BliuBliu

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.

Judith Meyer – LearnYu

Judith is simply put a superstar. Her passion for languages is beyond imagination. She speaks several and she is contributing in so many ways to make language learning better, easier and spread around the world.
We know Judith as she has been one of our first user, helping us to make Bliu Bliu a better place and a better tool to learn language with her constant feedback. Enjoy the interview and at the end don’t forget to support her new project LearnYu on Indiegogo.

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

My name is Judith Meyer – on many forums I’m known as Sprachprofi – and I live in Berlin. I’m originally from a small town near the German-Dutch border and these two cities are the only ones I’ve lived a significant amount of time in, unless you want to count 6 weeks in Beijing.

 

What languages do you speak?

I speak German, English and Esperanto equally effortlessly, even though only German is my native language. I have a degree in Computational Linguistics and Romance Languages with a focus on French, French literature and all, so my French is also very fluent, and I have taught Latin for many years, even creating my own 3-level language course for it. Next I learned Italian, Modern Greek and Mandarin Chinese and I’d say that I also know these languages very well. Spanish and Dutch are in a funny state, I regularly read books in them without the help of a dictionary, but in speaking I experience way too much interference with other languages. It’s because of this interference that I didn’t tackle more European languages and instead turned my attention to Swahili, Arabic, Japanese and Indonesian. These are languages that still require some work and I have temporarily paused all but Indonesian. You can watch me practise all of the mentioned languages at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OGEP_N37fU&list=UUQXp79zeYbKwjUd35cQcaOw .
This is a video I recorded in one go, without a script and without cuts. Obviously having to switch every minute or so means that my brain can’t fully acclimatize to each language, so both my accent and expression suffer, but I think the video can still give you a general idea of where I’m at.

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

Both. Unfortunately I haven’t found any company ready to pay me to learn a language or even assume the cost (I’d love to do an Icelandic challenge for TV like Daniel Tammet), but I have been working as a consultant in the language field for many years, starting even while I was still at university. I started by teaching languages as well as working on a grammar system for Cantr.net. Then I got into developing language courses for the virtual classroom, then several years hosting and planning language-learning podcasts for Innovative Language Learning LLC (some people still recognize me as the host of GermanPod101), designing curricula and training teachers in lesson development for Myngle.com, creating the prototype of a machine translation system for Unikom, LLC, creating a computer-aided translation system for Wooga (large creator of Facebook & mobile games) and consulting for business-english24.de . Now finally I’m working on my own startup which combines language learning and computational linguistics. It’s called LearnYu.

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Tell us more about LearnYu

LearnYu is the idea that the computer could be a perfect language tutor, because the computer has unlimited patience and also a vast memory that can remember everything you learned or have trouble with. It teaches you a word or grammar point and then gives you some exercises for that. If you do them correctly, you move on to the next point. If you make mistakes, the computer draws on its vast memory to keep coming up with more and more different exercises, an unlimited amount of them, until you understand and the concept has entered your memory. Every word is introduced in at least three different kinds of sentences – this is a big advantage over regular courses, where some words are only used once and you never see or use them again. The interactivity is another big bonus. You don’t just read or listen to material, you are always actively doing something, whether it’s translating (in either direction) or responding to the phrases as in a conversation. Within one lesson, you see a word at least three times – more often if you have trouble remembering it – and even when you do the next lessons, the computer will ensure a regular review. And keep in mind that you always see new contexts, new phrases. It’s not like an SRS where you can memorize the response without understanding.

Right now, LearnYu is focusing on Chinese. We’re systematically covering all the levels of the HSK (standardized test), because we found that the vocabulary in that test is really frequent and useful. As an added bonus, this means that if you complete a level on LearnYu, you can then sit the test without fear of failure and you can use the test result as proof of your language level, for example when testing out of classes at university or applying for a job.

Give this new kind of language course a whirl! At www.learnyu.com, you can log in with your Facebook account and try a free lesson. The other lessons will be available for free, too, but are still being tested at this point. Also, I’m collecting money for the development of more levels. Go to http://igg.me/at/chinese in order to support me.

Tell us something about your First Time.

I was 10 years old and had to start taking mandatory English classes at school. This was my first exposure to foreign languages because my entire family is monolingual. I didn’t do well at first either, got C’s and D’s in my English classes until I found the internet – once I made English-speaking friends online, my marks improved a lot. I spent so much time using English online, voice-chatting, writing in political discussion forums and so on, I even graduated as one of top students, ahead of the ones who had done an exchange year in America.

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

I tried Russian because it’s so useful. Turns out that that’s a terrible reason to learn a language: I just couldn’t find the motivation to study, never mind wrestling with that insane case system. For me, language-learning is really a matter of passion. A good challenge among friends never hurt either ;-)

ich bei Yuelu Academy

What about an “easy” experience

Esperanto. I was 14 and read popular science books about linguistics. One of them had a chapter on planned languages and mentioned that Esperanto is both the easiest planned language and the most successful of them (in as much as 2 million people spread out all over the world is a success; few small languages have gained that many new speakers in such a short time, but it’s still far from the intended goal). It also said that learning Esperanto would be a good basis for learning other languages. Since I wanted to learn all the languages of the world, I thought that I might as well start with Esperanto. If it was as easy as they said, it should barely cost me any effort. And if it got too hard, I’d just stop.

Esperanto is still several times easier than any other language I ever studied. So easy in fact that my progress became a motivation onto itself. You know that I didn’t have a good reason to learn Esperanto, curiosity more than anything, I certainly didn’t think I’d ever get to use it much, but just seeing myself WHOOSH past everything was a huge motivation for 14-year-old me. And now I’m glad I learned it, because Esperanto changed my life.

Why languages and not…..

I can go days without programming, or surfing the web, or pursuing any of my hobbies. I can go a day without food. I can’t go a day without learning languages.

2014 mit Richard und Arguelles

Do you have a mentor? Does anybody inspire you?

I mostly learn in self-study and then I occasionally book tutoring when I have questions or want to practise.

I draw inspiration from the polyglot community, a lot of whom I’ve met in person. Of course there are greats like Richard Simcott or Alexander Arguelles, who are very inspiring to all of us, but I also draw inspiration from anyone I meet, because we all have something to teach each other. Like Confucius said: “三人行必有我师” – with three people walking together, one is certain to be my teacher. For example André Müller has mastered more than twenty different alphabets or writing systems, Volte can do 12-hour language study marathons, Leszek at 17yo has enough enthusiasm for language-learning to last an entire army of polyglots, Maria Weidner will make anyone want to learn Indonesian… Any of you might be creating or telling me about the method or resource that will change how I learn a language. (As certainly you did, Claudio. I like Bliu Bliu a lot!)

Do you have a secret weapon to learn languages?

I found that my memory often plays tricks on me when I think back to when I last studied a language. It always seems to be more recently than I actually did. So the biggest change came when I started to log my daily language hours. I created a spreadsheet (download an example here) and I’ve been inputting every half hour I spend on languages, ever since 2010. This has two advantages:

  1. when I feel like I’m not making any progress in a language, I can glance at the spreadsheet and I’ll know why
  2. just looking at the spreadsheet motivates me to do more, either out of guilt or because I “get” something for watching a TV series in Chinese rather than English

Can you share with us your language learning routine?

I don’t really have a routine. My schedule is always changing because I work freelance. The only things that are set in stone right now are my Modern Chinese Literature class on Monday afternoons and my Chinese Speech & Writing class on Wednesday mornings.

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

I am terrible at following textbooks. As a lesson writer myself in a profession that doesn’t usually provide training, I note so many sins against didactics and common sense that it’s hard for me to enjoy a course to the end. I usually throw it out half-way through and then just use easy readers or native materials. I make use of on-hover dictionaries, parallel texts, subtitles (for films) and the like of course. I have developed a rather high tolerance for unknown words and I can guess many from context. Still, Bliu Bliu is a godsend, especially once you get that grammar system working. ;-)

Have you already used Bliu Bliu? :)

Yes, a lot.

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

It is said that a man can have 10 years of experience, or one year of experience repeated 10 times. Be sure to do the former. New materials, new methods, new contacts, new languages are essential if you want to move ahead.

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How can people get in touch with you…

Find me at www.learnlangs.com , @Sprachprofi or on Quora.
Also, be sure to check out LearnYu and my Indiegogo campaign!