Have you ever dreamed of being able to woo somebody with your words in another language? If being bilingual is something you have frequently dreamt about, you may decide to embark on a journey to learning a foreign language. While the journey at a glance may seem like a thrill with new found knowledge at every corner, and conversations in another language in no time, there are plenty of challenges that await you along the way.

Here are a few tips on how to take the plunge into learning a foreign language without fail:

Choose a language that has meaning to you

First and foremost, you have to want to learn the language. Whether you are learning Mandarin (Chinese) because of a new business deal your company landed overseas, or you are learning Finnish because that is where your grandma is from, learn a language you care about. This will keep you interested in the practice for longer, and give you hope when you get frustrated and start beating yourself up over not being able to remember whether the verb comes before the adjective in the sentence structure.

Dedicate time every day to study

Learning a language not only takes time but it takes diligence. To understand the patterns and sentence structures that differ from your native language takes daily practice so it can become ingrained in your mind. Once you have set your goal for yourself to become fluent in another tongue, set aside study time each and every day to truly dedicate yourself to your new project.

Speak with natives as often as possible

Immersion is the best way to learn another language. This, you have probably been told multiple times. However, immersion is rarely possible. After all, moving to another country is a challenge in and of itself and most countries will not let you in simply to immerse yourself in their language. Instead, find the next best thing. Locate clubs in your city filled with native speakers and attend meetings. Speak with these people and practice as much as possible. Chances are, they will love sharing with you in the gift of gab in their native tongue. One thing foreigners miss most is speaking in the language that comes easiest to them. So reach out and make a connection with a native speaker so you can get as close to immersion as possible.

Get to know the culture

Linguistics is so closely tied in to cultural heritage. Understanding the culture will give better insight as to why they have certain expressions, or what words that really cannot be translated actually mean. For example, in Danish there is an expression called ‘Hygge’. While it is translated as ‘Cozy’, the only people who truly understand what that word means are the Danes, or people who have lived or stayed in Denmark long enough to actually have the feeling the word is describing to know exactly what it means. Each culture has small terms or expressions like this. Getting know the culture will open up the reasoning behind these words making them easier to remember and feel as you speak.

Be patient with yourself

When you are ready to learn, go into it understanding that absorbing another language to the point where you are dreaming and thinking in foreign tones comes over a long period of time and lots of practice. Be patient as you take it on. If there is a particular subject that trips you up, study it, then study it again. Eventually you will surprise yourself with how easily it will come, but in the meantime, keep at it until your head hurts as you struggle through frustration of not being able to find the right words.


Tess Pajaron is part of the team behind OpenColleges. Aside from her Filipino tongue, she knows how to speak English, Spanish and Japanese and hopes to learn French and Russian. She can be also seen on her social media profile at Google+.

Interview with Amir about Kazahkstan

Amir and I have decided to talk about his country Kazahkstan. The conversaion is similar to the the the one where we spoke about my experiences in Catalunya.

Привет всем! С вами снова Лука. В этот раз мы с моим другом Амиром решили записать интервью по русски и это интервью будет о его Родине а именно о КазахстАне.

1. Амир, расскажи пожалуйста вкраце историю своей страны, на каких языках говорят в Казахстане и какие страны являются основными торговыми партнёрами.

Привет Лука! Да, ты прав. Казахстан как независимое государство… Казахстан – это относительно молодое государство. Т.е. недавно мы отпраздновали 20 летие независимости. Независимость Казахстан получил в 1991 году. Независимость когда распался Советский Союз. Но история конечно…. история вот именно казахского народа. Может быть не обязательно казахского народа но вообще история тюркских народов, которые населяли вот эти территории она уходит в гораздо более ранние времена. Я например сделал видео о тюркских языках, где я говорил о группе кипчакских языков. Ну т.е. туда входят татарский казахский и киргизский. Т.е. вот эти народы населяли ну вот примерно территорию современного Казахстана в течении многих многих веков и конечно… история… если брать так историю Казахстана, историю кипчаков… конечно тесно переплетается с историей России. Ну это понятно. И какие-то такие отрицательные моменты и конечно были положительные моменты. И я думаю то что сейчас уже можно с уверенностью сказать что… народы населяющие Россию и народы населяющие Казахстан. Т.е. мы живём вместе на протяжении веков и теперь уже можно сказать что когда люди приезжают не обязательно в Казахстан или в Россию а вообще на постсоветское пространство чувствуется то что примерно одна и та же ментальность. Что касается тороговых партнёров… конечно тут стоит обратиться к истории. Основным торговым партнёром Казахстана конечно же является Россия и вообще влияние России и на историю на на культуру Казахстана достаточно ощутимое.

Амир, я тебя тут перебью.


Скажи, правда что в Казахстане много полезных ископаемых?

Что касается полезных ископаемых. Я не уверен можно ли в Казахстане найти всю таблицу Менделеева но по-моему почти все элементы таблицы можно найти на территории Казахстана. Т.е. например нефтяные компании… опять же российские и американские… по-моему в том числе и Chevron и Exxon функционируют в Казахстане ну в больших городах. Алматы, Астана, Атырау… Атырау – ближе к Каспийскому морю, там нефть.

Это значит Амир, что у твоей страны полно экономических возомжностей.

Да, можно и так сказать! Я соглашусь.

Ты родился в Алмате. Насколько я понял Алмата – это большой русскоговорящий город. Поэтому ты говоришь по русски лучше чем по казахски. И всё-таки какой язык ты считаешь родным на самом деле?

Да, я понял о чём ты говоришь. Ты прав. Не только в Алматы но и вообще в больших городах Казахстана особенно когда Казахстан был частью СССР конечно люди больше говорили по-русски. И к сожалению может быть я не должен сейчас это упоминать, но тем не менее было время когда например не очень то и разрешалось например печатать газеты на казахском. И как следствие – выросло целое поколение людей. Т.е. я например казах, но говорю и думаю по-русски. Т.е. ты абсолютно прав, Лука, я говорю по русски лучше чем по-казахски.

3. Многи ли ты встречаешь полиглотов в Казахстане и вообще в СНГ?

Интересный вопрос… В Казахстане… т.е. как? Кто такой полиглот, Лука? Это тот кто говорит на 3 языках или более?

Да, более или менее. Thisisthedefinition. (Это определение)

Т.е. например если человек живёт в Казахстане и говорит по-казахски, по-русски и давай скажем по-английски – то этот уже полиглот, да?

Мгм… да.

Если брать это определение – то наверняка… мне кажется достаточно найдётся полиглотов в Казахстане. Но ты сам прекрасно знаешь… ты… Я знаю ты регулярно бываешь на вечерах полиглотов в Париже. Ты знаешь то что люди могут хорошо знать язык но стесняться говорить. Люди, которые стараются изучать языки, которые изучают может не только английский но и французский достаточно популярен в Казахстане.

Да? Зачем? Как в России 2 века назад. Я знаю что в России французский очень популярен.

В Казахстане в принципе что-то такое похожее. Но как я уже сказал, много людей действительно изучают языки. Многим людям хотелось бы говорить по-английски и по- французски но как ты наверное уже знаешь. Я знаю что ты даёшь уроки по скайпу и обучаешь людей не только как говорить на языках ты ещё помогаешь людям стать увереннее, с хорошим произношением, с хорошим акцентом.

Я согласен с тобой, Амир. Я думаю на самом деле что психологический аспект в изучении языков играет большую роль.

С одной стороны Советский Союз распался но с другой стороны мы видим что образовалось СНГ и теперь уже есть Томоженный союз. Можем ли мы сказать что на самом деле СССР снова существует?

One the one hand USSR collapsed but on the other hand we now have the CIS and there is also customs union. Can we say that we are heading back to USSR days?

Так, мы теперь уже говорим о политике, да?


Советский Союз распался в 1991 году. Вообще-то он распался раньше. Это Казахстан получил независимость в 1991 году. Я не знаю, Лука, видел ли ты интервью Путина. В одном из своих интервью Путин сказал что распад Советского Союза был одной из самых больших катастроф в истории.

Прежде всего в России люди очень переживали потому что центр Советского Союза был в Москве. И конечно если Москва раньше была столицей для всего Советского Союза – то теперь Москва стала столицей только для России. Конечно именно для политической элиты России конечно это было серьёзным ударом.

И конечно же 90-ые годы… инфляция, тяжёлые экономические проблемы потому что все страны перестраивались с такой советской системы или попытки построить социализм на западную систему рыночной экономики.

Было тяжёлое время, но 90-ые годы закончились и государства… не только Казахстан и Россия но и Украина, Узбекистан, Таджикистан все государства по-тихоньку адаптировались и решили создать СНГ.

Как это частно бывает… считается что основная идея – это создать единое экономическое пространство но это ещё и скажем такой политический союз. И в принципе можно сказать что «де факто» восстановился Советский Союз. Страны прибалтики Латвия, Литва и Эстония – они больше стали сотрудничать с Европейским Союзом. Это было их решением.

И то что теперь не только политический союз но и единый томоженый союз это в принципе говорит что такая вот попытка, которая наверно всё-таки предпринимается Путиным. Т.е. восстановить «де факто» Советский Союз.

Т.е. он сказал что распад Советского Союза был катастрофой и в принципе за эти годы он попытался сделать всё возможное чтобы как-то Советский Союз восстановить. Это описывал в своей очень интересной книге американский политолог Джордж Фридман. Он написал очень интересную книгу «Следующие 100 лет» где в принципе он предсказывает что Россия сделает всё можное для того чтобы восстановить статус кво.

Он написал очень интересную книгу «Следующие 100 лет» где в принципе он предсказывает что Россия сделает всё можное для того чтобы восстановить статус кво.

Очень интересно. Амир, огромное спасибо за очень интересное интервью.

Спасибо Лука!

Пока пока!

Join my Thepolyglotdream Facebook Page

Follow me on Twitter

Is living in-country strictly necessary to learn a foreign language?

Since moving to Paris, meeting foreigners is a snap for me. I go to the SNAX bar (featured on the CANAL+ show). People meet up there to practice their languages. You get a badge as you walk through the door and you write your name and the languages you speak on it.

It is a fantastic opportunity to practice your languages on a weekly basis. Since my language exchanges have become so frequent, I have noticed a few recurring questions and reactions. When people find out that I speak ten languages one of the reactions that I get the most is: “Oh, you must have lived abroad for a long time, right?” or “You must travel a LOT”, right?

That final “right” got me thinking. I have never thought that living in-country was strictly necessary to learn a new language. I have picked up all of the languages I know without living abroad. So why do so many people think it is impossible to learn a language in the comfort of your own home?

Are your objectives clear enough?

Terms like “fluency”, or “speak”, or even “learn” are the subject of fierce and heated debate in the language community. “How long did it take you to speak language X?”, “Do you speak it fluently?” are questions that throw me a bit, I must admit. They are really too vague to be answered accurately.

I have my own definition of what it means to become “linguistically autonomous” and therefore able to “speak” a language with a reasonable degree of fluency and ease (video LINK). That said, it is not something you can explain with accuracy in the type of language exchanges you have at the Polyglot meet-ups.

Before you delve into the question of whether living in country is strictly necessary to speak a language, you should clearly define your long-term goals. If your goal is to speak and understand a language with ease, then living in country is not necessary. Before the Internet I didn’t need to travel, but nowadays learning from home is even less of an issue. With the Internet we can literally surround ourselves with any given language. You can speak it on Skype, watch movies or YouTube videos or listen to it over the radio. There is no shortage of interesting and engaging experiences that we can have via the web.

If the main goal is to speak like a native though, the Internet is not enough. You need real, face-to-face contact with native speakers AND the natural environment where the language is spoken. Let me explain you why.

My experience with Dutch and French

A good example to explain the difference between speaking a language fluently and speaking it at a native-like level is to show how I learned both Dutch and French, and compare the two experiences.

“Why would you learn Dutch”? This is a typical question I get from Dutch native speakers. Yes, why? Normally, you would want to learn Dutch if you had to live in The Netherlands. And even in that case, most people resort to English, given that 95% of the population there speaks it fluently.

I learned it because of a girl. I met her 13 years ago in Sardinia. She could speak English, but not that well. That frustrated me quite a lot. When you meet somebody you really like and communication is limited by language, you yearn for a stronger and deeper knowledge of a common language. But even then communication would not be the same as if you were speaking to her directly in her native language.

After Sardinia, I had planned to tour Europe with my friends, and one of the stops was The Netherlands. Just a few weeks after meeting the girl in Sardinia, I met her again in her country. I paid her a surprise visit, and she was speechless when she saw me standing in front of her house.

She let me in, I talked to her parents and I had the chance to interact with Dutch people in their country. I didn’t speak a word of Dutch so everything was in English, but it was still a breakthrough for me. The frustration first and that visit later prompted me to start learning Dutch.

As soon as I arrived back in Rome in September, I bought the ASSIMIL Dutch course and started my adventure.

Dutch is not a popular language to learn, so there were practically no resources at the time. I had no Internet, which made things even more challenging. I decided to rely on ASSIMIL and I found out that you could get the Volksrant in Italy. Friends would also bring back books for me from their vacations to Holland. I spent quite a few years only reading Dutch without practicing it. I did meet Dutch people or Belgians from time to time, but they all switched back to English very quickly.

My Dutch remained dormant during the years. I started speaking it more and more since I made my first video in Dutch on the Internet. The reaction was so overwhelmingly positive that it motivated to practice and to perfect the language. I started speaking it more and more on Skype, especially with my friend Richard Simcott, and then I became friends with two real nice Dutch girls, with whom I speak regularly. I started watching interesting documentaries on YouTube, as well as TV shows such as Paul&Witterman. Constant practice did change things, and I feel like my Dutch has become much more fluent than 4 years ago. Despite my progress, I know what I am missing in Dutch as I am able to contrast my abilities in Dutch with my knowledge of French after having lived in France.

Know your limits and be realistic

Even with regular contact with Dutch on a weekly basis, I know that I will not be able to reach a native-like level unless I go to The Netherlands and interact with the language for a few years. I came to this realization after living in France.

I have been living in France for more than 2 years now. My girlfriend is French and we have been together for more than 5 years too. I have been learning French for more than 20 years all in all.

Living in France and attending a Conference Interpreting school made me realize how long and what conditions are necessary to speak a language at a native-like level. I am not just talking about the mere linguistic factor, but also the way the French talk to each other, talk about their literature, their music and politics. How they move their lips and their eyes when they talk and countless other factors that need to be lived in order to absorb and understand them fully.

I learned how not to cut the salad in a restaurant, or to pour yourself wine if you are invited to someone’s home. I learned that that for the French, like us Italians, sitting around a table and conversing is one of the key moments of the day. The pride they have in their cuisine is reflected in conversation – cheese and wine are a constant topic of conversation. They are also proud of their long film and literary tradition. Every Frenchman knows cult movies like “Les tontons flinguers”, and every French kid should be able to recite La Fontaine’s stories by heart. I realized that their school system and its conceptions is very different from the other countries of Europe: I witnessed the frustration of a student during his 2 years of “prepas” or “classes préparatoires” (two hard years of study before attempting an incredibly challenging “concours” for engineering, medicine veterinary students). I figured out how hard it is to get a “permis de conduire” (driving licence) in France.

Knowing these things makes a huge difference in an interpreter’s performance. Cultural context of a given speech is key to rendering fully in another language. The list of things – linguistic and not – that I have been learning during these 5 years is endless, and it keeps on growing.

Written by Luca Lampariello

Join me my Polyglot FB page

Join me on Twitter: Luca Lampariello

How language exchange is like tug of war – Guest Post

Josef Wigren is a Swedish language lover I have been friends with for more than six years. We have been exchanging ideas and talked about a lot of interesting stuff over the years on a lot of varying subjects including marketing and languages. He lives in Uppsala, Sweden together with his wife and runs his own website and is the co-author of the LingvoStart website. He speaks six languages and is now learning Russian as his seventh.

How language exchange is like tug of war

When you learn a language you will eventually come to the stage where you want to practice what you have learned and start using it in real situations. When you come to this stage, you might start looking for a native speaker of your target language, who is in turn learning your native language. When you do find someone who is willing to practice with you, it can lead to a mutually beneficial language exchange and even good friendship. More about this in a little bit.

When should I start with language exchanges?

Some people will tell you that you should start speaking right away, using what you know and push yourself to gain better understanding through putting yourself out there, while others will tell you that you should first internalize the language, the rhythm, the sounds and gain a lot of vocabulary  before you speak. Some even go so far as to say that you shouldn’t speak at all  until you have a better understanding of the language you’re learning. Whatever way you choose to go, there will at some point come a time where you need to start speaking, if you want to be able to use the language.

You probably will benefit the most from language exchanges once you reach an intermediate level in your languages (due to being able to express yourself better and being able to understand explanations and replies given in the language), but in my experience, it is good to get speaking practice even from when you are in the early stages of your learning, just to get used to producing the sounds of the language. If you keep putting it off for later, when you know the language better, you might get caught in the trap of understanding a language, but not being able to speak it at all. It’s good to progress your level evenly over the different areas of learning a language, so make sure that you don’t only build up a passive vocabulary. This is where you need practice speaking the language.

Finding a language exchange partner

Finding someone to practice with can be quite difficult, if you are learning a rare or exotic language, but the most difficult thing is to find someone who you enjoy talking with and who can help you with your language learning. There are many websites for getting in contact with people who want to practice languages such as sharedtalkbusuu, and livemocha. There are a lot of them, so you only have to search on Google for language exchange and you will find more sites than you’ll ever be able to go through.

Once you have found a language exchange partner, the initial session is in my opinion the far most important one. That’s where you decide what languages are going to be practiced, and you get to know each other.

Tug of war

When you start talking to each other, it’s usually the one who has the biggest vocabulary or has the most confidence in speaking their target language that sets the common communication language (or the language that you use to talk, most of the time). Of course, you will want to practice your target language and your language exchange partner will want to practice his/her target language. This can lead to a conflict of interests, like a tug of war. Usually the language that you use to communicate between yourselves will be set in the first few sessions, after which it will be a bit more difficult to change the dynamics of your exchange, unless you address the issue directly and talk about it.

So, let’s say that you are learning Hindi, and you meet someone online and start talking. After a while you will have used up much of your vocabulary in the language you are practising and you might fall back on your native language, so that the conversation will have a better flow. Do this, and you will be doing yourself a disservice in the end. Once you start getting more comfortable and get back to your native language, you are on a slippery slope and it will take more energy to get back to the language you want to practice again. It is better to struggle a bit, and taste the sweet taste of victory when you find that you can express yourself in your target language. If you don’t try, you might get stuck talking in your native language with this person for as long as you know him/her.


There are many ways to deal with this issue, but the best thing you can do is to be prepared for a language exchange and have a clear idea of how it can be the most beneficial for you and what things you need specific help with. Make sure that you know for yourself what it is that you need from the language exchange. Maybe you need to practice some grammar points or want to make sure with a native speaker that you’re using the grammar correctly; this could be a much more fun way to go through grammar exercises. Or maybe you need to practice reading out loud and want to make sure that you are pronouncing things correctly and have the correct speed and intonation for the language. If you really want to work on your pronunciation I would recommend that you record yourself as well when you read out loud, that way you would also be able to tell from listening to yourself where you need to improve. Communicate your needs and expectations to your language exchange partner in the beginning of getting to know each other, and he/she will be able to help you out a lot more as well.

A language exchange can be a great thing and it should be both fun and beneficial for the both of you. Take turns talking in your native language and the language you want to learn, and use a timer, if you want. Make sure that you speak equally much in both languages and make sure that you know what your language exchange partner expects from you as well. That way the exchange will be beneficial for both of you, and you wouldn’t need to feel like it’s unnatural to switch between languages, talk about grammar exercises or just read texts out loud to each other. Just set the guidelines when you get started and you will benefit a lot more from language exchanges. Also, make sure that you update your goals regularly, so that you don’t start feeling too comfortable talking about only one thing, but push your limits as well. You will become more productive and will help your language exchange partner a lot more too!

I would also like to add that if you are feeling adventurous or feel very confident, the best kind of language exchange partner is not a language exchange partner at all, but a friend who doesn’t share any common language with you, except for the language you are learning. That way, you force yourself to stay with the language and you will most definitely get the best kind of practice there is. It is more challenging and especially in the beginning it can be quite tiresome, but it will leave you feeling amazing. (I still remember the first time I talked with a guy from Vietnam who didn’t know any English at all. We were talking about shopping and buying shoes or something like that, something that I’m not interested in at all, but it still made me feel really good about myself, being able to express myself in Vietnamese for the first time.) Just do what you feel you are capable of, and have fun!


To sum it all up

  • Look for a language partner you feel comfortable talking to. There are many websites available to look for people to talk to.
  • Make sure you know what it is that you need to improve on in the language.
  • Agree on how you will divide your time between your languages and stick to it.
  • Stick to the language you are learning even though it’s difficult at times and slows the conversation down, you will thank yourself later for doing it.
  • Use a timer to divide your time if it makes you more comfortable.
  • Change to more difficult topics when you start getting comfortable at the level you are right now, to push yourself to learn.
  • The best language exchange partner is someone who isn’t interested in learning from you, but talking to you naturally (in his/her own language).
  • Have fun and enjoy your progress! Savour the moments of breakthrough!

Written by Josef Wigren

About the author: Josef Wigren is a 23 year old guy from Sweden who speaks six languages and apart from having a passion for languages and all forms of learning also has a deep love for science and technology of all kinds.

The secret to learning a foreign language: resonate with it

Susanna is a friend of mine and an outstanding polyglot. We had a lovely chat on Skype some time ago, and agreed on the importance of “feeling” the language, “resonating” with it. Having a good pronunciation is not mere vanity, ir plays an important role when it comes to communicating with other human beings. So she decided to talk about her experience with languages and life experiences in this great article. Hope you enjoy it!

The secret to learning the language well is to resonate with it

In the search for the Holy Grail of how to learn a foreign language well and how to master excellent pronunciation, you can spend years in classes and lots of money on tutors and on living in the country where the language is spoken only to find yourself sounding and feeling foreign. You can even live in a country for decades and maintain a strong foreign accent and never develop the flow of your target language.


Because you don’t let yourself resonate with the language.

Resonance? Didn’t I learn that word in physics class? Luca’s blog is about languages, not physics!

 What is Susanna talking about?

The last time I heard that word was when I had to get an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Image) for my injury.

I’ll explain what I mean by resonance. When we speak of resonance, we can be referring to how languages sound and also how they make us feel, both on a physiological and a psychological level.

Sounds and feelings are not emphasized in language classes but to truly get into the groove of a language, you have to establish a psychological and physiological bond with the musicality of your target language.

In case you’re still wondering what the word resonance means outside of an MRI, let’s reference second definition in the Webster’s Dictionary:

a : the intensification and enriching of a musical tone by supplementary vibration

b : a quality imparted to voiced sounds by vibration in anatomical resonating chambers or cavities (as the mouth or the nasal cavity)

c : a quality of richness or variety

d : a quality of evoking response <how much resonance the scandal seems to be having — United States News & World Report>

Physiological resonance

Physiological resonance is about the frequency or vibrations of sound waves. Your body vibrates differently with each language you speak. Guttural sounds in Arabic and Hebrew make your throat vibrate differently that when you speak in English. Your body is not the same in Arabic as it is in English.

Give up your English throat to properly speak Arabic and resonate with Arabic.

I broke my CD player rewinding my Arabic language CD so many times to get the proper guttural Arabic “h” sounds so I know very well about rediscovering my throat via Arabic as well as how my Chinese-made CD player didn’t resonate well with the sounds of Arabic:)

Psychological resonance

To resonate psychologically with a new language, you have to like hearing yourself speak that language. Let yourself be another person. Last week, I was talking to a close linguaphile friend of mine who was saying a few words of Portuguese to me and he said he didn’t like the way he sounded in Portuguese. He felt like he wasn’t himself. I know this well. As I explain in my Portuguese video.

), I found Brazilian Portuguese to be coquettish and it took me some time before I could even take myself seriously speaking in Portuguese.

You have to appreciate how you feel when you talk to native speakers. Basically, it’s a friendship. You may feel differently with some friends than with others. The same goes with languages. Your new language is a new friend that you have to get to like or else your relationship may lead to a break-up resulting in frustration, improper pronunciation and awkward sentence structure.

There have been various articles about how certain languages makes us think in a different way and therefore see the world in a distinct way. Lera Boroditsky in her Wall Street Journal article, in 2010 wrote about Hebrew speakers imagining time moving from left to right:

“It turns out that if you change how people talk, that changes how they think. If people learn another language, they inadvertently also learn a new way of looking at the world.” -Lera Boroditsky

I agree that the way we form our sentences effects the way we think and perceive the world; however, what I am particularly moved by is the sound of language and how we emit those sounds. That’s why I focus on picking up the prosody (musicality) of one’s target language and experiencing language like music. Each language has its own rhythm, accentuation, and flow. Without paying attention to the music of one’s new language, one is not going to develop correct pronunciation and be well understood.

As Luca mentioned in his interview with Tim Doner in Paris, the closer you sound to a native, the more receptive native speakers will be to you and the easier it is to gain confidence in one’s language ability. It’s part of human nature for one to feel more comfortable with someone who sounds like themselves.

Downside of being sound-oriented

When you and a language aren’t in tune, you’re in trouble.

Given my sensitivity to sound and the ups and downs of spoken speech, I have to admit that there are languages which do not resonate well with me. In simpler terms, I don’t like the way they sound.

This is a problem, a major problem.

If I don’t like the way a language sounds, I won’t like to hear myself emit the words of the language and I will resist imitating a native speaker. I might even give up learning the language altogether. It will be very difficult to learn that language or actually enjoy speaking it.

This has happened to me three times.

I am not proud of this.

But I want to be honest. It would be false of me to say that I can learn any language because I know from personal experience what the hurdles are.

In one language that I do speak fluently, I intentionally do not mimic female speech patterns because I find that women who are native speakers of this language often sound like they’re complaining and I am irritated by how they speak.

I deliberately avoided learning one language to fluency because I didn’t like the way the native speakers were so aggressive and antagonistic in their speech. Mind you, I lived in the country for over a year and could have spoken the language fluently and I resisted.

You have to find ways to deal with what you don’t like in the way the language sounds.

I like to approximate my speech as much as I can to that of a native speaker. Having a good accent in your target language makes it easier for you to just be without calling attention to yourself as a foreigner. I don’t want my foreignness to be obvious at every utterance. Believe me, being asked multiple times a day “Where are you from?” when living in a foreign country gets old really fast. When I lived inArgentina, there were very few foreigners and my mixed Argentine-Spanish-Mexican accent turned heads and drew stares. I am not kidding. In order to not get asked all the time where I was from, I would either put on my strongest Argentine accent. Or I’d make up stories about my origins. Once, I told a lady I was a refugee from the Taliban inAfghanistan. I don’t suggest making up wild stories inArgentinabecause people there are very well read and are aware of geopolitical issues. If you pretend to be from a country or culture that isn’t yours, your lie won’t last long.

Why pronunciation matters from the beginning

Your first academic or lengthy personal encounter with a language can have long lasting effects on your pronunciation and accent. If you don’t have a native speaker teaching you or a teacher with an almost native pronunciation, you may be stuck speaking with your teacher’s accent for a long time unless you supplement your language exposure with music, TV, radio and other media content by native speakers or personal conversations with native speakers.

My first yearlong Spanish class in high school was taught by a lady fromMadrid. I’ve never lived in Spain but there is a noticeable European Spanish prosody when I speak in Spanish because I soaked up the Iberian speech patterns of my first Spanish teacher.

To illustrate how developing an emotional bond to a language is the secret to learning language, I’ve made six multilingual (English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French) videos to accompany this blog piece to show how these languages make me feel and think. As Bosnian for me has a close relationship to post-warBosnia, I prefer not to divulge this information in a video as it’s quite complex and deals with ethnic tensions and the genocide.

All of the videos (except the one in English) are subtitled in English. You may have to press the red CC button in the lower right hand corner to turn on the subtitles.


Russian is my native language but I speak English better than I do Russian. As I had little formal education in Russian as I came to the USas a young child, I was often ridiculed in Soviet immigrant circles for my less than perfect Russian and my lack of mastery of Russian classical literature. Russian music and traveling to the former Soviet Unionhelped me develop a positive relationship to Russian and get over childhood hurdles. This may resonate well with other heritage speakers and child immigrants who spoke another language at home but don’t speak in perfectly.


I discuss why it’s important to pay attention to the resonance of languages and our emotional ties to languages and I describe how I thinks differently in English and my native Russian. With the help of my costumed niece and nephew, I explain my admiration of Sephardic Jews who have kept alive the Ladino (ancient Spanish) 500 years after the Spanish Inquisition. I talk about the documentary I am working on about how the Ladino language saved a man’s life in World War II and how important Ladino music is to keep the language alive.


In this video, I talk about my multiple personalities in Spanish as I speak with three different accents, Mexican, Spanish and Argentine and how I learned to appreciate poetry in Spanish better than in English.


In French, I am much more philosophical than in any of my other languages. The frequent vowel sounds and soft consonants give the language a smoothness and airy quality. I found my way to express my love for words in French.


My mixed European Portuguese and Brazilian accent raises eyebrows. I explain where I learned this mixed accent and how I learned to take myself seriously speaking in sensual Portuguese.


Although I’ve never lived in Italy as an adult, I learned via Italian literature to stand up for my ideas and to develop my writing career. The language is like a non-stop song and it can be tiring for me to speak in Italian as it requires a lot more energy to maintain the dynamism and melodic tone of the language.

Article written by Susanna Zaraysky

Susanna Zaraysky ( is a polyglot and she speaks seven languages (English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French and Bosnian/Serbo-Croatian). Born in the former Soviet Union, she currently lives in Silicon Valley, California and is one of the few female polyglots active on the web. After getting asked so many times why she could speak with excellent accents in various languages, she figured out that music, movies, radio and other media played a huge role in her ability to imitate native speakers and she wrote, Language is Music (El idioma es música in Spanish) to show others how to use music and the media to learn languages.

Susanna has her own segment on Univision Spanish TV in San Francisco titled El idioma es música where she teaches Spanish speakers how to learn English via English language songs. Given her passion for music and language, Susanna is working on a documentary to show how the Ladino language of Sephardic Jews (Spanish Jews expelled fromSpain during the Spanish Inquisition) is being kept alive via music and how it saved a Bosnian boy’s life during the Holocaust.

Susanna has her own segment on Univision Spanish TV in San   Francisco titled El idioma es música

Follow Susanna on Twitter, Facebook and on YouTube.

The secret to living in Catalonia: Amir interviews Luca about his experience in Spain

Amir Orbadayev is a very good friend of mine and a great polyglot. We got to know each other 3 years ago thanks to YouTube. We had great chats on Skype and even recorded some multilingual interviews like this one. Amir has his own YouTube channel  and recently founded an interesting website, where he shares his knowledge and experience with language learning, go check it out!

In this interview, he asks me some questions about my experience in Spain. I lived in Barcelona for 5 months. When Spaniards ask me why I speak Spanish well, they assume that I have lived in Spain. Yes, I did live in Spain. The truth is, though, that I learned most of my Spanish in Italy. During the 5 month stay in Barcelona I mostly came into contact with French, English and above all Catalan, but I didn’t speak Spanish that much.

One of the most common problem that foreign language students face when attending university classes is the language. In Barcelona, some teachers give lectures in Spanish and Catalan, some just in Spanish, and some just in Catalan. My lectures belong to this third category. I was in a traditional Catalan university, and everything – absolutely everything – was in Catalan. So, the first time I attended a class I  asked the teacher whether he could speak in Spanish: since he bilingual so this shouldn’t have caused any problems.

I was not imposing anything and I certainly didn’t hope to change the linguistic status quo.  His reply was gentle but firm: I am sorry but all the lectures are in Catalan so ou will have to adapt to it.

I was a bit annoyed. Having to follow lectures in another language was a bit discouraging at first, especially in a country where the official language is Spanish. Most people feel akward where they arrive in a country without knowing the language.

I was in Spain but I was also in Catalunya, and there are two official languages. So I adapted. I didn’t like the sound of Catalan at first, and some recurring word “mateixa” (la misma, the same) were a mystery at the beginning. But then Catalan slowly started to make more and more sense.

I strongly believe that you have to speak a language before judging the sound quality of it. I didn’t like Portuguese and Dutch before learning them. I appreciate them so much now, and the same goes for Catalan. I didn’t learn to speak it, but I understand it fairly well.

While in Barcelona this Spanish-catalan issue was very common. I experienced some very heated discussions about Catalan and Spanish. I have a few friends from Madrid and others from Barcelona, and the opinions very often strongly diverge. From one side, a part of Spain sees the imposition of Catalan in education by the Catalan government a threat to Spanish, while Catalans see it as a means to preserve their own language and tradition.

Another very interesting topic that I touched upon with Amir is the difference of accents within the Spanish speaking world. After posting my first video in Spanish on YouTube  many people asked me why I didn’t speak with an accent from Argentina, or Mexico. I also noticed that there is some tension between Spain and South America that I didn’t know of. The Spanish accent is often viewed as harsh and ugly. That is at least what I was told by numerous South Americans that I met here in Europe. On the other side, many Spaniards found many south American accents rather unpleasant.

I guess that it also has something to do with the history, and this “accent discussion” is not only typical of Spanish, but also of other European languages that were “exported” to the new world, such as English, French, or Portuguese.

Have you ever experienced discrimination or simply a bit of “scorn” because of your accent? What do you think about the situation with Catalan and Spanish? Do Catalans have a right to impose Catalan in their schools to the detriment of Spanish? I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences on these interesting linguistic issues 🙂

This article was written by Luca Lampariello


AMIR: Hola a todos, soy Amir, estoy aquí con mi amigo italiano Luca y esta vez queremos hacer una entrevista en español. Hola Luca, ¿como estás?

LUCA: Hola Amir, muy bien tú, ¿qué tal todo?

AMIR: Muy bien, gracias. Bueno, en el primer video que hiciste en español dijiste que no tuviste tiempo para hablar de tus experiencias con las lenguas y todas las curiosidades así que vamos a intentar a aprovechar ahora de este tiempo para hablar de tus experiencias en España.

LUCA: Vale, pues sí, por ejemplo cuando hice el primer video ese donde hablo 8 idiomas estaba en Barcelona, estaba en Barcelona de Erasmus, por allí, sí. En Barcelona me quedé 5 meses más o menos 5-6 meses, sí por eso pues… puedo decir que estaba en España pero estaba más en Catalana, porque la gente por ejemplo me dice “bueno tú hablas en español”, yo le contesto que la verdad es que cuando estaba en Barcelona hablaba la mayoría del tiempo otros idiomas, pero el castellano no mucho, por eso..

AMIR: ¿Esto es un poquito curioso no? Desde mi punto de vista… recuerdo que en tus primeras grabaciones en tu página de YouTube dijiste que nunca habías vivido afuera de tu propio país, en unas de las primeras. ¿Así que nunca antes habías salido fuera de tu país?

LUCA: Sí sí, había salido pero no para vivir… de vacaciones sí, de vacaciones en toda Europa, por ejemplo en Suecia, Inglaterra Alemania y todo, pero me quedaba unos días y después regresaba a casa, o sea, puedo decir que era la primera vez cuando me fui a Barcelona que salía del país para vivir en otro sitio, esto sí.

AMIR: cuentame en que ciudad estuviste viviendo, y bueno… por qué tomaste la decisión de ir a Cataluña Si no me equivoco me estabas diciendo que era uno de los programas de intercambio Erasmus

LUCA: sí, era un programa de intercambio erasmus, el problema de intercambio Erasmus es que cuando decidi hacerlo era un poquito más tarde, era verdaderamente el ultimo año de la universidad y me estaba diciendo que pues que no era facil un programa erasmus asi porque el problema es que para el erasmus tienes que hacer una serie de cosas burocráticas que son pesadas, muy pesadas sabes..Hay una película muy conocida esta del “l’Auberge Espagnole” que dice…el chico ese que esta en frente de desafios burocráticos increíbles en Francia. Y por eso yo …

AMIR: habia que prepararlo

LUCA: habia que prepararlo los papeles pero el problema era que también tenias que un profesor disponible para decirte “bueno, tu lo puedes hacer y yo encontré a un persona, yo pienso que es el profesor mas genial y tranquilo de la facultad, pero este profesor solo tenia contacto con 2 universidades en el territorio europeo que eran una escuela en Francia, no lejos de Paris, y otra escuela que estaba en Catalanya.

AMIR: ¿en qué ciudad?

LUCA: en Barcelona. En Paris o en Barcelona. Me he dicho, bueno, tenemos que decidir, la posibilidad de ir a Paris era concreta pero me dije que preferia ir a un país mediterraneo, no sé, la primera vez que salir ya conocia Barcelona …

LUCA: si a mi país, porque Barcelona es muy parecida, no esta lejos de Italia, es una horita y un poquito mas en avion, pues la mentalidad es mucho mas parecida a la mentalidad italiana que a la mentalidad parisina, por eso pues yo generalmente si quieres al extranjero yo no tengo problemas a enfrentarme con una mentalidad completamente diferente , por sé, ya hace 4-5 años decidi ir a Barcelona, tenia amigos, habia conocido a gente aqui en Roma y despues pues me fui y me quedé 5 meses.

AMIR: vale vale, y tambien apuntabas que curiosamente tu instanca, tu hablas mucho en castellano a pesar de que Barcelona es una ciudad muy cosmopolita, al contrario pasaste mucho tiempo habland francés y aleman, no? ¿Por qué?

LUCA: si, porque como siempre digo yo en mis videos, en mi vida, lo que cuenta mas para los idiomas no es tanto el sitio donde estés – esto es importante – sino las personas con las cuales quedas, sales, con las cuales vas a tomar una copa, vives..yo estaba, vivia con 2 italianos del Sur y una malageña, que era española pero no tenia mucho contacto con ella porque trabaja todo el dia y despues regresaba y estaba cansada y, pues si, hablamos un poco pero para desarrolar tus habilidades linguisticas tienes que hablar mucho, tener mucho contacto, quedarte horas charlando con la gente, y sto lo tenia, o sea que tenia otros amigos, mi novia francesa, estabamos hablando francés o otros italianos..

AMIR: ¿y con respeto al alemán?

LUCA: Alemán, pues tengo que decirte que el alemán no lo hablaba mucho en Barcelona, hablaba mucho francés, italiano, mucho inglés, con otros amigos, el alemán no mucho. El alemán, a decir verdad lo estoy hablando muchisimo ahora en Paris, pero no mucho en Barcelona.

AMIR: ah vale. Y bueno, la pregunta siguiente..habia bueno sabiamos que hay una rivalidad historica linguistica y futbolistica, según tu opinión, ¿siguen esto ocurriendo hoy en dia?

LUCA: sin duda, sabes cuando yo hablo español con otros españoles de España con Barceloneses siempre hay esta discusión. Cuando estaba en Barcelona la cosa increible es que muchisimas discusiones eran sobre todo sobre el castellano y el catalan..el catalan es un dialecto o un idioma, por qué, y estabamos hablando de politica etc..Ultimamente por ejemplo charlé con un amigo que me estaba diciendo que en Cataluna hay una ley, o sea, no hay una ley pero un es una proteccion linguistica pero me estaba diciendo un amigo – yo no lo puedo decir porque no estoy por alli, me dice que hay una politica catalana segun la cual el catalan tiene que ser no solo idioma oficial sino el castellano es visto como un problema, como un obstaculo y esto me parece un poco raro, porque..yo no conozco, me quedé allí solo 5 meses, no es bastante para saber toda la situación linguistica etc, no, pero..esto me parece muy raro, cuando me estaba diciendo que mucha gente va a tener una multa si ponen, no sé cosas en castellano, la escriben “carniceria” en castellano le ponen una multa..ademas que en Cataluna no puedes trabajar..o sea puedes trabajar..

AMIR: sin saber hablar catalán..

LUCA: sí, o sea, el catalán es muy importante porque soy en las escuelas también se dan clases en catalán, y…yo tengo que decir que

LUCA: sí el catalán es muy importante y en las escuelas se dan clases en catalán, y yo tengo que decirte la verdad, la primera vez que fui a Catalunya no me gustaba mucho el catalán y la idea de tener que aprender otro idioma..estamos en España y tenia que recibir clases en catalán pues me molestaba un poquito. Pero cuando me fui a la universidad y me lo dijeron, yo le dije muy timidamente, les dije “perdone es posible tener esta clase en castellano?” – pero sin..yo no tenia..yo solo he dicho esto y ellos me contestaron de manera muy gentil, amable “pues sabes Luca aquí estamos en Cataluña, se dan clases en catalán” y ya está. No tenia elección, o sea, no podia elejir entre el uno y el otro. Y con mi amigo estabamos comentando esto, que al principio me molest¿ pero despues lo he entendido perfectamente y después aquí en Paris tuve un compañero de piso catalan que me ha explicado toda su visión, o sea que lo hacen para guardar su idioma, su identidad, y lo entiendo perfectamente. Yo soy un huesped en su pais y tengo que adaptarme. Pero, para contestar a tu pregunta, es verdad que hay problemas de incomprensión, malentendidos entre el resto de España y Cataluña. Culturales, historicos.

AMIR: la verdad es que siempre habran provocadores que tienen la posibilidad de seguir provocando, por ejemplo cuando se trata del furbo también no?

LUCA: sí sí, yo me acuerdo de, no sé si te acuerdas de cuando Figo pasó de Madrid a Barcelona –es una cosa que me ha choqueado un poco – cuando pasó de Madrid a Barcelona o desde el Barcelona al Madrid – no me acuerdo más – pues le tiraron una cabeza de cerdo

AMIR: desde el Barcelona para el Madrid

LUCA: ok, bueno le tiraron una cabeza de cerdo o no sé qué

AMIR: no, bueno, porque era capitano no, capitan extranjero, y los barcelonistas se quedaron molestados no?

LUCA: claro. Si, no pero esto es una prueba de los problemas que hay entre no sol desde un punto de vista historico sino futbolistico, de todo no? Y también hay en la historia que Cataluña luchò contra el gobierno central de España. Yo sé que, o sea no es que se odien pero los Madriñelos y los Barceloneses son dos cosas diferentes

AMIR: bueno, “enemigos eternos”, digamos

LUCA: sì, y otra cosa que hemos que tu me pasaste un vinculo de un video donde estaba enseñando como, que los madrileno ven los Barceloneses como tacaños”.

AMIR: sì si

LUCA: que es otra cosa, no sé si es una leyenda, pero es un cliché, esto es seguro.

AMIR: Bueno, los andaluces son mentirosos, no, pues hay un monton de cosas..

LUCA: si, los andaluces son mentirosos, los Barceloneses son tacaños, los madrileños no sé qué si si, pues son clichés, o sea, es parte de la cultura de un pais, también en Italia los milaneses son asi, los romanos son asi..y los sicilianos son así, es parte del folkore como se dicembre

AMIR: yo creo que hay cosas parecidas en cada pais, si pensamos..bueno entre la gente que habla ruso como lengua materna, y ucraino, existe una rivaldad parecida, ya hablaremos de esto quizás en la proxima entrevista. En tu video muchos Sudamericanos te preguntaron por qué tienes un acento tan castizo y parece que esto sea molesto para ellos, que opinion tienes

LUCA: esto..bueno ya te estaba comentado sobre la diferencia entre los acentos en EspaNa..y este problema del acento es mas agudo aun entre America Latina y EspaNa. Yo siendo italiano no lo sabia, no era cosciente de este problema, pero haciendo videos en YouTube y despues charlando con unos americanos, Colombianos, Argentinos en general me di cuenta de que entre Espana y Mexico hay una, no sé, como una lucha linguista, y me dicieren “tio” – bueno, no dicen tio” – “por qué hablas con este acento tan castizo?” como si fuera un desastro. Cuando me fui a Madrid estaba hablando con un chico colombiano que me dijo “sabes aqui en Colombia si vemos a un espaNol charlando en espanol le tomas un poco un pelo porque nos parece muy muy muy raro para nostro este acento y a muchos no le gusta para nada. Hablando con los españoles a machismo no le gusta el acento argento, ni el acento colombiano..por eso, yo personalmente pienso que esto es un problema general. También en Inglaterra – ahora me voy a Londres – me han dicho “Luca tienes que saber que si hablas con un acento americano la mayoria de los britanicos te van a mirar de reojo, te miran y te dicen que “que dices tio”? “Que acento mas raro tienes!”. Y esto pasò, o sea cuando estaba con Richard de visita en Chester me di cuenta de que a la gente no le gustaba nada como hablaba. Pero, PERO yo tengo que decirt que yo no soy americano por eso cuando les digo que no so americano ellos se dicen “bueno ok, no es americano”. Pero es verdad que sobre todos con las ex-colonias o paises que tuvieron una historia comun difícil – sabes los conquistadores y todo – esto es también parte de..

AMIR: también la lucha por la libertidad

LUCA: la lucha por la libertad entre los Estados Unidos y Inglaterra, entre Mexico y España, Columbia..esto es normal

AMIR: bueno que yo sepa es muy difícil generalizar, qué es el acento sudamericano, seguro que los medicano no hablan como Argentinos, no? Cada uno tiene su personalidad

LUCA: si, yo pienso que de cierta manera sea un poco paradojico, no sé, cada..yo pienso que los acentos en general constituyen la belleza, la preciosidad, la variedad linguística

AMIR: ¿la riqueza también no?

LUCA: la riqueza linguística, es una riqueza, no es un tema sobre el cual tenemos que pelearnos y cabrearnos, el problema es que para mi es un patrimonio no es una herencia y,…es un patrimonio cultural, es una tradición, y por eso yo pienso que no tenemos que pelearnos, simplemente es una diferencia, por eso…bueno, y lo entiendo. Por ejemplo en mi opinion hay, para mi hay acentos italianos que me gustan para nada. Pues somos un pais muy pequeño , no tenemos colonias – si, tuvimos un par de colonias – pero en general no tenemos otros países en el otro lado del mundo donde hablen el mismo idioma de manera completamente diferente, por eso no lo sé, pero entiendo que unos acentos no te puedan gustar, entiendo que puedan sonar, no sé..negativos o simplemente raros. Eso lo entiendo pero tenemos que respetar a todos no? Esta es la cosa mas importante –

AMIR: bueno la comunicación no? Esta es la cosa mas importante

LUCA: eso, eso, es la cosa mas importante si.

AMIR: vale

AMIR: muchos dices que siendo italiano para ti el espaNol es muy facil no, pero bueno..que opinas?

LUCA: Bueno, es verdad que para los Italianos es mas facil que para angloparlantes, porque hay muchas cosas que se parecen, por ejemplo la pronunciación – yo hablo de pronunciación, no de intonación – la cosa mas importante es …

AMIR: con la R no, quizás?

LUCA: no no, la pronunciación – R es parecido o la doble R – pero la cosa mas facil para nosotros en cuanto italianos es que las vocales tienen una calidad vocalica que es parecida, o sea – a e i o u – es parecida mientras que en inglés es diferente. Por eso si, es mas facil, pero, pero el intonacion es completamente diferente. Un italiano hablando español se podría decir imediatamente que es italiano, y…

AMIR: ¿en la mayoría de los casos

LUCA: ¿En la mayoría de los casos no?

AMIR: ¿pero tu eres una exepción no, claro?

LUCA: bueno en la mayoria de los casos si, si me dicen que sueno un poquito italiano no pasa nada no? No sé, a mi los Españoles dicen que hablo bien pero en general lo que queria decir es que si me dicen que el español es muy facil yo no estoy de acuerdo porque..

AMIR: sobre todo en los niveles avanzados..¿existe una diferencia enorme no?

LUCA: Por supuesto, yo he visto a muchísima gente decir “yo hablo dicho idioma” pero la verdad es que lo chapurrean, y chapurrear un idioma no es lo mismo que llegar a un nivel muy alto. Cuando llega a un nivel C1, C2, para la gente que no lo sabe el C1,C2 son niveles muy avanzados, casi de nativos, un montón de matices gramaticales, cosas que no son evidentes, no son faciles para nada, y por eso para llegar ahi, que sea el español o el ruso qualquier idioma – aun que sea el idioma mas parecido al tuyo – requiere tiempo y esfuerzo, atención y todo. Por eso digo “si, es facil chapurrear el español pero es difícil llegar a un nivel muy alto y no cometer fallos, errores, porque, hay lo que en inglés se llaman los “falsos amigos”, por eso en español y francés sobre todo cuando llegue a cierto nivel quieres expresarte de manera precisa, muy precisa es muy posible y probable cometer un monton de errores porque piensas “esto se dice en italiano y entonces tendria que decirse de la misma manera, y no es asi, o sea nanai de la China. Por eso, como ya te he decho chapurrear es relativamente facil pero hablar bien es dificil, y esto en qualquier idioma

AMIR: ¿igual que el portugues o..?

LUCA: igual que todo, igual que el portugues, en espaNol

AMIR: pasamos a la pregunta siguiente. Tu das clases por SKYPE. Crees que una persona puede enseñar una lengua que no es la suya, cual es tu opinión?

LUCA: bueno hay un montón de gente que dice que los profesores de un idioma tienen que ser nativos de este idioma, yo no estoy de acuerdo para nada porque pienso que en quanto extranjero que ha aprendido otro idioma conoce las dificultades a las cuales se enfrenta un extranjero y por eso a condición que el profesor sepa, conozca muy bien el idioma extranjero yo pienso que es una ventaja ser extranjero

AMIR: después de haber hecho un camino tan largo, despues de tanto tiempo para llegar a un nivel C1,C2

LUCA: Yo pienso que sí. Como te estaba comentando antes para llegar a cierto nivel el camino es muy largo, y uno despues de todos esto esfuerzos sabes lo que uno tiene que hacer para llegar a este nivel y un nativo no tuvo estos problemas porque bueno es un nativo..yo pienso que es un profesor es preparado, la cosa mas importante es la calidad humana y profesional, el conocimiento linguistico – esto es muy evidente. Pero hay nativos que no saben su idioma y hay extranjero que saben hacerlo muy bien..para mi es una ventaja..después si hay un nativo que es cosciente de su idioma (tanto mejor)..porque el problema es que mucha gente dice “esto es MI idioma” pero el idioma no pertenece a nadie, el idioma es una herramienta que se es que..una vez estaba discutiendo con un francés que me dijo “el francés es mi idioma, entonces es el mio. Yo he dicho “no es que te pertenece, es que lo utilizas, no es que si eres francés tienes mas derecho que yo” Hay extranjeros que dando clases de francés conocen algunos matices que hasta los nativos, y hablo en general. Para contestar a tu pregunta sí. Ser extranjero es perfectamente compatible con la enseNanza (de un idioma extranjero) en general, por eso sí.

AMIR: Estoy de acuerdo..y bueno la ultima pregunta es un poquito filosofica..mirando atrás, 5 años después, crees que fue una experiencia útil desde el punto de vista cultural y profesional, como parte de tu desarrolo linguístico haber vivido en Cataluña

LUCA: Si, sin duda vivir en otros lugares te ayuda muchísimo a descubrir las cosas no solo la lengua, sino los lugares, las actitudes, la mentalidad las pequeñeces, y aprendes a descrubrir tu mismo através de los lugares que ves..yo lo aconsejo a todos, el Erasmus ya hace 20 años – quizà a lo mejor ya hace 5 años lo hacían muy pocos porque es parte de nuestra experiencia, y hasta hay universidades que lo imponen – dicen tienes que pasar un Ano al extranjero porque es una formación, es parte de nuestra experiencia, no solo tenemos que dar instrucciones y informaciones a los alumnos y esto es importante no solo para el desarrolo linguistico sino también humano de una persona, es un patrimonio cultural que he acumulado yo. Ahora estoy en Francia y tengo que decirte que..bueno sí, son etapas de la vida que yo aconsejo a quieres quedarte por favor que salgas de Italia!

AMIR: muchisimas gracias por la entrevista fue un placer charlar contigo

LUCA: gracias a tí Amir

AMIR: ya hablaremos otra vez..

LUCA: si, la proxima será en ruso y será sobre tu país..vale, venga

AMIR: muchas gracias a todos

LUCA: ciao

AMIR: ciao





Top 100 Language Lovers 2012 – Voting has started!

The Polyglot Dream needs your vote!

The Top 100 Language Lovers 2012 competition has started. Every year this competition ranks language blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for the public.

I need your vote to get The Polyglot Dream out to a wider audience.


A good place in the list will secure more visitors to the site. This will help me to reach more learners, looking to succeed in their studies.

What can you do?

Please take two minutes to click on the link below and vote to show your support for The Polyglot Dream:

Vote the Top 100 Language Learning Blogs 2012

The Polyglot Dream

This year I will be sharing even more of my language tips with you. I have a number of great articles and videos in the pipeline to get you speaking your new language!

I’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone who has supported me in making The Polyglot Dream what it is today. You know who you are and you’ve been amazing!

Let’s vote and make this ranking count. Together we can take The Polyglot Dream to new heights! 🙂


Forget it: the secret of remembering words

Words are without a doubt the basic elements, the “bricks” of a language. Learning new words represents a serious challenge for many language learners. Acquiring lots of words fast is a dream for every language learner. For some, it is a real obsession. Quite often, these efforts are met with disappointment and frustration.

It is no surprise, then, that one of the most frequent question here and I get here on YouTube concerns what I define as “the quest for words”.

Why is it so hard to memorize new words?

Memorizing new terms seems a difficult task for many reasons. In general, the brain tends to select the information that it receives, discarding what it considers unnecessary. Imagine remembering every single detail that enters your brain: you would remember thousands of words effortlessly, but would also be paying a terrible price: your brain would be constantly fighting against a permanent, unwanted and annoying interference of useless information. Fortunately, our brain works on its own rhythm and it “self-regulates” when it comes to organizing information.

So, forgetting information is actually a good thing. The goal is to help the brain to remember the information that we consider important. Language learners want to remember as many words as possible and they often cannot. They come to the conclusion that they simply do not have a good memory and thus language learning is not for them. This is another myth that must be dispelled.

Whatever its limitations, the brain possesses an extraordinary ability to learn and retain information. The secret is to how to really use it.

A famous graph exists called “forgetting curve”:

If we learn a new word or expression on day X, this information will fade in our memory within just a few days. Do not be surprised, then if you cannot recall a given word after having learned it just a few days earlier.

How can we improve our capacity of retaining new words?

The process of acquiring new information can be generally divided into 3 categories: decoding, storage and retrieval. When the brain receives new information, it decodes it and then stores it. The stored information can then be retrieved in the future. If we cannot recall something (the so called “knowledge-gap”), something went wrong during one of these phases.

There are several types of memory: short and long-term memory, sensory memory etc. The latter receives information through the stimulation of the senses such as sight, touch, smell. The short-term memory, also called working memory, retains small amounts of information for short periods of time. We use it when we do mental calculations, remember a password, a code or a phone number. If we want to store a word, we have to put it into our long-term memory. How can we do it efficiently?

Memory is like a muscle, it atrophies if it does not work. Each capacity/faculty that is neglected tends to weaken and eventually disappear. So it must be constantly stimulated. The best way to do it is to repeat continuously. If you want your memory to work well, make it work a little bit everyday. The repetition of an operation has a cumulative effect whose main goal is that of forcing information into our brain without us making deliberate efforts.


Here are some key factors for improving your overall capacity to remember new terms and expressions


In order to improve your ability to recognize and memorize new words and expressions you need to be interested in and passionate about what you are doing. Cultivating an interest in a particular field and constantly reminding yourself why you are doing it provides an incredible boost in your learning process. When you start learning a language; imagine the immense possibilities that speaking it would bring in terms of work, friendships, feelings. Emotions enhance memory. It is up to you to make this happen.


Concentration and attention are key factors in the learning process. In the Internet era,  concentration is diminished due to multitasking. So, I suggest you eliminate the music radio and all other potential distractions and focus on the task at hand. Concentration helps boost your performance enormously.


We only learn what we can understand. Whenever you fully understand a sentence or a concept, you also understands its single parts and the connections among them. An engineer who figures out how an electronic circuit works is more likely to understand its single components. The same goes for a language learner: if he understood a given sentence, he will remember the words better.


Our brain is a huge network of neurons: every single neuron is connected with tens of thousands of other neurons So if we want to make the best of learning processes we should adapt them to the way our brain is structured. One of the most effective tools for doing this is association, that is, linking new information with old information, which is stored in our long-term memory. This can be done in many ways.


One of these ways is through images. Our brain also processes information via colors, forms, etc. If you link a given word with an image, that word will be more likely to be linked with other information already stored in our memory. As a result, we will remember it better. For example to remember the name of a person, you can put it in relation to a particular feature of his appearance. The more the association is absurd, the easier you will remember that person’s name.


Take the time to process and store information. One of the best and simplest ways to do this is simply to review what you have learned at regular intervals. Repeating something makes your brain realize that it might need that information and it helps you to fix that information in a much more effective way.


Context is king in language learning. It is important to always learn words in their context which helps your brain to form images, associate the word to other words. The more interesting a text is, the more we will be motivated to understand it and thus remember it.

Multiple contexts

Reading makes us connect the dots. When we read a lot, we enormously raise the possibility of finding the same word in different contexts, which enormously reinforces our capacity to retain it. Once again, associates plays an important role.


Learning a language is a skill that we acquire. A dynamic learning process is preferable to a static “study” of the language, where parts are analyzed in isolation and without a context instead of being absorbed within interesting content.


I have developed 2 specific techniques which abide by the factors/principles that I mentioned above.

I use the first one when I am at STAGE 1 and STAGE 2 (deliberately learning) and the other one deals with expanding the vocabulary at STAGE 3 (advanced learners, interpreters). I will expand on this subject in my book…

Article written by Luca Lampariello

PS: if you have missed my last interview with David Mansaray (for the Polyglot Project) you can find it here.

Do You Need to Live Abroad to Learn a Language? (guest post by Jana Fadness)

Jana and I met in Paris a few months ago. She is an American language lover who has a great blog  and has created some fascinating YouTube videos (like this one), as well. Jana is a language learner with clear goals as you will see. Enjoy the following post 🙂


First things first: Who am I to answer this question?

Hi! My name is Jana. 🙂 I’m someone who was born and raised in the United States in a monolingual household, but I’ve been interested in other languages and cultures for as long as I can remember. I began learning Japanese on my own when I was thirteen, but I didn’t get the chance to go abroad until six years later, when I spent a summer living with a host family and teaching English inJapan. This got me completely hooked on the experience of living abroad, and I’ve been slowly making my way around the globe ever since. Continue reading


There is a fundamental difference between studying and learning  in the field of language learning.

Being able to speak a language is a skill. A skill is something that is achieved over time through trial and error. Do you remember the first time that you magically started to find the balance on the saddle of your bike? I remember that moment and I magically found it, after days and days of frustrating failure. I was impatient and looking forward to it, but the truth is: it took me time and effort to get there. But once my brain had acquired that skill, I was literally “firmly in the saddle”. Continue reading