Learning a new language can evoke a wide range of feelings, from excitement to nervousness, to (more than likely) both. The connectivity of the internet has made the world smaller, making it easier for people from all over the world who speak different languages to communicate. So, it’s no wonder that interest and options for learning new languages have increased in frequency in recent years. Books, computer programs, audio resources, and apps for language learning are rampant, but what is the most effective and easiest way to learn a new language? Easy German are answering that question.
The duo behind Easy German, Janusz and Cari, started out as video producers working on student exchanges. While teaching their students how to produce video clips, they created their first video language learning content. The group conducted interviews with people in the streets and subtitled them in German and English. Together with their students, they developed a short video format that provided not only language practice but cultural information in a concise and engaging format. Then YouTube arrived, making it easier to publish and share their videos and attract a solid audience. Now, with the help of Patreon and their patrons, they’re sharing their easy language learning concept with Easy Language programs in eight languages and counting.
“The internet makes it easier to be seen. We wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for YouTube and we wouldn’t earn money with what we do if it wasn’t for Patreon.” Cari says.
“There are platforms and opportunities now that just haven’t existed ten or twenty years ago.”
Cari says their ultimate goal isn’t just to teach the language; it’s to be a cultural guide and encourager. That goal, combined with mediums they use to reach their audience, has made it possible to take what was once something only for their students, and share it with students all over the world.
“It’s an overwhelming task sometimes [to learn a new language],” Cari shared when we asked her about the mission behind Easy German. “We are here to guide these people and to help these people feel more welcome in Germany. To have it a little bit easier and hopefully more entertaining to learn the German language. That’s such a thankful job.”
Although Janusz refers to the content they create as “edutainment” because of how entertaining and engaging it is, they both understand that to continue to be successful they have run their creative career like any other growing business.
“As a creator you have to be some kind of business person too or you have to have some entrepreneurial spirit,” Cari says.
“In order to survive in order to do this as a living, you have to at some point feel like, ok, this is my business. It’s not just my art, it's also my business. If you understand this side of your work then this really helps you to approach things from a different angle or from a different perspective.”
Easy German also understands the importance of growing an audience that not only wants to “buy” their services, but genuinely wants to support their project. It’s a new way of thinking that Janusz believes will continue to catch on. “Times are changing,” Janusz says, “The understanding of buying something vs supporting something changes. I was kind of like wow, that’s a nice idea and it will probably grow and our consciousness will change with the times.”
In fact, their audience is so supportive that as Easy German continued to grow their reach something surprising happened. Their fans decided to not only watch but participate in the project. “The nicest thing about our project is that we didn’t only meet our patrons and our audience but we also started to collaborate with them a while ago. Now we actually have production teams in Russia, in Poland, in Greece, in France, in Korea, and in Mexico amongst others” Cari says. Easy Turkish and Easy Italian have also spun out of the original series. “Many of these people who started this were our fans at first,” Cari shares, “They were our patrons at first and their interest in this project grew beyond just passively participating. They wanted to actively be part of this network.”
It’s no surprise that their patrons wanted in on the fun. “The main secret to becoming a good creator, when you’re trying to teach someone something? Do it quick, don’t waste my time, and make me laugh. I want to have a good time!” Janusz shared, revealing what he believes is the reason their audience is attracted to their specific format. Another thing Janusz believes has helped them build such a strong community is the type of audience they attract. With the knowledge that their community is built of students of one sort or another, the standards are high for community behavior.
“It’s a big advantage to work with people who want to learn something.
This will automatically reduce the number of idiots on the internet!” Janusz jokingly (but accurately) points out.
Their Patreon page also builds camaraderie. Easy German has hosted meetups for their patrons across many countries, spending time face to face with their audience and facilitating opportunities for users to meet and engage with each other. Cari describes the meetups as, “One of the most impactful things we could have done. Meeting people taught us so much about our work.”
Whether online or in-person, for Easy German, it all boils down to one thing: connection. Because, as Janusz shares,
“We are most happy because we enable people to communicate with each other.”
Cari shares a similar sentiment, saying, “That’s something that makes us the most happy about what we do. We like to use it for culture exchange. We want to show the real-life of another country. It helps you to see something beyond daily news or politics. Hopefully, that makes the world a little better.”