LaNGUAGELab

Language learning that makes sense

ABOUT ME

LANGUAGES

Native language: Hungarian
Fluent in (C): English, German, Romanian
Rusty in (B): French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Swedish, Arabic (Tunsi)
Currently learning: Turkish

Relearning: Arabic (modern standard), Romani ("Gypsy") 
Next on the list: Swahili, Flemish, Hindi, Persian, Kurdish
Studied but lost interest in: Dutch, Mandarin Chinese
Studied but forgot most of it: Danish, Hebrew, Icelandic
Studied but hated it: Japanese

STUDIES

Linguistics (Germanic/Scandinavian Studies) 
Communication (PR and Advertising Psychology)

QUALIFICATIONS

Trainer; Life Coach (ongoing); Youth Coach (EU training in Strasbourg); Human Resources Inspector; Sustainable Project Management Consultant (with focus on sustainable team management)

ALSO WORKED AS

Language Tutor, Psycho-linguistic Analyst, Translator, Interpreter, Head of HR, Project Manager for Participatory Budgeting Youth Projects, Intercultural Protocol Adviser, International News Editor, Customer Support Agent, Waitress


The spark of my becoming a language coach:

Back when I was a student (Germanic/Scandinavian Studies) I was asked by an acquaintance - who knew that I do language-tutoring - if I'd help her learn German, because she wanted to move to Germany with her entire family. 

She was a mother of two, working a full-time job as a nurse, and you can imagine that it wasn't easy to squeeze in a couple of hours of tutoring a week in a way in which it would actually help her progress. 

So I came up with the idea of dropping the usual tutoring methods and switched to more unconventional ones. Back then you didn't have smartphones and language-learning apps, so it wasn't as easy as it could be now. 

Since the whole family was preparing to move to Germany, I expanded the coaching to the kids and the father as well, getting the family cartoons and movies in German with subtitles to watch together (that I had lent from the library), bedtime stories for the parents to read to the kids (so they could practice reading, and the kids would get better at listening - absorbing the language like sponges, as children usually do), "decorating" the house with post-its with the names of objects on them, scattering comics, books and magazines around the house, listening to the local German radio-programs, and so on and so forth, until learning and using the language at home became the family-lifestyle.

The project turned out to be a success, and encouraged by this experience, I had decided to stick to the method, and even develop it further, which I have been doing for about 13 years now. 

The "method" is fairly easy to describe:
I tailor the language learning experience to your needs, interests and lifestyle until it becomes an automated system that you're comfortable and happy with.


Who I am (the long story) 

I was born on a rainy Wednesday morning in: Kolozsvár/Klausenburg/Cluj in Transylvania, Romania. 

My native language is Hungarian (one-fifth of the city's population I come from consists of a Hungarian minority), but since my grandma had German/Austrian roots, we often also used German at home. Most of my relatives lived in Germany, so during my childhood years, I spent my summers either in the southwestern part of Germany or travelling around Europe.

Both my parents were/are avid travelers, and my mom is (still, at the age of 60) a passionate language-learner. Thanks to her, by the time I reached the age of 5 I was already fluent in 5 languages (Hungarian, German, English, Romanian, Italian) - including reading and writing - plus decent in 2 more (French and Romani).

Now, don't imagine a helicopter mom forcing her child to sit down and learn. On the contrary. I was actually having a blast, and it never occurred to me (until I went to school) that my lifestyle is not the norm. We were watching La Piovra, the famous Italian crime series, in its original language, going to Italian, French and German operas (and went through the libretto in the piece's original language before the show) because for some reason I was a weird kid who actually enjoyed fine arts and everything that at that age should have been considered "boring", but I also watched Cartoon Network - that's how I started learning English - and read comics (in German and English).

For a brief period of time around the age of 6 I had this crazy idea that I want to go to music school, so my mom started teaching me piano (she was a pianist), but after only two sessions it was clear: I am merely interested in the algorithm of music - not being able or willing to move on from music theory - and the mechanics of the piano - pulling up a chair next to it and climbing inside to see how it works - with absolutely no interest in how to actually play the instrument. 

So after this failed attempt at becoming an artist I ended up reading dictionaries I had found around the house (which were quite high in number) for fun, asked a lot of "how do you say [insert word] in [insert language]" questions and was reading books not intended for my age with a flashlight under the covers after bedtime (e.g. the collective works of Zola in French series was on one of the bottom shelves I could reach in my mom's library). 

All of these elements could have been red flags for Asperger's, but back then kids weren't labelled with autism, ADHD and such, so I could just pass off as a standard "weirdo" - to all those who didn't understand the context - and a "gifted child" to those who were related to me, compelled to find a way to see something positive about my nagging quirkiness.

This - to me blissful and pleasant, but to outsiders seemingly spoiled - upbringing caused serious issues as soon as I landed in school. To me, formal education was hell itself. Everyone thought I was arrogant for using "long words", I was labelled as a smart-ass, and bored out of my mind, fidgeting, reading books under the desk, doodling, daydreaming, "bothering my classmates", as the educator put it. This, of course, is not something a child can easily cope with, especially if they can't compare their lives to that of others' on account of not having many friends. I felt isolated and ostracized, so it only made sense to resort to that which made me feel safe and comfortable: more language-learning. It went on like that until I got kicked out of school only two weeks before graduation at the age of 18.

By that time I was already fluent in about ten languages and although I knew the cause of my segregation, I didn't know what to do about it. Until that wake-up-call of having been - this time officially - puked out by society. So for the lack of better ideas, I stopped learning languages (it wasn't easy. I ever so often found myself deciphering the text written in languages I didn't speak on shampoo bottles during bathing until the water got cold), and switched to psychology and philosophy. I was desperate to understand what I had done wrong to be shunned like that.

So I dived deeper and deeper into the bowels of never-ending chains of information pertaining to human nature (and nurture) - with some fun divergent paths leading through studies about deviant behavior, sexuality, violence, criminal psychology, group dynamics, cultural anthropology, social psychology ending up somewhere in the area codes of neuroscience and quantum physics. By the time it had all finally fallen into place, I was already in my late twenties, having been through several career-related adventures, throughout which I had been attempting to put into practice everything I had learned along the way, having become a social butterfly, proficient conversationalist and queen of the pub, eventually finding my calling as a community facilitator for expatriates (this is where all the languages and social sciences coming together made that blissful clicking sound I was waiting for).

All this time - everything that you've read so far; and kudos for that, you seem to be good at focusing on longer texts - there was one thing that never changed: my passion for languages and for finding ways to hack learning them finding and using the most efficient* and effective** methods possible.

 *Efficient (adj.) Performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort
**Effective (adj.): Adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result;