Monday, November 8, 2010

The Youtube Polyglot Community

I have had a lifelong love of learning foreign languages. A different language is a different vision of life. Knowing different languages gave me the opportunity to step inside the context of another culture. I have to admit, that I enjoy being able to read foreign newspapers and understand what they say about the United States. Foreign news sources gave me an entirely different perspective on the world.  It is a great benefit to read how the same event is reported in an American newspaper, French television and Italian blog. From personal experience, I can tell you that the spin foreign newspapers put on an event is entirely different than Americans. Never trust any new source one hundred percent. Remember that everyone has an agenda, everyone has a bias.

Learning a foreign language is a human intellectual phenomena. People learn foreign languages for different reasons. Some simply enjoy the beauty of another language. Some people do it because they have to. Some do it because they want to know more about another culture. I learn languages for all these reasons as well.

Language learning involves several different skills. It is not just about reading, vocabulary, and conjugating verbs. (If it were only that simple) One must know how to read between the lines, understand how words or phrases are used in context. Truly knowing a language means also understanding the culture. I often say that there is one sure way to know if you are fluent in a language. Tell a joke. If the native speaker laughs at your joke - then you are fluent. 

Knowing another language requires a person use their brain in different ways. Speaking other languages improves a person’s mental flexibility. It requires learning and imitating different phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound. Human beings only produce a certain number of phonemes. There are about 44 phonemes in English. Polyglots train themselves to reproduce the phonemes of different languages. They memorize complex grammar rules. They literally develop into people who can conceptualize in unusual ways, they become more creative, their reasoning skills sharpen and they have a higher order of thinking skills. They develop their minds like mathematicians.

Believe it or not, there is actually a small community of YouTube polyglots. They subscribe to each other, make videos to each other and most importantly – the almost always show off their toys. When I say, “Show off their toys”. I mean nearly all of them make a video showing off their books, cassettes, software, CD’s and all their language learning material. 

Polyglots do not have any special hidden talents. They were not born with any special intelligence that the rest of us were not born with. There is a belief, typically among English speakers that one can only master two languages at the most. There is a belief that mastering three or more languages is impossible and unreachable. There is a belief that only certain people have the ability to learn another language. We also tend to think that polyglots are some kind of strange 'super' genius. They are smart. A person cannot master three or more languages and be stupid. But they are not some strain of 'super genius' to be studied under a microscope.

The belief (typically American belief) that learning several languages will scramble a person's brain is an utter fallacy. I learned French and Italian - and I do not get them confused. I have never confused French and Italian, not a single time.

The one thing a person needs to master more than two languages is passion. If you want to be a polyglot you can be a polyglot. You can study two or more languages at one time and not get confused. 

Learning foreign languages usually just means going to your local community college and enrolling in a couple courses. That is the first step. Do not be afraid to take two languages at once. You can do it. So long as you are not taking a full load of other courses, it is not too much.

Rosetta Stone is a fantastic program for beginners. There are some people who have never used Rosetta Stone, and make youtube videos trashing it. For example - godshiva made a video called I hate rosetta stone. He said, "I do not know what the picture's represent. Ergo, Rosetta Stone doesn't work." I have five Rosetta Stone programs installed, three languages for me and two my husband use. The pictures are the easiest thing in the world. ( Woman drinks water, Boy runs after ball, Woman cooks food ). I am on level 2 in Spanish, even the pictures demonstrating the simple past tense, imperfect and future are easy to understand. A person would have to be mildly retarded not to know what these pictures are. 

Learning several languages requires that you invest in certain items. These include grammar books, dictionaries, and home study programs. Learning a foreign language requires using more than one program. Rosetta Stone alone will not teach you the entire language. Neither will Living Language, Pimsler or the Living Language Series. Learning languages requires that you invest in two or three different programs.

For beginners, you may want to keep it simple.

1. Enroll in a couple courses at your local college. 
2. Do your homework every day.
3. Study the languages a little bit every day
4. Devote at least one hour ever day to studying your respective languages.

Four little steps. The hardest part is being consistent. If you do not have the passion then you will never master another language. If you are lazy, you will never master another language. Most polyglots agree that supplemental material is necessary. One must invest in several different language programs and software. There is no one program that will teach you the language.

Think about it this way. In one year from now you will be one year older. There is nothing you can do to stop this one year from passing. In one year from now, you will either have some fluency in Spanish or none. In one year from now, you will either have some fluency in German or none. The year will pass anyway. The one relevant question is, what do you plan on doing with this year?

Right now I am learning both Spanish and Swedish. Spanish is not all that difficult because it is so similar to Italian. But I must respect it as its own language, and not rely on my Italian to get by. But I also have an interest in Swedish. In one year from now - where will I be in both Spanish and Swedish? Well, it only depends on how much passion I have for these languages.

In this blog you will find a list of Youtube Polyglots. I hope you will take a little time to get to know some of them. Also, I included a list of Youtube channels where you can brush up on your own language skills. At the end of this blog, I am going to link you to some of the best language programs you can purchase.

Youtube Polyglot Community - Click on any name and meet other people who have mastered three or more languages. One YouTube Polyglot sysygycc asked other members of the YouTube polyglot community to submit essays about their language learning experiences. He put the book together and calls it The Polyglot Project. The 500 page book is full of stories, anecdotes,  advice and experiences of other people who decided to learn several foreign languages. If you are interested in becoming a Polyglot yourself, you may want to read this book first. 

These are some Youtube Polyglots. I am always updating this list. Please check out their channels...

Language 101 Pod Lessons – These are Youtube channels where you can listen and learn the language of your choice. Just click on which ever language you are interested in learning, and the link will take you directly to a Youtube channel dedicated to that language:

Spanish Spanish Language Channel 1. 2
Russian Russian Language Channels 1 2 3
Arabic    Arabic Language Channels 1 2 3 4 5
German German Language Channel 1 
Polish  Polish Language Channels 1 2
Greek Greek Language Channels 1 2 3 4

Hindi 1  3 4 5 6 7 8

Shopping List - 501 Fully Conjugated Verbs

Here is a list of items you should purchase. If you are taking a Romance language at your local college or University, purchase 501 Fully Conjugated Verbs published by Barron’s Educational Series. I found these books very useful when learning French, Italian and Spanish.

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