Self Help

Fluent in 3 Months How Anyone at Any Age - Lewis, Benny

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 46 min read

Here’s a summary of the contents:

Acknowledgements: The author thanks various people who helped in researching and writing the book, including linguists, polyglots, and editors.

Introduction: The author explains how he went from struggling in a Spanish class to becoming fluent in over a dozen languages. He emphasizes that the key is developing a passion for language learning and living the language through immersion and practice rather than just studying about the language.

Chapter 1: The author debunks 20 common myths about language learning to show that anyone can learn a new language.

Chapter 2: The author explains how to set concrete goals and timelines for learning a new language using effective techniques for achieving results.

Chapter 3: The author teaches effective methods for memorizing thousands of new words in a foreign language.

Chapter 4: The author provides tips for immersing yourself in a new language without traveling abroad.

Chapter 5: The author gives advice for speaking a new language from the very first day using tricks for getting by when you lack vocabulary.

Chapter 6: The author offers recommendations for getting started with specific languages like Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Irish, Hungarian, Polish, Dutch, and Thai.

Chapter 7: The author explains how to progress from basic fluency to mastery of a new language.

Chapter 8: The author provides suggestions for adapting to a new culture and sounding like a native speaker.

Chapter 9: The author gives tips for learning multiple languages without confusing them or forgetting previous languages.

Chapter 10: The author recommends free and inexpensive digital resources for practicing and studying new languages.

Conclusion: The author reinforces the importance of passion, immersion, practice, and persistence in learning a new language.

About the Author: Brief biography of the author, Benny Lewis.

  • The author originally learned Irish and German in high school for extrinsic reasons, like passing exams or looking good on a resume. As a result, he didn’t retain much and didn’t care about the languages themselves.

  • His attitude changed when he started using the languages to communicate with native speakers. He realized the languages were a “bridge” to connect with people, not a “barrier.” This motivated him to learn.

  • The best language courses focus on speaking and using the language, not just drilling grammar. This helps students acquire the language, not just learn about it.

  • Successful language learners are passionate about the language itself, not just potential benefits. They want to communicate with others and understand the culture. Extrinsic motivations alone usually lead to failure.

  • To develop passion, immerse yourself in the language and culture. Watch TV, read, listen to music, speak with natives, surround yourself with the language. This helps you “live” the language, not just learn about it.

  • Success stories like Khatzumoto, who learned Japanese in 18 months while living in the U.S., show what’s possible with immersion and passion. His motto is “You don’t know a language, you live it.”

  • Having powerful experiences like understanding your first sentence or conversing with a native speaker can ignite your passion by giving you “goose bumps.” These moments make the effort worthwhile.

  • Be willing to go to great lengths to practice and use the language. Polyglot Moses McCormick pretended to be a woman in online chat rooms to practice Hmong. While extreme, this shows the dedication required.

  • In summary, developing intrinsic motivation and passion for the language, through immersion and seeking out powerful experiences, is key. This, combined with dedication and a willingness to fully embrace the learning process, will drive you forward.

  • The idea that adults are at a disadvantage for learning languages is a myth. While children may have some advantages, adults also have many benefits, including:

  • Existing language knowledge. Adults already have a strong grasp of language concepts that take children years to develop. Things like distinguishing sounds, understanding nonverbal communication, and general communication skills.

  • More developed cognitive abilities. Adults have stronger logical reasoning, abstract thinking, and meta-learning skills that aid in language learning. Studies show adults can pick up complex grammar rules faster than children.

  • Life experiences. Adults have a wealth of life experiences, cultural knowledge, and general knowledge about the world that helps with understanding context and meaning.

  • Greater motivation. Adults typically have stronger motivation and determination to achieve their goals. They can focus on the rewards and benefits of learning.

  • While children have advantages in pronunciation ability and acquiring native-like accents, adults have many strengths that balance or outweigh the perceived disadvantages. With the right motivation and techniques, adults of any age can become fluent in a foreign language.

• Adults are not inherently worse language learners than children. The learning environment and approach are more significant factors in success. Traditional academic environments and teaching methods do not suit many adults. Adults can adapt the learning approach to suit their needs and have more control over creating an optimal learning environment.

• Adults have many advantages for language learning, including greater life experiences, analytical skills, motivation, and ability to immerse themselves. While children may pick up languages more easily through immersion, adults can match a child’s progress with conscious effort and the right approach.

• The idea of a “language gene” is a myth. Most of the world’s population speaks more than one language, showing that the ability to learn languages is a natural human capacity, not limited to a lucky few. Success depends on the effort and environment, not genetics.

• Lack of time is not a valid excuse. Successful language learners have full-time jobs and responsibilities. It is about making time, using small moments throughout the day, and avoiding time-wasting activities. Progress will happen if you dedicate time to allow it.

• With the right mindset and approach, adults of any age can become highly proficient language learners. The key is not to be afraid of making mistakes, to have fun with it, and to create an optimal learning environment focused on using the language as much as possible.

The key to learning a new skill is making the time for it and prioritizing it. Focus on one thing at a time instead of trying to do too many things at once. While it may take longer, consistently dedicating even a small amount of time each day will lead to progress.

Language learning does not have to be expensive. Free or low-cost resources can be very effective. Spending more money does not necessarily mean faster or better results. It is most important to actually use the language as much as possible.

Waiting for the perfect course or method is unnecessary and can delay progress. Any basic material, like a phrasebook, can get you started. What matters most is the effort and time put into practicing and using the language.

The method or approach used at the beginning is not critical and will not determine the outcome. It is okay to make mistakes. Persistence and continuous effort are what really matter.

Speaking a new language should start immediately, not after a long period of study. Conversation is the best way to learn, even with limited ability. There will never be a point where one feels completely “ready” to start speaking.

Lack of focus is not an excuse. Success comes from focusing on one priority at a time, not trying to do too many things at once. Even people with many interests and commitments can achieve focus by working on projects sequentially.

No language is inherently too difficult to learn. Discouragement about a language’s difficulty usually comes from those with little experience learning languages or from those who want to feel superior. With hard work and the right motivation, any language can be learned.

Plateaus in progress are not unavoidable. When progress stalls, it means the approach needs adjustment. Doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting new results will not work. Try new techniques, resources, or ways of practicing to get out of a rut.

Perfect mastery of a language is an unrealistic goal and not required to consider oneself proficient. Even native speakers make mistakes and have limitations in their vocabulary or grammar. Aim for conversational fluency, not perfection. With regular use of the language, ability will continue to improve over time.

  • There are many topics that make people uncomfortable to talk about. However, expecting higher standards for a foreign language than your native language is unnecessary.

  • Fluency is possible for ordinary people, even those who struggled with languages in school. Aim for a conversational level first, then work towards fluency. Fluency can come with time and practice.

  • Learning a language does not have to be boring. Expose yourself to the language through music, TV, movies, magazines, etc. Find a language exchange partner or another engaging approach. There are many ways to learn a language that aren’t dull.

  • Don’t be afraid to speak to native speakers. They will likely be encouraging and helpful. This fear is often exaggerated and not based in reality. When you do try speaking, you will probably be glad you did.

  • You may always have an accent, but that shouldn’t stop you from becoming genuinely fluent. An accent does not prevent communication, and native speakers have accents too. Accent reduction is possible, but having an accent is okay.

  • Your friends and family may not support your language learning efforts. Tell them how serious you are and that you need their support. If they still don’t support you, find communities that share your passion for language learning.

  • Not everyone speaks English. Learning the local language opens up doors to culture and experiences off the beaten path for tourists. It allows you to connect with people who rarely speak with foreigners.

  • Technology will not replace the need to learn languages. So much of communication depends on context, body language, tone, etc. This is hard to convey through technology.

  • Don’t compare yourself to other language learners. Everyone faces challenges; successful learners just persist despite them. Ask yourself what those learners would do to overcome similar challenges.

  • Past failure at learning a language does not mean you will fail again. The approach was likely wrong for you. There are many ways to learn a language, and different approaches work for different people. Find an approach tailored to your needs and learning style.

Here is a summary of the key points from this chapter:

•Set concrete and measurable goals to provide motivation and direction for your language learning. Vague goals like “learn Spanish” are not helpful. Break them down into specific targets, such as “reach B2 level in Spanish in 6-12 months.”

•Set deadline-based mini-goals to keep yourself accountable, such as “learn 100 new words per week” or “complete one lesson in my workbook per day.” Track your progress to stay on schedule.

•Focus on balance across four key areas: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Don’t neglect any one area. Aim for fluency in all four.

•Use multiple resources and techniques, including apps, online courses, workbooks, audio lessons, flashcards, language exchanges, and immersion experiences. The more variety, the better.

•Consider hiring a private tutor or language coach for accountability and customized guidance. They can help keep you on track to achieve your goals.

•Immerse yourself in the language as much as possible through media, social interaction, travel, or work/study opportunities in a country where that language is spoken. Full immersion is the best way to become fluent.

•Stay passionate about learning the language and culture. Follow social media accounts, read books, watch movies and TV shows, listen to music, cook traditional foods, and more. Passion fuels motivation.

•Review and revise your goals and techniques regularly based on your progress and needs. Be flexible and willing to adjust as necessary to optimize your learning.

•Consider taking official language proficiency tests to provide external motivation and assessment of your abilities. Aim to achieve specific scores on tests like the DELE or DELF.

•Celebrate achieving mini-goals and milestones to stay motivated for continued progress. Reward yourself for wins, both big and small. You deserve it!

Does this summary cover the main points from the chapter? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

• Pick specific, concrete targets with deadlines for learning a new language. Don’t have vague resolutions; have focused missions.

• Fluency does not mean speaking like a native or mastering complex topics. It means being able to communicate effectively in everyday conversations.

• The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) provides a standardized scale for measuring language proficiency. Level B2, defined as being able to interact spontaneously without strain, can be a good target for fluency.

• Reaching fluency or other milestones depends on the time and effort you put in. As a rough estimate:

› A2 (basic conversational): 3 to 6 months of intensive study › B1 (intermediate): 6 to 12 months › B2 (upper intermediate, fluent): 12 to 18 months › C1 (advanced): 18 months to 3 years › C2 (mastery): 3 years or more

• For a first language project, aim for B1 or A2 and budget at least 6 to 12 months. Fluency in 3 months requires experience and full dedication.

• Adjust your expectations and don’t aim for perfection. Focus on being able to communicate spontaneously at your target level.

• Learning a language is a lifelong journey. While you can reach milestones, there is always more to discover.

So in summary, set concrete and realistic targets, know how much time and work is needed to achieve them, focus on effective communication over perfection, and approach language learning as a long-term life adventure. That is the path to success.

•Learning a language intensively in 3 months requires absolute focus and dedicating several hours a day. It’s about the total number of hours put in, not the amount of time passed. Aim for at least 2-3 hours a day of focused study.

•There is no “magic number” for fluency. Focus on consistent progress and solving immediate language problems. A 3-month deadline creates urgency and motivation. Other options include 1-2 months (for conversation) or a few weeks (for tourism).

•Don’t consider it failure if you don’t reach fluency. Any progress in learning to communicate is success. But do aim high and push yourself outside your comfort zone.

•Use “mini-missions” to focus on your biggest challenges, like pronouncing tones correctly or holding longer conversations. Mini-missions provide a sense of accomplishment and help you make progress. “Brain-melting” mini-missions that force you to think fast can help you advance to the next level.

•Be aware of potential “burnout” from intensive study. Take occasional breaks to recharge and renew your motivation. But don’t take long breaks, which can disrupt your progress.

•Consider working with a tutor or conversation partner, especially if you’re struggling. Speaking is critical, and a tutor can give you feedback and help set mini-missions.

•Make the language a part of your daily life as much as possible. Listen to audio, watch TV shows, read, and try to think in the language. Immersion is the best way to learn quickly.

•Stay motivated by reminding yourself why you want to learn the language and how you’ll use it. Celebrate small wins and milestones to keep yourself going.

That covers the main highlights from the chapter on learning a new language intensively to reach level A2 in 3 months. Let me know if you would like me to explain any part of the summary in more detail.

Moments of intensive learning can lead to burnout very quickly. Burnout is a major reason why people give up on learning a new language.

At first, aiming for three months of focused learning with no breaks seemed ideal. However, after three weeks of active learning, the ability to retain information dropped significantly for about a week. Most people reach a saturation point where they need a break.

Taking breaks is important to recharge and continue progressing. Suggested breaks include:

  • Taking one evening off per week to do a non-language related social activity.
  • Taking an entire weekend off from the language project each month to do an enjoyable non-language related activity.
  • Using breaks as a reward and motivation after achieving weekly or monthly goals.

Frustration is inevitable, so try to make learning fun. Reward yourself after studying by doing an enjoyable activity in your target language like watching TV, reading, etc. When learning is enjoyable, you can accomplish more.

A plan of action is important for success. Considerations for the plan include:

  • Precisely defining your goals using the CEFR levels. Aim slightly higher than what seems easily achievable.
  • Setting aside a specific time period to make language learning the top priority.
  • Focusing on your biggest challenges with “mini-missions” rather than a generic course.
  • Taking breaks to avoid burnout.
  • Announcing your goals publicly to create accountability.

With obstacles addressed and a good plan, the next step is developing tools for learning like methods to quickly gain a large vocabulary. The keyword method is a highly effective way to memorize many new words through visualization and association rather than boring rote repetition.

The concept of spaced repetition is using flashcards to build vocabulary in an efficient manner. Instead of going through a list of new words in order, you focus on the words you struggle with. Words you know well get pushed to the bottom of the deck, while words you struggle with stay at the top so you can practice them more frequently. This helps avoid wasting time reviewing words you’ve already memorized.

Some key points about spaced repetition:

• Use flashcards for new vocabulary words and phrases.

• Order the cards based on how well you know each word/phrase. Struggling words stay at the top, well-known words go to the bottom.

• Focus your practice on the words at the top of the deck that you struggle with. This avoids wasting time on words you already know.

• As you get better at a word/phrase, move its card down in the deck. Words that become very familiar can be removed from the deck.

• New words are added to the top of the deck so you can focus on them. The ordering of the deck is constantly evolving based on your current knowledge.

• This system helps learn vocabulary efficiently by focusing your effort where it’s needed most. With regular practice, the deck will get smaller as more and more words become second nature.

• Some spaced repetition apps and tools can help automate the process, but physical flashcards work great too. The key is the approach, not the specific tool.

In summary, the spaced repetition technique uses a flashcard system that constantly adapts to your needs to help build vocabulary in an efficient and focused manner. By concentrating your effort on the words you struggle with, you can expand your vocabulary quickly without wasting time on words you’ve already mastered.

The key ideas in the passage are:

  1. Focus on memorizing phrases and sentences, not just words. This allows you to communicate in complete and grammatically correct thoughts.

  2. Use mnemonics like songs, chants, or verbal cues to help memorize phrases. For example, associate the first word of an Italian phrase with a visual cue to help you remember the rest of the phrase.

  3. Practice with short speeches or scripts to build up your confidence in conversation. Prepare a 1-minute script introducing yourself in your target language and use mnemonics to memorize it. Recording yourself can help build motivation.

  4. Use spaced repetition tools like Anki, Memrise, and physical flashcards. Review words and phrases repeatedly over time to strengthen your memory. The more you remember a word, the farther “down” in your review deck it should go.

  5. Learn new vocabulary and phrases every day to expand your ability to communicate. Use mnemonics and spaced repetition to burn them into your memory so you can recall them quickly.

  6. The keyword method associates the sound of a new word in your target language with a familiar English word. This makes the new word much more memorable. Use ridiculous or exaggerated images to strengthen the association.

  7. Don’t compare yourself to others, just focus on improving a little bit each day. Building fluency is a long process, so celebrate small wins and milestones along the way.

The key takeaway is that active techniques like mnemonics, spaced repetition, and recording yourself can significantly boost your ability to memorize and recall new language. Start with useful phrases and short scripts, then build up your vocabulary and fluency over time through daily practice. Staying motivated and consistent will lead to success.

• Visiting a country is not essential for learning its language. Many expats live abroad for years without gaining fluency.

• The “expat bubble” prevents integration with locals and encourages speaking your native language. This hinders learning the local language.

• Dealing with challenges of moving to a new country can distract from focusing on learning the language. It may be better to learn the language first, then visit.

• Speaking the local language leads to rewarding cultural experiences. Traveling after gaining fluency allows you to maximize these experiences.

• Successful language immersion depends more on avoiding speaking your native language than on location. “ language villages” in the wrong country can work.

• With technology, you can easily connect with native speakers and create an immersion environment at home. Focus, not location, is key.

• Consider an upcoming trip as motivation to study intensively beforehand. Then you can enjoy the trip while using your new language skills.

• Speaking the language, not being in the country, is the crucial element for learning. With the right attitude and approach, you can achieve the same results at home.

In summary, you do not need to buy a plane ticket to achieve immersion in your target language. With focus and the right mindset, you can create an effective learning environment through connecting with others via technology. Planning a trip to the country can provide motivation, but the most important element is speaking the language, which you can do from anywhere. Location is less important than dedicated practice.

• Exposure to native speakers of your target language is the most effective way to learn. You can surround yourself with native speakers in person or connect with them digitally.

• Websites like,, and are great ways to find native speakers to practice with. You can search for people by language and location. These sites host social events and meetups aimed at language exchange and practice.

• You can create your own meetups or language exchange events using these websites or Facebook groups. Even if you start small, these groups can grow over time.

• Look for opportunities to practice in person at local universities, libraries, or community centers. Leave notices on ad boards or in local newspapers. Ask friends and family for leads.

• Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone speaking your target language in public. Approach them, introduce yourself, and ask if they’d like to chat to help you practice. Most people will be happy to help for a few minutes. You can ask to exchange contact info to meet up again.

• While native speakers are ideal, you can still learn from and practice with other non-native speakers. Any opportunity to speak is helpful. But do aim to get exposure to native speech as much as possible.

• Learning a new language requires leaving your comfort zone. Have an open and adventurous attitude. Look for any chance to immerse yourself and don’t be afraid to start a friendly conversation with someone new.

• Speaking a language from day one is the best way to learn. Don’t wait until you feel “ready.”

• You can speak even when you only know a few words. Communication is the goal, not perfection.

• Use context, gestures, and cognates to help get your message across when you lack vocabulary.

• Speaking at first is about short, simple conversations to build familiarity, not deep discussions. Work your way up.

• Accept that you can’t have complex conversations immediately. Start simple and build from there.

• Making mistakes is part of learning. Try speaking, make errors, and learn from them. You’ll get better over time.

• Use whatever tools you have to start speaking. Don’t let a lack of vocabulary stop you. There are ways around it.

The key aspects for your first conversation in a new language are:

  1. Make a plan for your first conversation by scheduling a time with a language exchange partner either in-person or online. Have a deadline to work toward.

  2. Spend a couple of hours preparing by learning some basic phrases like greetings, questions, and requests for clarification. Focus on pronunciation and memorization.

  3. Start your first conversation by saying “Hello”. Follow up with the phrases you prepared. Keep exchanges short, around 10-20 seconds. Don’t feel like you have failed if you have to switch to English. Appreciate your progress.

  4. “Cheat” by bringing notes or using online translation tools. You can’t prepare for everything, so have back-up.

  5. Keep things simple by rephrasing what you want to say using words you know. Focus on conveying meaning, not precise translation. Use “close enough” alternatives.

  6. All-encompassing verbs and adjectives will get you further than a wide vocabulary. Say something, even if it’s not perfect.

  7. Pause to think of alternative ways to express yourself using words you know. Replace unknown words with similar ones that you do know.

The keys to success are preparation, starting simple, conveying meaning, having patience, and not aiming for perfection. Keep at it and build up from your first short conversations.

• Focus on simple phrases and basic conversations in the beginning. Don’t worry about precision or grammar. The goal is to start speaking right away.

• Feedback and correction from a teacher or language exchange partner is essential. Make notes of your mistakes and learn from them.

• Apply a triage system to your learning. Focus on what is most relevant and useful to you right now. Skip over less important material for the time being.

• Don’t expect to understand everything at first. Listen for words and phrases you recognize and try to guess the overall meaning. Understanding will improve over time.

• Prepare for conversations ahead of time by learning key phrases, words, and questions you want to use. Have resources like dictionaries, cheat sheets, and translation tools ready while speaking.

• Recording yourself speaking can be a useful tool for reviewing your progress and seeing where you can improve. But always ask for permission first before recording someone else.

• Learning a new language is challenging and frustrating, but stick with it. Even with just a few hours of study, you can have a basic conversation. Constant practice and persistence pay off.

• The author suggests learning Esperanto for two weeks to gain confidence in using a foreign language to communicate. Esperanto is an artificially created language designed to be easy to learn. In two weeks, you can make a lot of progress and apply your experience to learning other languages.

• Conversations in the target language should be kept entirely in that language as much as possible, even for beginners. This includes conversations with teachers, language exchange partners, and native speakers. While some code-switching may be necessary at first, the majority of conversation should be in the target language. This helps you get used to thinking in that language and progress faster.

• It can be frustrating and tiring to converse entirely in a new language, especially as a beginner, but it is necessary to push through this discomfort to learn efficiently. Looking up unknown words and using simple language to get around gaps in knowledge is better than switching to your native language.

• If a teacher, language partner, or native speaker responds in English, politely reiterate your desire to practice the target language. Explain that you want to work on listening comprehension and speaking in that language. Be willing to find new teachers or partners if they do not make an effort to maintain the target language.

• When speaking with a stranger who responds in English, don’t be discouraged. Politely reiterate your interest in practicing their language. Ask for just 2-5 minutes of their time to converse. Offer to exchange contact information for future practice. Most people will appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

• Using context and inference is necessary when you don’t fully understand what is being said to you in the target language. Smiling, nodding, and restating what you did comprehend are good strategies. As your learning progresses, you will rely less and less on inference and guesswork.

  • Give non-English speakers tips about connecting with English speakers and learning English
  • Explain how you can travel cheaply and share your experiences
  • Point out it’s unfair for others to insist on speaking English when you’re in their country to learn their language
  • “The Jack Sparrow Method”: Add drama to your hesitations to keep the conversation going and avoid awkwardness. Use pauses and gestures to engage the listener while you think of what to say.
  • “The Glass-Clink Trick”: Approach native speakers, start a conversation, and work through your shyness. Don’t overthink it, just start talking.
  • Get involved and active in using the language from the start. Study, but also speak the language. Start with basic greetings and short conversations and build up from there.
  • You can “cheat” at first by having a piece of paper with some key words or phrases. Look things up during the conversation. The other person knows you’re learning.
  • Keep talking through mistakes. Focus your studying on what will be useful for your conversations.
  • Try Esperanto for a couple weeks to get used to speaking a new language before tackling your target language.
  • Try to keep conversations in your target language. Have fun with hesitations. Don’t overthink.

The main tips are: get actively involved in using the language, start speaking from the beginning even in short bursts, build up your conversations over time, focus your studying on supporting your speaking, have fun with it, and don’t worry too much about being perfect. Making connections with native speakers and sharing information in the language you want to learn can also help motivate the conversations.

  • Learning a specific language is made easier by utilizing cognates (words that are similar or the same across languages), helper verbs (to avoid complicated conjugation), and recognizing patterns of borrowed words (like those English got from French).

  • Cognates include brand names, technology terms, and trendy/culturally significant words. They provide ‘free’ vocabulary that speeds up learning.

  • Helper verbs like ‘want to’ or ‘can’ allow you to avoid complicated conjugation by just tacking the infinitive form of a verb onto them. Focus on learning the conjugation of a few key helper verbs.

  • Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, etc.) have many cognates with English because English borrowed heavily from Norman French. Look for more formal equivalents of English words, as these are more likely to resemble the Romance languages.

  • Focus on the ‘you’ and ‘I’ conjugations first, then expand from there. Start with the polite/formal pronoun and verb forms before informal.

  • Difficulty is subjective and depends a lot on a learner’s existing knowledge and motivation. Any language can be learned with the right techniques and persistence.

Does this summary cover the main points from the chapter? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

• Cognates: Words derived from the same root, often Latin, that are spelled similarly and have related meanings across languages. Examples are words ending in -tion, -ment, -age, etc. These can help you quickly pick up vocabulary in a new language.

• Romance languages like Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese are closely related to English, with many cognates and borrowed words. They have grammatical gender, complex conjugation systems, and modal verbs that are useful to know.

• Spanish: Very phonetic, with rules for determining noun gender. Useful modal verbs are poder, querer, tener que, and deber. The future is often expressed with ir a + infinitive.

• French: Also phonetic, with rules for determining noun gender. Useful modal verbs are pouvoir, vouloir, and devoir. The future can be expressed with aller + infinitive. On is often used instead of nous.

• Italian: Phonetic, with rules for noun gender. Useful modal verbs are potere, volere, and dovere. The future is often expressed with the present tense + a time expression.

• Portuguese: Phonetic, with rules for noun gender. Only three main conjugations are needed. Useful modal expressions are poder, querer, and ter que.

• Germanic languages like German, Dutch, and Scandinavian languages are closely related to English but tend to be very phonetic. They have grammatical gender, complex declension/conjugation systems, and modal verbs. Word order tends to be subject-verb-object.

• German: Four cases, three genders, complex conjugation. Useful modal verbs are können, wollen, müssen, sollen.

• Dutch: Relatively simple grammar, two genders. Useful modal verbs are kunnen, willen, moeten.

• Scandinavian languages are relatively simple, with two genders and limited conjugation. Word order is subject-verb-object.

So in summary, closely related languages share many cognates and grammatical features with English, though their pronunciation, spelling, and specific rules differ. Knowing some key concepts about each language family and specific modal verbs, genders, and conjugations in major languages can help you get started.

• Germanic languages like German, Dutch, and Swedish have many similarities with English in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Recognizing cognates and patterns can help in learning these languages.

• German has consistent rules for pronunciation and gendered nouns. Learning the patterns for gender and plural forms can make the language easier to pick up.

• Modal verbs are very useful in German for forming sentences. Focus on learning key modal verbs like können (can), mögen (would like), müssen (must), and wollen (want).

• Slavic languages like Czech, Polish, and Russian seem intimidating due to their complex grammar with many cases. However, they also have consistent spelling/pronunciation and logical word construction using prefixes and roots.

• Learning a core set of prefixes, roots, and a few key verbs can help in discovering and understanding many new words in Slavic languages. Verbs like chtít (want) in Czech are useful for beginners.

• Don’t worry too much about mastering the grammar rules at first. Exposure and practice will help the rules become more intuitive over time. Native speakers will understand you even with some mistakes.

• Look for aspects of the languages that can make them easier to learn, like their logical or phonetic nature. This can help balance out the challenges.

• It’s okay to start with the basic, dictionary form of words and build from there. You don’t need to learn every grammatical nuance before speaking.

Does this summary cover the key highlights from the description? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

added after any verb in its dictionary form, if making it conditional would help you simplify your sentence in some way.

Other modal verbs worth learning the conjugation of include moct (to be able, can), umět (to know how), muset (must, have to), smět (be allowed to), and mít (to have to).

Having reached a conversational (lower intermediate, B1) level in Egyptian Arabic, I would recommend that those with a spoken focus choose a specific Arabic dialect they have a preference for based on the country they would like to visit most.

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), which most courses tend to focus on, is essential if you want to read newspapers and books or watch or listen to news broadcasts. But dialects, in every country, tend to be much more useful for conversing with people in the street or understanding most Arabic movies and TV shows. Dialects are also much easier to learn.

While MSA is definitely useful, its grammar is much more complex than a dialect’s, which can slow down a beginner’s progress. Grammar is easy to pick up, however, once you’re familiar with the language.

A language that doesn’t use the same written alphabet as the one you are reading now can seem very intimidating. However, languages like Arabic, Russian, Korean, Greek, Thai, and others that use a phonetic script essentially require that you learn only a small set of characters, which represent particular sounds, and doing so will allow you to read that language as you would read any western European language.

Using a familiar writing system (as with many European languages) tends to make us biased toward pronouncing all words the way we would in our mother tongue. This won’t be a problem for you with phonetic languages, because you’ll learn a new sound correctly from the start without any bias.

When it comes to languages like Thai, Mandarin, Cantonese, or Vietnamese, many people quickly say they could never speak these because their tones make them too hard. Many claim they are tone deaf and could never manage to process them. I find this strange, because even if the person claiming this is musically tone deaf, that person can still fully interpret the prosody and intonation of speech in his or her native language.

We have tones in English and other European languages; we just apply them to indicate subtle differences in the meanings of words and sentences rather than using them to change the core meaning of a word (although this is also possible).

Chinese is one of the most notorious languages around, and many claim that it’s the hardest in the world. This is usually based on nothing more than seeing Chinese script, in which you have to learn a completely new complex character for “every single word.”

Don’t take these scare tactics to heart! First, keep in mind that Chinese is a broad term, encompassing many varieties as well as the writing system, but you may want to narrow down your work to Mandarin, Cantonese, or some other specific variety if your focus is more spoken.

I decided to temporarily put aside learning how to read Chinese so I could focus on speaking Mandarin. Reaching the conversational level in that language in a few months became much more realistic. Then, when I was a more confident speaker, I got back into the language from the perspective of improving my reading skills.

• Chinese characters (hanzi) may seem intimidating, but a small number of frequent ones account for most of the language you will encounter. Focus on learning radicals (the building blocks of characters) and mnemonics. Many characters are visually logical or contain the same components.

• Japanese (kanji) is similar. Just 200-500 characters account for most of the language. You can start reading with hiragana and katakana scripts. Pronunciation is very straightforward, with each symbol representing only one sound.

• Irish (Gaeilge) has only 11 irregular verbs, logical pronunciation rules, and you can deduce the meaning of new words. It is an official EU language with many resources to practice.

• American Sign Language allows you to stay within the language as a beginner by asking people to finger-spell words you don’t know. New signs are often intuitively logical, incorporating position, shape, or movement.

• In general, don’t be intimidated by languages that seem difficult. Focus on frequent vocabulary and patterns, use mnemonics and logic to memorize, start reading and listening early, and you can learn any language with dedication.

• Achieving fluency and beyond requires going back to focus on formal learning after gaining momentum through exposure and usage.

• Don’t get complacent at an intermediate level. Continue setting goals and mini-missions to improve.

• Identify your weaknesses and find ways to actively address them, even if it’s challenging or uncomfortable. For example, try conducting conversations without visual cues to improve listening comprehension.

• Traditional learning materials focused on grammar, vocabulary, and linguistics become useful at this stage. They provide the structure and details to build on the intuitive understanding gained through communication.

• Grammar shouldn’t be the initial focus when starting to learn a language. It should be revisited once you’ve reached an intermediate level. At that point, it will seem more interesting and relevant, allowing you to strengthen your understanding.

• See grammar rules as supporting your ability to communicate, not as the core of learning the language. Use them to gain insights into why the language works the way it does.

• Continuously push yourself to improve through setting new goals, reflecting on your weaknesses, and tackling challenges. The journey to mastery is rewarding but requires diligent effort. Staying complacent will limit your progress.

  • Learning grammar in small chunks and applying it to actual conversations is more effective than focusing purely on grammar. Studying grammar in context allows you to bring your conversational ability to a higher level.

  • While advancing from level B1 to B2 improves your ability to express yourself and understand others, the content of conversations can remain somewhat similar, focusing on social situations and getting to know people. Pushing to more complex discussions on philosophical, political or technical topics is necessary to reach an advanced level. Practicing such complex conversations, even if frustrating at first, is the only way to improve.

  • Input from media like books, movies, TV shows and radio becomes more useful once you reach an advanced level of fluency. As a beginner, the language used is too complex to really appreciate or learn from. But at an advanced level, input from media you enjoy can help bring you to mastery by exposing you to more complex language and vocabulary. Starting with simpler content you are already familiar with, like comic books or The Simpsons, can be an accessible way to start benefiting from input.

  • The focus of this approach is on interactive communication - speaking with others. Input from media is secondary. While input can be part of an effective language learning strategy, interacting with others is the priority. Input alone does not help with the ability to communicate as much as interactive speaking practice.

  • Finding the right level of input and complexity for your current ability is important. Trying to process native-level input as an absolute beginner will likely lead to frustration and discouragement. Easing into the language through interactive communication allows you to start simple and build up gradually.

The key ideas are: study grammar in context; push yourself to have more complex discussions; use input from media at the appropriate stage for your level; make interactive communication the priority; and find content suited to your current ability. An approach balancing these elements can help bring you from a conversational level of fluency to mastery of a language.

Efficient input requires full attention. Passively listening to audio in the background is not effective for learning a new language. Focus and active engagement are required. Reviewing familiar audio or focusing on new audio with the intention of reviewing it again later can be better options when multitasking.

Taking an exam at a level higher than your current ability can help push you to improve. The deadline creates accountability and motivates you to study topics and use materials you might not focus on otherwise. Exams may be more helpful in advanced stages of learning after you have a solid foundation.

For beginners, focusing mostly on speaking and listening is more practical and efficient than dividing time equally among reading, writing, speaking and listening. Speaking allows you to naturally improve listening ability and gain confidence. As you advance, spending more time on reading, writing and complex listening materials becomes important for mastering the language.

Thinking in your target language as much as possible, including having an inner dialogue about everyday events, helps speed progress. Translating thoughts from your native language to the target language is slow and can introduce grammar and word order errors. Speaking to yourself when alone and describing what you see and experience helps make thinking in the language a habit.

The key points are: focus your attention, push yourself with accountability, focus on speaking at first, and think in the language to advance toward mastery. An efficient and well-rounded approach with appropriate emphasis on different skills at different stages of learning can help you become proficient in a new language.

• Reaching an advanced level of fluency like C2 is not enough to be mistaken as a native speaker. You need to adapt to the local culture in terms of behavior, dressing, gestures, etc.

• Focusing on accent reduction alone may not lead to being perceived as a native. Mimicking native speakers’ behavior and appearance plays an important role.

• Observe how native speakers of your target language behave, dress, and interact. Try to emulate them. For example, the author noticed Egyptian men tend to have mustaches, wear sweaters and long pants, walk confidently while talking on the phone. He adapted to that.

• Pay attention to subtle cultural differences like amount of smiling, personal space, use of hands while speaking, eye contact, posture, etc. And adjust accordingly. Americans, for instance, tend to smile more and keep a bigger personal space.

• Making an effort to blend in by adapting to cultural norms will make others more comfortable interacting with you and keep conversations going in the local language. If you look and act like a tourist, they may switch to English.

• There are always exceptions, but look for general tendencies in a culture to mimic. With observation and practice, you can identify traits that will help you pass for a native speaker.

• Focus on people similar to you in age, gender, and other attributes. Their behavior is most relevant for you to emulate.

• It requires conscious effort and constant practice but adapting to a new culture by mimicking natives can be very rewarding in becoming fluent and perceived as a native speaker.

• Work on learning to produce the key sounds of the target language that differ from your native tongue. Focus on approximating these as closely as possible early on. Some sounds, like the alveolar flap r, can be approximated by English speakers.

• Practice with native speakers, ideally in person or via online video calls. Ask them to mimic your pronunciation and then demonstrate the correct pronunciation. This helps you notice the differences.

• Exposure to native speech, like podcasts, TV shows, music, etc. helps you learn genuine phrases and how words are naturally pronounced and flow together. Repeat and imitate native speech.

• Sentence drilling and mimicking naturally spoken phrases is very helpful for accent reduction. Translate full sentences, not just individual words.

• Singing in the target language can help improve your accent in an engaging way. The rhythm, flow, and pronunciation of song lyrics model native speech.

• Consider working with a singing teacher, voice trainer, or speech therapist. They focus on pronunciation, enunciation, rhythm, and mouth positioning in a way language teachers typically do not.

• Notice other aspects like word flow, intonation, rhythm, and musicality. Languages differ in these areas. Imitate how native speakers connect and separate words.

• Accent trainers who specialize in helping foreign language learners can provide targeted guidance.

In summary, closely listening to, imitating, and mimicking native speakers in an engaging way through media, working with specialized teachers, and practicing the key pronunciation points are effective ways to improve your accent in a foreign language. An accent that can pass as native requires attention to details like word flow and intonation in addition to individual word pronunciation.

  • Becoming a polyglot, someone who speaks multiple languages, requires passion for each language, not just a desire to collect languages. You must be willing to put in the work for each language.

  • It is best for most learners to focus on one new language at a time, rather than trying to learn multiple languages simultaneously. This avoids mixing up grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation between languages.

  • Wait until reaching at least B2 level, fluent and comfortable in a language, before starting a new language. At B1 level or below, a language can still be easily forgotten if practice lapses.

  • Once comfortably fluent in one language (B2+), you can then turn your full focus and attention to learning the next language. You do not need to master a language before starting another, but you should be confident in using it.

  • Polyglots suggest learning languages that are quite distinct from each other, to avoid interference. For example, French and Spanish are very similar, but French and Chinese are quite distinct.

  • Use strategies to avoid mixing up languages, such as physically separating resources for different languages, and maintaining a consistent language environment. Associate each language with distinct locations or activities.

  • Regularly practice all languages you have learned to avoid forgetting or confusing them. But focus the majority of your practice time on your current target language.

  • Learning several languages requires diligence and time management. But it can be done, especially if you are passionate about each language. Staying motivated and consistent is key.

  • It is easier to lose proficiency in a language at lower levels (A1 and A2) compared to higher levels (B2 and above). At lower levels, it only takes a short time of lack of practice to start forgetting basics. At higher levels, while rustiness can still set in without practice, it is easier to get back to your previous level of proficiency.

  • The number of languages a person can learn depends on several factors, including dedication, passion, and time available to practice. There is no strict limit, but at some point, taking on too many languages can hurt maintaining existing languages. Polyglots aim to avoid giving a simple number of languages they speak and instead specify levels of proficiency.

  • Richard Simcott, a British hyperpolyglot, believes reaching fluency requires a lot of practice and focused work. The number of languages a person can realistically learn depends on how much they are willing to dedicate to it. While polyglots are often thought to know many languages at a perfect level, in reality, they usually have some languages still improving and a few at a higher level. Rarely do polyglots achieve native-level fluency in all their languages or know an unrealistically high number.

  • Several techniques can help avoid mixing up languages, including:

  1. Focusing on one language at a time until proficient.

  2. Developing a “personality” or way of thinking for each language. Using appropriate body language and pronunciation for each language helps mentally compartmentalize them.

  3. Repeated practice and exposure reinforces each language in your mind.

  4. Certain words and phrases simply “feel right” or “sound wrong” in the appropriate language context. This comes from mental association and reinforcement.

  5. Being in environments that require switching between languages. This helps strengthen the ability to keep languages separate.

• Practice speaking the language as much as possible, ideally with other humans. This is the most important aspect of learning a new language and cannot be replaced by any course or tool.

• Generic, inexpensive language courses, such as books from Teach Yourself, Colloquial, and Assimil, can be very useful for learning basics. Expensive courses are not necessarily higher quality or more effective. Some free resources, like Duolingo, are also excellent.

• The psychological motivation from investing in an expensive course can be useful, but publicly committing to your language goals can have a similar effect.

• Useful free or cheap tools include:

› Language learning logs to track your progress.

› Learning conversational connectors and common phrases.

› Free online dictionaries to look up words and translations.

› Motivational language proficiency exams to work toward, like the CEFR levels.

› Spaced repetition apps like Anki, Memrise, and Quizlet to actively practice vocabulary and grammar.

› Exposure to native media like books, radio, podcasts, TV shows, and movies.

› Travel to a country where that language is spoken, if possible. Total immersion is very effective.

• Focus on one language at a time. Don’t start a new language until you have a strong intermediate level in your current target language.

• Look into the approaches of other polyglots for more ideas and advice on language learning strategies.

• Continuously using and maintaining languages you already speak is key to long-term success in language learning.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key points from the chapter? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

• Use language courses as a supplement to speaking practice and independent study. No course is perfect, so pick an affordable option and get started.

• Your learning style and the language you are studying will determine the best approach. Visual, audio, and immersive options are available. Experiment to find what works for you.

• Set concrete goals and document your progress. Keep a diary or blog to help you achieve milestones.

• Connect with other learners for support and advice. Join online forums, take a class, or find a language exchange partner.

• Learn conversational connectors to expand your responses beyond one-word answers. Useful phrases like “to tell you the truth” or “let me ask you” can keep conversations flowing.

• Practice the language as much as possible through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Courses and materials are supplements to active practice.

• Be patient and consistent. Learning a new language takes time and dedication. Stay motivated by documenting your progress and connecting with supportive communities.

Does this summary cover the main points you wanted to convey? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

Here is a summary of the phrases:

Well, as a matter of fact … How can I put it? I must say that …
First …
Second … I would like you to know that … I am afraid that … Now and then it seems to me that …
After all …
As far as I am concerned … More and more … Actually … All joking aside …
Now seriously …

Elaborating To be more precise …
And what’s more …
Since I am already talking about it …
I would like to emphasize that …
Should I explain in greater detail?
Allow me to say it another way.
That is to say … Nevertheless … Even though … That sounds like …
And that is why …

Opening Thank you very much. That is a good question. That is such a difficult question.
Once upon a time, long ago …

Passing Can you tell me please … ?
Would you be interested in us talking about something else? And what do you think?

Qualifying To tell you the truth … I presume that … I hope that … In my opinion … If that is true … I don’t know exactly.
I would like to think that … The way I see it is that …
As you may know … I don’t have a big interest in that.
If I understand correctly … As you already know … That isn’t such a big problem.
That is a matter of opinion.
As far as I know … I have the impression that … It is usually true that …
You never know, but … I haven’t thought about it before, but …
If I am not mistaken … I am not certain whether …
Like every other man/woman … I have my own opinion on it, but …
I am not an expert, but …

Quoting She said something like …
My wife/husband pointed out that … Recently, I heard that …
My better half said …

Switching Now it occurs to me that …
By the way … I have an interesting story about it. And besides that …
Oh, I nearly forgot … And one more thing … On the other hand …

  • The book Fluent in 3 Months by Benny Lewis aims to show how anyone can learn a new language quickly.

  • It provides practical advice and techniques for language learning based on the author’s experience learning multiple languages.

  • The key message is that age, location, and current commitments should not be barriers to learning a new language. With motivation and the right techniques, anyone can become fluent in a short period of time.

  • The book covers how to set the right goals and priorities, use mnemonics and songs to memorize vocabulary, start conversing as soon as possible, and fully immerse yourself in the language.

  • It highlights that learning should be fun and provides many examples and anecdotes from the author’s language learning adventures.

  • The publisher is HarperCollins, a major international publishing house with divisions in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

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About Matheus Puppe