It was April 2, 2016. Instead of celebrating my birthday, I was sitting behind the computer, my eyelids incredibly heavy after several sleepless nights, my hands shaking on the keyboard, and cold sweat pouring down my back. After what felt like the millionth check and with my heart in my mouth, I finally published my website. It was a project I’d been working on very hard since autumn 2015, and thinking about even longer than that. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years already.
So, how did I actually come up with the whole idea? In the spring of 2015, I was learning my sixth language. Everyone around me kept telling me how talented I was when it came to languages. Deep down, I felt that talent had nothing to do with it, but I couldn’t offer a different explanation either.
It was then that I discovered that polyglots, i.e., people like me who speak multiple languages, meet at special conferences every year. I was intrigued by this kind of event and decided to attend one such conference myself. So I signed up and headed to Berlin. I had no idea that right there and then, surrounded by 350 other language enthusiasts, I’d make a revolutionary discovery.
In just a few days, I realized “talent for languages” was a huge myth. Polyglots don’t speak so many languages because they’re talented. They just learn their languages differently to most other people. During my 4 days in Berlin, I spoke to dozens of polyglots and asked them about their language learning methods, comparing them to my own. I found that although our methods were quite different, they had some basic principles in common. I knew I had to get this information out there. So many people around me had given up their dream of learning a foreign language. They thought they weren’t talented enough, when all they had to do was try a different way of learning! I had to fix this problem!
At first, I had no clue what to do, but I really wanted to find a way I could help people learn foreign languages the polyglot style – with fun, ease, and, most importantly, results! Finally, after much thought and consideration, I decided online courses were the way to go.
When I say I started the Language Mentoring project with my heart in my mouth, I really mean it. It was an ambitious plan and, to make matters worse, people around me weren’t exactly making it any easier: “Do you really think people will want to learn on their own? Don’t be so naive…”
I supposed they were right. If someone wanted to learn a language, they usually signed up for a language course. Or they found a private teacher who taught them the language. And if they didn’t succeed, it must have been because of their lack of talent, right? Who was I to change that? Would people really be willing to learn on their own? I have to admit that I had a lot of doubts about the whole thing, but I simply had to do it. I knew I’d discovered something huge that I needed to share with the world.
And so, I started a long learning process. It wasn’t just about the methods of learning languages! Oh no, not at all! I had no idea how to create a website, how to manage a fan page on Facebook, how to write a blog. How on earth do I do invoices and tax reports??? It all seemed huge, unknown, and terrifying! I’d never had entrepreneurial ambitions and I didn’t know any entrepreneurs who could help me either. So, I decided to actively look for some. That’s how I got a lot of valuable information about what I still didn’t know and needed to learn. By the way, some time later, I made a list of all the things I had to learn before getting the website and the first course running. It contained 126 items!
Nowadays, I look back on those days with a smile on my face. Five years have gone by extremely quickly and Language Mentoring has grown immeasurably! Nowadays, it’s not just about me. It’s the result of the hard work of almost 30 incredibly clever people, who were inspired by my vision of changing the way adults learn foreign languages, and every day, they do their best to help me fulfill it.
So, what have we managed in this half-decade? Let’s just say the list is pretty long, so we’ve created this infographic to record it all. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we were putting the numbers together! (Click on the infographic to make it bigger.)
It seems that people are willing to learn and work hard on their own after all if you just give them the right methods and motivation, huh? 🙂 Yet nobody wanted to believe that at the beginning…
So, how did we manage all this?
As the 5th birthday of Language Mentoring was drawing near, I was trying to put some things in perspective, thinking about what we’d achieved in the first five years and what my mission for the next five should be. I could see that in the first 5 years, we had 1782 participants in our Autodidacts’ Academy programs and when we looked at the data from their Accountability Sheets, we discovered that they had learned for an incredible 12 years in total!!! 12 years of truly effective and fun self-learning. I was in awe when I saw this number and I felt great respect for each and every one of our Academists who contributed to it – minute by minute, day by day.
Suddenly, I got an idea. At first, I got terrified and tried to shoo it away, considering it way too ambitious to be possible… But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.
Over the last five years, our Academists have done 12 years’ worth of learning. What if we added another digit by the end of the next five and made it 100? A perfect century of efficient learning! Now that’s really something!
When I told the girls on the team about this new mission, they seemed taken aback by it at first. However, once they recovered from the initial shock, they became just as enthusiastic about it as I was! After all, five years ago, I had no idea whether I’d be able to get at least one person excited about becoming an autodidact and nowadays, we have almost 100,000 newsletter subscribers and my TED talk has been seen by over 11 million people from all over the world.
Is this goal brave? Definitely! I still get goosebumps just thinking about it. 🙂
Do we know how to achieve it? Not really. Well, at least not in detail. But I know we’ll come up with a way to make it work. If I think about what we’ve managed in the first five years, starting from zero, with no website, no courses, no name, and no fans, I don’t doubt we’ll find a way to squeeze a whole century into the next five years. 🙂
We have a revolutionary idea, we’ve helped thousands of people so far, and there are millions of others we can help in the future. Most importantly, we have a strong and motivated team which can do the impossible!
Simply because it’s difficult to set goals based on something other than time when it comes to languages. The well-known A1-C2 levels are too vague and not really suitable as a way of measuring success. Even after taking a test to determine your language level, the results are often questionable.
And that’s where the second pillar of Language Mentoring comes in handy – if you want to learn a language, you have to devote enough time to it. That’s why we’ve decided to help people spend as much time with their language as they can. And we want to make sure they enjoy the process, use only effective methods, and learn in a systematic way.
We also wanted to set this beautiful goal for ourselves as a team in order to stay motivated and make every effort we can to keep improving in the next five years as well. Because the fact that you can learn with our courses is the result of the whole team’s hard work; from marketing and customer support, to blog writers and language mentors.
I can’t wait to start this new journey, even though I know it will be bumpy at times and I can’t see all of it just yet. However, I’m determined to learn all the things I still don’t know and need to know in order to get my team to the finish line successfully. If anyone had told me at the beginning that 5 years later, my courses would be helping thousands of people learn foreign languages, I wouldn’t believe them. Yet today, it’s reality. So why shouldn’t we be able to squeeze a whole century into the next five years? I’m sure we can do it and I’m sure it will be amazing! And I really hope you’ll be there with us!
After all, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be writing this article about the success story of Language Mentoring. Thank you for reading our e-mails and blog articles, sending us constructive feedback and ideas, and, of course learning with us, whether in our courses or outside of them. Because as you can see, every minute you spend learning counts and brings us all closer to the century of effective learning. Thank you for always being with us!
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