Lýdia Machová – Ten things polyglots do differently [EN] – PG 2017

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, do some grammar exercises, etc… And these are the languages
that I apply these methods to and all besides the Slovak sign language
that is at the bottom. I’m able to use more or less
fluently today and this is exactly the goal
I am trying to achieve. I may be a little bit different
for many of you in the way that I don’t dabble in languages
so I don’t learn the basics of several languages, because I decide
to either go for it or not. You know I don’t want to spend
a lot of time learning the basics of a language because I feel that if I
don’t cross a threshold, where I use the language fluently, then
I would probably lose all of that time I spent with the language. And this is why I prefer to really go
all the way until I feel comfortable with the language,
I can read books in it, I can listen to whatever I want
and speak to the people. So now let’s get to the main question
of this presentation. What do these polyglots do differently?
What do they have in common? And what is different in their
language learning from the way that languages are learned
by the majority language learners, by the majority of people who are struggling
to learn even a single foreign language. I have 10 things for you,
because 10 is a nice number. So I’ll start with the first one
and I will clarify that: Polyglots do not have
a special talent for languages and I think you will agree with me,
because this is not a gathering of super-talented people who happen to be very lucky
to have been born that way. This is about the approach that we
take to language learning and I have a proof for you to show you
that we are not super-talented because all these people,
we have mentioned before who speak a lot of languages today were
not able to speak a foreign language until they were adults. Now I’m thinking
if these people had the super talent, wouldn’t they have been
the best students in class when they had some lessons of English or
whatever language they were learning at school? I supposed they would
if the talent was there, it probably would have shown
earlier, right? not at the age of 21, 23 when they
started to learn foreign language. For example, Lucas is from Brazil and he’s
had several years of English at school but when he was 17 or 18,
he could not speak at all. He’s had several years of English
at school just like the time-keepers but couldn’t use the language. How’s that possible?
Such a talented language learner, such a talented polyglot. So I believe that this really proves,
that it’s not about the special talent, it’s about something else. I have a nice quote by Henry Ford
who says: “Whether you think you can,
or you think you can’t, you’re right”. So I personally decide to believe that I have the language talent
and it works for me. And so many people out there
just tell you ‘Ah you speak so many languages,
it’s so easy for you but you know me, I just don’t have
the language gene, don’t have the talent,
so I’m not even trying, it doesn’t make any sense’. Well they will not speak
the foreign language, because they decided
that they don’t have the talent. Secondly, I think that every polyglot
has their own special method which I think I’ve demonstrated
in the first part of the presentation and there is not
one good method that people need to pick, or adopt
or repeat by other people, you need to develop it yourself. And that’s what I said about all of you, everyone has learned the language
in a different way and probably, hope you’ll agree with me, we even each language in a different way. So we sometimes go for more listening, sometimes go for more speaking,
sometimes reading, etc… Thirdly, Polyglots learn languages
mostly by themselves. And I believe that this may be
a key difference in the way polyglots
are learned out there in schools and language schools and the way that polyglots
learn languages. And this is because people, the majority
of people learning a language, when they want to learn a language,
what do they do? They find a language school
or a teacher, they pay them and expect to be
spoon-fed because they pay the teacher
so that the teacher teaches them and the only thing
that they are willing to do is come to the lesson
and wait to be taught. And I believe this is the whole thing,
this is the whole problem with unsuccessful language learners. Because if they did not approach
language learning like that, if they were willing to actually
give it the effort and the energy that all of us are giving it, then
they would have very different results. Luca Lampariello put it
very nicely when he said that ‘Languages cannot be taught,
they can only be learned’ and I totally agree with that,
because it’s just the way it is and all of us have not simply been taught
the languages by very skilled teachers but we have learned them ourselves. We may have teachers,
we may go to courses, we may have conversational classes, etc… there’s nothing bad with that, but it shouldn’t be the main thing,
the main time we spend with a language. Fourthly. Polyglots create
their own language material. I think we all, agree to that.
We don’t have just one book that we follow when we learn Spanish,
we don’t just have one book when we learn Portuguese instead we
create the materials that we want to use. So we create our own flashcards, our own collection of books, our own texts or recordings,
YouTube videos etc. Or sometimes we go
a little bit over the top and we collect a bit more books that we’re
able to use in the language learning. You all recognise this, your little
piles of books for all the languages
you want to learn. I know. But I think this is still
the good approach even if we overdo it
sometimes a little bit. The fifth point is that Polyglots learn
one language at a time. Now some of you may disagree with me
and I’ll be happy to discuss it in the discussion. My personal opinion is
that this is the best way how it works. My question for you: How can you learn to speak
10 languages in 2 simple steps? and I know many of you
know the answers because it was mentioned
at the first polyglot conference in Budapest by Anthony Lauder who said: “Step 1,
you speak 9 languages. Step 2, you add one.”
Simple, right? Now the logical question: “what happens
when you want to speak 7 languages?” You speak six and you add one. “what happens when you want
to speak 5 languages, you speak four and you add one. And if you want speak two languages,
speak one and add one. Makes sense, right? So this is my reply to people
asking me “how can I learn 2,3,5 languages
at the same time”. I tell them: “Don’t!”. Learn them one by one,
it doesn’t mean you cannot do anything with the other languages
while you’re learning one but I think you should concentrate
on one language and I personally spend at least
80% of my time with one language and then I spend maybe
20% with the other ones to keep them up, etc… The sixth point is Polyglots spend
much more time listening and speaking than the majority of learners. And I believe these 2 things are also
the key to learning a language well and to having different results. Because most people just go for
reading, learning vocabulary, grammar,
but nicely in their comfort zone. But they don’t want to speak,
because they’re not ready yet, They will speak
when they will feel ready and I believe that listening is
probably the most neglected skill that is used in traditional school
language learning system. I don’t know about you but when
I was learning English here in Slovakia, we would have a teacher
come with a tape recorder once a week and play one recording of English
and we would do exercises, listen to it again, that was
all the listening I got in the lessons. And no one told me at that time
that I need to listen to much much more of language material in order to
understand English well, only later did I find that out and
now I apply it to all the languages that I learned. I just listen, listen, listen to
podcasts, to YouTube videos, to TV series anything I can because otherwise I would not be able
to understand the language it just doesn’t go without that,
and I think this is something that teachers often forget
to mention to their students. And secondly, I believe there is
no better activity to help us improve in the language actively than speaking. I believe that speaking is the key
to actually having different results. Because once you start speaking,
you see the improvement you’ve had and motivates you to
learn more and get more vocabulary etc… You activate all the knowledge you have and that’s why I believe this is the
no. 1 skill that we should concentrate on which is often neglected in the
traditional school learning system. There is a moment in the
language learning which I totally adore and that’s the moment
when I feel free in the language, you know what I’m talking about? When you suddenly understand
the language, it doesn’t cost you that much energy
and it kinda feels your own. I had it last with Russian, this is
the language I’m learning right now. When I went to Russia
after one year of learning, and I heard people
speaking Russian in the street and I was like ‘oh there Slovaks
out there’ and after a few seconds ‘wait, this is Russian’ I just happened
to understand it so well that it feels like Slovak
or it feels like Polish which was my other language
which I had a good level. So I really really love this moment
and it feels like it’s totally worth spending 1 or 2 years learning the
language in order to achieve this level and just feel OK and
free in the language. Point Number 7 is that Polyglots
are not afraid to make mistakes. Now how does an average
language learner feel when they’re supposed to say
a sentence in a foreign language and they might make a mistake. Something like that, I think everybody
knows that feeling, right? of ‘oh my God,I’m going to say
a sentence in a foreign language. What if I make a mistake, oooh tragedy’. And I think polyglots approach
it differently, they go out there and they make
many many many mistakes because that’s the only way
to learn, right? And I feel that we’re just at ease,
speaking the language and using it with many mistakes. Actually this is something
one of my students told me because some of you
have been learning Slovak before coming to the gathering
and one of them is Michael Miskot. and he had a lesson
with one of my students when they were practicing Slovak and the student said after the lesson:
“this was amazing!” I just saw how Mikel was just so relaxed
about speaking the language. He wasn’t worried about
making mistakes, just took it easy, enjoyed the process. And he was at ease And he said “it was so inspirational
for me to see that, because I’m always so stressed
when I speak English”. And I saw that it can be
fun and OK and relax”. And I think this is what
we have in common, don’t we? When I had a lesson of Slovak
with Steve Kaufman or with Richard Simcott who have
both been learning Slovak. I saw how OK they were
with making mistakes, they don’t worry about that,
that’s exactly what it takes in order to improve
in your speaking skills. Point number 8 is that Polyglots
have mastered the art of simplification. I think this is the key to speaking
at the beginning when you don’t really have
the vocabulary, when you don’t have so many words. Now as an example,
to illustrate how I simplify things I was learning Spanish,
I was just at the beginning maybe A1 or A2 probably and I was out with some friends,
some Spanish-speaking friends Erasmus students in Bratislava and we
were doing some shopping, etc… And afterwards,
they said they were hungry. So they asked me: “Is there any restaurants out there?” and I was trying to explain
to them in Spanish, my very very limited Spanish. That “yeah, there is a
shopping center nearby and there is a food court
that we can all go to and we can pick several types
of restaurants, several types of cuisines,
you know, and have a good meal”. But with my very limited Spanish,
all I said was: (speaking Spanish) that
“there’s a lot of food in that house” and it worked, you know, I didn’t have to say much more. They all laughed of course,
we all laughed together but I was not worried about
making that mistake. They got the answer they wanted. So that’s
the art of simplification isn’t it? And if we apply this
to any speaking lesson, then we can really improve quickly. This was what Lucas does with his 500
most frequent words in his vocabulary, he just simplifies all ideas
that he wants to express. So if you get good at this skill,
you’re good to speak any language even from Day 1. Ninth point is that Polyglots learn
in small chunks. And I would like to bust the myth
that polyglots spend ages learning languages that they
don’t do anything else all day long. Well , there are days when we’re really,
all about the language, right? But usually not. I don’t know about you,
but I have a life actually. I don’t spend hours
learning a language a day, that would be boring,
so I spend maybe an hour, an hour and a half tops,
but I do it every day. I do it regularly,
I do it in small chunks and that way I know that the progress will come and it does and it feels very good. We all know that learning
a language is a marathon not a sprint. So if we try to rush it, it won’t work but if you enjoy
the process step-by-step, much better, much more effective. And finally, the final point
I want to make is that Polyglots really enjoy learning languages. And now I know many people would think, “yeah, that’s the thing,
language learning is not my hobby that means I will not a polyglot I will
not speak any foreign language well because you know, I just have other
hobbies but not language learning’ but I think this is wrong. The question is not
whether you happen to have language learning as a hobby,
the question is “How can you make language
learning a hobby?” if you need to learn the language. And I think there are so many ways,
so many beautiful ways on how to do this, because you can
for example watch your favourite series. I always tell people
“watch Friends with English subtitles or with no subtitles at all in English”. I told these people in Slovakia
who were mostly learning Slovak and they were like
“I actually could do that, I enjoy Friends” but they said “but what if I
don’t understand?” and I said
“don’t worry about it, you will later on,
just give it a time. If you need to give it a lot of input
it will improve, trust me’ and they come to me
after a month or two saying “I uderstand so much of Friends already,
this is cool’. This is because they enjoy
this process of watching series. You can also read many
interesting articles for example, about healthy lifestyle
if that’s what interests you. I tell people “don’t go for the texts
and the textbooks “instead find blogs about the topics
that you care about and then this way the learning
will be just fun and you will enjoy it
and it would be great.” You can listen to podcasts
about traveling for example, if you’re passionate
about travelling. It doesn’t need to be a podcast
that is meant for language learners, just try to go for native material,
give it a lot of time and it will put it to work. You can read books
about personal development; I think that reading non-fiction in
the foreign language is so much easier than reading fiction. Many people go for these old old
books from the 18th-19th century which I think are
pretty difficult to learn, if you’re starting with a language. But go for Brian Tracy
or something like that, you know, personal development
where someone is using the current language to express ideas,
to tell them to you to give you advice, it will work perfectly. Or for example you can learn grammar
through an app. It doesn’t need to be a book. I have a good example of a student of
mine, Erik Hoffmann, who is pretty well known as a
marketing specialist in Slovakia, who had a huge problem learning English. He said he was learning it for 20 years
as an eternal beginner. He couldn’t cross the fluency level,
he couldn’t have a conversation with me. But afterwards he said
“I’ve improved my English more in half a year than in 20 years
of being an eternal beginner”. How’s that possible? One of the keys for him was to
learn grammar through an app. He said “I really need to improve my
grammar but I don’t like books” so I told me ‘ok, there is an app’,
you know, Murphy’s English Grammar in Use,
you know the book? I think the best English
grammar there is. It’s an app now, you can download it
and do the exercises in the app, you don’t have to go through a
book and check the key etc. And this for him was a revolutionary
thing, he was addicted to learning English for several months
and really improved amazingly. I would like to quote Steve
on this one who said “Success in language learning depends
on you finding ways to enjoy the process” and I totally
subscribe to that. So these are the 10 things
which I believe are the key to learning languages successfully,
learning them the way that polyglots do and I believe
that if anyone out there whether they’re talented or not
copy these strategies, they find their own way
and just apply these techniques, they will definitely have to succeed. And Tony Robbins said
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”.
Makes sense, right? And yet the people out there still
keep trying the same thing all over again for many many years.
They’ve been learning English at language schools
and just language schools, no learning at home for many
many years and they think that if they change the language school,
it will work. But I think the system is just
not set correctly, you need to change your approach
to language learning and that’s when you can actually
achieve great great change in results that you have
with language learning. The question is
“So what do we do about this?” There is a huge gap between
the way polyglots learn languages and the way they are taught
at schools and language schools, what do we do about that? So this is
the question I’ve been dealing with for a long time and my answer to
this question is language mentoring. That is my approach
to learning languages. And you may remember
some of you last year at the gathering, I had a talk about language mentoring,
“Don’t teach me, make me learn”. Where I explained to you that I had
an experiment with a hundred students at the Comenius University
in Bratislava and I told them: “Don’t expect
this university to teach you, go for it and learn yourselves’. And a miracle happened,
a revolution into learning, seriously, because they started learning
and their results were just amazing. I then continued, after the last gathering
that we had in Berlin, I continued and started to teach
these things to people in Slovakia. I’ve done a lot of seminars,
I’m trying to spread the message by giving talks all over Slovakia
and telling people that polyglots are not
the super-talented people, you can all the languages yourselves and it’s really really fascinating
to see what a change this makes in many many
people’s lives. They write me often emails,
actually I quote them, they say “You’ve changed my life,
because now I’ve learned this language, I can use it to go work abroad to
communicate with so many people out there etc, etc…” And just last week I received
a really beautiful email from a guy that attended one of my talks
in Žilina a city in Slovakia, who said that: “I’ve been trying to learn English for
such a long time and it just never never worked. And when I went to your talk
and I heard you say I don’t need a talent to do that,
he actually quoted the quote by Henry Ford “Whether you think you can
or you think you can’t you’re right” and he said
“this totally changed my life. Now I’m learning English 2 or 3 hours
a day and I started going to interviews in Bratislava looking for a job,
and I just enjoy it. I speak and speak and before
I was always stuttering , I was not sure of myself
and now suddenly it works and it’s amazing so thank you for that,
for sharing this polyglot message with us’. So I would like to end this presentation
with a quote which all of you
have received as a bookmark, so have it as a little souvenir: “The best time to start learning
a language was when you were a kid. The second best time is today”. So I hope this inspires you
to keep learning your languages even though,
sometimes it’s a lot of hard work, it’s not always fun ,but I hope it helps
keep you motivated and inspired. If you have any questions,
I would be very happy to answer them. Thank you. So the question is whether
in this half hour to one hour a day that I recommend there is also
the other contact with the language. I think that this one hour
of contact a day is enough whereas most part of that should be
active learning, where you actually sit down
and concentrate on that. But I usually spend 20-30 minutes
a day just listening to podcasts, for example, when I walk,
when I do something else. Usually what happens is that I
fall in love with something that I use for like a material, for example
I’m watching “Кухня” to learn Russian, amazing series,
very recommended. So I make plans, ‘OK so I would watch
an episode every day’ but then the episode is so good
that I actually watch another one. So it often happens to me that I
spend more time with the language, but it’s not planned,
it’s not part of the system, but I just enjoy it that way.
Thank you. How can I apply this methodology
of teaching this way on a more structural level? Yes, I’m working on that.
I’ve just been spending a year on that so give me some more time. And actually this can be applied
massively to a lot of people. Now in my current course I have a
hundred and twenty people learning very different languages
all at the same time, and this is the language mentoring
group that I have. It’s all online, they don’t even
need to be in one place. And they’re all improving with their
own plan, with their own system and it seems to be working well,
so I’m trying to find ways to spread this and get more people
into this, but it seems to be working massively
pretty well. Thank you. So the question is what has been
the resistance so far to the methods,
that I’m trying to spread. Well, of course
this is not a method for everyone and as everywhere, there will be haters
and people who oppose. I’m OK with that because I’m not
trying to make everyone learn this way, what I’m trying to spread is that,
if there are so many people out there, polyglots just like all of us
who manage to learn languages then there must be something
about their learning and it’s worth looking to
those methods in more detail. But so far I haven’t experienced
anyone fighting against it because clearly there’s results. So if someone shows me a different
approach which works much better then I’m open to discuss that
of course but I’m not saying “languages
should be learned this way”, all I’m saying is you should spend
more time with the language, make it fun, make it frequent
and have a system in that. And I think no one really
opposes this or says that ‘oh well this doesn’t work’. People like to add different things
that are the most important things and I’m very open to revising that,
but other than that I don’t think people are against
that idea in general. So that’s a great idea,
that’s a call for action. Let’s spread this ideas in other contexts,
not just in Slovakia I totally agree but I actually don’t think
the context is so different for Slovakian learners than
it is for New Zealand learners. I know that for you it’s not so easy
to go to another country and practise their language,
of course. But people that I’m working with
mostly are people that cannot go to a different country, they have
a family here, they work, etc… Maybe they can go for a
week long holiday, but that’s not enough but I think
especially with the internet you don’t need to go to another country
in order to learn the language. So with the internet,
we can be anywhere, you know using online teachers
for example to practise, etc… and it that case I think
that’s very similar. But yes I agree with you and
please share the message on in New Zealand or anywhere else.
Thank you for that. I am sorry,
I am afraid we’ll have to end now One more minute, okay?
One more question… What do you think of total,
physical response method for kids as a starter and do you think
we can make this suitable for adults? I don’t know the details of this
method, so unfortunately I cannot tell you much more about that but I think that any method
can be applied within the system. Like this is not a particular method,
but actually whether you apply flashcards, whether you apply
the direct conversational method or anything else. It can work, if you do
a lot of it and you do it frequently. That would be my answer.
OK. Thank you very much for coming
and enjoy the rest of the Gathering.

100 thoughts on “Lýdia Machová – Ten things polyglots do differently [EN] – PG 2017”

  1. ❤️ Very nice presentation in English Lydia, congrats. Of course, you have spoken about your experience and your subject. I wonder how many years have you spend in an English speaking country? I was nearly 6 years studying at Comenius University (Universita Komenskeho) and never knew how to spell it in English up this day. In fact, I speak several languages not because I want to be a polyglot, but just from the circumstances. Most difficult is English because it isn't a phonetic language. And all above it depend on what you are talking about, what subject and which terminology are you using. Still, up to these days when I look at some English word in the dictionary, I look at it in several languages. Sadly the polyglots don't earn enough money for a living and have to spend a lot of time and energy to get to some reasonable level. I think so! I have had played chess for several years, the rule was to study during the day and play chess at night. That means around 8-10 hours daily. Finally, my wife threw out the chess board through the window and that was it.

  2. I do almost all of the 10, is that mean I am closer to the world of polygloth? I am just recently starting working hard to polish my English after years and years I had forsaken it (after my last English class in college 13 year ago). Recently I am finding that I flourish interest in learning languages. It gives me much joy, even though some times I get overwhelmed to. After fluent in English I plan to learn Japanese. I already know several basic Japanese. Wish me luck

  3. Tip 11: Avoid reading comments from languages learning channels on YouTube, because some of the mistakes those people make while writing will stick to you, and it's hard to "unlearn" those, especially when you cannot tell the difference between correct and wrong grammar. If you like reading comments, go for a channel whose goal isn't teaching you a language, but something else like science, sports, religion, politics, comedy, fiction or any other content you like.

  4. True… listening and reading.. habit make language and to consume everyday some time to observe the language daily and doubts clear up through habits of repetition as listening and reading lots of books

  5. I will never advise people to learn






    Chinese or Japanese languages.

    there is absolutely no need to waste your time, efforts and energies on it.

    English is enough for all of us.

    English is enough for anyone who wants

    to gain knowledge,

    learn new things,

    travel the world,

    communicate with people from the four corners of the world or

    wants to engage in international commerce.

    let us encourage people to put their fake national pride aside and make every effort to master the English language and send their kids to English medium schools. English medium education will also bring people and nations closer.


    Zulfiqar Tareen, a friend of all, the enemy of none.


  6. I really appreciate the incredible insight that you present here, it is immensely useful for everyone. Thanks a lot.

  7. I'm from Brazil and i've tried to learn english for some months. This was one of the best lectures that i have seen. Thank you so much!!!

  8. i was told by a German that I may not be Sprachbegabt, as my command of German grammar is good, but not great … that may or may not be true, but I function comfortably in several languages by bumping along despite the mistakes I might make, so I ignore the comment and continue to bump along. I don't need to be perfect, just understood.

  9. Usually i need subtitles when I'm seeing a person that speaking in english, but i understood whatever she said without subtitles!!!

  10. all the points she mentions as well as her message are good. But talented people just learn and communicate and don't have to j*** off to the fact that they speak more thatn 2 or 3 languages. it's just natural.
    I don't even know why I'm watching these 'polyglot' videos, but well… there are like 3 groups of people: people with the wrong approach who have troubles with languages. People who are curious and not shy and can use synthesising in learning and they build it up and learn languages. and people who are like group 2 but want to show off with it, they call themselves 'Polyglots' …. and they make all their videos on youtube in english 😀

  11. Hi Lýdia Machová. I agree with almost everything I've just heard and seen. How long did it take you to learn your english ? Have you learnt it in England?

  12. Thank you. This was very motivating. I have been learning Spanish at home and have just now started going to an academy to help to have someone to practice with. I have learned a lot but putting 1 – 1 1/2 hours aside to practice everyday I think will lead me to my breakthrough. I do it with my fitness program and so I will apply the same dedication to my language learning.

  13. how many polyglots would be there in the world who can speak korean fluently? 🙂
    I don't think the western polygots have experienced the real challenge to study the languages like Korean spoken in a word order that is totally different to theirs.
    How about you challenge Korean? 🙂

  14. I'd love to learn many languages, but I'm still trying to learn English, there's 5 years that I'm learning, but I'm not fluent yet. I was 30 when I started, I think I have problem to remember what I have just learned.
    I think I'm doing in a right when, I watch series, movies… I read books. I sing songs… I have chats in English…
    But even in this way I'm learning slowly.
    When I'm fluent in English, I want to learn Spanish. I'm Brazilian and my first language is Portuguese.
    I'll never give up.

  15. thanks for your tipps! im just wondering, which level the polyglotts have achieved. As for me, to speak a language is not really difficult, but to reacht the near native level is the big deal… so how we can get there

  16. Mam really nice vídeo i want to ask you which method do you use for learning spanish. And while learning spanish waching that language movie or series with English subtítulos or with subtítulos.

  17. How perfectly these people speaks the Language?
    I suppose that they can not undestand a sientific text.

    Can they understand dialects?
    I live 27 years in Austria but I can not say that I speak perfect Deutsch and
    sometimes I don´t understand the people out thear because they speak dialect.

  18. Hello Lydia, I enjoyed the video. I am an ex-pat from Czech Republic, having left as a 9 year old, for Canada. Zaroven, jsem si udrzel jazyk do te miry ze muzu mluvit bez prizvuku, ctu a i pisu. ( Samozrejmne moje psani neni v te same urovni ale staci)

    Aby prubjeh me otazky bjezel v lehci draze, jdu spatky na anglictinu.

    My question actually pertains to a process I am looking to implement with some of my employees. These are specifically new Indo-Canadians, that actually have a very functional vocabulary and even syntax, but their accent is quite heavy.
    I have recently purchased an “accent mitigation” program and I am already noticing substantial improvements in some areas after about 6 weeks.

    Having said that, I am finding that while the accents are diminishing, the language continues to be quite telegraphic.
    Information is shared, but it need something more. It needs some connective or bridging type of phrases that are perhaps immersed in regional colloquialisms, to make the communication lose some of its formal structure and allows to communicate the feeling that “ hey I understand Canada, I have been here for a while and I know the informal elements of the language as well”

    My question is: Is there a formalized program or system by which colloquial / slang connector type of language can be taught?

  19. When English speakers ask me "why are you studying Spanish?", I reply: "I have never studied Spanish. I speak Spanish. I am having fun. I am APPARENTLY learning Spanish, according to my native Spanish-speaking conversation partners (o sea, mis víctimas – my victims)."

    Okay, then why am I speaking Spanish? I answer that question with another question: Is it easy to make me shut up in English? No, right? Tengo mucho que decir, y no hay lo suficiente de gente anglohablante para satisfacerme. Apparently.

  20. Mellifluous voice, marvelous speech modulation and wonderful presentation. I would love to watch all of Lydia's videos.

  21. Her accent becomes more and more prominent during the lecture. Go "all in" and try to speak more like a native is one of my primary goals.

  22. 06:18 Actually, they are four.. I see the bulgarian flag there, as well… And for a slovakian you should, kind of, know that..
    Anyway, thanks. Great presentation.

    Correction: You said "already fluent", sorry, my mistake. I can help with bulgarian.

  23. the people polyglot only learn leanguech independently if is espanish russian french chinese or italian saludos es de mexico

  24. This vid absolutely means a lot to me! Thank you so much!
    Btw, despite the advocacy of study one language at a time, i will still try to learn 6 at the same😂wait and see if i can make it👍🏻

  25. I just started learning Spanish French,English and soon Polish wish to learn it well.Very encouraging video and now I am motivated to do so.

  26. Would be much more interesting to study non-European languages: easy Indonesian; medium Turkish; difficult Arabic.. 🇸🇦🇨🇳🇷🇺🇲🇨🇹🇷🇻🇳🇯🇵

  27. Since when has American been a fucking language? Get the Stars and Stripes off there and replace it with the Union flag.

  28. I started learning Italian two years ago… I was 48 yo then. Oggi credo di essere in grado di fare una conversazione di buon livello e non ho paura di parlare. È un vero piacere poter conoscere altri persone di una cultura diversa. Agora estou estudando francês e creio que até 2021 poderei conversar com quem eu quiser em Paris. Yo ahora hablo 4 lenguas y quiero llegar hacia la quinta el más temprano possible. La sensación es muy placentera. A plus tard 🙂

  29. Learning a new language isn’t so hard but when you try to speak like a native speaker it’s hard, it need some talent. Can I say She has strong accent .

  30. The part from 15:00 is the most inspiring for me. It's easy to suppose that all polyglots were brought up in multi-lingual households or countries. Whilst it's true that most are, it's good to know that being monolingual until adulthood isn't a bar to acquiring multiple languages.

  31. Thanks Lydia. You've motivated me to learn Portuguese. I think a lot of people do not learn in the traditional parrot fashion grammar method. The creative brain is not engaged in that way. So you could be intelligent but have no meaningful stimulation or reason to learn a language.

  32. I've just got the B2 of English and It took me 6 years. Till now I thought that the EOI in Spain was the BEST and the cheaper way to learn English today. Could I learn on my own enough to pass the C1 level? In my village the official language School (EOI) hasn't got that level, l'll need to move 150 km twice a week to study the C1.

  33. In summary, schools are shit, learn by yourself, government give me back my money. Not much has changed in our educational system in over one hundred years. It's sad that a kid can learn another language with an ipad and games before the school teaches it to you. I bet even the language teachers find their own class boring. Lýdia Machová is so spot on.

  34. I’d love to see Moses (laoshu505000) at one of these conferences giving his opinions. Because I’m still watch his back catalogue of videos and am still caught off guard when he starts using a language I haven’t seen him using. Especially since he is clearly successful in his approach and it almost definitely goes against the idea of learning one language at a time.

  35. I really loved your video, you're right, I've been using some methods that you mention in your video, I did not know that the way that I learn English it's the way that polyglots do it, however, I have to admit that I'm a little desperate and I'm not constant with my English learning, but you have given me hope, you are right, because despite I wasn't constant with my English learning, my listening skills are better than some years ago, and I think that if I put the effort as soon as possible, (I hope in this half year), I will be able to speak fluently and be confident with my English language, so thank you, thank you, thank you.

  36. I feel that using flags to describe languages is inaccurate and sensitive, I always use ISO 639-1 codes… Anyway, this is just a very small critique; I loved these videos and I learned a lot! 🙂

  37. I do the Golden List method. I have a polyglot friend Roger, fluent in French and English, C2 level English, and he is studying Chinese, Arabic and Russian while studying anatomy. He told me, ''Say a word 77 times. It will be hard to forget after that. '' That is why I swear by the Golden List method.

  38. ALv, no pues si está cabrón, qué rifado que pudieras aprender un idioma nuevo cada 2 años.
    ahahah ese Benny, nada perdido.

  39. Two things:
    – Her concept of mentoring instead of compulsory teaching could/should be applied to every subject. We all learn everything differently.
    – I don't think she uses the word "hobby" correctly. Not trying to be critical. I don't understand the whole section (or two) that she referred to it as a hobby and so I'm losing the info. Anyone else know what she meant?

  40. How does a forgetful person learn a language?
    I've learned programming languages but despite using them extensively, I still need to refer to the manual regularly.
    I've also watched many of these "how to learn a language" videos, and none have been particularly helpful.
    Tried various systems, none of which address the 'forgetful' problem.
    It's frustrating, but I won't give up.
    ¿Como se aprende un persona olvidado una idioma?
    Aprendió lenguas de programador, pero a pasar usar los muchos, todavía necesito reservar el libro con frequencia.
    Y, tambien, vi muchos vidos como este. Nunca ha sido muy util.
    Trate muy systemes, nunca trata la problema "olvidado".
    Soy frustrante, pero no rendire.

  41. If I am not mistaken, the picture at 28:23 is the picture of the kid that got killed in a freak auto accident 🙁

  42. You gave everyone the spark to lighten his motives to learn at least one more language besides their mother tongue ,Thanks a lot, Greetings from me ,

  43. Hi Machovà. It have been great for to see tour video about polyglots, but I have a serious problem and would like you to show me how to solve it. You want to learn a language but you don't have anyone with chat or talk in it, how to do?

  44. polyglot can listen and speak fluently in such languages, i am curious about how their reading and writting skills are?

  45. I really enjoyed the presentation. I wholeheartedly agree with the tips shared. I m just kind of new to your channel . I hope to get more hints with fruitful performances .

  46. Hi Lydia Machova! I just watched your video and enjoyed it very much. I've never met someone like you, or I'd say like me 'cause I'am too a polyglot.

  47. About the ways of learning foreign languages, no.5: polyglots learn one language at a time, with me things were different. I was born in Brazil so my native language is Portuguese. When I was 15 I moved to Japan and started to learn Japanese from ZERO. I learned Japanese, The Ryukyu dialect and English at the same time. After I learned other languages such as Spanish and Chinese.

  48. By the way, I consider "environment" the most important factor to learn a foreign language.

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