fun for me.

  • So for example the Gold List method is fun for me,

  • flashcards, me personally not so much, so I prefer that method.

  • Secondly, I do a lot of that. I do a lot of learning.

  • So for example when I watch something, I make sure I go for a lot of TV series

  • because it has a lot of episodes and in this way

  • I get to see an episode every single day

  • and this gives me massive input that I can use

  • in order to improve my listening comprehension.

  • This way I have seen all of the episodes of

  • "Sex and the city, Desperate Housewives, Friends, Lost, ...

  • you name it in several languages and this is what I do

  • in order to really understand the languages well.

  • Thirdly, I decide to work with the language frequently

  • in small chunks so I learn, for example

  • half an hour or maybe an hour every day, but rarely more,

  • because I think it's really more effective to learn in small parts but frequently

  • really every day for some periods of time.

  • And finally I have a system in the language learning,

  • which means that I always pick priorities,

  • that I have for a certain period of time, 2 or 3 months.

  • And I work on them a lot, I concentrate on them

  • so I never develop all the 4 skills at the same time;

  • writing, reading, listening and speaking.

  • I always concentrate on what is the most important for me at that period

  • and I work on that.

  • Plus I have a system when I do the things that I do

  • so when I wake up, one of the first things I do is

  • I distil some vocabulary in the GoldList method,