December 16, 2010

My multilingual recording in 11 languages

Hello everyone. After a lot of consideration, I have decided to give it a shot and record myself trying to speak in the languages that I have learned. I was a bit afraid to do so, because while in general and in my experience people find polyglottery interesting, to some it might seem that people who do similar recordings or videos are show offs and attention seekers, which really wasn't my intention. I only wanted to join the community of people who have done so before and babble along in the languages that I speak for anyone who'd be interested in listening to my specific language combinations. I was hesitating for a long time and only until there were dozens of people out there with similar blogs, recordings or videos, I decided to give it a shot myself. This way I didn't feel like I was standing out too much and felt like just one of many.

Another reason for doing the recording was, that on my blog I post articles mostly about languages and language learning and doing a recording of this sort seemed like a nice way to let readers decide, whether my articles would be interesting for them to read. I wouldn't be very honest if I'd say that I didn't do the recording to gain some sort recognition, or try to compare myself to others, but I really didn't do it to show off.

I tried to do my best and in some cases I was actually surprised that I did not forget as much as I thought I'd have, in other cases I struggled a lot. I have watched many polyglot videos on youtube before, but I never thought that to do a similar recording would be such a difficult thing. It was really very hard and my respect to all of those who have done so so far.

I was sooo nervouuuuus recording this. I don't even know why. It's really a lot of pressure when I know that other people will have time to analyze every syllable I say. At the end I was getting more and more tired too and I am sure that I could have done a much better job with French or Spanish, but oh well. It was a long recording and it is natural to make mistakes I guess. Many thanks to all for listening.


Edit: 14.2.2012

After listening to the Russian part again I have to admit that it sounded cocky when I said that I learned to speak Russian that way only after a month in St.Petersburg. The thing is that before the recording I didn't speak Russian to anyone for more than a year and only rehearsed it for a bit before the recording itself and thought I would make a complete mess out of it. It somehow turned out much better than I expected which left me very surprised and happy so I lost it a bit at the end saying what I said. I know my Russian is full of mistakes and that my Russian stress is very often not where it is supposed to be.

Languages spoken in this recording:

Mandarin Chinese
Portuguese (almost)


So, where to start? I’ll start off with Chinese. Hello dear listeners, welcome to my Forever a student blog, I am Vladimir (Shu wentao), but most of my friends call me Taoge. I would like to talk to you about the content of my blog; I would like to introduce my blog. It is divided into two sections. The first section is in Chinese and is intended for my Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese friends/listeners, the second section will be in English and is intended for my western friends/listeners.

My biggest passions are languages, travel and music so I hope that on my blog I can share with you some issues related to these topics. I also hope to interview some of my friends in the future, as well as some really really amazing people, for instance westerners or my Japanese friends who speak Mandarin incredibly well. I think that maybe you might like their opinions, suggestions and stories.

To introduce myself, I come from Slovakia. Slovakia is a very small country in Central/Eastern Europe. Our population is four times smaller than the population of Taiwan, so we really are a very small country and my native language is Slovak, not English. I say this because a lot of Taiwanese directly talk to me in English on the street, even if it really isn’t my native language.

I think this was enough in order to introduce myself in Chinese, now I will speak in Russian.


Hello to everyone. Now I would like to talk a little bit about my Russian. I started to study Russian in Slovakia and later attended a university in Russia, where I was studying Russian as a foreign language. Now of course, because I am from Slovakia, and my native language is Slovak, to study Russian is not as laborious as it is for my western friends, for instance, Americans or French, but in order to speak Russian perfectly (of course it’s impossible to speak Russian perfectly, but I mean at a reasonably high level) and learn a language so that you could for instance be able to understand the news or study at a university in Russia, that is something that is considerably more difficult and complicated even for Slovaks.

How I’ve learned Russian: in a very simple way. I began to listen to news in Russian at Radiosvoboda and Echo Moskvy and of course at the beginning I didn’t understand almost anything, but I slowly started to look up the words that I didn’t know, or at the time didn’t understand and step by step managed my way through these podcasts and through the newscasts from these radio stations to learn Russian to a level where I could travel around Russia. I have been in Russia in St.Petersburg only for one month and look, only after one month and listening to these newscasts I was able to reach this level in Russian. So this means if dear friends, you are from Poland, Slovakia, Czech republic or Croatia, in short, if your native language is a Slavic language, the best approach to learn Russian is to listen, listen and listen to audio and if you want to speak on a .. a little bit.. I don’t even know how to describe this level correctly, sort of a “universitarian” level, you have to listen to the news, because they use very good language.

For the Russian language part I think this is enough because there really is nothing more to say. Well of course there are many things that I could say but for such a short speech, this is absolutely enough.


I will speak a little Hungarian now. Hungarian is my native language but, I am very sorry to say, that since I didn’t use it for a long time, I cannot speak it very fluently at the moment. When it comes to my education background, I only went to a Hungarian kindergarten. My elementary school, high school and university were all in Slovak, which means that in my opinion my vocabulary and my grammar are all terrible. The thing that I think is still nice is my pronunciation, because Hungarian is my native language and I think this is something that I will never forget, but I know that I make a lot of mistakes, but understand everything and I can read books. Whenever I went to Hungary, there was never any problem (I made a mistake here and said hyba instead of problema) I always spoke only Hungarian and as I said there were never any problems in communication. I think that if I was to go to Hungary now, within a month I would learn back everything that I knew, but unfortunately now I don’t have this possibility, so this has to wait.


So I will now.. I would like to speak a little bit German now, and first of all I would like to apologize, because German is one of the languages (I used a wrong article. Should have been von den Sprachen) that I didn’t use for a very long time. I started to learn German when I was 14 and – and I did talk about this before – I made 12 mistakes in my first test, 16 mistakes actually and my mom decided back then to put me into.. I had private German tutoring. I was studying German with a woman that had lived in my city at that time and I am ashamed to say so, but I actually do have a German state exam, but as you can see and hear, my German is not so good anymore. Maybe the pronunciation is not so good, which makes me sad the most, because at 13 or 14… I spent one summer in Austria and after this summer I was, at least I think so, very fluent and I also think that at that time people – Germans and Austrians, they couldn’t tell whether I was a Slovak or not. Now, of course, I am very sad, because I have no possibilities to practice… I mean I do have the possibilities, but I do not make so much effort to speak German and naturally I forget a lot. I also do not know when will be the next time that I will go to Germany, and so just as with Hungarian I am very .. well not disappointed but just really sad. (Not the best performance here…..)


Now I would like to speak a little bit in Italian – where and how I’ve learned this language. Basically I did Erasmus in Italy in 2005, I think, yes in 2005, at the University of Bologna, but the Faculty is located in Forli - The faculty of Roberto Ruffili – Scienze internazionali e politiche – if I remember correctly. I don’t know.

I left to Italy with a very basic knowledge of the language (Italian). I knew how to introduce myself, I knew how to say Hello, Goodbye and maybe how to use passato prossimo, when it comes to grammar, but nothing more. When I came to Italy, I made my best to study the language. I bought a book – The old man and the sea, which was my first book in Italian and read it with a dictionary and translated every word that I didn’t know, that I didn’t understand. This is a very long and difficult process and I remember that the first 3-4 pages took me about 6 hours to read and of course I didn't understand everything, because even if I had the dictionary, there is also the grammar that needs to be explained. Step by step I came to finish the book and bought another one and so my passive knowledge of the language became better. Then, because I was in Italy, living only with Italians, I slowly learned also how to speak the language.

The only thing that maybe I could have done and that I didn’t do… I didn’t listen to radio, in a sense that I did watch TV – the Simpsons, La Fazenda, Gli Amici di Maria Filippi, Uomini e donne – all these things on Mediaset, but I think that I could have listened to a little bit more of radio (avrei potuto ascoltare not ascoltato of course....), because the spoken language – pure spoken word is more important when it comes to learning a language and in TV there are also pictures and sometimes you don’t hear people speaking that much. So.. this was my Italian. Now I would like to speak a little bit in Czech.


I would like to speak a little Czech now, even though I think, that because I am Slovak to speak Czech just simply cannot be a problem for me and the term “to study Czech” – this is something that I shouldn’t even say out loud, because Slovaks understand the Czech language very well and Czech people also understand Slovak very well. The only problem might occur in the case a Slovak should speak Czech or a Czech person speak Slovak and the problem could simply be the accent. You can tell by the accent that the person is not Czech even though maybe 3 times (having sudden problems with the ř there?? :) I’ve managed to .. when I was in the Czech republic at the Kajetanka dormitory and I was talking to Czechs that I had not met before and I was talking to them in Czech, when I told them after 20 minutes that I was Slovak, they were very surprised. Now that I’ve been living here on Taiwan for more than a year, and I haven’t been in the Czech republic for a long time, it’s natural I think that I make a lot of mistakes and it is definitely obvious that I am Slovak. Especially now that I have been speaking in 5 or 6 languages, I think that I have a small mix in my head and to concentrate on a good and correct accent is pretty difficult.

What I think might be the only problem for Slovaks, apart from the accent when they want to speak Czech (made a mistake here mluvit Česky, not mluvit po Česky) would be, at least for me in particular it was the fact, that I didn’t know the difference between the Proper Czech language and Prague Czech language, because in Slovakia we have a lot of Czech music and a lot of Czech television. I used to listen to a lot of Chaozz (name of a band). I think that people from my generation, probably all of them know this group and when I came to Prague, I didn’t know.. I simply used to hear a lot of expressions like “vokno” for instance or “nech to bejt” and I simply didn’t know how to differentiate what is Proper Czech and what is not and then there is one more problem, which is the instrumental case. The instrumental in the Czech language is quite different from the Slovak one, which I realized only when I had to do a translation from English into Czech and MS Word always kept telling me that the given word is incorrect – S městy, S městema, S městami – I just didn’t know what should be the correct from and only later I had to look it up so..

I think that however it may be, for a Slovak person to speak Czech or for a Czech person to speak Slovak – this cannot be a problem. I will try to continue, I will speak - well I will try to speak Spanish.


So Spanish..Spanish is a language that I have learned in New York during one summer, but I cannot say, that I speak Spanish well. How have I learned Spanish: I was listening to news in Spanish, every day, practically every day I was listening to the United nations radio and after that – because I was working in a clothing store which is called Quicksilver, which is at Times square in New York, I spoke every day with my colleagues, this way learning the language. Before studying Spanish I spoke already very well Italian and so because I think Italian and Spanish are basically “cousins” when it comes to languages, when one knows one and is learning the other it actually not that difficult.

But, I have to say again, that the way I speak Spanish is nothing special and I know very well that I make mistakes and that basically my Spanish is a mix of Italian and Spanish. But I also have to say, that I can listen to the news without any problems, news about politics, about many different things and practically without any problems and I also need to say that I have never been in a Spanish speaking country, except for New York, where Spanish practically became an official language. I will speak French now.


So, French. I have learned the language when I was little with the sister of my grandmother. I forgot when I began the studies of this language. Maybe when I was 7-years old, I really do not remember any more. Just as with Spanish I know, that I don’t speak the language very well, but at the same time I can listen to news in French, what I think is..I think that the language of the news is very complicated and complex, so this for me is already pretty important to know – to be able to understand this language (the language of the news. I messed up.) So, I also have to say that exactly as with French I have never… I have been in France 3 times, but never for more than 3 weeks and this time is not enough to learn the language. It is enough to understand some of the grammar rules and maybe to start to speak a little, but is absolutely not enough to speak a language as I was speaking English in this recording (podcast), for instance. So.. there we go.. I will speak Slovak.


Finally I can use my native language. It is quite exhausting by the way to speak in this “official” manner and try to give the best possible performance in 10-11 languages, in such a short time, because it is quite stressful. If I would talk only to myself on my own (with no one listening), I would probably not make as many mistakes as I have done now. I did what I could. As my friend said: It doesn’t matter how well a person speaks a language, it will come out 60-70% worse when recorded.

I will try to speak Portuguese now, even though Portuguese is the language that I speak worst of all the languages I know, but I will try it nevertheless, because Portuguese – similarly to some of the other languages that I know – even though I cannot speak it very well, I can for instance understand the news and read books, what I personally think already is quite a big achievement for me.

Portuguese (almost):

I will speak in Portuguese, but I don’t speak Portuguese very well. I was never in Brazil, I was never in a place where Portuguese is spoken, but I am capable of understanding… I understand the news in Portuguese. Why do I always say that the news is so important? It is because the language of the news is very complicated. Very complicated. Words from Latin are used (this is probably the dumbest sentence in the entire recording…the majority of words in Portuguese are from Latin…) which …..


  1. I'm SO impressed. Thanks a lot for sharing this! This is truly inspiring.

  2. Jeff, thank you very much for the nice words. I did what I could.

  3. Vlado, I knew that you're good, but this is perfect!!!

  4. I wrote that: Zullo

  5. Zullo :))) Teba jak davno som nepocul! Dakujem!

  6. Dobree Vladimir :) Pekne sa to pocuva, poviem Ti, hlavne ma ta tvoja franina so spanielcinou prekvapila/potesila..len tak dalej, Stanka

  7. Ooo :) Dakujem velmi pekne! Ale az taky vykon to zase nebol:)

  8. Je ne trouve pas que ton français est aussi mauvais que ça.

  9. Franchaiment je pense que mon francais s'est peut-etre meme pire que ca:)

  10. j'apprends francais pour 2 mois et portugais pour 3, et je parle russe. vous est mon hero!!
    avez vous skype? mon courrier electronique es zapishivay mne pozhaluysta

  11. Привет Андрей,

    большое спасибо за так теплые слова.

    Если получится, сегодня Вам вышлу сообщение.

    всего доброго