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Learn a LangAUge Now January 29, 2007

Posted by Edwin in Multiculturalism, Skype, Speaking.

What is a good way to start off a conversation with a stranger who has a completely different cultural background from yours?

If his native language is also different, why not ask him to talk about it?

Lately, I have become very curious about skypecasting after hosting a skpyecast for the first time in my life. So I have been studying skypecast hosting in the past week. What I did was to join some random skypecasts and check out how they were hosted. Sadly, I must admit that I am very disappointed with the majority of them. They had no clear purpose whatsoever and the participants were just wondering why they could be in such boring skypecasts. I am more surprised to see that these people still hanged in there and did not think about leaving!

It was slightly after midnight last Saturday when I had a thought: what if I just create a skypecast out of the blue, without publicizing it in advance. Will there be people joining me? So I quickly created an experimental skypecast. My plan was to ask each participant (if any) some questions, “What is your native language?”, “Are you learning a language?”, “If not, why not?”

The title of the skpyecast was “Learn a Langauge Now”. Oops, I created it in such a hurry that I made a typo! Would people still be interested in joining a skypecast apparently hosted by a language enthusiast who couldn’t even spell the word ‘language’!

To my surprise, there were about 6-8 people joining within the first 5 minutes. I accidentally muted my voice at the beginning. So these participants were hanging in the skypecast without hearing anything!

After fixing my audio, I began to invite people to talk and asked them about their own languages. I also asked if they had any plan to work on any other languages. If not, I encouraged them to do so.

During the peak, I had over 40 participants. The skypecast lasted for a little over an hour. Some still wanted to continue, but I had to end because it was 2 o’clock in the morning at my time. At the end, I promised them I will host more skypecasts of this kind in the future.

What lessons have I learned from this experiment?

First of all, I find that people love to talk about their own languages. When you throw in the topics such as cars and taxes, people may talk about them for a short time. But if it comes to their own languages, they can keep going on forever.

Secondly, after they realize that someone actually appreciates their languages, they would think about appreciating other languages. Many of the participants I talked to promised me that they would consider learning a new language or at least improve the ones they know already.

Lastly, I can see that there are indeed many people around the world at any given time who are just wondering around out there, and they would get onto Skype and join any skypecast they could find!



1. Osman - January 30, 2007

That’s a very good idea! When do you think of doing the next one?
If the time is ok with me, i can join 😉

2. edwinlaw - January 30, 2007

My plan is to do one whenever I feel like it. The idea is to catch random people around the world without any advance notice.

But since you sound very interested, I will give you a hint 😉

I will probably do one this Friday night (EST). But then it could be 4-5am in the morning at your time. 😦

3. Osman - February 1, 2007

Oh.. 😦 It’s too early for me. I wish you good luck with that! Say hello to your listeners from me! 😉

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