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.

reading

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.

logo_almost_square

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.

meyer02

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!

CrowdFunding

We just visited Indiegogo office here in Berlin. Indiegogo, together with Kickstarted, is one of the most famous crowd funding platform on the Internet.
IndieGogo

What is crowdfunding?

An example to make it very clear: at Bliu Bliu we want to change the world by changing the way people learn a language. We want to make an app that will always show you videos at your level for the language you want to learn. You will be able to understand all these videos learning new words all the time, improving your skills and getting better and better at understanding how people speak.

Now let’s imagine we managed to build a prototype for 104 languages that you can already use and that now we need your help to go all the way till the end and change the world.

If enough people share the same dream, all we need to do is to post the project on indiegogo asking for your help.
You give us 1€ 10€ 100€ and with your money and the money of other people, we build the vision, giving you in exchange early access or a lifetime premium account.

Bliu Bliu doesn’t have any active campaign at the moment but you never know…

Software for language learning

Lovely things we found on the Internet

More and more people all around the world are using Bliu Bliu to practice their reading skills.
Bliu Bliu offers a gentle solution, finding for you content at your level making sure you expand your vocabulary one word at the time.

We have 106 languages already, some of them with higher quality but all of them can be used to get an idea how the system works.

KSENIA – Languages on an emotional level

Today we want to take you to sunny and warm Portugal. In the capital, Lisbon, lives a Russian polyglot, Ksenia Ashrafullina, who speaks more than 7 languages. Let’s travel together in the stunning and unpredictable life of a ´Lispoeta´.

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

For the last 12 months I have been a ´Lispoeta´. It is a word play on ´Lisboeta´, a person who lives in Lisbon. After a year of backpacking and sticking my nose into every small Portuguese village and accent, I decided to settle down in Portugal´s capital, where among other projects I am building an app for the EU that unites cultural events of EU language centres and embassies (EUNIC APP).

What languages do you speak?

Russian is native, English feels like one. Italian, Portuguese and Spanish are the languages that make me a more emotional and communicative person, if not frenetic! French and Czech are still a little bit of a battle for perfection. Then there is Polish, Slovak and Serbian: my inspiration is to get past the panslavic improvisation stage. Gourmet-tasting Turkish and Greek right now.

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

In a roundabout way all my income is somehow related to languages. Striking a common note is easier when one has not only a language skill, but also empathy for the culture and mentality of others.

Tell us something about your First Time

I was a Soviet child dreaming to see London and New York. My first teacher made every English class a party, so I´d say it was easy.

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

I only give up if the essence of communication happening in a certain language is not satisfactory to me. I would say that on an emotional level Czech is still the most difficult one.

What about an “easy” experience

Italian without any doubt. The innate excitability and desire to communicate that the Italians have make you a pro in no time.

Why languages and not…..

Maybe because I got it all wrong in my life, and now I can not stop myself from learning new languages? :)

Do you have a mentor? Does anybody inspire you?

People´s voices on a tram, musicality of everyday interactions, cinema with its sophisticated choice of sounds and images, names of dishes. I have a strong physical reaction to intonations and accents, so my best inspiration is life in all its euphony.

Do you have a secret weapon to learn languages?

Repeat to yourself anything you hear others say — as they are saying it: in a real conversation or on a device.

Can you share with us your language learning routine?

1. Get inspired by travelling or meeting someone outstanding ´from´ that language
2. Get a grammar book to get the basics
3. Couchsurf, travel, read, listen, ask ask ask questions.

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

It is a good way to look at the challenge: what is my level? how do I find the right content? I´ve never though of it this way — I am learning!

Have you already used Bliu Bliu?

I am registered and starting to explore it. As I am trying to kickstart my Greek now, I´ll be glad to test it with Bliu Bliu:)

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

Somehow food tastes better if you can first pronounce it in the original language. Yellow and giallo are different colours. You start moving differently in a foreign language. Enjoy observing yourself and your culinary, visual and motor advances!

To find more about Ksenia and the projects she is in:

About Ksenia – find here
The app to unite cultural agendas – EU cultural centres
Visual inspiration for those who would like to learn Portuguese.
Lispoets FB page – reflections on the beauty of Lisbon:

Kristina, Lithuanian Language Online Lessons

Today we want to introduce you to Kristina. Kristina is a YouTube Superstar: she has been very active over the recent years helping people learning Lithuanian on her YouTube channel.
Her videos are very nice and she managed to gather around her a lovely community of students.

Bali, Monkey Forest

Who are you and which countries have you lived in before?

My name is Kristina, and I have a youtube channel where I teach the Lithuanian language. I am Lithuanian and lived there a substantial part of my life. However, I have moved quite a bit up to now and lived in Germany, UK, Norway, Turkey and Brunei. I am proud to be Lithuanian but also consider myself a citizen of ‘Planet Earth’ . Now I am happily married and my husband and me enjoy travelling. At the moment we are expecting our first child, so it is inevitable that our schedules and travel plans will change as well.
My husband and me in Vilnius

What languages do you speak?

I speak 2 languages fluently: Lithuanian (mother tongue) and English. I also know 3 other languages but they are at different levels. I have studied Russian in high school, however it is pretty rusty nowadays. I lived in Norway for 2 years so had to learn Norwegian. It has been more than one year since I had moved out of Norway and have realised that I am forgetting it very quickly. The reason for this is that I have started learning some Turkish. Every time I try speaking Norwegian, Turkish words come out of my mouth unintentionally. Previously there have been intentions to learn Spanish and Italian, however I have never continued it very seriously.

Tell us something about your YouTube channel.

The first video was uploaded in 2008. I cannot believe it myself that it’s been 7 years that I have been uploading videos.

Your YouTube videos are just a hobby or you make money out of them?

This was more of a hobby that turned into a chore for some time. Now I am not uploading so many videos anymore. Circumstances change and priorities shift over the years. I am still trying to upload videos once in a while, however I do not stress about it. It is definitely not my job and I do not expect to earn any money from it.
My husband and me in Tromso, chasing the northern lights.

Where you inspired by another YouTube Star?

The reason for the first video was another Youtube video(s) that I saw. I saw some basketball stars being interviewed and they were asked what Lithuanian words they knew. A lot of the words were swearwords. Then there were some other videos of Lithuanians teaching their foreign workmates and classmates things I would not want them to learn first. Therefore the first video I had filmed was ‘Greetings’. And this was how it started. At that time I thought it was going to be only one video, however after a few encouraging comments I started filming more.

How did you decide to start talking about languages on YouTube

Well I only teach some basic Lithuanian phrases and grammar. I am not a teacher therefore it is sometimes hard to explain something in a short video. I do not talk about languages in general. And all of the languages that I know, I know because of various circumstances in my life.

Which one is your most seen video so far?

The two most seen videos are:

  • Lithuanian tutorial – cute words, hey babe (70.000 views)
  • Lithuanian language tutorial – I love you (aš tave myliu) (48.000 views)

I assume the first video is most seen because of the title name. You can see the trend that a lot of people start learning Lithuanian because of ‘love’.

Which one is the video you are most proud of?

I am proud of all my videos.

Why you talk about languages and not…..

I cannot say that I talk about languages. I talk about one language – Lithuanian
India. Many people wanted to take a picture with me. I assume because I looked different

What is the nicest comment you got so far.

I could not tell one specific comment. The ones that I am happy about are always encouraging me to continue doing what I am doing .Over the years I have learnt to ignore the comments that are not so nice.

What secret would you share with people that are trying to learn a language?

I know it is easier said than done, but the most important things when learning something new are motivation and practice. I always say: ‘practice makes perfect’.

Have you already used Bliu Bliu?

I am looking forward to try it out.

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

I am happy to know that there are people interested in learning Lithuanian. I wish everyone all the best not only in learning a new language but also in all of the other projects that they are going to take up.

This is closed FB group for the like minded people who are learning Lithuanian: https://www.facebook.com/groups/144501955580014/

SO don’t forget to visit Kristina’s YouTube Channel: kristytamo

Vote for the Best Italian Startup

The italian community is on fire. This week you can vote for the Best Italian Startup and Bliu Bliu is right there, running towards the finish line!

Vote for Bliu Bliu

The italian online community is very active to elect the best websites for the 2014.
You can vote for many categories and the #10 is for the best startup: Bliu Bliu, right?

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 17.07.18
Help us to win, you can find the instructions on how to vote on this video

Show your Love: Support us

Smarter German

As you know we moved to Berlin for 3 months. We are networking over here and few days ago we met Michael from SmarterGerman.com. We invited him from dinner and we had an amazing conversation about the future of learning language.

Smarter German

Michael is a German tutor and he developed his own system to bring you from 0 to B1 in 30 days.
He can actually do it in 15 days and bring you to B2 in 30…but this require extra work.

He is very passionate about what he is doing and we think together we can deliver a beautiful system.

I am currently working on an online German course and also got in touch with Claudio and Donates from BliuBliu.com who have very promising plans for the future of language learning. I already loved BliuBliu when I saw it but it didn’t serve my purpose back then. Even today there’s still much to do on their side but I will now help to get BB to a point where I can fit the smarterGerman system in so that you as a German learner (or rather future learners) will have a very smooth and highly efficient German learning experience.
read more

More to come soon.

Proud of myself

This is what Kristina thinks about Bliu Bliu

Hey, I´m just now learning Russian on Bliu Bliu!
Already added 154 words today, so proud of myself.
- Kristina

1492114_10202142786309283_363007503_o

And she got more to say about her experience as a total beginner in Slovenian

I now started learning Slovenian. I don´t really have much idea about the language, but it´s fun to try.
I realized I know a lot of words. more than I would ever imagine
. I like Bliu Bliu
- Kristina

Apparently we are moving in the right direction
Thank you Kristina for the testimonial

What about you? What do you think about Bliu Bliu?
http://bliubliu.com

Chris Broholm – Actual Fluency

Today we talk with polyglot, blogger and languages teacher – Chris Broholm.
Chris shares with us not only his secrets on how to learn a language in fast and efficient way, but also he tells us about the challenges he faces during the process.
10420235_10154240559255004_5498907948700807253_n

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

I’m Chris, a 26 year old Dane who has been living in Denmark for most of my life.

What languages do you speak?

I speak comfortably in English, Danish and German and I’m adding Russian and Esperanto this year.

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

Learning them is definitely a hobby, but I do teach people Danish via iTalki.
Chris Broholm Actual Fluency

Tell us something about your First Time.

First time I knew I liked languages was when, in English, I found an idiom in the dictionary and successfully memorised it to impress my teacher at the time.
I think it was In for a penny – in for a pound!

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

I gave up on French in school, but not because it was difficult. I simply gave up because I was not bothered by languages at the time.
I’d much rather spend my time procrastinating and going to parties. I hope to return to it again soon.

What about an “easy” experience

I’m about a month into Esperanto and it is definitely an easy experience. All the vocabulary can be related to languages I know and the structure is very logical and simple. Also 100% phonetic, which I appreciate.

Why languages and not…..

I’m diving into languages because languages can be used for anything. You don’t do languages for the sake of the language itself, you do it so that you can use it. For me that is communicating with native speakers or for later job opportunities or hobbies. I love video games and one of the most popular ones has a huge Russian community, which is a big reason for me to learn Russian. Maybe one day I can work with one of the big companies to provide translation or interpretation services at big competitions or events.

Do you have a mentor? Does anybody inspire you?

I have tons of mentors, all my language learning friends on Facebook and Skype all inspire me to work harder. I have mentors for individual languages as well and I’m sure I would never be so far I am today without them.

Do you have a secret weapon to learn languages?

378170_10150439809072964_1303837438_n
Yes! My blog! By blogging about my experience to the same audience, I get a much higher level of accountability (and thus motivation) to work harder.

Can you share with us your language learning routine?

Certainly!

Initial phase – getting acquainted, touristy phrases: Here I’ll find simple audio courses, my favourite being Michel Thomas and simply get my feet wet in the language. This is also where I will look for the basic phrases and write a script (My name is, I’m x old, I live in etc.)

Once I have a basic understanding of the language I will start a grammar book and also begin vocabulary building with Memrise.

Once I’ve built up a reasonable vocabulary I will start exploring in native texts either in print or using software like Bliu Bliu. This is also generally the point where I think it’s a good time to hire a tutor from iTalki or somewhere else who can correct any mistakes or help you with any grammar you don’t quite understand.

That’s basically it, and obviously try to write/speak with native speakers of the language as much as possible all through the procedure.

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

Yes, I’ve downloaded some films and my local library has “easy reader” for Russian, so I can get introduced to reading Russian without too much difficulty.

Have you already used Bliu Bliu? :)


Yes and I’m a big fan. The way you feed me content that I mostly understand, gives me wins in language learning that motivate me to work harder.

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

Remember to make language learning your own, don’t let anyone else try and tell you what to do, and just enjoy the journey – It’s a great one! If you want language learning advice or inspiration you can check out my blog: http://actualfluency.com where I also host my actual fluency podcast, which is my weekly language learning show to inspire and motivate.

Stay Inspired!

~ Chris