I’m really good at writing my own bio. So it seems really impressive and all – speaks five languages on a good day depending on where I am. But I was never good at languages. When I was 12 to 14, 15, I had to study Spanish and I was terrible. I couldn’t string sentences together. I couldn’t have any type of conversation and I concluded that I was bad at languages, like everybody else on the planet just about.
And it wasn’t until I was forced as an exchange student in Japan – my first time abroad – to learn Japanese using comic books and judo textbooks because I had no choice. Then I started looking at language learning differently. And then Japanese, because it was my grand experiment – I was just throwing everything against the wall to see what stuck – took me a year to get to the point where I could speak, read and write Japanese fluently.
Then the second time I applied the method that I thought I’d figured out it took six months with Mandarin Chinese. Again, speaking, reading, writing. Then with German – refined, refined, refined – took three months. And then refined, refined, refined – ended up in Argentina and I met my arch nemesis again, Spanish, and it took eight weeks to get the most advanced level of the University of Buenos Aires testing. I don’t want to impress people by saying that. I want to impress upon them that it is the method; it’s not me. And that method can be copied.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock