Probably the most famous and controversial blogger on language learning is the Irish Benny Lewis (fluentin3months.com). The blog author has spent the last 11 years traveling the world and learning languages. Today, he speaks over ten languages with varying degrees of fluency. As millions of students around the world, Benny studied languages at school (Irish and German), but did not learn to speak them. When he was 21, he went to Spain to learn the language, but after 6 months he still could not communicate. After meeting a multilingual Brazilian, he changed his way of learning languages. Based on his experiences he wrote the book.
The book has a practical, accessible language for students of any level. Benny keeps the same line of thought of the blog: to speak from day one and immersion. The rest of the book mixes motivation and learning tips.
1 – Destroying Twenty Common Language Learning Myths
As the title already explains in this chapter Benny deconstructs several myths or excuses people use for not learning a new language, such as: “I’m too old,” “I have no time”, “I can’t travel” or my excuse “I don’t find foreigners to talk to.”
2 – Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It
This chapter focuses on the decision to learn a language. If you have decided to learn a new language, then you must take control of your learning. Set specific goals (or missions as Benny puts), set time limits and do your best.
3 – How to Learn Quickly Thousands of Words
This chapter is quite practical with Benny giving tips on memorization, with several examples of how to apply.
4 – Immersion without Buying a Plane Ticket
In this chapter Benny shows how you can immerse yourself in the language in your own country or in a third one giving some examples of his personal experiences.
5 – Speaking from Day One
Here is the central point of the method of Benny to really learn a language; students should force the learning process speaking from day one. The author explains how this is possible, using a few tricks.
6 – Tips for Starting Specific Languages
Again, Benny tries to deconstruct the myths created around specific languages, for example, “Chinese is very difficult because it is tonal,” “German grammar is impossible to understand”…
7 – From Fluency to Mastery
This chapter differs most from the blog articles, here is presented different types of study for people who do not just want to speak the language, but want to dominate other aspects and succeed in proficiency tests.
8 – How to Get Mistaken for a Native Speaker
Probably the greatest ambition of those who want to learn a language is to be mistaken for a native speaker. To achieve this goal, besides explaining about accents and intonations, he gives behavioral cues.
9 – Hyperpolyglot: When One Is Just Not Enough
In the last chapter of the book he talks about learning multiple languages, how not to confuse them and whether it is advisable to learn more than one language at once.
To sum up…
The book is worth it for people who are learning the first foreign language and do not yet have a method, or for those who already are fans of the blog, although many information are recycled. Some topics are somewhat deeper, others are treated superficially. The impression I had was that the book was written hastily. In short, if you are already a fan of the blog, buy it. If you don’t like the blog, or the method of Benny, do not spend your money foolishly.