The Polyglot Project: In Their Own Words

The Polyglot Project: In Their Own Words

This article was originally posted on

  • Get your FREE Thailand Cheat Sheet ​by entering your email below. The ​Sheet, based on ​our experience with living and working in ​Thailand for 10+ years, shows you how to ​save time and money and ​gives you the tools the thrive in Thailand.

The Polyglot Project: In Their Own Words…

I’m a slooooow mover in the mornings. I flop out of bed, stagger stiff-legged and mostly blind to the kitchen, turn on the kettle, and then fix my breakfast while waiting for the water to boil. With pot, cup, and bowl or plate in hand, I point myself in the direction of the sofa to set up my computer.

First up, email. Second, site stats. Third, twitter.

And twitter is where I found lingosteve’s tweet announcing: The polyglot project, my submission (posterous is no longer online).

I didn’t read Steve’s post (I figured the guts would be in the pdf). Instead, I went straight to The Polyglot Project’s download page on The Polyglot Project _Draft-August 1_ 2010

And there went a chunk of my Sunday. Bye bye.


What is The Polyglot Project?…

Many of the language enthusiasts sharing experiences and tips in The Polyglot Project have YouTube channels, so I located as many as I could (links below). And it was on YouTube where I discovered more about the project from its creator, YouTube polyglot Claude (syzygycc).

Naming it The Polyglot Project is sort of inaccurate because not everyone submitting is a polyglot, or even admits to being one. But they certainly have a passion for learning languages in common. And I agree that giving it a long title such as ‘YouTube Polyglots, Hyperpolyglots, Linguists, Language Learners and Language Lovers’ is too much of a mouthful. But calling it plain ‘Language Lovers’ would be too… sweet. Yes?

From Claude: The Polyglot Project is a book written entirely by YouTube Polyglots and language learners. In it, they explain their foreign language learning methodologies. It is motivating, informative and (dare one say) almost encyclopedic in its scope. There is nothing else like it. And, best of all, it’s completely free!

It is currently in the draft stage. The final book should be ready sometime in late September, 2010. If you wish to submit, it’s not too late–you have until August 31.

It sort of reminds me of a series on WLT – Interviewing Successful Language Learners – excepting that mine is limited to those learning the Thai language (not polyglots), with the replies being less freeform (ok, ok, apart from one: Chris Baker)

Below is the call for action posted at

I want to put a book together, available to all for free which is written by you language lovers for all language lovers. How did you learn your languages? How has the study of foreign languages enriched your life? Who influenced you? I want to know. Send me a written piece, in English […] About 1-15 pages, covering any topic you wish relating to foreign languages. I’m looking forward to hearing from you guys!

It’s now Sunday the 22nd of August, so those aiming to be included in the project had better get a move on!

Polyglots, Hyperpolyglots, Linguists, Language Lovers and Learners…

As of the August 17th draft, there are 18 language aficionados involved in the project:

Yurithebest (Ukrainian), Shanna Tan (Singaporean), Philip Price (British), Peter E Browne (American), Moses McCormick (American), Amy Burr (American), Ivan Kupka (Slovakian), Oscar (Spanish), Dion Francavilla (Australian-Italian), Nelson Mendez (Venezuelan), Luka Skrbic (Serbian), Félix (Belgian), Graeme (Scottish), < Paul Barbato (American), Anthony Lauder (British), Stephen Eustace (Irish), Skrik (Taiwanese), Raashid Kola (British-Indian), Christopher Sarda (American), Vera (German), Steve Kaufmann (Canadian). Some language enthusiasts talk about their backgrounds, others share tips for learning languages. But I'll wait until the book is published before writing about the tips in any detail. I'm already jumping up and down over the contents, so whatever gets added later is soooooooooo gravy.

Missing YouTube Polyglots, Hyperpolyglots, and Linguists…

Reading through both drafts, I kept expecting to see the two inspiring polyglots in my life: Luca Lampariello and Stu Jay Raj.

I expected to see Steve Kaufman’s entry as well (otherwise known as lingosteve). But I imagine Claude came across Steve’s bits at the same time I did.

No matter. The countdown for final submissions is on… and I’ll be waiting.

16 thoughts on “The Polyglot Project: In Their Own Words”

  1. Angela, why are you asking?

    My housekeeper in Brunei was fluent in three languages and could make her way around several more. No degree in linguistics. No recognition from those in the language community. Just a desire to communicate.

  2. Do you think it is necessary to get a linguistics degree to become a polyglot or get recognition from peers in language teaching/learning.

  3. Tony, I’m with you there. And if someone could bottle / package their enthusiasm for learning languages, they’d make a mint.

    I’ve read many articles on how to make learning languages fun, but they seem to be for those already convinced. Maybe I’ll take a second look…

  4. I downloaded the book for my too long train ride to Nong Khai after seeing a tweet to this page. I found the book a fascinating read and especially how enthusiastic many of the authors are about learning languages. It’s funny how they find learning language so much fun while others find it comparable to visiting the dentist! I guess the takeaway is to look for ways to make it fun and your comprehension should rise much faster.

  5. Hi Sophie, thanks for your kind words 🙂 My Sunday was made all that more exciting due to finding Claude’s project. Now I keep looking at the date to see how much closer we are to the final day… ok… I also know that it’ll take time for him to clean it all up… So there will be a bit of a longer wait… Not impatient much, am I?

    I agree, we each learn in our own ways. And while understanding how polyglot/hyperglots study might not make us into super learners, but it might help us jump forward a little bit. All good.

  6. Cat, I loved your description of how you start your day! Thank you for spending your Sundays like this. We all appreciate it and the effort, research and heart you put in to this site is why we all keep showing up. Please, continue to do what you are doing! I do agree with Talen. One language at a time please. I think a person must need a special sort of brain to be able to handle more than one language at a time. I personally, am not the owner of one of those brains. I do enjoy hearing about the process though and looking for any little tips that might help. I do feel very far behind others as I live in the forest, way out in no man’s land and have a dial-up connection and much of what others can easily access is just not there for me. I shall lag behind I suppose with my hand-held books and just hope to at least try and keep up with the class.

  7. Talen, Ah yes. I’d forgotten how Thai gals dating expats want to talk to their friends without being overheard. Well, good luck with your language learning ride (but if I know you like I think I do, you’ll have a grand time of it 🙂

  8. Welcome to WLT Raashid 🙂 I’m also chuffed that both Stu Jay and Steve found the time to get their submissions in. Luca just emailed to say that he doesn’t have the time as he’s rushing around with work and travel. But maybe Claude will keep adding talent? I hope so. This is a brilliant project and deserves to continue on.

    Will the queen of WLT submit her experiences to the project? I seriously doubt it as she’s more of a cheerleader than a super accomplished language learner.

    Those who learn languages well, especially a multitude of languages, hold a great interest for me. I’m an artist from toddler years; being able to draw likenesses just clicked. I walked around translating the world to pencil, oftentimes just in my head. When I read the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, I recognised how I was able to draw so effortlessly, and was then able to teach it to others.

    And that is why I keep my ear out for advice from polyglots and similar. I so enjoying reading about the click of language learning. From the obvious, to the not so much. Mind you, I do understand that it’s hard work as well…

  9. Cat, I will definitely check out his blog…anything that could possibly help me learn Thai is a good thing but as Pookie pointed out to me last night ” you learn Thai then I speak Pua Thai…you learn Pua Thai then I speak issan and then Lao” She had a good laugh and I just sat there thinking this is going to be a long ride.

  10. Martyn, this project would indeed be ideal as a coaching manual as the tips are great. And one item I noted was how often Pimsleurs and Teach Yourself came up. Colloquial got a mention as well, but as it uses transliteration only I don’t see the value. As you know, transliteration and I don’t see eye to eye.

    You are totally correct – I am indeed rubbing my hands together over the thought of an interview 🙂

    Talen, I certainly do aim to create a detailed post from the project. In all the excitement I started on Sunday, but then forced myself to back off and wait for the final draft to come out.

    For polyglots enjoying their languages in travels vrs enjoying the learning process, I’m not sure. I had the pleasure of sitting through two of Stu’s courses and the fire in his eyes when talking about both was thrilling. In fact, the class enjoyed hearing about how he learns languages so much, that we’d ask him to take breaks from teaching and tell us about his background instead. And as it was still teaching in a way, it suited the course perfectly.

    If all polyglots are like Stu – his energy is amazing! – then they are a special breed of people. In order to explain his method, Stu spent a lot of time figuring out how he learns languages. So if you are interested in getting your head around it, sign up for his new blog at Language and Mind Mastery.

  11. Cat, The polyglot project seems to be a massive undertaking and with the research you do into such things I can imagine you taking the time and really delving into it deeper.

    Unfortunately, for me one language is enough and considering Thai can actually be broken up into more than a few languages I think I have my hands full.

    One thing I have often wondered about polyglots…do they actually enjoy the languages and use them in their travels or is the joy from just learning the new languages? I guess the answers could be all over the map.

  12. Hi Catherine

    I’m so pleased Stu Jay finally got into the act! Its a real testimony to the project to have such accomplished contributors such as Steve Kaufman also taking the time.

    Will we be having the privilege of reading a submission from the queen of WLT?

    Best Wishes


  13. Catherine the Polyglot Project is going to be a coach’s Coaching Manual for language learners. It will be full of tips and tricks to help people learn their chosen language. That’s ideal.

    It will be interesting to see what emphasis the experts put on the different aspects of learning a language. For example getting the tones correct in Thai is high up the list for that language but I’d guess it would be lower down the pecking order for some others. I’m guessing learning to read your chosen language would be a must from the start in most polyglot’s eyes. Hopefully you’ll do an analysis of the project as a whole. There’s another couple of future Sunday’s gone.

    I read Yurithebest’s (Ukrainian) opening salvo and that was enough to convince me the project will appeal to many people. A little bit like how your post has found you a new reader in Claude. I can smell an interview coming up.

  14. Hi Claude. Welcome to WLT 🙂 It was my pleasure to write about your wonderful project. As soon as I found it via twitter, I couldn’t believe my luck. You’ve put together a jewel of a resource, and I’m sure that all of those learning languages will be chuffed. Thank you.

    50,000 more words? Excellent!

  15. Hello Catherine,
    Thank you so much for devoting so much space to The Polyglot Project in your fine blog (of which I was completely unaware of and am now a happy subscriber)!

    As of today, I have another 50,000 words waiting in the wings, so be prepared to spend another Sunday in the near future reading!

    Claude (syzygycc)


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.