Lýdia Machová – The Power of Setting Priorities in Language Learning [CC English/Español]

I believe that one question
that all polyglots asked themselves at the beginning
of their own language journey or later on
throughout their language journey is: “What is the best method
to learn a language”, right? We are all trying to find the best method
or the most effective or fastest method to achieve our goals
and to learn more and more languages. I believe there is
a very simple answer to that question. I believe all of you
have your own answers. Let’s see if you agree with mine. I believe that the answer
to that question is that you have to find a way
to learn the language by yourself. I will give you just a few examples
of well known polyglots who have that story. For example, these ones. I’m sure you know many of them many of them are here
with us today. These people claim that
they were very bad at languages at school. they didn’t do very well,
they were the untalented ones. And everybody told them
“You’re never going to learn a language.” “Don’t even try.
You don’t have the language gene.” “It will not work.” And they really
were not very good at languages, but something changed later on. And that was the mere fact
that they started to learn the languages by themselves. Not the same way as in school.
In a different way. And suddenly they speak
several languages fluently today, right? So there must be a way to learn it
even for the untalented people. I believe what’s learning by yourself
actually means is that, it doesn’t really matter
what method you use to learn the language. I believe there really many possible ways
how to achieve the goal and there is not
one single perfect method. And many polyglots
at the conference, at the gathering
repeat that again and again. There is not one single method
that will work for everyone so you need to figure out your own way. And for me language learning
is like a little puzzle where you can put
several different pieces together. And if it works for you,
if it’s based on some common pillars, then it’s going to work out. I believe there are four pillars
to do that. The first one is that
learning should be fun. By that I want to say that
you have to find a way which is a little bit amusing to you
a little bit enjoyable it cannot be just the drilling
just something really boring because you wouldn’t stick with it
for very long. So, each and every one of us
learns the language in different ways, but we’re all having fun with it
in a way, right? So, having fun for me
is really the first pillar, the first requirement
of learning a language effectively. The second one is
that if you want to learn a language you need to spend
a lot of time with it, it doesn’t come
overnight we all know it, right? You need to read a lot of texts,
listen to a lot of recordings, podcasts, watch series, etc… Talk to a lot of people
does take a lot of time it doesn’t just come like that.
So, whatever method you apply if you make sure that it’s fun and you do a lot of it,
you’re going to succeed. And not only
do you have to do a lot of it, it’s also very important,
that you do it every day in little bits and pieces. And this is what also
all these polyglot say they work on their languages every day
maybe ten, fifteen, twenty minutes but it’s regular and it’s intensive,
because otherwise the languages are just not learned
by themselves, right? And the final pillar
that I find very important and that I’m going to
concentrate on today is that
in order to learn a language well you need to have a certain system or a plan
how to achieve that. You need to know
how to get from this point where I am right now,
where I don’t speak the language at all to the point
where I speak the language fluently. By system I also mean
realizing what you actually need. “Do I want to speak the language?”
then I probably need to practice speaking I cannot just do
the comfortable exercises and games with the language. I really need to speak
in order to speak well, right? So I believe this is kind of the recipe
in order to learn a language and I’m sure that all of you
no matter what methods you have used to learn the languages
that you speak today will agree that you did something
that was fun for you. If it wasn’t funny,
you tried another method and then you found the method
that worked for you and that was why language learning is fun and why we all love it, right? Then you did a lot of it
You did frequently and possibly, probably with a system,
because you have all achieved fluency in some of the languages. Now I will share with you briefly
my own language story and how I realized
this amazing thing that I can learn languages by myself and that it’s so much more effective
than being taught a language. This is the university I studied at
in Bratislava, Slovakia, where I’m from and I studied these two languages:
English and German in order to become
a translator and interpreter. And when I was learning
these two languages I was learning them the old way,
the traditional way at school and I thought it was the only way
to learn a language, because I was brought up like that.
So, I went to classes and you know
I did all the homework, etc… and I did work a little bit
on those languages by myself, but I thought that it is most important
that I take the lessons. With German
it was actually quite funny, because when I was fourteen and we were deciding at school
what language we will have as the second one,
we had three options: German, Russian and French.
And as a class we had to decide what two languages we will be able to take,
because we couldn’t open all three languages. And we had
really really passionate discussions about what is the best language that we should learn,
which one will be the most useful, which is the most difficult,
which teacher is less strict than the other one, etc…
We discussed it all the time and I remember also being passionate
I really wanted to learn German I thought that was for me
the most useful one, because I wanted to become
an interpreter and working with English and German
is like a very good combination in Slovakia, so I was fighting for German but then, it’s funny because today
when I think of it when I think about
how I thought about it I really thought this was my
only chance to learn a language. I either pick that German
or I will have to learn French or Russian I will never be able
to speak German fluently. Today I happen to speak
all three of them, but no one told me
at that time that you can learn a language by yourself later on
if you want to. I wish someone had
told me that, I didn’t know it at the time. The breakthrough moment came when I wanted to learn Spanish
at the university. I took a class, because I thought
it was the only way, right? And this class was just hopeless.
It was really not good. I’m sorry to say so, but the teacher’s
level of Spanish was not very good and I could say that as a total beginner.
We were too many people in the class, we had meetings once a week,
very little homework, and after a few lessons I understood
this is not going to work. So, I did an experiment I was like, oh I’m going to try to learn
the language by myself I’ll see how that goes.
But the book was just so boring, you know and the texts were like,
I don’t want to read about Jorge doing this and that
this is just so boring. So, I took another book: Harry Potter,
my very absolutely favorite book when I was a kid, I read it
in Slovak and English several times, so I just got it in Spanish as an e-book
and an audiobook and I started a very simple habit.
Before going to sleep, I would listen and read Harry Potter
for twenty minutes a day, every day and it was really interesting
at the beginning, because I understood like three words
at the beginning, you know which? Harry, Hermione, Dumbledore. And it was actually,
it was a little bit depressing and I was like: “OK this is the language
I’m going to know, I’m going to understand one day,
but right now I understand the names like yeah that’s cool…” But then I kept on reading
and listening every single day and after a few weeks
we could say just a few weeks a few days actually,
I started to notice a difference. Suddenly I understood like
Harry asked that, or Hermione was curious,
you know, or Ron didn’t know or whatever.
I mean I knew the context of the book, I love the book
it was really fun for me, so it started to make sense
like little bits and pieces. And these chunks of the language
that I understood started to get bigger and bigger
and it was just amazing to see that when I was like
in the half of the book I could already read it pretty fluently. It was not the only thing
I was doing with Spanish, I was also taking some classes
with a tutor, I had at tandem with a Mexican friend and
I was doing some grammar exercises, etc… But, this was the revolutionary method
for me, where I realized that it really is possible to
learn a language yourself and I was just so so happy about it
I couldn’t believe it. So then I spent two years learning Spanish
up to a level where I felt very fluent and confident, and I wanted to see
if the same thing can happen with another language.
So I took Polish. And I spend another two years
learning Polish totally by myself so I didn’t go to classes,
I didn’t take offcial courses and I learned Polish up to a level
where I actually got to interpret the Polish president, former president
talking to the Slovak first lady at an official event.
So I was able to teach myself that language,
I was really really happy about it. And then just to cut long story short,
I then continued at my university and during my PhD. studies,
and I learnt French and again took about two years
to learn it by myself. Esperanto, you don’t need two years
for esperanto, I needed like two months. With all the other languages
this is just the language for free, and I definitely recommend you
to try it out, because it’s just linguistically
really really interesting. And then I did the same for Russian,
which I’m working on right now, I’m at the beginning of my
second year, so I’m going to keep improving my Russian
for one more year. And I also took two years
of the Slovak sign language classes. But this is the only language
that I did not teach myself, because there are no materials
for the Slovak sign language. I had to take classes with a teacher.
But all the other languages all the other languages
I kind of taught myself and I felt really happy about it,
like, this is revolutionary. Why didn’t they tell me that at school? How is it possible that
no one tells the children: “You can learn languages,
if you really want to, but there are some things
you need to do.” It’s like: “No, you take the classes
or you didn’t take German… …so sorry, too bad for you.” Now, I believe that learning a language
by yourself truly honestly is the most effective way
you can learn a language. It may work for other people
to just take the classes but I think it’s actually a minority.
For most people, I really believe,
it does work if you learn by yourself, but I think learning a language by yourself
is very simple, but it’s not easy.
It’s definitely not easy, right? It takes a lot of time,
a lot of energy, a lot of self-discipline and that is mainly because of
missing four things. Four elements.
First of all, there is no teacher… There is no one to
kind of explain the stuff to you, No one to tell you,
why in French you don’t pronounce the last letter,
or why you’ve just learned that this is the “Ghe” sound in Russian but сегодня is “sevodnya”
and not “segodnya”. It’s like why? You want to know
why, just doesn’t make sense but there is no one to explain
you need to figure it out yourself. Secondly, there is no guide. There is no one to tell you
what you’re supposed to learn next. And when is the best time for you
to learn about the subjunctive in Spanish. So, it’s like you also need to figure out
yourself and plan your learning by yourself. And then, no one is checking.
You may be learning, or you may skip a few days, weeks, months,
nothing happens, right? The world keeps revolving,
everyone’s happy, no one dies, so… it’s totally up to you and your
own self-discipline to keep learning, because you want to, because
you have some good motivation, etc… But no one checks on you
and so it’s very very difficult. And finally, there is no prescribed system
you don’t know how to continue with what, you don’t know what to do,
actually. You’re not very well organized,
if you’re starting to learn a language. And I believe, these are the four
pitfalls, or the four reasons why many people
don’t succeed in language learning. It may sound, and when I tell people
learn the language by yourself they say: “yeah, but it’s impossible,
I tried it and it didn’t work” So, I believe that learning a language
is very simple. I think honestly there are these four
principles I told you at the beginning: “Do something that is fun,
do a lot of it, do it frequently and find a system in it, so that
you can keep doing it for a long time”, and you’ll achieve the fluency
you strived for. But with these four pitfalls
it really isn’t that simple. Now, I’m a person who loves to
solve problems and deal with challenges, so I tried to find a solution
for this one: for helping people
to learn languages by themselves, because I really, honestly want to
help people discover the amazing world
of learning languages by yourselves. And so, my approach, my solution for that
is what I call “Language Mentoring”. I don’t teach people languages,
but I help them learn them. One of the projects I did this summer
was called; “In the Same Boat” and it was a language mentoring project
for English teachers in order to help them
improve their English. I called it “In the Same Boat,” because
I believe there is never a point in our language learning,
where we can say: “OK, I’m done, I’ve achieved the level,
good to go for the rest of my life there’s nothing more to improve.”
I don’t want to work with such people who believe so.
It’s like: “I’m a professional teacher I don’t have to improve anything.”
I wanted to work with teachers, who understand that,
it doesn’t matter how long You’ve been learning a language,
You always need to improve something. You always need to keep on working,
there’s always room for improvement. And so, this the name suggested
that teachers are kind of in the same boat with their students.
They’re just on a different level, but they’re still learners and they
should be working on their English. Why did I pick
to work with English teachers? I know the community very well,
English teachers from many conferences that I attend, and I know that they really
want to improve in their English, but they don’t know how. They keep teaching,
the present tense is all over again all the time, but there is no
real possibilities for them to improve their own level of the of the language.
So, I devised this program for them and I helped them fight these
four pitfalls, the four problems. They had no teacher, but we worked
with tutors, so they basically found native speakers to talk to, online
or in real life, in order to practice their speaking, etc…
to ask something. They didn’t have a guide,
but this is what my role was, to support them in their language improvement,
and they didn’t have any check before, but we worked with a log book.
That means a diary, where everybody wrote what they did for their English,
and how it helped them and we inspired each other with how much
time we spent with learning English. And while they didn’t have a system
at the beginning, they found priorities. This is what I want to tell you about,
what I’m going to concentrate on. Priorities in language learning are a
really powerful tool. And that all leads to a
great improvement, which is exactly what happened to the English teachers
and other groups that I have worked with. So, what are these priorities? When we talk about priorities,
I basically talk about seven areas that I think people can concentrate on in their
language learning, on all possible stages. And that’s the typical four,
reading, writing, listening, speaking, and then specifically grammar,
vocabulary and pronunciation. When I talk about setting priorities,
this doesn’t mean that you only do a certain thing for a certain period
of time, but that you prioritize it that means you concentrate on it.
These are the main seven areas but you can also decide to concentrate
on something else, such as a specific type of a vocabulary, when
we’re talking about English: Business English, Legal English,
Professional English, etc… Or you can pick to work on your idioms,
phrasal verbs, the subjunctive, or, let’s say, separable verbs in German,
etc… So it can be a specific part of grammar,
a specific part of vocabulary or a specific way of expressing something
in speaking, etc… But you set yourself priorities. Not only do you do that,
you also set yourself SMART goals. I believe many of you know
what SMART goals are. They are used in business and elsewhere
it’s not something I would come up with. Basically, if you want to set a goal
for yourself, which can be attainable, it’s best if the goal is specific,
so it’s not like I want to learn English, but I want to improve this and that. Should be measurable, that means you know
what the situation was at the beginning, and what the situation is at the end. Should be ambitious, which means that you
don’t want to learn one new word a day, you want to stretch yourself
a little bit more. But at the same time you want to
stay with your feet on the ground, you want to stay realistic. and finally, a good goal should be
time bound. And this is a very important point.
This is actually my philosophy about how I go about learning languages. So let’s get to the practical example. If you want to learn a language from
scratch, you need to pick two to three priorities that you will concentrate on
the first period of your learning. Which may be two or three months. It’s really up to you, but I suggest that
two or three months is the best period. Let’s say you are starting with
a language, I’m not talking now about the teachers,
who are vary advanced. But let’s imagine, that someone
is starting with a language from scratch. I believe that the best priority is to
choose, but this is again, just my suggestion…
You can adopt it yourselves… is you do a lot of listening, because
you really need to get a lot of input in the language, so that you know,
what the language is about. You want to probably practice
your pronunciation, because the language is very new to you, so you want to
make sure that you can copy those sounds and you can sound a little bit like
the native, so that the people understand you. And then you also need some material
to work with, so you probably want to
concentrate on vocabulary. Again, this is just a suggestion,
it can be different. It actually should be different
for everyone. So you concentrate on these
three things for two months And of course it doesn’t mean
that you don’t do anything else, You also do other things:
you read a little, do some grammar, You do some speaking, etc… But these are your priorities. You always want to make sure that
you don’t forget about these three things. I will tell you later why this is very
important. Let’s say the next three months you pick
other priorities. Some of them may be the same,
maybe all of them will be the same, maybe you change some or all of them. So let’s say you really want to
start speaking. I believe after two months this is a
very good time to start speaking. And so, you practice a lot of speaking
even though it’s on a very simple level, and then vocabulary
and listening as the third priority. They also go in the order,
so speaking is the number one And then listening, in this case
would be number three. And you do the same thing
for another period of two or three months. And maybe now you want to introduce
grammar and look a little bit more into grammar
and concentrate on it in this period. And then in another three months, let’s
say, you really want to start to write. And also you introduce writing,
you still practice speaking, vocabulary. If you notice, speaking is repeated
in three of them in very high positions This is for me, this is very important to
me, because I really, for me in order to learn a language
I need to be able to speak it fluently. It’s not OK if I can just read it, if I
can listen to it, I really need to speak it. So, this is what the setting of
the priorities could look like for you, if you work with this time bound
periods of learning a language. So, your goal is not to just speak French
one day, but you say: “OK for these two or three months I’m going to concentrate
on this and that.” Why is this good? There are a few benefits of setting
these priorities like that. First of all, you give a structure
to your learning. And this is something that many people
tell me they still struggle with. If you prioritize like this,
according to the areas, you provide a structure to your learning,
a system that you can easily follow. So you know, that at the beginning you
are going to concentrate on these three areas and then you move on to
the other one, you concentrate on that other areas,
etc… and you know what you’re doing and
which stage what you’re concentrating on. A second very important point is that you
really see improvement when you do this. And I think this is the best point because
when people try to learn a language by doing everything at once,
they do a little bit of reading, a little bit of listening,
a little bit of speaking… and they never see the result in anything. It takes ages, it takes like one year
for them to really see a difference. While, if you concentrate on that certain
period, like let’s say listening now, you will notice a difference after two
months, believe me. It’s just incredible, that you just put in a lot of
listening hours, and suddenly you understand so much better
than at the beginning. This I believe is really really rewarding,
because it’s just an amazing feeling you can really feel the difference,
whereas if you just continue with a little bit on all the areas, then
you’re not going to have that feeling. And this is very motivational, so it will
make you keep on learning, and improve something else later on. The third reason is also very important. It makes us not forget, that language
learning is not just fun, right? I mean, there are a lot of activities,
that we enjoy totally… it’s really like we can’t wait
to do something, like I don’t know… Duolingo exercise,
or watch a movie, watch a series, etc… but then language learning is sometimes
about things we don’t want to do that much We are not really in favor of doing
let’s say: grammar drills, etc… But at some points they’re important. If you have your priorities in
your language learning, you don’t forget about that. you don’t forget about the learning time
and you don’t do just the playtime. And finally, you’re not scared to go out
of your comfort zone. You see this kittie over here?
This is how we all look when we’re trying to speak
our language for the first time, right? Really scared, because it’s way out
of our comfort zone. And we are so scared, because we
don’t have much to talk about, then very little vocabulary, or we are
very limited, it’s very intimidating to speak
with a native speaker but if you tell yourself:
“OK, why am I learning this language?” “Do I just want to be able to read it?
No, I want to speak it.” Speaking is my number one priority in
this period, so I need to make sure I schedule a session with a tutor,
for example, or I practice some self talk or, I don’t know,
meet with some foreigners, etc… So you it reminds you
that you need to push yourself and put yourself in these rather
uncomfortable situations, in order to make sure that you achieve the goals
that you set for yourselves. If you never set any goals,
and any priorities for yourselves, then there is a huge risk that you
will just say: “OK, I’m going to learn, so I’m going
to watch a series.” “I’m learning, it’s cool, it’s fine.” So, I believe these are the four reasons
why we really should prioritize in our language learning,
we shouldn’t do everything at once, we should have a system,
we should have a plan for that, because it gives us a structure,
we really see an improvement in it, we don’t forget about the
“not so fun” activities, and it pushes us to go out
of our comfort zone. Getting back to the program that I
told you about, it really worked amazingly with the English teachers, it was so
amazing to see the English teachers mostly from Slovakia, one from abroad in
an online course to improve their English so much, like they totally fell in love
with it. They started to spend a lot of time
with it, concentrating on the priorities they set for themselves. So
many decided to improve their speaking, many listening, vocabulary, etc… And then we just met at the end of the
course some of us in Bratislava, and had a very nice day together,
but they were all so excited about it. Like “oh my God, language learning is fun
again, it’s amazing because I see I’ve improved so much in the two months,
it was really amazing!” One of them said and I really like this,
it was one of the questionnaires. “I’ve realized that my attitude towards
English was wrong the whole years, when I wanted to improve my English,
I was trying to concentrate on everything, and I was lost because I didn’t know
how to find the system. Thanks to concentrating on three
priorities I have found my lost motivation and started to like
English again.” And what is best about it, is that they
are now infectiously spreading this enthusiasm for language learning
and independent language learning to their students.
So this was actually my mission, to make the teachers love learning a language,
not just teach it, but also learn it themselves, and then try to find ways
how to how to motivate the students to do just the same,
because the lessons are cool, they can be very good,
but if you don’t do anything, besides the lessons at school, or in a
language school, it will probably not work. And then all of them basically agreed,
that they improved in something. And they always mentioned specific areas
that they concentrated on, so it’s easier to watch a movie,
or particularly my vocabulary I feel my speaking and vocabulary have
greatly benefited, especially in vocabulary and listening, etc… I believe, this was really the secret to
improving in a language even on a quite advanced level, because these
are all people that have been trying to learn English, they were not lazy or
anything, they just didn’t know how to do it, and when I showed them
the system, I showed them the priorities,
they loved it, they adopted it right away and then they kept doing it
for two months. I did the same thing with a hundred
students at the Comenius University, and some of you maybe have seen my
Berlin talk from the Polyglot Gathering where I talked about that experiment,
and it was very interesting, because I took a class of about
hundred students, I put them all in one room, and I told them,
these are all students of translation and interpreting,
and I told them: “Guys, I’ll tell you something.
I studied this, I know about this university, it is not going to
teach you the language, OK? I know you all came here picking whatever
combination: Italian, Polish, English, German, etc… and you think
this is a language school for free, but it doesn’t work. You need to start learning yourselves, so
let’s find ways how it’s fun for each of us in a different way
and let’s learn together. And it was just absolutely fascinating
what happened in two months, because they started coming to me after a
month even after a few like six weeks and they said like: “Lydia, this is
incredible I understand so much more from Russian, I feel I’ve improved in six weeks more than in the previous
three years, how is this possible?” and I told them well, you prioritized
and you concentrated on one thing and you kept doing a lot of it,
in a fun way, this is very very crucial. They all picked their materials
themselves, I did not impose anything on them. In fact,
in this group of a hundred students we had thirteen different languages
that they improved, I don’t speak eight of them at all, so they picked the
materials themselves, because they picked something that they liked.
And then they worked with it every day, intensively, in a systematic way
and it worked just amazingly. Actually, the associate professor from the
Spanish department came to our meeting at the end, and he said:
“Some of the students, who took part in language mentoring
program had their final exams today, and I can tell you, that we the teachers
have really seen the difference. The students from the program
achieved the huge improvement in their Spanish.
My colleagues didn’t understand how that was possible
in just two months, but I knew it was because they
attended your program. And this is because they concentrated
on speaking, so some of the students we analyze their needs at the beginning,
and some of the students are like: “I’ve been learning Spanish or German
for so many years, but I’m just afraid of speaking, so I made them speak.
I mean is this your priority, then you need to practice speaking, it
will just not improve itself without you actually putting yourself out there
outside of your comfort zone. So, this is basically the message,
I wanted to share with you the priorities in your language learning,
I believe are really powerful, and for me it is a way
how to structure my learning and how to make sure that I concentrate on
a certain thing at a certain period of time, again it doesn’t mean you don’t
do anything else, It doesn’t mean, here I won’t
read anything, I want to work with grammar, or anything
else, but it means that these are my
three priorities. And I have to make sure that I
include this in my learning agenda and then I know I will see an
improvement in it in two or three months. Right now as I told you
I’m learning Russian and I didn’t introduce reading
like intensive reading until about eighth month into my
language learning, so when I started, I started in September and
when I started reading in Russian in April this year, I felt like a
first grader One letter after another, because of the
Cyrillic took me ages and some people would say like:
“Haven’t you been learning Russian for like eight months?” so yeah,
but reading was not my priority. I didn’t really prioritize it, I didn’t
concentrate on it, so now, I’m going to read intensively for two
months, and we’ll see where it gets me, and it got me into a really great stage,
where I read the books like almost like Slovak books, I don’t really think about
it very much, it’s very fluent because I put a lot of practice
of reading into those two months. So that’s basically all
I wanted to share with you. and I would like to answer
any questions that you might have or welcome any comments that you
might have.Thank you. Thank you, I will briefly
repeat the question: “Is it a good method as
Anthony Lauder suggested in is talk to repeat songs,
to sign with the singers in songs and do it at the beginning stage
of the learning?” The answer is “Yes, if it’s fun for you.” Whatever is fun for you. And this is the best thing, there is not
a universal way of saying “Yes, this is what you should be
doing at the beginning and not this.” It’s not true, if you like
it, do it by all means and do a lot of it and do it every day, it’s going to help
you for sure. There are other methods,
which will just not work, I mean for me maybe that would not work, because my
singing is not that good let’s say So, it really needs to be fun,
and if it’s fun it’s going to work There’s four hundred of us, right? Ask anyone how they learn a
language and they will give you a totally different answer. And mostly,
which is also interesting they will even give you a
different answer for every language. So, very few of us
have a certain way how we learn the language all the time,
we experiment with trying these methods and etc…
and it all works, because it’s fun, because we enjoy it. Thank you. Question2: “I’m sorry, this is excellent!
the idea of thinking about system is very good, but this is a room
that has a whole lot of students seeing even me here as a student,
and then there is reality of work, and for fun work is
fun, young people prioritize fun, but You have had one thing in your system,
there is goal to do something usually now you may say I am very excited in
Polish and fluent, tomorrow they want you to go and learn Hungarian or Hindi
or something like this [indistinct] Thank you, I agree with you, and I think
that you can actually put this into the system, so if you realize that
it’s your goal you need to do it and there is no fun way how to do it,
there are just, let’s say the boring ways then you put it into your structure
and you make sure you do it this is what I was trying to say but I believe, like for me personally,
there are a lot of activities that I didn’t enjoy doing, but I kind of found
a way how to make it a little bit of fun But even if you put something like history
dates that we have to learn at school if you put it into Anki, it could be so
much more fun, it may be boring to learn it and memorize it, but then you find a way
how to make it a little bit more interesting.
By fun I don’t mean fun like you’re laughing out loud, and you can’t
stop, you just cannot keep on learning,
because it’s so funny you have to laugh By that, I mean you find a way
which is a little bit enjoyable and I think we all can in our
language learning find a way how to make even those things
which are unpleasant how to make them
a little bit more enjoyable. Any the other questions or comments?
yes. Question 3: “Is there a point in
the language mastery, when you would stop using this,
for example. C1, C2 do you keep doing this
for your English for example?” Thank you very much,
“So is there a point in language mastery that I stopped this
and for example C2, right?” Well, the way I see language learning is
I decide to work on something intensively and I don’t work on other languages
at that time, so I always work on
one language, one time and I make sure that I
prioritize what I need to improve, but yes I’ve been doing this for English,
for I’ve been learning it now for about twelve years, so I make sure that
when I want to improve in that certain period, I decide OK
now this summer I’m going to spend on improving my English I
really need to improve idioms, so I take a book of idioms
and I find a system how to go through it systematically,
I think you can do it on any level even if on C2 if you decide
you want to improve, but of course, people normally, I mean especially people
who learn a lot of languages they then concentrate on the languages
they don’t have on a fluent level they want to bring it there, right?
So, I believe if you choose it can be done on any level, really,
but it depends on you how much time you want
to spend with that language. Question 4: [indistinct] Sure, you could do exactly the same thing
but let’s say I wouldn’t suggest that you do three priorities
for all of your languages if you’re learning several
at the same time, so let’s say you just want to,
at that period, you just want to improve listening, in the your
one language let’s say German and you want to work
on your vocabulary in your Russian or whatever, and because we have limited time,
I believe this is the problem for many people who are trying to learn
many languages at the same time you probably don’t have more time
than if you were learning one language this is why I always
only learn one if it’s possible, or if I have to learn two
or I have to keep up two languages then I give eighty percent
to my major language and then twenty percent
to keeping another language but I believe this you can very well do
for a combination of languages, because you are going to feel
improvement in your listening skills in German and your vocabulary in Russian,
for example. Any the other questions? Yes. Question 5:
“What exactly did you do to improve your reading in Russian?” What I do to improve my reading
in Russian: I read a lot. I went to Russia for two weeks to also
practice my speaking skills to the maximum and I bought a lot of books in Russian. Which are translations of books
that I’m interested in personally I really had wanted to
read them for a long time. So, it’s not just this is a Russian author
so I want to read that as the original but I like to read translations of
self development literature, which I’m interested in
and then I read that massively like every day I wake up and I do
like five pages or something. This is what I like to do when
I concentrate on my reading. And it helps a lot it just flows after a
few days, that’s why it’s so motivating. OK, so if there are no other
questions, let me just tell you about my website which I have:
languagementoring.com You can find me there, or find
more information about me, feel free to contact me,
if you wish and thank you for attention!


  1. Shanghainese Australia

    April 12, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Would you have any social media group for polyglots to interact? Thanks

  2. The Captain

    April 12, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Awesome video! I will be applying the system of priorities to my language learning and see if this 'experiment' will work. 😀

  3. Eonzone Obaman

    April 13, 2017 at 9:24 am

    One of my most watched polyglot speaker.👍

  4. Jose Luis Bruna

    April 23, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    I always enjoy watching Lydia
    thanks for the advice

  5. Master Jedi Sam

    April 24, 2017 at 5:51 am

    Is she saying estranto? What language is that? 10:03

  6. james kenney

    May 1, 2017 at 11:58 pm


  7. Felix Felix

    June 15, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    everyone loves languages here but is she married

  8. kati raf

    June 23, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Hello and thanks for sharing this video!
    I've never thought about prioritising, even if I've been doing it indirectly for 2-3 months now. I'm listening to a lot of English materials, so setting a goal is really helpful. I've been struggling for years to learn English, but only last year I decided to do it more seriously by studying on my own. I even took an international exam, just to prove myself that I can do it. Therefore, I'm going to start learning German by myself (actually, I already started) by using this method. Thanks again

  9. Gilberto Andrade

    June 30, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Gostei muito da palestra. Realmente há uma dificuldade monstruosa de se aprender uma nova língua como autodidata. Para mim, diferentemente para alguém que vive na europa e encontra várias pessoas de diferentes nacionalidades, tenho que contar quase que unicamente com a internet e televisão para corrigir meus erros na pronúncia.

  10. 薄切り霊魂

    July 6, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    I like her with no reason:)

  11. Sergey Prokhorov

    July 10, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    I thought I was the only one reading books about Harry Potter in languages I don't know well 🙂 Great video!

  12. ines woj

    July 11, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Greetings from Poland:)
    Pozdrowienia z Polski:)

  13. Ahmad Ali

    July 16, 2017 at 8:49 am


  14. Макон Есьман

    August 2, 2017 at 6:17 pm


  15. Sue Wright

    September 16, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    A huge thank you! What you have said really makes sense and has been a great help!

  16. gpgp01

    September 21, 2017 at 3:00 am

    0:50 right but it is also difficult to reach out own way as she said. I don't like frustrating whenever listening English but inevitable. Ugh..

  17. Mark Chavez

    October 5, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    She has such a great voice. It’s very pleasant to hear.

  18. Maxim K

    November 26, 2017 at 5:52 am

    Why learn russian? It's not a natural language at all. If you already know russian you should forget it)

  19. marko kovalski

    December 4, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    l liked this video very much. l make many mistakes in foreign languages but l keep learning.

  20. SiriusScientist

    February 18, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    After the 20 minutes you read and listen, do you go back and look up all the words you didn't know? I've found when I write in the book I end up "cheating" and just reading the English. I just picked up the first Harry Potter book and the accompanying audiobook in German. I've seen the little improvements you mention but still feel a bit overwhelmed, and don't like to move on with so many words I'm not retaining between sessions. While I'm in a formal class as well, I feel like I'm focusing on a lot of different parts of the language at the same time. Tips are appreciated!

  21. Abdeljabar Taoufikallah

    February 25, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    They don't want to tell you you can do it by yourself because they want you to PAY.

  22. nathanpiazza

    March 30, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Man that lady who asked the second question is really aggressively anti-fun

  23. Hussain Boxwala

    June 10, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    One of the best advice I have heard in a long time for language learning

  24. Jalal Mohammed

    June 20, 2018 at 7:59 am

    MRS Lydia I wish if I could get your email.I am English/Arabic interpreter.

  25. Phan Danh

    July 6, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Please tell me what music in presentation. Thank you!

  26. Humanitas

    August 20, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Vielen Dank, deine Vorlesungen verstaerken immer die Motivation!

  27. Jeffry Arrieta

    August 25, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    Ella ronuncia muy bien el ingles, lte entiendo mejor que a los nativos de habla inglesa

  28. nathanpiazza

    October 12, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Why Esperanto though?

  29. Matt Lee

    October 31, 2018 at 4:01 am

    Like her voice and the way she demonstrated her experiences and suggestions.

  30. mgspunk

    October 31, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    4 pillars of learning a language 1:45 fun, quantity, frequency, system
    My language story 4:55
    Harry Potter 7:40
    The pitfalls of learning by yourself 11:05 no teacher, no guide, no check, no system
    In the same boat 14:00 Language mentoring program for English teachers
    Pitfall solutions 15:15 tutors, language mentor, logbook, priorities
    Set your SMART goals 17:13 Specific, Measureable, Ambitious, Realistic, Time bound
    English teachers learning English 24:35
    Language mentoring for students 26:50
    Questions 30:40

  31. peter

    November 11, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks for this great video with excellent tips. Some of them I will for sure use soon.

  32. Saeed Mohammad

    November 11, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you really amazing……. You revived my soul again

  33. iTraveler

    November 25, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    19:37 speaking after 2 months, is quite ambitious, especially if it is first language in language family

  34. Dimanson [MK2]

    December 4, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    "fun" sounds little strange here, but you should be able to feel the result and be consistent (keep learning even if you feel difficulties).
    so "fun" goes away, and satisfaction remains, it motivates you to learn farther (because satisfaction is equal to pleasure and you want to receive more of it).

  35. faith bwire

    February 12, 2019 at 6:58 am

    I was giving up on learning language am doing two now but learning that I really need to prioritize I believe i need to improve on my systems and frequency….. Lydia Machova you are very inspiring thank you… For now I speak English and Swahili well would love to be a translator /interpret or like her soon

  36. Asbest

    April 8, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    11:54 lie "сегодня(today)" IS pronounced with "г" it IS "сеГодня", isn't "сеВодня"

  37. bahareh ghobadi

    May 2, 2019 at 10:20 am

    I have used your method.its so useful🌹🌹🌹

  38. samuel .w

    July 5, 2019 at 4:41 am

    With Youtube , going to school for learning a foreign language or mastering a programming language , is a really a waste of time.

  39. Agha Aslam

    July 6, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Note for me : 20:20 is the point where I should do with japanese language

  40. Mohamed Issa

    July 6, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    Wow, super talented with an incredible grasp! I have always loved mastering Arabic, Spanish and French, but still way too far from achieving this!

  41. learn a language with leslie

    July 24, 2019 at 5:20 am

    I invite you all to my new channel, "language dropout".

  42. - Flabber666

    July 26, 2019 at 4:56 am

    Lydia, this was a very good lesson. I would like to ask, how many languages do you speak? Ďakujem. Exactly, in Slovak schools were only Russian, German or French, no English. Anyhow, the people spoke only Slovak or Hungarian. Perhaps Rusannian. Now, we are living in English speaking countries.

  43. Alejandro Rauber

    August 21, 2019 at 2:09 am

    i love hearing her, she´s such an inspiration for me i also made a big progress with harry potter, love the books

  44. xixianne

    September 8, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    The A in SMART goal actually means achievable/attainable.

  45. Sanaz Hemmatee

    September 11, 2019 at 5:59 am

    You are my inspiration. Thank you so much Lydia. Your videos are awesome. I watch them over and over again. I am an English teacher. I am improving my English and learning French. I know a little bit of other languages as well. These 4 pillars are great. I totally agree. I learned a lot from you. You changed my life. The first video was you TED talk. C'est magnifique. Merci beaucoup. 💛💚😊


    October 30, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Great speech , really helpful content there.


    October 30, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Priorities for learning periods 18:13

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