First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for checking out the first RLE WEEKLY REVIEW –THE INTERVIEW, Ethan.
1) What has inspired you to come up with the Real Life English (RLE) project?
Well, I actually didn’t come up with Real Life English. I was lucky enough to meet the Real Life Guys and to be introduced to the project when I first moved to Brazil. I found the project while I was planning my move to Brazil, and I was immediately intrigued by “the
“Real Life Methodology.” Once I got settled in Belo Horizonte, I went to meet the guys, and they made me feel right at home there, especially because they had already been through my experience and knew what it was like. I attended one of the Real Life Parties the first few weeks I was in Brazil, and that’s when I really saw the potential of Real Life English. It’s amazing: giving English learners an opportunity to practice the language as if they had traveled abroad. As someone who has learned four languages and constantly striving to improve them, I know this is the best possible way to learn, and I deeply wish that I had something like this to help me learning German, Spanish, French and Portuguese. I became more engrossed in the RLE community and the project. And at the time I was working on my own blog, too. So, when the Real Life Guys asked me if I wanted to become a part of the project, I said, “Of course!” Ever since then, we’ve been gaining momentum, and the project has grown more than I ever imagined possible. I’ve learned a lot, and we have big plans for the future. We’re just getting started, and I’m extremely excited. It goes without saying that I wouldn’t be where I am, were it not for this amazing blog and international community founded by Justin and Chad.
2) ‘Together, we will change the world’. That’s one of your well-known quotes we have witnessed so far. How does learning English play a role in it?
As chance would have it, English is probably the most important language, for many historical reasons, and this has made it the world’s principle “lingua franca,” or a language that is used by people of different countries to communicate. There are various reasons why learning English will change the world, and why we aim to do this together. Throughout history, language and cultural differences have played a great role in many conflicts on both personal and global levels. Maybe you’ve even had a bad experience concerning these barriers. With globalization and the advent of the internet, it’s become easier than ever to not only learn English, but to connect and communicate with anyone anywhere in the world. Through community based learning, which is one of the main aspects of the Real Life English project, we are able to connect with people from all over the globe through a common language and to learn about each other, our individual countries, and cultures. We learn that the stereotypes we’ve heard about people from other countries aren’t usually true. We learn to have open minds and to not be pre-judgmental of each other. And honestly, this is an exceptional opportunity. It took me two experiences traveling abroad and a lot of time around foreigners to have this same realization. And for me this feeling is just growing. All of the stereotypes I’ve heard of other people have been disproven–and they continue to be disproven. People are people, with all of the same basic desires; we’re all after the same pursuit of happiness. Together we can change English, and I truly believe that together we will change the world.
3) According to RLE vision, English is revolutionizing the way people connect and learn from each other. Could you expand on that?
As I said before, it can certainly change the way that we view other people, other countries, and different cultures. Together, in our community, we are learning a lot more than just the English language. I certainly include myself in this.I think that most people haven’t thought about using English in this way. They think of it as a tool that will give them better job opportunities, or that will help them travel, but we say it’s the passport to the world.
4) Our RLE community members would like to know some of your secrets concerning effective language learning. What’s your opinion about learning languages by listening to songs and how have you benefited from them?
Music is one of my favorite language learning tools! We’ve recently written a series of articles on this. Most people listen to music (in their own language, as well as English), so why shouldn’t we try to understand the beautiful words we’re hearing sung?Music is one of the best ways to not only learn new vocabulary and expressions, but to also learn grammar through context. We have plenty of articles that show English learners how to do this, and I highly recommend you try it.
5) Speaking is a way of taking our linguistic fluency to the next level. Nonetheless, many learners do not feel comfortable doing so. Have you gone through such situation? If so, how have you worked it out?
Oh definitely. I’ve been in classes that teach languages through traditional languages twice (German for three years in high school and Spanish for two years in college). Neither experience prepared me sufficiently to be able to speak the language in a real life situation. This was proven when I studied abroad. I was fortunate enough to study in both Germany and Spain. And both times I arrived in the country unable to speak or pronounce well enough to communicate. It took a couple weeks in the countries to remedy this: hearing the real language from real speakers. But now I’ve learned a lot about language learning. And more than ever I know that you can improve your speaking without living in a country where they speak the language. I’m blown away by all of the English learners that I’ve met who have learned to speak English wonderfully without ever traveling. Anyway, many of my students have asked me, “How do I become a more confident speaker?” The only answer I know to this is by speaking. One way to do this is through our community. By making friends and finding other English learners who want to learn with you. Other recommendations we make to all of our students and community members are Verbling, italki, and CouchSurfing.
Check out part 2.