Two weeks ago I finished reading this really interesting book, and I felt I just had to share it here. This isn’t really a review, as I tend not to review these kinds of non-fiction books, but I still wanted to write a post about it. It’s called Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World, and is written by Benny Lewis, more commonly known as Benny the Irish Polyglot.
The book describes a new and kind of revolutionary way of learning a new language, as devised by Benny himself. Until the age of 21 he couldn’t speak any language besides English, and he found it very difficult to learn any language. The methods of learning a foreign language were too boring, and often unnecessarily complicated, which slowed down the process of getting anywhere in the target language. This stumbling block made Benny decide to try a completely different approach when it came to language learning. He decided, and this sounds quite scary, to start speaking from day 1.
The way he describes this method is that you pick a language that you’d like to learn, look up a few basic phrases that you can use in everyday life such as ‘hello’, ‘good morning’, ‘how are you’, ‘my name is…’ etc. His theory is that when you start speaking straightaway you get more of a feel for the language, and it enables you to progress much more quickly as you start to learn more new words and phrases. The main reason why most people want to learn a new language is because they want to be able to communicate with other people in said language, but because the focal point of many language courses is grammar and vocabulary you don’t really learn to speak at all. This more practical application, though it seems intimidating at first, is a much more fun and useful way of learning a new language. And not only is it more fun, but it will make learning grammatical rules that much easier once you actually understand the practical application of those rules, which will make grammar seem less abstract.
As for myself, I love languages and I really want to learn to speak a few more. So far I’m fluent in 3 languages and I have some knowledge of a further 2, and this book has really made me want to learn more. So my aim for the coming months is to try out this fluent in 3 months method and see how I like it. I know how scary it is when you first start speaking a foreign language, and I don’t know if that fear of speaking and making mistake will lessen the more languages you learn, but once you overcome that fear it feels so liberating to be able to communicate. As mentioned in my previous post I’m still undecided about which language to pick first. I’ve quite a good understanding of German but I really need to improve my speaking, so that might be a good place to start. At the same time though I’d love to learn Arabic properly. I’ve been trying to study it on and off for a few years now and have gotten nowhere with it – precisely how Benny describes a lot of language learners in his book – so that’s something I really want to work on as well.
But whichever language I decide to choose, I am going to try and chronicle my progress here on the blog. If anyone else is learning or planning on learning a new language (any language!) drop me a comment here so we can exchange ideas about the best way to approach language learning.
For anyone interested in learning more about this book, you can find it on Amazon for a very decent price. You can also read more about useful language hacks on Benny’s website http://www.fluentin3months.com, which also has a forum where you can meet other languages learners, as well as Benny’s personal blog.
Have you ever tried learning a foreign language? If so, which one(s) and how did it go?