Naša Snajka

I met Martine/Naša Snajka at the Airport in Belgrade. We were both going to the Polyglot Conference in Novi Sad: language love at first sight. The more I listened to her story the more I was captured…and wanted to know more.
If you love languages, these are going to be the best 5 minutes of your day :)


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

My name is Martine Alonso Marquis, but a lot of people call me Martina Španjolka. Apart from this, the question about “who I am” gives me existential sweats! :) On Twitter I described myself as a “balkanized euro-globalista”, whatever I meant with this! I am passionate about life in general, politics (even though it often gets on my nerves) and all forms of art (although I am a newbie in this field). Mastering languages gives me a way to communicate my emotions. Freedom is very important to me. This is why, in the last 12 months, I’ve been mostly flying like a bird, between Paris, Brussels and Serbia, among others.


What languages do you speak?

If you ask me to repeat after you like a parrot, I think I can speak pretty much any language decently ;) . But on my own, I can speak about 7 languages: French, English, Spanish, German, Serbian, Slovenian and Albanian (in which I am least fluent). Also, since the wars of dissolution of Yugoslavia, some people have tried very hard to make us believe that Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin are separate languages. They do this for political reasons, but I refuse to play their game. To my own disadvantage, because by considering them as separate languages, I could say I speak 10 languages instead of 7 ;) I also don’t consider my mother tongue “québécois” to be a separate language from French, even though French people can barely understand us. All in all, I always try to focus on what we have in common, rather that on our differences.

First episode of Naša Snajka

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

Languages are definitely not a hobby. For me, they are rather a life style. An integral part of who I am. I don’t “make money” directly with them, as I am not a teacher of languages or do not have any lucrative activities that involves the selling of languages services. However, I think that I got where I got in life at least partly because of my knowledge of foreign languages. It had a huge positive impact on my career.

Tell us something about your First Time.

The first time, I was about 6 or 7 years old and got all freaked out when my dad told me we were going to Florida and visit Disney Land. I knew that Mickey Mouse spoke English, because I had seen him in Disney movies. I asked my dad, in a frightened voice “But how am I going to speak to Mickey Mouse? I don’t speak English!” My dad’s answer was “of course you speak English”. And he was right. Without even noticing, I had been watching English television and movies from my early childhood and also communicating with English-speaking relatives. In Disneyland, I met Mickey Mouse, but also Goofy and Cinderella and could test my English skills on them.

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

I learned Greek for two years as a young adult. I actually loved it and made very quick progress. I was among the best students of my class, even though I was the only one there without Greek origins. I was even awarded a prize by the Hellenic Studies Center of Montreal. But for some reason, when the course ended, I didn’t continue with Greek. I went to Greece only once and have not been very much in contact with Greek culture ever since. The terrible experience was not to learn Greek but rather to realize I had forgotten it completely.

What about an “easy” experience

Learning German as a 17 year old, without ever taking a German class or having a look at a grammar book. I just went to Germany and lived a complete immersion for 13 months.


Why languages and not…..

I had never really thought about active language learning before meeting with polyglots from all over the world at an international conference in Novi Sad, Serbia. For me, languages are a natural thing. They are a part of my life, like the air I breath, and the food I eat. They come in rather easily. I find it much more difficult to dedicate to sports, for example ;) .


Do you have a mentor? Does anybody inspire you?

I don’t have one particular mentor, but I generally try to surround myself with inspiring people. I am happy to have been inspired by the polyglot community very recently.

Do you have a secret weapon to learn languages?

Lots of love, curiosity, open-mindedness, and a sip of local alcohol ;)


Can you share with us your language learning routine?

Immersion, even if partial, is the best language learning routine I can think of.

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

I do it every day. I watch television series, read books and articles. As I don’t speak very exotic languages, content is very easy to find. It’s all over the internet. And when you live in a city like Paris, you can find native speakers at every street corner.

Have you already used Bliu Bliu? :)

I just discovered Bliu Bliu and it will be my best ally for learning Italian!

Martine Alonso Marquis and Branislav Sovilj – Acting and humour in a foreign language

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

Find the best way to connect on an emotional level with the languages you wish to learn. Find new friends, discover new music, or a new film director. With passion, all will be easier. Don’t learn a language because you think it will be good for your CV. Do it out of love.


How can people get in touch with you…

Check out my comedy web-series in Serbian language (with subtitles in many languages). It’s called Naša Snajka (Our daughter-in-law) and it tells the life of a young Parisian who is married to a Serb and has to deal with intercultural challenges and the language barrier.
You will find it on You Tube:
You can also follow it on Facebook:
And drop me an e-mail at

The Latest Episode

Berlin Residency

The Berlin residency is over

We spent 3 beautiful months here in Berlin working together with the EIT ICT Labs.

This experience really helped us shaping our company, clarify lots of ideas and getting ready to growth.

Italiano Automatico

We met Alberto at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin. Alberto is a young Italian polyglot, very passionate about what he is doing. In fact he is already running a successful business related to his passion for languages: Italiano Automatico.


Here you can see that I’m listening to foreign languages while running as well =)

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

My name is Alberto Arrighini, the founder of ITALIANOAUTOMATICO, a website created to learn Italian in an interesting way through material related to personal development and improving ourselves.

In the last 12 months, I lived mostly in the city where I was born Brescia (North of Italy) but I also stayed a month in Romania and visited other places like Germany, England, Spain, Austria, Maldives, and some others.

What languages do you speak?

English, Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian at different levels and currently working on German and Russian.

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

Started as a passion and now I’m able to say both =)

Tell us something about your First Time.

The first language was of course English at school. Apart from that, the first language I tackled by myself was French.


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

A terrible experience was not being able to speak English after 8 years of studies in school! I was very good at English! I mean 7-8-9 were great marks but the problem with the school system in teaching languages, is in my experience the fact that you don’t listen enough to the language and of course 95% of the time is spent on boring things. (My opinion)

It’s sad that only 1 out of 100 people can speak fluent English once he/she has finished High school! At least this is the situation in Italy.


What about an “easy” experience

Spanish or French were definitely easy languages for me to learn. French especially for the fact that I found a website that I LOVE where you can learn in the same style of the website I created to learn Italian! For those who are interested it is FRANÇAIS AUTHENTIQUE created by an amazing person who I admire a lot, Johan:

Why languages and not…..

I learn languages usually because I want to know people from that country and to be able to travel in that country without feeling like a baby that can’t do nothing without the help of a translator.

I mean it’s ok to use English if you’re in Lithuania and you don’t speak the language yet, you’re still in Europe and it can be easier BUT…

Imagine being in China not knowing a single word of Chinese! It would be really sad to me… that’s why Chinese is on my list! I want to experience the country fully, and the language opens the door on the people and culture!


Do you have a mentor? Does anybody inspire you?

I have a mentor that I use for inspiration in every area of my life and he is Arnold Schwarzenegger. I analyzed his life and read almost everything about his work ethic and dedication and I find it extraordinary. He became the top bodybuilder of the world, then the most paid actor in the history of motion pictures and again the Governor of California. He went to America with nothing and through hard work and VISION he lived the American dream!

Oh I forgot to say that he was Austrian and at the beginning he struggled to learn English.

I could talk about him for hours but I leave you with this quote:


Do you have a secret weapon to learn languages?

Like in working out I think there are no “secrets”, there are only different methods. Some methods are more effective than others. Depending on what the person likes to do, a method can be effective or not. That’s why the school way of doing it doesn’t really work. They make everybody do THE SAME DAMN THING!!!

This being said, I like to start with Assimil or Teach Yourself to build basic vocabulary and then I dive myself into the most interesting stuff that I find available. From books to songs, videos, audios, people, travels, movies! Everything!!

Can you share with us your language learning routine?

1- Find a basic course to build basic vocabulary
(Assimil, Teach Yourself, Colloquial, Pimsleur etc..)

2- Find an intermediate resource! For Italian you could use my website, for French françaisauthentique, for German etc..

3- Then, while still learning with the intermediate stuff, add things meant for native speakers like movies, songs etc…

THAT’S BASICALLY IT! 3 BIG STEPS from beginner to advanced! =)

Don’t forget to incorporate languages in your lifestyle as well!!

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

I try to find it so BADLY!! Right now for Russian and German but Internet is so huge that you sometimes get lost and you don’t know what to use anymore! And surprisingly sometimes there is no content for your level with subtitles in English and the language you are learning!

If you find it, as I did, it is probably a movie from the 60’s =D

That’s why I’m REALLY happy about the great idea that Claudio had about creating BLIUBLIU!

I find it really awesome and I really believe that this website will become very important in the world of language learning.


Have you already used Bliu Bliu?

I did! I love the concept and I can’t wait to see the future developments of the website!
Can’t wait to tell people about it as well!

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

Learning a language takes time but it’s definitely worth it! It really expands your world and it’s a great way to exercise our minds as well. Thanks to language learning I met so many inspiring people from different countries and I’m so thankful for that!

I always suggest learning a language while growing as a person as well. That’s the main concept around which I developed italiano automatico. If you’re learning Italian I really hope that I’ll have the pleasure and honor to help you through this amazing journey that is learning a new language:

How can people get in touch with you…

There are many ways!

You can join me on my Facebook page:

Contact me by email:

No Pain No Gain – Really?

Today we received a beautiful email from

You need to check this out:

  • What you think is your comfort zone is probably your growth zone.
  • Rather than setting a goal to do the right thing, set a goal to be in the
    right place.
  • Set a goal to show up. No more.
  • Don’t work to achieve something. Work to set up conditions.
  • Let the environment do the work for you.

We don’t believe that language learning should be painful.

Bliu Bliu is proving for thousands of people that just showing up, getting exposed to a language, does the job. So many people are experiencing the power of language learning without pain, without studying, simply by reading and watching content at your level or slightly above your level.

Read the full article from AJATT here.

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.


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 It is still completely in Dutch, so good training for those who are learning Dutch! It has a “contact” page.
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.


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.


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.


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.


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 ( 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:

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.

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