Is fluency in 3 months possible?

Is fluency in 3 months possible?

Benny

Today marks the 3 month point since I started learning Mandarin!

I won’t be uploading a video today (simply because I couldn’t find someone willing to be recorded on camera with me in Shanghai this week, and Youtube has enough monologues as it is!), but will have several videos in Mandarin, interacting with others, from next week, and plenty more throughout my upcoming travels.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, this wasn’t about leading up to one single 3 month video, but preparation for something much greater.

One confusion people have when they arrive on my site is this non-existent “claim” that I’m here to prove that fluency in 3 months is possible, which I’ve never made. But I find the question itself (asked generally) quite silly: of course it’s possible. When a savant can learn enough Icelandic to be interviewed on television in it after just a week, then of course he would be fluent by anyone’s definition after 3 months (or actually much less).

When a 16 year old can speak 23 languages to various extents (including fluency in several), then there’s no doubt that he’d be speaking C1/C2 of whatever you throw at him if he gave it his full-time attention for 90 days.

And in my own personal experience, I have met dozens of people who have genuinely reached high level fluency in a language in 3 months or less, thanks to a combination of passion for the language, full time immersion, and a general good knack for learning it. You simply can’t argue with me that “fluency in 3 months is not possible” because I’ve seen it happen.

The name of this site (as I’ve said it many times before until I’m blue in the face) is based on my objective to reach a useful level of a language in as short a time as possible. I’m not a savant, and I’m not someone who has a knack or enjoyment for learning languages – I actually dislike learning languages, but I’m trying anyway.

But I have found that aiming high and timeboxing it into a tight deadline, and having both being as specific as possible creates much better results than “try your best” does. “Fluent in 3 months” is an example of a specific deadline, and a specific timeline, and is an important part of my learning philosophy, and so an appropriate name for the site, especially since I’ll be trying the same target again later. If you don’t like it, and would prefer if I had a less ambitious blog name, tough luck :)

Do you actually even NEED to?

But getting back to the question of “is fluency in 3 months possible?” – I know when it’s highly unlikely to ever be possible: when you don’t need it.

Really think about that: “Do I need to speak a language fluently in 3 months?” That’s “need” as in, your basic quality of life actually depends on it. Most people would be very quick to say that they want to speak a language as quickly as possible, as well as possible. But actually needing it, is a whole different world.

I get so much grief from people online, who really need to use their Internet time more efficiently than for complaining and nitpicking (I’d recommend 10 hours of the nyan cat as a comparatively more productive use of your time), that I’m misleading the Youth of Tomorrow with my snake-oil promises of fluency in 3 months. That’s not the point of the site, and if you bother to read past the URL, you’ll see that I never once in 3 years blogging made such a vague one-size-fits-all promise.

A few people have asked me why I am getting all this grief and trolling that I mentioned in earlier posts. I see it as boiling down to 3 things: 1. I’m a confident guy and a bold writer, and language learners “should be humble”, 2. I earn a living online (apparently, earning from your work or writing a book means you “deserve” aggro from people who will never even buy it) and the most important one: 3. Their goals are different to mine.

Let me say this clearly so there’s no confusion: Not everyone needs to speak a language fluently in 3 months, and if you don’t need to, then that goal is a terrible one for you.

Perhaps there is this presumption that I’m telling the entire world “You all need to learn your language in exactly 3 lunar rotations, or you’re a sucker!” – but nothing could be further from the truth. Most people DO NOT NEED to learn a language to a high level in a few months.

For people who enjoy the language learning process, and have taken their time to investigate ancient literature, understanding advanced topics that they may not even be able to follow in their native language, learning advanced vocabulary and the like, then the idea of reaching a useful level in just a few months sounds nothing short of absurd or arrogant. And that’s fine.

If you learn a language for passion, then there’s no hurry and you should take your time. If you’d like to visit the country “some day”, but have other priorities right now, then there’s nothing wrong with taking your time. Enjoy it!

But the truth is that this is NOT the situation for everyone. While some people can get angry at my audacity to urge some people to hurry up a little, I get equally angry with statements like “It takes years to speak this language”. It boils my blood!! The reason is that I get to meet thousands of people abroad who have not learned the language at all because of this “take your time” philosophy. These people need a kick up the ass and some serious pressure to improve.

“Take your time” does work – it works if you are a language enthusiast, it works if you dream of moving to Italy when you retire, it works if you only plan to devote a couple of hours a week to the project. But it does NOT work if you are in the country right now, plan to move to it, or have any other sense of urgency in your language learning project.

I don’t care how many PhDs he has – if anyone makes a sweeping statement that “it takes years to reach a useful level in a language”, as if it applies to absolutely everyone, then he’s an idiot. The logical retort to this is that you would be right to think that I’m the idiot if I were to demand that people without the urgency I described are learning too slowly.

The speed at which you learn the language should depend on the urgency involved. I am going to be over 2,000 km (that’s about 1,250 miles in old money) from the Engrish filled cities of Shanghai and Beijing, trying to live my life, making friends, interviewing people on camera, possibly facing very dangerous situations and trying to stay safe, all with no tour guide or interpreter to take care of me. So how quickly do you think I shrugged off the incredibly useless “it takes years to learn Mandarin” discouragement I’d get online, when the fact of the matter is that I just have about three months to prepare?

I’m not interested in anyone imposing their limitations on me. I may not be a savant, or have a background that would lead to being a good language learner, but despite just being an engineer, I’m going to try my damndest to learn any language that I have to use as quickly as possible. My reality distortion field ignores all discouragement, and that’s why I can actually get something useful done.

Forget him, forget others, forget ME – this is your story

The real question – and the only one that matters, is the one we should ask ourselves: “Can I reach this objective?” Whether Benny Lewis can do it, or someone you’ve seen on Youtube can do it is irrelevant. Such stories are nice soundbites for prime time TV, but prove nothing when it comes to your situation.

My “power” is that I’m very pragmatic – despite not liking learning languages, I’ll go through hell and spend far more time out of my comfort zone than most learners would because I focus on the short-term gains. These 3 months have been a really shitty experience to be honest because of that, but of course the reason I went through it all was due to the pressure of a trip where I absolutely must speak and read good Chinese looming over me.

So, if you’ve asked yourself “is fluency in x months possible for me?” then ask yourself the follow up question of do I really need to even learn so quickly? If in 3 months and one week you are going to be trying to have a nice conversation with the Chinese person sitting next to you on the train for 7 hours, then you should probably stop all this needless speculation and get busy, ignoring what’s possible or what isn’t, because such discussions are wasting your time. If in 3 months and one week you’ll still realistically be using English all day long, then why on earth would you need to be fluent in 3 months??

I’ve ended many days this year with a headache and incredible frustration that I can’t begin to describe. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, and think that it’s a terrible “one size fits all” way to learn a language. But if you are in the country now or going there soon, then grow a pair and deal with it – have a shitty time (but do it efficiently; getting out of your comfort zone with a good plan of action) and do it intensively so that you can come out the other end with something useful as quickly as possible.

If you aren’t going the country any time soon, or don’t have this pressure, then skip over any parts of my blog posts where I tell people to stop being so lazy, because they simply don’t apply to you. I don’t see enough people lighting a fire under the asses of those who genuinely need to learn a language as soon as possible, so I’m not going to waste time in every post prequelling who needs to pay attention and who doesn’t.

But if you are learning slowly, (and good for you, as it’s a very effective way to learn and absorb a language when you do have the time to do it over the long term) then don’t worry I’ve got plenty to say that might help you! For example, if you think the concept of “fluent in 3 months” is controversial, wait until you see the posts I have lined up specifically explaining how I feel people should tackle learning Mandarin…. and reading Chinese.

My 3 month point

Sorry again that I’m not demonstrating my level exactly at the 3 month point (hopefully 3 months and one week will suffice!) but just to be clear, I’ll quickly mention where I’m at:

I won’t be speaking C1 Mandarin this month, but that’s quite OK! Whether I got that or not was never the point of this endeavour – it was a great point to aim towards, and forced me to listen to content that dragged me up (kicking and screaming) in that general direction. So now I can follow B2 level conversations and get the general gist, since I forced myself to listen to a lot of them, and follow B1 conversations almost entirely. And while I’m not speaking so articulately, I do actually know a lot more vocabulary than I let on. I’m still trying to think quicker to remember them in a conversation though, and am working on tidying that up for the next week or so that I’m in Shanghai before I hit the road.

So in general I’d say I’m a comfortable B – a very safe B1, and dipping my toes into B2 on occasion, i.e. “intermediate” speaker. Whether I’m fluent or not depends on your definition. My ultimate goal of “high level fluency” of being able to do what I do in English in the language, is still a bit off, but I’d be happy to call what I have “conversational fluency”, not right now, but likely some time this month, since I’ll continue the annoying intensive learning experience while in Shanghai, and be studying a lot of the time while on trains over the coming months, even if the purpose will be to speak most of the rest of the time.

I’m very proud of what I’ve done in this time – if you decide that the 3 months is a “failure” because I didn’t get the C1 target, then that’s your own sad problem – some of us don’t live in a pass or fail black and white world. That wasn’t the true mission – the point of all of this was to prepare myself to be ready to have as a worthwhile experience and as deep conversations as I possibly could in this short time while travelling in Chinese speaking areas for 3 entire months. And I think I might indeed be ready for that!

There were some things I would have done differently, which I’ll be blogging about of course, and with that in mind, not only do I not regret aiming for C1, but I’ll very likely be doing it again :) When I do, it will be for a similar concept of focusing on learning the language first, and on the cultural experience second. This has been the first time that I’ve genuinely put 3 entire months into such an intensive language learning project (I’ve otherwise reached “pre-fluency” in 2 months, or fluency in 6 or more months), and I’ve learned a lot from the experience!

Last year’s very fast travels (2 months in a country while learning the language) were an anomaly for me – I’ve had different styles of living in countries for an entire year, or 6 months, or 3 months over the last 9 or so years travelling, but for at least the next year, I’ll focus more on this style of language first, then travel – depending on how I feel after my time in China.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed following along over the last 3 months! I’ve made many notes during this time and have so much to say about learning Chinese!! I’ve been light on the details up to now. For example, I was successful in my objective to be able to read Chinese on signs, menus, getting the gist of some articles, and went beyond that by being able to chat with someone online or via SMS entirely in Chinese. I use a dictionary to understand what they write sometimes, but can write most of what I want to say independently. In some cases I actually prefer the Chinese over the English if it’s available, such as metro stops – as they jump out at me much better.

And the coolest thing of all: I can do all this for both simplified and traditional Chinese – the reason being that my next 3 months will require both. Based on what I’ve learned so far, I’ve got a LOT to say about Chinese in upcoming blog posts. ;)

Of course, I still have plenty left to learn in Chinese, and I will continue to study it for a very long time, but these 3 months will have been the most important and crucial of my time with this language. The next 3 will be the most important in terms of understanding the Chinese people, but also of course essential to improving my language skills!

————–

I really feel that more people, especially those who are abroad or going abroad soon, should aim for “Fluency in 3 months”, or something as concrete, even if not quite as ambitious. It’s not guaranteed that they’ll get it, but the point is that they’ll end up with something very useful for having pushed themselves so hard. If I was aiming for the level I have now rather than above it, then I wouldn’t have pushed myself as hard, as I’d see it in sight and ease off at some point.

But because of all this pressure it certainly hasn’t been a pleasant experience. More should try it… but if you do it, be ready to wish you hadn’t many times during the intensive experience. Language learning can be lots of fun when you take your time, but the best way to make progress quickly if you truly need it, is to be out of your comfort zone most of the time – it’s unpleasant, but it’s very effective.

Thoughts on all this welcome below as always!

Today marks the 3 month point since I started learning Mandarin! I won’t be uploading a video today (simply because I couldn’t find someone willing to be recorded on camera with me in Shanghai this week, and Youtube has enough monologues as it is!), but will have several videos in Mandarin, interacting with others, from […]

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  • Graham

    I’m a new fan of yours Benny. Very inspiring indeed. Best of luck to you. I’m hoping to start improving my French soon. Cheers!

    Graham
    Toronto, Canada

  • Anonymous

    “When a savant can learn enough Icelandic to be interviewed on television in it after just a week,”
    You’re referring to Daniel Tammet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_tammet).  First time I watched that Youtube video a few years back I was highly impressed.  Then a while later it occurred to me that since he already could speak German, and Icelandic being a Germanic language, it was probably not that hard for him to start speaking it conversationally.  Also in the interview you notice after a few initial pleasantries he monopolizes the conversation with what seems to be a prepared statement.  That can make him seem better than he is, as he doesn’t have to respond to the interviewers’ questions.  I even suspect he knew what questions the interviewers would put to him before the interview so he could prepare beforehand.

    Also I just want to point out there are doubts about his savant status.  The documentary leaves out a lot of information, such as the fact that he used to enter memory contests when he was younger under his real name, but he never won such contests (why not if he’s so good?)  Also the way he moves his fingers while “calculating” suggests he’s using a memory technique and not the way he says the answer comes to him.

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

      Fair enough potential criticisms (albeit hard to be sure of who is right), but I still think that someone with as an efficient a process for memorizing as he has, and a willingness to get help from a private tutor as he did, would reach fluency in 3 months if he were devoting the majority of his day to the project.

      As I’ve said, I’ve met non-savants (but still, people with a “knack” and love for language learning, which I don’t have) who have indeed reached fluency in 3 months, despite not having an immediately similar language to rely on.

    • http://www.pagef30.com mithridates

      >
      Also I just want to point out there are doubts about his savant status.  The documentary leaves out a lot of information, such as the fact that he used to enter memory contests when he was younger under his real name, but he never won such contests (why not if he’s so good?)  

      He has – Tammet has the European record for reciting pi to the greatest number of digits:

      http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2004/040315_1.html 

      “On 14 March 2004, Daniel Tammet recited Pi to 22,514 decimal places, breaking the European record for memorising the unending number.”

      • Paul

        wow!  I once learnt pi to 100 dp in one day using Dominic O’Brians memory method, so I am very impressed at this!! 

        I saw the documentary too, and thought it was great.  But the best thing about Benny and this site, is that it’s for all us regular people (no offence Benny lol), it offers a great way for ‘normal’ people to master a language in a timeframe that suits them.  And a place to go to be inspired.

    • Vanessa C

      I was going to mention that myself.

      He is interviewed in Foer’s book, Moonwalking with Einstein.  Foer asks him three times what experience his synasthasia gives him for the same number on separate occasions, and Tammet’s answer changed each time.

      Also, I think he mentioned that the parts of Tammet’s brain that light up when recalling were the same spatial reasoning parts that lit up as a mnemonist using the method of loci to recall things.  When Kim Peek’s brain was MRI’d, they found that he didn’t have two brain lobes.  He had one massive brain lobe.  No abnormalities were mentioned about Tammet’s brain.

      When I hear of Tammet demonstrating abilities that go beyond the tricks
      (and I say tricks with a great deal of respect, you have to practice to get fast) of mnemonists and other mental athletes, or easily besting
      the mnemonists at their own games (which he didn’t, when he competed
      under his real name he lost), then I’ll be convinced. 

      Kim Peek, when he started playing piano, could recall songs he had heard a decade earlier.  That’s not something a mnemonist has parlor tricks for. 

      By the way,
      http://pi-world-ranking-list.com/lists/memo/index.html

      He’s ranked six on this list of pi memorizers.  He knew ~10,000 fewer digits of pi in 2004 than a guy who tested in 1981, and in 2005 a guy recalled 4x as many digits of pi as Tammet.

      I would love to see the World Memory Championships create a “Foreign Language Learning” category.  But I imagine it is difficult.  To avoid giving anyone an advantage, they couldn’t use any real foreign languages.  They would have to make up a new language for each competition with new vocabulary and grammar.

      But the real world stuff like that is what people are after (poetry memorization, names+faces).   Given the innovation in technique and understanding to get to where a deck of cards can be memorized in 20 seconds, any innovations they make in speed “foreign” language learning would certainly be a boon to us average language learners.

      I am *more* inspired to learn languages believing Tammet is quite possibly a fraud.  A person with a normal brain.  If I gain the right techniques and skillset, then I could take my two weeks of “vacation” in some country, hire a private tutor, and come back speaking whatever language.  How cool would that be?

      • http://twitter.com/joshhostels Josh (Hostels)

        There used to be a poetry event in the World Memory Championships, but I think it was taken out because it gave an unfair advantage to English speakers. It’s still included at the USA championships though.

        If they made up an artificial language for the competitions, it would probably be unintentionally slanted towards one language or another (tones, grammar, phonetics, writing system). I like the idea though. :)

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

    Great stuff! Consider your arse kicked!

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

    With about 3 years to prepare, you can do a lot to internalise Japanese in an enjoyable, but not so stressful way. Glad to see you are appreciating that everyone has to learn differently! Don’t take TOO much pressure off though – I’m sure you’re aware of the slippery slope to simply not working efficiently at all ;)

    Best of luck!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046691305 Veronica Nelson

       Oh yes! Pressure is still needed in some form. Nothing would ever get done. I was homeschooled so I understand that a lot. If my mom gave me an unlimited time to do something, it usually didn’t get done until she put the pressure on. :D lol So yes, definitely will still keep some pressure on!

  • Taba

    Utterly inspirational for us language learners Benny.

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

      Why, thank you!!

  • Stephen Angell

    There’s also the point that ausefullevelofalanguageinasshortatimeaspossibl.com is perhaps not as snappy or memorable URL.

  • http://twitter.com/GetGoodAtExcel Anne Walsh MCT

    hi Benny, like one of the readers below I am learning French with a view to visiting/living there one day (and to fulfill a lifelong dream) – I find your journey inspirational and one of the things I find really useful is your meta approaches around memory etc..In Ireland we so need people like you to inspire language learning…You are a true inspiration and I think you should be up for Cavan man of the year.. :-) 

  • Richard

    I was unemployed and kicking around wasting my time while getting rejected for jobs until I finally got my act together and started doing some fun and useful things with my free time. I’ve always had a dream to go to China and always loved the language, and then it finally occurred to me that I had the time to learn and it would make the trip so much more special if I could speak the language.

    I started learning with free online resources and, as you’d expect, not long after got myself a job that’s taken up a lot of my time and done its best to kill my language learning motivation. I find myself mentality and physically tired after what is really mundane work and find myself wasting my free time with computer games and TV.

    Recently, I settled my immediate debts, picked up a simple Teach Yourself book and CD course (up to B2 level) and have started trying to get the motivation back. But I’m struggling and still find myself taking the easier route of “I’ll do it tomorrow”.

    That’s when I found your blog, and the nagging about being lazy and that it CAN be done in 3 months are quite inspirational. I might not NEED to be able to do it in 3 months for any reason, but there is no excuse for sitting around being lazy with it either. I am especially intrigued with your experiences learning the written language so quickly too as I’ve started that at the same time and have heard that it is much harder to make progress with than the spoken language.

    I’m really looking forward to your videos so that I can see the results of all the tremendous effort you have put in.

    I’m going to have a further dig through your site now and hope to pick up some further motivational kicks up the backside, but I first just wanted to drop a comment in; A big well done for managing to achieve something really impressive, and a thank you for being a down to earth, (even uninterested!) non-expert that reiterates that if time isn’t a factor don’t stop learning and don’t leave it.

    Good luck with the videos next week, and I look forward to seeing them!

    Richard

  • David Cheney

    Great post as always.  My question is, did you decide to make your trip to the China mainland after you were in Taiwan, or was that your plan from the beginning?  From reading  your blog, it seems this was your plan from the beginning, but I can’t help thinking that it was your initial contact with the Chinese people, as it was for me,  that made you want to learn more about them.

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

      This was my vague plan, although it got solidified mostly when I confirmed logistics of bypassing the “great firewall of China” and visa issues could be resolved easier than I thought.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000704616791 Edmund Yong

    Benny加油啊!希望你能达成你的目标!既然你在学华语,我就用华语吧。我从你的博客中学到了很多东西,不单只是关于语文学习,你的博客也改变了我的一些想法。我觉得那比语文学习Tips还要重要!只是…难道你在学外语时真的一点快乐也没有?
    [TRANSLATION]Benny, keep it up! I hope you can reach your goal. I actually learning many things from your blog, not only about language learning. Your blog also change my thinking and how I face this world. I think these tips are more important than language learning tips. But…do you really feel zero excitement when learning languages?   

  • Jim31989

    I admire your enthusiam and like your site.  But every post you write these days your complaining about trolls etc.. Ignore them and focus on your writing and learning, people will grow tired if you constantly mention them in every post you write, just saying.  Enjoy your trip in China!

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

      This post was my last comment to the trolls that features prominently. You’ll enjoy the upcoming posts ;)

  • Simon J

    Hi Benny – seeing as you’re going to be writing a lot about your experiences learning Chinese in the coming months, here are some ideas about what I’d be interested in reading:

    – What effective techniques you used that are specific to learning Chinese (i.e. not transferable from your other languages)
    – What you got wrong in learning Chinese that cost you time/efficiency (apart from spending all your time arguing on the Internet! ;) )
    – How you learned both traditional/simplified characters (how efficiently did you manage this?)
    – Differences in communicating with the natives (especially their attitude towards you)
    – Precisely how you intend to keep learning once you’ve finished the next 3 months (this one is of particular interest to me)
    – What you found particularly difficult/easy about Chinese
    – How you find the vastly differing Mandarin accents on the mainland

    This is coming from someone who has learned a fair bit of Chinese, but has yet to visit either the PRC or Taiwan. 

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

      Was actually already planning to write posts that discuss most of that :) I’ve got a lot of thoughts on my last 3 months and will certainly think of new things for the upcoming 3 months! Plenty of interesting blog posts on the way!

  • Jesse Dass

    Dear Benny, have you ever thought about writing a step-by-step guide to learning specifically Spanish or French or Italian or Portuguese or Esperanto or German or Irish or Mandarin? A guide that has what phrases to learn on day 1 with translations to English, then on day 2, day 3 etc. A guide that has exercises and introduces grammar after you learn basic words and phrases but is different to ‘Speak from Day 1′.

    Also, I am learning Hindi and I know many native speakers but I don’t know how to learn a language from native speakers like a child. Do you have any tips for learning from a native speaker?JesseAustralia jessepaedia.blogspot.com.au

    P.S. I have learnt how to say basic words such as hello, goodbye and thank you in Hindi but I need to become fluent (or relatively fluent) to communicate effectively or understand Hindi media.

  • Jesse Dass

    Dear Benny, 
    I am learning Hindi and have already learnt the basic words such as hello, thank you, my name is…, his name is…, her name is… etc but I want to become fluent. I know many native speakers but I know how to learn from them like a child. Do you have any tips for learning from native speakers of a language?

    Jesse
    Australia
    jessepaedia.blogspot.com

  • Lasecta_esclavo

    u mad bro?

  • L Grcevich

    Oh, Benny! I feel so bad that you are frustrated right now. You’ve done outstanding (as always) and have done more than most do in a lifetime. It is absolutely commendable! B2 or B1 already is such a great accomplishment. Chin up. :D You’re always an inspiration to many.

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

      No worries – I’ve got all the venting out of my system, so the tone of future posts will be lighter! Thanks a million for the kind words!

  • Guest

    Benny, I’m a fan and have really enjoyed your blog over the past year or so.  However, I’m finding that you are becoming more and more defensive in your recent postings, basically trying to justify your position of ‘fluency’.  As someone who is impressed by what you are trying to do, I must say I am starting to get turned off with so many of your posts directed to the naysayers.  Please just tell us more about what you are doing, and how, as I don’t feel involved in those arguments… and I suspect many of your readers feel the same.  Again, I’ve really enjoyed the missions you’ve set for yourself.  Best of luck.

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

      These 3 months were stressful, and I don’t hold back on sharing that, so it was easier to get to me. This wave of trolling was one I’ve never experienced before and required growing thicker skin. I believe I can deal with it now and won’t be discussing them any more.

      My next posts will have less of that angry tone, especially since some pressure is off me now, and more practical advice. Thanks for the feedback, and sorry for writing to the tiny percentage of annoying people who aren’t going to get anything out of my site anyway.
      But I’m human, and if I’m angry, I can’t promise that that won’t come across in future posts :)

  • Jesse Dass

    It’s amazing how you learnt to speak all those languages at a high level in a short amount of time. After you fully conquer Mandarin what language would you want to learn next?

    Jesse
    Australia

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

      It’s a secret. Stay tuned, and I’ll build up suspense and announce it before it begins! :) Although, it’s such a secret… that I don’t even know myself yet :P

      For the moment, only thinking about China!

  • http://yetanotherlanguage.blogspot.com.au/ Crno Srce

    I was really looking forward to some big final video to round off the series! Oh well, it can wait :-)

    Do you think that since you haven’t reached a comfortable B2 in your 3 months, it would have worked just as well to say you were aiming for B2? As long as you don’t aim lower than what you can achieve realistically, it should work just as well, right? Then again, you risk aiming too low, so no harm in having a higher goal… But you have to admit, this higher goal made an easy target for the army of nay-sayers. Though to be fair to the nay-sayers, the only criticism I actually heard at the start of your mission(didn’t listen to more because even listening to one was a waste of my time, really) was that the claim of C1 was ridiculous and that if you study really hard and have tutoring, etc, and full-time dedication, you could achieve a high B1 in 3 months, possibly a low B2 kind of area, which is pretty much how you described your current status.

    I remember reading a post by someone who had done all the CEFRL exams in German and they felt like the jump from B1 to B2 was the big one – where you go from learning it to feeling like it’s internal in some sense, and so far, I agree somewhat, though I haven’t done any of the exams yet, so I can’t speak from the basis of passing any of them :-) From your experience, do you feel like this is a bigger “jump” in terms of how “internal” the language feels, or do you think that there is no “internalisation” phase for you because you start off using it as much as possible, so it grows in you from the start?

    In any case, have fun on your 3 month holiday! It sounds scary when you describe, but I’ve had several completely non-chinese speaking and reading friends do lots of independent travel in remote areas of china (some of them went cycling in the remote provinces near Tibet, for example) and they managed to survive, so I’m sure you’ll be fine. Of course, they didn’t make a whole bunch of local friends like you intend to! Good luck!

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

      Naysayers be damned, I have a mission to learn a language, not to please everyone in the world! :D I’ll answer your first question in more detail in an upcoming post.

      And I find any jump is just as hard. For me the hardest part of these 3 months was to get comfortable with a long conversation, rather than snappy Q&As for basic necessities. Not sure if that’s the A1 to A2 jump? It was the toughest part of this project (when I took on 3 hours of spoken lessons a day).

      And I don’t quite consider this a “holiday”. To me, a holiday involves going to a beach etc. and partying in a language I speak really well :P This will be working hard at appreciating a culture, in unfamiliar and sometimes perhaps uncomfortable situations, and doing so in a language I’m still struggling with, but will be very interesting I’m sure!

      • http://yetanotherlanguage.blogspot.com.au/ Crno Srce

        I think a 3 hour conversation, if not repetitive, would surely be beyond the A2 level. I’m not sure it could be related directly to the A1-C2 scale, but I understand what you mean about how hard it is!

        As for the holiday thing – agree to disagree :-) If you post regular videos, I’ll concede the point ;-)

        Looking forward to that future post.

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

    For all those people who “can’t go to a country” they can get plenty of spoken practice online. In fact, I’ve done the vast majority of my Chinese lessons over the last weeks online.

    Learning about the culture is a great thing, but in terms of efficiency to improve your spoken skills, nothing beats live time with a real human being, even if via a computer.

  • http://whichhotel4me.com/ Cath

    I guess if you had a flair for languages it would be but I am not sure I could be fluent in any language in 3 months!

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

      You need to read this post: http://fi3m.com/destiny I don’t have this flair you speak of.

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

    Yes, he is incredibly talented at telling thousands of people complete lies about what I’m doing / aiming for / “claiming”, and I’ve found that trying to clarify things to him is like talking to a Canadian brick wall, so I’ve given up.

    If he put the same energy into being helpful that he does into trying to tear others down with misleading and misinformed comments, he could do a lot more good with his site.

  • http://twitter.com/TravelProducer Marianne Schwab

    I love this blog!  I’m a big advocate in knowing some basics of the language of the country you’re visiting.  Not only does it help you navigate in a foreign land, but it’s good manners.  I also love the warm reception when I say something as simple as NiHao or SheShee.  I really admire your efforts to know more than just the basics.  Totally admire what you’re doing!

  • http://twitter.com/Hallowspite Dusty

    *Applause*

    That is all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/NataliaRoschinaJapan Natalia Roschina Billiejean St

    This photo looks like the place where Michael Jackson made this film “They Don’t Care About Us” drums version. Brasil?

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

      Not sure where he recorded it, but I had this photo taken in Salvador da Bahia, in Brazil ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/NataliaRoschinaJapan Natalia Roschina Billiejean St

    Veronica, If you want to live in Japan, I would recommend to join this forum for internationa women in Japan http://www.being-a-broad.com/forums/.  It’s free, and it has loads of useful info.  Not so many people post after Fukushima,but still a great resource.  I lived 15 years in Japan 1997-2011.  Good luck with Japanese!  I would recommend literature, haiku, poems, lyrics, films to study Japanese, and read your favourite magazines in Japanese.

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

    A lot of experience meeting failed language learners tells me that you are totally right with your conclusion.

  • Clay Telecom

     Language problem is faced by many travelers in the world and it is quite important to atleast understand some of the basics in any language.  For a traveler it is quite important.

  • Gabriel Brunner

    Thanks, good post. More than the technique you use for learning languages, I think your comments about deadlines and getting yourself to make a real effort are spot on. I do the same with translations: I set myself a tight deadline just so I really have to get down to the dirty work as soon as possible.

  • northernhemisphere

    I’m glad to know that some native English speakers
    are struggling to learn a foreign language as well.

    Learning a foreign language takes some
    effort.

    Whenever some native English speakers who
    don’t speak a foreign language at all themselves say to me, “Why do you not
    speak English? How many years have you studied it? Where did you learn it? Most
    Japanese people don’t speak English well. Why?”, I’d like to say that it isn’t as
    easy as they think.

    Even they say behind my back that I don’t
    speak English at all. (Ironically, I can hear this phrase clearly, even though
    I don’t understand most of what they say due to their unfamiliar accents. I’m
    familiar with an American accent, but it was difficult for me to hear a New
    Zealander in the countryside say “Where are you now?”)

    Whenever this happens, I just shrug it off,
    because I don’t think they really understand what I feel until they put themselves
    in my shoes.

    On the other hand, I haven’t been told by
    any Korean that my Korean is bad even though my Korean is worse than my English.

    I think they encourage me to learn Korean, because
    they know how hard it is to learn a foreign language.

    I’m not saying that every native English
    speaker is mean, and there are a lot of people who encourage me to learn
    English.

    But sometimes it pisses me off when some
    native English speakers take it for granted that I speak English just because
    English is spoken all over the world.

  • Anon

    Hi Benny, your views are refreshing. I’m hoping to relocate to a Spanish speaking country in three months and people have laughed at my ambition to be fluent in Spanish in this period of time. It’s nice to find someone else who believes it’s possible. Great website too.

  • Kimmie

    Hello Benny,
    Wow. I am so inspired by your accomplishments! I’ve only started to learn mandarin and I’m planning to visit Taipei in 3 years from now. I’m a 16 year old Vietnamese and I fear that when I go back to school that I’d be too busy, and then spend not enough time on Chinese. So I am wondering, during those 3 months, how many hours or how much mandarin did you do each day (I assume tremendous amount of hard work to reach your level of fluency in just 3 months)?

  • Kimmie

    Hello Benny,
    Wow. You’ve inspired me soo much! I’m a 16 year old Vietnamese just starting to learn mandarin. I’m planning on visiting Taiwan in 3 years from now, but afraid that school may make learning Chinese difficult to grasp fluently. I would love to learn it fluently and I can’t wait to visit Taipei. I’m so motivated again by your posts and accomplishments, thanks for sharing with us. My question for you Benny is: How many hours did you put each day for these 3 months?

    Kimmie

  • http://twitter.com/DCHideaway District Hideaway

    I’m trying learn spanish right now. Wishing that I would be able to actually learn it in 3 months.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yurinka.mikiki Yurinka Mikiki

    Hi Benny, you are an inspiration to us, but let me ask you something that disturbs me, I’m a spanish native speaker, although my goal is to be an almost biligual in english because I need it for work, i’m triying to learn some mandarin chinese ( just for fun i don’t need it for nothing else ) but I’m afraid to loose my english in the process , of course this is not a problem for you because you will never loose your english , but what would you recomend to me ? either keep on learning english glancing briefly on chinese or I should forget the mandarin for the moment
    all my best

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.crest.9 Richard Crest

    It’s hard to communicate if you don’t know even basic language in the country where you about to travel. Learning Mandarin is one of my frustration I guess 3months for me is not enough to be fluent. Thanks for sharing inspiring article.

  • Ted Harrar

    Interesting post Benny. I work in Language Training and will be sharing your posts with some managers and students I know. Far too many people put up unnecessary roadblocks and set unrealistic expectations. Thx –Ted Harrar, Canada

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

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Laura Orange

    Truly impressive…

  • Maximuz

    I’m impressed. I love your approach of not being afraid to get out of your comfort zone. I am surprised you say so many people hate on you. I would think people, after watching your videos (which is proof), they would be in awe. I know some Korean, but you have inspired me to study harder!

  • http://twitter.com/TWorldHeritage Julio Moreno

    Also, I added you on twitter, so I hope you post more there (I am also “Maximuz” and have no idea why I have more than one account -_-).
    Do you ever forget a language?

  • Electro Girl

    Salut Benny,

    J’ai vu que ton français était vraiment excellent et je t’en félicite :), c’est très impressionnant. J’aimerais te poser une question mais je préfère le faire en anglais, si cela ne te dérange pas, pour qu’un plus grand nombre de personnes la comprenne.

    I am among those persons who try to learn another language (German, as for me) but who are slowed down in their apprenticeship because of problems of concentration and memorization. In my case, these problems are due to a mental illness (but it can also concern people with a deficit of attention disorder). We have to deal with extra problems. Do you think you could give a few advice for people like me?

    Merci d’avance, Benny, et merci pour l’inspiration. :)

  • mindlessnoise

    Learning a language to speaking fluency is entirely possible. I’ve witnessed it happen in South Korea where I live. Many migrants who come here to do DDD jobs in factories and other similar places become fluent within six months. Not all of these people can be gifted in language-learning so it’s possible for ordinary people to learn a foreign language as an adult within six months (and ones who have that extra motivation to learn it within three months).

    The thing that distinguishes these people from others who stay in South Korea for a long time but cannot speak Korean is that these people work with Korean people all day, presumably Korean people who do not speak much English. That coupled with the fact that their work environment is rich in context and they have great motivation to learn Korean (it’s for their survival), makes it “easy” to pick up the language.

    The same for school-aged children who move to another country. Within a year most kids are speaking fluently and I bet most of them don’t even remember the process of learning the foreign language. Once again, a context-rich environment, the foreign language being spoken almost 100% of time and lots of motivation to take in the sounds and make oneself understood are the factors at work here.

    Additionally, I think the lack of focus on book-learning and reading and writing skills initially helps a lot.

    I think that’s the main advantage children have over adults. They’re usually not hung up with “studying” the language as adults are. They usually learn to speak before learning to read and write. Adults often do it backwards: they attempt to study a language (learning grammar, spelling and so on) before they learn to speak or communicate in it, wasting time in the process, and making the whole process a lot harder than it might be otherwise. Of course you can do both, but adult learners often neglect the speaking and listening portion of language learning.

  • http://fluent-language.blogspot.com/ Kayla C.

    It’s possible if you put your mind to it :) Like Benny said, don’t let anyone else write your story!

  • http://www.condor-idiomas.com/ Condor Idiomas

    It think it depends on your entry level. If you’re an absolute starter, I don´t know if you can make it in 3 months.

  • Carlos M Guilarte

    Hola Benny. Quede gratamente sorprendido al encontrar tu pagina web, y leer tu sitio completamente (desde Quora). Totalmente de acuerdo contigo, la motivación lo es todo para aprender un idioma. Yo aprendí ingles a los 14, por mi cuenta! solo use algunos libros viejos de mama y hablaba ingles cada vez que podía hacerlo, tal como lo recomiendas! Luego hice un curso formal, y para mi sorpresa desde los 20 tengo un ingles fluido.

    Es fascinante llegar a conocer un idioma a traves de la cultura, eso es lo que lo hace invaluable e inolvidable. Luego de establecer las relaciones con las culturas, no hay vuelta atras, y podras usar los idiomas cada vez mas, uniendolo a los recuerdos de lo vivido. Eres un genio!

    Hi Benny. I was pleasently surprised finding your website, and reading completely your site (from Quora). I totally agree with you, motivation is everything in order to learn a new language. I learned english when I was 14, by myself! I just used some of my mother’s old books and I tried to speak the language avery time I could, exactly as you recommend! I did a formal english course later, and to my surprise, I can speak fluid english since I was 20 (right now I’m 38).

    It is fascinating to get to know a language through culture, that’s what makes it invaluable and unforgettable. After establishing relationship with the cultures, there is no going back, and you can use the languages even more, joining the memories. You’re a genius!

    Carlos

  • http://translatefromspanishtoenglish.com/ ironthumb michaelangelo

    If you go to the language’s land of origin-and you are dedicated- you don’t see nor hear nothin but the target language — yes! you can in 3 mos! but in your own land with minimal sources of input? no

  • http://www.careerbreak360.com/ Liz

    After reading your article, I’m going to challenge myself by learning Spanish. Thanks for the inspiration to try.

  • http://www.mytravelaffairs.com/ Marysia @ My Travel Affairs

    I know your blog for a while, and always read trough it but now when I got an idea that I NEED to learn Russian quickly I love how motivating you are!

  • Philip Jones

    I won’t say I was fluent but after living in Korea for three months I could carry on an hour long conversation with a stranger on the train without needing a dictionary. That was without knowing a single word before I got there. I basically used the same technique you use. I talked to everyone I could. I started with a maximum conversation length of ~30s the first week and worked up from there.

  • Savi and Vid

    Terribly inspiring – We’ve always believed working at a new language is so much more important than the ‘knack’ for picking up languages. Thanks for corroborating that!!

  • Tours of India

    This is great. I’ve recently started noticing/following travel blogs more so the photos here are a little surreal.This is an industry that I’d love to be involved in. It seems like a fun field.

  • NicholasDuMonde

    As I just commented on another post, I have decided to learn French! I am incredibly passionate about this (especially as a prior professional Chef). While I don’t need to learn it in 3 months, I would certainly love to! I’m going away for the weekend from the world of technology, but upon getting back, I will start day 1 of my 3 months and I plan on documenting my progress!

  • Karl Reichenbach

    I’m reposting this from a different blog post, because it’s more relevant here:

    You have a very shallow definition of “fluent”, as is the case with a lot of people. For you, fluent means a basic understanding of basic grammatical structures and some basic vocabulary. Yeah, sure, focusing on speaking for only a relatively short period of time will help you with that. Doing that for a few months or weeks will start to help, say, a French native get over stuff like “I go upstairs right now” instead of “I’m going upstairs”. That’s just basic grammatical structure though. You still are nothing close to a native’s level in terms of vocabulary size, (for a native, 20,000 root words roughly, not including vital knowledge like compoud words, expressions, cultural references, and slang), ease of use (your ability to just breath in the language and have advanced sentences that reflect exactly what you want to express just come out without even thinking about it, as well as your ability to recognize and understand advanced sentences spoken with the rapidness of a native speaker). All of this is completely unattainable within the time span of 3 months, even if you do nothing but practice and sleep. That’s why you don’t see a musician say pick up the guitar one day, and three months later he can improvise like Guthrie Govan. A language is like an instrument. Just like with an instrument, you can be taught the basics very quickly. Music is based around basically one thing, that is, a handful a scales, which is just a simple pattern of sound intervals. But to apply that masterfully, you need an extensive knowledge and experience of scales, chords, harmonization, modes, phrasing, licks, and all of the nuances of the way they can be utilized well. In the same way, you can learn the basic irregular verbs and grammatical structure of a language in a few months, enough to avoid glaring gramamtical errors, like the example I cited above. Once many people reach this level, they suddenly label themselves “fluent”. But they still don’t have the faculty of a native speaker, or even close. A lot of people think there’s something magical about “immersion” and that you can just “tune into” a language if you are simply surrounded by it. But languages are just large “pools” of individual units (words) that are put together using a grammatical system. If you know the grammatical system like the back of your hand, that’s great, but if you don’t know all the nuances of the thousands of different constitutents that can be applied into this system, then it’s not going to get you very far, or at least not to what I would call fluent. In other words, there’s nothing special about immersion in and of itself. It’s just that if you’re immersed in something you have a hell of a lot more time to devote to it, which means more of this individual consituents can be assimilated. But if you aren’t putting yourselves in contexts you’ve never been before and making an effort to actually learn words and expressions, your progress will be much slower than it would be. Native speakers learn like this. But, guess what, they LIVE in their home country, every hour of their lives will involve usage of the language, they’ve literally have tens of thousands of hours of practice just living their lives. So yeah, if you immerse yourself in the language for that level of time, you’ll reach an advanced level. But you can vastly speed up your learning if you focus more on studying and reading as well as just speaking. A rather systematic approach is invaluable, but it is also key to remember that you can’t leave yourself only to that. A systematic approach to learning vocabulary and expressions and whatnot MUST be coupled with application e.g. speaking with natives. But don’t act like the sole act of speaking with natives will get you to a truly advanced level any time soon if you limit yourself to that.

    If acquiring a basic understanding of many languages instead of excelling in one (or a few, if you’re hugely dedicated) is your thing, then fine, but I think it’s a little lame to call that “fluent”. If you aren’t having trouble with where you are, change contexts. Basic conversation can frequently draw from a very simple vocabulary base. Try watching a film without subtitles, you’ll have to stop it every 30 seconds to replay parts, some of which you’ll never get until you put on subtitles. That’s not very fluent to me.

    Your point about hours put in versus years is spot on, however. As for the three month fluency though, I’d be willing to bet you’re selling something, or you just have low standards for what you consider fluent (or maybe my standards are just too high, who knows.)

    /huge convoluted post

  • Kris Baughman

    I am a recent fan of yours. It’s pretty funny actually I was on a forum about pimsleur (I had been using it while and was impressed by it) and I read your comments about pimsleur and thought wow he’s really negative I left that page and thought nothing more about it and started reading another page and everything sounded so perfect, it was your pages on here and I was like holy crap its the same guy- needless to say I admire the crap out of you and i’m second guessing pimsleur. just wanted to tell you because I thought it was rather amusing how I came to admire you.

  • http://www.stanag6001.com/ Military English Translator

    I remember when Benny started his adventure with foreign languages. Now, it’s a big language business rather than a spontaneous learner sharing his experience. Anyway, a lot of people found his website inspiring and it counts most! Good work and consistency worth prizing.

  • Mark Griffin

    Benny, Limerick man here living in Japan. I’ve been here a year now and I know I’ve been lazy in learning the language, the above article has given me a kick up the arse. Although I do not have the luxury of totally immersing myself in the language (I’m an English Instructor, full time and part time), I know I can do more.

    I’m gonna follow your Japanese progress.

    私はマークです
    今は英語のきょしです

    日本語べんきょがんばって!

    Mark

  • Rachel Fleming

    Benny,
    So, in reading your Speak from Day 1 guide, which I am already finding to be IMMENSELY helpful, I have realized that I don’t know what I need to learn to achieve my goals necessarily. For example, I want to achieve C1 level fluency in French by March 30th, 2014 but I don’t know how to really work backwards and get my goal down to the day to day.

    Do you have any suggestions? Or, maybe this will get clearer as I keep reading the guide.

    Thanks and all the best!!

  • Octavio

    Benny, when you say that you’ve seen people become fluent in a language in three months, what exactly does that entail? I guess my question is, could they pass advanced language exams such as a C1?
    Thanks.

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

      I’ve definitely met people who’ve reached C1 oral level in 3 months, and it’s something I’ve strived for on this blog to make such a thing public so more people know it’s possible.

      I don’t think they’d pass a C1 exam though, because that requires improving reading and writing abilities, and also preparing for the exam format, which is a monster task in itself. Rather than think in terms of exams, I think more in terms of the kinds and ranges of conversations they’d be able to have.

  • Ellinika

    Bravo to you on your website, there is some really good information here. I came across this post while taking a break studying Greek (Modern). I have to attest that the 3 month goal is attainable. I have been living and studying in Greece now for 4.5 months and I have gone from an A1 level to a B2 level. I am currently taking classes and studying around 6 hours a day, and a little less on the weekends. This is my first foreign language and while I can communicate decently I still have work to do in the speaking and listening departments. However, it is good to know that other people are able to become fluent in such a short amount of time. It gives me hope. Good luck and keep doing what you’re doing!

  • LivelyLanguages

    Great posts, have really enjoyed this one. And I agree, you just have to jump in with two feet, speak as much as possible and remember that everyone you speak to appreciates the effort you put in and wants to help you achieve fluency.

  • Kevin Burkett

    Hey Benny, I currently only speak English, but I just made a wager with a Korean friend on a whim that I could learn Korean in three months. He called me crazy, but I’m positive that If I use your suggestions, and put my mind to it, that it can be done.

    Peace,
    Kevin

  • fubarczar

    I am currently learning my third language and it’s a doozy, Finnish. I am no when it comes to learning, and I dare say that 3 month fluency is not achievable for various reason for native English speakers learning something like Finnish or Estonian. These Finno-ugric languages are so different that almost no logic carries over from other language groups: not from Slavic, Germanic, Romance languages, East Asian languages. Almost everything is complex in Finnish from long words, 12 spoken cases, 6 verb types, not only do they decline or conjugate everything under the sun, but they have extensive system of consonant graduation where many times only the 1st two letters in the word are left untouched, and many exception words. And forget about quickly using two verbs in one sentence because there are many infinitive forms, and forget the dictionaries helping to much because although they will translate a word for you they don’t give you enough information like what case a verb requires, etc. There’s much more but at least Finnish doesn’t have genders! One last thing is pronunciation not only is there a huge gap between what’s written and spoken but the subtlety between words makes it easy to say the wrong word.

  • Yuliana

    Hola!! Gracias por este post, la verdad es que no esperaba que fuera de tanta ayuda, encontré este blog de casualidad, siempre es bueno aprender nuevas formas y en especial con los idiomas que es mas de constancia y dedicación que de presión y estrés.

    Un saludo y animo en tus próximos viajes ;)

  • Nubian

    Well done Benny!!! you truly truly inspiring me ( I think You should do speeches thats my own personal opinion) but yeah thanks for sharing this i am currently learning french and my goal is to will be able to speak it in 3month!! But dont know where actually start with,… what would you recommend recommend me guys please??

  • Monika Andreson

    aww, this is nice!

  • Gaius Flaminius

    As a Dutchman, I am used to speaking foreign languages. Fluently in English, German and French. Also al little Russian.
    But now I am living in Italy already for some years, even studied Italian in Holland and Italy, I still don’t speak Italian. ( swearing is no problem… maybe because I am Dutch!).
    My wife has to translate everything I want to say, or an Italian has to answer. So I am pretty desperate. Therefore I will try your book, and in about three months I will return to comment again! E parlo Italiano come un’Italiano!

  • Erika Glenn

    I actually love this post! I just found your site today. At first I was like “fluent in three months, what an idiot” (I got my BA in linguistics) But you definitely hit on the most important points of what fluency really is. This was just the kick in the pants I needed to study my Korean on a regular schedule (my husband and I are planning to move to Korea in the next few months).

  • anjali kayastha

    Good job!

  • Juan

    Benny, i´m your new fan, i’m from Mexico, and really enjoyed your video. actually im learning english and in the next three months i’ll speak french with your help obviously. kind regards.

  • apartridge

    Fluency is not possible in three months. The noun fluency is characterised by an effortless ability to do something. For most learners of another language this is being able to comprehend the majority of words and meanings from any source, and to be be able to respond without contrivance.
    I therefore think Benny has a different definition of what fluency is. You can’t call yourself fluent unless you can understand almost any language source in its original form. Benny has never proved he can do this.
    You cannot learn all the nuances of a language, the culture of that country and the philosophy behind it within three months.
    If you spent 12 hours a day for three months straight you might get to a very good level, but still not fluency. But clearly this is not something many people could do.
    The troubling thing about this site is its implication that fluency is possible within 3 months. Benny then goes on to state he never said it was possible, but he must be aware of its dishonest implication.
    Furthermore while Benny is full of optimism and encourages people to start learning, after extensive reading of his site I have found nothing which the humble language learner does not know him/herself.
    Anybody challenging Benny on his claims receives quite an angry response from Benny. Such a characteristic is worrying and instantly raises suspicion.
    If you are going to make bold claims then expect to be challenged.

    I like to cut to the chase so here is my conclusion.
    Benny has spent time in a number of countries and totally devoted himself to learning a language. With his enthusiasm, commitment and the fact that he is immersed in the target country, his results are to be expected.
    The fluent in 3 months tagline is a marketing scam designed to seduce language learners.
    If you have the time, money and determination to boot, you can definitely become highly proficient at a language in 6-12 months.
    But, and therefore… here’s the most important part:
    Benny and his site offer nothing to the typical learner of a language who has to fit in studies around ordinary life in a country which is not that of the target language.
    While there are some tips for applying yourself, there is nothing here that will really help you to progress.
    Once you understand this and stop believing in the myth of Benny and his site you can focus your efforts on doing what it is you want to do.

  • mrmackerel

    Out of curiosity, what does fluent mean to you?

    • LaurenModerator

      Benny considers fluency to mean that you can socialize in a language about everyday topics without hesitation or difficulty. Or go here to see him explain his view on it :)

  • Meg Blogg Marquardt

    Love your approach and so related to your TED talk. I speak French ( & rusty italian) but my husband is German ans still do not speak this language. My kids speak Portuguese , French, German & English -& have never considered i could join them.
    So here’s my plan: my fatherinlaw is 90 in October ( that’s a whole 6 months) and i will speak in german with him on this day. Our nanny is Porruguese and i will start tomorrow with her, and i work for a Swedish company. So there are 6 on the doorstep.
    Question: would you recommend just diving in with everything as the possibilities arise? In contrast to getting a bit of a handle on one before tackling the next.

    Thanks – you are and inspiration. I am 50 this year and have spent at least the last 10 years ashamed of myself for not being more capable
    Meg ( Aussie living in Switzerland)

  • Adrián López

    Estimado Benny! Admiro tu genialidad y tu valentía. Yo estoy lleno de trabajo, educando a 4 niños pequeños, con casi nada de tiempo y muy poco dinero (todavía: Estoy estudiando finanzas y la manera de acrecentar mi poder adquisitivo). Pero frente a todo esto; me he planteado un objetivo caprichoso: Aprender fluidamente el inglés. A decir verdad; tiempo libre que tengo lo gasto en aplicaciones de inglés: Duolingo, Fluently English; videos de teachers, potcasts, etc, etc. Y la verdad: No entiendo las películas ni puedo hablar fluidamente NADA. Lo más paradógico y risueño; es que interiormente me siento un políglota. Saludos y admiraciones, Adrián López