In high school I ripped my French book in half. Well, I tried to. The pages came out easily, but the hardbound cover was near impossible. I sure tried, though. If you are like me, you can probably relate to the feeling of that “wall” in learning a foreign language. For me, it was right around conjugating time, and it wasn’t pretty.
FLUENT FOREVER is all about making learning foreign languages fun, easy, and—hopefully—permanent. Some of the first things author Gabriel Wyner promotes are never to translate foreign words and to throw out (actually he says burn) books with English-y pronunciation guides (e.g. bawn-JURE).
Wyner encourages fun, laziness, and multi-sensory involvement. He lists a TON of free resources online to build your learning repertoire. He talks about using spaced repetition systems (SRSs) and the IPA (international phonetic alphabet). And you know what? It all makes a ton of sense. Wyner explores scientific studies and shows case-by-case examples of why his methods work. His life is proof, as he can speak six languages fluently, having learned them all in a few years’ time.
A lot of these free resources have been catalogued on Wyner’s site Fluent-Forever.com.
Here’s what Wyner never mentions: Duolingo. Maybe he’s never heard of it, but at the beginning of 2014, it won a best educational start-up award and had 25 million users. It was also named as app of the year by Apple (the first ever educational app with that award). According to one study, users of Duolingo learned the equivalent of a 130 hour first-year college semester course in a foreign language in just 34 hours. Best of all: it’s free. As a Duolingo user, many of the things Wyner promotes fall into line with its offerings. I’d be curious what he thinks.
Overall, Wyner offers a great way to break down the language barrier. His methods are sound, quick to get into, and fun. If you are struggling to learn a language or want to start, this is a great resource.
Thanks to the folks at Harmony and Crown for sending this book to me for review.