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Summary of first month of mission & top 100 language blogs nomination

| 30 comments | Category: mission

celebrating

Top 100 language blogs

For those of you interested in discovering some really good blogs about learning languages, I highly recommend looking through the list over at this year’s nominees for the Top 100 Language Blogs. Fluentin3months.com has the honour of being included in the nominees! The winner will be announced at the end of the month. I’m so pleased with the number of subscribers and comments that this blog has reached in just one month online! So if you think that this is a good site, and that maybe other people may be interested in reading some of these articles, then I’d really appreciate your votes :) Just click the button on the left any time and vote for “fluent in 3 months”.

Looking back

This week is very important for me! Firstly, it’s actually my birthday today :P . I’ve completed an impressive 27 laps around the entire solar system!! I’m not exhausted yet though ;) But of course it’s also been about a month since I got to Prague and started learning Czech.

However, something even bigger for me is that it’s actually also been six years since I graduated university, and moved to Spain and my language learning adventure began. I have been travelling ever since (specifically living and working in each place normally for about 3 months) and have usually been very focussed on learning the language of the country that I am living in. I still have the same positive attitude and enthusiasm to learn now as I did then, but a lot has changed! Languages have become a big part of my life (and my translation work now pays for my travels) and ever since I discovered better ways to fluency, I have had some amazing friendships and incredible experiences that would never have been possible if I had just spoken English.

That is why I started this blog; I’d like to share these tips to help others and especially encourage English speakers to learn other languages and stop making excuses why it’s out of reach for them. I am not making any money from this site (at least, not right now, maybe never will), but I wanted to share what I’ve learned with others. Anyone can do what I did and what I am doing; all they need is the right attitude and to go in the right direction with their study methods :) But I still have lots to learn!! You have shown me that in your comments. So I am looking forward to hearing all that you have to say on the many posts that I have planned :)

First month learning Czech

So, how has this first month gone? Quite well!! When I arrived, I didn’t understand anything written in Czech and anyone talking was just incomprehensible noise to me. But I’ve been studying my phrase book, memorising words, focussing my efforts, and keeping the end-goal in sight and telling lots of people about this mission! I can gladly say that now I can actually understand pieces and words of others’ conversations or from TV programs (harder to understand because they speak fast) and when someone speaks slowly to me, I am actually able to have a conversation beyond the basics and the phrases that I’ve learned! I am able to come up with my own sentences on the fly to take the converation beyond basic questions and answers, and have even been telling short stories! I’ve been stopped in the street to be asked the time and immediately gave the answer without hesitation and I even managed to have a couple of semi-real conversations thanks to imaginative use of conversational connectors and being very expressive when I talk.

Of course, there are problems too – my grammar is abysmal and there are plenty of words left to learn!!! I’m still way off having meaningful conversations, and unless someone speaks quite slowly to me, I will almost certainly not understand what they are saying. I’ve made good progress, but I still have a really long way to go! Out of all the many challenges that I have to reach my fluent-in-3-month goal this summer, none of them are anything more than excuses. Czech grammar is not as bad as people make it out to be (and I only have Irish, Germanic and Latin languages to compare), but there is one thing that may hold me back from reaching this goal: time. Not the fact that I only have 3 months, but the actual hours in the day, since I work full time and have a lot of other things that keep me busy in having a fun and active life :) . I will write soon about how I am “creating time” to learn Czech despite these setbacks, but one of my non-Czech projects is actually relevant to the overall theme of this site…

The important side mission

I can also share my other main mission this summer with you now: perfect my already spoken languages. I’ve said before that I almost never speak English when abroad, but I also haven’t been speaking as much Czech as I ideally would here. This is because I have actually spent (so far) 5 days speaking only in Portuguese, 4 days speaking only in Spanish, 4 days speaking only in Italian and almost two weeks speaking only in French (eating out, going out to dance, chatting, socialising). Morning, day and night (when not working) and with native speakers. Yes, in Prague. There is no point in learning several languages if you are just going to forget them all over time! This side mission has been getting greater focus than my Czech mission in the first month, so hopefully I will find the right balance soon. In fact, the sum of everything I’ve learned in Czech up to now probably could have been done in one intensive day :P This is why, even if I only reach “pretty good” Czech after 3 months, I will still be convinced that anyone would easily reach fluency in 3 months or less if they applied the right methods and were more focussed.

I will share how I’ve managed to speak these languages, when not even in their country, in later posts. :)

My next monthly update won’t be until mid-August, since I am spending a whole week not speaking any Czech, but in a different city in the Czech Republic (Liberec) doing something quite interesting. More on that soon! I am also looking forward to sharing my next very short video with you very soon; “How to learn Italian” – a light hearted funny video that I hope you’ll all enjoy!

So what are your thoughts on my progess in Czech in one month? I plan to be having comfortable conversations (albeit still with lots of mistakes) and a greater command over the language by my next monthly update so that I can dash toward fluency in the last month. Am I crazy in thinking that this is possible with my daily time restrictions? How about my side-mission? Should I abandon it?? (That wouldn’t be so much fun, would it!) Do share your thoughts in the comments below :)

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  • cestina

    If you can unhesitatingly give the time in Czech, let alone understand it, I take my hat off to you. Or are you saying “Deset tričet” rather than the approved form? Which you will notice I am not even attempting…..

    I have to confess that I even get confused when the Brits now commonly say “half ten” and mean 10.30 since my first acquaintance with this format was in German where “halb zehn” means 9.30. It used only to be common usage in the north of England, now it’s all over and I hate it.

  • cestina

    If you can unhesitatingly give the time in Czech, let alone understand it, I take my hat off to you. Or are you saying “Deset tričet” rather than the approved form? Which you will notice I am not even attempting…..

    I have to confess that I even get confused when the Brits now commonly say “half ten” and mean 10.30 since my first acquaintance with this format was in German where “halb zehn” means 9.30. It used only to be common usage in the north of England, now it’s all over and I hate it.

  • cestina

    I’m interested in your continuing to practise your other languages whilst here and learning Czech. Although my German is fluent, possibly one could say I am bi-lingual in it, and although I read Dutch with no problems, I deliberately avoided reading books in either of those languages whilst I was in the early and intermediate stages of acquiring Czech since I thought it would be confusing and delay things.

    Although I am very clear that the more languages one speaks the easier it is to acquire the next one because of the cross-connections, I am not sure about mixing them up too much in the early stages of a new one. German I continued to speak regularly but as I say, I didn’t do any reading in it other than when passing through Germany en route to here.

  • cestina

    I’m interested in your continuing to practise your other languages whilst here and learning Czech. Although my German is fluent, possibly one could say I am bi-lingual in it, and although I read Dutch with no problems, I deliberately avoided reading books in either of those languages whilst I was in the early and intermediate stages of acquiring Czech since I thought it would be confusing and delay things.

    Although I am very clear that the more languages one speaks the easier it is to acquire the next one because of the cross-connections, I am not sure about mixing them up too much in the early stages of a new one. German I continued to speak regularly but as I say, I didn’t do any reading in it other than when passing through Germany en route to here.

  • http://www.bullshitonator.com/ Max Melrose

    You seem to be falling into the familiar pattern that dogs down anyone who moves to Prague, and seeks to learn Czech. A hurried impatient spoken Czech, replied in English when conversation proceeds, then little or no appreciation of the actual learning process for words pronounced quickly and effortlessly by the native.

    To meet your goals, any city other than Prague would be best. A small town and a Moravian one are said to work wonders for actually making headway in the impatient, and ignorant “hurry to wait, then humiliate” Praguer. There is almost a seemingly secret agreement among all those speaking Czech to foreigners that no intention of actually teaching the language should be made. They the Czech English/German/French speaker can communicate the idiosyncrasies of the Czech cultural linguistic grammatical rationale far faster than the outsider…

    Good Luck-

    Max

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

      Max, thanks for your comments and good luck wishes!
      I specifically chose Prague because of my “side mission”, mentioned above. I know better than anyone that capital cities are the worst places to start learn languages. I don’t think I’m falling into any “familiar pattern” – I’ve reached fluency several times before, trust me, I know what I’m doing ;)
      My conversations aren’t responded in Czech though; I talked about this in my previous post. Natives usually don’t correct you (unless you are paying them to), but I’ll be talking about how I have greatly improved my French (and other mentioned languages) here in Prague by convincing natives to correct me :) When my Czech is ready for correction, I’ll use the same techniques on locals here ;)

  • http://www.bullshitonator.com Max Melrose

    You seem to be falling into the familiar pattern that dogs down anyone who moves to Prague, and seeks to learn Czech. A hurried impatient spoken Czech, replied in English when conversation proceeds, then little or no appreciation of the actual learning process for words pronounced quickly and effortlessly by the native.

    To meet your goals, any city other than Prague would be best. A small town and a Moravian one are said to work wonders for actually making headway in the impatient, and ignorant “hurry to wait, then humiliate” Praguer. There is almost a seemingly secret agreement among all those speaking Czech to foreigners that no intention of actually teaching the language should be made. They the Czech English/German/French speaker can communicate the idiosyncrasies of the Czech cultural linguistic grammatical rationale far faster than the outsider…

    Good Luck-

    Max

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Max, thanks for your comments and good luck wishes!
      I specifically chose Prague because of my “side mission”, mentioned above. I know better than anyone that capital cities are the worst places to start learn languages. I don’t think I’m falling into any “familiar pattern” – I’ve reached fluency several times before, trust me, I know what I’m doing ;)
      My conversations aren’t responded in Czech though; I talked about this in my previous post. Natives usually don’t correct you (unless you are paying them to), but I’ll be talking about how I have greatly improved my French (and other mentioned languages) here in Prague by convincing natives to correct me :) When my Czech is ready for correction, I’ll use the same techniques on locals here ;)

  • cestina

    Oh and by the way – vše nejlepši k narozeninám :-)

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

      cestina, thanks for these comments :)
      I’ll be getting on to my maintaining-other-languages techniques soon enough! I still have a few things to say relevant to my Czech progress ;)
      To not mix them up, it is always better to focus on just one language in early stages as you were doing :) When you have several in the more advances stages, then you get used to not mixing them up. I’ll write an entire post about how not to mix up similar languages in a while!

  • cestina

    Oh and by the way – vše nejlepši k narozeninám :-)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      cestina, thanks for these comments :)
      I’ll be getting on to my maintaining-other-languages techniques soon enough! I still have a few things to say relevant to my Czech progress ;)
      To not mix them up, it is always better to focus on just one language in early stages as you were doing :) When you have several in the more advances stages, then you get used to not mixing them up. I’ll write an entire post about how not to mix up similar languages in a while!

  • http://www.twitter.com/samyrod Samanta

    Hello Benny,
    Feliz aniversário, tudo de bom!

    I’ve been following you on twitter and reading your website, it’s great! I’m improving my Italian and Spanish with some of your techniques.
    Hope next time you come to Brazil we can meet and I can learn some Irish. :)

    Um abraço!
    .-= Samanta´s last blog ..samyrod: Friday, oh sweet friday. Mr. All Tickles is not here. Yet. =-.

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

      Obrigado Samanta!! :)
      Posso te ensinar o irlandês se quiser! Onde mora no Brasil? Vou ai em setembro!!!
      Tá aprendendo o italiano? Vai adorar o meu próximo post!! :P

  • http://www.twitter.com/samyrod Samanta

    Hello Benny,
    Feliz aniversário, tudo de bom!

    I’ve been following you on twitter and reading your website, it’s great! I’m improving my Italian and Spanish with some of your techniques.
    Hope next time you come to Brazil we can meet and I can learn some Irish. :)

    Um abraço!
    .-= Samanta´s last blog ..samyrod: Friday, oh sweet friday. Mr. All Tickles is not here. Yet. =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Obrigado Samanta!! :)
      Posso te ensinar o irlandês se quiser! Onde mora no Brasil? Vou ai em setembro!!!
      Tá aprendendo o italiano? Vai adorar o meu próximo post!! :P

  • jody

    Hi Benny

    thanks for a really wonderful site!!! Your attempts to keep learning languages are amazing and you inspire me with your tips for language learning. I’m learning Italian (I’m British so it’s really hard to learn other languages and this is my first foreign language to learn…!).

    thanks for the tips and keep them coming!

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

      Thanks for the encouragement Jody :)
      You said in a previous comment that you have are upper-intermediate Itaian, but even so, I hope you’ll enjoy my video about how to start learning Italian with the right attitude (posting it tomorrow).
      Looking forward to more of your comments!!

  • jody

    Hi Benny

    thanks for a really wonderful site!!! Your attempts to keep learning languages are amazing and you inspire me with your tips for language learning. I’m learning Italian (I’m British so it’s really hard to learn other languages and this is my first foreign language to learn…!).

    thanks for the tips and keep them coming!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks for the encouragement Jody :)
      You said in a previous comment that you have are upper-intermediate Itaian, but even so, I hope you’ll enjoy my video about how to start learning Italian with the right attitude (posting it tomorrow).
      Looking forward to more of your comments!!

  • dzurisova

    I’m quite disappointed with your side mission. It destroys the entire mission and makes everything null n void. You put out a hypothesis – One can be fluent in Czech in 3 months. Then you put forth an experiment for all of us to follow to prove your hypothesis. Now you claim that you aren’t following your own experiment guidelines! At the end of your experiment, you now have an excuse – “Oh, my hypothesis is still true, I just didn’t follow the methods properly, created too many variables, and failed to prove nor disprove my experiment.” Well if you are going to purposely sabotage your own experiment, what the point in getting all of us to follow it to see if you can prove your hypothesis?

    I’ll tell you the reason I’m so disappointed – because several of my Czech people are also awaiting the outcome. Oh, they aren’t reading the blog, but they are convinced that you are insane and it can’t be done. I’ve believed all along you can do it and have told them, “Just wait and see.” I’ve informed them how some Czechs from MCR have talked about meeting with you in 3 months to rate your progress. Now, if you fail and had followed your own experimental guidelines, I could simply say to my Czech friends, “Ok, you were right and I was wrong.” But now, if you fail what am I to say, “well it can still be done, he just purposely sabotaged his own experiment”. Yeah, right.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s your life and your experiment and you are definitely free to sabotage it if you want and still claim the truth of the hypothesis when you are finished. I’m just letting you know how disappointing it is for those who were interested in the actual experiment and believed you could do it. :o(

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

      Valid points dzurisova! Let me explain…
      It may sound a bit arrogant, but I actually believe that based on what I’ve learned and my experience with language-learning so far, I could possibly learn a language to fluency in just one month or less if I was more focussed, with no distractions and no work. And of course, this is because of using the right learning methods rather than just being “that smart”. I’ve never intensively studied any language and I reached fluency in them rather casually and with part time focus and studies. I still believe that Czech’s apparent “difficulty” is not a valid excuse to not reach fluency quickly.
      I haven’t changed anything about my guidelines. I always planned to speak other languages, I have only just decided to reveal it on the blog in this post. Why do you think I chose Prague instead of Brno etc.? :) Because of the easy access to all the other languages from tourists and other visitors (how I meet them will be explained later). My side mission was always important to me. I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve and surprises that I will reveal bit by bit :)
      You say you’re disappointed, but look at it this way: if I were to speak Czech fluently (or for example, someone else who lived in the Czech Republic for a year or so who reached fluency) and left to live in other countries, shouldn’t you be disappointed if I ignore Czech and eventually just forget it? There’s no point in reaching fluency if you are just going to abandon the language after the momentary claim of fluency. I’ve put a lot of work into learning all of my languages and I don’t want to forget them and actually want to further improve them, even when not in the country that speaks it. I haven’t yet decided if Czech will permanently be part of the languages that I will want to always claim fluency in (for example, I never maintained my German level), but I don’t want to slowly forget my French, Portuguese etc.
      Reaching fluency isn’t the only important objective I want to share in this blog, maintaining it should be given equal importance. That is my side mission; it may not be directly relevant to Czech, but it’s extremely relevant to the whole idea of this blog ;)
      And as you say, it’s my life and my experiment ;) I’ll continue doing what I feel I know best and adjust my learning methods appropriately. I’m not sabotaging anything, I’m specifically not sabotaging all the work of all the years travel and language study up to now :D
      I may or may not reach fluency in 3 months in Czech, but I’ll analyse why and reach it the next time. This isn’t a once-off experiment for me; I always think long term.
      Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  • dzurisova

    I’m quite disappointed with your side mission. It destroys the entire mission and makes everything null n void. You put out a hypothesis – One can be fluent in Czech in 3 months. Then you put forth an experiment for all of us to follow to prove your hypothesis. Now you claim that you aren’t following your own experiment guidelines! At the end of your experiment, you now have an excuse – “Oh, my hypothesis is still true, I just didn’t follow the methods properly, created too many variables, and failed to prove nor disprove my experiment.” Well if you are going to purposely sabotage your own experiment, what the point in getting all of us to follow it to see if you can prove your hypothesis?

    I’ll tell you the reason I’m so disappointed – because several of my Czech people are also awaiting the outcome. Oh, they aren’t reading the blog, but they are convinced that you are insane and it can’t be done. I’ve believed all along you can do it and have told them, “Just wait and see.” I’ve informed them how some Czechs from MCR have talked about meeting with you in 3 months to rate your progress. Now, if you fail and had followed your own experimental guidelines, I could simply say to my Czech friends, “Ok, you were right and I was wrong.” But now, if you fail what am I to say, “well it can still be done, he just purposely sabotaged his own experiment”. Yeah, right.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s your life and your experiment and you are definitely free to sabotage it if you want and still claim the truth of the hypothesis when you are finished. I’m just letting you know how disappointing it is for those who were interested in the actual experiment and believed you could do it. :o(

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Valid points dzurisova! Let me explain…
      It may sound a bit arrogant, but I actually believe that based on what I’ve learned and my experience with language-learning so far, I could possibly learn a language to fluency in just one month or less if I was more focussed, with no distractions and no work. And of course, this is because of using the right learning methods rather than just being “that smart”. I’ve never intensively studied any language and I reached fluency in them rather casually and with part time focus and studies. I still believe that Czech’s apparent “difficulty” is not a valid excuse to not reach fluency quickly.
      I haven’t changed anything about my guidelines. I always planned to speak other languages, I have only just decided to reveal it on the blog in this post. Why do you think I chose Prague instead of Brno etc.? :) Because of the easy access to all the other languages from tourists and other visitors (how I meet them will be explained later). My side mission was always important to me. I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve and surprises that I will reveal bit by bit :)
      You say you’re disappointed, but look at it this way: if I were to speak Czech fluently (or for example, someone else who lived in the Czech Republic for a year or so who reached fluency) and left to live in other countries, shouldn’t you be disappointed if I ignore Czech and eventually just forget it? There’s no point in reaching fluency if you are just going to abandon the language after the momentary claim of fluency. I’ve put a lot of work into learning all of my languages and I don’t want to forget them and actually want to further improve them, even when not in the country that speaks it. I haven’t yet decided if Czech will permanently be part of the languages that I will want to always claim fluency in (for example, I never maintained my German level), but I don’t want to slowly forget my French, Portuguese etc.
      Reaching fluency isn’t the only important objective I want to share in this blog, maintaining it should be given equal importance. That is my side mission; it may not be directly relevant to Czech, but it’s extremely relevant to the whole idea of this blog ;)
      And as you say, it’s my life and my experiment ;) I’ll continue doing what I feel I know best and adjust my learning methods appropriately. I’m not sabotaging anything, I’m specifically not sabotaging all the work of all the years travel and language study up to now :D
      I may or may not reach fluency in 3 months in Czech, but I’ll analyse why and reach it the next time. This isn’t a once-off experiment for me; I always think long term.
      Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  • dzurisova

    I meant “my Czech friends” in the last post not “my Czech people” and btw, Happy Birthday!

  • dzurisova

    I meant “my Czech friends” in the last post not “my Czech people” and btw, Happy Birthday!

  • dzurisova

    I just have to smile at your statement “shouldn’t you be disappointed if I ignore Czech and eventually just forget it?” – Not to sound like a self-serving jerk, but why would I be care if you forgot it after the hypothesis is proven? :) Yes, I know that makes me sound like a self-serving jerk. lol But when it comes to my interest in this blog, it is completely self serving. My whole interest in your experiment is due to the fact that I’ve been telling Czechs and others for years “if I could spend the whole summer there, I’d learn it right away”. Several people have counted my statements as foolish nonsense. Now someone comes along – you – and begins an experiment to prove what I’ve been saying all along. Therefore, you can see my enthusiasm with your experiment and my disappointment if your failure stems merely from your side mission. If failure was because it couldn’t be done, I would reconsider my belief that it can be done. But your statement – “This is why, even if I only reach “pretty good” Czech after 3 months, I will still be convinced that anyone would easily reach fluency in 3 months or less if they applied the right methods and were more focused.” – brings disappointment in that you aren’t actually proving my statements. :) So to sum it up, my disappointment stems from a mere selfishness on my part.  I can’t prove my own hypothesis (due to employment commitments) so I was hoping you would do it for me! lol

    However, I sincerely hope you have fun in all that you do and if I were you, I wouldn’t abandon your side mission either – but I still claim that it ruins your entire experiment. That’s just the social-worker in me that truly enjoyed my “research methods” class and likes experiments to be concrete and focused in its methods without adding too many variables. :)

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

      Thanks for your good wishes! For me the purpose of this blog is sharing my attempt to become fluent in 3 months while actually having a life and maintaining my polyglot status at the same time. This experiment won’t end in September. I may decide to become fluent in Thai or Russian etc. and what I’ve learned this summer will be applied then. I’ve already got an even crazier plan for the last 3 months of this year. For the moment, don’t give up on me on my Czech experiment until mid-September. In August I’m pulling out the big guns in my dash to the finish line ;)

  • dzurisova

    I just have to smile at your statement “shouldn’t you be disappointed if I ignore Czech and eventually just forget it?” – Not to sound like a self-serving jerk, but why would I be care if you forgot it after the hypothesis is proven? :) Yes, I know that makes me sound like a self-serving jerk. lol But when it comes to my interest in this blog, it is completely self serving. My whole interest in your experiment is due to the fact that I’ve been telling Czechs and others for years “if I could spend the whole summer there, I’d learn it right away”. Several people have counted my statements as foolish nonsense. Now someone comes along – you – and begins an experiment to prove what I’ve been saying all along. Therefore, you can see my enthusiasm with your experiment and my disappointment if your failure stems merely from your side mission. If failure was because it couldn’t be done, I would reconsider my belief that it can be done. But your statement – “This is why, even if I only reach “pretty good” Czech after 3 months, I will still be convinced that anyone would easily reach fluency in 3 months or less if they applied the right methods and were more focused.” – brings disappointment in that you aren’t actually proving my statements. :) So to sum it up, my disappointment stems from a mere selfishness on my part.  I can’t prove my own hypothesis (due to employment commitments) so I was hoping you would do it for me! lol

    However, I sincerely hope you have fun in all that you do and if I were you, I wouldn’t abandon your side mission either – but I still claim that it ruins your entire experiment. That’s just the social-worker in me that truly enjoyed my “research methods” class and likes experiments to be concrete and focused in its methods without adding too many variables. :)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks for your good wishes! For me the purpose of this blog is sharing my attempt to become fluent in 3 months while actually having a life and maintaining my polyglot status at the same time. This experiment won’t end in September. I may decide to become fluent in Thai or Russian etc. and what I’ve learned this summer will be applied then. I’ve already got an even crazier plan for the last 3 months of this year. For the moment, don’t give up on me on my Czech experiment until mid-September. In August I’m pulling out the big guns in my dash to the finish line ;)