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  • Claudio Santori: In Italy, we study languages at school,

  • but we don't speak them very well.

  • What about Sweden?

  • You are not blond, but you are from Sweden, right?

  • Muezz Vestin: Yes, in Sweden we speak French, German, English,

  • and we learn from a really, really low age,

  • and not everyone is blond.

  • CS: Ha! But you do have a very strong Swedish accent.

  • I don't think I have an accent,

  • I speak English very much good.

  • (Laughter)

  • MV: Oh, yes you do have an accent.

  • All Italians have an accent,

  • if they even speak English at all.

  • CS: Maybe, we don't speak languages but we don't need it,

  • we speak the body language, with our hands.

  • (Laughter)

  • MV: In Sweden, that would look silly.

  • We simply keep the hands in the pockets.

  • (Laughter)

  • CS: The first time we meet a foreigner,

  • we all make assumptions about who they are,

  • unconscious assumptions based on what we believe,

  • on stereotypes, on their language skills, and their accent.

  • For example, Swedish are supposed to be blond,

  • Italians don't speak English,

  • Chinese is impossible to learn,

  • Lithuanian grammar -- oh, my God!

  • (Laughter)

  • What we found that is that languages are easy to learn.

  • All you have to do: you have to make a very good first impression.

  • (Laughter)

  • MV: Languages are wonderful!

  • Learning a language is a life-changing experience.

  • Are you learning a language?

  • The journey is so fascinating, and the rewards at the end are incredible.

  • And we are not talking about studying the grammar here.

  • When you speak a foreign language, you get to know natives on a deeper level.

  • Mandela said it clearly:

  • "If you speak to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head;

  • if you speak to him in his language, that goes to his heart."

  • CS: Today studying languages is easy and accessible,

  • there are language courses everywhere,

  • and we can even study languages from our phones.

  • But too often, when we study languages, we tend to isolate ourselves,

  • we are too shy for speaking, so we start making excuses,

  • like I need more grammar, I need more rules, I need more words.

  • The truth is we are just afraid of making mistakes,

  • so we hide behind studying

  • just to avoid the pain and embarrassment of speaking another language.

  • MV: We both speak together about 10 different languages.

  • We've been living in foreign countries for many years.

  • We've been to traditional courses, we used any possible software out there,

  • and we managed to find our ways to learn languages.

  • But it's been challenging, it required a lot of time and effort.

  • And when we met, we met here, in Lithuania,

  • about one year ago, we did not speak Lithuanian.

  • And if you can imagine our knowledge on a graph,

  • we met, we didn't speak,

  • and then all of a sudden, two months ago it all exploded.

  • What happened?

  • Before, we were studying the traditional way,

  • you know, with the grammar an so on.

  • Our Lithuanian friends kept speaking to us in English though

  • trying to convince us that Lithuanian is too hard to learn.

  • CS: But we didn't want to give up, so we kept studying,

  • and you, Lithuanians, you kept talking to us in English.

  • At some point, we just looked at each other,

  • we just-- let's wake up!

  • You know what we can do? We can talk Lithuanian to each other.

  • So, imagine this--

  • (Laughter) (Applause)

  • An Italian and a Sweden speaking broken, broken Lithuanian.

  • (Laughter)

  • And you were laughing, you were laughing In the office,

  • they were laughing, on the street. (Laughter)

  • But we couldn't care less because we were finally using Lithuanian.

  • So, what we were doing every day for at least 10 minutes:

  • instead of using English, we were using Lithuanian

  • without being afraid of making mistakes

  • talking about life, food, work, everything.

  • MV: Finally, we were speaking Lithuanian,

  • well, at least to each other

  • (Laughter)

  • because, unfortunately, our Lithuanian friends

  • kept speaking to us in English.

  • And we told them, we asked, we complained, we even blogged about it,

  • and they did not change.

  • (Laughter)

  • We realized we were doing a big mistake: we were complaining in English.

  • (Laughter)

  • So we started to complain in Lithuanian,

  • and that day, during our 10 minutes of daily practice,

  • we took the phone, we decided to record the conversation,

  • and it, more less, looked like this:

  • MV: "Hi, I am Muezz, Swedish." CS: "I am Claudio, I am from Italy."

  • MV: "And we really want to speak Lithuanian."

  • CS: "So please talk to us in Lithuanian!"

  • But here is the trick: we didn't record the video in English,

  • we recorded it in Lithuanian.

  • (Lithuanian) MV: "Hi, I'm Muezz, Swedish." CS: "I am Claudio, I am from Italy."

  • MV: "And we really want to speak Lithuanian."

  • CS: "So please talk to us in Lithuanian!"

  • (Laughter)

  • MV: And that's it.

  • (Applause)

  • CS: So, we looked at the video, it was like, huh, this is cool!

  • We can speak Lithuanian, let's brag with our community about this.

  • So, we shared it on Facebook.

  • And our friends, maybe in the audience, used that to like this,

  • and then used that it to share it with your friends.

  • And your friends, they shared it with their friends.

  • It went viral.

  • Two major Lithuanian portals, they posted it on their home pages.

  • (Laughter)

  • We were a Facebook hit.

  • In less than 24 hours, 200,000 people saw it.

  • In Lithuania that's a big number.

  • (Laughter)

  • And it's hard to believe what happened the next day,

  • because magically, your friends started to talk to us in Lithuanian.

  • (Applause)

  • There were strangers stopping us on the streets, like,

  • (Speaks in Lithuanian)

  • We started to speak Lithuanian all day long.

  • Journalists wanted to speak with us,

  • and that morning we gave an interview in Lithuanian for two hours.

  • (Laughter)

  • We looked at each other, like, oh, my God, we had a headache,

  • but we could not believe we could speak Lithuanian.

  • Few days later, the municipality of Vilnius invited us

  • (Laughter)

  • we met with the mayor,

  • a radio show wanted to interview us, and now we are there every Wednesday.

  • (Laughter)

  • And, of course, TEDxVilnius was interested,

  • and now we're here talking to you about our story.

  • (Applause)

  • We hacked a country,

  • and now we're so busy speaking Lithuanian and learning the language for free,

  • that we don't have time to study the language anymore.

  • (Laughter)

  • MV: At first, we thought we were just lucky, of course.

  • But learning a language, it is a psychology game,

  • and it is important to set up a right environment to win this game.

  • The language learning trailer, that's how we call it, it works.

  • Why?

  • First of all, it shows that you really want to speak the language,

  • it shows that you care.

  • And it also shows that you already can speak:

  • maybe, not perfectly, but you can.

  • We made tons of mistakes in our video, which was totally fine;

  • you should make mistakes.

  • Finally, it shows it's fun.

  • You don't have to be insecure about your poor skills,

  • just relax, be confident.

  • It takes about 100 pictures to make a good selfie, right?

  • You can make as many videos as you need to look confident for 30 seconds.

  • CS: So, this language learning trailer really works, and it changed our lives.

  • But you know what? It could work for anybody here,

  • for any language, for any country.

  • All you need is a friend, practice the language together,

  • and when you are confident enough, take the phone and make that video.

  • What can you talk about?

  • Complain to the natives and say: "Please talk to us in your language!"

  • But don't do that in English.

  • You need to do it-- if you study French, Spanish, or Italian,

  • you need to make that video in French, Spanish, or Italian.

  • That's when the video becomes really powerful.