Today we are really please to introduce you to Andrew Williams – not only a polyglot with more than 60 languages under the belt, but also an extraordinary person with such a beautiful story to share.
Who are you and where have you lived in the last 12 months
My name is Andrew Henry Williams. I live basically in England, UK, but in the last 12 months I have spent time in Germany, Denmark, Singapore, Australia, Dubai, Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, sometimes more than once.
What languages do you speak?
I speak 10-20 or so fairly well, but I have worked on over 60.
I can work up the others to speaking levels, if required.
Languages are just a hobby or you make money out of them?
I sometimes make money out of them. They are more than a hobby, they are a deep part of my being and daily life.
Tell us something about your First Time.
I grew up bilingual with English/Hindustani/Hindi, I don’t know if that counts as First Time. I went to a wonderful primary school in Calcutta/Kolkata, India, where I also started Latin (Latin with Laughter was the textbook), French and German. After that, the first language I chose to study on my own was Italian, when I went to Rome on a school trip in 1963, aged 15.
Any terrible experience? Like a language you could not learn and you gave up…
I NEVER give up! But I am struggling at present with understanding spoken Danish and speaking it. Reading it is no problem. I used to speak it quite well 40+ years ago. Since then I have learnt and used Swedish a lot, and coming back to Danish I find it has changed a great deal. Those two things seem to put a block on my path to recovering spoken Danish, so far. But I will keep trying!
What about an “easy” experience
Italian, but only in the early stages.
Why languages and not…..
I do and am interested in loads of other things, languages help with them, as well as being interesting in themselves.
Do you have a mentor? Does anybody inspire you?
No prime mentor, except that I am inspired by anyone who can speak or knows anything!
Do you have a secret weapon to learn languages?
Not that I know of.
Can you share with us your language learning routine?
I use every method possible. Generally if I want to learn a new language I get something like Teach Yourself X or the Colloquial series and work through that, trying not to go too fast. Very important to hear and speak as much as possible, to chew and eat the words till they become part of my being, not just to read with the eyes. Finding a native speaker who can help (not always easy) in the right way, is good. Repetition, better to do 5″ a day than 2 hours a week ( though that is how I learnt Japanese in a very good immersion class 25 years ago!).
Do you try to read/watch content at your level? Is it easy to find?
Yes, I try to read, watch and hear as much as I can.
Never too old for learning languages. Andrew is 67 and he keeps learning them – quota 60 right now!! Get inspired http://t.co/oqop04O9L1
— Bliu Bliu (@BliuBliu) November 17, 2014
Your final words: share anything you want with our passionate community of language lovers.
Just keep at it! I sagged in my middle years when I paid less attention to languages and learning or maintaining them, but at 67 I have come back to them fulltime now. Finding the wonderful Polyglot Gathering in Berlin have been a terrific boost and encouragement to me, and a confirmation that one was on the right path all along, if a bit alone, with only a few companions on the road. Now I know there are loads of us around!
Find out more
Check out this beautiful interview of Andrew at ActualFluency.com