Vaida Žūsinaitė about Languages

Today we feature on our Blog the interview with Vaida Žūsinaitė.
She is a Lithuanian professional athlete, sharing with us her experience trauma related to languages.

1:20 she share her secret trauma from school: how focusing on grammar makes it really hard for shy people to practice languages.
1:50 Vaida tells that sometimes you only need 1 word to speak.
3:15 Race for Life, let’s see if Vaida can really run and jump

If you need a personal trainer you can find more about Vaida on her personal website – www.zusinaite.lt – and her Facebook page.

Bliu Bliu live version

Last weekend we were invited at a big festival here in Lithuania called PLJS (Meeting of World-wide Lithuanian Youth).

Bliu Bliu was invited to help people learning languages.

There are big communities of Lithuanians in the States and for all emigrants, keeping the language of their parents can be a challenge:

  • No language course available, unless you live in big cities or big communities
  • Often parents choose not to teach their native language to their children, being afraid they won’t learn english as native

During the festival we presented Bliu Bliu and our way of learning languages. People have various believes when it comes to learn languages and most of them are quite negative.

Learning a language can be fun and interesting.

During the festival we were teaching Lithuanian, Italian, English and Russian. People were quite excited to be able to have simple but interesting conversations…after only 30 minutes

1) We started by teaching fundamental words and phrases.
2) We introduced one topic for specific vocabulary (flirt, politics, festival, sports, business)
3) We spiced things up with words, phrases and expressions to sound like a native.

The results were impressive. In 30 minutes people could improvise a conversation, get to know each other and use expressions that only natives use, making them sound really authentic.

Video from our beta testing.

It’s windy and impossible to hear…but watch our for the Panda!

Learning Russian is an Adventure

As you might know, for the past 15 days I have been busy learning Russian.

After participating to the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin all I knew about Russian language

  • People keep telling it’s damn hard
  • It sounds so beautiful

During the conference my friend Irena told me how to write my name and it was love: I HAD TO LEARN RUSSIAN, so I decided to embrace the unknown and start learning it.

Fluent in 3 Months?

Polyglots love challenges and apparently you can get to a good level in only 3 months.

I have been learning Russian for 15 days and this is the result:

Day 10Day 3

What Can I tell about Russian after 15 Days

I love it.

I don’t know anything about the grammar. Everybody keeps telling me it’s hard so I am ignoring it.

Conversations start to make sense: I can guess some word from context when I listen to random people.

I have been watching the same episode of Friends (S08.E04) and the more I watch it, the more I understand it.

I already found a Russian Joke on Bliu Bliu that I can understand
July 02 Russian Joke

I cannot read properly as I haven’t learn all the alphabet but I am trying to learn it while listening, connecting words/sounds/letters/meanings. So far so good.

Talking with the Natives

Russian is fairly easy to practice because, way easier than Lithuanian or Finnish. Here in Vilnius (Lithuania) many people speak Russian as a second language.
Plus Russians don’t have the tendency to switch to english if you are in trouble – they keep talking to you in Russian: I love it!

Everyday I get messages in Russian on Whatsapp from my friends and I love it.

I am getting a lot of support on Facebook

What is my strategy

  • Avoiding any grammatical explanation: if you would not explain it to a child, I don’t want to know it
  • Reading as much as I can
  • Listening Michel Thomas and Assimil course
  • Learning couple of songs
  • Keep watching Friends (S08E04!)
  • Talking with Natives and Fluent people, live, as much as I can
  • Use it Use it Use it Use it

 

How much Russian can you speak in 15 Days

Here a video we made about Claudio’s progress in the Russian language.

 

  • This was the first time we met Margarita
  • Conversation is improvised
  • Claudio is not taking any class

 

So far, Claudio did not formally study any Russian grammar

 

 

PS: we just found out that Margarita (маргарита) is one of our user – she is studying Spanish on Bliu Bliu. Oh Yeah!

 

StartuBerlin

A lovely article from StartuBerlin.com.

Startuberlin

What is the best feature of Bliu Bliu?
I think the best thing Bliu Bliu offers is that it makes you feel confident. No matter what is your level Bliu Bliu always finds something you can understand. It takes 20.000 jokes in a language and reorganizes them from the easiest to the hardest. And the more you click on words telling Bliu Bliu which ones you know or don’t know, the more Bliu Bliu adapts and find content tailored on your level.

Read the entire article here
http://www.startuberlin.com/bliu-bliu-claudio-santori-interview/

Learn Languages – the Italian Way

I know I know, you are thinking that italians are famous because they DO NOT learn languages.

But let me tell you why Italians don’t learn and HOW I use the italian way to learn languages fast and effective…while having a lot of fun!
Bliu Bliu

Why Italians Don’t Learn Languages

I bet you have seen already the video of the Italian in Malta!

We are terrible english speaker. We have a horrible pronunciation and we do not understand anything people are telling us.

We spend 5/8 years at school doing boring exercises, learning all the grammar you can imagine practicing boring dialogues

Problem is that Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and all the 6 guys from FRIENDS, they all speak italian. In Italy you can listen to real english only from music. We do have a lot of tourists and we do understand what they are saying, but we reply in italian to them. This is why they go back home speaking italian.

But Italians CAN Learn Languages

Italians are good at few things: pizza, coffee, pasta, you probably know we are quite good with LOVE. And by love I mean PASSION. We are very passionate people and when we like something we put an amazing amount of passion into it.

Amore

And this is when Italian learn languages very quickly. If we fall in love with somebody, or with the local culture, with the people, the food, the movies, then we have no enemies.

LOVE: My Approach to Languages

I recently started learning Russian. I have been studying for about a week and I just love it.
I started with Michel Thomas, learning few verbs, nouns and phrases.
And from day 1 I started to speak with people.

Stalk from day 1
Benny Lewis is famous for his “Talk from Day 1″ – I personally Stalk from Day 1.

I jump to random people and just talk. All I care it’s to make sure it’s fun and easy to understand for both sides.
My dictionary is limited but I always have some special phrase that I use to make them laugh and interact with me. It never feels like language practice, I make it feel like fun, also for them.
Some of my favourite phrases in all languages are:

  • would you marry me?
  • would you like to dance with me?

RADIO BROADCAST, not conversations
It is more like RADIO BROADCAST than conversation. There cannot be a conversation yet as I don’t know so many words, but I have my show prepared and I keep improving it every time I test it on somebody. I am able to predict what they are going to ask me, so the all “conversation” is more or less staged, with me in total control and ready to bring it back to known territory. I create conversations so that the natives always reply to me with something that I can actually understand.

Build on top of what I know (n+1)
I have my show and what I do is constantly adding new peaces to my radio program. In the beginning I can talk for 30 seconds. Than 1 minute, then 2, then 5, then 10. And I say the same things all over again, simply adding few new words into the SHOW based on what natives keep replying to me. I become so good at anticipating their reactions/answers that it starts to feel quite natural.

For my friends this is boring, as they get to listen to this all over again. This is why it’s so hard to practice with friends: they get bored of you! A joke is fun one, maybe two times, not 1000. But I need to tell it 1000 of times to get better at it. This is why I used a lot of natives, between friends, random people, online people, to make sure they don’t get bored and I get a variety of feedback.

Confidence
I focus a lot on pronunciation to make it sound as natural as possible, not worrying too much about the right words, the right expressions, am I being formal, informal…I don’t care. I just want to sound like a native. And this is the one and only time that I let native to correct me…but unfortunately they get bored after 3 times and my pronunciation becomes perfect.

Positive Reinforcement from Environment
I create a fake world where every time I speak I get positive reinforcement from the environment. People like when you speak their language, especially if you speak with confidence. And I flirt heavily, especially with older women. Who knows when was last time they got a compliment and here I am, studying Russian and telling them how beautiful and young they look. And seriously, this does not work with younger girls, it works only with 50/60 years old women. But it works like magic!

Grammar…Grammar?
I don’t study the grammar. I have a good knowledge of it, having studied Italian, English, French, Latin, Lithuanian and Finnish grammar. I can understand why words behave in a certain way and I try to figure out grammar from real usage.

I certainly don’t want natives to teach me anything, unless it perfectly fits in what I know already. Natives are really bad with their own grammar. Students on the other hand are better and I listen to them when they have a valuable tip.

Avoid Difficult Stuff
When it feels too difficult, I just skip it. No matter how much it’s important, I don’t care. I want to keep it fun so that it is effective. When I get stuck, I just move on to something else, jumping from online course, talking with people, watching videos on youtube, music, tv series, anything.

I am focused on keeping the motivation at a very high level.

Make it a Habit
I don’t “study” for 3/4 hours and then forget about it, but I keep using the language as much as I can. I focus during the day with a timer for 30 minutes, morning and evening. But I also try to use the language in my daily interaction.
You can say a lot of Good Morning (Доброе утро) and Good Evening (добрый вечер) in a day.

Be Accountable
When I start a new language I tell it to everybody. As an Italian you might think that this is because we love to show off, truth is that if you make yourself accountable, then it becomes harder to drop out.

Once the world knows you want to be fluent in Russian in 3 months, now you are on a mission and you have nowhere to hide.

Use it for Real Interactions
I start posting interesting links I find on every social media so that my friends know how to help me. I use the language on Instant Messaging actively asking for help! I want the natives/fluent people to keep sending me good stuff so that I have a little bit of the language during the entire day. And most importantly, so that I connect the language with something useful that matters to me.
Olga

Call me lazy, but this is what I DO NOT DO

  • I don’t learn list of words – only words that I can use
  • I don’t do homework
  • I don’t write (not too soon)
  • I don’t try too hard to understand

The Journey is What Brings Us Happiness,
Not the Destination

When I learn a language my final target is to be fluent and be able to participate in actual conversations. But my reward comes every day, I don’t want to wait 3 months (or 3 years) to celebrate. I believe that the entire learning process needs to be fun, from day 1. It’s not always fun, not every day, not every time. But you will not become a good basketball player unless you have fun training and playing. Same goes with languages.

Learning languages is like an adventure, not just to discover words but to explore the world with new eyes. This is what really excites me about languages.

Learning Russian Language Day 10

Here how much you can (or cannot) talk in Russian after 10 days of learning the language.

 

  • Not attending any course
  • Using only Michel Tomas + Memrise + Bliu Bliu
  • Talking with Natives

GOAL: from 0 to fluent in 3 months

 

Language Mastery – John Fotheringham

There are quite a lot of blogs out there talking about learning languages.
One of them got our attention since the beginning of Bliu Bliu. We are talking about
Language Mastery – How to Learn Languages the Fun Way with John Fotheringham

Maybe because since 2012 we also love the fun way to learn languages !

John is an wonderful writer, a linguist, interested in psychology and he writes a lot about learning languages. We do agree 100% with everything he writes in there. It’s so nice to see how many already are on the same page.

John Fotheringham is not a big fan of the traditional methods of learning and he regularly post about new interesting ways of learning languages.

Here a list of things NOT TO DO if you want to learn a language

http://l2mastery.com/blog/linguistics-and-education/methods/not-to-do-list

If you want to get a sense of who is John Fotheringham read his “33 Life Lessons Learned Living, Learning & Working Abroad for 10 Years“.

Love and Languages

When you are trying to learn a languages, it helps you so much to be in love.
love-always-wins

Loving the grammar

You can be in love with the grammar. It happens all the time.
So many people actually love to study rules, exceptions, preposition, suffixes, affixes, conjunctive, partitive, accusative and locative.
Grammar works for you if you love it: the more you study the more you fall in love with the language.

But for some people grammar doesn’t work, not everybody wants to be a linguist!

Loving the literature

You can be in love with poetry and books. It happens all the time.
So many people are in love with literature. They learn the language to read their favourite authors and masterpieces in the original language. Reading works for you if you love it: the more you read, the more you learn, the more you fall in love with the language.

But for some people, literature doesn’t work, not everybody wants to be…or not to be!

Loving school

You can be in love with the classes and teachers.
So many people are in love with classrooms and teachers. They have a lot of fun while going to school everyday.
Attending a real course works for you because you love it, and the more classes you attend the more you fall in love with the language.

But for some people, classes and homework don’t work, not everybody wants to go back to school!

Loving music

You can be in love with the music of a language. It happens all the time.
There are so many people in love with music. They learn the language to listen songs and sing along. They are musical in their normal life, and music becomes the vehicle for the language.
If you are this kind of person, listening to music and singing works for you because you love it, and the more you sing the more you fall in love with the language.

But for some people, music doesn’t work, not everybody wants to become a singer!

Loving people

And last, but not least, you can be in love with people. It happens all the time.
There are so many love stories around the world where people don’t speak the same language. And one of them learns the other person language in a very natural way.

If you are in love with a person, you don’t even think about learning, or studying, you are just using the language to communicate and understand each other.

It doesn’t have to be romantic love, you can just be in love with people.
The more you love the more you learn, the more you learn the more you love.

But WHAT IF I AM NOT IN LOVE?

For some people, love doesn’t work. Not everybody wants to be in love.
If you are this kind of person, my friend, it will be really hard for you to learn a language.

Love is all we need – according to Beatles