We recently got the chance to interview someone we’re sure many of you may be aware of or have seen online. Benny Lewis is fluent in 7 languages and aims to help people feel confident in speaking another language, even if they’ve only just started learning. Benny say’s his mission in life is giving people permission to make mistakes because the more mistakes you make, the faster you become a confident language learner! So let’s get to it..
What was the first language you tackled and why?
Spanish – I had just graduated university and wanted to live in Spain a while. I presumed I’d just “pick it up” by living in the country, but it didn’t turn out like that. Luckily a new approach changed my results.
What’s your usual study routine?
The centre of everything for me would be the spoken sessions. I have a Skype session some time in the afternoon, and then afterwards I convert my notes into Anki decks to study. I also really think about what the biggest issue I had was, during that session. Do I need to study conjugations, general vocabulary, tones? There is usually one that stands out above all others. I spend as much time as I can the next day working on this issue and absorbing any vocabulary and grammar from that spoken session, and have yet another one the next day, hopefully speaking a tiny bit more confidently.
What’s keeps you motivated when studying a language?
My spoken sessions. I don’t think I could do this if I was simply studying to use the language some day. Frequent interaction with native speakers, even over Skype, makes a world of difference.
How much time should you spend studying a language everyday?
How much time do you have? No matter what magic number I could come up with, if you can make more time, why would you study less? For most people the problem is saying they are “too busy”, but realistically they aren’t making the time. Give up silly TV shows, hours on Facebook or the like and you’ll have the time.
What tips would you give to a beginner looking to start learning their first foreign language?
Speak it from day one. Get into that routine of genuinely using it. A language exists as a form of communication. If you get caught up in studying to use “some day”, you may never feel motivated to continue improving.
Generally, what are the most common mistakes you see language learners make?
Ironically, the biggest mistake I see by far… is not making mistakes! Perfectionism paralyses people and they are afraid to speak because they won’t say something just right. You have to have fun with your language and focus on getting your point across and (at least as a beginner) getting the gist of replies.
What do you think the most effective way is to progress the quickest?
Consistent practice, and implementing feedback based on that practice.
How has technology helped you pick up new languages?
Skype has been the best by far, since it means I have no excuses at all to not speak my language, no matter where I am. I am also a big fan of many apps that help me learn on the go. And if you have to use Facebook or Youtube to relax, why not do it in the target language!
How is free online content, such as that found at OpenLanguage and the Real Deal websites, helping people improve quicker?
Native speakers with experience teaching, and who can create engaging content, know how to keep students interested and constantly learning.
What are your plans in the near future and where can people get in touch with you?
My focus will always be to continue inspiring language learners. Come check out fluentin3months.com to get some inspiration there!
What’s the secret to retaining an extensive vocabulary? Sent in by @jevietweets
Consistent practice, learning words in context, and reading a lot.
Benny’s Top Tips For Learning French
1. Speak from day 1
2. Make at least 200 mistakes a day
3. Be specific in your goals. Don’t aim to just “speak French”, but to have actual conversations, basic as they may be, within a couple of weeks or months. The hardest thing about learning any language is your own self doubt. Others won’t laugh at you or be insulted by your attempts to use the language. You aren’t too old, you don’t have to worry about the “language gene” and whether or not you have. All of that is in your head. Just use the language and you’ll learn it!
So there you go! We hope you can take inspiration from Benny’s story, and know that with the time and effort put into picking up a second (or seventh!) language, anything is possible.
And One More Thing…
If you like learning English, then you’ll love OpenLanguage. OpenLanguage bases every lesson on real-world situations, and allows you to immediately be able to use the language you pick up right away. OpenLanguage is able to take day-to-day scenarios and transform them into fun learning experiences. With over 11 languages to choose from and thousands of downloadable audio lessons, you’ll be able to pick up and use language as it’s actually spoken by real people there and then, on the go or at home.
Sound good? Why not head over to openlanguage.com/pricing and try a month’s Standard Subscription for just $0.99 when quoting the promo code – realdeal – and take advantage now. Enjoy!