Free language learning mini series – Episode 3 – Making the most of people for language learning
Here’s the third episode of the free language learning mini series.
Episode 3- Making the most of people for language learning
David: Hello and welcome to another episode of this miniseries that Luca and I are putting together. Now, how are you doing today Luca?
Luca: I’m doing great. I’m back in Rome finally. So, the weather is beautiful and I’m doing great!
David: Fantastic! The topic of today’s discussion is going to be how one can make the best use of people to learn a language. Now, it’s been said many times that the best resource that you have when learning a language is people and, so, I want to explore this topic a little bit more and go into a bit more detail so we can know exactly what we can do to make the best use of them. First of all, what we want to do is discuss what the differences are between a language coach, a teacher, a native speaker, and a language enthusiast perhaps, someone who you’re doing a language exchange with. So Luca, the first question is really vague and I’m going to throw out that what are the differences between all of these people?
Luca: Well, it’s a pretty general question, but I would say that there is quite a difference between a language coach, a language teacher, just a native speaker, a language partner. It depends on, you know, even if it sounds a little bit strange to you, to use the expression “to use a person,” you know, to learn a language. I would say that the attitude you approach plays a huge role. Now when we talk about a language coach we generally talk about somebody you pay, right? When you pay you are motivated to learn because you are paying, right? But, what a language coach offers is something that a native speaker cannot offer obviously, otherwise you would not pay him. What is the difference? A language coach guides you through the process of language learning, tells you for example what you have to do during the course of a week, exactly how to study to make the best out of your language learning, and it is something a native speaker doesn’t do spontaneously. You don’t walk up to a native speaker and say “hey, can you prepare a schedule for me this week?” You don’t do that. So, a language coach is not just somebody who trains you to do things but also prepares some kind of schedule that you can follow, somebody who tailors a lesson around your tastes, around your needs, and then gives you, you know, a schedule to follow, and this is something important. So, first of all, he trains you to do something; this is exactly what I do, I train people to do things like, for example, deciphering, you know, breaking down the language, not only as far as grammar patterns are concerned but also phonetics, but also teaches you how to hold conversations, how to hold a speech, how to make your own persona and your own speech interesting to other people. It’s a whole series of things not just one thing. And then I tell you, you know, if you do these things then next week we’re gonna see how the result is. So it’s just trial and error process. So, this is what a language coach does.
David: And how about a teacher? What are the differences? What does a teacher do?
Luca: Well, a teacher, you know, I abide by the principle according to which you cannot teach a language, you can only, you know, learn a language. So, when we talk about a language teacher, normally, you know, we refer, to somebody who teaches you something. In school, for example, in schools, in the school system generally, what a teacher does is first, he has to deal with a number of people, not just one person. It’s not a one-to-one relationship but, even if it were just a private teacher, it would be a little bit different in the sense that he or she doesn’t really prepare a schedule. Even when I had a private teacher, what she did was giving me homework, but she didn’t tell me exactly what to do. She didn’t show me, for example, the learning process. This is what I think distinguishes a teacher from a language coach is like, even a live coach or whatever, a coach is somebody who shows you the way in a very precise manner. I think that what really distinguishes a teacher from a language coach is exactly that. People are in need of guidance, especially now in the internet era there are so many people who get confused by the incredible amount of information that they have at their disposal. They don’t really know what kind of use to make out of that and the language coach is somebody who works specifically on that aspect, meaning not only training somebody but also showing you the way by telling how to select language material, how to find language partners, and a lot of other things. A teacher is somebody who teaches you something, guides you etc., but a coach is something even more specific.
David: Now there is, on the other side of things, we have, you know language partners, and then we just have native speakers that we encounter on a day-to-day basis perhaps, for some people. Now Luca, can we talk a little bit about the difference between a language partner and just a native speaker of a language? If you understand what I’m saying here.
Luca: Yeah, I understand. Well, I would say that a native speaker is one who lives in a foreign country, or when we deal with native speakers in general, even when we live on our own, I would say that native speakers are people we talk to for some reason, for example if you live with them you tend to have contact with them. You just talk, you just talk to them. You know, we always learn from situations, so I would say that native speakers are just people you talk to, and obviously you find yourself talking about different topics, etc., but a language partner is somebody with whom you’re willing to learn a language deliberately. For example, if you stumble upon people on the street, for example in a bar, you’ll not, you know, have a notebook and writing everything down that they say. You could do that but it might disrupt the flow of the conversation so every time you stop and say “oh, what do you say?” I’m interesting that expression. It would not have because real communication, when you stumble upon people in the street, etc., in bars, you tend to want to talk to them, you know, without interrupting the conversation. Well, a language partner is somebody you just decided to meet up with or just meeting on Skype and you’re willing to learn from them and they’re willing to learn from you and it’s a completely different thing. So, you tend to do things you would not do in a normal conversation. In a bar, for example, you would tend to write things down or decide a certain topic to talk about. One of the cool things, for example, to say today I want to talk about, say, this topic and then they’re more willing to listen to you, they’re willing to correct you, interrupt you, etc., etc., so it’s a different thing. I think that combination of the two is the best to learn a language fast, you know, how to deal with conversations in general.
David: Okay, fantastic! Now, we’ve identified what a native speaker is, a language partner is, a teacher and a language coach. These are the four different types of people who can help you learn a language. Now I want to dive in a little bit deeper. I want to talk first about, you know, a language coach. I’m sure this is something you are very familiar with Luca. How can one know if they have a good language coach, you know, what is expected of a language coach? Because the coaching industry, per se, is something that is a free market, so anyone can call themselves a coach. So, how do I know if the person in front of me is a good language coach?
Luca: Well, first I think that a good language coach is a person who establishes a very good human relationship with the person they’re coaching. This is one of the most important things. When I talk about human resources I think that, you know, one of the best things that can happen to you is to find, stumble upon, a person whom you like talking to. This is one of the best things. So, for example, if you feel positive about yourself and about your language coach after a coaching session, it’s already a good indication that you might have chosen the right person. Second, I think that a good language coach has to be patient. Has to be patient, has to be understanding, but he also has to be, you know, he has to be interesting for you, has to make you want to communicate what you have. This is also quite important because I think that in language learning, especially in language learning, communication and wanting to communicate is everything. So, if you, for example, choose a topic you want to talk about and then you’re willing to talk about it, the fact that you are so willing to share your opinion on that topic helps you want to find new words and expressions. So, learning new words and expressions should be the consequence of wanting to communicate and not the other way around. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that, for example, they’re greedy for words, they crave for words and then they, you know, tend to just come up with words that they want to learn and they look them up in the dictionary. No, what you should do I think is to choose a person you really like talking to, or like a good language coach, choose a topic and then he will suggest some words you that don’t know, fill in the gaps, and then you will learn them automatically because this is something you really want to talk about. But, going back to what you were saying, is that you need to be talking to an interesting person.
David: So, what you’re saying here is that a language coach is someone who is going to facilitate the process of communication in an enjoyable manner.
Luca: Exactly. In order to do that, one of the other things is that he has to have intuition, human intuition, meaning that he has to understand, you know, your desires, your fears, and your potential. This is one of the very important things because I just found out that, you know, by doing this work, the psychological factor plays a huge huge role. If you understand and you’re able to touch the right notes, so to say, then people completely change and they’re willing to share their, you know, their ideas about their life as well as other topics and communication becomes much easier and words stick to their minds because these conversations are really interesting to them.
David: Absolutely. So, what can one really expect of a language coach because I find that sometimes when we have, you know, any sort of a relationship, the expectations that we have are extremely important. So, with a language coach am I expecting them to guide me every step of the way or are they supposed to make me more independent or what? Let’s go a little bit into detail about what I should really expect of a language coach, because I really want to make it clear what a good language coach does, you know, what this person is all about. Can you maybe give us more information there?
Luca: Yeah, of course. Well, first of all, a good language coach should be able to make you an independent language learner, but should also, you know, make you discover your potential. A lot of people, I think maybe the majority of people I would dare say, don’t know their real potential. We have an enormous potential, each and every one of us. So, I think an excellent language coach is the one who makes you discover that you can actually do things, much better than you actually think, and then make you independent obviously. Meaning that, you know, you’re able to, for example, select a language partner, to choose a language partner as well as be able to surf the internet in search of good material because the thing is that the wealth of information that we have at our disposal is mind boggling but at the same time people tend to get lost a little bit in this maze, in this dungeon, and obviously to push you to do things, you know. So, I think, to summarize, a good language coach is a person who is able to tailor, you know, discover your potential, to make you want to learn something, to make you believe in yourself, in what you can do, and to help you become an independent language learner. That we, I always say, everybody can learn a language, you know, but they have to understand their potential and how to control it, you know.
David: Okay. Fantastic! Now, this leads me on to question what makes a good teacher because, as you were speaking there, it was clear to me there’s a lot of overlap, in a sense, between a language coach and a teacher. So now, let’s move on to a teacher because there are people who are going to be listening to us today who have to learn a language in an academic institution because they need qualifications or they prefer that manner of study, etc. etc. So now, how do we know if the teacher in front of us is actually a good teacher? You know, what sort of sets apart the good teachers for language from the rest of them?
Luca: Thank you. Now that’s an interesting question. Now, okay, if we consider that a language coach deals with a one-to-one lesson and a teacher deals like, especially in a classroom, deals with more people, well I would say that, you know, first a good teacher is somebody who gives before asking, you know, somebody who gives respect, attention, consistency and comprehension to their students. I think another feature of a good teacher is a teacher who walks into the classroom full of enthusiasm because enthusiasm is contagious, exactly like boredom. And then, you have to remember that a good teacher is up to date. He reads, he studies, he is never full of himself, he always understands that he is also learning exactly like his pupils. Then, a good teacher is somebody who shows them that he wants to help them and that they’re interesting to him, you know, and he tells them “you guys are interesting to me as well, your experience, what are your wants, what do you want to achieve in life, etc. etc.” Another thing is that a good teacher is, you know, somebody who gives importance to rules and he or she is the first who actually follows these rules. And one other thing is that I think that a good teacher is somebody who believes in themselves; believing, having a good self esteem is absolutely essential because, you know, your students see you as you see them. If you don’t have a good self esteem, they’re not going to esteem you. So, having self-esteem, having self-importance is extremely important. And then also, you know, I think that when you teach something you don’t have to get lost in the nuts and bolts of anything, but you have to, I think it’s good to talk about concepts and methods because if we give a clear framework of what people should do, they’re going to be reassured. One of the things that a lot of my students ask me is that “can you give me a general framework of what we’re going to do in the next three or four months?” Some people want to have a clear framework for how your idea of the language process is going to develop and unfold. And obviously, a good teacher is somebody who is prepared, who knows what they’re saying. It might sound trite, maybe a little bit trivial, but you have to know what you’re talking about. But it’s not always the case, especially in the Italian school system as well as in other schools around the world, so much happens that some people don’t know what they’re talking about, even if they’re a teacher of a certain subject. And then, obviously you have to be able to explain it. Knowing something doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’re able to make it clear. So, I think that basically these are like very small and simple principles of a good teacher.
David: Okay, fantastic. Now, you know, it sounds like there is a lot of overlap between being a coach and being a teacher, and there’s a lot of positive energy involved or necessary, and there needs to be a lot of encouragement as well. I find that it’s sometimes easier to talk about what something shouldn’t be to make it more clearer. So, as we are talking about teachers, what doesn’t a teacher do? What isn’t expected of a teacher? For example, again, this comes back to what I was saying to you earlier about expectations and the right expectations so that we can make the most out of what is in front of us. So, should we expect a teacher to be able to tell us everything about a language or should we not? What doesn’t a teacher do?
Luca: You know, I think that one of the most common mistakes is to expect a teacher to teach us everything in a language. A teacher has to motivate us and inspire us. This is what we have to expect from a good teacher. A teacher is a human being exactly like us, so he doesn’t, he or she, doesn’t know everything. There are quite a few gaps in each and every one of us. But, a teacher can show us the way and can push us forward. This is what we should expect of a language teacher. What we shouldn’t expect is to expect the teacher to teach us THE language or whatever. We’re just talking in general. It’s not only a language teacher, it’s a teacher in general. By that token, if you know that a teacher cannot teach you a language, your overall attitude can change. If you go to a school and you think that a teacher is just gonna feed you with knowledge then you’re gonna be passive about it. So, you’re gonna be just listening partially to what they say. Well, if you go to school and you think oh, I want be inspired by this person, this person could inspire me, you’re active and the overall learning process changes completely because the way we learn depends on how we see things and our attitude, which is extremely important. The majority of, I think, most people go to school and they’re bored when it comes to language learning. They just go to school and expect things to happen than learn, you know. And I think that when you go to school one of the very first things that you have to think about, when you pack your gear to go to school if you’re a teenager, is I’m going to learn something today and I’m going to wake up with a very positive attitude. And this doesn’t, it’s not only for teenagers going to school but even for adults who are going to language school because it changes everything.
David: I like to think of a teacher as a walking textbook in a sense. What I mean by that is not that the teacher knows everything, because if we think about textbooks there isn’t a textbook on the planet that can teach you everything you need to know about a language. However, what I mean is that a teacher is another resource that is available to us, and that it is up to us to extract that information from this resource, in this case the teacher. And it’s the teacher’s job to be prepared and to be willing to find any information that is not readily available for whatever reason. And, so what do you think about that analogy as a way of thinking about teachers, as a resource that we can use to extract information but it’s an interactive resource because this resource also tries its best to help us connect what we know with what we don’t know?
Luca: Well, on one hand it’s a good analogy, a walking textbook, meaning that, you know, there’s a lot of knowledge inside a person, but I think that a teacher has something more than just a textbook because a textbook cannot talk to us. A textbook can say us things, but when we need something else we need to figure out why that piece of information is interesting for our life, then a teacher can provide us something more. So, I think that, like everything in life, the combination of a few things, meaning, for example, textbooks as well as a teacher, as well as language partners, as well as a language coach, is what really counts. I that you’re right in the sense that a teacher is a walking textbook in a way, but it’s much more than a walking textbook. He or she is a walking textbook that can inspire us differently. I think than even a textbook could inspire us. But, I think that the ability of talking with people, interacting with people, makes a huge difference. I think that in every single resource there is something great. If you know how to use things, for example, a book, a textbook, or you can, I don’t like the expression “using” a person, but using the knowledge of that person, talking to that person. I think that the combination of these things is an amazing combination and it’s really useful to learn a language. So, I would say, use a teacher, use a textbook, use a language partner, use your brain, use everything that you can do because what really counts is not just one thing, because when people focus, for example, on methods they say well…(I will talk about mine, because it’s mine, my, like bilingual translation) people think that I just translate back and forth to learn a language. I use a combination of many things that evolved with time and teachers, native speakers and teachers to me, according to how you see them, so this is one of the elements, one of the ingredients of the recipe, the language learning recipe.
David: Okay, fantastic. Now, we’ve spoken about language coaches and we’ve spoken about teachers. Now I want to move on to discuss the more informal roles that people can take on in helping us learn a language. The distinction that I want to discuss this time is the difference between a language partner and a native speaker that we may encounter at whatever point. So, let’s first talk about a language partner. What is a language partner exactly and how do we make the most of them?
Luca: Well, a language partner, as I said before, is a person you want to learn a language with and you might be willing to teach them or show them your own native tongue. So, a language partner is somebody who you have some sort of contract, unwritten contract, with, meaning I’m gonna help you with my language, you’re going to help me with yours, but not necessarily. Maybe a language partner is not necessarily a person who you have to work with in your language etc., but normally it works that way, it’s like fair to do something for your language and something for his or her language. So, first, it’s some kind of, it’s always an exchange. Secondly, a language partner is somebody you’re deliberately learning a language with, meaning that for example, you can do it in one of many ways. One of the ways that you can do that is to meet up somewhere, if you live in the same city and have a coffee, grab a coffee or like tea, and talking around the table, as they say. A language partner is somebody, since you’re willing to extract information from them, so to say, to learn from them you’re more than willing to do certain things you would not normally do in a normal situation, meaning, for example, you have a notebook and you’re willing to write things down or you’re more than willing to ask them as many questions as possible because you know that they’re willing to listen to you. You can come up with a topic and discuss it. So, it’s a little bit different from a native speaker because a native speaker is somebody you’re going to interact with in an informal situation, like in a bar, or you stumble upon them in other situations, you live with them in the same place. They’re not as willing to listen to you as a language partner. I would say that, once again, a combination of these two things is great because you can learn even from native speakers. You tend to learn all the time, in libraries, if you live with them, you come into constant contact with these people everyday when you wake up in the morning and you have to discuss some problems, I don’t know, maybe the light is off, doesn’t work and you have to go somewhere, or you have some other things, etc., you tend to learn from them. But I think that, you know, people in general, some people are not as willing to listen to you as language partners. Language partners are people who have the same kind of mentality because, you know, they know exactly what you’re doing because they’re doing the same thing. So, I think that finding it first, finding a language partner is an exceptional thing, but it may have to be nice people, once again.
David: What you said is already interesting and, now, what I really want to focus on is what expectations we must have when dealing with a language partner. Again, you know, as you said a language partner is somebody with whom we have this sort of verbal contract, you could say, and we help one another learn the language. And I really want to discuss what we can do to make the most of the situation, and the reason I’m really wanting to get into this because I know myself when I first starting learning language I had very unproductive language learning sessions with my language partner. So, what are some of the things we can do to make sure that we’re making the most of this person willing to help us?
Luca: Well, as I said before, like a language coach, one of the things that you should expect is patience and the fact that they’re like more than willing to listen to you and when they make corrections they have to do it in a certain way, like constructive criticism. This is what you have to expect. But, then I don’t think you have to expect too much out of that person, but you have to expect something out of yourself, meaning that if you want to learn you are the only one really responsible for that. So, be curious, ask questions, be positive. I think that 90% of what happens when you learn a language depends on you and not the person you’re talking to. Obviously, if you stumble upon a person who is a little arrogant, corrects you all the time, interrupts you all the time, is pretty negative about you in general, then, you know, it obviously hampers, it keeps you from learning in general but normally when we choose language partners we’re not masochists. We tend to find somebody who we like for one reason or the other. So, once we that that person is more than willing to listen to you because he’s your language partner, everything depends on you. So, don’t expect people, don’t expect too much from people. Just expect a little bit from yourself. So, as I said before, the important thing is that they’re patient, willing to listen to you, and that they can give you constructive criticism, but 90% is your job. Ask questions all the time. Be curious. When you think about a word, think about a situation and ask more questions, so associate things with other things. It’s very important. Be curious and be positive, but simple but effective, you know, and write a lot of things down as much as you can because, you know, as they say, in Latin all the time “verba volant, scripta manent” meaning that “words fly, but written words stay” and then you can look it up, look up in like your training session, and you can learn a lot from it because you’re like reviewing information, so don’t let it go, don’t let it fly into the air, just write it down on paper.
David: Okay, so it sounds like what you’re saying to me is that a language partner is someone that we use to learn a language deliberately and we make sure that we, you know, guide our conversations and that we are using our curiosity and our necessity to fill in the gaps in our knowledge to guide us in this process of learning. And this is, you know, somewhat different to a native speaker that we may encounter and I think it’s important to discuss the differences, you know, between a native speaker and a language partner because often we meet native speakers and perhaps we want them to help us and we maybe don’t get the response that we want. So, I thought it would be interesting to talk about what we can expect of a native speaker and how we can best approach someone with whom we haven’t made some sort of verbal contract to help one another in a sense, you know. So, can we talk a little bit about, you know, native speakers and how we deal with them as opposed to language partners.
Luca: Well, even if a native speaker is not necessarily your language partner, the same principles apply. You know, you can ask questions. You have to be positive and you have to ask questions. Obviously, you know, a language partner is somebody who is willing to listen to you. The topic has to be a little bit different. You can talk about, you can always find a way to make the conversation interesting. So, in that case, when you don’t have a language partner and you know that some people might not be willing to listen to you, to listen to you ramble about a certain topic, you can always find ways to make the conversation interesting and to ask questions. You know, to be curious about stuff, to be curious about other countries, to be curious about traditions. There are always ways to make the conversation interesting and when you want to learn something it is your, as I said before, it’s your responsibility to learn from people. So, how you learn from people depends on your attitude. It doesn’t necessarily depend on them. There’s a minority, as I said before there’s a minority of people, you know, when you don’t choose a language partner you might stumble upon people who are a little bit arrogant who can be not as nice as you might expect, but I think I still believe in good, you know, that good part of humanity. There are not a lot of people like that, especially when you meet up with people in bars and you wanna talk in languages. If there are people willing to talk, to speak other languages, I’m pretty sure the majority of them are nice. So, I think that to summarize, what you have to do is to be curious, to be positive and you have to know how to deal with a conversation. You know, knowing how to deal with people is also some that really makes, has a huge impact on your language learning skills because if you want to learn but you don’t know how to deal with a conversation then things tend to slow down for you.
David: And that is I want to address, how we can deal with a conversation with a native speaker, because I know that in my experiences, I’ve, in the past, had some maybe, I would consider now maybe unrealistic expectations and that was expecting or wanting, you know, native speakers to correct me when I make mistakes, but of course the dynamic is different when we’re working with a language partner than just speaking with a native speaker. On the one hand, a language partner is about improving your language skills although you may communicate with this person and have some sort of a relationship with them. On the other hand, when we look at native speakers, you know, often we are just communicating with this person and we may have what I would call a conflict of interest in a sense because us language learners are looking for opportunities around every corner to improve our language skills so we thinking about what that expression means, what that word means, but, you know, the native speaker just wants to talk to us, to know how we’re doing, etc. So, how do we maybe find that balance between making sure that we’re learning and improving and just communicating because sometimes it may be a bit unrealistic to think about your language skills when, you know, somebody just wants to communicate?
Luca: That’s a very interesting question. Now, okay, we you have a language partner you have multiple sessions with that person, so after “the how are you?”, “how are you doing?”, “where are you from?”, “what do you do in life?” you tend to move on to other interesting topics. Now a native speaker is somebody you stumble upon in a bar or somebody you live with, for example. Now if you stumble upon a lot of people, come across a lot of people in a bar, you will notice that you, like in a lot of language sites, you always tend to ask the same questions, you know, “how are you?”, ”what are you doing?”, and it gets boring after a little bit. So, you really start learning after you get out of your comfort zone and in order to do that you have to make the conversation interesting so once again it depends on you, and once again what you have to try to do, especially when you live in a foreign country, is trying to stick to a few people and develop a deeper relationship with that person so that you can, you know, explore more interesting topics and, you know, based on the relationship you two have established then you can use other expressions, you can venture into unknown ground. If you tend to have a superficial relationship with too many people, especially when you live a country, you’re not gonna get a lot of, you’re always going to stick to the same topics and you’re probably gonna be excellent at say “how are you?”, “I’m doing great?”, “I like Spain” or whatever, “I like tapas”, but then, when it comes to, you will figure out, when it comes to a deeper relationship, I don’t know, for example, one day you’re having dinner with other people and you’re talking about, for example one of the things that happened to me is and it happens to quite a few people living in Barcelona, is talking about the political issues, political and linguistic issues of Catalan and Spanish and then you venture into other interesting topics and then you realize where your gaps are and you try to say certain things that maybe you cannot say. So, one of the things that I suggest is, you know, when you meet people, people are human resources, they have an enormous potential, but you have to be able to get inside those people, so to say. So, when we talk to people and we ask “how are you doing?”, “how are you?”, it’s great etc., we’re just scratching the surface, you know. I think David that it happened to you as well, you know, you met a person. At the beginning, you just talked to them and then you, for some circumstances, you just happened to develop a good relationship and you tell yourself, wow that person’s really deep. There were so many things I hadn’t discovered and I would have never discovered if I hadn’t developed a good relationship with them, you know. And it’s not just in experiences, conversations, and feelings are entangled with words, sounds, etc., so if you develop a good relationship with one person, or two people, or three people it’s gonna bring a lot of knowledge. It’s not just knowledge, but also ability to address certain topics, not just to address certain topics of the country where both of you live, but it’s also about your problems, your feelings, and this is the way we develop our own way to talk by having a lot of superficial contact with a lot of people and also deep contact with a few people. And so, one of the things that I suggest is go to bars, talk to people, but this is just the superficial thing. You’re scratching the surface, but choose one or two people you can talk to, really talk to, native speakers as well as language partners, maybe one language partner, one native speaker, and, you know, go deep and the combination of these two is just fabulous. This is what I always try to do in every single language.
David: That’s absolutely fantastic advice and it’s exactly what I was trying to get at because the difference here that I’m trying to make sure is communicated to the listeners right now is that a language partner is someone with whom you have made a verbal contract to assist one another, and even in that dynamic you need to make sure that you are pushing yourselves outside of your comfort zone and making sure that you discuss things that are going to increase your capacity to express yourself. And then we have a native speaker with whom we have not made any sort of contract or, you know, agreement to help each other in any way with languages. So the challenge comes, there are two challenges involved when working with a language partner is that we need to make sure that we are pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, but when dealing with native speakers it becomes really about making connections and making relationships with people, oh, I’m sorry, developing relationships with people so that we can then venture off into that ground. And it sort of addresses the issue of, you know, is living in a country going to make learn a language. Of course, you’re going to encounter lots of conversation with people on a superficial level. And this has also been my experience, it is very very easy to get good at telling people where you come from, what language you study and why you’re in the country, etc., etc., but I believe that the more challenging part about living in a country is developing those relationships with people that are actually going to prove themselves to be fruitful.
Luca: Exactly. But, you know, the bottom line is, whatever you do, everything depends on you. How active you are, don’t expect the world to talk to you, but just expect yourself to talk to world. Demand that for yourself. Just tell yourself I want to talk to the world, I want to discover it. I think that language learning is a personal role, but it’s our responsibility to learn. You cannot actually, you know, bitch about the fact that you didn’t learn a foreign language if you live in a foreign country because it really depends on you. Bottom line is if you stick to your own people, for example, Italians sticking with other Italians, just being Italian, Spaniards do that all the time, you’re not gonna learn. Everything depends on your attitude and how you do things. Now you wanna do something, do it! You want something to happen? Don’t expect it to happen out of the blue because of, I don’t know. Just do things and if you do it the right way things are gonna happen, you know, and when I say that speaking a language, people expect as you said before, I go living in country and I’m gonna learn the language right away. It doesn’t happen like that. It depends on what you do, than if you live in a certain country.
David: So, to summarize some of the things that we’ve said today, we discussed how to make the most of the most important tool we have when learning foreign languages, which is people. And we discussed a language coach and what a language coach is, someone who is going to assist you on your journey as you learn this language and you’re going to develop a relationship with this person and they’re going to set schedules for you and they’re going to make sure that you are doing what you need to be doing to learn. This person is going to make you as independent as possible so that you can learn the language and guide you, so. A teacher is going to be someone who is going to be able to explain grammar rules, going to explain how the language works and is also going to make sure that they’re pushing you outside of your comfort zone. Well, a teacher takes on more of a role of somebody who is explaining things to you. It’s somebody who is clarifying certain things to you whereas a language coach is somebody who is sort of pushing you in the right direction so you can do these things. And then we have a language partner, someone with whom we have a verbal contract of some sort to help one another learn a language, so this person is going to be someone we meet with regularly or we speak to on Skype at decided number of times per week or month, or whatever, and this person is, to make the most of this person it is necessary to, you know, to stick to a topic of some sort. Allow this person to suggest ways in which we can improve the ways in which we express ourselves. We pick a topic and then we sort of go from there. And then we have the native speaker, which is of course a teacher, language coach, a language partner, all of these can be a native speaker, but when we talk about a native speaker what we’re particularly talking about is someone with whom we don’t have an agreement to learn a language with. And to make the most of this person what we need to do is develop meaningful relationships above all because it’s very easy to have superficial conversations with people and get very good at doing very little. And we need to also make sure that we are making the most of this person’s knowledge. This means asking questions, but realizing and excepting that the reason for talking to this person be more because of a relationship with, should be more about developing a relationship with the person, and as you develop a relationship with a person in a language your language skills will grow with the relationship because it just becomes absolutely necessary to learn what is needed to be able to express yourself. And this would sum up how you can make use of the best possible tool you can have for learning a language, which is beautiful beautiful people. Anything to add to that Luca?
Luca: No. It’s just an excellent summary. That was great.
David: Well, it was great speaking to you and I will see you all in the next episode of this miniseries. Thank you all for listening.