The worst language learning advice you’ll ever receive

The worst language learning advice you’ll ever receive

Benny

Bad learner

I get asked by people every day what the “secret” is to learning another language, and they don’t seem satisfied with my answer of there is no secret; you need to work hard, speak often and early with people, make many mistakes and use it for real etc.

So you know what? The “truth” is that I have been hiding these secrets from you all this time! Today, I’ll reveal the steps to take in that one true way to learn a language!

Buy buy buy!

The first and most important thing you need to do is to buy expensive language learning courses. If you are serious about learning this language then show it and put your money where your mouth is.

But how much do you spend? Well, did you know that price points on every language learning product is set at how good it is by a panel of impartial judges? It has nothing to do with marketers pushing their luck at how much money they can make and companies covering their extravagant advertising budgets so they can sell to as many suckers smart language learners as possible.

What this means is simple: the more expensive something is, the better it is. Guaranteed!

So you want to avoid something like a Lonely planet phrasebook. These cost about US$9 because they are only for poor language learners who don’t care enough to spend real money. Definitely don’t look at Teach Yourself or Colloquial courses either, as these cost only about twice that. Forget two figure pricetags and be looking at $300, ideally much more.

Of course, this means that big yellow boxes you find in airports should be the first thing you think about. If shipping is involved, that’s fine – do not under any circumstances start working on your language until this wonderful course that will solve all your problems has arrived.

While waiting, bask in the glory of knowing that by clicking the buy button, you have taken the hardest step of all in language learning, and it’s all smooth sailing from here!

Even better than this are academic courses priced at a grand and upwards, where you are in a classroom with several other people of many levels, letting the teacher do all the talking. If the teacher asks you to say anything during the class, transfer to another one immediately! You are paying them, so they should be doing all the work!

And finally, the best thing of all to pour your money into is a flight ticket! Being in the country actually has magic immersion powers that make the language naturally seep into you, while you sit on a beach sipping cocktails with your English speaking buddies!

It’s all about grammar and vocabulary – don’t speak until you’re ready!

If you put your target language and your native language side by side, there are only two things that are different: grammar rules, and words that they have their own silly version of. (Yeah, I know – why can’t they all just have some common sense and use English words!?)

Luckily though, these two things are all there is involved. Practice, exposure, experience, human interaction and all that other nonsense can be thrown aside!

What this means is that you must spend all your time involved in the language studying it – no time wasted doing things like speaking with people, or having fun with TV shows and comic books in the language. Study grammar tables, and study lists of vocabulary only.

The more expansive and random the subject of the vocabulary in the lists, the better, because you never know when you might be put on the spot to translate names of obscure animals or plants from the other side of the planet. Don’t tailor these lists to words you are more likely to use – that’s just silly!

Don’t worry though – this will all be very easy!

The good thing about throwing money at the problem, is that your work is pretty much done! When you are deciding which course to buy, make sure that it emphasizes somewhere on its packaging that it is “the easy way” to learn a language! This is essential, because hard work of any kind is for losers.

The more that language learning involves clicking buttons, studying tables, doing exercises in stuff you find frustrating and boring, and the more complicated the presentation of that course’s unique learning approach is, the better! Don’t worry if it’s boring though – the priority is that it’s easy and that you don’t feel like you are doing any real work. You will be smiling like the girl on the cover of your language course for the entire learning process!

These learning approaches have been scientifically proven to be efficient ways of learning in general – trust me, we’ve had Ivy League psychologists run these tests on monkeys learning how to stack boxes, so it is only logical that it applies to people specifically learning a second language!

Avoid native speakers at all costs – you will die of embarrassment

Because a language is just grammar and vocabulary differences, and nothing else is involved, do not under any circumstances use your language with another person… until you are ready.

You see, if you dare to speak your language before you have mastered it to perfection then people will stop in their tracks and all point and laugh at you in unison, and that’s if you’re lucky! A typical mistake is usually received by looks of shock and horror at you butchering their language, with scenes of fights breaking out and even death not being uncommon.

So yes, you will literally die of embarrassment for daring to speak in any early stage of learning!! Don’t take that risk – be smart and keep your mouth shut at all times!

Do NOT meet up with someone in person from online searches, and do not go on a site like italki or Verbling for a free online language exchange – remember, if something is free, then it’s for people who don’t care enough! Also, who wants to see a look of disgust from a native speaker from you being so rude as to speak their language? (It will happen all the time without fail)

How ridiculous the mere idea; speaking a language to a native before you’ve mastered their language! It’s pure insanity!!

Lucky for you, this is not a permanent stage. When that glorious ready day finally arrives, you will speak the language 100% perfectly and everyone will think you are a native speaker. But you absolutely must not muddy native speakers’ ears with anything less than perfection before this day. Reaching this stage does not happen via practice – it’s through lots of studying until the ready day when you make that quantum leap of instantly being ready!

In case you are wondering, the “ready day” comes when you have learned exactly 712,431 words and have put exactly 33,962 hours of study time in. (Not a single word or hour less, so track this very well!!) When you reach this glorious day, your work is done forever and everyone will think you are a native speaker 100% of the time. Until this time, listen your way to fluency!

Having any kind of an accent is a crime that frankly should be punishable by scorpion showers.

Other goals? I don’t care, my way is the only way to learn

Now, what if you are more focused on reading literature well in the language, or passing an exam, or understanding lectures, or working professionally? Or if you enjoy learning languages for the love of it?

Well, I don’t care – you see, this approach I have outlined is good for every and all goals in language learning without any alterations whatsoever. Trust me on this; I’m a language learning guru ninja hotshot Jedi.

I say that everyone should aim to sound like a native speaker all the time (including when scrutinized by phonologists playing your videos on Youtube in slow motion), and should be able to debate 16th century politics, or you are nothing but a worthless tourist.

Generic courses are designed specifically because they cover the one-true-way to learn a language, so if you veer off this path and try to be “independent”, you will crash and burn my friend. Don’t follow a language learning path that looks more appropriate to you and your goals and interests – follow with the herd and you’ll be good to go!

Oh yes and finally, to be on the safe side don’t just invest in that one course – buy many. Many different competing products, large dictionaries, audio courses, software courses, little books, big books, advanced courses (so they can be on your shelf and ready to pounce on in several years’ time without wasting a moment to go out and buy them) as well as courses at your own level. Buy it ALL. The bigger your collection, the more you will be confused for a native speaker! (Remember: that’s the only important goal worth having!)

If in doubt, buy another course! Use as much of your free time as possible that you have set aside for learning the language to research the best software or books so that your collection is perfect.

I hope these tips have helped! If you have any other words of wisdom, make sure to share them in the comments below.

This post was inspired by Nerdfitness, where my friend Steve Kamb has written The worst fitness advice you’ll ever receive.

I get asked by people every day what the “secret” is to learning another language, and they don’t seem satisfied with my answer of there is no secret; you need to work hard, speak often and early with people, make many mistakes and use it for real etc. So you know what? The “truth” is […]

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  • http://www.facebook.com/SamuelGendreau0 Samuel Gendreau

    Epic post

    • http://www.innergladiator.com/ Max Nachamkin

      :D

  • http://www.betterstrongerfaster.com/ Mark Cancellieri

    Benny, the sad thing is that billions of people have already successfully used your strategy to learn a language. We grow up and learn to speak by actually speaking. What a concept! LOL

    Actually, it sounds blatantly obvious, but I have to admit that my past attempts at learning a language consisted of studying language books and vocabulary. I even once purchased Rosetta Stone. Yikes! :-)

    As adults, we obviously have certain advantages in learning languages rapidly, such as the ability to read and study vocabulary, but I think that this needs to be a *supplement* to actually speaking the language, like we did as children.

    You have completely changed my thinking on this subject, and I thank you for that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hipradipto Hadian Indra Pradipto

    Hi Benny, excellent artlcle as usual. I just want to point out that the NerdFitness guy’s name is Steve Kamb. Keep posting!

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

      Fixed

  • Mike

    I love your sarcasm in this post. Yes, the only secret of language learning is that there is no secret.

    I wish I would have heeded the advice about not buying a lot of courses to start, that’s definitely the one thing I’d change if I had to do it all over again.

    The one thing you didn’t mention were high quality free online courses. Something from Deutsche Welle like Deutsch-Warum Nicht?, usenetposts’s Russian course and Evan der Millner’s French and Latin courses are great. I actually like them more than some of the courses I’ve spent good money on

  • Al Kormanos

    I said something the other day, “Smart people don’t learn languages, tenacious people do.” This article says it with so much more emphasis, I loved it.

  • KYArmywife

    Oh dear! We were just discussing a hoped-for move to Germany (looong shot).
    Me: Wouldn’t it be fun to frantically cram German, because we were moving there?
    Him: It would be scary!
    Me: But didn’t you already study German, when you were stationed there before?
    Him: No, I never STUDIED German, I bought lots of books and software!

  • PhotoCo2099

    Rosetta is a tool that works for some, not others. Just like this system is a tool that will work for some, not others. There is no one way for everyone, just the right way for you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Compostinternational Elizabeth Whitehouse

      Speaking works for everyone, no question. What you use as back-up material can vary with individual preferences. Before going to Spanish school in Peru I bought and used Onlingo – beginner and intermediate. I learned only a few sentences, but they were well taught and stuck with me, forming an excellent groundwork for the total immersion in Lima. Sentence for sentence, though, Onlingo was more expensive!

  • http://twitter.com/balexandros Bryann

    Nice! And I totally get this — especially point #2. Many years ago I studied Japanese at the University for about a year and a half. Lots of grueling memorization of grammar, structure, lists, and practice with textbooks. Our only practice partners were students just like me. And maybe the professor if she had individual time for us. I realize now that none of this is as effective as total immersion in the country, its culture, and actually building real relationships with native speakers.

  • Mel Leggatt

    Brilliant!

  • http://www.facebook.com/randybvain.torques Randybvain Torques

    Hey, shouldn’t you post it on the 1st April? Somebody might think that you are serious and stop buying the language products YOU offer :)

    I see that the years of speaking with friendly people from all the world wiped out your bad experiences in Paris. So there is a point – if somebody laughs at you because you don’t speak their language properly, you must meet more and more friendly natives and get more and more positive feedback. And avoid nit-pickers.

    I would like you to write one day about the two problems resulting from instant speaking, that is pronouncing words the way one is not understood and not understanding the person one is speaking with.

  • Language Learner

    Hey Benny, so I take it you have been spending some time in /r/shittylifeprotips.

    I got some great tips to add to your post.

    1) Because you love languages, feel free to call yourself a linguist. Other linguists with bachelor degrees (or they simply took a class in linguistics) love it when you do that!

    2) Although you don’t speak a certain language, feel free to criticize others learning that particular language.

    3) Buy Rosetta Stone. Best software ever. How else would you know how to say “the kids are jumping”??

    4) When people criticizes you unfairly, just take it like a man. Any sort of rebuttal = you are an arrogant douche.

    5) Diss other language learners. They love it when others have had the chance to see their work.

    6) If you can’t meet my special fluency standards, then you are not really fluent.

    7) Chinese is the HARDEST language in the history of languages of the world. Any attempt at learning it…DON’T. Go learn Frisian or Dutch or Spanish.

    Joking aside, it’s nice to see this post because sometimes, there is WAY too much snobbery among language learners.

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

      Nice list of rules! I feel like stamping it on the foreheads of a few trolls I come across online!

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

      haha….nice one 7) is what I heard most. people just won’t listen to me (a chinese people). They just think Chinese is hard no matter what I said
      @.@

      • Language Learner

        Haha yep. I am also a native Mandarin speaker. I remember getting into
        it with this one guy on reddit about how Mandarin is NOT super hard and
        he just kept insisting that Mandarin is this scary beast of a language
        and that the person should go learn ‘easy’ languages like Spanish. Oh my god, Mandarin is super hard because of tones and Chinese characters…you will be swallowed alive!!!!

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

          agreed :) what language are you learning anyway?

    • Oni

      I like #1 – a true linguist should love those people tho! I would ask so many questions!
      “What undergoes lenition in your language?” “How often do you drop final vowels?” “Do you have any phonemic pharyngeals or uvulars?” “What’s the syllable structure like?”
      If you get an answer, it becomes a great educational conversation.
      If you don’t get an answer, they’re embarrassed out of ever stating that again.
      If they say “I’m not that kind of linguist” then you can go, “Oh a generativist? sociolinguist?” etc…

  • http://twitter.com/jeffreybunn Jeffrey Bunn

    Haha. Didn’t take me TOO long to catch on. So many people read a post, nodding along, and then proceed to follow exactly the opposite of its advice. Maybe this will trick people into learning languages! Well done Benny, trying to reverse psycholog’ize us!

  • http://www.parlonsallemand.com/ Benjamin

    People never listen to me either when I say that paying for expensive courses won’t make you learn the language if you aren’t already motivated to learn it. The worst is that I don’t even listen to myself. I perfectly know I should meet German people, talk to them as much as possible and all. Yet, I focus on my university lessons. Human nature….

  • NJRBauer

    Hilarious! Thanks for the great post.

  • RichardLanguage

    This is so funny! I’m happy to hear about your tips that you’ve been holding back LOL

    Your last comment about “whatever goal” is spot on. The goal definitely controls the best means of learning. I’ve noticed that I study Farsi differently than Somali without trying. With Farsi, I’m just vaguely interested in this language and its relationship to politics and history. Plus the grammar is nicely Indo-Eurpoean and the vocabulary reminiscent of Arabic. So I move along with Skype and watching sit-coms.

    With Somali, the grammar is impenetrable and there are so few systematic materials on it. Plus, I’m surrounded by native speakers all day at work. I work harder at coming up with specific input and memorizing phrases that apply to everyday work situations. For example, I know much more about talking about lunch than about, say, grocery shopping. I also know “good morning” really well, but always forget “good evening.”

    Keep it up! Don’t hold back any more on us! :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/JasonDWillson Jason Willson

      Hi RichardLanguage – Have you found any materials at all that have helped you with your learning of Somali? If so, I’d be very interested in seeking them out. Because as you rightly say, there are so few systematic materials on it.

  • http://twitter.com/yaquigrande David

    I KNEW IT!!!! I knew you were holding out!!! I am off to sell my car so I can afford the Soretta Tsone course!!! Ha ha ha…he he he…tee hee…

  • Jess | GlobetrotterGirls

    Great post! People say that everyone’s learning styles differ, but I couldn’t disagree more. We all learned our first language exactly the same way – first by babbling, then speaking tons but making little sense, then speaking even more and being corrected by our parents and others, and then, after years and years of actually speaking, we took classes in school which refined our grammar, writing and reading skills. The same goes with learning a second language, just as your sarcasm here implies that you believe :) Speak, speak and speak more – don’t be afraid to make mistakes, let people know they can correct you (if you’re comfortable with that). Read, watch movies, listen to music and if you like to drink – meet people over a glass of wine or beer to take down that darn affective filter (ie, embarrassment). Rinse and repeat a thousand times and you’ll be fluent…

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

      What you say is true, but there is also a lot of misunderstanding out there about “learn like a baby”, where we shouldn’t equate first and second language learning so much.

      • Jess | GlobetrotterGirls

        Totally agree with you there. I was only making the point that we all learned our first langauge the same way, and successful second language learners might employ different methods or techniques, but it’s all about real world exposure to actual language use that wlil get you to the fluent level. Books and courses are only a small slice of the pie.

  • http://twitter.com/vasja999 Alex

    Benny,
    cool post as always, but…. but… about languages in general. but… we see french on the right in “languages I speak:” and c’mon, you have post about thai and even czech! please, please we need french :)

  • http://twitter.com/vasja999 Alex

    @irishpolyglot:disqus
    cool post as always, but…. but… about languages in general. but… we see french on the right in “languages I speak:” and c’mon, you have post about thai and even czech! please, please we need french :)

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

      Please search my site. I have a video and blog post about Quebec French, a video in French about translation etc.

  • Brandon

    yep

  • James Wood

    I wonder, Benny, if someday you would consider a post (if you haven’t done so already) on your thoughts on the difference between “learning” a language and “speaking” a language, as I think there are a lot of varied opinions on this. I agree…(or should I disagree? haha) with everything in this post. I made the mistake of spending a lot of money on “learning” things I could have picked up by just speaking with other Spanish speakers. Spending money was not the answer. Speaking is the only way to improve quickly. I may not have “learned” all the required facets of Spanish in order to be considered fluent, but I certainly “speak” it better than any other non-native speaker I know. I know that is your purpose, but I’m not sure others always understand your message. Looking forward to your thoughts on maybe a hint to your next mission..

  • http://www.facebook.com/fabien.snauwaert Fabien Snauwaert

    The problem is not in buying things. It’s in that 95% of the material out there is either useless or boring. Pick something that respects a few truth about languages: languages are about sound (do you have IPA transcriptions? do you have intelligible audio?), languages convey whole ideas (not isolated ones; a word on its own means nothing, context is king) and they’re meant to communicate (work, make friends or have fun). If they don’t help you do that, they’re probably very bad or not very interesting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Trevie3 Trevor James McVeety

    “I’m a language learning guru ninja hotshot Jedi.” That made me laugh my ass off. xD

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

      I hate it when people say that I think I’m a guru, so I decided to overdo it and call myself every silly title I could think of :D

  • Colin Johnstone

    I once saw a beginner use the wrong adjective ending when trying to speak German in front of a room full of native speakers. Needless to say, most of the people in the room were professors of linguistics – since most people are as we all know. Of course the man was executed on the spot, which I thought was letting him off rather easy myself, but I guess I shouldn’t be too harsh on him; he was a beginner after all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/trisha.speaker Trisha Speaker

    Amazing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/crina.petrican Crina Petrican

    Great article! I completely agree with you. I learnt Spanish in three months living in Spain, and it took me 10 years of learning grammar and vocabulary to achieve an advanced level of English. I could have spent those endless hours doing so many things.

  • http://howlearnspanish.com/ Andrew

    Heh, your frustration finally boiled over and you went full retard, love it.

    I, too, Benny, get frustrated with stupid people. Hahahaha.

    :D

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  • Roger van der Velde

    It’s true that using the language, making the mistakes and sharpenig your skills is the best way to get better, but this doesn’t exclude a fair amount of boring repetetive study because you don’t improve just by performance; you need material that you know how to use. The “philosophy” put out on this website assumes that everyone is going to flit about the world being a “writer” (like everyone thinks they are these days). And let us be honest for a moment: too many of the self-described travel writer/polyglot types are not really fluent in the languages they claim to know; just good at convincingly babbling an approximation that is riddled with mistakes.

  • Brian

    After “only” 2.5 years in Prague I successfully applied for a credit card yesterday. Of course, since you have to be here at least 15 years before you can speak “the hardest language in the world” effectively, I was really chancing my arm. As I walked towards the bank, I kept shifting my eyes from side to side, looking for the black uniforms and batons of the Language Police. Fortunately, I got there under the radar. The girl there was a little bit nervous and understandably hesitant about speaking her native language with a foreigner – and one from an English-speaking country, no less? Aren’t we taught English from 7-8 years of age so that we always have to ‘serve’ you in your language, she no doubt thought. Anyway, she overcame her fears of going to jail for speaking to me in her language after “only” 2.5 years, but was really having second thoughts about her potentially treasonous crime when I didn’t understand one particular term she used. Despite understanding and answering the question from the context, I felt terribly ashamed. I should’ve done exactly what Benny said and stayed at home to study more so that I would’ve known what “monthly flat fee” was in Czech. The girl took pity on me, however, and not only continued to speak to me in Czech but even refused to call the feared Language Police and my application was successful. I will, however, never do such a thing again until I can be assured of knowing every word that might come up. Goodbye, all. I am off to my tower to study vocabulary for the next several years.

  • http://twitter.com/shefijapan ShefiJapan

    Great post and good advice.

  • D.C.

    You really hit the nail on the head. Great post.

  • Tania

    I really appreciate your amazing way of learning and the fact that you have been sharing your amazing successes!!! This is such an appropriate post as I am enjoying to learn German. I am Portuguese, and I find better if I learn German from comparisons with English rather than Portuguese. What do you think would be a more effective way of learning? I know that it is to think in German, talk in German, read in German, and hear in German but I would like to know your opinion about comparing languages when one is learning. Obrigada pela inspiração Benny!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.greig1 Tim Greig

    “…You must listen always listen to rambling “martial art” linguists on YouTube who babble on about Benny and Steve” I have always found this a great way to learn languages. Yeah, really helpful.

    • Tman6t9

      Ahh you’re referring to that aggressive skinhead who’s a wannabe hyperglot/Special Forces/Bruce Lee. He’s a nutcase. Trying far too hard to come across as someone who should be respected because he’s ‘tough’ (I used to be in the army, we laughed at civvy jokers like this). I remember he made his case for Benny and Steve not being linguists because they didn’t have language degrees (which I think might actually be wrong, I remember Steve said he studied French at uni) and he ‘wouldn’t get in a plane with a pilot who didn’t have a licence or visit a doctor who hadn’t been to medschool’. That’d be brilliant if it actually made any fucking sense. Degrees or not, Benny and Steve are both awesome at what they do and have proved it 100 times over.

  • tory

    Where were you a year ago when i purchased a ticket to South America, then spent almost $3,000 on 2 months of classes at school where I was the only student. I learned very little in the 8 months I was there. Now that I am back and working harder then ever on it.

  • William Peregoy

    The laughing is HORRIBLE and SO SCARY!

    I was studying Japanese, and I was at a store, speaking with a friend who speaks Japanese and I was trying to tell her that I saw this same fruit earlier at another store. Before, I could say anymore, she LAUGHED at me, and then told me that I said I had seen this piece of fruit walking down the street earlier. (like the fruit itself was walking).

    Then… I LAUGHED too. Horrible, horrible… clearly this speaking thing is not working – I need more expensive courses and textbooks and grammar tables!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/fatcatdoremon Chau Tran

    Albert:

    I’m a Vietnamese, trying to learn Spanish :), I read some of your blog post and found it cool!

  • http://www.facebook.com/simone.baroke Simone Baroke

    Oh my, it seems you forgot to include one 100% crucial piece of learning advice in your (otherwise quite passable) post, my friend!

    It’s this: Start reading all the classic works of literature in your target language asap. You want to learn from the best, don’t you?! English? Shakespeare, no question. Spanish? Cervantes is your saviour. German? Goethe. They’ve got a whole institute named after him, and there’s a reason for that. But Schiller will do if you’re caught short.
    Remember – if you’re not bored and frustrated enough with the material to want to scoop our own eyeballs out with a hot spoon, you’re not doing it right. Comic books? Do you want to talk like a five year old???? Or, God forbid, engage with native speakers? They are likely not to have even the fuzziest clue about their own grammar (just try asking them what the pluperfect is!), they use words and phrases that aren’t in any book, and half of them have accents that would make milk curdle. While still inside the cow. Believe me, they will just contaminate your valiant efforts with their inane and unintelligible drivel.
    None of that. Just stick to the sacred texts. Preferably those written over 500 years ago. When the language was still pure, proper and unsullied.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jan.hyde.395 Jan Hyde

    This is a great post. Funnily (or not so perhaps) I actually did go out and purchase just about every course and book that I could get my hands on when I learned my first second language – French. I just couldn’t stop buying stuff – I was always trying to find the next best thing that would make me fluent – none of them ever did.
    My husband, on the other hand, didn’t bother with courses, and never learnt grammar rules but still managed to hold a conversation with a French person with no trouble at all. He was always talking to french people about football or food or whatever. I on the other hand would not speak a word if I didn’t feel that I had the correct vocabulary and spent so long trying to formulate the sentence in my mind that the conversation had always moved on.
    Now I’m learning Spanish and have completely changed my method of learning. My priority is to speak to Spanish people and learn by my mistakes. I don’t care anymore about getting the language perfect and because of that I am so much more confident and the language comes much more easily.

  • http://www.greatbigscaryworld.com/ Jamie Bowlby-Whiting

    I feel sorry for all the people who are oblivious to the concept of sarcasm. Rosetta Stone is in for a windfall.
    I moved to Canada (from the UK) a few years ago and it took a bit of adjustment for me to understand that people there didn’t really get sarcasm.
    PS Keep it up, I love your site.

  • Travis Gore

    This is probably one of the best posts I’ve read on the internet.

  • Marcin Marcinowski

    Hi Benny. I’ve learnt English for six months on my own and I missed
    maybe one single day during this time. My daily routine lasts 3-5 hours
    on average and gives me true satisfaction. My first step was to buy a
    good English course ;) fortunatelly not too expensive, which I really
    appreciate because its SRS part with words and sentences got me on high
    level rapidly. Beginnings were very hard but I set a goal of lerning 50
    new words every day which I actually accomplished. Now my pace isn’t so
    impressive because I must repeat lots of words every day and I also
    started to learn phrases. At the beginning to keep my motivation high I
    read a lot about language learning in my native language. What is
    significant and gives me a lot of satisfaction is the fact that now I’m
    reading English blogs with easy, of course using dictionary from time to
    time. I’m listening to podcast, lots of podcast, hundreds of hours of
    podcasts ;) and this form of activity gave me great skill of
    understanding spoken English. I’m still improving this skill but now I’m
    able to watch TV like National Geographic or Discovery without any
    subtitles or so. Ok. As you can see my grammar doesn’t exist and lack of
    vocabulary is also meaningful, nevertheless I’ve decided to wrote this
    comment :)
    I’ll start studying grammar next year but now I’m focusing only on listening and reading (of course reading aloud too).
    Now point at me with your index finger and laugh (just as you wrote in the article) :-D
    Greetings from Poland.

  • Gus Mueller

    Benny, how do you feel about memorizing dialogues? My vote: they can be helpful, like memorizing from a phrasebook with context wrapped around it. My first French dialogue in high school went from “hello, how are you” to “MY fault? Where do you get that from?” and 15 years later I was able to function (and socialize) in Paris and Basque country. For me, emphasis for me, memorized dialogues are a valuable tool.

  • Stephen Holtom

    I don’t think this kind of sarcasm is very useful (or a particularly entertaining read).

    The fact is, it’s *not* self-evidently obvious what is the most efficient way to go about learning a foreign language. I don’t think it’s helpful to caricature all people going about it the wrong way as stupid, lazy and/or ignorant.

    For example, one reason that actually going out and speaking to people is effective is because you will have positive and negative experiences and that is a massive aid to memory. The brain preferentially stores *salient* data, and that’s what vocabulary becomes when you use it.

    But if you’re unaware that that’s how the mind works, I can see self-study looking more attractive.
    (and of course the reality is that some combination of the two is the best approach)

    Note also, that contrary to popular belief, children do not acquire language quicker than adults (adults’ vocabulary grows faster in a *must speak* situation compared to an infant of any age). Therefore it does not necessarily make sense to attempt to learn a language exactly as a child would.

    • http://fluentin3months.com/ Brandon Rivington

      I know that it’s been a while since you posted this, but I figured you deserved a response nonetheless.

      First, if you read many of the other articles from around the blog, Benny likes to playfully use sarcasm and informality in his articles every now and again. He’s not caricaturing “all people” as stupid, lazy, and ignorant. He’s simply taking language learning tips that seem like good advice at first glance and expanding upon them to unmask the flaws in each tip.

      Also, if you go to http://www.fi3m.com/adults-vs-kids/ you will see the Benny has already written about how adults in fact tend to learn better than kids.

      – Thanks for reading

  • Rachel Pun

    True story…. I’m ashamed to confess that I have “studied” French for almost 5 years and German a few years with gaps in-between and I passed in all the tests but still don’t speak them because, obviously, I STUDIED them and never quite used them. Things have to change now with hard work and courage.

    • http://fluentin3months.com/ Brandon Rivington

      Hard work? Yes! Courage? Don’t sweat it!

      A lot of people let shyness or a lack of courage hold themselves back from speaking a language. Why be shy? Why be embarrassed? A lot of folks tell me that they are simply afraid of making mistakes. The question I then ask them is this: When a person who is learning your native language tries to speak to you and they do so in a choppy, grammatically incorrect form of the language, do you make fun of them or snicker? Do you feel embarrassed for them? Of course you don’t! It’s the same thing when you a speaking French or German. If people are correcting your mistakes, although it may feel a little embarrassing. But just remember, they’re trying to help.

      http://www.fi3m.com/shy-solution/
      http://www.fi3m.com/stop-being-shy/

      Happy learning!
      Brandon, the Fi3M Language Encourager

      • Rachel Pun

        Sorry for the late reply :P I’ve been forgotten to do so
        The fear is also for those who do make fun of me (you would call them jerks but still there’s the embarrassment) and for those you learn together with, it’s like if you make some stupid mistakes you will be seen as lazy. Okay, that being said, you did make me feel better and braver about going out to talk in the languages I want to learn :)) and thanks a lot for that!