Three years to fluency in any language!!

If you google “fluency in ..months” you will find lots of web sites promising fluency in weeks or a few months. Who is kidding whom?

It struck me that most language learners would be very happy to achieve genuine fluency in three years.?? Most language learners do not do it as a full time job. Three years to transform yourself into a fluent speaker of another language? Yeah!!.

If we look at what fluency can mean in terms of understanding another culture, more meaningful interaction with people of a different background, increased pleasure from movies, books, travel and other forms of personal and even professional rewards, yeah..three years!! Promise?

Why pretend it is going to take less? In my own continuing love affair with Russian, and ongoing side flings with Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Korean and others, I would not want it to take less,

6 thoughts on “Three years to fluency in any language!!

  1. I noticed that those people who promise fluency in months usually are very popular, but I’ve never come across anyone who is actively using their methods. They usually just speak very loudly and aggressively online and they have rabid followers so anyone who tries to ask them to prove what they say or questions their methods is drown out by the noise.Benny in particular that has a lot of comments on his blog where people say they like his methods, but admit that they don’t really use them.There is another guy who attacks anyone that disagrees with him and censors any comments that point out anywhere he contradicts himself or doesn’t make sense.

  2. koi, catched you there! You think it’s bogus? Well, let me tell you something: in the basic Steve and Benny believe the same things (you have to be motivated and really expose yourself to the language to really learn it, just that) and Benny just accentuates the social part more.I speak 9 languages by now, speak 2 of them with my wife (none of them my native language) and one of them just a little more than a year but better than most natives.Most people just don’t find the time to really start communicating, and that’s fine. And to be honest, most people don’t read Benny’s blog because they want to learn a language but because he writes well and honestly about the things on his mind, and that makes a very plesant read, plus that he is traveling around the world and that’s way more interesting than linguistics.Not everybody has to be a Benny or a Steve. But a fact is that if you really want, you can do way more than everyone keeps for possible.

  3. Joop,I hope you didn’t use Benny’s method to learn English. I think your English is a really good example of why you need input first, because you need to get used to what the structure of what the language sounds like, otherwise you end up sounding really strange. The weird use of articles especially, it makes you sound very weird. Small children don’t make these kinds of mistakes, but people who output immediately often do.I’m also guessing you don’t read much, this is the problem with output first, you can’t output correct language if you don’t spend time listening or reading correct language. I know Benny would disagree, but I’ve seen example after example of people speaking 2nd (or 3rd, 4th) languages with terrible grammar and pronunciation to know that you need to spend some time getting input in order to properly output, yes it’s true you can still communicate but often your message is blurred by grammar mistakes that can leave the listener or reader trying to figure out what you are actually saying.

  4. Sorry, my English, French and German are my worst languages, because I had those at school. And to be honest, of those my English is still the language I speak best, because I had a lot of input (but contrary to your believe, my English is basically input-only, from TV, internet etc. and my Portuguese I learned with Benny’s method in a lot less time and a lot better.) during some 10 years for now (I’m Dutch) and actually it’s more Brittish than American. Some fun fact: I met a Brit and an Australian in the tram in The Hague, and the Brit couldn’t distinguish me from fellow countrymen.About your comment about reading, I read a LOT.Hope you can attack me now on some real points. You are fighting against your own method.

  5. Joop, you proved all my points. Also I never said what "my method" was (as if I even have one), what you said at the end doesn’t make sense, how can I fight against something I don’t have? I actually know lots of Dutch people that speak English very well and learned just through watching TV and reading books or school. I mention that because you are Dutch, but don’t speak as well.You say that English is still your best language, but then you say that your Portuguese is better? Which is it then? You also said that you had English in school, but that it was input only?You can brag all you want about your English skills but there is no way someone would mistake you for a native (I’m sure the British guy was just being nice). Some of the mistakes you make with English, like using similar sounding words incorrectly highlights the fact that you don’t read English very much otherwise you would know the correct word to use. Now you are trying to play the victim after you came at me for no reason, why are Benny fanboys always stalking other people’s blogs to attack commenters when they disagree with their master? I’ll never know.

  6. No, I say my English is the best language of the languages learned at school. The British guy asked me if I was British when I talked to him and was pretty much surprised. This is because of my accent though and not because of my grammar, as I have always copied pretty strongly the accent of others. That way also frenchmen already complimented me with my french, although my vocabulary is abysmal.From all the 9 languages I speak I consider my English of the 3 worst spoken languages, not the best spoken. (The 3 worst spoken languages, incidentially, are all those I was taught at school…)Portuguese I speak every day, and really I feel very comfortable in it. The problem how you define fluency is even more relevant here though: I speak without fear and better than basically every foreigner in Brazil, but Portugueses criticize my word usage. Funny fact: they do that for all Brazilians…My personal point of view is that a language is decided by the people who speak it and not by standard bodies and grammar rules. Your accent and fearlessness is way more deciding than correct grammar. And that’s also why you find my English unnatural: I have never, ever, been to an English speaking country, and I only rarely (twice until now, if I’m not mistaken) speak with natives in real life. Also, I read a lot, but not really English literature. My English is defined by the standard of the internet. And you know what kind of a standard that is.

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