Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How to Speak English like a Native Speaker with Polyglot Lukas Van Vyve

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G'day, guys!

How's it going?

Welcome to this episode of Aussie English.

Today is an interview episode with Lucas Van Vyve.

Lucas is a linguist, author, speaker and the conceiver of 'Conversation Based Chunking'

for language learning.

He received his bachelor's degree from university at Antwerp in political science and government,

as well as another bachelor's degree in Applied Linguistics and a master's degree of Arts

in interpreting from K.U Leuven.

He speaks six languages fluently, including Spanish, French, German, Italian English and

Dutch and is the author of 'Effortless Conversation' So, I recently picked this book up, I read

it probably in about two sittings, I sat down and read it, it's not very long but it was

incredibly dense and full of great information regarding how to learn chunks.

So, 'Conversation Based Chunking' in order to really speak a language like a native speaker.

So, today's episode is great.

There's a lot of information in there, guys, that I think you'll be able to apply to your

English learning and you'll be able to rapidly level up your English skills.

Anyway, let's get into the interview guys.

I give you Lucas Van Vyve, who is from Belgium, not Holland, Pete.

Not Holland, dammit!

G'day, guys!

Welcome to this episode of Aussie English.

Today I have a special guest Lucas Van Vyven, from Holland, right?

Belgium, Belgium.


I thought you were Dutch.

Oh, you speak Flemish Dutch, is it?

Flemish Dutch, exactly.


That's why, we'll get into it, but I read in the book as soon as it said you're a Dutch

native I was just like oh shit ok, Holland.

Wow, awesome.

Yeah exactly, that's what most people think.

Exactly, far out!

Alright, dude, so anyway, I stumbled upon your book 'Effortless Conversations' literally

last week and smashed it out in a day.

It was really, really good and obviously contacted you and wanted to get you on the podcast ASAP

to talk about it.

Can you just start, I guess, by telling us a bit about you and your journey through like

language learning?

Because I know you've had a fascinating one.

Of course.

Thanks and for inviting me, of course.

Always happy to connect with language learners from all over the world, right?

Away in Australia you are.

So, yeah, yeah, I grew up in Belgium like we establish right now, right?

Which is of course, I mean, in Belgium we have three official languages French, German

and Dutch.

We don't...

It's very separate.

So, it's like in the southern part of Belgium we speak French, in the northern part Flemish

Dutch and then like Germany it's like a tiny part, so you don't really need these languages

for like in our daily lives.

It's not like everyone speaks all these languages, but of course you learn them at school, right?

So, that is basically how I got started, like with French from the age of 10.

Is that mandatory?

You have to learn.

Yeah, yeah.

So it's mandatory, so from the age of 10 for us, like the Flemish natives we need to start

learning French at school, so that was kind of, you know, like my first start with learning

languages, although my parents always took me to France as well, you know, as a kid,

so when I was there I already liked languages, actually.

I always wanted to order like the bread, you know, like if we were to go into a bakery

or like ask for the bill and stuff like that.

So, yeah that's basically how I got started that even back then already when I was ten

or eleven years old, I already told people like yeah, I want to be an interpreter when

I grow up, sort of like a firefighter or whatever.

I don't know why, it was just like a thing that my mom once told me like 'yeah, you could

be an interpreter' was like 'yeah, hell yeah!

I can do that'.

So, that's how I got started just like languages, but obviously I didn't do that much outside

of school because we already have, you know, English, German, French at school.

So, I just learned languages there and, I mean, I was pretty good at them, but you know,

it was still difficult, of course, speaking because you learn them at school just like

everyone in the whole world, you learn at school ,you learn the words, you learn the

grammar rules and then you speak maybe once a week or you speak like one minute once a

week or something like that and then go through the exam.

Even though you're in a country where all four, well, three of those languages and I

assume English is pretty popular too, even though you're in a country where that happens

or where that's the case you still don't necessarily have an opportunity to use all of them on

a daily basis?

Oh, no, no, absolutely not.

It's very, very...

You know, maybe even segregated, actually.

Like in Brussels, in that city you can speak all the languages, or like French and English

and Dutch on a daily basis if you want to.

In Antwerp, where I'm from, which is one of the biggest cities in the north, nobody speaks

French and you can't even go like to the town hall or city hall or whatever and get helped

in French, it's completely separated.

So, yeah people always think like 'you can speak all these languages!', we don't do it,

like I never spoke French growing up unless I went to France or I would go maybe to the

South of Belgium or maybe to Brussels, but then of course like you never practice it,

it is difficult, right?

So, does it feel like going into a foreign country, even though you're still within Belgium,



Oh yeah, I take a train for 40 minutes I go to Brussels and I feel like this is a different...

Because it's a different language as well, it's just different, you know?

That's the thing that always blows my mind because Australia for those, you know, here

who aren't in the know, most of you will be, I can drive for five days in one direction

and it's the accent it's the same.

I mean, you'll have indigenous languages that are completely different, but in terms of,

you know, the British English it's the same.

So, blows my mind that you're within one country that's, you know, how long does it take to

go from top to bottom across Belgium?

That's like three hours by car.

That's crazy!

You can go through three, effectively, three different locations with completely different


Yeah, it's crazy, and even like in the Flemish speaking part of Belgium we may go to the

seaside we have strong dialect, so you go to city which is like half an hour or an hour,

is Dutch, but it's so difficult to understand for me, and if I drive 20 minutes or 30 minutes

I hear a completely different accent already.

Is that the Dutch that's a really, really close to old English?

That's out to the west in in Belgium?

I don't know if it's close to old English, actually.

There's a dialect of Dutch that's apparently really, really close to old English.

It might be Frisian or something like that.

Yeah, I think that's what I'm thinking about.

But that it's in the Netherlands, although I can't understand that either.

But even in Belgium there are some regions where I just don't understand anything, so

it's fascinating, like even in such a small country for some reason everything is just

compressed into the country like a dialect, all the languages and everything.

Well, it really unique too because, I guess, like if we compare that to Britain, where

you would have, you have multiple other languages, foreign languages, but everyone speaks English,

like it's been forced upon everyone, but in Belgium that obviously just never, never happened,


It's much more of a recent country, I take it.

So, do most people end up being able to communicate like yourself now, fluent in all of these

three languages or you actually have to work your ass off to be able to get to that level?

You have to work really hard to get to that level and most people actually don't get there.

I mean, because you don't need it, again, like I could do to live my life here without

speaking a word of French and nobody will care and I won't have any problems finding

a job or doing anything.

English you might need a little bit more, but like, I mean, it's not really a problem

we like a lot of like in the Netherlands, you know, we subtitle everything, so to watch

movies it's all in English, most series on TV television are in English.

I mean, that's not much of a problem for most people.

In the Dutch speaking part, right in the north, in the French speaking parts people have trouble

with French and Dutch and German as well.

Does it go one way?

Do you tend to have people say in the Dutch part who learn French more than the French

and Dutch?

Yeah, absolutely.

So, what was the process like for you, sorry to interrupt you, what was the process like

learning all these languages too?

Did you have a certain hierarchy of importance and ease of learning all these different ones


I think English was definitely the easiest one in high school, just because, you know,

you're actually using and like, I mean, you hear it on television every day or whatever,

you speak it, maybe you don't speak it that much, but still like more than French, which

French is read like it's a subject at school for us, you know?

Because we don't use it in our daily lives, so it's just a subject at school.

English not that much, but French is the most important language because you know it's like

one of the official languages, so we started with French at the age of 10, I think it was,

and then English classes at the age of 14.

And then we had some German classes, not that much, because you don't need that much either.

So, yeah there was more or less a hierarchy in high school.

At the end of high school I already decided like ok, I'm going going to try to become

an interpreter, so I actually stuck to my childhoo dreams, you know.

Did you say that to your mum?

Were you like 'hey mum, look!'

Yeah, she was like 'you already said when you were 10 years old', but you know it was...

I'm not even an interpreter right now, but back then I was like yeah actually that sounds

good that I can work for the European Union and then you make good money and it's fun,

you work with languages.

Yeah, and then I did English and German because I really wanted to get my English to high

level and then also German just because it's in high demand, you know, if you're in the

European Union you get a job or whatever translation or interpretation, Germany is an important


So that's why I decided to go for these two.

You must've been set if you had a French, German and English all in your pocket and

there, you know, and Dutch is your native language.

Yeah it's... go ahead.

Well, what was the process like?

Did you learn these languages to a higher level through school and through university

or did you do it in spite of going to school and those classes and going to uni?

Well, what I know now, I think more maybe like in spite, at least like in the beginning,

you know, like I said French at school, we learned like, again, we actually did a lot

of French a couple of hours a week, but we couldn't speak it at all, and that, I mean,

kept happening until the end even of university, actually.

You learn so much about the language, words, grammar rules and especially actually like

at university we still have that, we had like books like 400 pages of German vocabulary,

just words that we had to just cram, you know like, learn by heart.

I think you were saying in the book you had to learn 5000 words by heart for a test.

It was just a test like the exam was just 'oh learn this 200 pages of vocabulary, I'll

ask a hundred words and you need to get like 80 out of 100 (?)' or something like that,

otherwise you fail.

Not even a 50% pass.

It's like an 80% pass or something like that, it was, it really worked, like we learn all

these these words, it's not that, I mean, if you put your mind to it, of course you

can like memorize all these words, right?

It's sort of wasted, right?

Because... so aside from passing the test then on actually.. into real life.

Yeah, exactly, and it was so frustrating because we did all that and we knew like favourite

5 or 10000 words, but like after a couple of years and we knew all the grammar, we like

crazy grammar classes as well, so we knew all that stuff, but then we were in these

interpretation classes with a teacher and we just like and then you really need to speak

or you need to like translate stuff like directly, you know, someone speaks in Dutch or in English

and you just translate into German and the other way around.


It was impossible.

There's no time to analyze it, right?

No, there's no time to analyze it, you speak and you like every single sentence you utter

is like ',oh is this correct?

Did I use the right case system here?

Is the grammar correct?'.

So, you're always like guessing and always wondering like is this correct?

Because you're always translating because your point of reference is still your mother

tongue, right?

You're always just thinking of like 'how would I say it is in Dutch?', and then you try to

say the same thing in German, you try to translate, of course you translate in your head all the

time, because you try not to use words and grammar rules, you know what the language

looks like, even after all these years.

And of course we did some, you know, like we had to speak during university as well,

of course, and we had to listen to a lot of German but it was still not the same thing

was still super difficult, like I said in the book, you probably read that.

Yeah, exactly, but so, I think in the book from memory you were saying once you started

your masters in interpretation or to be an interpreter that was when you got some serious

training from lecturers who really let the penny drop and they were like 'yeah, nah,

you've been learning languages wrong your entire life'.

So, what exactly was the advice they gave you and how did you change the way in which

you learnt languages for it to be much more effective?

So, indeed like it happening in my, like, interpretation classes, you know, like in

the beginning of that year like it was just like I just explained it was just super difficult

to speak and we were clumsy and like we're guessing and there was this one professor

that was an interpreter and he was always like, he was really no getting angry but you

could see like the desperation like 'oh my God, they've been doing this for so long,

they can't even like say a normal sentence in German'.

And then what he said to me and to other people as well in these classes is always like 'ok

Lucas what you just said like Germans would understand you, but is that really how they

would it say themselves, right?'


And most of the time of course it wasn't and I was like 'yeah, I know', but I'm just like

trying to make myself understood, you know?

So, that was frustrating, but then he said something like just listen to more German.

So, he was always like 'just listen to native speakers conversations or listen to this speech

or listen to what they said here or what they wrote here and just look at what they said

there', because you don't have to invent like the German language, right?

You don't have to reinvent the wheel, right?

No, it's not like I'm the first person ever to say stuff in German.

Like people are using it every day and everything I ever want to see probably, I mean, unless

like you become like a novelist or whatever, but most of the time everything I want to

say is already being said in German, there are people saying it every day, right?

So, it just makes much more sense to just start with that and start with looking at

what people say and how they say that, which words they use and everything and observe

these people, instead of starting with words and grammar rules just start with observing

real language use and then take everything that you see there and all these word combinations

and everything there and start using the same things because then you know it's correct,

you know it's what a native speaker says, you know it's natural and it just so much

easier, you're not like translating in your head anymore.

So, that was more or less what he said.

He didn't say it in these words, but that was like the thing, like, more like, like

I say in the book that I had back then that makes so much more sense, because it takes

away all the guesswork and all the uncertainty of what you actually want to say, right?

And, so did he have a certain method that he wanted you to go out there and use or that

was literally where the buck stopped?

He was just like 'guys, you know, listen more native speakers and say what they would say'

and then you developed a method to actually do that, right?

That's exactly what happened, so he said that it was like for me it became like a realisation

of that I actually like listening or learning more in full sentences is like, you know,

a better way of doing it, but I did it, but it was not like he didn't give us methods,

not like I described in the book.

And then it even took like a year because afterwards I went to study International Relations,

because I wanted to work for the European Union, again, so I did like a year where I

use my language, but it wasn't really like learning any.

But then I moved to Italy and then I was in Italy and I thought ok, I don't know any Italian,

I'm going to learn Italian from scratch, and I also started back then like blogging a bit

about languages and was like ok, I'm going to try to like turn all this into like a methodology

and see it it works for me.

So, then I started from scratch with Italian and I just started with, like I said, just

with like dialogues, back then I used a similar book, you know, Assimil, it's not very...

I have it too, I've got the French one, in English, and then I have Portuguese in French,

it's great.

Portuguese in French, I love the Assimil books back then when I had them, for it's Italian

it was a really good one.

I just... because it's all dialogues, you know?

So, it just started with that.


I guess, quickly, before we can skip over that, if anyone doesn't know what Assimil

is, they're kind of like language learning books that have just dialogues that you study,

so they specifically teach you grammar through lessons, they kind of comment on it after

each dialogue lesson, right?

Yeah, exactly.

It just gives you a dialogue and then it's like some footnotes, it'd say like, oh yeah,

you saw this tense or whatever.

So, I just started with that and, of course, I was living in Italy back then so I had a

lot of like I heard a lot of Italian as well.

So, you could go outside every day and be like bam!

And then use it.

Yeah and I have friends there and then like they were like 'oh you're learning Italian?

Cool, so we don't have to speak English to you', so from the beginning they were always

speaking Italian to me, even if I couldn't say anything, but it was good like, you know,

for practice, but just by doing that and going through the book and even from the very beginning

I was really looking for, I was not looking for the words anymore, I was really looking

for like this word combinations and then I really felt like every time I had like done

such lesson I was like so excited because I was like 'oh my God!

There are so many things I can start using conversations now'.

Because what happened then I'll just explain as quickly now, is when I would see a sentence

I would always think like 'oh ok, so that's what an Italian native speaker would say',

because I would read a sentence something like, ok an easy one 'mi chiamo Lukas', 'My

name is Lukas', something like that, so that's what they would say, so I don't have to like

translate 'my name is' literally, I can just say 'mi chiamo', which is just like a verb

a stuff like that.

Then I would do it all the time, I could see all these sentences and I would always think

like I never knew how to say that, like I understood it more or less, but I could never

see myself that way just because, you know, I was always thinking about words and grammar

rules, but now I've seen how to say something and then I can just start using that, right?

So did you have those moments?

Did you go out and you started using these things from the beginning and people were

just like wow!?

Oh yeah, absolutely.

And this actually happens in our courses as well for German, for example, they started

using like these really natural expressions, just like things they saw in the dialogues

we give them and they started using that or we would use like these small interjections

you have in like many languages, like all the... especially for you because you teach

Aussie English.


So, this is exactly what people do...

One of the biggest things that used to drive me nuts was when I was working in a Spanish

restaurant there are a lot of Spanish and Colombians there, working with me, and they

would have really good English, but all the time they would go like today I wanted to

do this e...

Today I'm going to do this e...

And I'll be like, guys, like it's a small thing, but you need to change your sort of

neutral 'umm' sound to sound like ours, because it rivets me, it kind of shocks me out of

the conversation every time you use this weird noise.

And as soon as they did that I was like, shit!

You know, like it's funny because you make a big change and no longer you get noticed,


Yeah it's all these small things that you just need to fit in and you use it and from

the beginning sometimes they were like 'hey, how did you know that?

No language leaner says these things', because normally if you just learn all th grammar

stuff like you don't know how to say these things.

How do you do?

I'm well, thank you.

How are you?

It's like no one says that, please, don't!

It's just 'G'day'!.


It's like 'how do you do?'.

So, how did you implement it when you were learning these chunks, right?

What do you call it again linguistically?

They're lexical chunks?

Yeah lexical chunks or just word chunks, basically these are just like all word combinations

and, I mean, it can be like an adjective and a noun or just an adverb and an adjective

or a verb and a preposition or preposition and a noun, it does really matter what it


It's collocations usually, right?

Commonly said.

It's collocations, commonly said, but so this is like the official term, but if you're actually

doing it for me doesn't really matter that much what it is, for me it's really more about

that feeling like ok, this is something I want to be able to say myself.

And it can be like two words, three words, can be like even a short sentence sometimes

and it's often like reacting to each other, like if you'd say something like 'oh that's

cool' or whatever you say there 'that's rads' or...

I'd say like 'you beaut!' you know?


So, stuff like that, If you're reacting to each other, all that stuff I would learn because

I was always thinking back about it like having conversations, right?

I always thought that like, will I use this in a conversation or can I see myself use

that like with my friends or whatever?

And all these small things.

So, what I did was I took these sentences that I was learning from Assimil and I had

been using flash cards in the bus already, you know, like Anki, I don't know Anki or

some of the other platform apps.

I use it, yeah.

So, I was always using flashcards, but before I was putting single words or flashcards like

most people do or like you get like in Duolingo or Bubbler or whatever like Memorize like

these apps or full sentences, because I thought like after my interpretation you're like oh

yeah, I need to learn in full sentences, but putting full sentences on flashcards is super


Because you always get one word wrong, right?

It's not...

And it's extra long and it's like it's frustrating.

So, I started doing that and creating cloze cards.

So, I would add a full sentence, where I found my sentence on, the chunk in, sorry, I would

add a full sentence, copy it on a flash card and I'm blank out of the chunk.

So, the three words or whatever that I wanted to learn.

The stuff you want to remember that you're going to tast yourself on with these cards

in the future, right?

Yeah, if it will be in English something like 'call an election', this is something I said

in the book, right?

I would add to the sentence 'last week Theresa May called the election' or something like

that and then I would put the full centres on there and I'm blank out 'call the election'

and then later at the translation in, like, so in my mother tongue, so I just know what

to fill in, right?

I just learned these words.

And, so that I would have the full sentence in my target language, so I mean if you're

learning English then it'll be English and then chunk blank card and then like only the

chunk, the translation of the chunk, so the word combinations in another language, my

mother tongue or any other language that you're learning whatever, and by doing that you always

have a lot of context.

You always remember like ok, I found out chunk in that sentence, and you're only memorizing

the chunk in some way, but you always see the sentence again, so you get that extra


That's mnemonic too, right?

So, you have like pictures and you'll have context, context I think is key, there's no

point in really kind of like just learning one verb without the surrounding words, because

you're never going to really hear those things by themselves, right?

You'll always hear that in context and have hints, so it's not really a fair test.

So, once you started doing that process, how quickly did you notice a change in the languages

that you were applying that process to started rapidly improving?

For Italian it just incredible.

Of course, I knew some French and some Spanish already.

So, it was like the grammar wasn't super difficult for me in Italian, but still after a couple

of months like, I mean, I couldn't really speak and all the conversation and it was

even easy for me like maybe, I think, after five or six months I was completely comfortable

speaking with everyone about all topics.

And I knew I was speaking correctly and I was using like the same expressions and even

like my friends, you always have like in a big city like whatever, like this small dialect

or slang that people are using.

I could start using that because I was really focussing on that and trying to listen to

them all the time.

So, with Italian it was amazing how fast it went.

What I then started doing as I was started applying it to other languages as well that

I learned in the past because, obviously, when I learned German and French and all these

other languages I didn't learn them that way, right?

I didn't learn and by looking for a chunks, but when you do that, like if you do that

with a language you know already, I mean, it's so easy to learn these chunks, because

you will still see them.

It will be like 'oh I never said that', like of course like I heard that so many times

before, but now you're actually paying attention to it and you're noticing it and you can just

start using it yourself.

You don't even have to memorize it that much anymore, because you know all these words

already, you know like on some level like the grammar already.

So, it's just like going through a lot of inputs, listening a lot, looking at conversations

and trying to find all these word combinations.

You want to start using yourself as well.

And for this language it went super fast and made a big difference as well just like getting

yourself to the next level and ready to speak naturally.

We can do it from the very beginning, like in Italian I did it from the beginning, but

for other languages I just refined them this way and now I haven't stopped ever since.

So, in the book that you talk about sort of not focussing as much on grammar.

How do you suggest trying to get grammar down?

Do you suggest much more of a passive approach, where it just happens as you learn these chunks?

Or do you need to sort of get the base, you know, the foundation sorted out first and

then later on just be like ok, the rest or come as it comes?

I think, I mean, it's not... if you've studied already like a lot of grammar, it's ok, it's

not bad, but for me it's always like grammar makes you understand the language, it gives

you like a framework, but it will never make you speak because like if you need to think

about the grammar rules, you will always be too slow.

Just like if you translate in your head, if you need to think them when you're speaking,

I mean, you're lost, like, it just won't work that well.

I quite often think too that if you get things wrong, people are going to correct you if

it's wrong enough they don't understand, right?

If it's close enough that you they understand you, that's you know you have a problem, but

it's not a big problem, but if they don't understand they're going to be like 'what

the hell did you just mean?', like 'what did you say?' and they should correct you, right?

And you'll be ok, mental note: go home, practice the subjunctive in French.

Yeah, I see exactly what it is, but what... so I see it as like also you don't have that

in you, you don't have like grammar rules in your brain when speaking like in your mother

tongue or whatever.

It's all patterns, it's just chunks, it's just like you hear stuff a lot and you need

to get a lot of inputs, and after a while your brain knows ok, these words go together

because they've heard them or you've used them lots often together and that's how it

is for everything.

And then of course like grammar is in there somewhere, but it's more like an automatic

process in your brain, I think, that happens.

Through learning another language, I always suggest that you just start with like getting

all that input and then you see all these constructions sort of grammar in use and then

you get an explanation and or and you've already like studied it, because you know these chunks

already, you memorized them already.

You then see the explanation and then you're like 'oh yeah, that makes sense because I've

already seeing this in this chunk', whatever.

So, that's how we do it in the courses we're on as well, we always give people conversations,

and then in this conversation would indicate certain grammar patterns or whatever.

And then at the end we'll give a short explanation of that., but it's not like something that

will make you study all the time.

It's more about learn to chunks and then if you read the grammar rule, you will understand

it intuitively because you're already doing it correctly.

And you already have examples, right?

The grammar is this because I've seen that already, ok I understand it.

So, use grammar as a reference, don't use it as the main thing that you're studying,


Yeah, exactly.

Especially also in a language like English, it's just so confusing.

You know, like the grammar and spelling and all that stuff.

So, I mean, it makes sense to learn that stuff and tenses, but do it correctly without knowing

it's so much easier.

What was it like for learning English on a side sort of note?

Because obviously, as a native language speaker of English, I know what it was like to learn

the language natively, but as someone who went to sort of do it through another language,

what was the most difficult part?

Obviously spelling is really hard to get the pronunciation, right?

Pronunciation and spelling, but mainly pronunciation.

Sorry (?). What did you say?

Sorry, pronunciation was more difficult than spelling for me, at least and I think for

most people.

For several reasons, first of all you have the pressure of, if you're in a classroom

full of non-native speakers, if you speak with a good accent in English people look

at you, I mean, at least in Belgium was like that and I know it is for many people, you

want to keep like you a little bit like your Belgian personality for me or whatever and

then if people around hear that you speak like a perfect accent in English, they will

look at you like 'overachiever, what are you doing?', so, it is difficult to do that in

all it's for everyone., Plus it just feels weird.

It feels like it's not you.

If you speak another language always, right?

But definitely English just pronunciation is so difficult because it's so different

from what it's written.

Like, how you need to say things.

So that's super difficult.

I remember with Portuguese, when I was learning Portuguese, I was learning it's all effectively

phonetic, so you can pretty much read everything and you know what the pronunciation is.

There was one word that is 'muito', which means 'many' or 'a lot', right?

And there's like this sound of an N in there, but it's not spelt with an N in there.

So, I remember being like 'what the fuck?', like how is the spelling not right?

I don't get it.

It's not fair.

And then my wife is from Brazil was just like "English".

I was like touché, alright, you got me.

One word in Portuguese and every second word in English is pretty much like that.

Yeah, I think like the only advantage you have, because I actually think English is

a really difficult language, but the advantage we have of course is that we hear a lot of

English all the time on television, so you get like, I mean, and I listen...

I mean, I always have exposure to English.

The hardest that was me, as a language learner, is going I feel like I'm going from a massive

amount of resources to a smaller amount, no matter what language I pick.

And you guys it's like you're coming out into, you know, a massive amount of everything,


All the music and you already know it.

My wife knows all these music, all this music from the 90s before she even spoke English

and I'm just like....So, what was it?

So, that's the easy part, but the hard part is the pronunciation and everything, right?

And also, you know, speaking English on a basic level is not, I mean, I think most people

can do that, at least you can get to that point where you can see some stuff like everyone

does it, and even if it's bad, like people still know enough English to understand you,

but then when I studied at university it was, I mean, it was really hard and I remember

when I could do like in my third year university, I did an exchange semester, I could go either

to Germany or to the U.K.

And I decided to go to the U.K, just because I thought well, German I can manage.

I mean, it's difficult, but it's ok, but like English I find so much more difficult.

Also writing papers in English, but even speaking it actually on the high level is super difficult.

Then I went to Edinburgh, which is not the... not the capital of Scotland of course.

I don't mean you can't hear any Scottish accent.

To just to really put things on hard mode, right.

That's in Scotland.

Yeah exactly.

It was fun though and I learned a lot there just because we had to write so much and like

in English as well.

But I find it pretty hard.

Also grammar, I mean, all the grammar classes like for English were so difficult that we

had like, they were super abstract.

Yeah, but I always think like English is actually a really difficult language to learn to a

high level because it's not really logical, like most, I think also because there's so

many people speak it, so it's it's not super logical anymore, right?

Because it's so flexible, you know?

Like everyone speaks different accents and uses them in different ways.

I feel like my accent, obviously I don't feel like I have an accent, I feel like it's pretty

easy to understand me, but Australians were quite often made Americans that will have

no idea what you're saying because they're just so not used to your accent and it's because

we get exposed to so much of their TV, their movies, their music and it's like ok, we understand.

I understand their slang I understand, you know, their expressions, I understand their

politics better than Australian politics, because it's what is on the news, but you

go there and they're like 'oh no we haven't been looking out ,we've just been looking


So, yeah it is it's a weird world, right?

So, what what advice would you have for English learners who may have learned English the

old school way through classes and, you know, rote learning things, learning just the grammar,

but not actually applying it, if you were to give someone advice today how they can

change what they're doing to get big results what would that be?

It would definitely be worry less about speaking in the beginning and worry much more about

listening, listening to conversations and then, especially because in English it's easy

because everyone watches these movies anyway or even like music, really try to find these

chunks in there, so the method that we use and that create like a four-step methods,


In the book it's called Effortless Conversations Method called Conversation Based Chunking.

Step one get like as much input as possible for everything, because it will help you so

much with your listening comprehension, right?

Just listening a lot.

And which kind of input?

Because I know you mentioned that there are certain kinds that are very important.

Conversation, dialogues, yeah.

Always listen to dialogues like you can read a book in English, but it's not going to teach

you how... like, you speak, for example.

So, something like Harry Potter is going to be much better than a non-fiction book about


Yeah, exactly.

And even Harry Potter I wouldn't like recommend exactly because it's still too much like written


There's a lot of dialogue, but there is this conversation and if it's narration It's not

as good if it's actual conversation.

So, series are really good, even like movie scripts.

Acutally, like movie scripts are really good because it's always dialogue conversation.


Like look for that and then definitely start looking for these chunks.

So, start because if you've been learning for a while already and you know a lot of

English already.

You just need to put it together in these natural patterns, in natural work combinations,


It's not difficult, you just go out there, you listen to the dialogue and you just whenever

you see something where you think 'I want to be able to say that' or 'ok, this is how

a native speaker says that', just started using it yourself and a news flash cards or


But the main thing is focus on listening to dialogues and then try to notice these chunks.

If you do that, even if you don't memorize them with flashcards, it will make a big difference

because you will start like developing an ear for the language and more for like natural

language and not just for, I mean, you'll get out of your head, your point of reference

will change.

Like for what language should sound like to actual English and not like your mother tongue


So, that's the biggest thing and we make a big difference if you just start doing that


And what would you do in terms of say learning a dialect?

So, I imagine that you tomorrow are coming to Australia and it's not necessarily just

a matter of improving your English, but now all of a sudden you need to learn slang and

expressions and pronunciation.

What methods would you apply in order to do that?

So, first I would look for if I can find any like you have probably like dialogues here

of course, right?

So, I would definitely do something like that.

Is the easiest way.

Like the only thing you need is ok, I need to find inputs or conversations with people

speak with this Aussie, like Australia dialects.

To one another, right?

Usually one on one conversations.

To one another, yeah.

You're not participating by the way if you're listening to conversations.

You're listening because you want to hear how they react to each other, what they say.

Because if people speak to you as a language learner, they will always change it a little

bit or they won't speak exactly the way they...

Unless they hear you using the stuff you've learned.

Yeah, exactly.

'Oh, shit!

This guy speaks like me, alright'.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

It is really like that, and it's actually a good feeling, you know, when it happens,

but yeah definitely look for either conversations or dialogues if you have them in your course,

Peter, then that's perfect.

Or, you know, like listen to TV series or TV shows or whatever.

Like usually Talk Shows are actually pretty good if they have subtitles, without it's

a little bit more difficult, if they have to have subtitles, that's good.

There are some really good TV shows that I like, there's one here in Australia called

Insight, on SB, a TV channel called SB and it's the kind of TV show where they have 50

people in the audience, but the woman who is the interviewer will sort of ask people

different questions and, so you get to hear lots of accents, lots of different short answers.

Those TV shows tend to be gold.

If you have that, that's perfect, because you just need to see that conversation happening,

interaction happening.

I usually always recommend people have like used transcripts or subtitles or whatever

in English, right?

Subtitles or captions.

If don't have that, you can usually find people even like on Fiver or something like that,

these like websites online language where you can ask people like ok, like make a transcript

for this 10 minutes TV show and it'll cost you maybe 10 bucks or something like that,

five bucks, if you have resources to do that, that's person, because if you have everything

written down, which is easier than having to listen.

Guys, get my transcripts for every podcast episode, come on!

Yeah exactly.

I mean, it's still pretty useful all these transcripts.

Transcripts are the best like, I love transcripts, they make everything so much easier.

So, I recommend doing that definitely because, I mean, and just tried to listen, like go

out there and listen to people and just go sit even in the coffee shop or whatever or

whatever you wanted to do and just listen to Australians talk to each other.

I think you ask questions, right?

If You can meet people, if you know people who are Australians, ask the 'how can I better

say this?', 'I want to say this, but what's the most natural way of doing that?', like

'how do I greet someone,?', 'how do I say goodbye to someone?', 'do you have slang for

this?', you need to just keep and you have to use your English to actually do that, right?

Yeah, exactly.

So, that's like I always like, because I don't like speaking in the beginning that much when

I learn a language.

I don't start with speaking right away just because I think ok I don't have the input

yet, so I can say stuff, but it will be translated in my head, it will be clumsy and it won't

teach me that much.

I'll trip my feet later which is less often yeah because I just don't know what to say


So, I will ok, it's good to get over your fear of speaking, but you won't get better

at actually speaking naturally because you don't know these chunks yet, you don't know

how to say stuff, right?, But yeah definitely what you said, like once you get to that point

ok, I can have a conversation, ask, and then and then just see what the people say.

I like hearing people subconsciously like using chunks, you know, with each other.

Because, again, like if you talk to someone and you ask 'what is the best way of saying


People often won't know, or they'll be like like 'yeah...


I don't know what we say, actually.

Like I always have that, you know, it's like little be difficult, but definitely like you

if you're in a conversation just ask people were like or if they say something you can...

and you can be like, 'oh, is that how you say it?', and I would keep a conversation

for like 10 or 20 seconds on that one chunk that I just heard and I would repeated it


Scrutinize it, yeah, say it again and again.

It's like, oh that's funny, you would say it that way?

Oh and then I would say myself and then like...

The most annoying thing with me, I don't know if you're in a relationship with someone who

speaks a different language, but with my wife she'll always, she doesn't correct me and,

so I always speak and she'll be like 'I know what you mean' and I'll be like that's not

the point, dammit!

I want to say it like you would say it.

So, if I say it incorrectly, you need to pull me up on it and say 'no, no, dumb ass', like

it's this.

So, do you find though that applying that approach helps you build a lot of confidence

in speaking English or any other language as well?

Like what advice would you give to people who say 'oh I'm really nervous when speaking',

what should they do?

It's made the biggest difference and it is actually the only advice that, I mean, if

you're nervous speaking and you have like a fear of speaking of course and you just

need to speak a lot and get over that, right?

There's two parts to that.

So, for one part it's like gotten confidence like identity a little bit like you don't

feel like you're a fluent English speaker or whatever, so you can't speak, you feel

nervous and it's like and maybe your mouth is not used to making like this weird sounds

or like muscles are different, can you do different muscles.

So, that's one part, but the other part is just learning these chunks.

If you get over that, if you get over the fear of speaking, which you can do with like

talking to yourself even, like just in the mirror in the morning talk for two minutes

to yourself, or describe your day in the evening to yourself or even got your phone and do

that and pretend like having a phone conversation in English, like I used to do stuff like that

once in a while.

It's funny, though, people are always like 'how do you build confidence?' and I think

confidence kind of comes as a secondary to as you get better at something, it's sort

of like oh you need to do the thing to get better at it and then the confidence comes.

That makes a big difference, but the biggest difference still makes learning these chunks,

because it's so much nicer going into a conversation and starting a sentence and you want to express

something and you know how to say it.


Without having to think about rules.


And you just know you have that confidence of what I'm going to say right now is entirely

correct and a native speaker would say the same thing, because I heard native speaker

say it before, right?

Instead of going into a conversation and be like 'oh my God I hope I can still remember

like which tense I need to use here'.

You're not constructing as word by word, right?

You're kind of like linking some islands and then just bam!

It comes out straight away, easy.

Yeah, exactly.

If you need to do that all the time like create all these sentences from scratch with words

and grammar rules it's so difficult.

You can't do it and it just makes you nervous and it makes you feel like you don't speak

the language well.

And just, I mean, you can't completely avoid it because you don't know, you can't know

all the chunks, you can't absorb everything in a language, but in the beginning definitely,

just speak with these things it will make the biggest difference.

And after a while you will started doing it automatically as well.


So, Lucas 'Effortless Conversations', can you tell us about the 12 week program that

you run that is said to give you better results than 12 months?

So, that's exactly the tagline.

You know, like the thing we're using there.

Is actually a funny story why we started calling it that way.

So, we called it 12 in 12 Challenge.

What we do is twelve weeks, a twelve week program and you get twelve conversations in


Not more because you don't overwhelm people, so it's only twelve conversations.

You get a five minute conversation more or less, which is pretty long actually like if

you really want to learn everything there is to learn about that, like usually conversation

in a textbook or in an Assimil book is like maybe like 50 words.

Like 30 seconds to a minute.

Right, yeah, they're pretty small.

We do it five minutes.

We will make people listen to it over and over again every single day.

So, that's good.

So, they're stuck there for a week studying the same material again and again.

Same material, yeah, exactly.

As much as they can.

Yeah, but it's so long and then we indicate indicate chunks in there, I give them flash

cards and everything, but the idea is you get a conversation about a topic and by the

end of that week you can more or less you know how to speak about that topic, because

you've observed that long conversation, almost all chunks that you need to know for that

conversation is in there.

It's not only the words, so it's not like a thematic wordless not like 'oh today we're

going to learn everything about family', but will be a conversation people talking about

like 'hey this is my cousin', 'oh, this on the photo is my uncle and I have a godfather',

so they would have a conversation with that, like you would do when you speak with someone,


But so we do a 12 week program and we call it 'make more progress in 12 weeks' all of

a year, because one student actually, before we started these courses, used this chunking

method, in the beginning I would just teach people how to use chunk and...

Sorry, it broke up there for a sec, what did you say?

Sorry, so I said there was a guy who learned...I'm back, yeah?


Who would learn Spanish and he was like 'I'm going to try to use chunking with my Spanish'

and he just started doing on his own like a 90 day challenge.

So, we're just like 90 days listened to a lot of audio, listened to whatever I think

maybe live in Spain or something like that or South America and learned chunks every


And then by the end of that, he just made like a post in our Facebook group and back

then he was like 'hey you, guys!

Yeah I just did like a 90 day challenge, I learned chunks every day, I learned over a

thousand chunks and yeah, I mean, I don't speak Spanish completely fluently yet, but

I'm so much better than before.

And like honestly it feels like I did like a whole Europe of Spanish studying in three


I know it's possible because I did it myself more or less, you know, if you use this chunk

method you just feel like you make so much more progress because it's actually usable.

So, I thought ok, this is amazing, like this sounds really good.

I'm going to do a three month, I mean, I already like had the idea of three month courses because

I think it's a good time frame for a course, but then was like yeah, I mean, this is actually

what I want for all my students, right?

If they do this, I'm going to like make a course and optimize it and create it in such

a way that they really feel and then notice that after three months they've made so much

progress and more even than then doing all that words and grammar studying that they

did before.

So, that's like the basic idea, we started with that and you know just do it 12 and 12

Challenge, and then I came up with like all the other parts, I learned a lot program design,

I was like ok, I don't want to overwhelm people.

The problem with a lot of courses that I think is that if you get a lesson every single day,

you will never revise your first lessons again, because honestly if you're by week by less

than five you don't want to go back to lesson one because every day something new and you

have not learned everything from lesson one, for sure and not everything in lesson 2, and

lesson 3 and 4, but you're already in lesson 20 and then it's like 'oh I need to revise

20 Lessons', nobody does that, right?

So, that's why we give longer lessons, but you need to revise them every single day,

and also so long that you can learn new things from them every single day for a week or even

longer, right?

So, that's basically why we set it up that way.

And also because it's an easier goal to think about, you know, 12 conversations, I just

need to go through his 12 conversations.


Twelve topics, you continue afterwards, of course, if you want t, but you don't necessarily

have to.

So, that's more or less how we're set up.

Twelve week courses they come with like a community and everything, so we really try

to make it interactive, really to make people like stick to it for three months, you know,

to build good habits, we help them like how this chunking work exactly, how can you do

it for yourself, how can you find these chunks, with life goals, it's like a tutor in the

groups, you can ask questions, to try to make it like an interactive course, but it's mainly

self-service still and we just give you all the tools and all the accountability and and

the learning materials, you know, to learn, you know, like like French or German or Spanish

or Italian we don't have English right now, but these languages, you know?

Are there plans to get English or Portuguese, for example?

We get a lot of questions for English and Portuguese, actually.

And actually I'm kind of looking forward to creating one for Portuguese.

From Brazil, from Brazil.

Yeah from Brazil, that's exactly, that's the goal.

Because I don't know the language myself and I got to look forward to doing, I'm even maybe

thinking of creating some sort of like...

Because we create these courses like on the go and see like what people need to just do

likes and sort of like challenge myself and then document it or invite people to do it

with me, you know?

And then we just do it all together and then I'm hoping...

Keep me posted.

Yeah, exactly.

I'm also doing it from scratch.

I don't know any Portuguese, it would be like, you know...

Man, if you know Spanish, you just have to change your accent that's about it.

Yeah, I mean, it is true because if you hear Portuguese...

Although, I mean, I think it's a difficult accent, like difficult to pronounce as well.

There is more sounds, my God, there is 55 sounds in Portuguese, is more than English

and there is much more than Spanish.

Oh my God.

Anyway, Lukas, thank you so much.

Where can people find out more about you and the 12 and 12 challenge as well as the book

'Effortless Conversations'?.

So, the book is on Amazon, also in Australia, so you can get it there.

The website is, that's our website.

If you go there, you can find out more about the method, I have some free liked longer

explanations of this as well.

There's some video training there as well, blog posts about all that stuff.

And yeah, if you want to join us for one of these 12 and 12 challenges we have one for

Spanish right now that we're running, so that want it's open continually and German, we'll

start again in September, I think, and other languages as well.

Keep an eye out for English, I have to harass you or maybe you will have to develop one

for Aussie English.

I really think about it, a lot of people ask me like for English.

What is funny, actually, is often people learning Spanish or German because they're like a German

boyfriend or girlfriend or a spouse like like you and then they're like 'hey can you do

it for English as well, for my girlfriend or boyfriend?', so it's like a double thing...

Just just never ends, never ends.

Anyway, Lukas thanks so much for coming on.

I really appreciate it.

Thank you for having me.

Hope it was useful.

Alright, massive thank you to Lukas.

Again, I really appreciate him coming on guys.

Make sure that you check out his website and you can also pick up his book online called

'Effortless Conversations' and you'll find it on websites like

I think I picked it up for about ten dollars Australian.

I thoroughly recommend that you get your hands on one, read it, apply his techniques in there

to improve your speaking abilities and you'll be speaking much more like a native in no

time at all.

Anyway, I'm Pete!

This is Aussie English.

Thanks for joining me guys and I'll chat to you soon.


The Description of How to Speak English like a Native Speaker with Polyglot Lukas Van Vyve