Coffee talk: learning languages

coffee talk

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Coffee talk and languages

Bonjour. Welcome to the 5-Week Linguist Show. Today, we’re going to talk about coffee talk and spilling the tea. So I have a really interesting family, I think. Regardless of what may go on in with the people in my family, I can say at the very least, I think that they’re all very interesting. And one of them who is very interesting is my uncle. And he’s an amazing man. He is massively intelligent and he went to Phillips Andover in Massachusetts, and then he went to college at Harvard and got one degree. And then he stayed on and got another degree from Harvard, graduating from Harvard Law. And while he’s massively intelligent and very hardworking and very accomplished, he’s the first person to say that if he can do that, anybody can do that. He’s extremely humble and modest and he really believes that.

My grandfather went to Harvard and to Harvard Law and to also that Phillips Andover and he became president of a university and so there was some privilege there. And he always says that he had people who had the money to be able to invest in him, to have the kind of education. And I asked him one time, “Isn’t Harvard, wasn’t that really challenging?” And he said, “Actually, no. When you go to a school like Phillips Andover, they prepare you for that kind of thing. You might have to get up at five in the morning and do your reading just to be able to get through all of your schoolwork, but you’re trained for that kind of thing. They call it prep school for a reason. And there’s plenty of people out there who are just as intelligent as I am, if not more so that just don’t have any education at all, much less the prestigious one that I have.” And he recognizes the good in absolutely everybody.

When he first became a lawyer, he worked for Sargent Shriver in New York and he was the first lawyer they sent into Attica for the prison riots. And he decided quickly that it wasn’t for him. He can empathize with anybody that his talents were going to be better served in a different place. And after traveling the world and teaching law in South America, he moved into a different kind of law, mainly corporate law, which served his interests and his talents really well, in that he’s a great writer, he can see many sides of an issue and he could speak Spanish, very good Spanish. And he has dealt with mostly intellectual law, international property, that type of thing.

He knows the laws of Venezuela and the United States very well and can help with contracts and business taxes, that kind of thing. So I asked him during my journey of learning Spanish and wanted to be able to speak Spanish, as well as a native speaker, really, really strong speaker. I said, “How did you do it?” And he, with his very strong education said, “All of the things that you learn in school are great and take advantage of them. However, at the end of the day, they don’t necessarily matter. They don’t even have to matter. You can get a beer and sit down and talk to somebody.” And this really resonated with me because he’s absolutely right. So take advantage of all the opportunities that you get in school, but coffee talk and spilling the tea have to be huge parts of your language learning routine.

Not everybody drinks beer. Maybe that’s not an appropriate thing. It’s definitely not for minors, but I think it’s that bigger idea of people just connecting and talking, having coffee talks, sitting around over a cup of coffee or spilling the tea, talking, is how you’re going to learn a language. And so I want you to talk about some ways to be able to get that into your life on a regular basis. I want to go back to the research really quickly on languages. We learn languages by understanding, right? The input hypothesis is one of Dr. Stephen. Krashen’s five hypotheses on second language acquisition. You learn by what you get, right? So that’s why I think it’s critically important to really invest in that side of you’re learning activities. You need to spend some time reading and you don’t need to be in a conversation with somebody to spend a lot of time reading or watching Yabla or Netflix, getting that input. However, you’ve got to find a place to get some coffee talk into your life.

The very first way that I want to suggest to you is, because it’s probably the easiest, is to get a tutor on italki, And this tutor will be a native speaker and they’re accustomed to working with learners. So they’ll make their input comprehensible. And so while it’s not coffee talk necessarily, right? You’re not necessarily meeting up with a friend it’s really going to condition you and get you up to a place where you’re going to be willing to speak to people, to talk freely. You’re going to build confidence. And back to that research, the input, you can let them do most of the talking at first. And you focus on understanding because what’s going to happen is the more of what they say and you understand, that’s going to be become part of your linguistic repertoire, right? Those are going to become things that you can say and that you can talk about and that you can do.

The second way, I wanted to talk about coffee talk is really get a cup of coffee. I love coffee. If you like tea, that’s fine. Or if you don’t drink either of those things, get something else that you enjoy. That’s really what the focus should be. And get a place in your life, at least a few times a week, ideally, no less than about a half an hour a day, with something you enjoy with your feet up and read. I absolutely love to read trashy content. I’m not going to lie. While I have some pretty intellectual “interests,” academic, et cetera, I also like to turn off. I love reality television, I love easy to read magazines, I love recipes, I love blogs, I love gossip, reading about celebrity gossip. It’s a way for me to turn off. Find a place in your life, something you enjoy, cup of coffee, feet up, relax and enjoy.

Another way to do that would be to do something like the Goldlist method. So just get a cup of coffee or tea if you like and a notebook. I’m going to link to the Goldlist method. It’s really simple. It’s just, you basically write down 10 or 15 words. I say 10 or 15. I think other people have different numbers out there. I think 10 or 15 at a time is really doable and you write them in columns and you recognize them and they carry over. You’re only going to understand about or recognize about 30% of the words. And then you carry over the ones that you don’t and you keep studying them until you know them. It’s just a relaxing, quiet activity.

Also spilling the tea, back to that input, think about if you’re learning Spanish. One of my very favorite resources and it’s available online is People En Espanol. So it’s a great way to learn languages and culture at the same time. Right? So getting the tea, listening to what’s going on in celebrity world and learning a language at the same time. There’s the tabloid, Hola, in Spanish and there’s versions all over Europe. But the idea is that you’re going to learn a lot about who is famous in that culture by reading what’s being written about them in blogs. What zeitgeist? What shows are popular? What’s on TV? What’s going on in the country? And you’ll learn a lot about culture from reading people who are spilling the tea.

Another way to get coffee talk and spilling the tea into your language learning routine is to go on a site like HelloTalk. And I’ve started with them recently. I don’t love Language Exchange, but it’s not because I don’t like the idea. I find myself really limited with time, but I’m enjoying HelloTalk. There’s tons of people on there and you, of course, offer your language and they offer their language and you exchange time in that language. But it also has some different … I’m opening up my phone right now. It also offers some different … Oh, wrong place. Lessons, which I think is really interesting. So a whole learn. So I have my listening lesson, hello, Italian learn. And they have … I’m all the all the way up to B2, which is pretty good in Italian. And they’ve got little courses in there. So even if you’re not meeting up with somebody to speak and practice, you have a chance to study on your own. So it’s a great way to pick up some language for free as well. So I’m going to play something from one of their lessons in Italian.

[Italian 00:11:58]. Welcome everyone to Italian Talk. My name is Catherine.

Ciao Catherine, my name is Marco.

And Marco, as you all know, will be speaking only Italian today because we have …

[Italian 00:12:08].

We have an intermediate lesson, which means that I’ll be speaking in English and Marco in Italian.

Good for you.

[Italian 00:12:18] Okay. So what is the title of today’s lesson?

Desperate Housewives. [Italian 00:12:27].

All right. So we have a desperate housewife here who is trying, trying, trying to get the attention of her husband who has other things to do. So let’s listen to this one time. When we come back, we will talk about it. What is the keyword today?

[Italian 00:12:43].

I can’t stand you.

[Italian 00:12:46].

Okay. We’ll be right back.

[Italian 00:12:57].

[Italian 00:13:01].

[Italian 00:13:11]

So while I would recommend something a little bit more immersive generally speaking, those are good scaffolded learning activities. And you definitely can’t beat free. And of course, the more time you invest in languages, the more you’re going to get out of it. So I hope you enjoyed learning about some ways to turn your coffee time and spilling the tea into new language skills.

Until next time.

Learn Italian at home Yabla

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