Australian Speaking 6 Languages (w/ SUBTITLES) | Why & How I Learnt 6 Languages
November 16, 2019
There’s a plane. Hi guys, welcome back to English with Max.
This video is going to be quite different to what I usually do. As you’ve
probably guessed from the title, this is not an English lesson. Some of my viewers
have been asking me which languages I speak and what my level is, so I thought
I could do this video to give you a bit of an idea. I’ll also briefly tell you
why I learnt these languages and I’ll tell you some of the somewhat
embarrassing mistakes I made along the way. As to how I learnt these languages
most of what I learnt was by myself, using books and online resources. But I
did also have some formal instruction, particularly for French and German,
because those were the first languages I learnt. There will be English subtitles
available for this video. If you are watching this on a computer, you need to
click the CC button, and if you’re watching this on a mobile device, you
need to click the three little dots in the top right hand corner and then click
“Captions”. Some of my linguistic mistakes might not sound all that funny if that
language is not your native language – some things just don’t translate very
well – but I can assure you that at the time I did make a few people around me
laugh. Anyway, in case you haven’t noticed, I am now speaking English. This is
language number 1. Why do I speak English? Well, because I’m
Australian and it’s my native language. It’s the language that my parents spoke
to me, and I also went to English-speaking schools in Australia. I
really love learning languages and for a long time I didn’t actually want to
become an English teacher. For many years my ultimate dream was to become a
conference interpreter. Those are the people who, for example, sit in the glass
booths with the headphones at conferences at the UN.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, a few years ago I started a master’s
programme for interpreting, and a few months into it, I realised that I didn’t
really like it. Oops… Luckily I love English teaching. Now
normally when you study interpreting, you’re not given language classes. Before
starting the masters, you need to already have a high level in all of your
languages, including your native language. Now that might sound quite strange, but
most of the time you actually interpret into your native language, so you need to
be able to express yourself very clearly and accurately. What often happens is
that people focus so much on their foreign languages, that their native
language suffers. And that did actually happen to me. I think a common myth about
interpreters is that they’re these crazy polyglots who speak 10 or 20 languages,
but that is not the case. Usually people start working with two to four languages,
and some interpreters will later add languages. The basic point is: quality
over quantity. So you need to know a couple or a few languages very well. The
foreign languages I focused on were French, German and Spanish.
These are the languages I would say I’m fluent in. I know people have different
definitions of fluency, but basically I’m able to communicate in these languages
without much difficulty in nearly any situation. That doesn’t mean that I speak
them perfectly or that I speak them like a native speaker. I’ve also been at home
in Australia for over a year now and I don’t have much opportunity to speak
them, so they are a little rusty at the moment. However, I would be able to, for
example, study in these languages. My other languages, which are
Italian and Indonesian, aren’t anywhere near the same level. With these languages
I’m able to communicate on a basic level, but I wouldn’t be able to read a
newspaper or something. Ok, now I’m going to speak French.
I started learning French when I was 12. It was at school. But to be honest
I didn’t learn much at school. A lot of Europeans say that foreign languages
are taught very badly in their countries, but I swear it’s much worse in Australia. And
I think it’s similar in other Anglo-Saxon countries. It’s possible that it’s a bit better in England,
but I’m not sure. To give you an example: we didn’t even learn the verb “to be”
during the first year. It was really bad. It’s not necessarily the fault of the teachers
– I had a few good teachers. I think it’s simply the curriculum
– the curriculum’s just not that demanding. Luckily it was much better at uni. It was a shock in the
beginning because all of the classes were in French, so it was very difficult, but I made a lot of progress,
and I particularly improved when I went and lived in France. I lived there for six years
in total. I say “in total” because it wasn’t six years in a row, but well, I won’t go into
detail. It’s not very important. Where was I? Ah, yes. I wanted to talk to you about two
slightly embarrassing mistakes that I made when I was in France. Obviously I made a
lot more mistakes, which is normal when you learn a language, but these two are probably
the ones that produced the most laughs. The first one occurred at the market.
It was a food market in Paris. Basically I wanted to buy some goat’s cheese,
and I knew that French people, instead of saying “fromage de chèvre
(goat’s cheese), often just said “chèvre”. And so, I go up to the cheese seller, and I say:
Une chèvre, s’il vous plâit (a goat, please). For those who don’t speak French and are
reading the subtitles, I had used the wrong article. Instead of saying “un chèvre”, I said “une chèvre”.
“Un chèvre” is goat’s cheese and “une chèvre” is the animal that produces the milk. Luckily the woman was rather nice,
and didn’t poke fun at me too much. I made the other mistake after I had slept at a friends’
place. One of these friends was Austrian (autrichien). Since their apartment was quite small, other friends
who I saw afterwards asked me where I had slept. And I answered: Well, in the
other dog’s (autre chien) room. I started learning German when I was about 14.
I initially learnt it by myself, and then I also had it at school. Then I had
a few German courses at uni in Sydney, and then when I was 20,
I went to Berlin for a year. I admittedly hadn’t yet finished my Bachelor’s,
but I wanted to take a break, and I therefore deferred my studies. But I did
study a little when I was in Germany. I had a scholarship from the DAAD, and I was
enrolled at the Humboldt University. In the beginning I tried to attend “normal” classes,
but my German was simply not good enough. It was really frustrating, particularly because
in Australia I had always gotten good marks in my language classes. One time,
or maybe a few times, I even cried on the phone speaking to my mum. I said something like:
“It’s too hard! I’ll never learn this language!” Luckily there was a good language centre at the
uni and I really took advantage of that. After a while, with work and patience,
my German improved a bit. I think the funniest German mistake I made
was probably when my place got broken into. This event in itself is clearly not very funny, but
what I said to the police made my flatmates laugh when I told them about it later.
It was New Year. I came home at 7am, and I immediately noticed that we had been burgled.
I wasn’t the only one at home, but I was the only one who could speak German. So I called the police and I, very seriously, said: Ja, hallo, ich möchte eine Einbrechung anmelden.
(Yes, hello. I would like to register a break-inning.) If you’re not German, that probably doesn’t sound funny
at all, but my German flatmates found it very funny. Luckily the police didn’t laugh. I don’t speak Spanish as well, because I
started learning it when I was already 23. And as many of you would know, it’s more difficult
to learn a language when you’re already an adult. I’m not saying it’s impossible, so don’t use it
as an excuse, but normally it’s easier if you start when you’re a teenager,
or even younger than that, obviously. In addition, when I went to live in Spain at the age of 23,
I had a very basic level of Spanish. I had studied the grammar a little.
I knew how to say things like: “Where is the train station?” “Do you speak English?” “I don’t have hepatitis.” And other super useful things like that
which you find in guide books. In comparison, when I went to France and Germany,
I was already able to maintain a conversation. But well, it was a challenge. I think the worst mistake – that’s hard for me
– the worst mistake I made was in one of my English classes, because
I was working as an English teacher. I was trying to explain to the students that in
a restaurant or a bar, Anglo-Saxons… Well, it’s not that they’re more polite,
but normally they’re less direct and they use more words to order something.
Whereas in Spain, you go into a bar, you say: Me pones (you turn me on). And that’s it. Well… Seeing as until then I didn’t know any other
meaning of “me pones” (you turn me on / I’d like a…), I didn’t know how important it was
to put another word after it. For example: “Me pones una cerveza.”
(I’d like a beer.) “Me pones un pincho de tortilla.”
(I’d like a piece of Spanish omelette.) I continued learning… Another mistake I made was when I
was talking with some friends. We were talking about soft toys,
don’t ask me why, and I told them that when I was little I had had
lots of soft toys. And that I spoke to them, but I had never had “imaginative” friends. Yes, all of my friends had been so boring! No. Well, of course, what I meant to say was:
I had never had imaginary friends. I’m learning Italian. I understand a lot,
but I don’t speak it very well. I started two years, or two and a half years ago. I mainly used Duolingo and YouTube.
The two channels I like the most are: Italy Made Easy and Learn Italian with Lucrezia. I’ve also watched Oneworlditaliano
e Italiano Automatico. My problem is that I’m not studying it
very consistently. I’m not a good student. Sometimes I watch lots of videos
and do lots of grammar exercises, but often I do nothing for several weeks.
In short, you shouldn’t follow my example. In addition, I don’t speak it very often. It’s stupid
because I have an Italian friend who lives in Italy (hi Emilio), and sometimes I speak with him on Skype.
We do a sort of language exchange. I know that I should speak more often with him. I can speak a tiny bit of Indonesian.
When I was little, I lived in Jakarta because my father was working there. And at
the time my Indonesian was very fluent. But when my family came back to Australia,
I was 6 years old. I was still very young. Then I forgot everything.
Yes, I forgot how to speak Indonesian. Then when I was 19, I went to Indonesia alone
for three months to learn Indonesian again. Lots of people say that it isn’t possible for a person
to forget a language. But I know this isn’t true. Yes, it’s possible to forget a language.
Some people say that if you’ve had it once, it will come back, but that
did not happen in my case. I had to study and practise to get
to a basic conversational level. “Nossa, nossa
Assim você me mata” No, I’m kidding, I don’t speak Portuguese.
And I don’t sing either. Basically all I can say in Portuguese is:
“Não falo português.” And “obrigada”. It’s unfortunate because I
would like to learn Portuguese. I actually started a couple of years ago,
but I had already started learning Italian and it was just getting a bit
too confusing. But hopefully in the future I will learn it at some stage.
Particularly because I know a lot of my viewers are from Brazil. Anyway, I hope
that was somewhat interesting for you. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment.
Maybe you could tell me which languages you speak, or which languages you would
like to learn. Be nice to each other, guys. This isn’t a competition. How many
languages a person speaks or how well they speak them depends on so many
factors. For example, upbringing, education and I think the most important thing is
interest. So how interested you are. I speak a few languages because I’m
interested. Some people, maybe they’re just learning English because they need
it for their job or because they want to travel. And you know, that is absolutely fine. So yes, just be kind to each other, guys.
I’ll see you next time with an English video. Bye bye.