How complaining about Lithuanians online got me on their Primetime!

by Jan 29, 2015English

Interview with Claudio Santori of Bliu Bliu

Claudio, you live currently in Vilnius, Lithuania. Have you found it hard to pick up the local language?

Claudio: There is this belief that certain languages are very difficult, almost impossible to learn: so many people have tried to learn them and failed miserably. Finnish and Lithuanian are two of the languages on this list.

The native speakers are always proud to tell you that their language (Finnish or Lithuanian) is the most difficult language in the world.

The reality? It’s not a language problem; it’s a people problem: Natives make it impossible to learn their language by never speaking to you in it. Instead they constantly switch to English for communication with foreigners.

Can you give me an example of how a typical conversation goes when you try to speak Lithuanian or Finnish as a foreigner there?

Claudio: If you say “Labas” or “Moi” they will always answer with “Hi”. If you say “Labas, kaip sekasi?” or “Moi, mita kuulu?”, they will answer you with “Wow! You speak Lithuanian [or Finnish]? Your accent is so good, almost like a native. How are you doing?”

So you see, if your level is below advanced, natives will constantly switch to English. It’s automatic for them.

Conor Clyne Claudio Santori Berlin Polyglot Gathering

Claudio Santori (Bliu Bliu) and Conor Clyne (Language Tsar) at the Polyglot Gathering 2014 in Berlin

But is everyone in Lithuania and Finland so insistent on speaking in English with foreigners? Surely some people would rather use their native tongue?

Claudio: You could try to find people that don’t speak English, like the very old or the very young … or you could keep studying hoping to be fluent one day but I chose to talk to other students learning the language. Then we decided to record a video while I was practicing Lithuanian with another foreign student. Even better, we recorded a video while talking in Lithuanian in which we complained about the fact that natives won’t talk to us in Lithuanian. 😀

Vilnius Lithuania

Vilnius, capital of Lithuania where Claudio moved to from Finland

Why would you do that? Just for catharsis? 🙂

Claudio: 12 hours later, our video was shared on Facebook by all our friends and all of their friends. Suddenly, the major news portals in Lithuania started reposting it, making sure the video would be seen by more than 100.000 people!!! Two journalists then contacted us for an interview … in Lithuanian!!

Lithuanian TV

Claudio on Lithuanian primetime TV

Wow! Really? How ironic! So you were interviewed by some Lithuanian journalists in Lithuanian … how did that go?

Claudio: A TV show invited us on to talk about language learning in Lithuanian. Next the biggest web TV channel followed us around for a day with a cameraman to see how we were dealing with learning their language.

Here’s the original video we posted that got us all the attention [unfortunately the video on my channel shows only 10% of the total views because Lietuvos Rytas and Delfi reposted the video on their website and they got the majority of them]:

Amazing turn of events for you! So has your life changed since your video went viral?

Claudio: After living in Lithuania for 3 years, my life completely changed by posting this very short video online. Now natives know that I really want to learn their language and that I really need them to reply to me in Lithuanian in order to make this happen.

For more videos about Claudio’s language learning website called ‘Bliu Bliu’, just click the icon below:

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