Another speak-from-day-1 polyplot

Sorry in advance if you are tired of discussing yet another Youtube polyglot.

Robert from Austria is a professional interpreter. He does not believe in the silence period and he thinks there is no reason not to try speaking from day 1. He also prefers focusing on conversations when learning a language.

The reason I brought him up is that, unlike some other speak-from-day-1 advocates, he seems to be quite solid on the languages he claims to know. He also sounds quite good in the languages he is learning.

Any comment?

Hey Edwin,

interesting link, some days I tried to contact you through skype, you seemed to be online, but didn’t take the call. Want to do it another day?

Edwin, Very interesting link and he is excellent, proving that you don’t need to be born in a multilingual environment nor live where the language is spoken. My approach differs from his in many ways. I will try to contact him to do a video exchange. Thanks for the link.

Thanks for the interesting link!

I agree, this is a great link.

This guy is pretty awesome. Just imagine: he has professional working level knowledge in German, English, Spanish, Italian and French.


Moreover his Chinese and Japanese seemed pretty convincing to me. And he says that he has some knowledge of Russian and Croatian-Serbian too. (He seemed like a nice modest person, so he may actually be very good in these last two languages as well.)

If you ask me, this guy could threaten Richard Simcott’s status as the supreme online-polyglot. :-0


I agree his Chinese sounds good, but is still difficult to judge for me because he only recites some standard sentences. Also remember, comprehension and vocabulary is everything in Chinese. But again, kudos to his efforts. I really cannot judge his Japanese. From these videos we only tend to judge these people’s output, which is important of course, but I have come to value much more comprehension these days. English, Spanish, Italian, French is a typical package of languages and there are a lot of synergies to be had but to master them on a professional level is tough I’m sure.

@Friedemann: Sorry I missed your call. For some reason, I don’t think I received any request from you. But for sure we can do it next time.

I would be interested to know how he learns Mandarin and Japanese. For sure he does not have the advantage of the environment nor from his acquired languages.


in fact I didn’t file any request through the Lingq system, I just saw you were online and I think you said after the Keith-debate that were interested to hear about my Chinese learning experience.

Friedemann, I meant I did not receive any call from you in Skype. But that’s ok. We will do it next time when we see each other online. Thanks.

His interpreting skills are very impressive! Thanks for the link, Edwin.

I don’t have a problem with people saying that you don’t need to speak from day 1 and that there should be no pressure to do so – and I think this is Steve’s stance, if I’m not mistaken – but the claim that one shouldn’t talk for any given period of time is the weirdest, most counter-intuitive language advice I’ve ever come across. What can possibly go wrong is you speak from day 1? What can possibly be better if you wait before you start practicing?

There are different views among the “silent period” supporters. Some are strict to observe the period. Some take ‘speaking’ to include practising speaking to yourself. Some take Steve’s stance, there is no rush to speak but you could do it if there is a chance.

But all are against the idea of “speaking earlier makes you better”.


The general idea is that the more you practice, the better you get. In everything. Why would this be different with languages?

It seems to me that there is a contradiction in Robert’s thinking. Okay, so he likes to speak in a new language from day one, yet he himself also makes the point (in one of his Youtube videos) that you need a large amount of vocabulary in order to have conversations.

As a beginner you aren’t going to have a large amount of words, are you?


I think we should all do what we want, what gives us enjoyment in language learning. The difficulty with speaking from the beginning is that it is for most people quite impractical. Therefore I am against making it a necessary condition for learning a language.

I know that when I have few words, it is painful to try to maintain a conversation on skype in a language. I would rather spend that time acquiring new words and a familiarity with the language.

However, if I live where the language is spoken I will use it in stores etc. as soon as I have a chance, even though most of my learning time is still input based. This kind of language use is natural and makes sense to me. Trying to engage someone in a conversation when you have few words, is to me an artificial and painful experience.

But to each his/her own.

The problem, Steve, is that some people are advocating that you must NOT speak before X period of time. Is it your opinion that there is no downside to that?

There is a difference between practicing and being able to engage in meaningful conversations, the latter being obviously impossible at the beginning. Without practice, there can’t be any improvement.

I am not in favour of the strict silent period approach since I favour people doing what they like doing.

I see no great benefit in speaking early. I find that whenever I start speaking is good enough. If I have the opportunity to speak in natural situations I will do so, even early. I will not deliberately set up a skype chat. for example, in a language where I cannot say much beyond hello and the weather is nice.

In fact I find that with a lot of listening and reading there is a lot of improvement. So I emphatically disagree with the statement,"Without practice, there can’t be any improvement. " if practice means speaking., Listening is easy to do, all the time, and improves my speaking ability.

@Steve: “However, if I live where the language is spoken I will use it in stores etc. as soon as I have a chance.”

Well I guess this is quite natural, when you find yourself in a place where the language is spoken. But even here there is a problem: if people see that you are missing out on words, etc, what often happens nowadays is that they switch over to English! :-0

I agree with the maxim “each to his own”. But I really struggle to see how you could start speaking without first having taken some time to build up a high level of passive understanding and vocabulary!?

But of course, it’s just my opinion. (I gotta admit that this Robert guy has achieved some pretty impressive results!)

I hear a lot of arguments against the “silent period” targeting the ‘strict’ group. I personally hardly know of anyone who follows the ‘strict’ approach.

There are courses like ALG which do not require you to speak within the “silent period”. There are people who restrict themselves from speaking only for experiment sake.

I heard of people putting the time limit for the “silent period” but for exactly the opposite reason. After that amount of time, you have to speak, no more excuses!

JayB – It’s quite possible to learn how to structure grammatically sound sentences right from the start and to supplement it with any new words you acquire. If you don’t live where the language is spoken, it’s often possible to find speakers locally, a language partner or a tutor.

If perfectly appropriate to make every effort to talk to a language partner, using what little you know. I think this is very beneficial to achieving fluency.