Q&A with Emil Brunner, CEO of Takeoff1 GmbH

Q&A with Emil Brunner, CEO of Takeoff1 GmbH
Emil Brunner, CEO of Takeoff1 GmbH is an experienced businessman who has worked in many countries. He has dedicated more than 10 years to the intuitive method of language acquisition called the “Birkenbihl Approach” formulated by Vera F. Birkenbihl.  Emil and Vera have worked together on the digitalization of this language acquisition method which has been incorporated into Emil's language-learning platform, Brain-Friendly. 

In this interesting Q&A, Emil takes us through the Birkinbihl approach which is helping users worldwide to learn languages with ease.

MEDIA 7: Could you please tell us about your background?
EMIL BRUNNER:
 I started as a technician; then I changed to sales. In my heart, I’ve always been a salesman. I started my business as the first Xerox Partner in Austria, and then I managed a company selling office machines and equipment. It was my first time going into other countries, like Germany and Switzerland. In that business, I worked with many phone agents, so the company grew to an outbound sales call center. In the USA, I had my first technology experience and built an automated call machine. We then got the franchise partner of RTL Teleshop - it was after QVC the second largest in DACH, for Austria.  I gained knowledge in TV-Power plus Sales power and found it fascinating. The next step was to automate the call center.

In 2004, we ran a call center in a pizza box (computer) for teleshop companies. In the States, we closed orders for up to 60% of callers fully automated, the rest were connected to the classical human call center. It had a great future, but I did it with the wrong people. So the company went bankrupt, and we went back to Austria.
After that experience, back "home" - felt so small, and we went on to start a software development business.
I began working and studying TV & Film making at the same time. My master's degree was a documentary film about "Teleshop and new technologies.”

I met Vera F. Birkenbihl, and she was one of the most successful scientists for learning methods and strategies and held a lot of live seminars - long before TEDx came up. I produced about 10 of those seminars, gaining many skills in the process, and that's when I found out about the language learning method. Me and language? I had trouble all the time while I went to school. I was sure languages were not for me. However, my son was a successful young developer and was interested and started to develop an app for language learning - using the brain-friendly Birkenbihl method. Which means, you never waste time cramming vocabulary and you don't need to learn any grammar rules.

I don't know anyone who’s happy learning vocabulary. About 90+% of all people using a language (mother tongue and foreign language) are not able to describe a grammar rule — only the teachers can do it. So there must be another way without the pain. And here it was!
I tried to learn English. The goal was to speak well without thinking about what to say. I just wanted to talk.

That's it. It took me more than a year, but I had an experience I’ll never forget. I was working on my phone with many customers and collecting orders. After a while, I put the orders from my notes into the computer. Wow! I had made a request for English courses - an order from a bookstore in Birmingham. How did I do it? Yes, I did it in English, and I didn't even realize it. It was automatic. The gap, switching from German to English, was gone - forever.

In the meantime, both my sons, Herwig and Gerwin, were now professionals in software development on the international stage. I had a Swiss partner and last year, I sold my shares to set up a new company with a new app - the Birkenbihl language learning movies. The digitalization of language learning - watch a movie and get the language. Based on subscription models, we sell it now in DACH, US, and European Single markets.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning, that I am the only one, who got the okay from Vera F.Birkenbihl (she died 2011), to follow the method of the new science of language learning and take it to the next level. I got the seal of approval for the "Birkenbihl Approach" to honor products they follow with the principle of "brain-friendly" learning method.

I have put all of this experience into a new book, the follow up of Birkenbihl's bestseller "Einfach Sprachen Lernen". I completed it with Katharina Rucker, she has been on board since 2008 and is still the best blogger for language learning knowledge. The book will be published in English in Q1-2020.

"Using the brain-friendly Birkenbihl method, you never waste time cramming vocabulary and you don't need to learn any grammar rules."



M7: How far is the Birkenbihl method’s idea of ‘learning a language need not be difficult’ serving its purpose of making language acquisition effortless?
EB:
 Let me say 100%. Because the "classical" way to learn a language is totally different from the way our brain works. Our brain is trying to find new things to discover, to get new experiences and so on. What is there to discover when you use a vocabulary list? For example, table - Tisch / table - la mesa, etc. it could also be shown as table - Katze (cat). There is no sense, no meaning, no context.

If you learn it the brain-friendly way as a full sentence, and you "de-code" it, your brain has enough context, and there are new words to learn. 

So it works, and it takes a minimum amount of time because our brain is memorizing everything in connections, like synapses, and that works very well, making it fun and available to use for the rest of your life.
The newest thing we have developed is the Movie(c) courses. Birkenbihl told us all the time, "a movie is the closest experience to real life". Watching a movie is like experiencing an actual event. 

When the "de-code line" is integrated into the movie,  entertainment and learning become cohesive. The "de-code line" in the movie, works as a karaoke player. The spoken word-pair is synchronized and highlighted. So you can close your eyes or your brain will automatically follow the decode line, and you will absorb the language. Repeat it, and you become perfect. It’s the digital way to learn a foreign language.

M7: How do you develop the movies and what is the approach for making users learn new languages easily with these movies?
EB: 
The classical way to learn a language is to cram grammar rules. Understanding and speaking are two processes in our brain that we have to learn separately. The idea developed by Birkenbihl was to find out how to use the mother tongue to understand a foreign language. She had done a lot of research and observed neuroscientists and decided to call the it the decode line which means you have two decoding lines – the upper line is the foreign language that you want to learn, the lower line is the word-by-word translation where you get the information about the meaning of the words.
It’s easy to follow them if you like to follow, but it’s enough if you just watch the movie. Your brain is automatically looking at the decode line and getting the information so if you repeat that you become more familiar with the sentence and you’ll understand it.

M7: How has your working with Vera F. Birkenbihl for more than 10 years helped you to come out with an intuitive method of language acquisition called the “Birkenbihl Approach”? What was the idea behind this?
EB: 
Birkenbihl told me that she’d had an experience with teachers and children. The problem was that the children didn’t enjoy learning vocabulary. It was, and still is, a pain. After a couple of days, all of the learned words go. So she thought, if most people have this problem then the problem couldn't be the people, it must be the method. There must be a better way.

After that, she started researching, and she found old documents, detailing how the aristocrats (the European marriage expansion) learned languages. There were many connections between the European Aristocrats, and this old document described how they learned. There was a transcript, a direct translation underneath and a live speaker. So the learners followed the speaker and read the word pairs.

All of the experiments she did, worked very well. I remember, it was approximately 2008, there was a teacher in Odelzhause who gave the children private English lessons Coached by Birkenbihl, in 3 months, the whole class were able to speak English very well and had no problem with vocabulary tests. That was the point we realized we were onto something. Based on our findings, my son built the first application for Windows. However, if you think that’s it, no. It took a lot of time to optimize it and to do all the beta tests. But after a while, we saw that it worked, and my experience was. WOW! - I got it.


"Watching a movie is like experiencing an actual event.   When the "de-code line" is integrated into the movie,  entertainment and learning become cohesive."


M7: How is the “Birkenbihl Approach” assisting people around the world to learn more languages efficiently?
EB:
Thanks, that’s an excellent question. You can do it, totally without any app, with paper or music. Take the lyrics of the song you love and start to “de-code” (translate it word-by-word). Yes, with the app, it’s much easier, and if you have a device ready, you can fit, learning a language, into every spare moment you have. So you waste no time, get entertained and learn simultaneously. After a while, you begin to speak automatically like a baby, who is listening for a long time.
When it becomes a year old, it starts with some words, after the second year it begins, from one day to the next to speak full sentences, only by listening. So while you improve upon your spelling skills, in your mother tongue or foreign language, always listen (day and night) in the background. Your sub-conscience will do the rest.
It is a kind of democratization of language learning; everybody can do it, independent of age or origin.

M7: You have played a vital role in digitalization of this language acquisition method. What inspired you to take up this challenge and what was your vision behind this?
EB:
Yes, first, it was a curiosity about the possibility and a challenge for myself to learn a language up to a level to be able to sell anything. Remember, I was a weak student.
Additionally, it was the feedback from the first beta tester, later from customers that they had the same experience I had, and they are now happy and successful.  So it was sensible. Yes, a little bit also to make it easier for people. So now, I see that the end of the traditional way to learn a language is coming.

Think about it... you can watch a movie, it doesn't matter which one, and you get automatically delivered the “de-code” line. I think we'll be able to get it in the near future, we are still working on it. So you don't need any teacher, because every child is learning it like their mother tongue, additionally. For example, a Hollywood movie uses about 1000 to 1500 unique words, a daily newspaper uses about 500 to 700 unique words. So let's watch Spanish movies this weekend, and that's it. My idea is that no child should have to suffer the cramming of vocabulary.


"While you grow up your spelling skills, in your mother tongue or foreign language, always listen in the background. Your sub-conscience will do the rest. It is a kind of democratization of language learning."



M7: As a language instructor, how important is resolving the problem of language acquisition as a barrier to businesses and marketing when globalization is the trend?
EB: It is vital. In two cases, one of them is, that companies spend a lot of money, year by year and nothing is changing. The costs go up, and success is equal to or less. Especially the production industries who have many difficulties, i.e. when the company is based in Germany, and the production is in Mexico. In this case, we can help. We can produce a learning movie for the technical process and add the “de-code line”, so the employees get both, the knowledge and the language. I think this is an excellent opportunity for all instructors and trainers of language. They can supply companies to work with the Birkenbihl method, and it gives more success with less time to spend. 

M7: Do you think that the Birkenbihl method will encourage more people around the world to learn languages swiftly?
EB:
Yes, that's what I hope, and it is essential to tell everybody that with this method it is possible, yes it works. Also, my hope is that it could connect people and bring more happiness. It's okay, if you start now and only spend 10 minutes every day. After approximately 6 weeks, you will get about 400 to 600 unique words. However, you can also do it in 2 weeks if you spend 10 minutes, 10 times a day (less than 2 hours). Alternatively, if you spend only 10 minutes every 3rd day, it takes a little longer. Do it when you want with the time that suits you. Overall, you get it.

M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
EB:
Not much, except one thing: Whatever you do, if it doesn't work, find out how it could work, there is surely another way. But, just do it.

ABOUT BRAIN FRIENDLY

The Birkenbihl Approach (BBA) means, learning as the brain loves to learn. Our brain - look to the minds of children - how they like to discover and to understand how things work. It uses neuro mechanisms like abstracting rules (grammar) and background listening (to build synapses for spelling). To know more, visit Brain-Friendly.

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Energy

Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure (GSI)-Led Joint Initiative with Ocean Man First Nation to Build One of the Largest Solar Projects in Canada

PR Newswire | January 25, 2024

Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure LLC (GSI), one of the renewable energy subsidiaries of Libra Group, announced that Iyuhána Solar (Iyuhána), a GSI-led partnership with Saturn Power Inc. and Ocean Man First Nation, has been awarded a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to construct and operate a 100-megawatt (MWac) utility-scale solar facility in Saskatchewan, Canada. Developed in partnership with Ocean Man First Nation, the project will be one of Canada's top 10 solar facilities by size. Under an exclusive PPA, the largest with a utility in Canada since 2015, Iyuhána plans to invest approximately $200 million (CDN) to construct the solar facility, which it will operate, supplying generated power to the principal municipal utility company, SaskPower, for 25 years. Located in the Rural Municipality of Estevan in southeast Saskatchewan, this emissions-free solar facility will produce enough power for the equivalent of approximately 25,000 homes. "We are proud to bring the transformative power of solar energy to Saskatchewan by working with partners such as Ocean Man First Nation," said Mazen Turk, CEO of GSI. "This unique collaboration shows the power of renewable energy to harness resources and empower communities responsibly. This work is core to our ethos as a Libra company, and we look forward to continuing to help support a clean energy future across Canada and beyond." As a founding partner, Ocean Man First Nation will have an ownership stake in Iyuhána Solar. Band members will also receive specialized training to maintain the solar facilities and employment opportunities with the project. Additionally, partnering with two of Saskatchewan's leading post-secondary academic institutions, Iyuhána will provide scholarships, internships, and direct research projects in clean energy to benefit the community. "Our partnership with GSI and SaskPower will bring great opportunities for Ocean Man First Nation, including employment and revenue that will provide stability and sustainability for our Band," said Chief Connie Big Eagle, Ocean Man First Nation. "We are proud that this project, which is able to generate clean power, will be known as Iyuhána Solar, which, in Nakotah translates to 'everyone' or 'all of us.' This is derived from our Nakotah belief that everyone and everything is related and therefore we must care for each other." While investment in renewable energy grows across Canada, Saskatchewan's clean power supply mix has predominantly consisted of hydro and wind. This is the first of many planned solar projects in the province; by 2035, SaskPower plans to support approximately 3000 MW of new renewable energy capacity in the region. "This new solar facility will play an important role in our path to net-zero by 2050 or sooner," said Rupen Pandya, SaskPower President and CEO. "We are proud of our ongoing collaboration with Indigenous peoples and the critical role they are playing in the successful expansion of renewable energy in our province." GSI is one of four renewable energy subsidiaries of Libra Group, a privately owned, global business group that encompasses 20 businesses in six sectors, including renewable energy, maritime, aerospace and more. The Group's renewable energy portfolio encompasses approximately 3.5 gigawatts (GW) of projects owned, developed, or pending development in 10 countries, including solar, wind, battery storage, and waste-to energy projects. This is the second partnership with an indigenous community led by a Libra Group subsidiary. "Libra Group is proud of this novel partnership, which has come together through shared values and a commitment to driving economic growth and positive outcomes for communities," said Libra Group's CEO Manos Kouligkas. "Sustainability is core to our global business, and we look forward to continuing to leverage synergies across our six sectors in 60 countries with agility and impact." Last year, GSI acquired Saturn Power Inc.'s solar and battery development portfolios, including its team of seasoned developers and an approximate 1.4-gigawatt (GW) pipeline of early- to late-stage solar and energy storage projects. Today, GSI has a footprint across Canada and in 12 U.S. states. About Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure (GSI) is one of the clean energy subsidiaries of Libra Group. GSI is a renewable energy company focused on the development, construction, and operation of distributed generation and utility-scale solar energy and battery storage projects in North America. As of January 2024, the company developed approximately 388 MW DC across 71 renewable energy projects, many of which are still owned or operated by GSI and have an additional project pipeline of 1.6 GW. GSI's seasoned team has a proven track record of investing in power assets and partnering with multiple top-tiered investors. For more information on Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure (GSI), visit: http://www.greenwoodinfra.com/ About Ocean Man First Nation The Ocean Man First Nation is a Nakota, Cree, and Saulteaux Band Government in southeast Saskatchewan. OMFN is led by Chief Connie Big Eagle & Council and features a population of 565 members. Ocean Man First Nation created a renewable energy company in 2019 called Second Wind Power. The name Second Wind Power reflects Ocean Man First Nation's history of relocating, re-establishing and starting over as a new community since 1989. About Libra Group Libra Group is a privately owned, global business group encompassing 20 businesses predominately focused on aerospace, renewable energy, maritime, real estate, hospitality, and diversified investments. With assets and operations in nearly 60 countries, the Group applies the strength of its global network and capabilities to deliver cross-sector insights and growth at scale.

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Market Research

New Project Media Acquires Energy Rev, Announces Expansion into Europe

PR Newswire | January 12, 2024

New Project Media (NPM), a rapidly growing renewable energy market data, intelligence, and events company, announced today its acquisition of Energy Rev, a London-based proprietary news service focused on renewable energy financing and M&A. The move will expand NPM's reach into Europe and provide a more comprehensive global offering to its development, finance, advisory & corporate clients. Since 2019, NPM has seen rapid growth in the U.S. across its market research offerings and its successful conference series. Post acquisition, NPM's global footprint is expanding to 35 employees and boasting a management team with over 70 years of combined experience in media, data and market research businesses including acquiring, integrating, and scaling top research and intelligence companies. "We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Energy Rev both from a growth and expansion perspective, and a strategic one. Peter Kneller has built a robust business as an ahead-of-the-curve resource in the European renewables space," said Ken Meehan, founder and CEO of NPM. "As NPM continues to lead in the renewable energy market research space, we will have quite a bit to roll out in 2024. European markets and partnering with Peter's team are significant pieces of that puzzle and we can't wait to get going together." NPM plans to expand its European content and commercial teams and integrate market data and research solutions specific to European clients, affording them access to new products that drive additional efficiencies and business development value. "Our acquisition of Energy Rev and expansion into the European market marks a significant opportunity for our customers and prospective customers. NPM has clients working across Europe, and similarly, many Energy Rev clients are interested in US opportunities so this promises to be a win-win for everyone," said NPM Chief Commercial Officer, Brett Birman. "Bringing Energy Rev in under the NPM umbrella marks a pivotal moment in the growth and sustainability of our business." Energy Rev founder & editor Peter Kneller has nearly fifteen years' experience covering European renewable energy financing and M&A. Co-editor Jon McNair has worked alongside Kneller for the past eight years with the duo sourcing and reporting solar, wind, storage & energy transition news across the UK, Spain, Italy, France, Germany and other European countries. "We found the right partner at the right time to further build on the actionable intelligence we're providing to our client base," said Energy Rev Founder, Peter Kneller. "I've seen data and intel companies come and go, but NPM's entrepreneurial spirit and client-centered focus are unmatched in the space. We are excited to continue building out European market solutions for our loyal clients and to provide them with exposure to best-in-class U.S. renewables data, market research and events to inform their businesses in broader and more meaningful ways." Fox Williams advised on the transaction, which officially closed on December 22, 2023. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. About New Project Media New Project Media (NPM) is leading market data, intelligence & events company serving developers, capital providers, advisors and corporates with exclusive coverage of utility-scale, distributed generation, and energy transition markets. NPM provides full lifecycle coverage and a unique view of the pre-NTP, development and interconnection queue landscape, helping clients identify new business development opportunities earlier and gain a competitive advantage, while also providing significant time savings & efficiencies through its market data. NPM also hosts industry events each year and produces industry podcasts.

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