Read my INTERVIEW with Christine Konstantinidis, who speaks six languages and runs the blog ERFOLGREICHESSPRACHENLERNEN.COM
Christine is also author of the book: „Sprachen lernen, tolle Tipps und Tricks – Kreative Methoden für Motivation und maximalen Erfolg“ (2015).
In PART ONE of the interview, Christine tells us something about herself and her work.
In PART TWO she talks about methods and the importance of grammar when learning a language.
I have added remarks (!) to each answer.
INTERVIEW PART ONE
Thank you, Birgit, for the opportunity of this interview.
What languages do you speak?
Since languages are my absolute passion, no day passes without languages. I speak German as a native language, English at C1 level (earlier it was C2, but I do not practice it regularly at this high level), Italian at C2 level, French at C1 level, Spanish at B2 level and Portuguese and Dutch at A1 / A2 level. Latin is also one of my passions, I like the clear structure of the language. I would like to learn many more languages, but unfortunately, the day has only 24 hours for me.
! The level of the CEFR helps assess how well someone speaks a language: The Common European Framework of Reference levels are: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 ,C2 !
What is your favourite language and country and why?
My favourite languages are currently French and mainly Spanish. When I was in Spain for the first time in 2016, I immediately felt at home there, even though I did not speak the language well then. Therefore, I can call Spain as my favourite country, but I also like France, Italy and Austria. In Spain, France and Italy I have great language partners who I also know personally, at least most of them. I find Austria ideal for hiking.
! It means Christine started learning Spanish three years ago and is now at B2 level – people do say: the more languages you speak, the easier it gets to learn another !
Where, when and how long did you learn English?
I already had English at school. However, I have always been able to distinguish very well between English for school and English for private purposes. This means that my grades and my workload for English at school were rather modest, but at the time I already had penpals around the world – and I could communicate with them in English very well. I still have contact with two of them today, with Carolyn from Australia and Nils-Arne from Norway. But we switched to modern media. After school, I discovered my love for the English language, passed all Cambridge exams and spent a lot of time learning English. Currently I listen to and read in English, learn my vocabulary with Memrise on a daily basis, speak English with German students if they are overwhelmed with German, and occasionally write e-mails. Meanwhile, my other languages have become more important to me.
! To have a penpal in the 80s meant to get an address from your teacher of a girl or boy living abroad and writing letters to him or her – on thin blue paper which was posted in thin blue envelopes “via airmail”.
To take a Cambridge exam means you have to spend time on learning English – which will help you improve a lot!
Memrise is a free platform for learning vocabulary, which I can recommend. Doing this once every day for 10 minutes helps improve your competence !
Why did you start the blog and what does your typical working day look like?
My blog has been online since August 2014. Meanwhile, over 220 articles have been published. I started it because the same questions were asked in my language courses over and over again: How can I best learn vocabulary? How important is grammar? Where can I find listening material for the languages? How do you deal with mistakes? So, after answering these questions thousands of times, I started the blog to give the answers. After a few articles, I realised that writing about languages was so much fun. Therefore, I haven’t stopped.
My typical working day involves a lot of routines but also varies from day to day. There are no classic working hours. In most cases, work and leisure time overlap because languages are my passion.
I get up at 5:45 and update my to-do list for the day. This is not difficult, because I organise myself with Trello and have set up daily to-do lists, which only need to be changed slightly. I arrange my tasks according to priority and work everything off. What I’m not able to do on that day will be postponed to the next day or given due date. In general, however, I have my tasks under control.
Since I also teach languages in courses outside the home, parts of my working day are dictated by the course times. At home, my job is based on the type of employment: Do I have to write German materials for portals, blog articles for companies or my own blog, do Skype lessons, do I have to prepare courses … That is different from day to day.
But what happens on a daily basis: My routines for language learning, for my job and my health. Every day, I learn my vocabulary in all learning languages with Memrise, also every day I do 10 minutes of back exercises. Every day I read an Italian blog post via WhatsApp audio to an Italian friend, she does that for me in Italian – which also helps me with my job. For a German portal, I am also responsible for Facebook support, I also do that every day. And – very important for me: I regularly go running and do stability training, I’ve got a detailed training plan for that, too.
As you can see, I love plans and lists. Even for my household chores I use an app. Maybe some people think this is a bit exaggerated, but the system helps me a lot. Only my family cannot be organised like this 😀
! This is very interesting: Christine started her blog for the same reasons for which I decided to write my book ENGLISCHE GRAMMATIK – She had been asked over and over again the same questions – regarding how to best learn languages.
Also, routine does have a positive effect on the outcome. It helps reach goals as it does support the health. Organising the way we learn a language does help getting where we want to be !