She also grew more confident about using Swedish in front of others without much embarrassment. By the end of university, she had learned three languages. Since then, she has studied basic Gaelic and even recently started learning Japanese. In just a few months, despite how difficult her condition makes it for her, she learned the meaning of hundreds of kanji Japanese characters and even started speaking Japanese. Julie is a true testament to the idea that there are no limits to what a motivated person can achieve.
She has haggled for French books in a street market in France. Her passion for language learning has also meant that she has reserved restaurant tables in Italian, bought coffee in Greek, and spent over half an hour discussing, in Spanish, the state of the world with a little old lady in Barcelona. This is not due to any reason we give but our devotion to that reason. I hope you see from the previous stories that no matter what challenges you face, someone else has gone through the same or much worse.
If Julie has the courage to take on so many languages, then how can you fall back on such weak excuses as being too busy or not having a language gene?
The truth is that passion will get you through every problem if you are serious about learning a language. There is no excuse good enough to justify not being able to learn a language. And if you are still in doubt about a particular setback that prevents you from learning a language, check out fi3m.
No matter what problem you may be facing, someone before you has had the same problem yet has learned the target language regardless. Momentum is essential to both beginning and maintaining good progress in language learning, which is why I wanted to start by clearing these major hurdles. This is precisely why I recommend you pick a specific target with a specific deadline for your language learning project.
The word mission even has a sense of urgency and requires a plan of action beyond what simply promising yourself ever could. Having watched probably too many action movies and TV shows while growing up, I like to add a little drama to otherwise mundane tasks, and the concept of a mission to be completed against a ticking clock makes it seem much more exciting.
This brings us to the title of this book: Fluent in 3 Months. Successful language learners are those who are as specific as possible with their goals. I want to provide a much more precise understanding of fluency once and for all. First, some definitions can be way too loose.
The problem here, though, is that if you have such high criteria for fluency, then I have to confess I am not fluent even in English, my native language! I am not the kind of person to use pompous vocabulary in everyday conversations, or even in formal ones. Speaking a language accurately and with facility is precisely what I have in mind when I aim for fluency. However, this is not something you will ever get a consensus on.
This is a problem if we want something distinct to aim for, though. The CEFRL System With such conflicting ideas about what constitutes fluency, the system I rely on is a much more scientific and well-established language threshold criterion used by the major bodies that examine language levels in Europe. This system uses standard terminology, accepted across Europe and used by many institutions for Asian languages, even if not adopted by those countries formally , for specific language levels.
In the terminology, basically A means beginner, B means intermediate, and C means advanced. Each level is then split into lower 1 and upper 2. So upper beginner level is A2, and lower advanced level would be C1. On this scale, an A level is what I would generally call a functional tourist: good enough to get by for basic necessities, or a beginner in various stages. C level implies mastery: you can work in the language exactly as you would in your native tongue and are effectively as good as a native in all ways, though you may still have an accent.
In my mind, fluency starts at level B2 and includes all levels above it C1 and C2. More specifically, a person who reaches the B2 level on the CEFRL scale, relevant to the conversational aspect, is defined as someone who can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
This means that, for a solid fluency goal, you should aim to participate in regular conversations without strain for either you or the people you are speaking with. For me, B2 fluency—at least in a conversational, social context—implies that I can live my life in this language exactly as I would in English.
I can go to any social event that I would typically go to in English and chat with natives without having them slow down for my benefit. I can discuss anything I would in English at a casual event, and natives can generally talk to me as they would with another native speaker.
Hesitations are okay, and accents are fine. Also fine at the B2 level is the inability to discuss some very complex topics. There is never an end point at which you can say your work in learning the language is done.
Learning a language can be a lifelong adventure, but the point is that you can reach certain stages within finite times when you have those stages well defined. Now, as you read previously, you can have a particular milestone in mind to aim for—advanced beginner A2 , conversational B1 , fluent B2 , mastery C2 , or others—but here comes the big question: How long does it take to get there?
You have to live up to your side of the bargain—you have to put in the time and stick to the plan. Also, the process requires a lot of strategic mental and emotional adjustments. If you succeed in learning one language to fluency over a longer period, then your approach may be ready for you to use in a shorter —say, three-month—period of time on your next language.
An intensive language learning project demands your absolute focus. Ultimately, languages are learned in hours, not months or years. Whether or not your process adds up to a huge number of hours, the only thing worth counting is the time when you are percent focused on learning, living, and using the language.
To realistically expect to make good progress in a language in a short amount of time, you have to put at least two hours a day into it, and ideally more. But you have to set aside much more than scattered study sessions if you want to advance quickly.
Do what it takes to create this time, avoid other side projects, and fill your language learning slot every day. If you put just a few hours a week into it, fluency in three months is indeed impossible.
You simply have to put in as much work as you can, as intensively as you can, with as much emphasis on solving immediate language problems as you possibly can in order to progress. If you do, you will quickly see how much time is necessary for you to advance to a higher level. So why am I so crazy about three months? When I would go to a new country to learn the language, the visa limit for tourists was about three months. So I had only three months to reach my deadline.
Even though I no longer go to a country to learn a language, and I now prefer to learn in advance of traveling abroad, I have found that three months is as good a time line as any.
When you give yourself a short deadline, rather than thinking you have plenty of time, you tend to work as efficiently as possible. Deadlines of one, three, or six months are excellent for this reason.
If three months feels right to you, focus on one project and have an adventurous end goal. Various Grades of Success Remember that language is a means to communicate. And the only way you can fail in your language learning mission is if you are at exactly the same point at the end of your first mission as you were at the start. Was my Mandarin, and the entire project, therefore a waste of time? As long as a person spoke slowly to me or rephrased what he or she had said, I could socialize.
And I was really proud of this. Thanks to that intensive project, I can continue to speak Mandarin for the rest of my life, and I have a fantastic new place to start from as I strive toward fluency and beyond. With language learning there is no true failure if you can communicate with other human beings. However, you should always strive for the highest grade of possible success. Be sure to push yourself outside your comfort zone. Mini-Missions Mini-missions, as I like to call them, take on the absolute biggest specific problem you may have at a particular moment with a language and help you focus on solving that problem as quickly as possible.
My tones were way off. Because of this, my mini-mission—my absolute priority—was to focus on getting my tones right. I focused only on tones, not on vocabulary or reading Chinese script or any number of other things—just tones. Once my tones were in good enough shape, I was ready to tackle basic vocabulary. By week two, my biggest problem was that I relied too much on my phrase book.
I needed to work on saying things spontaneously, from memory. So I tackled this issue as a mini-mission, and soon enough I was able to speak several phrases from memory, and I continued with this pattern of setting mini-missions for myself throughout the project. These mini-missions give you a very real—and earned—feeling of accomplishment and progress. They are specific plans of action that fit your particular language needs precisely and help you deal right away with your most immediate challenges.
This helps you focus on each challenge until you conquer it, while also helping you make huge strides toward the bigger goal a few months down the road. As an example, rather than assigning myself a vague weeklong mission to learn Mandarin vocabulary, I made sure I processed sixty flash cards a day with the specific intention of learning how to order food while traveling freely around a new country. At the end of my first month learning Mandarin, I felt I had reached something of a plateau.
I could have basic touristy exchanges from memory and with passable tones, but these exchanges lasted only ten to fifteen seconds. So I gave myself a brain-melting mini-mission. During the week following that first month, I scheduled time to sit down with native speakers for hour-long conversations.
What a week! But at the end of it, I had practiced so much that I could hold a conversation for several minutes. Plus, since I had only one goal and one mini-mission, it was a lot easier to tailor my work specifically to make this happen.
I remember when I was beginning to learn a little Hungarian, and I received my first phone call in that language. I had to think fast and attempt to get information out of the caller.
After that very short one- to two-minute call, I felt exhausted. I could almost feel my brain being pushed into overdrive. Through brain-melting mini-missions like these, you can push on to a new language level. You have to move out of your comfort zone. And the mini-missions are designed to do just that.
Focus on your biggest issue and tackle it. Log In Sign Up. Faster previews. Unabridged Audiobook. Duration: 6 hours 19 minutes. Similar Titles. Claude got in touch with me just as the project was coming to a close and I was happy to contribute my own chapter to the book. I talk about the kind of communicative advice I write in the Guide and on this blog. There are also a lot of general alternatives to the traditional academic approach and lots of encouragement and positive attitude.
As you can see from this blog I try to get people to speak a language, and because of this focus, a lot of my advice is not echoed by those more interested in simply learning a language for the sake of it. FluentU is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
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Performance and reliability cookies These cookies allow us to monitor OverDrive's performance and reliability. You don't need to know a lot to start speaking. Lewis suggested at one point that learners start a language vlog and for the first video just post, "Hello, my name is Bob.
How are you? I am fine. Nice to meet you. The resulting videos are seconds long, and that's fine. The important thing is to not hold yourself back with negative and probably false self-talk like "I'm not ready" or "They'll laugh at me.