The author uses himself as an example, which may suggest bias. But I know of others who have followed Lewis's advice and learned four languages in a year. Scott Young and his friend Val Jaiswal have learned Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin and Korean. Young blogged about it in The Year Without English which includes the details of how they did it and videos of their conversations in various languages.gkaplan wrote:I am almost finished reading this book, and I don't have the same good vibe that you do, Victoria. I think the author is way too optimistic about a person attaining fluency in the time frame he writes about, no matter how motivated that person might be. Most people have other commitments besides learning a language and don't have the time to use the techniques and methods the author discusses in his book.VictoriaF wrote:Benny Lewis's recommendations are different for beginners and those who want to improve already strong language skills. Beginners should emphasize communications with native speakers and deemphasize classes. After picking up a few key phrases from a phrasebook, one should dive right into conversations without using English. Continuing with the water analogy, in direct language communications, every extra word makes difference between sinking and swimming and the learning process driven by the survival instinct becomes more effective. You may consider traveling to Israel and speaking Hebrew there. Alternatively, you could find people who would speak Hebrew with you over Skype or similar systems.gkaplan wrote:
Based on your recommendation, I decided to place a hold on this book at my library. I taking Modern Hebrew language classes at Portland State. I finished my first year in June and will start my second year September 26th. I'm doing okay, if grades are any judge, but it's incredibly difficult. I asked my instructor before I started the first year how much studying he thinks one should do outside class. He said one hour a day. I find that I have to do much more than that, like two or three hours a day in addition to class time.
Lewis has many recommendations for communications, including language exchanges where you speak with someone in English for 30 minutes, and then they speak in Hebrew with you. He warns about language partners who shift to English when conversations become difficult and provides tips for selecting free partners and paid instructors.
The total daily amount of time dedicated to the language learning should be over two hours, but these two hours do not have to be in one block of time. When people become really excited about language learning they do it all the time, e.g., reviewing new words for a few minutes while waiting for a bus.
I am contemplating learning the Czech language, and that was the reason for reading Lewis's book. If I decide to proceed with it, I will study on my own for a month using a phrasebook and online courses for beginners. Then I'll spend two weeks in Prague at an intensive language school. Then I'll spend a week at a health spa where I will try to communicate with people I don't know in Czech. After that, I will spend a week with some friends trying to impress them with my Czech.
There is no guarantee that you or I will be able to replicate Lewis's and Young's achievements, but their accounts are a strong motivation for learning languages. And there is a lot of useful advice in Lewis's book to help us achieving fluency in three months, or in thirteen months.