Steve Kaufman: Polyglot
He is one of the most famous polyglots in the world and a person that I personally admire and look up to.
He’s the founder of Lingq, a language learning website that has helped thousands of people to reach their goals with foreign languages. You can find him on his Youtube channel called LingoSteve that has over 150.000 subscribers and if you are currently learning a new language you should definitely follow him.
How many languages does steve kaufmann speak
He speaks over 16 languages at different levels:
His name is Steve Kaufman (polyglot) and here is my take on his TOP 10 pieces of advice for language learning.
Advice nº1: Search for familiar topics that interest you
If we talk about compelling input when we’re starting in a language trying to decipher the language and get the hang of words is quite compelling. So I find that if I can deal with content that’s familiar and I’m motivated to try to get the hang of the language, this actually helps me. Because the more familiar the content is the better you can understand it even if you don’t have the words.
Advice nº2: Don’t rely on a dictionary
Nowadays, of course, the dictionary that I use the most is Google Translate. I have a bunch of dictionaries on my iPhone but the only one I ever use is Google Translate. If I have a word that I’ve come across, I put it in there and I get the meaning and I probably forget it but it satisfies (and that’s the main role of a dictionary) my immediate need to get a sense of what this word might mean. So even though you may forget it, it satisfies that need right now in a given context to get some sense of what the meaning might be.
It’s like reading grammar rules. It’s interesting yet you can’t retain it very well. You do need the dictionary because as you’re working your way through content there’s a bunch of words you don’t know. You have to get a sense of roughly what that word might mean and how it ties into the rest of what you’re reading so you want to be in and out of that dictionary as quickly as you can.
Advice nº3: Confidence is key
I think it is important that we be confident that we can learn the language, that it’s worthwhile doing so and that the method we are using is appropriate. If we have those three kinds of confidence then we will learn and we will enjoy the language and at some point, we will speak. Some will speak earlier and some will speak later. Some will speak with more confidence and some will speak with less confidence. But confidence to speak is less important than this confidence that you can achieve your goal that you’re doing it the right way and that it’s worthwhile doing.
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Advice nº4: learning takes time
As in many things we tend to expect very rapid progress and evidence of progress but then we underestimate the extent to which we are learning in the long term. That reminds me of something that was said by a lady that I knew who was very much into gardening. There is apparently an expression when it comes to Gardens: “The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps and the third year it leaps”.
So if you put in a new garden, the first year there’s nothing there. You just planted some small shrubs or bulbs for flowers. In the second year it grows a little so it creeps but in the third year it leaps, it jumps. And that’s what happens with language learning where we’re unaware of the extent to which we are putting things into our brains that are starting to connect. Things that are creating the conditions so that later on, all of a sudden, our language learning can start to creep and then leap.
Advice nº5: Don’t focus on mistakes
The focus on errors (being concerned about errors) thinking that making mistakes is gonna somehow damage you, I think is mistaken. We need to focus on massive input. Those well-intentioned people who are correcting my Arabic… I appreciate the fact that there are people encouraging me in my Arabic but I think that if I can continue to listen and read and do the various activities that I do at Lingq, eventually I’ll get a natural sense without having to remember that I was corrected. At some point, I will naturally improve and some of those things will kick in.
Advice nº6: Pronunciation is only a problem if people can’t understand you
First of all, let me say that I have interacted with non-native speakers of English who spoke English extremely well. They use words well and express themselves with eloquence and had a fairly strong accent and it never bothered me. Pronunciation only becomes an issue if people can’t understand you. When people hear an accent but they hear someone who speaks very well, I think they’re almost more impressed.
I love listening to people with a French accent or a Japanese accent or whatever who just used the language well. So your first task is to use the language well and to understand well because there’s nothing worse than talking to someone who seems like not understand what you’re saying.
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Advice nº7: Use contextual learning
Context is how I like to learn. I don’t worry about what I remember don’t remember as long as I stay in the context. And I think our brains work that way. We need that context. Another example: I was driving this morning in the fog here in Vancouver and all of a sudden I wasn’t so certain about where I should turn. Normally when there’s no fog, I get all these hints from trees and buildings and stuff so automatically I know where we go. When a lot of that sort of surrounding context has taken away then it’s more difficult.
I think the words that come together with other words are very useful content context for our comprehension. So I think it’s quite legitimate to do most of our learning in some kind of a meaningful context.
Advice nº8: Read a lot
Read a lot! Read not only things that you’re listening to but all reading. That is tremendously valuable in terms of giving you familiarity with the language and introducing vocabulary. Of course, until we have a large vocabulary we have to read, in my view, in an environment where it’s like assisted reading. So you can look up words you can review the words immediately after having read a page. But you have to read a lot.
My statistics at Lingq in terms of the number of words that I have read like even in Greek, it sits well in excess. You have to read a lot. Reading helps you understand when you listen if you don’t have words if you don’t have familiarity with the language, just “listening listening listening” is not enough. You have to read a lot.
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Advice nº9: Be proactive
You have to take the initiative. You have to take responsibility. There are people who say that there’s no bad learner, there’s only a bad teacher. I don’t believe that at all. I think whether you are in a classroom or whether you are studying on your own, only those learners who take the initiative, who are motivated enough to take charge of their learning, are going to be successful.
And we have ample evidence of this in our school system in Canada (and I’m sure in other language schools) where a small percentage of the learners actually improve. So the important point is not the number of instructional hours but the important point is to what extent are you prepared to be proactive and take charge of your own learning.
Advice nº10: Spend time with the language
All of the time that you spend with the language (speaking it, listening to it, reading it) with however much difficulty and however it didn’t maybe meet your expectations it’s a win. Because you need to spend that time with the language. If you have struggled through a text and you still don’t understand it or you can read it but you don’t understand it, all of these things can be frustrating. But they shouldn’t be frustrating. You say to yourself “Great! I did that! I had enough willpower to spend that half hour and I’m gonna do the same thing again tomorrow and every time“.
I’ve experienced this so many times when it seems that for months and months I just can’t seem to understand it. I can actually hear the words, I know where they sort of end and the next word begins but I still can’t understand it and yet eventually I do so. Whatever time you spend with the language is a win. It’s a win-win situation.
Well, that was my take on Steve Kaufman (Polyglot) TOP 10 pieces of advice for language learning. If you value his knowledge please consider subscribing to his channel at LingoSteve. Now tell me what you think about Steve Kaufman’s methodology. Did you like his advice? You can comment down below.
That’s all for now. See you soon, Ciao!