We 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.
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.
If you really want something, you’ll find a way, if you don’t really want it, you’ll find excuses. Carole Westerkamp http://t.co/ocLMXR70S9
— Bliu Bliu (@BliuBliu) October 22, 2014
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
My Twitter account is Efficient_C
Facebook or LinkedIn as “Carole Westerkamp”
Find me on Skype under “Amistad2106”