231 Polyglots Taught Me This One Thing

I recently attended a language learning conference in Berlin, along with 231 other polyglots.

Before going, I had no idea what to expect, but I had a few questions:

  • What would the other polyglots be like?
  • How do they all learn languages?
  • Would I finally find out the best method?

I also felt slightly apprehensive:

  • Would I feel inadequate for not speaking as many languages as others?
  • Would I discover that my language levels aren’t as good as I thought they were?
  • Would I regret not being more serious about language learning?
  • Would I feel that others were more successful at language learning than I am?

What I found was inspiring.

Everyone I spoke to, everyone I heard speak, could not have been more different.

Whether it’s a question of motivation to learn, how long to study for each day, strategies for learning, who to learn with, when to start speaking, whether to translate or not, how to learn grammar, how to improve your accent, how to speak fluently, how to know if you’re successful…

there are as many solutions as there are people who learn languages.

And each solution is unique to each person.

When you spend four days with 231 polyglots, and you see that each one of them has their own reasons for learning, and you see that each person measures success in a language based on their own standards, it gives you a calming effect.

You realise that this whole language learning thing…

…it’s down to you.

It’s your life.

Only you know why you’re doing it.

Only you know why it fulfils you.

Only you know what success means.

What I learnt from 231 polyglots was to stop worrying about most of what I worry about, to love life, and to enrich it by using my languages in whatever way makes me happy.
successful language learning

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  • Claudio Santori Spadini

    I agree 🙂

  • You’re the man Olly! I couldn’t agree with you more. I have also learned the same lesson in the years I’ve spent getting to know polyglots from around the world.

    • Cheers David… it’s a big lesson, one that I’m really going to try to remember!

  • alejandrotero

    buena esa hermano , sin duda muy motivador …!

  • Brad Stokes

    Love it!

  • Joy from Korea

    Thanks to you and this post!
    I’ve tried to learn many languages, and your blog really gives me great tips!!

    It means “thanks a lot” in Korean.