Jimmy Mello is the inventor of the Mello Method, a revolutionary approach to language learning and language teaching. We met Jimmy at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin where he shared his insights on how to be a better teacher.
Who are you and where have you lived in the last 12 months?
I am Jimmy, I was born in Brazil and in spite of traveling quite a lot, I have never lived abroad.
In Brazil I run a language school and I write language books.
What languages do you speak?
It is a hard question, to answer it properly we really need to discuss some issues. As many people know, there are many controversial forms to measure and determine our fluency levels, so I am going to define my fluency in terms of what I can do in the language:
1- I can travel, teach and live comfortably in countries which languages are Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian and French.
2- I can interact with people, exchange information and pass a week in places that speak Catalan, Polish, Russian and Esperanto.
3 – I can order a coffee and read some basic things in German, Norwegian and Greek.
4- I am currently learning Mandarin, Hindi and Japanese
But I have already come across many other languages, but keeping them has been a difficult thing for me.
Languages are just a hobby or you make money out of them?
Languages started as a hobby, and they are still my favorite hobby. As I live in the country of soccer, people usually get confused when I tell them that my hobby is learning languages, but I am a truly language addicted.
I cannot separate my life from languages, 60% of my day is dedicated to teach them and the other 40% I use to learn them. So, I cannot imagine my life without them. Can you imagine your life without air or water? So, this is how I feel about them.
I hold two university degrees: Linguistics and Pedagogy, so I am definitely involved with languages, so all my income comes from them.
Tell us something about your First Time.
My first contact with languages was at school learning English, and this was a terrible experience, that is, bad books, bad teachers, bad resources. Despite this bad experience I really felt that thing was for me, so I didn’t count on what I was receiving from the school, and I started to look for everything that I could related to this issue.
Any terrible experience? Like a language you could not learn and
you gave up…
Yes, for me Hungarian was a wall that I could not overcome. Despite trying hard I simply could not understand or even produce easy sentences. I really think that I was missing motivation to learn it, so I gave up.
What about an “easy” experience
Even not having a good level of them I really enjoy learning Catalan and Esperanto.
Why languages and not…..
There is a Czech proverb that says “You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.”
I really like to live many languages and have a new perspective of life through any of them.
Do you have a mentor? Does anybody inspire you?
Yes, when I started learning a language and decided to be a polyglot, because more than a gift, this is a decision. When I was a child there was a polyglot that was every now and again on Brazilian television, and he is the polemic and criticized Ziad Fazah. He inspired me a lot when I started! Nowadays, for sure, Richard Simcott and Benny Lewis.
Do you have a secret weapon to learn languages?
Yes, I have. I will tell it only for you, but do not spread it, it’s a secret!
Dedication and commitment. There is a quote that I usually use with my students: “Difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.” So, to learn a language you have to be really committed and put it in your routine, be the pig and put your life on it.
Can you share with us your language learning routine?
It is very easy:
I wake up at 6:00am and go to bed at 11:00pm. I usually teach from 6 to 9 hours daily: English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French, teaching a language is the best way to maintain a language. As I am also an author, I usually take from 5 to 10 hours weekly to write, update and improve my teaching methods.
Between the lessons I teach I usually study other languages. I usually take one language a day, including skype lessons with native speakers.
On Monday: Hindi,
Saturday is a very busy day at school, so I do not study languages, only teach them.
And on Sunday I sleep the whole day lol, lol, lol.
Do you try to read/watch content at your level? Is it easy to find?
I love reading and listening in the language I am studying, my first reading is always “the little prince” because as I know the story I think is really easy to collect and learn new words, it is almost effortlessly. But I have to admit that it is not very easy, so I usually start with YouTube, and after I ask for help, but simply by asking native speakers.
Have you already used Bliu Bliu? :)
Yes, and I loved it. It is a very intelligent and useful tool. I would say that it saved me time. First I started with Polish, but I found it a little bit hard in the beginning, but after getting used to the system I really loved the method used by Bliubliu website.
— My Polyglot (@mypolyglot) October 21, 2014
Your final words: share anything you want with our passionate
community of language lovers.
Never give up. If you really love one thing, it does not matter what it is, never give up. If anyone says you are not going to reach your goal, do not believe it! I can assure that 99% of the losers are losers only because they gave up before reaching the goal, don’t be a loser, don’t give up.
How can people get in touch with you…
I am an internet guy, so it is easier to get in touch over internet. I run several websites, over 25. But I am actively involved in Mello Method Organisation that is www.mellomethod.com, my blog that is www.brazilianpolyglot.com and my new project that is MyPolyglot still under construction that is www.mypolyglot.com or even its sister site, www.mypolyglot.tv that indents to be a TV channel for the best Polyglot Videos. It is always a pleasure to get new friends and followers on Facebook.com/jimmymelloreal and twitter.com/jimmymello