For the last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about POLYGLOTS, thanks to a few thought-provoking conversations that I’ve had with a client and friend of mine.

And because my grandmother was a German teacher back in her day, and is a life-long language-learner to this day (at the tender age of 92), I suddenly remembered her mention the Hungarian language genius, Kato Lomb a lot, when I was growing up.

So we looked her up, and found one amazing (pretty vintage!) interview with her (in Hungarian but with English subtitles), where she talks about her life and shares some tips on language learning as well.

These are some of the key points she mentions:

1) Language knowledge is intertwined with WORLD KNOWLEDGE.

2) Therefore, READING is key…

3) She learned 16 languages as an ADULT, so it is POSSIBLE.

4) The only thing that’s hardest to make up for if you start late is acquiring a native-like ACCENT. (Although I think some speech expert professionals can even help with that…)

5) DEDUCING language (grammar, vocab) from CONTEXT is the way to go (i.e. “learning grammar FROM the language, not language from the grammar”. 

In other words, here (in 1974!) she is talking about what’s at the crux of Communicative Language Teaching (/Learning) BEFORE it officially became a thing and replaced the Grammar-Translation method.

6) If you’re really motivated, you’ll learn ‘through’ any CIRCUMSTANCE –including air raids in a war.

7) Humans are primarily ‘Homo Ludens’ —Learning needs to be PLAYFUL! 

8) Language teachers often (inadvertently) ruin the student’s SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT by focusing only on the mistakes.

9) Living ABROAD in itself is NOT the ‘best method’ to learn the language, 

AND, my absolute, ABSOLUTE favorite, the idea that

10) TALENT is a sh*tty concept!

According to Kato Lomb, a kick-ass polyglot who learned 16 languages as an adult BEFORE the internet, CLT, or even a bloody passport (–Iron Curtain and whatnot), many times people get themselves off the hook by thinking that they don’t ‘HAVE’ it.

So then you might as well just sit back and accept your ‘fate’, right?


Get back on the hook, and GET CRACKING!

Which of the 10 points above resonated the most with you, based on YOUR IELTS teaching experience?


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