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Podcast Wendy Werneth

S2 Ep 2 | Learning Languages for Travel | The Nomadic Vegan

Show Notes

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Introduction

In today’s episode, we’ll be talking to Wendy from the popular vegan travel blog, The Nomadic Vegan. We have actually had Wendy on the show before when we talked about her epic train ride through Russia but I always love talking to Wendy and I think you might really enjoy this episode, especially at this particular moment.​This episode with is all about learning languages and learning languages for travel. You will come to realize that Wendy is very qualified to talk about this topic.  Before I get started though, I really need to explain a couple of things about this episode recording. Firstly, I recorded this episode a really long time ago, in fact, it was last March in 2020. At that time, I was interviewing many experts in vegan travel to make a vegan travel online summit. There had never been a vegan travel online summit and I put a lot of work into it. However, the coronavirus put a stop to all of that. I wanted to continue putting together the online summit and thought I would just delay the release of it for just a few months.

podcast s2e2 language books

Sadly though, it never felt like the right time to release it. Then, I came to realize that everyone was doing all sorts of summits, online classes, school, and of course working from home.  It made me think that perhaps right now it is not a good time for a vegan travel online summit so I decided to abandon it for now. However, there is a ton of excellent content that I recorded with some fantastic vegans that needed to be shared with the world. A word of warning, because this was not recorded to be an episode of the podcast, you will see us referring to the summit a couple of times, please overlook that!

So I recorded this episode with Wendy in my mother-in-law and father-in-law’s house back in March with the computer balanced in a very precarious way and I will confess the sound quality is not good, especially in the first couple of minutes. I hope you can get through that and continue to enjoy the tips that Wendy has to share.

I decided to release this particular episode right now, because I think it might be quite inspiring and might be just what you need right now! So many of us are stuck at home, not seeing people, not meeting new people, and not able to travel, but learning languages can actually help address these desires. I was reading an article by the BBC which has reported a huge number of people who are now learning languages during the various lockdowns of the UK. For example, Duolingo reported a 300% jump in users in the first half of 2020. People are really enjoying learning languages.I would definitely say that I have placed a focus on learning or teaching languages in 2020 and this year too.

For much of 2020, I was teaching English online through the platform called Italki. In case you don’t know this platform, it is for students to find teachers who teach dozens of languages. They have an excellent booking and as the teacher sets the price you can find teachers who charge different amounts. During 2020, I actually taught English to people all over the world and it was so enriching and rewarding especially at that moment.

Not only did I get that rewarding feeling of helping someone with their language goals, but through our conversations, it almost felt like I was traveling. I learned about the wolves and elk that live in the mountains between Poland and Ukraine from a young Polish woman, what life was like in the Soviet Union from a lovely woman living in Moscow, a Japanese woman’s perspective on Marie Kondo, and I cannot tell you how interesting it was to learn about tensions in the Middle East from a Japanese man living in Cairo, learning Arabic to become a diplomat in the Middle East. While you don’t need to be a language teacher to have the opportunity to find these fascinating people to talk with, you can also find a language exchange buddy, which is something that Wendy and I talk about during the episode. Basically, through learning a language or helping others learn a language it feel like you are traveling.Learning more French and starting to learn Italian was also really good for a bit of a distraction, to do something different and using a different part of my brain which is great as I rapidly approach middle age. It also really served as a distraction to everything that was going on in 2020 perhaps it could for you too.

More tips and tools

So, I hope you enjoyed that episode with Wendy and you feel inspired to start tinkering with languages, brushing up on a rusty one, or just start using your languages more or even offering to be a language buddy for someone keen to learn English. I mentioned, at the start of this episode I have been teaching English during 2020 and I have also been learning French and Italian. I have been learning French through Lingoda, which is an online language school. I actually did Lingoda Sprint which is a special deal that they offer four times a year. Essentially, you pay for the classes and if you meet the requirements for the course by turning up and engaging in every class, then you will get half of your money back at the end of the 3 months.I did the Lingoda Sprint which meant that I had to take 15 lessons per month for 3 months. They also have a Super Sprint. This is actually much more challenging because you have to take a lesson every day for three months. That’s 90 lessons in total. However, if you are successful you will get all of your money back. If you are on a budget or if you think you really want to push yourself to improve your languages then doing the Sprint could be a really good idea. Perhaps a nicer way to spend your time for few months than scrolling through social media

As I said, I have also been learning Italian through a lovely Italian teacher on italki could Elisa. I also have a French conversation teacher. I actually had the first lesson with her just this morning, she is a lovely microbiologist who lives and works in Algeria. As it was the first actual lesson that I had had with her we did a lot of getting to know you which was great and of course I mentioned that I was vegan because it always comes up. You might be interested to know that by the end of the lesson we had covered vegans’ position on the zoos, wearing leather shoes as a vegan, and various other hypothetical situations and she asked me for resources to learn more about veganism. Who would have thought that learning languages could actually be a form of vegan activism?

As well as having lessons, I have also been using some really interesting tools which I’m going to link in the show notes.

The first one is a Chrome extension called Language Learning with Netflix and Language Learning with YouTube. Something that I have noticed, especially if you are not an advanced learner is it can be really hard to understand real content in another language. I would often try to watch French shows but I would quickly give up because it was just too hard. These apps make content accessible, but also rigorous and improve literacy. So how do they work? Once you install these extensions something really amazing happens when you open Netflix or YouTube.

  1. When you are watching a show in your target language, you can add the target language subtitles. This of course is nothing special, Netflix and YouTube usually do a good job with this, but the interesting thing is that if you hover over the word you are struggling with, it will show you a translation of the word. This is much better than having to stop and look in a dictionary all the time.
  2. For a beginner, you can actually have English subtitles and the target languages at the same time. This is simply wonderful as you can understand the target language easily. As my Italian has improved I actually cover the English subtitles with a piece of paper and just uncover them when I need to.
  3. There is also functionality to pause the show automatically after each subtitle. I really like this as when I am watching something in my stronger language, French, I may well understand everything in French, but I need time to process the language.
  4. You can also skip, go back to the last subtitle and repeat the subtitle with one click which is much better than clicking on Netflix’s forward and back 10 seconds buttons.

All of the above functionality I mentioned is completely free. There is a paid component, which I would like to get at some point. You can actually easily save words you would like to study later with a simple click and when you are ready you can export them to use in something like Anki or Quizlet. These Chrome extensions have made consuming content in my target languages more appealing and easier than before so of course, I watch more which is great.

podcast s2e2 learning language with Netflix

Language Learning with Netflix: Hovering over the target language word gives you the English
podcast s2e2 learning language with Netflix 2
You can also have two sets of subtitles at the same time.
Another fantastic tool is Hello Talk. It is an app for learning languages and uses crowdsourcing. It feels a little bit overwhelming at first. Essentially they have moments which is a little bit like a social media feed. You can post anything on any topic through writing or audio message in another language (could this be another opportunity to do some convert veganising?). People interact with you, (more proficient or native speakers of course) and you can even have people correct you as well. I will insert a couple of screenshots in the blog post for this episode so you can see what I mean.  HelloTalk is also great for finding language buddies. I found a lovely person to message in Italian. I correct her English and she corrects my Italian. We could (although we haven’t yet) have a conversation in real time through the app as well. Finding language exchange partners is really easy now.
podcast s2e2 hello talk 1

I referred earlier to Quizlet which is a similar tool to Anki, an app Wendy and I referred to this in this episode. Quizlet is also a  flashcard app. It doesn’t use the theory of spaced repetition that Wendy and I discussed, but it does offer a number of ways you can learn vocabulary, verb conjugations in a fun and engaging way. This is also a freemium model and I just use the free one. I am going to try to put in a few videos of me using these apps in the blog post for this page so you can see how it looks. 

Toucan is another Chrome extension. It changes a select number of words on online content you are reading from English to several target languages. Once you have seen that word and you feel like you know it, click on it and you’ll get some points so you get a bit of gamification and you will gradually get more and more challenging words. You can get Toucan to ignore certain sites so you can take a break from it. I will also include a show video on how it looks.
That’s all I have got but I hope you will feel inspired to travel the world through language learning.

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