Part I: My Story
A Life of Language Learning
Part II: The System
Do As I Now Say, Not As I Then Did
French or Tagalog: Choosing a Language
Gathering Your Tools
The Multiple Track Attack
Harry Lorayne’s Magic Memory Aid
Language Power to the People
Back to Basics
Last Words Before the Wedding
Part III: Appendices
The Language Club
The Principal Languages of the World
Farber’s Language Reviews
How to Learn Any Language
This may be the most frequently told joke in the world – it’s repeated every day in almost every language:
“What do you call a person who speaks two languages?”
“What do you call a person who speaks three languages?”
“What do you call a person who speaks four languages?”
“What do you call a person who speaks only one language?”
With your help this book can wipe that smile off the world’s face.
The reason Americans have been such notoriously poor language learners up to now is twofold:
1. We’ve never really had to learn other peoples’ languages before, and
2. Almost all foreign language instruction available to the average American has been until now (one hates to be cruel) worthless. “I took two years of high school French and four more years in college and I couldn’t even order orange juice in Marseilles” is more than a self effacing exaggeration. It’s a fact, a shameful, culturally impoverishing, economically dangerous, self defeating fact!
Modern commerce and communications have erased reason 1.
You and the method laid out in this book, working together, will erase reason 2.
It started for me when I learned that the Norwegian word for “squirrel” was acorn. It may have been spelled ekorn, but it was pronounced acorn. Then I learned that “Mickey Mouse” in Swedish is Mussie Pig. Again, the Swedish spelling varied, but so
what? As delights like those continued to come my way, I realised I was being locked tighter and tighter into the happy pursuit of language love and language learning.
My favourite music is the babble of strange tongues in the marketplace. No painting, no art, no photograph in the world can excite me as much as a printed page of text in a foreign language I can’t read – yet!
I embraced foreign language study as a hobby as a teenager in 1944. When I was inducted into the army in 1952, I was tested and qualified for work in fourteen different languages. Since then I’ve expanded my knowledge of those languages and taken up others. Whether fluently or fragmentally, I can now express myself in twenty-five languages.
That may sound like a boast, but it’s really a confession. Having spent so many years with no other hobby, I should today be speaking every one of those languages much better than I do. If you’re a beginner, you may be impressed to hear me order a meal in Chinese or discuss the Tito-Stalin split in Serbo-Croatian, but only I know how much time and effort I wasted over those years thinking I was doing the right thing to increase my command of those and other languages.
This book, then, does not represent the tried and true formula I’ve been using since 1944. It presents the tried and true formula I’d use if I could go back to 1944 and start all over again!
Common sense tells us we can’t have dessert before we finish the meal; we can’t have a slim figure until we diet; we can’t have strong muscles until we exercise; we won’t have a fortune until we make it. So far common sense is right.
Common sense also tells us, however, that we can’t enjoy communicating in a foreign language until we learn it. This means years of brain benumbing conjugations, declensions, idioms, exceptions, subjunctives, and irregular verbs. And here common sense is wrong, completely wrong. When it comes to learning foreign languages, we can start with the dessert and then use its sweetness to inspire us to back up and devour the main course.
What six year old child ever heard of a conjugation? Wouldn’t you love to be able to converse in a foreign language as well as all the children of that tongue who’ve not yet heard of grammar? No, we’re not going to rise up as one throaty revolutionary mob, depose grammar, drag it out of the palace by the heels, and burn it in the main square. We’re just going to put grammar in its place.
TO BE CONTINUED... Buy this book now and enjoy the contents in full!
Barry M. Farber (born 1930) is an American conservative radio talk show host, author and language-learning enthusiast. In 2002, industry publication Talkers magazine ranked him the 9th greatest radio talk show host of all time. He has also written articles appearing in the New York Times, Reader's Digest, the Washington Post, and the Saturday Review. He is the father of journalist Celia Farber and singer-songwriter Bibi Farber .
Early life and language learning
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Farber is Jewish and grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina.
After nearly failing Latin in the ninth grade, that summer Farber started reading a Mandarin Chinese language-learning book. A trip to Miami Beach, Florida to see his grandparents coincidentally put him in the midst of a large number of Chinese navy sailors in training there. His Chinese rapidly improved. Back in Greensboro, he took up Italian, Spanish, and French on his own before summer vacation was over. He started taking French and Spanish classes in his sophomore year and also learned Norwegian on his own while in high school. He graduated in 1948 from Greensboro Senior High School (see Grimsley High School).
He then attended the University of North Carolina, where he learned Russian. As a delegate from the National Student Association to what he later called a "Tito propaganda fiesta called the Zagreb Peace Conference", he found other Slavic languages were closely related to Russian. A 16-day boat trip back to the United States with Yugoslavs allowed him to practice his Serbo-Croatian. After covering the Olympic Games in Helsinki one year in the 1950s, he learned Indonesian on another boat trip back to the U.S.
As a newspaper reporter in 1956, Farber was invited by the United States Air Force to cover the airlift of Hungarian refugees from the uprising in Hungary that year. In an Austrian border village, Farber later wrote, he so impressed a Norwegian man, Thorvald Stoltenberg, with knowledge of the man's native tongue that he was allowed to go on one of the covert missions smuggling Hungarians into Austria.
Barry Farber has knowledge of more than 25 languages, including the ones mentioned above. He has published a book titled How to Learn Any Language that details his method for self-study. It is based around a multi-track study of the language, the use of memory aids for vocabulary, and the utilization of "hidden moments" throughout the day.