Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fluent In Three Months

You can't look inside, I got the image from Amazon.
You can buy it here.
I actually wanted to call this post: My Name's In A Book!!! However, that wouldn't be fair to Benny Lewis who wrote Fluent In 3 Months (from an SEO point of view).

It all started a couple of years ago when I found a website called Fluent In 3 Months. Written by Irish polyglot, Benny Lewis, it documents his travels around the world and learning languages to fluency in just three months. Benny speaks 12 languages and those are just the ones he remembers. I was hooked.

Then last May Benny sent out a request for people with masters degrees or Ph.D.s in language related subjects, to read one or two chapters of his soon to be published book. The brief was to supply some academic references to give his experience and anecdotes more weight. Not that they needed more weight but it couldn't hurt. I have an M.A. in TESOL and language acquisition. I have over 20 years of teaching English as a foreign language experience. I live my life in two languages. I have a library of academic books on the subject and [I had] a box full of coursework, texts and papers submitted for my MA. I volunteered and I was chosen.

I received my two chapters by email and settled down one evening with my personal library and M.A. coursework. It became apparent very quickly that nothing I had in the house was suitable. In academia you can't cite studies from nearly 15 years ago. You just can't. Reader I threw out all my M.A. coursework the next day and severely culled my library.

However, I had made a commitment to Benny. I switched to the computer and spent about 6 hours online looking for articles. I managed to add a few references to the chapters (literally a few, like when a few means 3) and correct one spelling typo. I was so embarrassed by my paltry contribution that, when I'd returned the document by email, I deleted the website Fluent In 3 Months from my blog list and never went back. LOL - like Benny might see me lurking on his blog and sneer at me? Anyway, that's how embarrassed I was.

Fast forward to March 2014 and I got an email from Benny asking me to send him my postal address so that he could send me a copy of the book. I did, he did, and it arrived on Friday. I was gobsmacked to see my name in the acknowledgments as one of:  "...the group I lovingly call Team Linguist ...... Their feedback was essential ...... and ensured the book had a solid foundation ..."

This book is so coming with me when I have to go and plead my case at the Ministry of Education.

So with humility and gratitude, I give you Fluent In 3 Months by Benny Lewis, 2014, Collins, UK. (256 pages) RRP UK 9.99.


Benny Lewis and his book. Image stolen from Benny's own blog.
(Seems to be a different edition from mine.)


I read the book, I love the book. How can you not love a book that explains how anyone at any age can learn a number of languages to fluency?

One of the things I love about Benny's philosophy is that his definition of  fluency is entirely subjective. Reading the book, for the first time in my 26 years living in Israel, I feel that I'm fluent in Hebrew. Not that I don't conduct a great part of my life in Hebrew, I do. But the perfectionist in me always focuses on how much I don't know and how much I'm reluctant to participate in Hebrew situations where I don't have to.

There's no room for perfectionism in language learning, according to Benny, just passion and a willingness to start talking from day one. He's right of course. As I resolve to brush up my Hebrew I can already feel the enthusiasm bubbling below the surface for French (I have all the text books - Uh Uh, not the text books, that's not the way...) and I would so like to speak Spanish. And maybe Greek... or Czech... or Russian.

Thanks Benny, I'm returning you to my blog list.

12 comments:

  1. Leave your perfectionism behind. It is that which held me back from responding to issues in our local community forum . Then I noticed that lots of the native Israelis make spelling and grammatical errors, probably from carelessness than lack of knowledge. So I jumped in...and no one ever notices my typos apart from me....and the more positive feedback I get for my input the easier it is to do the next time.

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    1. I know I know.... Thanks for commenting Janice. :)

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  2. I think I actually need that book... 3 years and I am far from fluent. Do you think it's because I have no desire to be here forever that I can't bring myself to learn the language properly though? I am beginning to wonder! :D

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    1. Could be. You need to find a strong motivation or it won't happen.

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    2. Well yes, I think the bottom line is that it won't happen if you don't happen it. :P

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  3. This sounds like a great book, languages are the one major thing I feel I've let the kids down on home ed wise so being told that maybe I can still make a difference to that is really heartening.

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    1. Benny was still failing at languages at 21. It was only then that he got into the language learning thing and learnt 12 languages in 10 years (plus others that he's not kept up).

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  4. Brilliant!! Well done you!! And Benny too.... as a fellow Irish person I must congratulate him!
    And I SO get the removing him from fear of being sneered at... I bet you closed down the laptop too right after you did it, didn't you?! In case he was watching, like?!! (I SO do that too!!)
    xx Jazzy

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    1. I think I ran out of the room and hid behind a cushion in the bedroom - LOL. Pathetic isn't it?

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  5. I bought my husband a learn French cd box set for Xmas he listened to it once - I need to learn French properly! x

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