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Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It

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The ultimate rapid language-learning guide! For those who’ve despaired of ever learning a foreign language, here, finally, is a book that will make the words stick. At thirty years old, Gabriel Wyner speaks six languages fluently.  He didn’t learn them in school -- who does? -- rather, he learned them in the past few years, working on his own and practicing on the subway, The ultimate rapid language-learning guide! For those who’ve despaired of ever learning a foreign language, here, finally, is a book that will make the words stick. At thirty years old, Gabriel Wyner speaks six languages fluently.  He didn’t learn them in school -- who does? -- rather, he learned them in the past few years, working on his own and practicing on the subway, using simple techniques and free online resources. In Fluent Forever Wyner reveals what he’s discovered.    The greatest challenge to learning a foreign language is the challenge of memory; there are just too many words and too many rules. For every new word we learn, we seem to forget two old ones, and as a result, fluency can seem out of reach. Fluent Forever tackles this challenge head-on. With empathy for the language-challenged and abundant humor, Wyner deconstructs the learning process, revealing how to build a foreign language in your mind from the ground up.    Starting with pronunciation, you’ll learn how to rewire your ears and turn foreign sounds into familiar sounds. You'll retrain your tongue to produce those sounds accurately, using tricks from opera singers and actors. Next, you'll begin to tackle words, and connect sounds and spellings to imagery, rather than translations, which will enable you to think in a foreign language.  And with the help of sophisticated spaced-repetition techniques, you'll be able to memorize hundreds of words a month in minutes every day. Soon, you'll gain the ability to learn grammar and more difficult abstract words--without the tedious drills and exercises of language classes and grammar books.   This is brain hacking at its most exciting, taking what we know about neuroscience and linguistics and using it to create the most efficient and enjoyable way to learn a foreign language in the spare minutes of your day.


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The ultimate rapid language-learning guide! For those who’ve despaired of ever learning a foreign language, here, finally, is a book that will make the words stick. At thirty years old, Gabriel Wyner speaks six languages fluently.  He didn’t learn them in school -- who does? -- rather, he learned them in the past few years, working on his own and practicing on the subway, The ultimate rapid language-learning guide! For those who’ve despaired of ever learning a foreign language, here, finally, is a book that will make the words stick. At thirty years old, Gabriel Wyner speaks six languages fluently.  He didn’t learn them in school -- who does? -- rather, he learned them in the past few years, working on his own and practicing on the subway, using simple techniques and free online resources. In Fluent Forever Wyner reveals what he’s discovered.    The greatest challenge to learning a foreign language is the challenge of memory; there are just too many words and too many rules. For every new word we learn, we seem to forget two old ones, and as a result, fluency can seem out of reach. Fluent Forever tackles this challenge head-on. With empathy for the language-challenged and abundant humor, Wyner deconstructs the learning process, revealing how to build a foreign language in your mind from the ground up.    Starting with pronunciation, you’ll learn how to rewire your ears and turn foreign sounds into familiar sounds. You'll retrain your tongue to produce those sounds accurately, using tricks from opera singers and actors. Next, you'll begin to tackle words, and connect sounds and spellings to imagery, rather than translations, which will enable you to think in a foreign language.  And with the help of sophisticated spaced-repetition techniques, you'll be able to memorize hundreds of words a month in minutes every day. Soon, you'll gain the ability to learn grammar and more difficult abstract words--without the tedious drills and exercises of language classes and grammar books.   This is brain hacking at its most exciting, taking what we know about neuroscience and linguistics and using it to create the most efficient and enjoyable way to learn a foreign language in the spare minutes of your day.

30 review for Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It

  1. 4 out of 5

    ♥ Ibrahim ♥

    Arabic is my native language. I taught myself English, French, Hebrew, Syriac, Italian and Greek and I’m currently working as diligently as know how on my Spanish. I read the book and I find his ideas matching well with all I have known all these years, and it even adds to me. I am now jotting down some of his ideas in my prayer journal as I want to be specific when I teach English to my Egyptian friends. I love the author’s sense of humor and chatty, enthusiastic style of writing. He is full of Arabic is my native language. I taught myself English, French, Hebrew, Syriac, Italian and Greek and I’m currently working as diligently as know how on my Spanish. I read the book and I find his ideas matching well with all I have known all these years, and it even adds to me. I am now jotting down some of his ideas in my prayer journal as I want to be specific when I teach English to my Egyptian friends. I love the author’s sense of humor and chatty, enthusiastic style of writing. He is full of life and I love that.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    I am amazed that so much first-hand insight into language acquisition got packed into this tiny book! There is a lot on the author's tools he developed. And while I get the why's, I simply don't like other people's tools. Besides, I am not a fan of flashcards, they don't work for me and they bore me and, as a result, I hate them passionately! Still, there are lots of other things to internalise and take out. Overall this is a pretty amazing book for polyglots and language buffs alike. Q: Language l I am amazed that so much first-hand insight into language acquisition got packed into this tiny book! There is a lot on the author's tools he developed. And while I get the why's, I simply don't like other people's tools. Besides, I am not a fan of flashcards, they don't work for me and they bore me and, as a result, I hate them passionately! Still, there are lots of other things to internalise and take out. Overall this is a pretty amazing book for polyglots and language buffs alike. Q: Language learning is a sport. I say this as someone who is in no way qualified to speak about sports; I joined the fencing team in high school in order to get out of gym class. Still, stabbing friends with pointy metal objects resembles language learning more than you might think. Your goal in fencing is to stab people automatically. You spend time learning the names of the weapons and the rules of the game, and you drill the proper posture, every parry, riposte, and lunge. Finally, you play the game, hoping to reach that magical moment when you forget about the rules: Your arm moves of its own accord, you deftly parry your friend’s sword, and you stab him squarely in the chest. Point! We want to walk up to someone, open our mouths, forget the rules, and speak automatically.(c) Q: I encountered three basic keys to language learning: 1. Learn pronunciation first. 2. Don’t translate. 3. Use spaced repetition systems. The first key, learn pronunciation first, came out of my music conservatory training (and is widely used by the military and the missionaries of the Mormon church). Singers learn the pronunciation of languages first because we need to sing in these languages long before we have the time to learn them. In the course of mastering the sounds of a language, our ears become attuned to those sounds, making vocabulary acquisition, listening comprehension, and speaking come much more quickly. While we’re at it, we pick up a snazzy, accurate accent. The second key, don’t translate, was hidden within my experiences at the Middlebury Language Schools in Vermont. Not only can a beginning student skip translating, but it was an essential step in learning how to think in a foreign language. It made language learning possible. This was the fatal flaw in my earlier attempts to learn Hebrew and Russian: I was practicing translation instead of speaking. By throwing away English, I could spend my time building fluency instead of decoding sentences word by word. The third key, use spaced repetition systems (SRSs), came from language blogs and software developers. SRSs are flash cards on steroids. Based upon your input, they create a custom study plan that drives information deep into your long-term memory. They supercharge memorization, and they have yet to reach mainstream use... Meanwhile, nobody but the classical singers and the Mormons seemed to care much about pronunciation.(c) Q: What is fluency? Each of us will find a different answer to this question. The term is imprecise,... You’ll have to determine for yourself whether your image of fluency includes political discussions with friends, attending poetry readings, working as a secret agent, or lecturing on quantum physics at the Sorbonne. (c) Q: Immersion is a wonderful experience, but if you have steady work, a dog, a family, or a bank account in need of refilling, you can’t readily drop everything and devote that much of your life to learning a language. We need a more practical way to get the right information into our heads and prevent it from leaking out of our ears. (c) Q: want you to understand how to use the tools I’ve found along the way, but I also want you to understand why they work. Language learning is one of the most intensely personal journeys you can undertake. You are going into your own mind and altering the way you think. If you’re going to spend months or years working at that goal, you’ll need to believe in these methods and make them your own. c) Q: This book is my time machine. If I squint my eyes just right, then you are monolingual me from nine years ago, and I’m creating a time paradox by helping you avoid all of the pitfalls and potholes that led me to make my time machine in the first place. You know how it is. (c) Q: We enjoy learning; it’s what addicts us to reading newspapers, books, and magazines and browsing websites like Lifehacker, Facebook, Reddit, and the Huffington Post. Every time we see a new factoid (e.g., “In AD 536, a dust cloud blotted out the sun over Europe and Asia for an entire year, causing famines that wiped out populations from Scandinavia to China. No one knows what caused it”), the pleasure centers of our brains burst into activity, and we click on the next link. In this book, we’re going to addict ourselves to language learning. The discovery process for new words and grammar will be our new Facebook, the assembly process for new flash cards will be a series of quick arts-and-crafts projects, and the memorization process will be a fast-paced video game that’s just challenging enough to keep us interested. There’s no coincidence here; we learn better when we’re having fun... (c) Q: We owe our present understanding of forgetting to Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist who spent years of his life memorizing lists of nonsense syllables (Guf Ril Zhik Nish Mip Poff). He recorded the speed of forgetting by comparing the time it took him to learn and then later relearn one of his lists. His “forgetting curve” is a triumph of experimental psychology, tenacity, and masochism... One Metronome, Four Years, Six Million Repetitions Hermann Ebbinghaus’s 1885 study has been referred to as “the most brilliant single investigation in the history of experimental psychology.” He sat alone in a room with a ticking metronome, repeating lists of nonsense syllables more than six million times, pushing himself to the point of “exhaustion, headache and other symptoms” in order to measure the speed of memorization and the speed of forgetting. It was the first data-driven study of the human mind, and I suspect it made him a blast at social events.(c) Q: When you study by reading through a list multiple times, you’re practicing reading, not recall. If you want to get better at recalling something, you should practice recalling it. Our blank sheet of paper, which could be replaced by a stack of flash cards, a multiple choice test, or simply trying to remember to yourself, is precisely the type of practice we need. It improves our ability to recall by tapping into one of the most fascinating facets of our minds—the interplay of memory and emotion. Deep within our brains, a seahorse and a nut are engaged in an intricate chemical dance that allows us to decide what is important and what is forgettable. The seahorse-shaped structure is known as the hippocampus, and it acts as a mental switchboard, connecting distant regions of the brain and creating a map of those connections. You access this map in order to recall any recent memory. 7 The connected neurons reactivate, and you relive your past experience. Over the course of months and years, these networked neurons lose their dependency on the hippocampus’s map and take on an independent, Bohemian lifestyle in the outermost layers of the brain. (c) Q: We’ve spent two chapters pontificating about learning and memory, and admittedly, we haven’t gotten much done. You haven’t learned any useful words, and I’m about to tell you not to open your grammar book. Instead, we’re going to venture off into the land of sound. We’ll discuss many reasons why, but the most important is this: when you’re not sure about the way your language sounds, you’re stuck learning two languages instead of just one. In an ideal world, the written language and the spoken language walk together, hand in hand. They share words freely among themselves, help each other through tough spots, and generally have a good time together. You come along, hang out, and soon enough, the three of you are good buddies. Written language gives you some good book recommendations, you have dinner over at spoken language’s house, and the three of you have a blast. What’s not to love? The two languages have a new companion, and you’re getting to know them at breakneck speed, because you can chat about what you’ve read, and you can read about what you’ve heard. All of this goes to crap if we don’t start with pronunciation, because we get stuck with a bunch of broken words. (c) Q: French Tip of the Day If you encounter an errant French word in your travels, you can assume that every final consonant is silent except for the consonants found in the English word careful (c, r, f, and l are frequently pronounced). (c) Q: Babies get a lot of credit in the language-learning world. They have a seemingly superhuman ability to hear the differences between every sound in every language, and there are quite a lot of sounds to hear. The world’s languages contain roughly 800 phonemes (six hundred consonants and two hundred vowels). Most languages choose around 40 of these to form their words, although the range is quite broad—there’s a neat language called Rotokas in Papua New Guinea with only 11 phonemes, and Taa, spoken in Botswana, uses up to 112 (plus four tones!). Some of these phonemes are totally foreign to an English speaker’s ear—the click languages of Africa can sound bizarre—but most phonemes are subtle variations on familiar sounds. There are at least ten t’s that occur in the world’s languages, and English speakers rarely hear the differences among any of them. Two different t’s allow you to hear the difference between “my cat Stan” and “my cat’s tan.” Unless you frequent cat tanning salons, this distinction isn’t particularly important in English. If, on the other hand, you were learning Korean, you would find that t as in tan and t as in Stan are two entirely different letters, which form entirely different words. (c) Q: I was recently asked the following: “If I had four hours to prepare for a date with a Cambodian supermodel, what would be the best use of my time?” Here’s my answer: learn to say one phrase—any phrase—really well. Sit on YouTube or Wikipedia for a few hours, look at pictures of mouth positions, and mimic recordings until you can sound like a native speaker for three seconds. It will Blow. Her. Mind. An accurate accent is powerful because it is the ultimate gesture of empathy. It connects you to another person’s culture in a way that words never can, because you have bent your body as well as your mind to match that person’s culture. (c) Q: Every language has its patterns, and we make our job much easier if we can get those patterns into our heads. This task can be a piece of cake if we know what we’re doing. We’re very good at internalizing patterns—even a five-year-old knows that dogs are dogz and cats are cats. There is only one prerequisite to learning a new pattern: we need to notice it when it passes by... Our eyes are a powerful source of input. If we aren’t careful, they can trick our ears into a state of inattention, and inattention can prevent us from learning the patterns we need. (с) Q: the more you can learn about something, the easier time you’ll have mastering it, and the less time you’ll need over the long term. If you’re trying to make the “foreign” sounds of your new language familiar, then your easiest, shortest path is to learn as much as you possibly can about those sounds. This phenomenon shows up in every subject. As a kid, I loved math. It had this neat quality, because everything was connected. You memorize that 3 × 4 is 12, and then you learn that 4 × 3 is also 12, and eventually you start realizing that you can switch the order of any two numbers you’re multiplying. You see that 3 × 4 and 4 × 3 are examples of something much larger—some abstract, floating pattern known as multiplication—and every new example helps you hold more of that giant floating pattern in your head. That pattern changes and becomes more subtle and nuanced with every little fact you learn. Soon you begin to see the connections between multiplication and division, and multiplication and exponents, and multiplication and fractions. Eventually, your giant floating pattern of multiplication becomes part of a bigger floating pattern—a universe of math. As long as I could connect every new thing I learned to this universe, I had an easy time with math. And I noticed that classmates who had problems with math weren’t struggling with math; they were struggling with connections. They were trying to memorize equations, but no one had successfully shown them how those equations connect with everything they had already learned. They were doomed. At some point along their path, their interconnected math universe had shattered into fragments, and they were trying to learn each piece in isolation—an extremely difficult proposition. Who could possibly remember the formula for the volume of a hexagonal prism? How could you make yourself care enough to actually remember? It was so much easier if you could see how all the pieces interrelated—how multiplication connected with the area of rectangles, how the area of rectangles connected with triangles and trapezoids, and how the volume of prisms connected back with multiplication. I didn’t have to memorize formulae; they were just examples of something much, much larger. Math can be hard for the same reason that languages can be hard. At some point, you miss a connection, and if no one goes back, takes you by the hand, and shows you that connection, then you’re suddenly doomed to memorize crappy formulae. We know why this is so; we’ve already discussed the nature of memory. Every time we can connect two memories, we strengthen both of them—neurons that fire together wire together. Q: ...learn how to skip translating and think in a new language from the very beginning. (c) Q: We have two goals in this chapter: we need to hear the music in our words, and we need to remember it when we do. In Chapter 2, we talked about our mental filters, and how they save us from information overload. To learn vocabulary efficiently, we’ll need to overcome those filters, by creating memorable, interesting experiences with our words. (c) Q: My advice for you is roughly the same as my advice for anyone else; if you want to get more comfortable listening, then listen, and if you want to get more comfortable speaking, then speak. But I can recommend some strategies that might help you do this more efficiently. If you’re looking for a way to refresh and maintain a language with the least amount of effort, then watch a lot of TV. I did this recently with my French—I had forgotten a lot over the course of learning Russian and Hungarian, and I wanted to bring it back—and so I started watching ridiculous amounts of television and film. Within a month, I got through three seasons of 24 and five films. By the end of that month, I was once again dreaming in French. It’s a tremendously fun way to maintain a language (c) Q: I gesture in Italian. I have to gesture in Italian. When I speak Italian, I yearn to travel and see beautiful things, relax in the sun, and eat delicious food. All on its own, the Italian language fills my mind with happy memories, because all of my words are connected to the moments in which I learned and used them. ... In learning that language, I created a new mind and a new personality for myself. That is the dearest gift of language learning—you get to meet a new you. And this isn’t just my own insanity speaking; I’ve seen this in all the multilingual people I’ve met. One of my French teachers was an American woman who had married a Frenchman and moved to Paris. When she spoke French, she was one of the most elegant, intelligent women I have ever met. On the last day of our French program, we finally switched to English. In an instant, that same elegant woman suddenly transformed into a quick-witted, sailor-mouthed party girl from Texas. That’s not to say that her French persona was somehow fake; it was just a different side of her personality, and it came to the surface in her French. At times, a foreign language can feel like a mask. It’s a game of make-believe. You’re playing the role of Some French Guy, and you’re acting out a conversation with some friends. In these moments, you occasionally catch yourself saying things you never would have said in English. You’re more open. You speak more freely. After all, it’s not really you; it’s just a game. But that’s not quite true. It is you. And you can only meet that side of yourself in a foreign language. (c)

  3. 4 out of 5

    shanghao

    I've never given much thought to language learning even though I took up some foreign languages as a hobby. Gabriel breaks down the technicalities of effective language learning and shares some tips on what's needed to achieve long-lasting fluency: (A) Learn pronunciation first I wholeheartedly agree with this. Proper pronunciation and accent is the difference in being ripped off and getting a nice bargain at the local markets; this also applies to relationships with the locals. (B) Study less, revi I've never given much thought to language learning even though I took up some foreign languages as a hobby. Gabriel breaks down the technicalities of effective language learning and shares some tips on what's needed to achieve long-lasting fluency: (A) Learn pronunciation first I wholeheartedly agree with this. Proper pronunciation and accent is the difference in being ripped off and getting a nice bargain at the local markets; this also applies to relationships with the locals. (B) Study less, review more Also true! Especially for Mandarin learners. There is no shortcut other than writing the new characters ad nauseam till they get soldered into your brain, then cementing them with the ol' dictation test or the dreaded Mo Xie (silent dictation) test, whatever Mr Lee Kuan Yew might say on the subject. Speaking from experience, the biggest improvement I've felt when I was learning Japanese came during this phase when I was playing FFX-2 (Japanese dub) and FFX-2 International (only available in Japanese then). Learning became effortless since I was engrossed in the game and the extra participation (as opposed to watching TV shows or listening to podcasts) culminated in an immersion programme of sorts, short of actually going to Japan. I did a short stay in Japan too in a Japanese household, and I felt it's beneficial in terms of improving speaking skills; but in terms of aiding comprehension and learning new vocab, gaming did wonders. It's like minimal studying + daily reviews (I played almost everyday during the school hols then) and it's fun! It's basically Sailormoon in Okinawa! Why go language schools when you can just play games? (C) Don't use translations I've yet to shake off my bad habit of using subtitles when watching foreign language shows. I think this might be part the reason why, despite my mum being fluent in Cantonese and the gazillion of times I've visited Hong Kong and watched Cantonese movies, the longest Cantonese phrase I can muster is "Cheng mat kao gan che mun" (Please stand back from the doors" i.e. the MTR trains PA). Heck, they can all speak Mandarin anyway, right? Wrong. One of the biggest takeaways I took from this book is the SRS (spaced repetition system). It involves using personally customised flashcards and reviewing them via a progressively phased schedule (e.g. using a Leitner's Box ) Can't wait to apply this on my Korean studies and see how it's like! I'm sure I don't have to say that above all you've gotta have love for the language and/or culture/people/products to be able to reach fluency for the foreign language you're studying. Even something as simple as, say, learning to pronounce must first be spurred from love; I dabbled for a bit in Portuguese just so I could sing one of my favourite lullabies which happened to be in Portuguese (plus, I like the jerseys of the Portuguese football team. And I love Lisbon. And Portuguese egg tarts). I need me lots of love for Korean then. Yes, yes, so I know simply watching k-dramas and Running Man ain't enough

  4. 5 out of 5

    Grace (BURTSBOOKS)

    Fluent forever? More like the Holy Bible of language learning. @Anyone who has been struggling to learn a new language: READ THIS BOOK. IT IS SO INFORMATIVE AND EASILY COMPREHENSIBLE AND HELPFUL. Everything you need to know is packed into this short little book. Backed with Wyner's real-life experiences and scientific experiments; this book provides you with all the tools and strategies you need to begin learning a new language. IT HAS HELPED ME SO MUCH. UPDATE: IT'S EVEN BETTER THE SECOND TIME A Fluent forever? More like the Holy Bible of language learning. @Anyone who has been struggling to learn a new language: READ THIS BOOK. IT IS SO INFORMATIVE AND EASILY COMPREHENSIBLE AND HELPFUL. Everything you need to know is packed into this short little book. Backed with Wyner's real-life experiences and scientific experiments; this book provides you with all the tools and strategies you need to begin learning a new language. IT HAS HELPED ME SO MUCH. UPDATE: IT'S EVEN BETTER THE SECOND TIME AROUND

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is an excellent book about learning a foreign language as efficiently as possible. The author, Gabriel Wyner, has learned six languages to help himself in his career as an opera singer. The book is geared toward learning how to think in the target language. It is jam-packed with practical advice, on all aspects of learning a language, starting with pronunciation, then learning grammar, memorizing words, listening skills, and writing. Wyner has excellent advice about making flash cards, and a This is an excellent book about learning a foreign language as efficiently as possible. The author, Gabriel Wyner, has learned six languages to help himself in his career as an opera singer. The book is geared toward learning how to think in the target language. It is jam-packed with practical advice, on all aspects of learning a language, starting with pronunciation, then learning grammar, memorizing words, listening skills, and writing. Wyner has excellent advice about making flash cards, and about using the so-called "Spaced Repetition System." He recognizes the numerous apps available for using flash cards, and he recommends the Anki app. However, it is just as good to use old-fashioned index cards. But he strongly discourages people from using pre-made card decks. The reason is that half of the learning occurs when you make the cards yourself. He recommends using a word frequency list in your target language, to get the vocabulary you need as soon as possible. The book contains lots of detailed recommendations about increasing one's listening skills. For example, Wyner recommends watching TV series in your target language, more than movies, because it is easier to figure out what is going on. But not comedy, since so much of the humor relies on the understanding of subtle puns and word-play. Wyner gives lots of recommendations for learning speaking skills, such as the game of taboo. And, if you do not have a native speaker close at hand with whom to practice, he gives suggestions for a number of online web sites that can connect you with native speakers who are trying to learn your own language. The detailed appendices at the back of the book contain a massive amount of information. Throughout, Wyner gives the reader all sorts of online references that can be very helpful for pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, ... the list goes on and on. If you are interested in learning a foreign language--regardless of whether you are a complete beginner or an intermediate or advanced learner--this book can help you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christian

    Just like Gabriel Wyner, I'm a self-directed language learner and sometimes lacking in modesty: I didn't learn much reading this book. About half the content is about SRS, so if you already know & use it, this might serve as a ...review, at best. Now I'll admit most people don't know Anki, so it's definitely a good thing to write about it. There wasn't really a need to duplicate Wikipedia's article about SRS though. Same goes for the IPA. We get his condescendence: The IPA is usually full of nast Just like Gabriel Wyner, I'm a self-directed language learner and sometimes lacking in modesty: I didn't learn much reading this book. About half the content is about SRS, so if you already know & use it, this might serve as a ...review, at best. Now I'll admit most people don't know Anki, so it's definitely a good thing to write about it. There wasn't really a need to duplicate Wikipedia's article about SRS though. Same goes for the IPA. We get his condescendence: The IPA is usually full of nasty technical jargon and it uses weird-looking symbols. Thank you Mr. Brain. The rest is even more obvious, at least for the most part. Did you know that you could watch TV in your target language to help listening comprehension? Genius! Oh and btw, do not expect this to be actually useful to learn ANY language as the title says. Good luck finding TV shows, movies, audiobooks and frequency dictionaries in say, Mongolian (and it's not the most obscure language either). The whole thing is made worst by the fact that he's a kid lol. And he writes stuff on the Internet like "I Learned to Speak Four Languages in a Few Years: Here's How". It always come back to your definition of fluent, but he's selling his reheated stuff a lot. The book is filled with his experiences, like the time he said to his Russian friend: Hey, btw I speak Russian now. She was reportedly flabbergasted. There's a section that I found completely wrong: at one point he suggests that if you had one hour to learn a language, you should learn to say one sentence perfectly. The alternative (being good, but with a bad accent) is described as more trouble. Why? Because in Paris, waiters are known to be rude if you say Bonjour wrong... omg not the Paris waiter thing again lol. It's basically the only example. Elsewhere it's better to understand more than speak without accent if you want to actually communicate and not just impress. He says: An accurate accent is powerful because it is the ultimate gesture of empathy. It connects you to another person’s culture in a way that words never can, because you have bent your body as well as your mind to match that person’s culture. Seriously? The ultimate gesture of empathy? From my experience with German, the better you are, the less compliments you receive. People eventually consider you as an immigrant. Despite all the bad I have to say, I would probably have written something similar. So it's good information, but if you know what SRS and IPA are, I'd say don't bother. One thing I would have added is a chapter about motivation. It's always taken for granted that people stop learning because their methods are inefficient (grammar drilling, bad memorization, etc) and this book also focuses on the technical aspects, but on the long run, I think staying motivated should be #1 priority. Identify what really makes you want to learn (one example for me: the idea of me in the bus reading a German or a Japanese novel, completely vain I know!) and feed this dream (buying tons of books, renewing public transportation pass lol) despite the costs.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shalini

    This is an excellent book on effective language learning methods and resources that I would suggest every independent learner, regardless of their level of proficiency, to read at least once. It’s a comprehensive guide detailed about all the aspects of language learning - pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, listening and writing. Few days ago, I was discussing this established “fact” with a colleague that how children are able to learn languages faster and better than adults. This is a popular my This is an excellent book on effective language learning methods and resources that I would suggest every independent learner, regardless of their level of proficiency, to read at least once. It’s a comprehensive guide detailed about all the aspects of language learning - pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, listening and writing. Few days ago, I was discussing this established “fact” with a colleague that how children are able to learn languages faster and better than adults. This is a popular myth that children have twice as many synapses as adults that makes it easier for them to grasp new words and sentence structures. Wyner debunks it by stating that children are successfully proficient in their native language simply because they receive more exposition than adult learners. Some of the most important learning techniques that Wyner stresses upon are : 1) Learn pronunciation first - This is an issue I’ve had with some of the audiobooks for beginners that I’ve listened. They should stress upon pronunciation more than vocabulary and grammar. 2) Don’t translate - This is quite important. However, one should start doing it only after attaining some proficiency otherwise it could be quite a strenuous task. At this stage one should make flashcards in their target language only. 3) Use spaced repetition systems - I guess you already know about the importance of SRSs in driving information into long term memory and you probably even use one - Duolingo, Memrise or Anki. Quite recently I’ve moved to Anki after using Memrise for a long time since it offers a lot of freedom for creating highly personalized flashcards. 4) Make your own flashcards for everything be it, pronounciation rules, verb conjugation, word order, genders for languages like German, in fact whenever you encounter any new word or pattern in any sentence, create a corresponding flashcard. Use as many pictures as possible. 5) Avoid books systematically detailing every single solitary rule and detail and exceptions, all at once. I agree, that’s the reason why I preferred doing Heiner’s grammar book over Hammer’s even though the latter is a great comprehensive book I highly recommend to use as a reference if you’re learning German. 6) Be wary of books without answer key That’s why I used Studio D and Netzwerk only until I had a partner to learn with. Even in that case, I’m not sure it was a good idea. 7) Do a frequency dictionary - This is something every beginner should start with, of course, along with other resources. 8) Add personal connections to every new word you encounter. Use images, bind them to your past experiences or recurring events in your life. Make short stories using your limited vocabulary. Submit your writing to online exchange community, you can also do it on Duolingo. Turn every correction into flashcards. This is one of my favourite techniques. 9) Recall more than review 10) Make use of IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) for learning pronounciation. Well, currently, I am past that stage with my current target language, but I’ll read this book again if in future I plan to learn another language. I’ll get to it then. 11)If your target language has completely senseless genders such as German, use Mnemonic Imagery game to memorize them. Imagine all masculine nouns exploding, feminine catching fire and neuter shattering like glass. Make your images as vivid and multisensory as possible. This was the most useful technique for me. Most interesting facts mentioned in the book : 1) Whether it’s a kid learning a language from his parents or an adult learning it independently, both of them follow the same predictable stages of learning. They start with simple present tense sentences then irregular past, to regular past tense verbs, followed by present tense verbs in the 3rd person. Well, I don’t have strong opinions on it but that’s some food for thought. 2) All 7,000 documented languages seem to possess subjects, verbs and objects. If a language puts its objects after its verbs, then that language will use prepositions. If, on the other hand, verbs come after their objects, then that language will use postpositions. There are few languages which don’t follow this rule but they are rare. This is quite fascinating and true in case of the very few languages that I know. I'll read more on it. Interesting statistics : 1) 90% comprehension takes approximately 5,500 words and 95% comprehension takes 12,500 words 2) English vocabulary is 28% French and 28% Latin Resources : 1) The Foreign Service Institute has recordings for practising listening in 41 languages 2) Forvo.com for free recordings - Use them in Anki flashcards 3) Lonely Planet phrasebooks 4) Lang8.com 5) Thematic vocabulary books by Barron are the best ones. 6) Test your vocabulary on TestYourVocab.om 7) His own website where you can find lots of free resources and tips.

  8. 4 out of 5

    JDK1962

    Rating this is a bit like rating a cookbook: how do you know it's a five star book until you've tried at least a statistically significant portion of the recipes? But even though I haven't tried learning a language using his approach (though I intend to), I've had enough experience with language learning to say that he seems to have the right attitude toward learning language, and has marshaled the right approach and the right tools. Rating this is a bit like rating a cookbook: how do you know it's a five star book until you've tried at least a statistically significant portion of the recipes? But even though I haven't tried learning a language using his approach (though I intend to), I've had enough experience with language learning to say that he seems to have the right attitude toward learning language, and has marshaled the right approach and the right tools.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

    Best book of its kind. Where was it when I was in school, or preparing for al those trips when I wanted to be able to ask for the bathroom without embarrassing myself? This is not just a technique that works--I would call it a breakthrough, and I just contributed to the kickstarter for the app he is building to make it waiter for all of us who have been doing things the longer, harder way he describes in the book. But it's a really good book. Highly readable, smart, convincing without fluff and e Best book of its kind. Where was it when I was in school, or preparing for al those trips when I wanted to be able to ask for the bathroom without embarrassing myself? This is not just a technique that works--I would call it a breakthrough, and I just contributed to the kickstarter for the app he is building to make it waiter for all of us who have been doing things the longer, harder way he describes in the book. But it's a really good book. Highly readable, smart, convincing without fluff and ego, and fascinating in the way it opens your eyes to some principles of linguistics, and the human psyche in the culture that holds the language you are studying. Most highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Great for the motivated, self-directed learner. Also needs some time or one's own computer to be efficient. Overall, a good mix of theory and practice. Lighter than similar books on motivation. Now, onward to implement this! Great for the motivated, self-directed learner. Also needs some time or one's own computer to be efficient. Overall, a good mix of theory and practice. Lighter than similar books on motivation. Now, onward to implement this!

  11. 4 out of 5

    WhatIReallyRead

    I recommend this book to anyone who is searching for effective tools, approaches and resources for learning languages. I'm no stranger to learning languages, being native in Russian and Ukrainian (as most people in my country are), fluent in English and intermediate in Spanish and French. I even studied Japanese for a few years as kid, though most of it is now forgotten. So, as you might imagine, having started learning my third language (English) at the age of 5, over the years I have developed I recommend this book to anyone who is searching for effective tools, approaches and resources for learning languages. I'm no stranger to learning languages, being native in Russian and Ukrainian (as most people in my country are), fluent in English and intermediate in Spanish and French. I even studied Japanese for a few years as kid, though most of it is now forgotten. So, as you might imagine, having started learning my third language (English) at the age of 5, over the years I have developed my own approach. Looking for ways to up my game in Spanish & French, I randomly stumbled upon "Fluent Forever". The Author I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the author. He's a really awesome narrator and did a great job. I've never heard of Gabriel Wyner before reading this book. He is an opera singer, who decided to become fluent in languages he used for work (French, Italian, German and Russian). Later he decided to learn Hungarian and Japanese just for kicks. The Contents This book sites a lot of scientific research related to the subject matter: memorizing, recalling, methods of learning, how brain processes information, etc. Wyner's methods are grounded in the findings of these studies. I really appreciated that he provided the context and scientific basis for his approach. He also provided tales of his own personal experience studying various languages, addressed common problems that his students had and how to tackle them, etc. But most of the book focuses on specific language learning tools and resources, the intricacies of using them, etc. I think it will be most helpful to people who are just starting to learn a certain language, especially if it belongs to a different language group than one's native language (i.e. if you're just starting to learn Korean being native in English). Wyner did mention ways to adjust his techniques for intermediate learners. But if you're already intermediate, you already have some background and experience, tools set up and opinions formed etc. So I think the book will work best if you're a newbie. The Flaws I think it was a little drawn out, because the author was being very specific in certain appendixes. Though this isn't strictly a flaw... These specifics might be helpful to some. Personally I intend to try some of this stuff, though not every tool described here, that's for sure.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Radiantflux

    63rd book for 2017. About five years ago I made the decision that I finally had to learn German after several failed attempts at German courses over the previous seven years. Perhaps because I had a psychology background I delved into the scientific literature, and looked at different learning techniques online, to come up with my own set of techniques for self learning. And it worked! In a fairly effortless way I systematically picked up the language, and now five years later I watch movies with 63rd book for 2017. About five years ago I made the decision that I finally had to learn German after several failed attempts at German courses over the previous seven years. Perhaps because I had a psychology background I delved into the scientific literature, and looked at different learning techniques online, to come up with my own set of techniques for self learning. And it worked! In a fairly effortless way I systematically picked up the language, and now five years later I watch movies with close to 100% understanding, read books and newspapers, have conversations with people on the street on any topic I want. I would hesitate to say I am fluent. I still have a long way to go, but I am sure my German will continue to improve in a fairly effortless way. The language learning community seems to be full of a lot of snake oil salesmen, often offering fluent language abilities within three months (e.g., Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World). A ridiculous claim when any reasonable claim of fluency would require someone to know *at least* 10000 words in their target language (something I challenge anyone to master in less than two-or-three years - and that's of course forgetting all grammar that must be learnt too). Wyner doesn't do this. He offers a systematic approach to learning any language, and points to lots of useful online resources along the way. In my opinion, learning a language involves two main stages: the first is learning enough grammar and vocabulary to watch TV and read books; the second stage is mainly about devouring lots of TV and books. Output, speaking and writing, mostly occurs in the latter stages. Wyner's book is mostly about how to get to this second stage using smart flash cards. I did something similar, though not as deeply, and it worked really well, and so am very sympathetic to this approach. I like his emphasis on learning pronunciation early on, which is something I didn't do, and which would have made some things easier. I like his use of visual images, sounds, and the IPA in his cards. That seems great. Where I would differ is the idea that you need to learn a lot of (any?) grammar via cards. Most of this will come naturally just by reading and listening. My sense is that the techniques presented are mostly useful for learning the first 2000-3000 words in a language, after which use of native materials will take you the rest of the way to full fluency. So for an easier language for English speakers (like German or Spanish) this might take up first twelve months of study. After which you need to close your study deck and systematically start devouring the language. Overall a very good book. For another take on language learning, but someone who self-learnt 16 (?) languages I can strongly recommend Polyglot: How I Learn Languages by Kató Lomb.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jun Nguyễn

    I intended to bought this book for my sister's graduation, but after reading its blurb, online review and some pages, I decided to keep it for myself. Sorry sis, but I felt no repentance :)))) Yet while reading this book, somehow the charm I felt back then just dissipated. Without any trace left. The author had a very good sense of humor indeed, yet it's still not enough to bring me back to the temptation of that day. Why? I don't know. It's not the first time such event has happened for me. Mayb I intended to bought this book for my sister's graduation, but after reading its blurb, online review and some pages, I decided to keep it for myself. Sorry sis, but I felt no repentance :)))) Yet while reading this book, somehow the charm I felt back then just dissipated. Without any trace left. The author had a very good sense of humor indeed, yet it's still not enough to bring me back to the temptation of that day. Why? I don't know. It's not the first time such event has happened for me. Maybe I'm the one for blame, maybe it's due to my lack of consistence. Back to the main topic; this book will not show you any brand new methods. What it shows is how to execute these old methods in a more effective way. Spaced Repetition System is a well-known learning still, but not many learners truly put their time in trying and following it. The same answer goes with flash cards. The author even wrote "when you get down to brass tacks, it's about learning languages with flash cards". The secret for mastering a language (or any skills in fact) is simple: one effective methods that's most suitable for you (depend on how much time can you spend, what level you would like to achieve...) and patience. Without one, your successes are merely pipe-dreams. If you coincidentally see it, scavenge and devour. Albeit learning is not what you're aiming for, you'll be entertained by his fabulous style. A lot.

  14. 5 out of 5

    My Tran

    "At times, a foreign language can feel like a mask. It's a game of make-believe... In these moments, you occasionally catch yourself saying things you never would have said in *your native language*. You're more open. You speak more freely. After all, it's not really you, it's just a game. But that's not quite true. It is you. And you can only meet that side of yourself in a foreign language." ---- "Đôi khi, một ngoại ngữ có thể cảm thấy như là một chiếc mặt nạ. Đó là một trò chơi giả vờ... Trong n "At times, a foreign language can feel like a mask. It's a game of make-believe... In these moments, you occasionally catch yourself saying things you never would have said in *your native language*. You're more open. You speak more freely. After all, it's not really you, it's just a game. But that's not quite true. It is you. And you can only meet that side of yourself in a foreign language." ---- "Đôi khi, một ngoại ngữ có thể cảm thấy như là một chiếc mặt nạ. Đó là một trò chơi giả vờ... Trong những khoảnh khắc đó, đôi lần bạn bắt gặp bản thân mình nói ra những thứ mà bạn không bao giờ nói bằng ngôn ngữ mẹ đẻ. Bạn cởi mở hơn. Bạn nói chuyện một cách thoải mái hơn. Và sau tất cả, đó không thật sự là bạn, đó chỉ là một trò chơi. Nhưng điều đó không thật đúng lắm. Đó chính là bạn. Và bạn chỉ có thể gặp phần đó của con người bạn trong một ngôn ngữ khác." P/s: Mình bắt đầu thích đọc sách về ngôn ngữ hơn.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Walt Bristow

    If you’ve ever struggled to learn another language, Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner should be the next book on your reading list. Wyner, an opera singer, learned the techniques of successfully learning another language by learning a number of languages. He now shares the secrets he learned along the way. There are three keys Wyner eventually picked up that will help you learn another language. Learn pronunciation first. Don’t translate. Use spaced repetition systems. Those keys probably don’t rep If you’ve ever struggled to learn another language, Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner should be the next book on your reading list. Wyner, an opera singer, learned the techniques of successfully learning another language by learning a number of languages. He now shares the secrets he learned along the way. There are three keys Wyner eventually picked up that will help you learn another language. Learn pronunciation first. Don’t translate. Use spaced repetition systems. Those keys probably don’t represent how you were taught to learn another language. And that’s probably why you were frustrated and didn’t learn that other language very well or very easily. Wyner mentions those keys are the secret to Mormon missionaries being able to learn other languages. Most of those missionaries spend between 4 weeks and 12 weeks learning a new language. They are then thrown into another country where they have to communicate to survive. And they do. Having spent two years as a Mormon missionary in Germany and then having taught German to other Mormon missionaries after my mission, I can tell you that Wyner is right. Consider each of those keys. The problem with not learning the correct pronunciation from the beginning is that it’s very hard to unlearn bad pronunciation. Think about someone you know who is trying to unlearn a thick regional American accent. It’s not easy. Don’t translate. This means you’re not thinking, “What’s the German word for bird?” Instead, you see the image of a bird in your mind and you just know it is a “Vogel.” Wyner suggests, for example, that if you use flashcards, you use cards that have a picture on one side and the word for that picture in your new language on the other — no English. In other words, your mind learns to associate the image of a bird with the word “Vogel” instead of your brain translating “bird” to “Vogel.” It works. It really does. Use spaced repetition systems. Science long ago showed that you’ll remember something better if you learn it today and then recall it at certain intervals thereafter. Learn it today. Check it tomorrow. Then a week later, then four weeks later, etc. I remember trying to do this with flashcards when I was in high school (years ago when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth). It was hard to keep track of which words and phrases I should be practicing today and how many days forward those cards should then be moved. It’s lots easier today – there’s an app for that. Those apps for your smartphone, tablet and desktop computer do all the heavy lifting for you. (By the way, this principle applies to learning anything – not just languages.) The book itself is invaluable. However, Wyner has integrated much of what the book teaches into a website, fluent-forever.com, that provides resources to help you learn another language. You will find a list of the 625 most common words, pictures you can use for days of the week, for prepositions and for pronouns. You’ll discover ideas on how to use Google to come up with images (so you don’t have to translate). The website also offers a list of resources for learning a variety of languages – Thai or Arabic anyone? There are instructions on how to use those spaced repetition apps for your smartphone or tablet. And there is a shop where you can buy word lists, pronunciation helps and a variety of other tools to help you in your language-learning journey. Is the book worth its price? Let’s just say I would have jumped at the chance to have this book when I was trying (unsuccessfully it turns out) to learn French in high school or when I learned German as a Mormon missionary (which was successful). I’ve started using Fluent Forever to improve my German. Maybe I’ll even try another language. Yes, it’s worth the price. This review was based on a free copy of the book provided by bloggingforbooks.org.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Netta

    If this is your first (and only) book on language learning, it might be very useful. It’ll definitely help you to put in order diffrenet technics that you can use to learn language without pain and desperation. If you have your own successful experience in learning any foreign language, you may pass this book with no regrets. Though as a foreign language teacher by training I still prefer the method I was taught at university. Wyner wittily calls it "an uncontrollable torrent of grammatical desp If this is your first (and only) book on language learning, it might be very useful. It’ll definitely help you to put in order diffrenet technics that you can use to learn language without pain and desperation. If you have your own successful experience in learning any foreign language, you may pass this book with no regrets. Though as a foreign language teacher by training I still prefer the method I was taught at university. Wyner wittily calls it "an uncontrollable torrent of grammatical despair". There's also a website fluent-forever.com, where Wyner lists resources for learning correct pronunciation, grammar etc.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I'm having a bit of information overload. Now I'm going to go back and work through it one chapter at a time. It's an excellent system to learn as quickly as possible with as little effort as possible. There's a heavy emphasis on having fun, too. I'm having a bit of information overload. Now I'm going to go back and work through it one chapter at a time. It's an excellent system to learn as quickly as possible with as little effort as possible. There's a heavy emphasis on having fun, too.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tam

    Quite interesting and makes me feel super motivated. Wyner offers a lot of useful resources for learners to take advantage of for many languages. He made so detailed guide on making flashcards, and compiled his own list of 625 words to start in any language, also found a bunch of books for some most popular languages. I'm very impressed. A little warning, again nothing magical and no shortcut here. You really have to work, and work hard, persistenly. I totally agree with his approach, which is ro Quite interesting and makes me feel super motivated. Wyner offers a lot of useful resources for learners to take advantage of for many languages. He made so detailed guide on making flashcards, and compiled his own list of 625 words to start in any language, also found a bunch of books for some most popular languages. I'm very impressed. A little warning, again nothing magical and no shortcut here. You really have to work, and work hard, persistenly. I totally agree with his approach, which is roughly my way of learning too, though mine is much much less efficient and I am way lazier: (i) tackle pronunciation system really thoroughly (ii) learn high frequency words and phrases (bilingual dictionary + phrasebook good in this stage) (iii) learn structure, grammar and (iv) more advanced vocabulary + structure (monolingual dictionary best). Most useful tool is flashcards and the related SRS. Extremely important is the multidimensional learning: words and how they are connected to sound, in what context, related to what images (for easier memorization), or better, to your own experience. One should actually produce some output: writing and speaking, should watch TV/shows, read books/listen to audio books in target languages. I love languages but Wyner's writings make me realize oh well, there are people who really love languages. He finds all tasks related to languages enjoyable and talks passionately about them. That's very inspiring.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    This book helped me with my Spanish and I think he has some terrific ideas. I still think a good teacher is the best way to learn a new language but this book has some good insights and knowledge.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aleksandar

    I've been a language lover, and an avid Anki user for years, so I feel like this book was made for me. Many of my cards had translations, but it never occurred to me that using images, and personal connections, would improve memory retention. It totally makes sense, though. As the saying goes, "neurons that fire together, wire together." I've since started doing this, and a few weeks later, I've noticed a statistically significant improvement in my Anki lapses. Something around 10-20%, although i I've been a language lover, and an avid Anki user for years, so I feel like this book was made for me. Many of my cards had translations, but it never occurred to me that using images, and personal connections, would improve memory retention. It totally makes sense, though. As the saying goes, "neurons that fire together, wire together." I've since started doing this, and a few weeks later, I've noticed a statistically significant improvement in my Anki lapses. Something around 10-20%, although it might be more as I just started doing this, and my Anki statistics are getting better and better. My only gripe is the promotion of pronunciation trainers that aren't even out yet. Some are, but not the Japanese one, which was specifically mentioned. If you're looking to learn a language, or are a user of Anki, I strongly recommend you read this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ida Sani

    An amazing resource full of tips and tricks for people who are interested in learning languages. I learned a lot from it!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Théo M. (bookswiththeo)

    A bit repetitive

  23. 5 out of 5

    Staci

    Somewhat flawed and ANNOYINGLY self-promotional, there are some good tidbits of advice: --Make flashcards using images, not translations --Practice your flashcards according to the Leitner system or using an SRS (spaced repetition system) app; for physical flashcards, I simplify the Leitner system by only having five boxes/levels and basing my review schedule off the day of the month, practicing whatever levels would be a factor of that day's date (e.g. if it's the 18th, that would mean levels 1, Somewhat flawed and ANNOYINGLY self-promotional, there are some good tidbits of advice: --Make flashcards using images, not translations --Practice your flashcards according to the Leitner system or using an SRS (spaced repetition system) app; for physical flashcards, I simplify the Leitner system by only having five boxes/levels and basing my review schedule off the day of the month, practicing whatever levels would be a factor of that day's date (e.g. if it's the 18th, that would mean levels 1, 2, and 3; the 30th would be 1, 2, 3, and 5; etc.) --Focus on learning the most common words in the language you're learning, not necessarily the most common in YOUR language (although you might also want to learn the most common words from your language in whatever language you're learning as they're likely to be words you'll want to say often, being words you most likely frequently use) --Practice writing in your target language (and get it corrected) I'm not so sure about the reading-a-book-in-the-target-language-while-listening-to-the-same-book-as-an-audiobook-in-that-language thing but I think it sounds like a very interesting idea to try. I also think that rather than watching a TV show dubbed in your target language, despite what Wyner says about modern improved dubbing techniques, it would probably be better to actually watch an original TV show in the target language (i.e. a German show if you're learning German, a Japanese show if you're learning Japanese, etc.) because then you'd also be more likely to be exposed to things in the culture that wouldn't be shown on your native-language TV shows. Despite the fact that there is some pretty good advice in this book there were also times where I questioned Wyner's advice: sure, it seemed to work for him, but that's not to say that it would work for everybody and Wyner was not the best at pointing to research to back up his claims. Plus he mentions his website quite a lot; he also mentions italki and Middlebury College Language School enough to where you start to wonder if he's sponsored by them or something.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adam Balshan

    4.5 stars [Language Acquisition] Writing: 4, Use: 5, Truth: 4.5. This book surmounts, at last, Barry Farber's magnum opus of general language-learning. Farber still has the more fun and engaging book, but its datedness requires a 21st-century replacement. Wyner is now what I shall recommend for the determined language student. Language acquisition books tend to have bombastic titles; Wyner actually delivers. He advocates a glorified flashcard system for learning living languages, but that methodol 4.5 stars [Language Acquisition] Writing: 4, Use: 5, Truth: 4.5. This book surmounts, at last, Barry Farber's magnum opus of general language-learning. Farber still has the more fun and engaging book, but its datedness requires a 21st-century replacement. Wyner is now what I shall recommend for the determined language student. Language acquisition books tend to have bombastic titles; Wyner actually delivers. He advocates a glorified flashcard system for learning living languages, but that methodology is indeed glorious. Its creative flashcard-making--not only for vocab, but for phonetics, writing, grammar, and syntax--and its spaced repetition system will help you retain thousands of words in your long-term memory. He starts out by explaining the neurology of forgetting, and then lays out his system in book form, including multiple appendices. His book is written at the typical low register for this type of book, and includes repeated ideas in case you missed them the first or second times. It could be improved, but not by much. I am a hyperpolylect, and I approve Wyner's message.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Morgane

    This book was fantastic. It was funny, had solid explanations for everything, and offered actionable advice: I'd highly recommend it to anyone trying to learn any language, at any level. The gist is as follows: - fall in love with the language you're going to learn - learn the pronunciation and the accent before you do anything else - then learn vocab words using flashcards (he has a specific system for this) - then learn the grammar using different kinds of flashcards - then read books, watch TV show This book was fantastic. It was funny, had solid explanations for everything, and offered actionable advice: I'd highly recommend it to anyone trying to learn any language, at any level. The gist is as follows: - fall in love with the language you're going to learn - learn the pronunciation and the accent before you do anything else - then learn vocab words using flashcards (he has a specific system for this) - then learn the grammar using different kinds of flashcards - then read books, watch TV shows, write in the language... - and converse with people until, yep, you're fluent and there you have it. His flashcard system is way more sophisticated than what I made it sound like, and focuses heavily on how we remember things (with pictures, by having personal connections to them, etc). Since this guy is fluent in hella languages, I'm also gonna assume he knows what he's talking about. In whatever language he chooses.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nefeli

    It's hard to rate a book that promises results when you've just finished it and haven't had time yet to test its methods and see for yourself that they work. But I'll do it nonetheless because I really liked this book. Behind every tip, every piece of information, there's solid scientific reasoning. When I started reading it, I was expecting tips on how to learn a language kind of fast. I wasn't expecting information about how memory works on a neurobiological level. So that was an extremely ple It's hard to rate a book that promises results when you've just finished it and haven't had time yet to test its methods and see for yourself that they work. But I'll do it nonetheless because I really liked this book. Behind every tip, every piece of information, there's solid scientific reasoning. When I started reading it, I was expecting tips on how to learn a language kind of fast. I wasn't expecting information about how memory works on a neurobiological level. So that was an extremely pleasant surprise. I am a Greek who recently moved to Finland knowing a total of 2 words in Finnish, so I'll definitely be trying the methods described in this book about language learning. I might revisit this review in a few months to tell you how that goes. I might even bump the rating to 5 stars, depending on the results. For now, I'll keep it at 4 stars, deducting one because Wyner was kind of repetitive and I found that to be a bit tiring.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hank

    My second 5 star book of the year. This one is probably more of a niche 5 star. I am somewhat obsessed with foreign languages, having seriously studied 3 of them in my life (so far). Many of the techniques Wyner describes I already use but most of them I haven't and are really excited to try now. Wyner is clearly in love with learning other languages, his excitement and real world examples come through quite clearly in the book. I found myself stopping the book frequently so I could go try out s My second 5 star book of the year. This one is probably more of a niche 5 star. I am somewhat obsessed with foreign languages, having seriously studied 3 of them in my life (so far). Many of the techniques Wyner describes I already use but most of them I haven't and are really excited to try now. Wyner is clearly in love with learning other languages, his excitement and real world examples come through quite clearly in the book. I found myself stopping the book frequently so I could go try out some of his tips. Who knows if it will really work, I will get back to everyone in a year but I am going to use as many of his methods as I can to finally learn my Spanish. This is a great read even if you are somewhat thinking of learning another language or brushing up on one you have forgotten.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    This book is the work of a connoisseur, an aficionado, a cognoscente. There are a lot of how-to books written by people whose knowledge hardly qualifies them to be giving advice. This is not the case with Fluent Forever. It is a best in class guide to picking up another language efficiently. It's not a book of shortcuts, it's a book for the serious learner who is willing to invest time in the pursuit of polyglotism (is that a word?). I've been using it as a guide for my study of French for awhile This book is the work of a connoisseur, an aficionado, a cognoscente. There are a lot of how-to books written by people whose knowledge hardly qualifies them to be giving advice. This is not the case with Fluent Forever. It is a best in class guide to picking up another language efficiently. It's not a book of shortcuts, it's a book for the serious learner who is willing to invest time in the pursuit of polyglotism (is that a word?). I've been using it as a guide for my study of French for awhile and can definitely say that since starting to use the techniques in Fluent Forever, my study has become more directed, more fun and rewarding.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Craig Shirky

    "Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It" by Gabriel Wyner is an enlightening, valuable, and entertaining guide to fluency in any language. For so many people, the mastery of a new language is a distant goal, only glimpsed briefly every now and then through hopelessly impenetrable thickets of grammar rules, vocabulary lists, and declension charts. Wyner's mission is to clear away the brambles and replace them with the same simple language-learning systems that we built "Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It" by Gabriel Wyner is an enlightening, valuable, and entertaining guide to fluency in any language. For so many people, the mastery of a new language is a distant goal, only glimpsed briefly every now and then through hopelessly impenetrable thickets of grammar rules, vocabulary lists, and declension charts. Wyner's mission is to clear away the brambles and replace them with the same simple language-learning systems that we built in our brains when we were illiterate babies, drinking in our mother tongue at speeds adults could only dream of. Where the old system was inefficient, arduous, and based on brute force, this new one is exciting, effective, and based on clever strategy. Almost as important, though, is the pleasant discovery, already in the first paragraph, that this book isn't only going to be informative and helpful - it's going to be a lot of fun to read as well. Wyner is one of those writers who can take something as bland as the psychology of spaced repetition and serve it up deliciously enough to keep you asking for more. ✍️ Quote of the Book: "Language learning is one of the most intensely personal journeys you can undertake. You are going into your own mind and altering the way you think."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Šarūnė

    What an absolutely amazing read for every teacher, every learner, everybody, really! This book created an explosion of ideas that are still chasing me day and night. It's a must read for any teacher - this will change the way you see your teaching. It worked its magic on me reassuring that my explanations for why things do or don't work are valid. Research! Some thoughts: -"Every language learning resource is just that: a resource. In the end, YOU have to take those resources, wrap your brain arou What an absolutely amazing read for every teacher, every learner, everybody, really! This book created an explosion of ideas that are still chasing me day and night. It's a must read for any teacher - this will change the way you see your teaching. It worked its magic on me reassuring that my explanations for why things do or don't work are valid. Research! Some thoughts: -"Every language learning resource is just that: a resource. In the end, YOU have to take those resources, wrap your brain around them, and turn them into a living language." It works in any area of my life. - tip of the tongue phenomenon: you can recall parts of a memory but not all of it. If you practice fully remembering something, you'll double your chances recalling it successfully in the future.

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