Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

Benny Lewis – Professional Language Learner: How to Earn from Your Passion


So I want talk about… let’s hop over here.
I want to talk about how you can make language-learning work to help you make a living. To travel
if you want to do that, but just to cover your expenses, and to be your career. Now,
like Richard said, I’ve been very active online. I do lots of language learning but I don’t
consider myself a very talented language learner. I always try to encourage people. I was always
bad myself at language-learning. Despite all that, people know me for language learning,
they know me for traveling but I think I’m pretty qualified to give this talk about finding
jobs because I’ve had a lot of jobs. You know, you could consider that a bad thing that I
can’t keep a job. But, essentially, that’s why I feel like I’m going to be able to talk
to you about this today. So just to give you an example. I have a blog. I earn a living
as a professional speaker in a lot of places. I have the traditionally published book. And
earn a little from that and I used to be a translator. And that’s obviously one of the
possible careers you can get into in using your language. But I also have a bunch of
jobs that I’ve had in the very long period of years that I’ve been traveling since I
finished my degree. I also do Skype consultations. The kind of positions I’ve held include — do
you see that? Gorgeous long blond hair? I was a youth hostel receptionist. So that was
so much fun. And this was my first experience truly as a polyglot. I had just learned Spanish
and I was doing this in Rome and so I was trying to mix these two languages and I had
Spanish and Latin Americans come to the hostel, and I had to switch back to Spanish and Italian
for the people I worked with. And so it was an excellent first job for me to really getting
into use languages. And of course, I had been an English teacher for Berlitz, the Wall Street
Institute. I’ve worked as an independent contractor. I’ve taught English in eight countries over
the span of eight years. Here are my students in Spain. And I was actually mathematics teacher.
I’ve been teaching mathematics since I was 14 years old. So that is where I started.
As a math teacher. And I’ve used math to help me fund my travels for a lot of the time,
in my first years, I would go back to Ireland and give people private lessons in mathematics,
and I would guarantee them that they would pass their exams because I could be very convincing
to tell them, I could keep them on the edge of their seats talking about the Pythagorean
Theorem and stuff like this. It’s about how you present this stuff, actually. So that
helped me fund my travels. And I worked as an electronic engineer and this is my desk
in Paris where I had to work on voice-recognition software used let you Le s pages — the yellow
pages. And so I had to use language at that job because I was an engineer and I would
be explaining technical parts of the software to their Spanish and English-speaking clients
and this is a company based in Paris so that’s pretty good. But I’ve also had way more random
jobs. I’m not done. I was a FTSE100 investor. Not my money. Someone asked me to use special
software to predict how the market went. Obviously BS, but I took the money because I was just
using the software. I was tech support at a computer store. I repaired computers. As
you can see I was doing a great job at repairing that computer. I had so many office jobs.
You have no idea like standing at Xerox or photocopying machines for hours on end, going
through the various documents forever, typing things out. I’ve had like, dozens of those
kinds of office jobs, including one where I had to spend three weeks arranging all of
the world’s material on the Laryngal masks airways. So I know way too much about this
thing and I was also a race car controller. For if you ever go up to those gocart places.
I would at the point keep the driver safe. And I was a manager of a yoga store. And the
crazy thing about that when the manager hired me. I didn’t know what yoga was. I thought
it was a “yogurt” store. In fact, the reason they wanted to hire me was because of my Irish
accent. Soothing to the customers and I was a first-aid assistant. So I’ve had a lot of
jobs. That’s just a sampling. But how can you use this. So before I talk about the jobs
incorporating your languages, using languages that I’ve learned, just keep in mind what
you’re using this work for. If you want to use it to help fund your travels. So that
you can go to the country and work there, and you could be anything that you do on a
computer. We call these location-independent positions or jobs. And so, there’s a job that
you have right now, that you imagine that you go to an office, you sit at your computer
and do something. Why do you have to do it in that office? It’s on a computer. You can
do it from home, and your home can be from anywhere in the world. So in my travels I’ve
met people who are web developers who have been traveling the world, who are who help
people through Skype. There was a lady who helped people quit smoking. Many she did it
via Skype. They was doing it from Argentina and all over the world. I’ve met so many people
who are on poker websites. But it’s a way of making money. Property manager if you can
invest in it ahead of time. And there’s an infinite number of location-independent jobs.
You could be Photoshopping. You could be a photographer, anything you do on a computer,
you can take it to be location independent. All right. So what is the whole thing you have to ask
yourself when you’re looking for a job? ‘Cause, of course, how much money am I going to make?
Because the goal, you would think is I want to make as much money as possible but I always
want to emphasize to people is that maybe you need to be asking yourself if you want to change careers, embrace using
your job to help you learn languages is maybe to change your lifestyle a little bit such
that you can do so much more with the same amount of money. So maybe the location where
you may decide to live may be a factor. This picture was taken in India, in Goa, and this
gorgeous place, the hammock, this gorgeous view of the sea, $6 a day. I know a lot of
you are comparing your hotel prices in New York tonight, and $6 sounds great. So move
outside of big cities. If you can live there, or have friends. Or change countries. Go to
South America, go to Asia, go to Eastern Europe because if you’re going to live in London
or New York, you by default have to earn more money. So keep that in mind. I could be so
much more flexible when you consider earning less money than you would need where you are
now, but living somewhere where that money goes a very long way. It’s also about your
lifestyle. In this photo, I’m a millionaire. I’m literally a millionaire. That’s one Indonesian
Rupiia. so the lifestyle that you lead also dictates what you’re spending. Do you have
a car? Are you spending money on insurance? Do you eat out all the time? Maybe consider
eating in? Do you buy lots of things? Do you buy lots of clothes? Do you keep up with the
latest trends in technology? All of these things dictate your budget. So really look
at everything. And I have a rule. I went to this conference once that was filled with
very spiritual people. I’m not quite spiritual myself but someone said something that really
caught my attention and she said whenever she buys anything, she asks a question: Will
this spark joy? It’s a weird question, you can phrase it differently. But basically when
you buy something, will this enrich your life in a considerable way, you know, and even
little things like a toilet paper holder or something. Think about how can I put my personality
into this? How can I make it really relevant to me, and if you can’t, don’t spend a lot
of money on it, okay? And then finally stuff, all the stuff that
you own. I actually owned a batlet. That’s my batlet there for the Star Trek convention
that I went. So you gotta sell your stuff if you have too much of it. A lot of this
stuff isn’t important. I know a lot of career is all about making money. But think about
how you can spend less money, don’t buy these things. Now the obvious one is language learning
is a translator. Most of you are at the age where you can say to yourself, I’m going to
go to a university, and I’m going to do a degree in translating. That’s okay. Everything
that I’m going to talk about right now, I’m not going to presume that you need to go to
a university and get a degree on this. I’m going to give you ways that you can do this
right now, regardless of your career. So I was a professional translator for five years.
Even though my degree is in engineering. So my thinking was that, did I work for companies
that didn’t care, they just let anybody come along, and pay him peanuts? Not quite. The
thing about translation is that if you already have a specialization, and you speak languages,
you are a commodity. In my case, I knew engineering and I spoke other languages as a native English
speaker, there are not a lot of engineers who are in that position. So I could translate
documents to English and write them as a true engineer. And I worked with another translator
once who was a general translator. And she translated the Italian programma, to program,
and she spelled it “mme” at the end. And it was a very European company and I said that’s
wrong. And they said, it’s an European company. Except for computer programs. Computer programs
you only write with 1m at the end. I’ve written computer programs in C, and other programs,
I used Basic back in the day, if anyone’s heard of that. So I can write it in a very
precise way. So if your field is anything not directly related to languages: Law, medicine,
all of these things, you can be on a excellent translator if you combine the two. But how
do you become an excellent translator? You can get this experience in several ways. One
is Pro Bono, do it for free, find companies that need translated. Maybe their website,
or some documents. Try to do it for them. And say, I’ll do this for free if you can
give me feedback. They can correct things for you. Give you tips on how to translate.
One of the things that I did — when I get to the next slide about being an interpreter,
my plan for six years was to be a conference interpreter. So I decided to use become a
translator as a road to help me gain the experience I need. So I went to Italy, and I found a
place that would have required me four hours of commute time a day and pay me six euro
an hour. And obviously, that sounds like a terrible idea but I did it anyway because
they would train me to be a translator. So I took that really bad money and I worked
with like crazy. I had to get up at 4:00 in the morning to get to my train on time but
I did that for six months and I get trained. And every day they pointed out my mistakes
and it would still be slightly slower for them but still kind of worth it. And at the
end of the six months, I felt like I was a good translator and I was ready to go up to
the next level. So at the same time you learn what’s called
CATUs, computer-aided translation. No to be confused with Google translate but actual
programs keyed in with the particular terminology that you want to use. And this is important
if you want to be consistent in my case as an engineer, there might be a term that I
decide to use to describe a part of a machine and you need to keep using that term, so you
use the computer-aided translator to help you keep track of that, and you can share
it between translators. And there’s expensive ones like Trados, very expensive and then
there’s free ones like OmegaT. So you can learn very quickly while translating. But
how do find the jobs? Proz.com. After my intern experience, I went on this website, and I
applied for as many jobs I could. And I paid a small fee so that I could see the jobs quicker.
A lot of them didn’t pan out. But eventually I ended up with one company, that set me up
with all my work, and I was good to go. And that was my main job for several years. And
that was me getting into translation, as an adult without a certification as a translator.
And the documents that I was submitting them, this were high-quality, documents for native
speakers. That was for my C2 languages, obviously. And I mentioned that I was initially going
to be an interpreter. So you ask yourself — in terms of interpretation, do you want
to be a conference interpreter, or a simultaneous where you’re actually speaking to the person
while they are hearing things. Well, conference is the one that I know the quickest way to
get to. Once again, regardless of your background. What I was going to do was look into the European
Masters in Conference Interpreting. And if you check this out. They have universities
all across Europe. And they’re very inexpensive, as well, relatively speaking. And it’s very
intensive. Just nine months and all they need is that you have an under graduate degree.
It does not matter what it’s in. It could be the arts, it could be literature, it could
be thinking. And then you become an interpreter of conferences of that theme. So I would have
been a technology interpreter. It didn’t work out because they changed — I was going to
do it in Spain and the year that I was going to apply the university closed that program
and I was sad about that but I decided to make my job location independent to make this
work. But there is someone who have down this path, Luca, he did the European conference
interpretation masters. I didn’t know that at that time, but that was what I went into.
What else can you do? You could be a teacher. I didn’t have that background. So I went to
this website, I-to-I, and I got a weekend English language certificate. I went to a
hotel, and they trained me. And gave me a certificate that was recognized by most language
schools in the world. And I went straight from there to working for Berlitz, and from
there, I could work independently and raise my prizes and so on. But then as well as working
for schools, you could do it privately. So you could advertise online, or print out.
When I was in Spain, I printed out 200 pieces of paper, with a number you could call. And
I would put it everywhere, on university campuses, on lamp posts. Unfortunately, I didn’t speak
Spanish at the time. And I would get calls. — profesor de inglés? So obviously, they
were calling to learn English. So I had to call them about it first. But I got someone
to answer the phone for me. And obviously I learned Spanish. And Italki. My fiancée,
Lauren, when she wanted is to start traveling the world with me, she was worried about how
she was going to make a living. And I said I guarantee you within one week of you moving
to Spain with me, I would have you working full-time. And I got on Italki, and we started
her with a very low rate so she got a lot of reviews and then she increased error rate
are time and she had to turn students down she was she was getting so many requests as
an English teacher and obviously you can do this with other languages that you are at
a very high level in. Right, so another thing to consider, those
are the two obvious ones. But what else can you do with languages? You can merge the two
fields together. It’s not enough to just be multilingual. But you have that specialization.
Not just in the case of translating, in this case, but combine it, how can they work together?
Like my engineering job allowed me to get this company clients in Spain as well as England.
Because I could explain these engineering concepts. I could explain how the software
works how they could integrate it into their system because I had that specialization.
So think about what you’re good at, what you have the most background the, what you have
the most experience in, and how you can combine that with languages and see if there’s a job
that exists for you to do that. So there are ways to find jobs. But you can also make your
own job. A lot of the things that I’ve been doing in recent years are not jobs — people
always ask, Benny how did you start earning from your blog? I didn’t go to Monster.com
and look up, you know, blogger needed to run “fluent in three months.” And I said, oh,
wow, that’s a perfect job for me! No, I created that job. I made it out of nothing. I decided
I wanted to do this thing and I was going to find a way to make it work. So you might
be able to create your own job, become an entrepreneur, that has its own complications
and risks, but it’s always a possibility. And being an entrepreneur, there are several
possibilities, the way to make it work for you financially is to write a lot of free
content. You write content for people, you write podcasts. All you do for your audience,
things to show them that you are interesting, that you have good advice that is worth reading
and that is the most of what you do. 99% of my work that I do online is to help people
learn languages for free. To write blog posts, posts on other blogs as guest posts, so interviews,
all these things that I don’t get paid for but had helps me get my voice out there. People
start to see who this guy is. And then, you can earn money by having something that is
really special that you can have people with that they would charge you — they would get
charged for. So in my case, my entire blog is free, but I have an e-book, or I have a
video course on a membership site and that’s how you would get that revenue. And I don’t
even have to push it that much. When you’re on the site, you don’t see any banner ads
on there because like I said, most of my work is free stuff. And people just spill over
it. And here’s a few examples of things that you
could potentially earn a living from. You could also create your own language learning
product, create an app that may be paid. And you can earn as an affiliate. So you don’t
even have to make your own thing. Another is other way I make income on my site is I
promote things I love. I love Italki. I think it’s one of the best sites. So when I link
to them, I use a special affiliate ling that if people click that and links add credit
to their account, I get I think, it’s $12, or something. And that adds up. So that is
many things. If there are books you recommend, use an Amazon affiliate link. There’s a friend
of mine, John Valdrin with a very good book on mastering Chinese, and I got 15% credit
for every purchase that’s made. So you have to recommend it. Obviously, you have to do
it in an honest way. So I’m not going to link to any old random product with things — things
that I’m passionate about, things that I know are good. What about all these other things.
So the things that I do most recently, I’m a speaker, coach, and an author. A lot of
people always ask me, people always ask me, how did you get that book deal? Has anybody
seen the book The Martian? Couple people. It just came out in cinemas a week ago. The
Martian, New York Times best seller. The agent who happened to be signed to that book is
my agent. I have the same guy whomped had he get this together. So you find yourself
a good agent and they can work out the contract for you. Because it’s very complicated with
book publishers and the question that came up in the talk on panel on publishing, is
how relevant publishing is nowadays. And you would think, me as a blogger, YouTubeer, that
I would be saying, “Oh, publishing is out.” But I’ve had a very, very interesting last
year and a half. I’ve been turning around, promoting my book, and I’ve been meeting people
who never would have learned about the online language learning community. They’re not the
kind of people to Google blogs and watch YouTube videos. There’s still many, many people. I
personally read things in digital format, most of the time but there are many people
who go to brick-and-mortar book stores, and browse the shelves and look for a book. And
that’s the kind of market that I want to go to. And that’s the kind of market that you
can reach yourself. But the thing is it’s very hard to earn a very good living from
that so it’s more about putting out there, and presenting whatever you can do, if you
can do online courses, or do Skype lessons or something like that. So it’s very interesting
how you can combine the publishing of a book if you have a really good idea about language
learning or anything to help you earn a living. You can do Skype based consultations. A few
of the polyglots here do that. They give coaching for how to learn languages. As well as language
lessons. You can just teach people how your particular advice of learning a language may
work. You can give seminars. So anyone here attending next weekend’s polyglot workshops?
Couple people, yeah. So this is something that Richard and Alex, and then, in every
city, they may invite another polyglot, I’d love to have a contributor. Unfortunately
I’m running a marathon next weekend. So I cannot do that. But they do these seminars
and that is another means of earning an income you invite a bunch of people. And you share
your language-learning advice with them. Okay. And you could speak at conferences.
In three weeks, I’m going to be speaking at a conference — at an university and I love
it. I’m going to be encouraging the students to join the student exchange program. And
I’m so happy that I get to do this. I’m so passionate about encouraging people to travel.
And I will get paid for that because, if you can present a message in an interesting way,
then you can earn a living from it. You could be encouraging people to learn languages,
or travel, or anything along those lines. And there’s a bunch of other ways that you
can combine languages with other industries. Tourism, like I said, working in the youth
hostel, or so many other things. Giving guided tours is such a huge source of revenue. The
tourist industry is one of the biggest industries in the world. So there’s a huge demand for
people who speak other languages. And then, all of these other things, you can work in
finance, in business, in the scientific community, all of these are possibilities — the government,
the FBI, the NSA, if you wanted to. They all need people who speak languages. And even
Google. I actually, the first seven years that I was traveling about twice a year, I
get an email from my parents and my dad would be taking a picture of an advertisement in
the Irish newspaper, that Google was looking for multilingual because their headquarters
is in Dublin and that’s their European headquarters. And so if you speak Spanish, or English, or
English and French, head to Dublin. So I had the potential to work for Google, but consider
any other big, international corporation that has a presence in other countries. You don’t
necessarily need to move your life to that country but you could be the liaison. You
could be the person connecting with customers in that country. Or that you could be going
on business trips to that country. And helping things out. There’s so many possibilities.
Or you can be working for sales in another languages. All right and then, one final idea is to partner
up. So one thing I said was that you have two skills, like, you’re good at engineering
and languages. But maybe, you’re just like language is everything. That’s the only thing
you care about. You haven’t, you know, you’ve been blind to how beautiful trigonometry and
calculus is, I’ll forgive you about that. You’re all about the languages then find somebody
who’s good at the other thing. Maybe you have a best friend who’s an amazing marketer. And
you think oh, we could do this online thing together, but I don’t understand anything
about how websites work, and the other guy doesn’t have anything he can share that’s
interesting. So you think to yourself, well, I could help people with languages. And you
know, or whatever it is. Combine it with somebody else. You know, if you’re not a good writer, partner
up with editors. Just think of Steve Jobs and Wozniak. And like our team is like iron
man and pepper pots. I just go in there, shooting, I don’t care. And she’s back there with her
clipboard, you know, making sure that everything is working. So you have a good partnership
if you find somebody who’s good at — that’s something that you’re not good at. And in
my case, that’s many things. There’s a billion things that I could do with that, so I find
people who are good at them to work with me. So I have a team behind Fluent in Three Months.
Fifteen people are working on it to help grow our community like the emails I send out.
I need help trying to find the most interesting links of the week. So I have a guy who goes
off, spends several hours finding out what the most interesting things are happening
in the language world and that makes my email worth reading. And so I have people to help
me with so many different things that I, just am not going to be good at or don’t have the
time for. So consider how could I make a career by joining up with other people. Don’t be
thinking about it ourselves, or that you need to learn how to code websites. Just find someone
else who can and combine your events, combine your talents together. Okay. But if you wanted to do it directly
and find, like, the examples I gave before of companies that are looking for people,
or other possibilities, you can go to websites like Upwork, previously called oDesk. And
they have so many job opportunities there. They’re online and they’re location independent
because they’re all through computers and I’ve also met a lot of people in my travels
who earn their living as contractors for this website. So they don’t have a single boss.
They just go out on the website, they see options come up. There are also translation
options and opportunities on this website. So if Proz doesn’t work out for you, you’ll
find some here. So the pay varies. So you have to find people who would be able to find
lower pay. So I make sure it’s higher pay so that I get higher quality people. You can use online classifieds websites. So
so Kijiji is this big website that hosts so many other ones like Gumtree and Loquo in
Spain. And that’s the one that I use — Loquo was the one that I used to find a lot of my
English students. I would put an ad out on that site and I would get phone calls. And
emails. With online classifieds, this keeps you up to date as these things are happening.
So when I got here this morning, you know, I love New York. I’m going to be staying here
for a whole year. And people are like how are you going to do that? Do you have a visa?
And I have a really weird visa thanks to language learning. I have a visa and this is the actual
title of the visa is, “Alien of extraordinary ability.” [ Laughter ] I have that printed on my passport. Seriously.
And of course, the extraordinary ability is language learning. I speak a bunch of languages.
And I threw in a few others like I’ve traveled a lot and so on. So a lot of you can consider
that. It’s a visa that I have three years unlimited entry to the states. I can work,
I have a Social Security number, all that stuff. Totally legit. And that’s one possibility.
If there’s any Americans here, considering going to Europe, look into the visas that
they have in certain countries. I know, for instance, Hungary, and I’ve talked to a few
Americans about this, Hungary has a very interesting visa that if you show that you’re genuinely
interested in learning Hungarian and you’re going to sign up for a Hungarian language
course they’ll give you a two year working visa which is good for the entire European
Union and you could do that for France, they have a similar program although they’re more
restricted. I think the Hungarian one, you could be only in Hungary for days out of the
year. So look into each of the European countries that you consider checking out. And it’s bureaucratic,
and lots of papers that you have to fill out. But that’s on you you can get a visa. So you
have to figure out how you can get that to get legitimate options to work in that country
so that’s how I can legally work in each of these. Now social skills are also essential
to finding jobs. My first ever job teaching English, I just walked into the Berlitz place,
slammed my CV on the table and I was like, “I’m the best English teacher you will ever
find.” Which was obviously kind of BS because I never taught English in my life, you know?
But I said it with confidence, with conviction, you know? And social skills, also means, it
helps you with your marketing and connecting with people. You may be at a conference like
this one, and you meet somebody, and you see that they need you for particular position.
So you try to convince them of that. You do not need to be extroverted to do this. Social
skills are very different than being extroverted. It just means keeping your ears open for opportunities
and suggestion. Maybe we’ll have coffee some time. So keep that in mind. Always be open
to things. I wrote a book, the Luck Factor. People say, Ben you’re so lucky. Because we
have a saying in Ireland, every man makes his own luck, or every person their own luck.
It’s an old saying. And research they found that people who are lucky just tend to be
observant. They notice opportunities that other people may not, and they grab it. So
that’s how you may actually expand your careers. Seeing things that may be right under your
nose that you might not be taking advantage of. So make sure whatever skill you’re doing,
make sure there’s a financial worth to it. Speaking a bunch of languages is great but
how is this interesting for a company or a corporation. Think about why would somebody
pay you money and you could make a career out of it? So, last thing before I switch gears is what
do I personally look for? Like, I’ve said I’ve hired a bunch of people. And a lot of
people who work on my site are not things that I’ve written. I am looking for someone
who does this. And they replied to the job ad. A lot of people have just emailed me saying,
Benny, I noticed this thing is missing from your site, would you like me to do it for
you? And that’s worked. I’ve found people who have redesigned my website to make it
look more professional. People to help me with the text on the pages — the cells, some
of the e-books that help me make a living. And I haven’t gone out of my way to find these
people; they’ve out of their way to find me. So you have to be proactive. Maybe the ideal
job for you isn’t something you’re going to find in a classifieds ad. It’s something that’s
going to involve you contacting them. All right. So one thing that I wanted to do
based on my experience with polyglot communities is before I go into questions, I wanted to
spend five minutes letting you guys give me ideas. Do we have a microphone somewhere?
So not questions. I want you to tell me how do you use languages professionally? Just
for five minutes and then we’ll open it up for questions. RICHARD: Okay. BENNY: Who uses languages professionally,
and but in an interesting way, not necessarily something I’ve mentioned today but something
I’ve missed. We’ve got someone over here.>>Hi, worked as a yoga teacher and it’s great
to give yoga classes in other languages. And really learn the names for all the body parts
and the movements. It’s a skill which is easily transferable because it’s a limited set of
vocabulary, which you can use even teaching one class in three languages. BENNY: Yeah, that’s right. What other ideas
have we got? A couple over here. RICHARD: I’m going to save myself running.>>Actually I’ve used languages to, sort of,
teach singing and, sort of, like, music and things like that. I’ve known other people
who have also, like, taught music in Moscow and, you know, just sort of like using the
language to teach something else that you love, you know, it’s a great way to use it
professionally, but at the same time you’re doing something that makes you happy. BENNY: That’s a great idea. Definitely about
combining two passions like that.>>I work in Salt Lake City international
airport. I help passengers who need wheelchair assistance. And a lot of them coming in, especially
on the international flights from Mexico only speak Spanish. So sometimes they — the person
who’s helping them doesn’t speak any Spanish and it’s difficult for them to communicate.
So they’re always really happy when they have someone that can help them in Spanish and
I think it’s — BENNY: Absolutely and if you were applying
for a job in airport, saying that you speak other languages is just — it’s a no-brainer
to hire somebody like that.>>I run clinical studies. I’m a project manager.
I live in Quebec. But my team is in Japan. So I need — my team in Japan, I speak Japanese
to these guys, day in and day out. And I work very weird hours. I mean, after dinner is
when I’m day starts. So I work until, like, 4:00 in the morning and then I sleep during
the day. But like you said, location free, that’s what I do.>>I do the most conventional thing. I’m a
language teacher. And I teacher Latin, Spanish, and French and I’m the chair of a department
in Westchester. And I wanted to make a plug for that job because it’s eminently transferable.
Many of my colleagues have worked just everywhere and a lot of the places give you free housing
and I work with a wonderful community of people so I wouldn’t discount that one. BENNY: Oh, definitely not. And in this direction
a little bit?>>Hi, I kick people’s butt if they don’t
study. BENNY: Probably adding one challenge. Reconsider
maybe one more before the questions? BENNY: Just a couple more down here. And then
one more minute and we’ll go don’t questions.>>Yeah, something that you didn’t touch on
that is also a big thing is social media. So Facebook, Twitter, any kind of social accounts.
We actually have quite a few people here from the company that I work for, and Richard also
works for. And we have, I think 80 languages now, provided? RICHARD: We have a lot.>>Well, many, anyways. So that’s obviously
for moderation or any kind of content production, and localization, and it’s also location independent
so… BENNY: Yeah, so if there’s any big corporation
like I said, in the likes of Google and so on. If you see that they don’t have social
media activity in big markets like System.out America or in parts of Asia, just ask them,
would you like me to run your Twitter account in this language? Try to be proactive about
that. One last one? Sorry, I didn’t get to this side for questions. RICHARD: It’s hard. BENNY: You have to play “pass the microphone.”>>I work as a manager abroad and in each
country, I learned the language intensively before starting and during getting up to a
high level and it helped me getting confidence and buy-in with my teams and helped me be
a lot more successful than managers who didn’t learn the local languages. It’s amazing how
much people really respect that and it’s good for team building. BENNY: Definitely. So I think we’ll get to
questions now. So we’ll start with — are we switching?>>I’m just going to run. BENNY: Yeah, you guys have had the microphone
enough. We’ll get back to you. RICHARD: Not to be unfair to this side of
the room. You have had a question for ages and ages and ages. BENNY: So another idea. Let’s hear it.>>I was really into architecture and Minecraft.
And I actually met a few Danes from playing Minecraft. because it was so uncomfortable
not understanding and I actually wanted to combine the two and I was enamored by Danish
culture. And I actually met fan over in the corner if I asked him to sign my book in Danish
and he actually offered me an internship because he was so impressed but I don’t know, I was
just like… [ Applause ] But we had been typing for, like, two years
and then we do things for each other. And it’s just a relationship that keeps getting
stronger. BENNY: And this is another reason that we
should learn less commonly learned languages. In the likes of translation and in technology
industries. If you speak a language that still has a market for people, you are probably
the only northwestern even speaks that language that makes you so valuable to them.>>Hi, Benny, how about using Esperanto as
a second language, and — BENNY: I’m not going to take any questions
about second languages in general. But jobs. I want to stick to careers and how you make
things work. RICHARD: I think you once served coffee in
Esperanto.>>I wanted to say I’m here because of you.
I’ve read your book, and started the emails, and the track and I really appreciate it.
So I just have a question, so have you ever been involved in a technology startup related
to languages? And what’s next for the empire that you’re building? BENNY: Very good question. I have been involved
in one other company, it’s not my own. I’ve been spending most of my energy into my own.
But a friend of mine that’s developed a device that’s similar to the FitBy the. He built
something called a padlock, which shocks you, sends electricity through your wrist if you
don’t do an action and I’ve worked with him. I’ve helped him with the company we’re going
to try to sync it to things like duo lingo. So that if you do not sign into duo lingo
today, it will electrocute you. And if you take it off your wrist, it will update your
Facebook status saying, “I’m a lazy person who never wants to speak this language.” Or
whatever you want it to put up. So that’s one thing. [ Applause ]>>So I actually am trying to combine two
of the things that you’ve talked about, and that’s being a corporate player and a journalist
and I guess my question is, how as a blogger, like, what were your strategies build a reader
base and how did you build your community? BENNY: That’s very, very complicated. If you
look on the Polyglot Conference’s YouTube page. You can see that the speech I gave in
Berlin earlier this year, describes the history of my blog, how I got started. And how I built
an audience. Effectively as I said, you do things that are very interesting for people.
But I also, there’s so many things that — I can’t really answer briefly but check out
that YouTube video because I answered for a whole hour, essentially.>>Hi, Benny. So I have one idea and one question
for you. So the idea is, you get different titles like this is liaison and this is development.
But what it boils down to is Googling stuff for entrepreneurs. And I hang out with lots
of entrepreneurs. Someone always needs to do research in a different language. So that’s
my idea. My question for you is how did you find your book agent and how did you know
it was someone you could trust? BENNY: Yeah, so my book agent found me. And
this is interesting because there’s a — if any of you have seen a blog post I wrote years
ago, there’s a picture of me tearing a book in half and saying, “I hate books!” You know?
And I was — there’s an especially, in here in the states there is a culture of, “I want
to publish a book.” There’s this idea. We don’t have this as much in Europe but there
are many, many Americans where that’s their dream and I was never about that. I was like.
Why would I want to publish a book? I’ve got the Internet. So this guy I met him at that
conference called the World Domination Summit. So that’s the thing if you’re a blogger, you
can call things whatever you want if. A blogger’s conference. Great place. Lots of interesting
people. And he was there. And he convinced me to try to sign a book with him. And I said
nah, e-books are the future but he talked to me over a year and he convinced me that
actually, the potential of published books is amazing. Media take you so much more seriously.
Like, I’ve been on a lot more TV in the last year and a half than the entire 12 years before
that because instead of being just a blogger, I’m a published author. I think it’s the saying,
essentially. You get a book out there but it is considered differently now, how you
would find an agent is one question, but one thing that you can do that potentially skips
that is go right typical the publishers and talk to them. Maybe you could publish something
with one of the four people who were on the stage today, you know? So that’s something
that you could consider is directly talking to publishers.>>Okay, final question. You’ve got one minute
left. Here we go.>>Do you consider it necessary to change
your jobs several times if you do jobs for a living or do you consider that it’s possible
through a single life and support yourself the rest of your life? BENNY: It’s better to have the single job
because the idea from the business perspective is that they’re going to pay you more to keep
you there. For most of my travels, most of my jobs paid more very, very poorly because
I told them honestly, I’m leaving in two months so I think moving all the time is actually
very bad to build a career. And especially, from a company’s perspective. Unless it’s
a location independent career. So my translation work, I had the same clients and I brought
them all over the world, but the thing that that I used to work in, they paid me ten euro
a day. I had free accommodation and a bunk bed but ten euro was for food and everything
else. So I have worked for peanuts in several different jobs. But it has given me all these
experiences that has helped me to get to know the world better. So I’ve always considered
traveling to be an education but it can either help or hinder your career depending on what
your career is. Some companies will kind of consider it strange but obviously, you can
present it as a cultural experience and it’s more typical in the year to take a gap year.
And a lot more people here in the States are taking that time to travel, see another country,
learn a language. And I think you should present it in that way. And I think that’s what everybody
should consider is taking one year, and see the world, and that will build up your resume,
it will build up your social skills, it builds up so many things but then after that, building
up a career takes a much longer approach. RICHARD: Fantastic. Thank you very much.

8 Replies to “Benny Lewis – Professional Language Learner: How to Earn from Your Passion”

  • Has anyone ever heard a talk given by this so called "polyglot" in a language different from his native English? The answer is NO, which doesn't really surprise me. In order to give a talk in foreign languages you have to know them well, a level Benny has so far been incapable of reaching.

  • Great video! I'm living and working in Haiti as an English teacher, studying Kreyol, French, and Spanish. It is absolutely true, I am much better off in Haiti on a (Haitian) teacher's salary, than in the US on a considerably higher salary, but with enormously more expense! Dollar amount has very little to do with it!

  • his examples about Spain are sort of misleading .. because there are thousands of brits and americans flooded allover barcelona, valencia, madrid, alicante and even smaller town along the Mediterranean coast .. One can find norwiegians running english courses in small places like Torrente or Huesca.. also many spanish folks have a hold of the local market when it comes to teaching spanish to newcomers or even french, german and italian..

    Writing english blogs or translating to non-spanish languages (majority english content) is the key to find work in Spain in terms of languages.

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