Congratulations on picking up "Polyglot Beginnings: How to develop the right
mindset for learning a new language"
The book came to life, because I realised how important the beginning of
learning a foreign language is. It can literally make or break you.
If you start well and balanced you will become fluent faster than you ever
thought possible, and you can become a very successful polyglot (speaker of
many languages) very quickly.
If you start on the wrong foot, you might give up after 3 weeks and never
learn a foreign language.
The book is useful for language learners at any stage, whether you are just
looking to start learning your first foreign language or you have learned
The reason for this is that it's never bad to reinforce solid fundamentals for
During the book you’ll also be presented with how mindset and mental focus
are key elements to early success in language learning.
What you’ll discover as you learn about these elements of learning, is they
are applicable to all areas of life. If you want to become a better golf player,
or do better on your school papers - the advice I'm about to share with you
is useful for everything and anything.
In the back of the book, I'll also share my list of favourite resources sorted
by medium. This way you can jump straight in to learning after finishing this
But first, allow me to share my story with you, this is my own personal
This book is about beginning a journey into learning a language, for me
personally this was also the beginning of getting my life on track.
In the end of 2013 I was stuck. Feeling depressed and finding myself doing a
university degree I couldn't care less about. I only did the bare minimum to
avoid being kicked out.
Then something changed. I had previously come across the “Internet
polyglots” but the idea of learning languages as a hobby, and perhaps even
many of them seemed quite unrealistic for me.
I didn't have a job, so I relied entirely on the grants provided by the Danish
government. Now I'm never going to complain about free studying and
getting paid to do it, but we’re not talking huge fortunes after rent is paid.
On a cold January evening I was browsing randomly, as I did so often and I
came across Benny Lewis’ Fluent in 3 Months blog. I spent the entire night
reading the website from start to finish. We’re talking hundreds of posts.
I was drawn to his story because some 10 years prior, he had simply left
Ireland, speaking nothing but English and now he lived in a new country
every 3 months as well as speaking some 12 languages to varying extents.
This was exciting to me. Here I was depressed, isolated and without any
apparent future ambitions.
Reading Benny’s posts gave me the empowerment to believe that if he could
do it, so he could I.
Before I dove head first into being a full-time language learner I took some
time to work the idea around in my mind. Two short months after, Actual
Fluency was born as a way to keep myself accountable.
I was a serial quitter and I wanted to give myself added incentive to keep
going when things got tough (as they invariably do.)
I was following a few other language bloggers and one thing I was noticing
was that podcasting was very unexplored in the niche. I figured it would be a
great excuse to ask some of the brightest language learners any question a
new language learner might have.
That is how the Actual Fluency Podcast came about. As of writing this book
I've published more than 50 interviews that is guaranteed to motivate,
inspire and answer all the questions that arise when talking about foreign
You can check out all the episodes on AFPODCAST.COM
A year after I started my journey I could successfully converse in two new
Had I learned Russian and Esperanto to fluency?
Far from it. But I now had 1 hour talks with my Russian tutor entirely in
Russian, and I took part in a whole weekend of nothing but Esperanto in
I know some people are more talented, maybe even faster, at learning
languages that I am. To me that doesn't matter.
I didn't know any Russian a year prior, and now I could speak in it,
understand news articles and even follow along in Russian sitcoms.
That was an amazing feeling.
I found a job through the language learning network and quit my dead-end
university degree I was pursuing just for the government support, uprooted
from Denmark and moved to Budapest, Hungary.
All this was made possible by becoming a language learner.
I'm not saying language learning is some kind of miracle cure for depression.
I'm not a doctor either so this is simply what worked for me.
What I can say though is that becoming a language learner literally
transformed my life and I'm confident it can change yours for the better too.
LET'S GET STARTED
Before starting to give advice, tips and tricks on how to get started learning
foreign languages the best way, it makes a lot of sense to take a bird’s eye
view and consider the question: Why even learn a foreign language in the
you might be familiar with some of these already, but my hope is that, by
reading these reasons and benefits before or even during your language
studies you can mentally boost your motivation.
And namely motivation is one of the most discussed topics of language
learning. Without proper motivation it is very difficult to put in the consistent
time and effort to learn a language.
Some languages will have more advanced grammar than you are used to
and some will have strange pronunciation patterns, but the fact of the
matter is that anyone can learn any language as long as their motivation is
That’s why this book deals primarily with motivation and mindset. But before
we look into that, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you would
even consider learning a foreign language in the first place.
1. Open your mind to other cultures
When you start to embrace a foreign language you also start embracing a
foreign culture. This could start out small as in songs, literature and other
written texts but eventually you might even go to the country, make friends
and dive even deeper into the culture of your target language.
Culture is this esoteric thing that is so massive, it's actually hard to explain.
It transcends music, food and tradition - it's everything that the subgroup of
people offer to you.
For instance, going to Denmark you might find that Danish people are very
cold and not very welcoming towards strangers. However, once you start to
get to know them and take part in their "hygge" - that's the untranslatable
word of extreme cosiness, like the feeling of curling up in front of a fireplace
with a cup of hot chocolate - You'll discover that beneath the veneer of cold
lies a beautiful culture waiting to be explored.
As far as I'm aware, learning the language is the only way to truly get into a
country or region's culture.
Sometimes it starts the other way around. Many people get fascinated about
manga for example, the Japanese comics and then decide to study Japanese
to enjoy the comics in their original language.
However it is also very possibly somebody decided to learn Japanese for a
different reason (we’ll look into that more later) and then stumbled upon the
manga, and used it to stay motivated and focused in their learning.
The point is that it’s very easy to be quite oblivious about how other
cultures, countries and languages work and operate. By learning a foreign
language you get tuned into not only how the culture works, but also how
the people think and express themselves.
2. Exercise your brain and delay brain degeneration and dementia.
A recent study published in the academic magazine "Neurology" came out
with the following conclusion based on a study of 648 people:
"Overall, bilingual patients developed dementia 4.5 years later than the
monolingual ones" Source: Neurology.org
That's pretty significant. So the brain gymnastics aspect of language
learning is definitely not to be ignored.
3. REALLY Talk to more people
This one is quite obvious. There are still many countries and areas where
people actually don’t speak English, so unless you learn the language you’d
have a better c