If you really want something, you’ll find a way – Carole Westerkamp

Claudio and CaroleWe met Carole Westerkamp at the 2nd International Polyglot Conference in Novi Sad, in Serbia. Carole is a wonderful person and an incredible Polyglot, speaking so many languages in such a beautiful and passionate way.
During the conference we were so busy talking and sharing experiences that we forgot to take a picture together so the only one we have, we took it at the airport of Belgrade 3 minutes after meeting.
The floor is your Carole

 

Who are you and where have you lived in the last 12 months

My name is Carole Westerkamp and I currently work as a teacher of English and German at a secondary school in The Netherlands. I have lived in the Netherlands for the past 12 months, due to the fact that I have two teenage children who were finishing college and starting university in the past months. I am thinking of moving abroad in a couple of years.

What languages do you speak?

I speak Dutch, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Croatian, Greek and Bahasa Indonesia. I just started learning Romanian. I can bring across meaning in a couple of other languages, but to me that doesn’t really count.

 

Polyglot Conference Budapest 2013 – Carole Westerkamp “The Power of Words in Whatever Language”

Languages are just a hobby or you make money out of them?

Languages were just a hobby at first. I studied Physical Education and after working as a P.E. teacher for a while I worked as a tourleader and later for KLM. My languages skills started to come in handy then. 10 years ago I got 2 more teacher’s degrees and went back to teaching, languages this time. The other languages are still a hobby though.

Me in NoviSad

Tell us something about your First Time.

As a teenager my parents took me on a holiday to Croatia 3 years in a row. I wanted desperately to mix with the locals, but they hardly spoke any of the languages that I learned in school, so I decided to learn their language. I carried a notebook around with me and wrote down everything I wanted to know. I still have that notebook! I stayed in touch with my new friends by writing letters (Yes, I’m that old!) and that was the best way to learn fast!

Any terrible experience? Like a language you could not learn and
 you gave up…

I find the phrasing too negative. To me there is never a “terrible experience” in language learning. You can be temporarily disheartened by a language, disappointed by your slow progress, or you can lose your interest for multiple reasons. It’s all in the game. If you really want something, you’ll find a way, if you don’t really want it, you’ll find excuses.

What about an “easy” experience

I was raised bilingually, with Dutch and English because my mom was Canadian. I was married to a Cuban for nearly 10 years. I worked in a hotel in Italy for 2 consecutive summers and as a tourleader I spent lots of time in Indonesia. All these were “easy experiences” because it made the language acquisition natural.

Me singing in Portuguese (Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2013)

Why languages and not…..

To be honest, I haven’t focused only on languages. I have always been a jack of all trades, master of none. But languages sure come in first place! Others before me have mentioned the thrill of being able to communicate with others in a language other than your own. That’s what makes me tick: communication!
My public

Do you have a mentor? Does anybody inspire you?

It was pretty much ‘me, myself and I’ with the languages when I was young, so I never had a mentor. Nowadays there are many people out there who inspire me. Not so much with their YouTube videos, because I am a very visual person and the videos are mainly auditory (meant to listen to). I am inspired by the stories they tell at Polyglot Conferences and Gatherings and when we meet in person or on Skype.
Me with some great polyglots

Do you have a secret weapon to learn languages?

Einstein supposedly once said: “I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious.” I think that’s what drives me, curiosity and passion (for life). And wonder. How do people say things in other languages and why the differences? Like: you “walk a risk” in Dutch (je loopt een risico), yet you “run a risk” in English.

Can you share with us your language learning routine?

I communicate with others a lot. As soon as I can I find people to write to and to talk with, I ask them to correct me by “parroting” (repeating after me but using the correct words or grammar) and paraphrasing (putting things slightly differently), the way little kids learn. E.g. I’ll say: “I buyed a new book” and the other person will say: “Oh, great, you bought a new book!” This is what I do in my classroom with my students as well.

 

Carole Westerkamp – The magic of metaphor: A speech on compelling storytelling for teachers, trainers

Do you try to read/watch content at your level? Is it easy to find?

Yes, I read, watch videos and listen to music in the target language a lot. You can find lots of things in the stores in The Netherlands and/or on the Internet. I also ask people to buy me stuff or I do it myself on my travels.

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Have you already used Bliu Bliu?

Yes, after hearing about it at the Polyglot Conference in Novi Sad I checked it out and I from what I have experienced so far I really like it!

Your final words: share anything you want with our passionate
community of language lovers.

I truly believe everyone can learn anything they set their minds on. Some will learn quicker than others, but they will learn. A good way of learning anything you want is “modelling”. Choose a role model and closely copy what he or she does. This goes for the ways of learning, the methods, but more so for the accent and the melody of a language. Learn poems or crazy phrases (chunks) off by heart and say them out loud repeatedly, until they sound good. Read out loud (Prof. Arguelles talked about that too in Novi Sad). Remind yourself that practice will make you better!
Me and Alex Rawlings

How can people get in touch with you…

Apart from being a language teacher I am also an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) trainer and I have my own website www.efficient-c.nl It is still completely in Dutch, so good training for those who are learning Dutch! It has a “contact” page.
So:
Personal Website
My Twitter account is Efficient_C
Facebook or LinkedIn as “Carole Westerkamp
Find me on Skype under “Amistad2106

Being a Young Polyglot

We met Josip Cvrtila at the International Polyglot Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia. He proved to be an amazing Polyglot with 12 languages under his belt. His italian simply beautiful

Read the interview to find out how passion can bring you very far on learning languages.20141012_131015

Who are you and where have you lived in the last 12 months

My name is Josip Cvrtila, I am a student of computer science but also a huge language lover and enthusiast. For the last 12 months, I have mostly lived in Croatia although I have spent some time in Madrid, Spain as well.

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What languages do you speak?

I don’t like the phrase “to speak a language” because, just as with fluency, it’s really hard to define what it means. But let’s say I am able to keep a conversation in which I feel comfortable in about 12 languages, although this does sometimes depend on the topic being discussed. Those languages are Croatian, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Polish, Russian, Chinese, Czech and Greek.

Languages are just a hobby or you make money out of them?

When I first started to learn foreign languages, it was simply because I discovered it to be my biggest passion. I was really happy and satisfied to be able to hold a conversation with someone in a language that wasn’t my native one, that I didn’t really need any money. But about 2 years ago, I started to teach languages to people as well. I do this both in person (private sessions in my hometown) and on a website called Italki.

Tell us something about your First Time.

If you’re referring to the first time I learnt a foreign language, I can’t tell you much because I was about 2 years old. I do, however, remember many funny situations regarding that period, mostly because of the way I was pronouncing things.

Any terrible experience? Like a language you could not learn and
you gave up…

I’ve given up on many languages in my life. But it has never been because they were too dificult. I just found that I had no more reasons to continue to learn them. Perhaps because of lack of materials to learn them from or because I didn’t like them anymore.

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What about an “easy” experience

About 5 years ago, I had a girlfriend from Poland with whom I was together for 3 months. She made me so motivated that I managed to learn Polish, which many people consider one of the most difficult languages in the world, to a very solid B2 level in 2 months. I did this just by talking to her every single day for about 10 hours or so.

Why languages and not…..

I don’t know.. I have never known why languages are so important and appealing to me. But I just love that amazing feeling when you use the language you have been studying for the first time and you see you’re able to understand at least something. This feeling is what keeps me motivated and what keeps me going. It’s like being high, just without any health risks.

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Do you have a mentor? Does anybody inspire you?

I do not have a mentor. I mostly find inspiration in other people who do the same things I do. I watch a lot of Youtube clips with all the polyglots practising their languages. The biggest motivational boost so far was given to me at the Polyglot conference in Novi Sad, Serbia this year where I met so many amazing people.

Do you have a secret weapon to learn languages?

Not really. I do more or less the same things others do as well.

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Can you share with us your language learning routine?

My primary method is speaking with people. I (almost) never learn from a grammar book or with those long and tedious vocabulary lists. I think it’s just better and more natural to engage in a conversation with people as soon as possible. That’s what I do every day. Whether on Skype or in person, I just try to communicate with as many people as I can, as often as I can.

Can you share some tips on how you handle conversations when you don’t know many words but you still want to talk with a native?

Well, there are a couple of ways to do this. One is to just replace the unknown words with their English equivalents. So, for instance, if I want to ask someone “What do you want to do?” in Italian and I don’t know how to say “to do”, I’d say “Cosa vuoi do?”. By doing this, I was able to express myself but I still didn’t learn how to say the word. The other way, that I use far more often is just asking the person you’re speaking with how to say something. That’s why “How do you say … in your language?” is one of the first phrases I always learn

And where can anybody find people to talk with?

There are a lot of specialised websites online where people can, quite literally, enter the language that they want to practise and the site is going to list a ton of people they can talk to. One of the best ones of this type is Sharedtalk (sharedtalk.net) where you even have the option of filtering people by age, which sometimes can be quite useful. Other such sites are Mixxer, Italki, Language-exchange, etc.. Although if you just do a Google search on “language exchange”, you’ll get enough results to keep you busy for quite a while.

Do you try to read/watch content at your level? Is it easy to find?

This depends a lot. It depends both on your level and the language you’re learning. I love reading books (especially novels) in the languages I’m learning but they are often very difficult to find.

Have you already used Bliu Bliu?

Yes, a friend has told me about it recently so I decided to check it out. I absolutely LOVED it! Quite an innovative and ingenious way of teaching the language. I really think I will be using it for some of my future language projects.

Your final words: share anything you want with our passionate
community of language lovers.

I’d like to remind everyone that there is not a single person on this planet who isn’t capable of learning a language. Do it! Don’t be afraid of making mistakes because they are a very natural way of learning and they cannot be avoided. Try to speak as often as you can and just use the language in virtually every situation where that is possible. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you will progress!

How can people get in touch with you…

A few days ago, I created a blog where I will post everything regarding my learning process of languages, life experience, travel diary and much more. You can visit it here: https://thepolyglotvision.wordpress.com

Lithuania is a great country

The first independent video review of Bliu Bliu.

We love our Bliusers!

And yeah, we are updating this as mad people

Afraid of Making Mistakes…not anymore

Hello Bliu Bliu!
I discovered you by Claudio’s interview on NVL, then I said to myself: “let’s try!”
I was always focused on grammar and syntax, and I was always afraid to make mistakes … I am now learning that it is possible for me to speak English fluently without knowing everything ….
Giselle M
To make a mistake is just an opportunity to learn better.
What I do not know today, I will learn tomorrow.
Thanks,

Giselle M

BalticDynamics // How to Make Presentations

September 2014 we were invited at Baltic Dynamics in Tartu, Estonia to train local startups with their elevator pitches.
For the occasion we also delivered a longer presentation from the main stage of the event on How to make a sexy presentation!

Here is the video from the event

Here few pictures form the Elevator Pitch Training
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Ellen Jovin

Today our interview will take us across the ocean – to New York City. We are talking about the languages and various experiences with polyglots, bloggers, language teachers and even volunteer guide Ellen Jovin.

Who is Ellen Jovin?

I am a language blogger and product reviewer in New York City, where I also own a communication skills training business, Syntaxis, with my husband. In the past 12 months I have lived in…New York City.
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What languages do you speak?

English seems to be going pretty well for me. I also speak Spanish, German, French, and (if you are not overly picky about the details) Italian. As a volunteer, I show non-English-speaking tourists around the city in all of these languages, through an amazing organization called Big Apple Greeters, which gives out-of-town visitors a look at New York through the eyes of local residents.
Ellen Jovin with Some of Her Friends

Languages are just a hobby or you make money out of them?

One hundred percent of my income comes from language-related work, most of it from my native English: I teach classes in writing, e-mail etiquette, and grammar for businesspeople through Syntaxis, my above-mentioned company. My work in and knowledge of foreign languages makes me a better teacher, though, as many of my students are non-native speakers of English. In addition, I sometimes give talks on language-learning at businesses and cultural organizations.

Tell us something about your First Time

I regret to say that it was not good.

Any terrible experience? Like a language you could not learn and you gave up…

Well, my head kind of exploded while I was studying Polish (all those grammatical cases killed me!), but it has been glued back together and all is well. I actually love Polish and intend to give it another go one of these years. So no, no bad experiences. It is all happy. Yes, I get frustrated in the moment sometimes, but that sensation is minor and evanescent.

What about an “easy” experience

Italian was easy in the sense that I could not stay away from it. I found it intensely beautiful, sensual, sexy! That meant I could study it almost nonstop, so I learned very fast. My skills are rather rusty now, but back in 2010 I got to a surprisingly high level for me, documented by oral and written tests, in a short period of time.

Why languages and not…..

Language and languages make me happy. I love words. This is where I belong.

Do you have a mentor? Does anybody inspire you?

I learn from and am inspired by many people. I have never been one to pick idols; I find all kinds of people, all over the world and of all ages, interesting.

All right, now that I have thought an additional few seconds, the one job I always envied was William Safire’s; he wrote the “On Language” column at the New York Times Magazine and I wanted it to be mine.

Do you have a secret weapon to learn languages?

I like multimedia assaults: audio lessons, vocabulary, grammar, writing, conversation partners…everything. That way when I get overwhelmed with one facet of the language, I can switch to another rather than just closing my books and taking a break.

Can you share with us your language learning routine?

I set aside a particular time period, usually three months, to examine the guts of a new language, and I study at least a little every day, with very few exceptions. Often I study a lot in a day. But I do not have a daily routine; I prefer working spontaneously and by impulse. I have been doing this steadily for five years now, which is peanuts compared to some of the hardcore linguaphiles out there.

A key for me, though, is to have language opportunities at my disposal at all times. If I am exercising or running errands or doing household tasks, I have audio lessons with me. If I am on the subway, I have a grammar book with me. If it is late at night and I am too tired to do really hard work, I practice vocabulary on Memrise.

Do you try to read/watch content at your level? Is it easy to find?

I do this less than others, I think. I write language-learning product reviews for my website, so I tend to focus my energies on actual language-learning materials.

Your final words: share anything you want with our passionate
community of language lovers.

I often hear from people who tell me that their friends and family find their language obsessions weird. Ignore them! I have fully embraced my abnormal attraction to discussions of past participles, subjunctive, noun cases, etc., and life is good.

How can people get in touch with you…

Through my website Words & Worlds of New York! I love visitors! You would be very welcome.

 

 

Betahaus Berlin

Bliu Bliu presenting at the famous thursday beta breakfast at coworking space Betahaus

The crowd was interested and they asked a lot of questions after the pitch.

beta breakfast blog

 

We really enjoy every time we visit Betahaus, it’s such a cool coworking space with really interesting people.

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#betahaus #breakfastinberlin already started #kulturspace #LineMetrics #BliuBliu

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Ula – from Poland with Languages

We got more language lovers on the line. Today we are very happy to have as our guest Ula. Ula is a Polish language lover and she has very interesting insights about learning/teaching languages and how to include language practice into your everyday life.
Welcome Ula

Who are you and where have you lived in the last 12 months

My name is Ula. I’m a language passionate, a student, a teacher, a blogger, a grown-up child, and a coffee lover. I live in Poland but I’m moving to Belgium in 2 months and I feel very excited about it, especially that I took a challenge to learn Dutch on a communicative level till that time.

What languages do you speak?

I don’t really like when people ask what languages we SPEAK because I don’t know what it means exactly. What if you only understand the language? Or just know its grammatical rules? That’s why I prefer to say that I can fully communicate in Polish, English, and French, I speak (and here I literally mean speaking only) basic Portuguese and Dutch, and I understand intermediate discourse in Spanish, German, and Russian as well.

Languages are just a hobby or you make money out of them?

I work as a teacher of English as a foreign language but first of all, languages are my great passion and I learn them to relax, and get to know more about the world.

Tell us something about your First Time.

My very first times with languages are documented in The story a bout a girl, a book, a mum, and a couple of cuddly toys…

First Time
However, it was a long time ago, and it was only about English. I didn’t realize for a long time that it is possible to know a couple of foreign languages on a high level, so I didn’t treat them seriously as school subjects, I had also many other interests that didn’t leave me enough time to go deeper into language learning. A kind of revelation came when I started studying English at university. I learnt that language is not a school subject but a tool for communicating with people first of all, and that multilingualism is not a legendary myth but a real, very practical skill or sometimes even a way of life. I also got very interested in methodology of learning and teaching foreign languages which made me finally try to learn other languages for my own pleasure. I was about 21 at that time, so I think that these 3 years make me quite new among the language enthusiasts.

Any terrible experience? Like a language you could not learn and you gave up…

I don’t remember any terrible experience with languages. Even if something is difficult and I give up during my way, there is always something left after such an experience. Maybe you haven’t reached C1 in Chinese, as you were planning but you have still acquired a tiny bit that makes you more experienced and knowledgable than you had been before.

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What about an “easy” experience

Languages are tricky. You may know the language itself but fail because of not understanding the culture. There’s no point in lying, learning a language is always a challenge, and much work and determination is necessary to go through the learning path. But it’s also about how you perceive things. Someone told me recently, that everything may be easy if you convince yourself that it really is!

Why languages and not…..

I’ve been interested in thousands of things and I try to develop in many different areas. Languages however, are something completely different. I treat them like a kind of door that let me do more with my other passions – read more books, sing more songs, get to know more foreign cultures. I introduce languages into my daily life and learn them while doing other things that I’m passionate about.

Do you have a mentor? Does anybody inspire you?

I don’t have one particular person but there are many people that inspire me everyday. I sometimes find inspiration in people who have nothing to do with languages. It is enough if they do something with great interest and passion. Last time I was talking to a friend of mine who’s fascinated with painting. Although we didn’t even mention any subject connected with languages, I got some ideas for my passion after meeting her.

Do you have a secret weapon to learn languages?

My secret weapon is systematic learning and passion. First one is a key because I believe that we cannot achieve anything without hard work and involvement, and the second makes this rough path easier, pleasant, and even addictive.

Can you share with us your language learning routine?

I try to introduce language learning into my everyday activities. Of course I also learn vocabulary and grammar in a traditional way but I believe that the biggest part of my learning is talking to myself while cooking, listening to the news in a foreign language, reading press, or meeting foreigners who I try to come across as often as possible. I also believe that if we don’t feel like learning, we should take a break. That’s why there are days when I forget completely about my language learning routine and try to refresh my mind.
Language Learning Routine

Do you try to read/watch content at your level? Is it easy to find?

Firstly, I sometimes find it difficult to define my level, and secondly, I prefer authentic materials whose level is usually not defined as well. That is why, it is very difficult to find something suitable. However, I also think that reading and watching are among the best ways to start feeling confident with the language and use it naturally.

Have you already used Bliu Bliu? :)

I use Bliu Bliu for Dutch because it is my weakest language and I find it difficult to look for suitable content myself. I like that Bliu Bliu recognizes your level basing on known, and unknown words and recommends material that will answer your needs!

Your final words: share anything you want with our passionate community of language lovers.

What I want to share with you most is my motivation and enthusiasm about language learning!
If you want to follow my progress, you can find me on my blog uLANGUAGES  or on my Youtube channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTPNNgTGVLScAv9RpJDr1ew

Dream Big

Inspiring people since 2012

You can do everything.