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:


Meeting up with readers face to face to encourage YOU to learn languages!

Previous post:

Next post:

The underestimated usefulness of pre-fluency (My 2 month Mandarin video)

| 45 comments | Category: mission, positive mentality

[Captions in traditional and simplified Chinese, as well as in English. Youku link for those in mainland China]

Keeping up with the video-every-two-weeks plan, here is my two month point! After a bumpy start, where I hesitate a bit because of being quite aware of the camera, once I got used to it, you can see that I am much more comfortable and a wee bit quicker to use the language.

Vivian is my second teacher (I tried out a few, but now only get lessons from Dory and Vivian in person), who has been a great help and you can hear her say first hand that she’s seen some serious progress even in the last week or two.

While I expect the usual criticism of nitpickers, today I want to discuss why I am actually quite happy with the current level I am at, and confident in the progress I can make in the coming weeks, even though I only have one month left for my fluency goal. I also want to talk about the many good things of an almost never discussed level in a language: pre-fluency, which is something like what I have right now in Mandarin.

There are tonnes of courses to give you the basics in a language, and an army of teachers willing to focus on the Holy Grail of speaking the language “perfectly”, but what about being able to use the language comfortably in a lot of situations, especially socially and for long periods of time, despite speaking incorrectly and still having some work to do and needing people to adjust or slow down for you? This is way more than “getting by”, but it’s definitely not fluent yet. However, is it something we can aim for in itself (at least at first) and get great use out of?

The many opportunities pre-fluency opens up for you

The level I currently have in Chinese is something along the lines of what I had after two months of learning Hungarian, or Czech. For those two languages, at this two month point I had to stop learning, but I got so much out of my experience in these countries thanks to my pre-fluency level in the final weeks!

One thing that stands out for me is a time I was waiting at a tram stop in Prague and a nice old lady struck up a conversation with me. After some pleasantries, the conversation went towards Prague’s past, and she started sharing her experience as a child during World War II, in Czech. I was listening intently and asking her about particular points and it was one of the most fascinating conversations I’ve ever had. She had to slow down for my benefit and rephrase a few things, but that didn’t take away the power of our conversation.

While in Budapest, I got invited to a night out with a decently sized group of locals and after introductions, I used my pre-fluency Hungarian to assign myself to be the official organizer of where the night would go. Many times during the night, the whole table would look to me in our first bar (keep in mind that I run on orange juice on night’s out like this), as I weighed out the advantages and disadvantages of going to a particular club, and asked a few of them for their feedback. When the decision was made, I rounded everyone up and encouraged the few who were too tired to join us anyway. Some groups have an obvious leader, and in this case even though I wasn’t qualified enough with my Hungarian level to be that leader, I did it anyway.

In both of these languages, (unlike with Mandarin) I decided not to maintain the language afterwards (maintaining a large number of languages is hard work, so sometimes learning a language for me is for the purposes of enhancing a particular travel experience), but that doesn’t change the immense impact speaking it at a not-yet-fluent level had on my interactions with natives. I made some great friends and saw a side of the country that someone getting by with a few pleasantries in the language (or just English) never would.

On the other hand, someone who waits until they were fluent before ever trying would miss out on so many of these wonderful opportunities.

It’s not about what you do or don’t know, it’s what you can do

I really dislike approaches that are far too long-sighted in learning a foreign language, because they ignore the great potential for communication the person has right now.

For example, it’s very easy to point out a few obvious flaws of the above video, like I misused ‘le’ or have incorrect tones at certain places etc., and you’d be right, and as explained below I am going to be more focused on such “cosmetic” improvements to my language over the next month.

However, the point of this video is to show you how comfortable I am in engaging in someone in conversation, and I can keep up that comfort for many hours.

After dealing with a large number of languages in the field, I really am absolutely confident when I say that the amount you know is worthless if you are not comfortable in using that language. I’ve seen it happen countless times before that some other foreigner technically knows way more in the target language than me; they have more words, they know the grammar and syntax inside-out, and can read classical literature in the language etc., and yet when out with natives they stall if they haven’t been trying to speak with them from the start, or unless they’ve had years of exposure.

Such learners tend to think too much, and are so afraid of making mistakes that they don’t try at all.

A native doesn’t care how many words you know, they care how much you can maintain some flow in the conversation. Even in my first weeks in learning a language, I get out and use what I know.

If one English language learner came up to you and confidently asked “Excuse. You know time?” followed by “Thank. And where train station?”, you would likely shrug off the unimportant mistakes and be happy to help them. If someone else came up to you and asked in perfect, yet excruciatingly struggled English “Excuse me……. could you…… tell me what…. time it is?”, while obviously sweating and looking really awkward, then their amazing BBC accent isn’t going to make any difference to helping you feel comfortable by their awkward body language. I don’t know about you, but I’d feel way more comfortable hanging out with the first speaker for longer periods of time.

It’s taken me two entire months, but right now I can truly say that I feel comfortable with Chinese. The characters don’t look so exotic anymore; they are just words or syllables of words. Someone speaking to me doesn’t sound like a machine gun of random noises any more. It’s a language that I have been so immersed in that it’s a part of me now. I’ve even started thinking in Mandarin. The voiceover in my head always says it in Mandarin if I think “Damn it, I always forget to bring a bottle of water with me!” or “Wow, that girl’s cute!”

But of course, there are still many problems I have, but I didn’t want to have these problems consume my time until it was the right time. And this last month is that time.

My last month strategy: the logarithmic improvement curve

What has been immensely helpful thus far is that I’ve adapted my learning strategy to what I need to know this week, every single week. It’s never been about C1 for me – that’s the overall target that dictates how fast I should be learning, but I don’t concern myself with that target right now. I have mini goals that I focus on to improve this week’s biggest issues.

Now perhaps you’ll look at this video and think that I’m way off being able to fine tuning my spoken Mandarin to remove some simple mistakes, improve my pronunciation, or express myself more complexly, but I thought long and hard about my approach before starting this mission, and based on reaching genuine fluency in several other languages, I know what I feel needs to be worked on first and last. To give you a better idea of how I’ve been approaching this, have a look at this imaginary graph:

Basically, the amount of work that I’ve been doing has been intense for the first two months, and it will be equally intense this last month. But if everything goes according to plan, my “apparent” level should be improving at a much greater rate this month.

By apparent, I mean what would be viewable on video, i.e. a superficial look of how good my sentence structure, vocabulary or pronunciation is – when you talk to someone who has interacted with me in person you’ll get the real story (it’s really hard to demonstrate spontaneous genuine conversations on camera without forcing it a little, especially when my focus is social, and the whole point of Youtube is that you are not part of that social spoken interaction).

Based on a few strategies (that, I’m not going to write about for the moment; as said in the video, I like to be a bit secretive and keep you in suspense :D ), the improvement of these aspects should occur in a “logarithmic” style over the next month, since I’ve laid some important foundations in being comfortable in the language.

I still don’t know if I’ll reach my fluency target, but the point is that I am happy so far because the work I’ve put into having comfort and familiarity with the language, and ease in using it in social situations, means that the technical stuff that I’m getting to now is way easier than it would have been from the start.

For example, learning words initially was difficult because of the fact that I’m used to learning multisyllabic words, without worrying about tones. In fact, I’ve found that once I have gotten used to Chinese, learning new vocabulary is incredibly simple compared to learning new unfamiliar vocabulary in a typical European language. I’ll explain why another day, but for now the point is that I am absorbing a large number of words per day, and increasing that amount every day. I can only do this now – the rate at which I can learn new vocabulary wouldn’t have been possible my first month since the language was so strange.

And I’ve got some cool suggestions from others to help me improve my currently choppily spoken level to be more fluent (not sure which one of them will work best so I’ll try a few ideas out), but these could only be applied when the language itself made sense to me. Those with more experience than me with Chinese have some very interesting ideas, but in my opinion they are better applied this month rather than my first month, since speaking “prettier” Chinese is not something I cared to prioritise in my first two months.

I’ve reached a certain level of comfort that I can now focus on the other curve and bring it up dramatically (or at least try to!) over the next 4 weeks. Hopefully this graph is somewhat clear in demonstrating what I mean! Once again, I have no idea if this will work, but I’m going to try ;) Worst case scenario, I end the month with much better Chinese than what I have now, and what I have now is very useful.

Are you impressive in your language, or are you genuinely functional?

To illustrate a high level of comfort, despite clearly speaking with lots of mistakes, today I had to ask for a refund of a voice recorder. You can see in the video that I’m using a separate microphone now; this is because recording in a noisy outside environment like where we were makes it a little harder to hear when the camera’s microphone is almost as close to other people as it is to us. Since I’d like to record much more interviews in future I invested in this voice recorder and microphone to add the audio separately; but the device is faulty.

One reason the video is short and some scenes are cut out is because I ended up repeating myself too much from what I said in the first video, so it simply isn’t interesting. Another reason is that the sound kept cutting off because of the bad voice recorder – so I went back to get the refund. Now I had to explain that every 3 minutes there was a loss in synchronisation in the audio recording, so it messed up my video since the lips were out of synch. I showed the precise points in the audio clip to the clerk and asked if she could hear the problem. I suggested that maybe this particular device is OK for quick notes, but it’s terrible for professional style longer recordings, and I’d rather just pay a little bit more for a good brand like Sony.

There wasn’t a single communication issue – she understood everything I said, and I understood her replies and further questions (are you sure it’s not the microphone? etc.) and got my money back. This kind of complicated issue is something I can handle fine even though I lack some key words, and my sentences sound quite weird. She wasn’t weirded out, and the exchange was quick and efficient. I’m high up in the “comfort” part of the curve, despite being low in the vocabulary and sentence structure part, and can handle many situations in Mandarin.

(One of the situations I can’t handle just happens to not be “impress perfectionists on Youtube”… but that’s a lost cause, I’ve simply given up on as I have more important things to worry about ;) )

There are many people who can impress you with a list of words they’ve learned and so on, but all that really matters (at least to me) is what can you DO in the language? And I don’t mean what tests can you pass – can you spend an evening talking to one person casually? Can you make small talk with the taximan? Can you tell jokes in the language? Who cares if you do it with A1 or B2 or C2 vocabulary, or with a native accent, or an ugly twang, can you bloody do it or not??

With some efficient use of a heap of practice, lots of trying and failing, and study that’s focused entirely on helping you do these particular things better, pre-fluency can be your key to an amazing new world of communication in the target language. It’s not the end-goal for the rest of your life, but it’s certainly a useful stepping stone.

If you think fluency is out of your range for now, then why not aim for this? Accept that you won’t sound like a poet, but know that you can do a million things in the language, including making real friends.

—————

I really hope those who were having difficulty understanding what I’m trying to do here are starting to get it. There is no way that I can fail this mission, because the point has always been that I’ve been aiming as high as possible. So far, so good. If I keep this up, I’ll have a really useful level of Chinese this time next month! Reaching fluency on top of that would be icing on the cake, and my mind is on the prize!

So it’s back to work ;) Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments!

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

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.

———————————–

  • Anonymous

    Impressive! You are understanding everything and able to answer questions. It is true that with hard work and dedication one can learn a great deal.  It is amazing what one can do with hard work, dedication and a PLAN. I am looking forward to seeing your exponential improvement in four weeks.

  • William Crawford

    Us perfectionists get there eventually.  ;)  lol  I’m not likely to stop being a perfectionist, but I’ve taken a lot of your advice to heart since I’ve been following your blog.  I seriously doubt I’d have taken on a Skype partner, let alone 2, without your advice.

    And at first, I wasn’t sure I was getting anything out of it other than a good conversation with a nice person.  And helping them with their English.  And that was enough for me. 

    But lately, I’ve been noticing that it’s easier to speak and write in Japanese than before, and I can only attribute that to having more vocabulary (the perfectionist in me) and actually practicing the language, despite all the issues I have with that.
    One my Skype partners has actually been trying to force me to speak in Japanese recently, so that’s helped, too.  She’s going to make me try to stay in Japanese for an extended period on the next call, and not fall back to English during that time.  I’m really dreading it, but I’m not avoiding it.  Again, thanks to your advice, Benny.

    At this point, I think I *could* have pleasant conversation with natives that don’t speak English.  It might be hard to explain a few things, and they might have to explain quite a few words I don’t know, but I think it would be pleasant anyhow.

    Your rapid progress continues to be impressive, too.  I don’t know that I could deal with being out of my comfort zone as much as you are.  I know that’s where progress is made, but…  Yeesh.  It’s rough.  :D

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

      Great job on taking on a Skype partner!

  • Crazy Ass Privacy

    Thats great work! 加油!

    It sounds just like my 3rd level chinese classes here in Taiwan. It makes me very happy to see you prove that chinese is not has hard as people like to suggest it is.The pronunciation of some key words is still at a point where probably only chinese teachers would understand, however I am confident that should not be a problem for too long.

  • Matt

    Hey man I’m a mandarin learner myself, and I’m impressed with the progress you’ve made in just two months! Very cool.

    But I was surprised to read in your last entry that few Chinese people approach you to make conversation. I’m living in China right now, and although you’re right about Chinese people being a bit more socially reserved, I’ve found that this reservation is MORE than balanced out by their curiosity about foreigners. ESPECIALLY if they’re studying puthonghua.

    More than once I’ve had packs of people lean over my shoulder to see the Mandarin textbook I was working with. They asked me what was up and before I knew it we were talking about my salary and about my thoughts on Obama.

    Anyway I guess I’m wondering if you’ve tried working on WRITTEN Chinese in very public places — you might get more than a few curious stares.

              – Matt

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

      That hasn’t been my experience in Taiwan, but maybe they are more outgoing in the mainland.

      I won’t be working on written Chinese in the way you are suggesting for very good reasons that I’ll elaborate on later, but mentioned already in passing a few times, including in the intro video.

  • Matt

    Also, my apologies for the double-post, but I’m wondering how your writing progress is going, and if you’ve found any strategies that help you tackle it.

    It’s definitely understandable to struggle with the writing way more than the speaking — I find speaking to be relatively simple, but reading and writing feels like it will take years to master. 

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

      I’ll be writing about writing/reading Chinese in great detail later. So far so good!

      Perhaps it takes “years to master”, but let’s focus on functional good use first? ;) It only takes a few months to have a great level of reading and writing Chinese in my opinion, if you do it efficiently enough.

  • http://www.learnclick.com/ Philip

    Well done Benny! I just would like to give you a small tip for your videos. You use a lot of “ehm”-sounds when you are thinking (although less than in the last video). Why not use a Chinese gap-filler like “na ge” (there might be others too, ask your teacher). It would sound more natural ;-)

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

      “more natural” is a cosmetic issue that I wasn’t concerned with for my first two months, as explained in the post. I’ll be fixing it now in the coming weeks.

      Notice that I do it less in the second part of the video, because I’ll hesitate anyway (even in English) if I have a camera on me and need to get used to it. I don’t speak with as much hesitations in casual social situations – the nature of recording a video for Youtube is that it has to be somewhat forced.

  • MAC

    Awesome!  Vivian seems so cool too; i’m sure that helps a lot.  One question, was the way you pronounced xiexie the second time like an inside joke or is that like a Taiwanese thing?

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

      One part of the video that had to be cut out due to audio synch issues was when we discussed some Taiwan and mainland China differences, one of them being that the ‘x’ in many words is pronounced as an ‘s’.

  • Nomota

    Benny, I have a question.I really love what you say, and I do know that your guide might work 100% for anyone, even for oridnary people … but only if the person can reach that huge amount of live and real exposure to the target language… “Hey! That’s cool, but you have to ‘go there’, and I can’t.” is the most frequent response from my friends, to whom when I introduced your idea.

    What if the person is away from the target language now and he has to learn it remotely, without much of the exposure? Is it still possible to learn it anyway?

    I’m trying to find out how to do that. Come and see:  http://multilingual.tistory.com/31 

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

      Yes of course it’s still possible! Most of my Mandarin lessons are online now, and I’ve maintained and improved every language I speak well without being in the country. Search the site for “any language anywhere” to see.

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

    Sorry but the people you describe sound like serious assholes. In almost 10 years on the road that’s never happened to me. The worst I’ve gotten was in Paris where they would grimace when I spoke, and not offer much encouragement, but that was it.

    This “main obstacle when dealing with fluency” is one you have dreamt up, and have no reason to fear. It doesn’t exist. Or if it does, you are running into some very odd people who need a kick in the balls, or to simply be avoided entirely.

    There are other sources of stress, but the only assholes who have been mean to me in the last decade and dozens of countries regarding language learning, are Internet trolls. If I have met someone who pretended they didn’t understand me, I dismissed that particular person as a rare idiot and went on to the next person.

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

    Thanks! :)

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

    That’s fantastic work Felic!!

    Best of luck with the DALF! As far as CEFRL exams go, I like how that particular one is structured! Make sure you try a few sample exams or get some private lessons from someone who works at the A.F. so they can help eliminate any final issues that you are having. (For me, I needed lessons for the Spanish and German C2 specifically for the written component, since I needed someone to look over some sample essays I had written, as my output initially wasn’t good enough, even though my spoken level was).

    Keep up the great work!

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

    I have to say, recording myself has been very helpful! Even if you don’t like it, give it a try – you don’t have to make it public!

    For example, I also don’t really enjoy it so much because I hesitate way more on camera than in a casual social situation (more people keep commenting on mistakes and over-emming… which I wouldn’t make in normal less-pressured chats due to nerves and distractions), and I much prefer a more professional style organised interview about a specific topic (recording a chat for Youtube has its issues), but I make the spontaneous videos anyway, since it does indeed help!

    Best of luck!

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

    Fantastic work! You’re on the right track for sure ;)

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

    Yes, I’ve heard about such courses and think they are a fantastic idea! Someone in that situation would easily come out with excellent Mandarin at the end – I’m not the first person to ever try this ;)

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

    I’ll be mentioning my resources in great detail later. So far Chinese pod, the Pleco app, and Colloquial’s course to get a hold of the basics have been pretty helpful.

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

    Well done, Benny! Looks like it’s really starting to come together. It’d be nice to see something like your Lantern Festival video for the last couple of updates, but I’m sure you already have some big plans :-) Best of luck for the last month.

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

      Yep, definitely have big plans ;)

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

    Wow, that’s amazing!! Best of luck with your students – if they are younger than 21, tell them they are all already better language learners than me then, and can totally kick my ass long before they are my age ;)

  • Vanessa C

    I would find a post about language maintenance really helpful (or just a comment outlining it).  

    I’m still working on my French (in the later stage of polishing, I am more than comfortable speaking it) and have just started another language which I’d like to place on the shelf in a year so I can start Spanish.  French I will always work on, but how do you go about maintaining a language that you’re not actively trying to improve?

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

      Vanessa, search the site for “any language anywhere”. I had an entire 2 month mission just about maintaining languages from a distance. Best of luck!

  • http://www.janafadness.com Jana Fadness

    Great job! To be perfectly honest, I don’t see that much of a difference in your spoken level between this video and the last one… But I also know what you mean about the importance of factors that can’t really be shown on video, like your level of comfort and confidence with the language. Your idea of the two different learning curves is really interesting, and I’m curious to see if things will turn out the way you expect them to for the last month of this mission.

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

      You are listening to my words too much, and ignoring the actual interaction. Turn off the sound and look at how comfortable I am, then see how much I’m interacting with the other speaker. It’s a big difference compared to first video, where I just said 隊 when Dory spoke ;) I’m also hesitating less in the second part after getting used to the camera in my face.

      Yes, you’ll see if my learning curve theories stand. It’s an approach that has worked for me for my other languages. I only had about a B2 in Spanish when I arrived in Salamanca, but I was incredibly comfortable and confident with the language so I zoomed up to pass the C2 exam in just a couple of months. Chinese is obviously a very different language and my circumstances are very different, but I’m confident that there are also extremely important similarities with language learning in general ;)

      • http://www.janafadness.com Jana Fadness

         No, of course, you’re right– you are noticeably more comfortable than you were in the last video. =)

  • Anonymous

    Hey! I just discovered your blog and I am really enjoying it! I have been learning Mandarin for close to 8 years now (at times more enthusiastically than others), and have lived in China for over 1 year. Right now I feel moderately confident conversing with Chinese people on a variety of topics, and feel that I can get around in Beijing without any problem. It also helps that my boyfriend is Chinese… :)

    But I just wanted to comment on your idea about being a perfectionist (which I TOTALLY am!). I think you are dead on! There have been times when I have missed out on having good conversations with people because I was afraid of not saying everything perfectly. But I would also much rather have a conversation with someone who confidently makes mistakes, than someone who un-confidently does not. Conversing in Chinese with my boyfriend has helped me understand that communication (sharing meaning between each other) is really what matters. His grammar isn’t perfect and neither is mine, but we can still confidently communicate with one another.

    And as a side note, I think you are incredibly gifted at learning languages! I think everyone trying to pick up a new language can learn something from your blogs. However, not everyone who does the same as you will see the same progress you’ve had in only 2 months!  But is it true that once you learn one new language, it is easier to learn others? In any case, good job with learning Mandarin and not getting scared away by “hard” Chinese characters or the tones. Once you learn a little bit of the language, it all makes a lot more sense and is actually not as hard as you thought. 祝你成功!加油!

    ~Sarah aka韦莎莎

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

      Yes, there is an advantage I have from having learned other languages, but it’s all to do with confidence and lack of fear of making mistakes for the sake of communication. Someone with too much of a perfectionist mindset most of what I’m doing in terms of my learning materials etc., would indeed be behind where I am from simply not practising enough or pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone.

      Forcing myself to listen to this Beijing auctioneer (see next post) is something most people would just accept is something they should bide their time for. You need a little foolhardy ambition in this language learning gig ;)

      When someone is monolingual I always suggest this to them to get that confidence quickly: http://fi3m.com/2-weeks-of-esperanto/

      Thanks for the vote of confidence!

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

    Great work with Portuguese! Keep it up :)

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

    Yes, I’ve heard about some English speakers being mean to non-natives, in places such as London (but not other areas of England). Obviously I don’t have experience with that! You’ll find us much nicer in Ireland ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=679969459 Erik Lionberger

    Benny, you are an inspiration, man. I keep coming back to your blog and I learn so more strategies to learn Korean. Now, my pre-fluency level is stagnant but I’m hammering away at learning. Unlike you, though, I like to meander my way while learning. I still enjoy reading English and I teach English all week. But, I agree with all you write here and .. thanks, Good luck!

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

      Cut back on all the English and then it will be less stagnant ;) Best of luck!

  • András

    Benny, you’re doing a great job man – and you continue to be inspiring!  And what I love about your posts is that they are testimonies to all the OTHER stuff you learn when learning a language other than the language itself.  When one studies language, I’d say 20% of what you learn is the language itself, while the other 80% is a beautiful mix of life lessons, culture, humanism, and even rehearsal on how to learn more efficiently in any field.  Thanks man, I love these posts!  Keep up the good work!

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

    I know. It’s on my incredibly long list of “things to do after I focus on speaking fluent Mandarin” :P

  • Joseph Lemien

    Not just summer programs through universities, either! In fact, I did a one semester intensive program with a language pledge through CET (a company that runs study abroad programs), and my mandarin improved a lot. I felt that it was a very high quality program. Like any other program, though, it is what you make of it. Those of us that worked hard and used our Chinese excelled, while those of us who put less effort into it made less progress. 

  • Bob

    你的老师很可爱啊!要她。Benny,她怎么样?你时候用google translate吗?可以读汉字吗?
    我是学中文的美国人。你进步得比我进步更好(不知道那句子有对的语法,对不起。)我学中文学四年了,但是三年以后不可以跟陌生人聊天。
    因为我看你的部落格,我就尝试跟中国成人聊天。谢谢。

  • Andrew

    Hi Benny, I’ve been following your mission from the start and this 2-month video is mind-blowing. Your level of comfort with the conversation is simply amazing. Your blog is like an atomic bomb to my language learning excuses & procrastination. Just got to get out & start speaking!

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

      Glad to see I’m pushing you to give it a try yourself! :)

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

    Thanks!

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

    That hasn’t been my experience so far.

  • comprende?

    Hello from Mexico! What books do you recommend to start studying chinese? I know books are not the best tool, but real conversation, however, I’m practically blank about the language, so I hope books can really put me into the mood. Thanks in advance!

  • Yingying Xue

    nice!