In this post, I’m joined by Olly Richards of I Will Teach You a Language.

You might have heard him answering language learners’ questions on his podcast, or seen him on his YouTube channel.  

I invited him on for a chat about his new Conversations project and to hear his thoughts on the role listening plays in learning a language to fluency.

Conversations is a series of dialogues suitable for intermediate language learners who want to understand native speakers when they speak at natural speed.

Watch as the view out of Olly’s window changes from beautiful winter sunset to pitch black midwinter darkness during the course of the interview.  

Understanding Native Speakers: Our Chat


  • Find out which languages Olly speaks. Is it 8 or 10?
  • What is Conversations and why did Olly create it
  • What people really want to be able to understand when they listen
  • Why it’s hard to find suitable listening material when learning a language
  • How Olly got the project together
  • Why Olly switched to focusing on listening when he started learning non-European languages
  • Listening tasks for each stage of language learning
  • The essential role of transcripts for building listening skills
  • Why you can’t learn like a Scandinavian teenager i.e watching 3 hours of TV every night
  • Why you can’t rely on immersion either to boost your listening
  • How to use your interests to guide your language learning

More About Olly 


Olly Richards is a language educator, author and polyglot from the UK, who speaks 8 languages. Through his popular blog and podcast, I Will Teach You A Language, he attracts over 100,000 language learning fans every month. He has published a best-selling series of short story books in six languages, consulted for the Open University, and is a regular speaker at international language events.

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