How Digital Nomads Learn Languages?

jacob

Jacob Laukaitis is a former professional ballroom dancer, successful entrepreneur, digital nomad, and author of the book “5 Proven Ways to Make Money Online While Traveling The World”. He speaks four languages, but wants to be fluent in 8. This is his story.

It all started with the ballroom dance. He used to dance for hours every single day and participate in national and international competitions almost every weekend. Jacob had a certain level of fame; he was traveling to different countries almost every weekend; he could make more money than most people with University degrees and… he was really close with his parents, because they were in love with the whole thing. However, somewhere around that time he started thinking more about his future…

About what really made him happy and what life he wanted to lead. After a while it hit him. “I. Wasn’t. Happy.”

This is how Jacob started his entrepreneurship career. He quit dancing for good and during the years he created:

  • A mobile social network for people to map their world – basically Instagram where your posts would be shown on a map (it was a total flop);
  • A recipes website, which became one of the biggest food websites in Lithuania with over 100,000 monthly active users (I later sold it to another company);
  • An online marketplace where creators could sell their products and customers could get additional discounts by sharing those products on social media (failed miserably);
  • An entertainment website that became one of the largest websites in Lithuania with 3M monthly visits and over 18M page-views – all in a country with just 3M people (he successfully sold it to his partner);
  • And quite a few other projects…

Jacob visited a lot of different countries during the years however, he was never really interested in exploring anything more than the venues of the events he attended or the coffee shops where he met his newly-made business friends.

Until the Malaysian government invited him and 500 other young entrepreneurs from all around the world to a conference. The event was a lot of fun, but the best part was that this experience in Asia completely opened his eyes and made him realize how much he hadn’t known about other cultures, religions, countries and ways of life.

JacobEventually Jacob had to take a flight back to Europe, however, since then he couldn’t stop thinking about Asia.

He felt like someone had just given him the keys to a completely new world and it would have been a sin not to explore it.

So just two months later Jacob was on his way to the biggest travel adventure he had done to date. He decided to spend three months exploring five different Southeast Asian countries and… that trip completely blew his mind.

He felt like in those three short months he had seen and learned more than in his entire life…

Since then (in just four years!) he’s visited 55 countries. Throughout these years his partners and he have built multiple 7-figure companies without any outside investment. Jacob travels 11-12 months every single year and without knowing the local languages, it’d be many times harder and he wouldn’t be able to make so many beautiful connections with the local people.

Jacob absolutely loves learning languages as that is the best way to understand a new culture. He currently speaks 4 languages, but he wants to be fluent in 8 by the time he’s 30. Wish him luck!

At this moment Jacob’s just using the languages that he’s good at, but this winter he’ll start learning Spanish, because he wants to spend the next year traveling all around South America. Everyone tells him it’s a very easy language, so he hopes he can become conversational in less than 3 months (as he did with Mandarin Chinese).

Jacob thinks the most important thing is to not waste time learning stuff that’s completely irrelevant. For example, most people, when they start learning a language, they will learn how to say ‘hello’ in 5 different ways, they will learn ‘simple’ words like sun, moon, sea, etc. that take you absolutely nowhere!

His main rule when learning a new language is to learn the sort of things he can use every single day, like “I want to eat”, “I want to go”, “How much is this?”, etc.

Jacob thinks there’s no better way to understand the culture of the country you’re traveling in than by learning their language. There’s also no better way to connect with the local people than by showing them you care about them by picking up words and phrases of their native tongue.

He spent a month traveling in China and quite a few months traveling all around Taiwan. If  he didn’t speak Chinese, there would have been tons of difficult situations. Now that he did everyone was extremely friendly and wanted to chat with him all the time. They kept saying: “Ni hao li hai”, which means “you’re awesome” all the time 🙂

How to overcome the stress and speaking block in a foreign foreign language?

Jacob suggests: “When you start picking up a new language, you need to speak as much as possible. The weirder your accent and sentence structures, the better. Everyone will think it sounds extremely cute and they will always be there to help you get better. Basically the rule is this – the worse you know a language, the more you need to use it!

For example, it’s always very funny when I go to a random restaurant or a bar and I hear a Chinese song that I know. Then I start singing and there are always some people who join me!

The best way for me to learn a new language is to take online classes with native speakers in advance. Even though there are a lot of different platforms and options, I’d personally go with Preply. It’s one of the biggest language learning platforms in the world.

By the way, teaching languages online is a wonderful way to make money while traveling if you know a language a lot of people want to learn, yet not that many can teach.

Those include such languages as Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, German, French, Italian and quite a few others.

It’s very easy to start and it makes you completely location independent, since all of your classes are conducted via Skype and you never meet your students face to face. Being a teacher on a platform like Preply lets you focus on traveling and teaching, because it’s the platform’s job to find you bookings (because they get a small cut from your fees).

My favourite quote in foreign language is Russian “А почему нет?” (Why not?) Because life is short and we can’t say ‘no’ too often!”

jacobAnd one more nice idea from Jacob. “I’ve been traveling the world for the last 4 years while working online and I want to help more people live the same lifestyle, so I just wrote a free e-book about the 5 best ways to make money while traveling. Download it here.”

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