Join almost 1 million
monthly
readers!

Contact Me

Coaching and Consultation

Language Hacking League!

Join over 50,000 people to get FREE weekly language hacking tips, cool links, site updates & two free chapters of the Language Hacking Guide!

No Spam. Not ever.

Current Mission:


Coach a monoglot in her first ever successful language learning mission! Learn more!

Previous post:

Next post:

Hitting a brick wall in your language progress

| 68 comments | Category: learning languages, mission

Platform 9 3/4You can call it a brick-wall or a plateau, but if you work on a language long enough you may eventually hit it; a point where you simply aren’t making any progress. This has happened several times for me in the past in other languages, especially after sprinting into it in the initial stages and getting exhausted quickly. The motivation, speed and vast bounds in progress are not that hard to maintain as long as you keep your momentum… but an even a short break may lead to you losing that momentum!

However, sometimes a break is good! Being so focussed on such an intensive project, such as learning a language, can be tiring. After a break of a few weeks, when you get back into it, you can start afresh with the same initial dash that you had before. It depends on your own personality and learning style. Unfortunately, a long break when you have given yourself a very small time limit is not such a great idea!

My own brick wall

At my two-month point things were looking promising! My accent was pretty good, and I had several friends here in Prague with whom I only spoke in Czech. I’d go out for dinner and converse about everything from sharing my travel stories to even basic philosophical discussions, with the limitations I mentioned (the other person had to speak slowly, and I couldn’t follow a conversation between two people, for example). I honestly believed that I had a good chance of reaching my own definition of fluency within my 3-month deadline.

But even when I had written that 2-month progress report, I had already spent over a week speaking barely any Czech and my chances to practise and exposure to the language have gotten worse as August continued, and I haven’t been able to practise for weeks now. Unfortunately, external and internal factors have come together that will prevent me from reaching my fluent-in-3-months goal this time! :( I really am sorry because I know a lot of people wanted me to make it, to show the doubters that it can be done, to help motivate themselves to try it to and just out of pure curiosity to see if I could make it. Before those who were waiting to pounce on me with I-told-you-sos jump down my throat, note that I am by no means giving up!! :) I may have lost the battle, but I will win the war and prove that 3 months to fluency is possible. This was only the first of many experiments; all of which I’ll be documenting, as I continue to give general language learning (and other) tips ;).

Debugging the system

Thomas A. Edison was interviewed by a newspaper after 800 unsuccessful tries to make a working light bulb. “How does it feel to have failed 800 times?” the reporter asked. And Edison’s answer? “I haven’t failed 800 times. I haven’t failed once. What I have done, is I have succeeded in proving that those 800 ways won’t work. Once I eliminate all the ways that won’t work, I will find the one way that will.” Several years later, after thousands more “successful proofs” he managed to find a way that works, and thus illuminated the world.

I am not a linguist, so I don’t go about studying languages the way they would. I am an engineer and a scientist at heart. I believe that every problem or mission (learn a language, have a satisfactory career etc.) has a solution if you are imaginative enough, and one way to find a perfect means of reaching a target is debugging your current method; i.e. find what is preventing you from reaching the goal, eliminate the issue and try again, then repeat the process until you are successful. I used to do a lot of programming so I apply this metaphor to many problems, and learning a language is one of them. To me, it can be broken down into a series of steps that you take to reach the final target, and if you are analytical enough, many of life’s problems can be looked at like that. This was always an experiment to me, and I will analyse the process and repeat the experiment taking the appropriate corrections into account. When you eliminate whatever is causing the problem, then you will eventually reach your goal! Note that I plan to reach this goal very soon ;).

So to me, this summer was definitely not a failure. With your permission, I am going to claim that I learned how to speak pretty good Czech in just two months. This is something that I am quite proud of! I can tell you exactly why I was not able to get past that point and emphasise that I don’t intend on making the same mistakes for my next fluent-in-3-months project. These two reasons are what mainly held me back:

  • A project like this requires time, and even though I have my ways of squeezing the most out of my time, something sucked way too much free time away from me in my last month; due to financial problems I ran into (as I mentioned in the post about my work), I have had to work 12-hours a day, 7 days a week for most of August. In the very little free time that I’ve had, I have been much less enthusiastic about a project that was seeming less and less likely of getting achieved.
  • As much as I’d love to blame this entirely on my lack of free time due to work (which is technically an external factor, but is actually just due to my own stupidity with financial management), there is a much more important reason why I didn’t reach fluency, which was a mistake from the very beginning. I had no long-term goals with Czech. I was relying entirely on my mini-goals of short-term objectives (upcoming coffee date, learn all words related to a particular topic in an hour etc.) and my other motivation of using Czech as a stepping stone to Slavic languages; but I had no actual long-term plans with Czech itself. These short-term goals got me very far!! But I needed something bigger and more long-term to keep me motivated. My decision to learn Czech was extremely spontaneous (I moved to Prague about a week after I came up with this strange idea, never having been here before or even having any Czech friends), and my only medium-term goal was to reach fluency in “a” language in 3-months. Czech had no special meaning to me, and sadly even after a whole summer here, I still haven’t fallen in love with this language or its people, like I have with other languages and cultures.

There were other minor things (like my inefficient grammar study method, etc.) that I will take into consideration in future, but my set-backs have absolutely nothing to do with Czech’s inherent difficulties, and I still think the language itself is not as bad as people make it out to be.

I will eliminate each of the above set-backs and make sure they do not exist in the next attempt. My current intensive working period (not fun during the summer!!) has meant that I will luckily be out of debt soon, and I think I may have (finally) learned that bouncing between my credit card limit and €0 is not such a secure long-term option! I can easily be much more secure with my current job and I will attempt to manage my finances better in future so that I am never put in a situation like this again.

And as with the motivation; I will definitely think much longer about a 3-month investment in future! I have more personal and global reasons to learn other languages like Polish, Russian, Chinese etc. and starting the project with the goal to learn that particular language in 3 months, rather than learn “a” language in 3-months will be a major difference when I try this again. Every other language I’ve learned has been for a huge array of reasons, and it should not have been any different this summer. A language isn’t like a stamp that you can add to your collection; it has a history and culture and people associated with it, and particular reasons why it may be special to you. This is something that I ignored for the first time this summer, and I will not make the same mistake again!

What’s next?

I will continue to work intensively for the remainder of my time in Prague to really give myself some financial security, but I will finally have weekends off again from this Friday (can’t wait!!!) to try to focus on taking advantage of this beautiful city rather than just focussing on its language. I will continue to post my general language tips and other related observations on this site (I have a LOT of post ideas; this site was never to exist just for this summer!); I will summarise my best tips for learning Czech soon for example.

However, I already have another 3-month project lined up! It will already begin on September 21st!! Rather than being humbled by not reaching my goal of fluency this summer, I am actually setting the bar higher and aiming for something much harder!! The two main issues above won’t exist because I’ll have (at least temporarily) sorted out my finances thanks to all of this intensive work, and I am extremely passionate about my next mission and have been thinking about it for a long time! I will reveal that mission very soon ;).

In the mean time, I’m really sorry for those who I had promised to reach fluency in Czech!! As I said, I don’t consider this a failure, but I’m still disappointed because I had promised a lot of people that I would make it. Hopefully you can understand my reasons for needing to focus on sorting out my finances for the moment! Stick around, I’ll have a lot more interesting projects coming up soon ;).

Any thoughts? Encouragement? Angry messages saying that I’m a fraud? Share them in the comments :P

***********************

Enter your email in the top right of the site to subscribe to the Language Hacking League e-mail list for way more tips sent directly to your inbox!

If you enjoyed this post, you will love my TEDx talk! You can get much better details of how I recommend learning a language if you watch it here.

This article was written by

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.

———————————–

  • Marek

    Benio, dankon pro via analizo, kaj ja cxiukaze gratulon pro via relativa sukceso pri la cxehxa! Bedauxrinde ni ne ekzercis dum la IJK, sed en via cxehxa filmeto pri gxi vi parolas tre bone. Mi malgraux cxio kiel cxehxo plu sentas min honorigita per via elekto de gxuste mia lingvo, kaj volonte legos viajn konsilojn pri lernado de gxuste tiu lingvo, kiujn mi ankaux certe poste povos profite peri al aliaj amikoj miaj adeptantaj al tiu lingvo. Kaj kuragxon kaj sukceson en vian sekvan provon – mi jam scivolemas, kio gxi estos… :-)

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

      mi parolis la plejparton de mia ĉeĥa dum la 2 semajnoj post IJK. Mi tro timis paroli kun vi kaj la aliaj ĉeĥoj dum IJK :P
      Kaj mi bedaŭras jam paroli malpli bone pro devi labori kaj ne ekzerci :(
      Kiel mi diris en alia komento, estas tro da laboro konservi bonan nivelon; mi jam devas fari ĝin por 7 lingvoj… mi bedaŭrinde ne povos paroli kun vi en la ĉeĥa dum la venontaj E-aranĝoj (JES, ktp)!
      Malgraŭ tio, mi pasigis ege bonan someron en via lando kaj mi adoras la homojn ĉi tie kaj la kulturon kaj la lingvon :) Mi multe vojaĝos sed mi esperas reveni ĉi tien iam!
      Mi malkaŝos la sekvan provon post 2 semajnoj ;) ;)

  • Marek

    Benio, dankon pro via analizo, kaj ja cxiukaze gratulon pro via relativa sukceso pri la cxehxa! Bedauxrinde ni ne ekzercis dum la IJK, sed en via cxehxa filmeto pri gxi vi parolas tre bone. Mi malgraux cxio kiel cxehxo plu sentas min honorigita per via elekto de gxuste mia lingvo, kaj volonte legos viajn konsilojn pri lernado de gxuste tiu lingvo, kiujn mi ankaux certe poste povos profite peri al aliaj amikoj miaj adeptantaj al tiu lingvo. Kaj kuragxon kaj sukceson en vian sekvan provon – mi jam scivolemas, kio gxi estos… :-)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      mi parolis la plejparton de mia ĉeĥa dum la 2 semajnoj post IJK. Mi tro timis paroli kun vi kaj la aliaj ĉeĥoj dum IJK :P
      Kaj mi bedaŭras jam paroli malpli bone pro devi labori kaj ne ekzerci :(
      Kiel mi diris en alia komento, estas tro da laboro konservi bonan nivelon; mi jam devas fari ĝin por 7 lingvoj… mi bedaŭrinde ne povos paroli kun vi en la ĉeĥa dum la venontaj E-aranĝoj (JES, ktp)!
      Malgraŭ tio, mi pasigis ege bonan someron en via lando kaj mi adoras la homojn ĉi tie kaj la kulturon kaj la lingvon :) Mi multe vojaĝos sed mi esperas reveni ĉi tien iam!
      Mi malkaŝos la sekvan provon post 2 semajnoj ;) ;)

  • Eso

    Musím říct, že ta čeština ve videu je velmi působivá!

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

      Díky!!!!! :D

  • Eso

    Musím říct, že ta čeština ve videu je velmi působivá!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Díky!!!!! :D

  • http://natural-language-acquisition.blogspot.com/ Keith

    I don’t think you’re a fraud. I thank you for your honesty and I understand how situations change and can derail a whole language learning project.

    Please don’t try another 3-months-to-fluency project with any difficult languages like Russian, Chinese, etc. until you’ve successfully completed one with a more closely related language and worked out the whole process better. Perhaps you should try an African language next. Steve Kaufmann has proposed that Swahili become the new international language.

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

      Sorry Keith, but those languages don’t scare me! A language is only “difficult” if you keep telling yourself it is ;) I’ll dive into a language whenever I feel like it and not wait until I’m “ready”. Please don’t hold yourself back with such unhelpful thoughts!!
      My next project won’t be about a difficult language, but a difficult objective…

  • http://natural-language-acquisition.blogspot.com/ Keith

    I don’t think you’re a fraud. I thank you for your honesty and I understand how situations change and can derail a whole language learning project.

    Please don’t try another 3-months-to-fluency project with any difficult languages like Russian, Chinese, etc. until you’ve successfully completed one with a more closely related language and worked out the whole process better. Perhaps you should try an African language next. Steve Kaufmann has proposed that Swahili become the new international language.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Sorry Keith, but those languages don’t scare me! A language is only “difficult” if you keep telling yourself it is ;) I’ll dive into a language whenever I feel like it and not wait until I’m “ready”. Please don’t hold yourself back with such unhelpful thoughts!!
      My next project won’t be about a difficult language, but a difficult objective…

  • Jon

    I actually find you quite inspiring and can’t wait to follow this blog during your next language mission. =D

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

      Thanks Jon!! I’m glad to see that I’ve created a little anticipation to see what the next mission will be :P Hopefully it will be worth the wait :)

  • Jon

    I actually find you quite inspiring and can’t wait to follow this blog during your next language mission. =D

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks Jon!! I’m glad to see that I’ve created a little anticipation to see what the next mission will be :P Hopefully it will be worth the wait :)

  • russ

    Spite la oficialan malsukceson, la eksperimento ja estis impona kaj bona, kaj mi ĝuis legi pri ĝi. Via analizo pri la problemoj kun hazarda elekto de iu ajn lingvo por amuza eksperimento ja sonas valida. Lingvolernado bezonas motivon kaj deziregon. Kiel la aliaj komentintoj, mi aprezas vian rakontadon pri la afero, kaj antaŭĝuas legi plu. Via taglibro interesas, amuzas, kaj inspiras. Bonŝancon!

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

      Dankon russ!!! :) Mi ne faros la saman eraron en mia venonta eksperimento :)

  • russ

    Spite la oficialan malsukceson, la eksperimento ja estis impona kaj bona, kaj mi ĝuis legi pri ĝi. Via analizo pri la problemoj kun hazarda elekto de iu ajn lingvo por amuza eksperimento ja sonas valida. Lingvolernado bezonas motivon kaj deziregon. Kiel la aliaj komentintoj, mi aprezas vian rakontadon pri la afero, kaj antaŭĝuas legi plu. Via taglibro interesas, amuzas, kaj inspiras. Bonŝancon!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Dankon russ!!! :) Mi ne faros la saman eraron en mia venonta eksperimento :)

  • cestina

    If one is making an experiment – to see if something is possible – then built into the whole idea of experimentation is the premise that you are trying something out to see if it will work. The answer has to be yes it does or no it doesn’t. It’s not a question of success or failure.

    And if it doesn’t work, then as you say, you do an Edison, work out why it didn’t, and carry on. Or decide that it won’t ever work and do something different.

    I’ve loved all your blogs, I’ve picked up some useful tips, and I’m looking forward to more.

    š ť a s t n o u c e s t u :-)

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

      Thanks for your positive upbeat comment cestina :)
      I’m glad everyone here is understanding my scientific approach to learning languages :) You’re right; an experiment can never really fail :)

  • cestina

    If one is making an experiment – to see if something is possible – then built into the whole idea of experimentation is the premise that you are trying something out to see if it will work. The answer has to be yes it does or no it doesn’t. It’s not a question of success or failure.

    And if it doesn’t work, then as you say, you do an Edison, work out why it didn’t, and carry on. Or decide that it won’t ever work and do something different.

    I’ve loved all your blogs, I’ve picked up some useful tips, and I’m looking forward to more.

    š ť a s t n o u c e s t u :-)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks for your positive upbeat comment cestina :)
      I’m glad everyone here is understanding my scientific approach to learning languages :) You’re right; an experiment can never really fail :)

  • Johano

    I think that his next project will be Chinese…that’s one of the one’s I’d like to learn.

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

      Not yet ;) Sadly you’ll have to wait about two weeks until I reveal exactly what my next project will be!

  • Johano

    I think that his next project will be Chinese…that’s one of the one’s I’d like to learn.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Not yet ;) Sadly you’ll have to wait about two weeks until I reveal exactly what my next project will be!

  • http://snitching.blogspot.com/ iamrcr

    What a fraud you are: you misspelled encouragement! I’m bound to say you’re nothing but a native czech trying to troll us all, Mr. Inženýr!
    .-= iamrcr´s last blog ..Baby You’re a Richter Man, Too: when spell bees turn into spicy fees =-.

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

      lol!! Interesting theory :P But surely I would have just said I made it to fluency if I was faking being a foreigner? :D
      I’ve corrected that mistake thanks for pointing it out!!

  • http://snitching.blogspot.com iamrcr

    What a fraud you are: you misspelled encouragement! I’m bound to say you’re nothing but a native czech trying to troll us all, Mr. Inženýr!
    .-= iamrcr´s last blog ..Baby You’re a Richter Man, Too: when spell bees turn into spicy fees =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      lol!! Interesting theory :P But surely I would have just said I made it to fluency if I was faking being a foreigner? :D
      I’ve corrected that mistake thanks for pointing it out!!

  • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu/ balint

    I really hoped that you wouldn’t stop writing after 3 months :D

    I have to say, you set a good example and this is much more important (at least to me) than reaching a certain goal. I understand your “engineer point of view”, and I think this is a good approach in many fields of life including languages. Try, check if it work, locate the error, fix it, go on. :D

    Keep up the good work! ;)

    Just a question: now that you’ve reached a certain level in Checz and will move on to another language, you will just “drop” it? Or you will work on it (as on your other languages) to maintain or even improve the level?
    .-= balint´s last blog ..Hogyan lehet napi 2 órát nyelvtanulásra fordítani? =-.

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

      Thanks as always for the positive reinforcement Balint :)
      I’ve thought long and hard and unfortunately (due to the lack of passion as I’ve mentioned in this post) I will not be adding Czech to my list of languages that I intend to maintain. I don’t think of “giving up” on it lightly; Working on each language is a LOT of work and is very time consuming. I devote so much time to making sure that my level in French, Portuguese etc. does not slip away. It will be too much effort to add another language to that mix that I do not fully appreciate.
      I will however be adding more languages to my permanent list :) I just have to find the right ones ;)
      I will continue to speak Czech while in Prague, but I am sure that my level will diminish very quickly once I leave. I used to speak German but lack of practise has meant that I have lost that and I have already accepted that this will definitely happen to my Czech. I am an optimist, as I show on this blog, but I am also a realist and experience tells me that I need to accept the inevitable ;)

  • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu balint

    I really hoped that you wouldn’t stop writing after 3 months :D

    I have to say, you set a good example and this is much more important (at least to me) than reaching a certain goal. I understand your “engineer point of view”, and I think this is a good approach in many fields of life including languages. Try, check if it work, locate the error, fix it, go on. :D

    Keep up the good work! ;)

    Just a question: now that you’ve reached a certain level in Checz and will move on to another language, you will just “drop” it? Or you will work on it (as on your other languages) to maintain or even improve the level?
    .-= balint´s last blog ..Hogyan lehet napi 2 órát nyelvtanulásra fordítani? =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks as always for the positive reinforcement Balint :)
      I’ve thought long and hard and unfortunately (due to the lack of passion as I’ve mentioned in this post) I will not be adding Czech to my list of languages that I intend to maintain. I don’t think of “giving up” on it lightly; Working on each language is a LOT of work and is very time consuming. I devote so much time to making sure that my level in French, Portuguese etc. does not slip away. It will be too much effort to add another language to that mix that I do not fully appreciate.
      I will however be adding more languages to my permanent list :) I just have to find the right ones ;)
      I will continue to speak Czech while in Prague, but I am sure that my level will diminish very quickly once I leave. I used to speak German but lack of practise has meant that I have lost that and I have already accepted that this will definitely happen to my Czech. I am an optimist, as I show on this blog, but I am also a realist and experience tells me that I need to accept the inevitable ;)

  • Alex

    Benny, thanks so much for including us on your journey into Czech. It was really inspiring for me, and I do not doubt your theory in any way. I know all to well that outside forces, some of your own making, can really come between you and a goal, to the point where it just isn’t feasible.

    A quick question, also: Are you going to be posting exclusively here, or also on 80 Mays? I’m subscribed to both, but 80 Mays has understandably not been updated for a couple months. Will you continue to post there or is this the main site now?

    Thanks again for all your great tips and stories, and I can’t wait to find out what your next crazy project is!

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

      Thanks for your comment Alex! It makes me so happy to hear that my story has inspired others, and I hope my later ones will too!!
      This blog and the other one are separate projects for me. I will only be making about 5 videos a year because of the huge amount of work involved in recording, editing and translating them, but I will be updating the site! Whenever it’s a language related video I’ll show it here too, but there are plenty of other videos I make so feel free to stay subscribed even if I won’t update for a while!

  • Alex

    Benny, thanks so much for including us on your journey into Czech. It was really inspiring for me, and I do not doubt your theory in any way. I know all to well that outside forces, some of your own making, can really come between you and a goal, to the point where it just isn’t feasible.

    A quick question, also: Are you going to be posting exclusively here, or also on 80 Mays? I’m subscribed to both, but 80 Mays has understandably not been updated for a couple months. Will you continue to post there or is this the main site now?

    Thanks again for all your great tips and stories, and I can’t wait to find out what your next crazy project is!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks for your comment Alex! It makes me so happy to hear that my story has inspired others, and I hope my later ones will too!!
      This blog and the other one are separate projects for me. I will only be making about 5 videos a year because of the huge amount of work involved in recording, editing and translating them, but I will be updating the site! Whenever it’s a language related video I’ll show it here too, but there are plenty of other videos I make so feel free to stay subscribed even if I won’t update for a while!

  • Matt

    Benny,

    Just want to add my own note of thanks and congratulations to those above. Your approach to language and life itself is an inspiration and your project has kept me thoroughly entertained for the past two months. I plan to apply many of your tips to my own Czech learning next year and I’ll be pleased to manage a fraction of your energy and enthusiasm. I’ve no doubt these “impossible” things can be achieved and I’m glad you haven’t lost heart either.

    Best wishes,

    Matthew

    PS – have a mocktail on me! :-)

  • Matt

    Benny,

    Just want to add my own note of thanks and congratulations to those above. Your approach to language and life itself is an inspiration and your project has kept me thoroughly entertained for the past two months. I plan to apply many of your tips to my own Czech learning next year and I’ll be pleased to manage a fraction of your energy and enthusiasm. I’ve no doubt these “impossible” things can be achieved and I’m glad you haven’t lost heart either.

    Best wishes,

    Matthew

    PS – have a mocktail on me! :-)

  • Matt

    PS – I was interested in your comment that you didn’t fall in love with the language or its people. As a soon to be expat in Prague I’m interested to hear what your experience was of Czech people.

    The shop assistants are famous for their rudeness – my girlfriend is Czech and I’m often shocked by the things shop workers have said to her – it all goes over my head at this poing of course. Her mother has an interesting strategy with that – if someone is rude to her in a shop she says “you can also slap me if you like”, to which they respond “eh?” and she says “well it’s seems you’d like to slap me so I thought I’d offer”. What about other Czechs you’ve encountered? Are they friendly / welcoming to foreigners? I’d be interested in other readers views on this also.

    Thanks,
    Matt

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

      Thanks so much for the mocktail!! This Friday I get a well deserved 47 hour (yes, exactly that) break from work and I will be having a crazy night out on you!! :D I can guarantee that I will be sharing that drink with someone… Cheers!
      Definitely apply these tips and let us know how YOUR experiment goes!
      Your question is valid and I have to say immediately that I did NOT find Czechs rude. Everyone I met was very nice to me and super helpful. In the very touristy centre people are impatient with all foreigners (and as you’ve shown, with Czechs too), but this is the same in many major cities, especially under the pressure of tourist packed August. I highly recommend Prague to live in. I just didn’t have a special connection with this city like I have had in other places; this is my own fault and because of my own particular tastes.

      • Matt

        That’s reassuring, thanks.

        Enjoy your well-earned 47 hour break!

  • Matt

    PS – I was interested in your comment that you didn’t fall in love with the language or its people. As a soon to be expat in Prague I’m interested to hear what your experience was of Czech people.

    The shop assistants are famous for their rudeness – my girlfriend is Czech and I’m often shocked by the things shop workers have said to her – it all goes over my head at this poing of course. Her mother has an interesting strategy with that – if someone is rude to her in a shop she says “you can also slap me if you like”, to which they respond “eh?” and she says “well it’s seems you’d like to slap me so I thought I’d offer”. What about other Czechs you’ve encountered? Are they friendly / welcoming to foreigners? I’d be interested in other readers views on this also.

    Thanks,
    Matt

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks so much for the mocktail!! This Friday I get a well deserved 47 hour (yes, exactly that) break from work and I will be having a crazy night out on you!! :D I can guarantee that I will be sharing that drink with someone… Cheers!
      Definitely apply these tips and let us know how YOUR experiment goes!
      Your question is valid and I have to say immediately that I did NOT find Czechs rude. Everyone I met was very nice to me and super helpful. In the very touristy centre people are impatient with all foreigners (and as you’ve shown, with Czechs too), but this is the same in many major cities, especially under the pressure of tourist packed August. I highly recommend Prague to live in. I just didn’t have a special connection with this city like I have had in other places; this is my own fault and because of my own particular tastes.

      • Matt

        That’s reassuring, thanks.

        Enjoy your well-earned 47 hour break!

  • dzurisova

    Well, I thought I would be bummed if you didn’t make it. But you are just so darn likable, logical, and honest that I can’t help but feel proud of you. In just 2 ½ short months, you’ve learned “pretty good Czech”, gathered a following of people, inspired us to throw away excuses, and taught us all some very useful tips in learning a language. Your humility allowed you to share your experiences – good and bad – with the world and your confidence keeps you going onto the next project. As far as I’m concerned you didn’t prove it could be done nor did you prove it couldn’t; but you sure accomplished a lot. Perhaps some other shmuck will come along and try the same objective and prove it for us – doubt it, but ya never know. Anyway, thanks for your willingness to put yourself out on the line before the internet world. After all, you could have tried it without saying a word to anyone. But you shared it with us and for that we are all grateful. :)

  • dzurisova

    Well, I thought I would be bummed if you didn’t make it. But you are just so darn likable, logical, and honest that I can’t help but feel proud of you. In just 2 ½ short months, you’ve learned “pretty good Czech”, gathered a following of people, inspired us to throw away excuses, and taught us all some very useful tips in learning a language. Your humility allowed you to share your experiences – good and bad – with the world and your confidence keeps you going onto the next project. As far as I’m concerned you didn’t prove it could be done nor did you prove it couldn’t; but you sure accomplished a lot. Perhaps some other shmuck will come along and try the same objective and prove it for us – doubt it, but ya never know. Anyway, thanks for your willingness to put yourself out on the line before the internet world. After all, you could have tried it without saying a word to anyone. But you shared it with us and for that we are all grateful. :)

  • Bergino

    Via trimonata eksperimento konvinkis min ke MI povus lerni iun lingvon en unu jaro. Mi antaŭe neniam pensis tiel. Ĉu mia unujara eksperimento komenciĝas ĉi tiun jaron aŭ la venontan, mi ankoraŭ ne decidis.

  • Bergino

    Via trimonata eksperimento konvinkis min ke MI povus lerni iun lingvon en unu jaro. Mi antaŭe neniam pensis tiel. Ĉu mia unujara eksperimento komenciĝas ĉi tiun jaron aŭ la venontan, mi ankoraŭ ne decidis.

  • Linda

    Thanks for the honesty. I totally see your point. When I told my sister and friends I badly wanted to learn Italian they all all thought I was crazy. They suggested that I try Spanish instead because I’d have a better chance to use it. First of all I live in India so its rare that I will use either language but It was my dream to learn another the language so I figured, I should explore their advice. I love South America amd have serveral frens who speak spanish, so I began buying books and cd’s etc. It was a few days into listening to the disks that I relized, I dont want to learn spanish, its a beautiful language and it sounds wonderful and I want to travel to SA again soon but nope, not interested in actually learning it. For me I loved Italy, the people the sounds the smells and the language I love the language. So even though its more practical to learn spanish, I know Italian has 10x better chace of becoming my second language then spanish ever will. And who knows maybe after Italian, Spanish maybe has a chance. P.S Good luck in Brazil (just my guess!!!)

    • Caridorc

      (Sorry, Caridorc is not my real name).

      Linda ti voglio augurare buona fortuna!!!
      Io sono italiano ma parlo anche inglese (e un po’ di spagnolo) e ti assicuro che imparare una seconda lingua è bellissimo se ti piace, a me è successa la stessa cosa con lo spagnolo.

      Linda I want to wish you good luck!!!
      I am italian but I speak Engliish too (and a bit of spanish) e I can tell you with no doubt that learning a second language is beatiful if you like it, the same thing happened to me with spanish!!!

      Yo soy italiano pero yo ablo tambien ingles ( y un poquito de espanol) y te dico con suguridad que apriender un segundo idioma es muy guapo si te gusta, yo he vivido este con el espanol!!!
      Buena suerte Linda!!!

  • Linda

    Thanks for the honesty. I totally see your point. When I told my sister and friends I badly wanted to learn Italian they all all thought I was crazy. They suggested that I try Spanish instead because I’d have a better chance to use it. First of all I live in India so its rare that I will use either language but It was my dream to learn another the language so I figured, I should explore their advice. I love South America amd have serveral frens who speak spanish, so I began buying books and cd’s etc. It was a few days into listening to the disks that I relized, I dont want to learn spanish, its a beautiful language and it sounds wonderful and I want to travel to SA again soon but nope, not interested in actually learning it. For me I loved Italy, the people the sounds the smells and the language I love the language. So even though its more practical to learn spanish, I know Italian has 10x better chace of becoming my second language then spanish ever will. And who knows maybe after Italian, Spanish maybe has a chance. P.S Good luck in Brazil (just my guess!!!)

  • Matt

    Wow, your blog has totally inspired me to jump back into learning my two favorite languages, Portuguese and Afrikaans. I would also like to tell you that I greatly admire your dedication and your drive to be successful and that you are a great language learner and a true role model for the rest of us. I think that you should try to study a Celtic language or perhaps a Baltic or North Germanic language sometime on one of your future endeavors. Thanks!

  • Matt

    Wow, your blog has totally inspired me to jump back into learning my two favorite languages, Portuguese and Afrikaans. I would also like to tell you that I greatly admire your dedication and your drive to be successful and that you are a great language learner and a true role model for the rest of us. I think that you should try to study a Celtic language or perhaps a Baltic or North Germanic language sometime on one of your future endeavors. Thanks!

  • PriscillaOchoa

    Dzień Dobry, Benny!
    Dziękuję za wszystko…
    cya w Rio!

    pa pa!

  • PriscillaOchoa

    Dzień Dobry, Benny!
    Dziękuję za wszystko…
    cya w Rio!

    pa pa!

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

    The niceness of those on the net will never cease to amaze me :) I was a little disappointed in not reaching the end target, but all of these comments completely cheered me up! I’m feeling very motivated now as I embark on my next mission :D

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

    The niceness of those on the net will never cease to amaze me :) I was a little disappointed in not reaching the end target, but all of these comments completely cheered me up! I’m feeling very motivated now as I embark on my next mission :D

  • MarieAnne

    Dear Benny,
    I think you’ve made a great job! I admire your persistence and will to win. I think your experience will be a good example and a source of inspiration 4 everyone. Keep trying!
    And if you decide to take up Russian, I’ll be happy to help you :)

  • MarieAnne

    Dear Benny,
    I think you’ve made a great job! I admire your persistence and will to win. I think your experience will be a good example and a source of inspiration 4 everyone. Keep trying!
    And if you decide to take up Russian, I’ll be happy to help you :)

  • Jayashri

    I LOVE your drive. I am a Singaporean high sch student, and I got interested in Czech because of someone I met online. I have been studying it on my own for just over a year now, and I must say I am pretty happy with whatever progress I have made so far. I just regret that I have no one to physically speak to in Czech; I think that would help a lot with pronunciation and fluency and whatnot. I have online acquaintances whom I help with English (and get help with Czech in return), but it definitely isn’t the same as being able to immerse oneself in the culture and language.
    Since I am still a high school student, I won’t be able to do that anytime soon. But I guess for now, the DLI course materials, university course materials, translated short stories and Internet radio (just for the sound) will have to suffice.
    Unlike you, from afar, I have fallen in love with the Czech language (though the culture is an entirely different issue).

    I must say, though, that I feel a bit discouraged when you say Czech is really easy. Perhaps because it is my fourth language after English (first language), Tamil (mother tongue, but not most frequently used), French (in school). I was just getting used to the whole system of learning a language from scratch. It wasn’t difficult, just not easy. And Czech certainly has helped me with my German and Latin studies.
    I really am looking forward to reaching my 16-language goal. Thanks for ALL the tips, and I wish you the best of luck!

    I have a question: How do you continue to practice all your languages, for eg Czech, without going to those places or meeting the people? How often do you practice each of the languages you have attemped to learn?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Haha, I’m sorry but I don’t understand it at all when you say that you feel “discouraged” by me saying that Czech is easy :P It’s had pretty much the opposite effect on most other people…

      I have answered those questions in other blog posts. Please read through the archives of October-December 2010 as I demonstrated a few ways I practised my non-Spanish languages while living in Colombia.

  • Lieren Lier

    Mein erster Kommentar ist gerade verschwunden… Naja. Ich finde es
    etwas schade, dass die tschechische Sprache dich nicht so sehr
    begeistert hat. Für mich wird sie das nächste Projekt sein, nachdem ich
    mit Russisch fertig bin. I would have been glad to have seen you succeed
    because I`m a little afraid of their grammar. This language does have
    special and sentimental meaning to me. Mon meilleur ami etait tchéque. Nous etions amis depuis 10 ans, mais elle est morte d´un cancer. Elle m´a appris quelques mots. Je veux apprendre tchéque dans sa mémorie…

  • Sarah Warren

    “There were other minor things (like my inefficient grammar study method, etc.) that I will take into consideration in future, but my set-backs have absolutely nothing to do with Czech’s inherent difficulties, and I still think the language itself is not as bad as people make it out to be.”

    I expect you’ve long since found this out, but you’re absolutely right. I’m speaking from a perspective of Russian, not Czech, but I know that, for me, Slavonic languages make 100% more sense than Romance languages. I really, really wish I’d had the confidence to make more of the time I spent in Russia, but I know that four years of uni, starting from absolute scratch, gave me much more confidence in Russian (and I had excellent grammar, vocab, accent etc etc) than twice that long and way more opportunities to speak French ever did. Russian grammar can be a pain in the butt, verbs of motion and the way verbs work in Russian could give me nightmares, I swear, but the language, I am absolutely convinced, is no more intrinsically difficult than any other! with the possible exception of Esperanto since that has been deliberately designed to be easy.

    Over the years I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve assumed I must be super duper intelligent and a total natural linguist purely because I speak Russian (I’m neither – I’m very good at picking up the basics, holiday phrases, etc, but I’m not one of those language geniuses who seem to absorb language like water, and being a painfully shy perfectionist does not make for a good language learner – sometimes I really wonder how on earth I decided being a linguist was a good move for me!). The simple fact that I can read fluently a different alphabet amazes some people. Whereas me, I’ve often just regretted bitterly the progress I didn’t make and the fluency I’ve lost. But yeah. Russian makes more sense to me and ergo is much easier (especially in terms of advanced understanding and production of the language) than French. I’ve spoken French longer and in some ways I’m more confident in it, on a conversational level. But if I had to take a language to a fluent, live daily in the language, converse only in that language level… No brainer. Russian would be a hundred times easier.

    Anyway, man, I’m waffling. I wanted to say, I’ve been really inspired by some of your blog posts – I can’t even remember how I ended up here, especially since I was searching for help with Hebrew, not one of your languages…! But it’s encouraged me not to give up on getting back the fluency I once had and hoping to acquire fluency in other languages, where I was honestly feeling like it was just too late and I’d missed my chances. So… Yeah, thank you for that. :-) damnit, I will be able to speak Russian again and I will be able to speak Hebrew.

    I am slowed (but by no means stopped) by chronic illness which unfortunately affects my cognitive processes (ugh), and frustrates me beyond words. But this was just the encouragement I needed right now.

    Спасибо большое, merci beaucoup, תודה רבה :-(

    • Sarah Warren

      OK, that was sposed to be a smile, not a frown… And it won’t let me edit. My brain. Ack. Oh well :-) that’s better!