Secret to hack a country and learn language for free | Claudio Santori & Muezz Vestin | TEDxVilnius


Translator: Alina Siluyanova
Reviewer: Denise RQ Claudio Santori:
In Italy, we study languages at school, but we don’t speak them very well. What about Sweden? You are not blond,
but you are from Sweden, right? Muezz Vestin: Yes, in Sweden
we speak French, German, English, and we learn
from a really, really low age, and not everyone is blond. CS: Ha! But you do have
a very strong Swedish accent. I don’t think I have an accent, I speak English very much good. (Laughter) MV: Oh, yes do have an accent. All Italians have an accent, if they even speak English at all. CS: Maybe, we don’t speak
languages but we don’t need, we speak the body language,
with our hands. (Laughter) MV: In Sweden, that would look silly. We simply keep the hands in the pockets. (Laughter) CS: The first time we meet a foreigner, we all make assumptions
about who they are, unconscious assumptions
based on what we believe, on stereotypes, on their language
skills, and their accent. For example, Swedish
are supposed to be blond, Italians don’t speak English, Chinese is impossible to learn, Lithuanian grammar — oh, my God! (Laughter) What we found that is
that languages are easy to learn. All you have to do: you have to make
a very good first impression. (Laughter) MV: Languages are wonderful! Learning a language
is a life-changing experience. Are you learning a language? The journey is so fascinating,
and the rewards at the end are incredible. And we are not talking
about studying the grammar here. When you speak a foreign language,
you get to know natives on a deeper level. Mandela said it clearly:
“If you speak to a man in a language he understands,
that goes to his head; if you speak to him in his language,
that goes to his heart.” CS: Today studying languages
is easy and accessible, there are language courses everywhere, and we can even study
languages from our phones. But too often, when we study languages,
we tend to isolate ourselves, we are too shy for speaking,
so we start making excuses, like I need more grammar,
I need more rules, I need more words. The truth is we are just afraid
of making mistakes, so we hide behind studying just to avoid the pain and embarrassment
of speaking another language. MV: We both speak together
about 10 different languages. We’ve been living
in foreign countries for many years. We’ve been to traditional courses,
we used any possible software out there, and we managed to find
our ways to learn languages. But it’s been challenging,
it required a lot of time and effort. And when we met,
we met here, in Lithuania, about one year ago,
we did not speak Lithuanian. And if you can imagine
our knowledge on a graph, we met, we didn’t speak, and then all of a sudden,
two months ago it all exploded. What happened? Before, we were studying
the traditional way, you know, with the grammar an so on. Our Lithuanian friends
kept speaking to us in English though trying to convince us
that Lithuanian is too hard to learn. CS: But we didn’t want to give up,
so we kept studying, and you, Lithuanians,
you kept talking to us in English. (Laughter) At some point,
we just looked at each other, we just– let’s wake up! You know what we can do?
We can talk Lithuanian to each other. So, imagine this– (Laughter) (Applause) An Italian and a Swede speaking
broken, broken Lithuanian. (Laughter) And you were laughing,
you were laughing. In the office they were laughing,
on the street. (Laughter) But we couldn’t care less
because we were finally using Lithuanian. So, what we were doing
every day for at least 10 minutes: instead of using English,
we were using Lithuanian without being afraid of making mistakes talking about life,
food, work, everything. MV: Finally, we were speaking Lithuanian, well, at least to each other (Laughter) because, unfortunately,
our Lithuanian friends kept speaking to us in English. And we told them, we asked,
we complained, we even blogged about it, and they did not change. (Laughter) We realized we were doing a big mistake:
we were complaining in English. (Laughter) So we started to complain in Lithuanian, and that day, during our 10 minutes
of daily practice, we took the phone, we decided
to record the conversation, and it, more less, looked like this: MV: “Hi, I am Muezz, Swedish.”
CS: “I am Claudio, I am from Italy.” MV: “And we really want
to speak Lithuanian.” CS: “So please talk to us in Lithuanian!” But here is the trick:
we didn’t record the video in English, we recorded it in Lithuanian. (Lithuanian) MV: “Hi, I’m Muezz, Swedish.”
CS: “I am Claudio, I am from Italy.” MV: “And we really want
to speak Lithuanian.” CS: “So please talk to us in Lithuanian!” (Laughter) MV: And that’s it. (Applause) CS: So, we looked at the video,
it was like, huh, this is cool! We can speak Lithuanian,
let’s brag with our community about this. So, we shared it on Facebook. And our friends, maybe in the audience,
used that it to like this, and then used that it
to share it with your friends. And your friends,
they shared it with their friends. It went viral. Two major Lithuanian portals,
they posted it on their home pages. (Laughter) We were a Facebook hit. In less than 24 hours,
200,000 people saw it. In Lithuania that’s a big number. (Laughter) And it’s hard to believe
what happened the next day, because magically, your friends
started to talk to us in Lithuanian. (Applause) There were strangers
stopping us on the streets, like, (Speaks in Lithuanian) We started to speak
Lithuanian all day long. Journalists wanted to speak with us, and that morning we gave an interview
in Lithuanian for two hours. (Laughter) We looked at each other, like,
oh, my God, we had a headache, but we could not believe
we could speak Lithuanian. Few days later, the municipality
of Vilnius invited us (Laughter) we met with the mayor, a radio show wanted to interview us,
and now we are there every Wednesday. (Laughter) And, of course,
TEDxVilnius was interested, and now we’re here
talking to you about our story. (Applause) We hacked a country, and now we’re so busy speaking Lithuanian
and learning the language for free, that we don’t have time
to study the language anymore. (Laughter) MV: At first, we thought
we were just lucky, of course. But learning a language,
it is a psychology game, and it is important to set up
a right environment to win this game. The language learning trailer,
that’s how we call it, it works. Why? First of all, it shows that you really
want to speak the language, it shows that you care. And it also shows
that you already can speak: maybe, not perfectly, but you can. We made tons of mistakes in our video,
which was totally fine; you should make mistakes. Finally, it shows it’s fun. You don’t have to be insecure
about your poor skills, just relax, be confident. It takes about 100 pictures
to make a good selfie, right? You can make as many videos as you need
to look confident for 30 seconds. CS: So, this language learning trailer
really works, and it changed our lives. But you know what?
It could work for anybody here, for any language, for any country. All you need is a friend,
practice the language together, and when you are confident enough,
take the phone and make that video. What can you talk about? Complain to the natives and say:
“Please talk to us in your language!” But don’t do that in English. You need to do it–
if you study French, Spanish, or Italian, you need to make that video
in French, Spanish, or Italian. That’s when the video
becomes really powerful. MV: Hands on your hearts,
your Bible, or your iPhone, are you stuck with your language learning? You keep complaining
that it is too hard to learn? Did they manage to convince you
that this language is impossible? This is our solution: find a friend, make a video, and have fun speaking together
in that other language – so don’t use English –
share it on the Internet. Now, get ready; everybody
will speak to you in that other language. We should not forget
why we are learning languages. If you enjoy studying,
and it works for you, please keep on studying, but if you are stuck, it’s time for a change! CS: We all need to change
our beliefs about language learning. Languages are easy to learn. All we have to do
is to create the right environment where we can practice and feel safe. A simple video
can really change everything. So, do you want to learn a language? MV & CS: Make that video! (Laughter) (Applause)

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