Introduce yourself: Tell us your background, where you live, and what you do?
I am a 30-year-old young professional, working full time as a Spanish Court Interpreter in Orlando Florida. My interest in languages began in college when I minored in Spanish and just really took a shining to it and wanted to improve my Spanish communication skills partly to better communicate with my family. I come from a Hispanic-American background and while most of my family spoke English quite well, some relatives did not and I just really wanted to be able to express myself in Spanish with the same comfort level that I do in English.
Wanting to do study abroad and take an immersion approach, I decided to move to Spain and really take it to the next level. I was there about four years in which I took a bunch of university classes and did a translation program and that is where I began thinking of making a career out of it. When I moved back to the US, I landed a job as a court interpreter and have been ecstatic to get paid to learn Spanish and study legal terminology as well as equivalents in both languages. Nevertheless, throughout this time I have been studying other languages such as Portuguese and at some point would like to incorporate Portuguese and French as part of my professional working languages.
What language are you learning and why are you learning it?
I am learning French with the end goal of having it as one of my working languages. My end goal is to go back to Europe and study to become a conference interpreter at the UN level and French would be quite a useful addition to my language arsenal. Moreover, the best interpreting programs are in French-speaking countries so obviously French is necessary.
Finally, because Rype is extremely economical compared to other programs, it gives me the flexibility that I want. After paying 200 bucks at a French academy for a 4 week course I was not happy to say the least and was looking for something else more affordable and with more options when I stumbled upon Rype and low and behold, French was one of the options!! And what I love about French is how pompous/seductive it can sound all at the same time. In French, I can be condescending and a total douche and all the while actually sound like I am flirting or being seductive.
Share your first A-HA moment with us: The moment when you felt that your language skills advanced to the next level. How long did it take to achieve this result?
When I realized that I was speaking French and that the class was being done entirely in French I was like Holy sh**! I was able to carry on a conversation (albeit slowly and a tad discombobulated) in French and not just simple descriptive sentences we could talk about events in your day, experiences, opinions etc. That was a huge motivator for me to keep going and even up my study time. In addition, I began seeing patterns in French, could even guess words, and with even have heard them before because of their similarity to English and Spanish lexicon. Moreover, I noticed that my teacher would only speak in French with me and he started speaking exclusively in French as he would to one of his friends and when I did not understand him, he would explain in French 8 times out of ten I would then understand him. I would say that after about 4 months I was able to see this of result. I was conversational before that but this was when this started to click and everything French stopped seeming so foreign to me.
Tell us about your learning schedule. What time of the day do you take your lessons and how much time do you spend learning per week? How do you find time to take lessons with your busy schedule?
I work full-time five days a week, but the fact that I have my own office helps a lot. I am on call all day and the amount of work I do depends on the caseload for any given day. I try to schedule a lesson when I usually know I will have down time or right after work. The time spent learning really just depends on the week but total on average I probably spend about 12 hours a week give or take. This includes with the professor and on my own. Given we live in the age of technology and globalization, there all plenty of portable, convenient ways to learn a language these days. I have apps downloaded on my phone, I watch French videos on you tube. There is a great site to watch French movies online with subtitles and I listen to the radio all of which I can do in my smartphone! If I have some down time or am traveling having access to all this material (on my smartphone mostly) really gets me to study because it is always right there. Whenever there is an empty time slot (and I am not just totally over all the French), I try to do some sort of passive French activity, whether it be listening or reading.
Who was your teacher(s) at Rype, and why did you select him/her as your teacher?
My teacher was primarily Nicolas Cudley from France who lives in Tampa. When I started Rype, I shopped around and did a bunch of trail lessons with different teachers with different French backgrounds, I even did maybe a couple of weeks of regular 30 minute classes with them to really get a feel for the person and style of teaching and to get to know them on a more personal level. In the end, I felt that I and the best and fastest learning curve with Nicolas not just because he is very good a teaching language but because we just got long really well and we started talking to one another as if we were just friends with the added benefit of one being a teacher. He adapted well to my learning curve and before long, we were talking exclusively in French about a variety of topics in such a way that was fun, engaging relevant because we share similar interests and in the end I felt I was getting more out of my time by having him as my teacher primarily. I mean he is a chill teacher who likes what he does and it comes through (don’t tell him I said that by the way).
Could you share some top language tools and resources you use to learn a language?
Besides any materials that your Rype teacher gives you, language learning phone applications, radio, and you tube videos are great language tools because we all have our phone on us almost twenty-four hours a day so it gives us instant access to our language. Also, websites to watch movies with subtitles so you can associate images to words, language-learning websites; amazon kindle if you have one has plenty of books usually in many different languages your local library as well. The internet is just so chalk full of resources you can find almost anything free such as podcasts and language learning pages, especially for such a mainstream language such as French. However, the most important tool I use is my Rype coach Nicolas. He is able to bridge that cultural gap and explain things sometimes that really, only a human can because a phrase or a way in which a word is used to so particular to the culture that you really need someone who has a native familiarity with that culture to break it down for you.
What are your top recommendations and tips for new language learners?
Most importantly when you are learning a new language you really have to get your hands dirty have no shame, and consistency is key. I would recommend trying and starting to speak from the get go and try to speak in your native language as little as possible. Even if you sound like a deranged 3 year old, is does not matter. Even if your teacher has no idea what you are saying, it does not matter. You just have to put yourself out there knowing that it may not work, but that is half the fun and then your teacher will help you and before you know it patterns will emerge and you will start creating your own sentences. A language should be attacked from all sides so you should be doing everything, listening repeating, speaking, even writing if need be, and watching videos in that language.
Consistency and effort are key. If you can do 30 minutes a day that is much better that 2 hours a week all on the same, but again your results, in the end, will be based on how much you put into it and how much you could really give a crap if you sound like an idiot.