Sorry for the delay, let’s get right into it!
Basically, Fluent in 3 Months is all about how to learn languages. I would say this book is for people who want to learn a second language but haven’t a clue where to start and have yet to do any of their own research on it. I would also recommend the book to someone who was looking for new methods for learning (I believe, and I think Benny does as well, that the most effective method is the one that works best for you) languages.
The first chapter goes over Benny’s story, and is an almost classic “if I can do it so can you” story, he did mediocre in high school language courses and when he started learning wasn’t successful until he ‘got serious’. The things I like about this chapter is that Benny doesn’t sugar coat his story and he makes it a point from the beginning that learning a language takes work and there is no way around it, but he isn’t convinced it should take someone 10 years before they can talk about whatever interests that persons in their target language. It’s almost about making the language learning process fun, because that means you’ll put more time into it. This chapter certainly got me excited for the rest of the book, and overall it only took me two or so days to read the entire book.
The second chapter is there to break down the excuses you have or may in the future make, and I had to admit I’ve made some of these excuses myself. Personally, I didn’t learn a lot in this chapter because I’ve spent more time then I should have researching language learning instead of the language I want to learn. Again in this chapter Benny doesn’t shy away from the fact that you will need to put in the time to get the reward, and he even asks you how passionate about language learning are you, and how far are you willingly to go to learn your language? If you’re a guy, are you ready to tell people you’re girl in online chatrooms so you can get practice from random dudes who speak your target language? Maybe that is the only way you can get practice, so are you ready? This book has certainly made me ready!
Mentioning goals, if you’ve been on my blog before the third chapter might sound familiar. It’s an entire chapter about defining clear goals or missions, and turning the new years resolution of ‘I want to speak french’ into something like my Japanese quest. For me this chapter is preaching the choir. It also goes really well with the important Benny places on putting in the time. If you’re going to put in the time you should know what you’re going to put it into, right?
Now a lot of you might be thinking about the title of the book ‘Fluent in 3 Months’ is a lofty claim. Chapter 3 is where he covers this, and he basically says that it doesn’t mean you should aim for fluency in 3 months, more so that you should have a goal and time frame in mind. But what does he mean by fluent? Obviously I don’t want to summarize the entire book on here, but a lot of people have a very lofty idea of what fluency is, they make such high requirements that it may go above and beyond what they know in their native language. He gives a dictionary definition of what fluency is and points out what a lot of people think of as fluency is something they don’t have in their native language. I honestly think this is the most important section of the book, a must read for any perfectionists out there.
The next three chapters are about methods for actually learning languages, how to learn a lot of words, immersion without leaving the country and speaking from day one. the chapter on words goes over two different ways to remember words without using rote memorization, and gives you samples in the chapter, he even (kinda) proves to you by the end of the chapter that the first method is very awesome. The next chapter goes over a few ways to connect with native speakers for free or on the cheap, while not living in the country. Theres a lot of good links and ideas in this chapter for sure. Lastly we have the chapter on speaking from day one, which is one of the biggest parts of Benny’s method, that means from day 1 you speak in your target language. He takes you step by step on how one would learn and start speaking as quickly as possible. I can really see where he is coming from with this and I’m going to trying to speak and function more in Japanese, it does make sense that if you use the language more you’re going to remember and recall better.
Chapter 6 has some advice about certain languages, and yes Japanese is one of them! Personally I already knew the advice that was given so that wasn’t too much help for me but as a total beginner it wouldn’t hurt to read.
Chapters 7-9 are about going from fluent to mastery, getting mistaken for a native and moving one to your 3rd and 4th languages. If you’ve purchased the book and are working on your second language you could most likely skip these chapters, but if you’re interested in learning on what to do once you’ve gotten to an intermediate level and are having a hard time getting out of the intermediate stage then this is for you. Roughly, Benny says now is the time to grammar. When you started you didn’t know the language, so none of the grammar rules make any sense, but after you’ve spoken the language and have experience under your belt, coming back and learning how to conjugate verbs and how sentence are formed now makes sense and you can understand what the heck is going on. Benny compares grammar to a pharmaceutical ‘powerful in small doses but deadly in large’. Grammar is notoriously boring, but Benny found after coming back to German when he started with his speak from day 1 approach grammar lessons became interesting when he turned back to them to improve his language. He covers a lot in this section I found it quite educational.
Next was being mistaken for a native. He had some pretty simple techniques, but doesn’t claim that you can totally blend in all countries, but instead be mistaken as someone who has lived there for a long time. It seems to make sense that his techniques in the section would work, but I obviously have no way of knowing or testing these methods.
Then about being a polyglot and how to build off into your third language, whether you should learn more than one language at a time and a bunch of other ups and downs about being a polyglot. Overall a good section, but I’m not sure if everyone who reads the rest of the book would be interested in becoming a polyglot.
The last section is a section on learning languages on the cheap or for free and gives a lot of links to good sites and tools (many of which I use) for learning languages.
Oh! I almost forgot, the book has a bunch of URLs in it that link to a private site for people who bought the book, and the site will grow and Benny will add more content to it as time goes on.
So what do I think about the book? I really enjoyed it, and even though I knew some of the topics he went over, it was worth the price for the motivational fire it lit in my belly alone so it breaks beyond even in my book. I think Benny is very passionate about languages and language learning and this certainly reflects in his writing. I would recommend this book to a friend who wanted to learn a second language but didn’t have a clue where to start, but I’m not sure if I would recommend this to someone who already knows a few languages unless they didn’t already use the methods contained in the book and were looking for new ones to try.