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
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 (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