字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 (rich tango music) (audience applause) - So, I want to start off by telling the story that got me started in all this. Basically, I had just graduated and I moved to Spain. I went to this dinner. There was an international exchange group. People from all around the world. And I sit beside this guy from Brazil. Very interesting guy. He gave me the most impressive multilingual show I'd even seen in my life. Basically, another Brazilian came in. He turned to him and he said something like, (speaking in a foreign language) And he turned immediately straight over to this French girl who was chatting him up because he was a good-looking guy. He's like, (speaking in a foreign language) And then he turned directly to the organiser, the Spaniard, and he's like, (speaking in a foreign language) And then he turned back to me and he says with a very strong American accent-- Actually, I can't do American accents. Sorry. (audience laughs) I asked him, "How did you do this? "How are you speaking all these languages?" Because I was actually-- I could only speak English. This is eight years ago. I had grown up thinking I just don't have... I just can't do it. It's not possible because I took German and Irish or Gaeilge in school. I did very badly at them. So I kind of figured I don't have the language talent, the language gene, you know. I figured I knew everything about genetics even though I didn't study it. I figured I was sure I don't have the language gene. I had plenty of other excuses or reasons that many people can relate to. I didn't really have the time or the resources. And I was too old. Even though I was 21, I figured that's it. I'm too old because I'm past the age. It's like I heard-- Somebody told me that 14 is this cutoff age that you can't learn a language anymore. I was sure of that. I figured you have to learn it as a child. That's it. So these are reasons most people have. I had an extra reason. It was that I actually was sick when I was growing up and I had to go to speech therapy. I actually had trouble learning English and I still kind of stumble and pronounce things incorrectly at times. Most of the things you're hearing me pronouncing incorrectly now is actually my Irish accent. Don't worry about that. I was sure. I was a hundred percent sure. It's not possible. I asked this guy, "How are you doing this? "How are you speaking all these languages?" And he just said, "I don't know. "I'm just trying to speak them. "Going up to the person and using the language." And I said, "No, no. It can't be that simple." I challenged myself. I thought, "I'm going to do this. "I want to learn Spanish." You know? Because I'd just moved to Spain and I decided instead of just having a quick internship where I just speak in English because I'd just graduated as an electronic engineer. So I was just all like right-left brain. I was good at mathematics. Bad at languages. But I figured, no, I can figure this out. I can find a way to learn this language. So I dived into everything I could think of. I went to a course that was very expensive. There was just three or four other people in the classroom. Went to that for several weeks. Didn't work. I started studying a lot of books. Didn't work. I got some CD courses, some software. It didn't work. I tried to read a book. My first choice was not particularly clever, I think. It was "El Señor de los Anillos". The Lord of the Rings. I thought, "I'll read this. I'll read this in Spanish." I had my dictionary which I would consult every second word, basically. I made it to two pages and then I thought, "Okay. I'm not going to keep this up." After six months living in Spain, I couldn't speak Spanish. So, if anything, this just convinced me even more that I don't have this thing. This magic language gene that people are just born with. And then I had an epiphany. This is what I want to share with people. This is where I'm trying to convince the world it's not actually about language talent. I really feel language talent is irrelevant. Some people might do it a bit better but that doesn't matter for you. What I did was I started to speak Spanish. I don't know if that makes sense right now but hopefully it will. The problem was, for six whole months, I had been studying Spanish. I'd been studying it so much that it was making it harder for myself. I kept seeing all these subjunctives and definite articles and things that were just confusing me. After all the studying, I was nowhere further. I didn't really know any words. Six months and I was still at the stage of just saying, "Hola. Gracias. Por Favour. Adios." You know? Just running off like that. I just decided I'm going to start speaking the language. I'm going to get all of these excuses and ignore them. That I'm not ready and I need to work more or I'm not intelligent enough to learn a language. I just started speaking it and everything changed. Very soon after that, I was gaining momentum. A couple of weeks later, I realised I'm actually doing everything in Spanish. I'm living my life through this language. Eventually, I reach the stage where my level was pretty good. The thing is you will find people who kind of would retort that, saying how it's not so possible for them. They always have many reasons why they can't just start speaking. Hopefully, I can go through a list of the most famous ones and see if I can convince you that it's not quite... I really feel anybody can learn a language. One thing people might say is that they just don't have the words. You start learning a language, you've got no words. How can you have conversations with somebody? But, actually, if you're learning a Latin language like Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, what people don't realise is that they've got, maybe, tens of thousands of words before they even start. I think like in 1066, the French Normans got into England and they hung around for a few centuries. You had like two layers of society. You had the poor peasants who would speak the old Germanic English. And you had the rich noblemen who would speak something closer to French. Eventually, these things merged. So in English, we've got a lot of French vocabulary which actually happens to be very similar or the same in Spanish and Italian and French and Portuguese and so on. If you learn some of these words, you get a headstart. You can figure out without have to learn the language how you might say these things. So if you remember the different strata, the different levels of formality. Let's say I wanted to say the word "country" in like Spanish and I forget what it is. I forget or I don't even know. I've never come across the word. Well, how about I try to rephrase that in English. Can I go back to English? Instead of country, what's another way to say country? I could say "nation". It means almost the same thing. It's not exactly the same thing. It's close enough. Nation is just "nación". Or "nation or whatever is might be in the corresponding language. Or you might think if somebody's knocking on the door, you can say, "Come in." And that's fine. Or you could also say, "Enter." And "Enter" is from the old kind of French version. You've got "entrar", "entrer" and so on. So you've already got some words but let's say you're going to something far away, an Asian language. Middle-Eastern language. It's not possible nowadays to start a language from zero, from scratch. It's not possible because you always have something. Human beings are interacting all the time. You have maybe brand names or you've got technology that uses the same words. So it would be very hard to find a language where at least one or all of Coca-Cola, internet, Obama, where these words would not be pretty much the same. (audience laughs) You know? And this is pretty universal. If you can thinks of this and kind of maybe... I've used brand names to explain myself and get a point across initially with people. When you've got this vocabulary, you can really start getting into learning the words that obviously have nothing to do with what's you've come across before. You can try some memory techniques. I've got a very bad memory. I really feel that I've got censorship in my brain whenever somebody tells me their name. It's like, you know, "Nice to meet you. I'm beep." (audience laughs) I forget it immediately. I don't have a good memory but, despite that, I would learn words quickly because I'd try to make it more fun. I'd think to myself, when I was learning Spanish, I took the word for "beach" and I saw it "playa". I thought, okay. Well, "playa" kind of looks a bit like the English word, "player". So I thought, well, imagine this. When I think of a player, I think of this of like a cheesy pickup artist. And imagine this super over-confident guy walking down a beach in Spain and trying to pick up girls and getting a slap in the face. You know, a very visual image. From then, I remembered if I see the word, "playa", that sounds like "player", then the guy was on the beach. And it works the reverse as well. You think of beach, you associate the player and you go backwards. So you can learn words very quickly if you learn them with an association.