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Hacking language learning by Benny Lewis at TEDxWarsaw (Transcript)

Benny Lewis

Full text of Benny Lewis, an Irish polyglot talks on Hacking language learning at TEDxWarsaw

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When I was 21 years old, I could only speak English, which is typical for those of us from English-speaking countries, and I had many reasons why this is going to be the case for me for the rest of my life. And I was very confident of this, because I had no natural talent, I had a very bad memory, I couldn’t travel to the country yet, I was too old, I felt too old and I was sure that I was going to frustrate the native speakers and embarrass myself. And on top of this, in school, I did really poorly with languages.

So, I did actually get the opportunity to get into languages after I graduated at university with a degree in Electronic Engineering, still only able to speak English, I moved to Spain. And I figured, this is it! This is going to solve my problems, living in the country.


Six months later of living in Spain, I couldn’t speak any Spanish. Now, a sensible person would have given up at this stage and gotten the point. I’m not very sensible though.

So I figured if I change my approach and change my attitude, maybe I can change my language skills. And what happened to inspire me to get into language learning was I met a polyglot. A polyglot is someone who can speak many languages. And the first time you meet someone like that, you can’t help but feel really impressed. Like, for instance there’s Richard from the UK, and there’s one video online where he speaks 16 languages.

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