Fluent in 3 Months... by Benny Lewis

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by kikenyoy, Mar 20, 2014.

  1. kikenyoy

    kikenyoy Administrator Staff Member

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    This is a good book for beginning language learners. It argues against many of the common excuses people will have with learning their first foreign language and describes many free or cheap resources which beginners likely won't know about but are common tools of the trade for more experienced learners.

    What differentiates Benny's method from most others is his recommendation to start speaking right away...even from day one, and he gives some pretty convincing arguments for it.

    I also want to give him credit for mentioning other polyglots with different methods than his and resources which may be in competition with his such as the forum at http://how-to-learn-any-language.com

    I didn't learn much from his book other than a few tips from the section on body language, but it helped to motivate me to speak earlier in my studies which will be beneficial so I feel like it was worth my time and money to read.
  2. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    Nice review. I've heard a lot of good things about this book, but I haven't read it myself.

    By speaking from day 1, I assume he means conversing with a native from day 1, right? I don't do that mainly because I don't want to rely on a native speaker to teach me pronunciation and grammar. I also don't like having big listening problems in the beginning. I find that I can learn pronunciation, grammar and listening much better on my own, so I speak along with my language programs from the beginning, but I don't start my conversation component until I feel good about my pronunciation, have a few hundred words, some basic sentence structure and listening skills under my belt. This is usually about 3 months in. Then I jump right into 30 minute conversation sessions, and make it the most important part of my learning for the next few months, using it to get new vocabulary and sentences.

    So does Benny learn exclusively from conversation at first, or is it a small component that grows bigger with time? How does he handle the problems I mentioned?
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  3. kikenyoy

    kikenyoy Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes, conversing with natives.

    Not exclusively. He uses courses like Assimil or Teach Yourself and sometimes works with tutors, but he skips around in the courses mostly focusing on what will help him the most with his next conversation whether it's new vocabulary or grammar. He uses conversation to practice his speaking and listening skills and to learn new phrases/vocabulary. He thinks you can do this up to about a low B2 conversational level then if you want to progress he recommends a more academic approach: grammar drills, getting writing corrected, and lots of reading and listening to native content.

    He has a section on pronunciation, prosity, accent reduction, etc. but either he didn't say or I can't remember when he recommends focusing on it.
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  4. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    Skipping around in other stuff makes more sense than exclusive conversation to me, so it's good to hear that's what he does. I'm not asking you to repeat it here, but does the book get into a lot more detail regarding that? Otherwise it might be hard for a beginner to follow. Actually, most languages learning methods are hard to follow, even if there is a lot of detail. For example, I remember reading about Luca Lampariello's method, and still not seeing how it could work with Russian. Later I found out he's in the process of writing a book about it. Don't blame him - it's obviously a good method, based on the results. That reminds me; I need to be sure to provide enough information to allow people to follow my method.:rolleyes:
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  5. kikenyoy

    kikenyoy Administrator Staff Member

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    He just says to learn the most common words and grammar and then focus on what you'll be using in conversation so it will be a bit different for everyone. As one obvious example, he says that if you're talking to natives in person then giving/receiving directions is something you might want to learn fairly early, but if you're talking on skype then it's one of the last.
  6. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    To me it sounds like he's tried to make his goal of becoming as good at conversation as possible after 3 months fit into his general language learning plan. In my mind, there should be some differences between
    1) a language plan that makes you as good at conversation as possible at 3 months, and
    2) a language plan that gets you to a solid C1 as quickly as possible
    Or even B2 for that matter. It keeps things simpler to have only one plan I suppose, but if your goal is always to keep your conversation the best possible, you could neglect the other skills, which would make this method fall behind well rounded ones imo. For example, when you realize you aren't being understood well, is that really the best time to study pronunciation? I don't think so.
  7. cm.1

    cm.1 Guest

    You know, I guess some could argue that Benny has become some sort of celebrity lol
  8. Bjorn

    Bjorn Active Member VIP member

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    I have read the book and it is a good book.
  9. Cainntear

    Cainntear Active Member VIP member

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    I once made extensive notes on the Language Hacking Guide for a review that I never published. My main conclusion that it completely lacked any substance whatsoever. This is also my view of Benny's blog and his forum posts, so I'm inclined to assume the same of the book.

    Can anyone provide a review of the substance of this latest book, if there is indeed any substance to it...?
  10. Peregrinus

    Peregrinus Active Member

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    Where are the testimonials from the hordes of Benny fanboys who have become fluent in 3 months using Benny's "methods"? I put "methods" in quotes because I have never seen anything unique in his postings, just an assemblage of already known techniques (speaking from day one is just one side of the input vs output debate). Plus he never seems to be transparent and lay out exactly his learning path for a language. He is however "inspirational" apparently to legions of neophyte language learners. And he undoubtedly is highly successful in marketing himself to get others to pay for his language travels. Perhaps even his admirers never took seriously his 3 months claims viewing it merely as a goal.

    My views of Benny mellowed over time in reading his posts on HTLAL and his blog, just as he mellowed a lot from his initially always pugnacious hostile attitude toward those who challenged his claims. I am not someone who needs motivation from the outside for my language learning, but if he helps others who do need it, then perhaps he performs a useful service.

    I will close with a joke I read on the LingQ forum not too long ago. "How does one get fluent in 3 months?" Answer: "By carefully editing your youtube videos." A poster who didn't get the reference asked what was meant and of course the jokester replied "Benny".
  11. newyorkeric

    newyorkeric New Member

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    I have mixed feelings about Benny. I like reading some of his posts, especially ones unrelated to his methods. But I don't read his blog or emails much any more because they have become repetitive and too "spammy." I admire him though. He has built up a brand that works for him, and if people enjoy it more power to them.
  12. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    fyi - I bought a paper copy of his book for the sole purpose of reviewing it. I read it 2 weeks ago, but am still writing the review. I'll post it here when I'm done.
    Have you read the amazon reviews? Some are quite impressive. By some amazing
    coincidence, many of the 5 star reviewers have only done that single review, but I'm sure there's nothing shady going on there. Here's my favorite review:
  13. Peregrinus

    Peregrinus Active Member

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    Those Amazon reviews are some funny sh*t. Common review spamming there but funny in this context.

    What is also funny is the juxtaposition of discussions of Benny here and on HTLAL. The relatively mild comment by newyorkeric above, himself a moderator there, would probably (if he were not a moderator), cause another mod to issue a general warning in the thread not to go there given past disputes about Benny. Then my more blunt comment above would probably lead to a specific warning to me and the thread being locked. And Cainntear's comment would lead to banning. Oh wait, that actually happened.

    Couldn't resist.
  14. biTsar

    biTsar Active Member VIP member

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    Benny is a busker, is that fair to say ?
  15. Cainntear

    Cainntear Active Member VIP member

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    Actually, no. I got banned for saying something that wasn't an comment about anything Benny had said or done. Someone suggested that his TED talk should just be a demonstration of him speaking lots of languages for 20 minutes, and I thought this was a bad idea, because it would look like showing off, and no-one likes a show-off. I was not calling him a show-off -- I was actually saying that he'd got the balance roughly right in his previous talk. But I got banned anyway. Hohum.
  16. Cainntear

    Cainntear Active Member VIP member

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    No, it's not fair. Buskers work for a living.
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  17. Peregrinus

    Peregrinus Active Member

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    It still remains that Benny was the background context, along with your history re him. If you had been talking about TED talks by anyone else it would have been a non-issue.
  18. kikenyoy

    kikenyoy Administrator Staff Member

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    Apparently it isn't safe to read this forum while eating. I had to choke down a mouthful of diet Coke to avoid spraying my monitor when I read this.
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  19. biTsar

    biTsar Active Member VIP member

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    Me too.
  20. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    I keep telling people diet soft drinks are dangerous, but nobody listens.
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