I’ve never really been good at languages. In fact, to put it bluntly, I suck at them. Part of it is effort and part of it is the fact it takes me 3 weeks to learn to pronounce “how are you?” correctly. I’m always amazed at people who can learn languages well and I’m even more amazed by Benny from Fluent in 3 months who speaks 7 languages fluently, plus is conversational in a few more!
Benny didn’t learn a second language until he was 21, which makes his accomplishment even more impressive. Now he put his tips into a huge ebook, complete with worksheets and interviews. Everybody has an ebook lately and I try hard to limit the amount I review to those that I think are applicable to travelers. Learning a language is something we all want to do so I was eager to read Benny’s book and see what I could learn. This is how Benny describes it:
What did I think?
I thought the book was a great motivational tool to get people to rethink how to learn a language and get them into the proper mindset for doing so. Benny does a good job through his personal stories on giving people a new approach to language learning.
This book isn’t about picking up a textbook and doing grammar. It’s about getting past that thinking and into immersing yourself in a language through conversation and listening. Having taught English in Asia, I am always disappointed when companies have me focus on grammar and writing. Most Asian students could write a grammatically correct essay that would make a high school teacher proud. But they can’t speak the language. They are never taught to focus on talking and communication so they become excellent at grammar rules but awful at expressing themselves.
And that’s not learning a language. After all, what good is it if you can write a sentence in French but can’t ask for directions or order food? What I liked about Benny’s book was that it focused on getting people to learn how to speak verbally and communicate more so than have people focus on learning from a textbook. When you take a language class, you learn, you repeat, you take a test. You don’t live the language and incorporate it into your life. I never let me students speak Thai in class and I always told them to speak English outside of class. Learning a language doesn’t stop at the door and Benny gives us ways to bring the language into our lives easily.
What didn’t I like?
Well, for starters, the layout is pretty bad but I know how much it can cost to design an ebook and I don’t fault him for just starting with a self designed PDF until he made some sales. I did the same thing. In terms of content, I wished for a bit more graphics, especially when it came to accent reduction. Maybe a graphic of two showing how people roll their “R” or make a certain sound in German would have helped. (Note: Benny has a newly designed version out that is much prettier and so my original critique on that front is no longer valid)
Would I buy this book?
Yes, I would. This summer I will be studying French and Benny’s book gave me some good motivation and different ways to think about learning French than just going to class and doing grammar. Even if I didn’t know Benny, if I saw his introduction and read his summary, I would buy the book. If someone who didn’t learn any languages until he was 21 can speak 8 languages, then there is hope for us all.
Despite what the title says, Benny doesn’t promise fluency. If he did, I would be skeptical. But he does promise that his book will help you learn a language quickly, give you tips to do so, and get you confident about learning and speaking a new language.
The book has 3 hours of interviews, 7 worksheets, and is 200 pages long, and you get free updates. The book is available in 7 languages too so even if you aren’t a native English speaker, you can get the tips in your language. We all want to learn languages- now you can in your native tongue! The book costs $49 USD. It’s a worthwhile investment if, like me, you really want to learn another language but can never seem to quite get the hang of it. I plan on using it and you should too!