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Is it possible to become fluent in a language in 3 months?

| 40 comments | Category: mission

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Welcome to my new blog “Fluent in 3 months“! I’ve already been making videos over at my main multilingual site Around the World in 80 Mays for some time, and I will include some language learning videos there soon. I have, however, decided to create this new site specifically for discussing my best language learning techniques :) After learning Irish Gaelic, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Esperanto I have picked up quite a lot of short-cuts, memory techniques, and a pretty good mentality that has hugely helped me to learn these languages, and earn the title of “polyglot”, so it’s about time that I shared them!!

I insist that it’s something that anyone can do. I am not naturally linguistically talented (or at least, no more so than your average Joe); I had very poor grades for languages in school (and studied Electronic Engineering at university) and I only started speaking non-English languages at 21 (Age at time of posting: 26). Nevertheless, I have definitely learned that it is a lot easier than most people think and I have reached quite good proficiency in the languages listed above, as well as changing my career to freelance translator!

My posts will be aimed at learners of any language, but I will be using those that I know as an example, including the one I happen to be currently learning. I will also be talking about specific languages.Now that I can see how easy it is to learn languages, I am constantly travelling to new countries and staying there (for around 3 months usually) and immersing myself in the language, although it can just as easily be done in the comfort of your own home with the right tools and attitude.

This summer I will be spending 3 months in Prague and I currently speak no Czech. Nothing. Right now I don’t know how to say “Please” or “How are you?” or “Where is the train station?” or even “My name is”. I do not speak any language closely related to Czech (such as Polish) and Czech is very different to all other languages that I have learned up to now. Despite this I strongly believe that after 3 months I will be able to say that I speak “fluent” Czech; i.e. have comfortable conversations with locals about a wide range of topics, without a strong accent and with a good enough command of the language for expressing myself clearly in many social situations and understanding as much as possible. I don’t plan on having my head in books all summer, or paying huge fees for courses; and most importantly, I’ll be having a lot of fun along the way! After that, I’ll use the same methods to learn the next language!

If you’d like to see how it’s done, use the subscribe link on the left to see my upcoming tips and language-learning story and join me as I become fluent in a new language in 3 months! :)

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Comments: If you liked this post or have anything to say, please leave a comment! I love reading them :)
Just keep in mind that I’ll delete any rude, trolling, spammy, irrelevant or way off-topic comments. Also, use your REAL name, not a brand or business one, and don’t link to your site in the comments unless it’s relevant to this post.
If you have a general language learning question, please ask it in the forums. Otherwise please use the search tool on the right for any other question not related to this post.

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  • Vizar

    hi, i like this idea i think i’ll be here cause i love to learn others languages…good luck

  • Vizar

    hi, i like this idea i think i’ll be here cause i love to learn others languages…good luck

  • Martin Schollaart

    Interesting!

  • Martin Schollaart

    Interesting!

  • http://www.toffolo.nl/ Antonietta Toffolo

    Very interesting. Would like to try this too.
    Looking forward to your tips.
    Good luck!
    Antonietta

  • http://www.toffolo.nl Antonietta Toffolo

    Very interesting. Would like to try this too.
    Looking forward to your tips.
    Good luck!
    Antonietta

  • Ton Sertons

    I would like to try, French for instance !!

  • Ton Sertons

    I would like to try, French for instance !!

  • urpi

    Interesting

  • urpi

    Interesting

  • Patrick Slechten

    Presently working on a Dutch dialect course for (mostly) younger people. You bet I’m interested!

  • Patrick Slechten

    Presently working on a Dutch dialect course for (mostly) younger people. You bet I’m interested!

  • Blondeel Wilfried

    You seem to be very enthusiastic ! I am very interested to read your advice on the subject of Hebrew, I am trying for quite a lot of time, but I am unhappy not succeeding up to now. May I get your comment please ?
    W B

  • Blondeel Wilfried

    You seem to be very enthusiastic ! I am very interested to read your advice on the subject of Hebrew, I am trying for quite a lot of time, but I am unhappy not succeeding up to now. May I get your comment please ?
    W B

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

    Thanks so much for your comments everyone :)
    I will be discussing general language learning tips that can be applied to any language. But I will also be getting very specific and discussing languages that I already know (including French @Ton!)
    The next 3 months I will be focussed on learning Czech, so I can only talk about that as well as my other languages (see the list on my video website). However, I plan to continue writing on this blog as I embark on other languages after this summer. Stay tuned! If I decide to go to Israel I will of course try my hand at Hebrew @Blondeel ;) But until then, I’m sure my general tips will apply to your language learning methods. Watch this space!! :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

    Thanks so much for your comments everyone :)
    I will be discussing general language learning tips that can be applied to any language. But I will also be getting very specific and discussing languages that I already know (including French @Ton!)
    The next 3 months I will be focussed on learning Czech, so I can only talk about that as well as my other languages (see the list on my video website). However, I plan to continue writing on this blog as I embark on other languages after this summer. Stay tuned! If I decide to go to Israel I will of course try my hand at Hebrew @Blondeel ;) But until then, I’m sure my general tips will apply to your language learning methods. Watch this space!! :)

  • Chris

    Hello Benny,
    Greetings from a colleague/polyglot in Hungary. I’m quite excited about your learning methods. As I’m learning Hungarian at the moment- finding it very difficult- it quite puzzles me how you can do a foreign language in only three months. I will keep updated, that is for sure…
    I currently speak Dutch (native language), English, French, German, Italian, and already (after two years living in Hungary) some Hungarian. I want to learn Esperanto and Romanian as well – in a later stage that is – as it would help me in my job. I’m a freelance translator/copywriter/editor and in my village, the intermediate between foreigners (mostly German) and the locals. It is fascinating and it proves how important language knowledge is.
    Good luck and hope to hear more of it soon!
    Chris

  • Chris

    Hello Benny,
    Greetings from a colleague/polyglot in Hungary. I’m quite excited about your learning methods. As I’m learning Hungarian at the moment- finding it very difficult- it quite puzzles me how you can do a foreign language in only three months. I will keep updated, that is for sure…
    I currently speak Dutch (native language), English, French, German, Italian, and already (after two years living in Hungary) some Hungarian. I want to learn Esperanto and Romanian as well – in a later stage that is – as it would help me in my job. I’m a freelance translator/copywriter/editor and in my village, the intermediate between foreigners (mostly German) and the locals. It is fascinating and it proves how important language knowledge is.
    Good luck and hope to hear more of it soon!
    Chris

  • http://www.bullshitonator.com/ Shane Matheson

    You have chosen a challenging language to learn (Czech) Surely the linguistic authority of the Czech Republic would be greatly benefited by your contemporary (Outside in) approach to learning Czech. At present the system in place for teaching simply fails the foreign learner (inside out) “Teaching Czech according to its own unique thinking ignoring better obvious outsider methods–at numbers that clearly suggest what is in place may appear valid, yet in practice, quite terminally ill.

    Many English speakers who have lived in Czech for more than 5 years, only have stock phrases on hand, and have given up trying to learn (often several times, and after sizeable money spent on (inside out)

  • http://www.bullshitonator.com Shane Matheson

    You have chosen a challenging language to learn (Czech) Surely the linguistic authority of the Czech Republic would be greatly benefited by your contemporary (Outside in) approach to learning Czech. At present the system in place for teaching simply fails the foreign learner (inside out) “Teaching Czech according to its own unique thinking ignoring better obvious outsider methods–at numbers that clearly suggest what is in place may appear valid, yet in practice, quite terminally ill.

    Many English speakers who have lived in Czech for more than 5 years, only have stock phrases on hand, and have given up trying to learn (often several times, and after sizeable money spent on (inside out)

  • Katrina Tomecek

    Please = prosím — pronounce: “proseem”
    How are you? = jak se mate — pronounce: “yak say mahtay”
    Where is the train station? = kde je stanice metra? — pronounce “kdee ye stanitsa metra?” You will probably use subway so I said subway station.
    My name is… = “jmenuji se…” — Pronounce “yuhmenowee say…”

    Good luck, very hard language. it will be tough but you got it. I am interested in seeing how it goes because I am American born czech in the process of learning the language myself.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Katrina. I still haven’t found a good reason to call this language hard. ;) People keep saying that to me, but I have an answer to every excuse they can come up with. It just needs to be studied and approached correctly, that’s all :) If you continue thinking that it’s hard, then you’re studies may be slowed down…

      Just a few things to note on what you wrote that I’ve learned so far:
      - “kde” is actually pronounced Gde (guh-deh if you have trouble with the double consonant, although that’s not exactly right). This is the same with kdo, kdy etc.
      - “Jak se máte” is too formal for me. I don’t ask strangers in the street how they are doing (unlike in America that isn’t a general greeting in most countries. You ask people how they are doing when you genuinely want to know and don’t mind if the answer isn’t positive). I use the informal “Jak se maš” since I’d only ask people my age how they are doing. The only situation I can think of using Jak se máte would be if I was at a formal event (which I rarely go to), or if I meet a nice Czech girl and I get introduced to her parents… or of course I’d use it when talking to more than one person.
      - It’s easier to ignore “j” starting before another consonant. Czechs either don’t pronounce it, or its pronunciation is very slight. So jmenuji se would start simply “men…” and jsem (I am) is simply “sem”
      Best of luck with your studies!!

  • Katrina Tomecek

    Please = prosím — pronounce: “proseem”
    How are you? = jak se mate — pronounce: “yak say mahtay”
    Where is the train station? = kde je stanice metra? — pronounce “kdee ye stanitsa metra?” You will probably use subway so I said subway station.
    My name is… = “jmenuji se…” — Pronounce “yuhmenowee say…”

    Good luck, very hard language. it will be tough but you got it. I am interested in seeing how it goes because I am American born czech in the process of learning the language myself.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Katrina. I still haven’t found a good reason to call this language hard. ;) People keep saying that to me, but I have an answer to every excuse they can come up with. It just needs to be studied and approached correctly, that’s all :) If you continue thinking that it’s hard, then you’re studies may be slowed down…

      Just a few things to note on what you wrote that I’ve learned so far:
      - “kde” is actually pronounced Gde (guh-deh if you have trouble with the double consonant, although that’s not exactly right). This is the same with kdo, kdy etc.
      - “Jak se máte” is too formal for me. I don’t ask strangers in the street how they are doing (unlike in America that isn’t a general greeting in most countries. You ask people how they are doing when you genuinely want to know and don’t mind if the answer isn’t positive). I use the informal “Jak se maš” since I’d only ask people my age how they are doing. The only situation I can think of using Jak se máte would be if I was at a formal event (which I rarely go to), or if I meet a nice Czech girl and I get introduced to her parents… or of course I’d use it when talking to more than one person.
      - It’s easier to ignore “j” starting before another consonant. Czechs either don’t pronounce it, or its pronunciation is very slight. So jmenuji se would start simply “men…” and jsem (I am) is simply “sem”
      Best of luck with your studies!!

  • http://jessdoesstuff.blogspot.com/ Jess

    Great site! I just went through all your posts (okay, I skimmed a little, I admit it), and I’m feeling quite inspired. I’ve been *meaning* to become more conversational in French and German for quite some time now, and this might just be the kick in the pants – accompanied by helpful tips – that I need to get at it again.

    “Become a polyglot” is a main item on my ‘bucket list’!

    Unfortunately, I can’t ship off elsewhere where the languages are actually spoken for at least a little while – what are your thoughts on learning a language. . . when not in a country speaking that language?
    .-= Jess´s last blog ..Textile Goodies for Knickertwist =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Hey Jess!! Thanks so much for what you said! Nothing makes me happier to think that someone has enjoyed not just one, but several of my articles!!! I’m new to the world of writing, so this encouragement is really appreciated :)
      Being a polyglot is definitely achievable!! I wish you the best of luck in reaching your goal and I hope that my advice points you in the right direction!!
      As it so happens, I have several posts planned a little later, specifically about speaking and perfecting a language when not in the right country. Here in Prague I’ve hugely perfected my French and Portuguese and other languages. I’d apply the same methods if living in the states or an English speaking country. All will be revealed! Stay tuned :P
      For the moment keep up the good studies to get ready to start practising!!! :)

  • http://jessdoesstuff.blogspot.com Jess

    Great site! I just went through all your posts (okay, I skimmed a little, I admit it), and I’m feeling quite inspired. I’ve been *meaning* to become more conversational in French and German for quite some time now, and this might just be the kick in the pants – accompanied by helpful tips – that I need to get at it again.

    “Become a polyglot” is a main item on my ‘bucket list’!

    Unfortunately, I can’t ship off elsewhere where the languages are actually spoken for at least a little while – what are your thoughts on learning a language. . . when not in a country speaking that language?
    .-= Jess´s last blog ..Textile Goodies for Knickertwist =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Hey Jess!! Thanks so much for what you said! Nothing makes me happier to think that someone has enjoyed not just one, but several of my articles!!! I’m new to the world of writing, so this encouragement is really appreciated :)
      Being a polyglot is definitely achievable!! I wish you the best of luck in reaching your goal and I hope that my advice points you in the right direction!!
      As it so happens, I have several posts planned a little later, specifically about speaking and perfecting a language when not in the right country. Here in Prague I’ve hugely perfected my French and Portuguese and other languages. I’d apply the same methods if living in the states or an English speaking country. All will be revealed! Stay tuned :P
      For the moment keep up the good studies to get ready to start practising!!! :)

  • Katrina Tomecek

    Ha, thanks for all the information… I've actually been to Prague a few times since I last posted and am living there this summer so I know the language much better now. You're right, it's actually not so hard to learn. Just remembering which grammar cases to use can occasionally be tricky. Anyway, thanks for your help, how you had a good trip!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Normally people tell me how wrong I am *before* I try these missions. I was conversational at two months into my mission! You can see me speak in video at that stage. I couldn’t go through with the last month for financial reasons, but all of your arguments ignore a huge aspect of learning another language beyond “getting your point across”. I had friendships entirely in Czech.
    I don’t need luck ;) Just commitment. Your “years” of Czech were not the same as my two months. There is a world of difference between the context, motivation and priorities. Sorry!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    I don’t see what the problem is: I have no Apples = I don’t have any Apples. I speak no Czech = I don’t speak Czech. Perhaps it’s more likely in Ireland to phrase it this way.

  • Eppicus

    The video may look and sound very impressive, but did not convince me. He only talks a very small text in each language and in 3 minutes, this can be easily memorized just like actors do. I would be convinced only if I saw him carrying real conversations with real people in all the languages. Sorry.

  • Ammy

    Hello Benny Lewis, I’m studying english, and I totally agree with you in the point of “in months we can improve our proficiency”, well, I didn’t try be fluent in 3 months with your tips, but I can assure you that I have a good level studying and surround me of english (well, I’m not proficiency but I can read a text and understand mostly, even I having this horrible grammar and way to write, correcting me mostly of time)…
    One day I will try to be fluent in 3 months, and I’m assure that I will improve a lot of more!

  • Ammy

    It isn’t hard, it’s only hard if you think this is!
    I’m brazilian, so I speak portuguese.
    And I can say to you: It isn’t hard!

    The grammar is difficult because it hasmuch unnecessary things, of course, but you don’t need much grammar to be a fluent portuguese speaker.

    You have to read in portuguese (read, read, and read!)
    Nobody in Brazil thinks in accent rules when they are writing, but we read, so we can write without think.

    You will learn it. It’s pretty nice, and it’s logical!

  • jean-louis Schabrechts

    Ik zoek een Amerikaanse vriendin 20 tot 40 jaar om te pennen in het Nederlands .Kunt u mij helpen .jl.schabrechts@telenet.be

  • http://www.facebook.com/anna.podrouzkova1 Anna Podroužková

    Hi Benny and readers!

    I am Czech girl and “my” language is Czech (of course). I have to agree with your opinion, the Czech language is really hard to learn, the system of making sentences is different than in other languages. But this is one of the most beautiful languages because of its sounds and synonyms, limericks and so on. :) If someone wants to help with Czech language, can contact me. :) I´d like to ex-change it for English or Spanish :)

  • naamah.9@seznam.cz

    Hi, can I ask you how are you learning grammar? Are you just listening it? I´m Czech and I can´t imagine it. :-)

  • babar

    learning a language is a long process even if you are highly gifted. usually the more languages you can speak the easier it is to pick up others as your brain is more trained and has already digested many words. You cannot force the timing process even if you study crazily every day and get fully emerged in the language. Certain things take time and language is one of them. 3 months is not realistic to get a full mastery of any langauge. For instance a Brazilian who will learn Spanish, will find many similarities with Portuguese but still it is another language, he could not become totally flueny in 3 month time.