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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About the Author
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Excerpted from "Fluent Forever"
Copyright © 2014 Gabriel Wyner.
Excerpted by permission of Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction: Stab, Stab, Stab 1
Cheaters Occasionally Prosper: The Three Keys to Language Learning 3
The Game Plan 6
How Long Does Fluency Take? 8
Do This Now: The Path Forward 10
2 Upload: Five Principles to End Forgetting 17
Principle 1 Make Memories More Memorable 18
Principle 2 Maximize Laziness 27
Principle 3 Don't Review. Recall. 29
Principle 4 Wait, Wait! Don't Tell Me! 33
Principle 5 Rewrite the Past 36
Timing Is Everything: The End of Forgetting 39
Do This Now: Learn to Use a Spaced Repetition System 48
3 Sound Play 54
Train Your Ears, Rewire Your Brain 57
Train Your Mouth, Get the Girl 64
Train Your Eyes, See the Patterns 71
Do This Now: Learn Your Language's Sound System 77
4 Word Play and the Symphony of a Word 83
Where to Begin: We Don't Talk Much About Apricots 86
Games with Words 89
The Gender of a Turnip 94
Do This Now: Learn Your First 625 Words, Music and All 99
5 Sentence Play 108
The Power of Input: Your Language Machine 109
Simplify, Simplify: Turning Mountains into Molehills 118
Story Time: Making Patterns Memorable 122
On Arnold Schwarzenegger and Exploding Dogs: Mnemonics for Grammar 126
The Power of Output: Your Custom Language Class 130
Do This Now: Learn Your First Sentences 132
6 The Language Game 143
Setting Goals: Your Custom Vocabulary 144
Words About Words 147
Reading for Pleasure and Profit 151
Listening Comprehension for Couch Potatoes 154
Speech and the Game of Taboo 158
Do This Now: Explore Your Language 164
7 Epilogue: The Benefits and Pleasures of Learning a Language 170
The Gallery: A Guide to the flash Cards That Will Teach You Your Language 177
The Art of Flash Cards 183
The First Gallery: Do-It-Yourself Pronunciation Trainers 191
The Second Gallery: Your First Words 199
The Third Gallery: Using and Learning Your First Sentences 215
The Fourth Gallery: One Last Set of Vocabulary Cards 235
A Glossary of Terms and Tools 243
Appendix 1 Specific Language Resources 261
Appendix 2 Language Difficulty Estimates 267
Appendix 3 Spaced Repetition System Resources 271
Appendix 4 The international Phonetic Alphabet Decoder 277
Appendix 5 Your First 625 Words 293
Appendix 6 How to Use This Book with Your Classroom Language Course 307
One Last Note (About Technology) 311
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have a working knowledge of Italian, enough that I can read and write it, and I do fairly well when listening, too. But speaking? That's where I have an enormous deficit. It makes me sad that my Italian is so passive now, compared to when I was a kid and actually using it everyday. I'm missing out on most of the fun of knowing another language! I couldn't resist giving Wyner's Fluent Forever a try. "Forgetting is our greatest foe, and we need a plan to defeat it." Wyner's approach is based on a spaced repetition learning system, or SRS. My first reaction when I realized this was dread: Doesn't SRS mean boring flashcards? But Wyner makes it sound like it could be fun. This isn't a dry read at all. His writing style is engaging, sometimes even humorous. He is enthusiastic about language learning, and his excitement is infectious! Plus, he provides and explains a lot of scientific research about how we learn language, how memory works, and statistics that prove the effectiveness of SRS. The key is to learn new words (or grammar rules, or whatever information you need to know) by simultaneously creating multisensory experiences because "neurons that fire together wire together." The flashcards used in SRS are unique to and personally created by each individual, whether you choose to create them on paper or within an app. I tried Wyner's suggestions for a week (via Anki), and was shocked by how much I learned, far more quickly than in the past. Fluent Forever focuses on learning on one's own, outside of a classroom. This is great for those studying uncommon languages, or for those living in areas with few, if any, resources for their target language. The book has a nice, user-friendly layout: key points are highlighted in a separate box at the end of each section, there are special notes for intermediate and advanced learners, and a clear index which makes for easy future reference. And it is chock full of resources: books, apps, internet sites (including where you can find language partners for speaking practice), word lists, and more. Wyner also breaks down the different kinds of resources and how they are best used. He does not promote working through every single exercise in dull textbooks, cover to cover. Instead, this is language learning at its most efficient, tapping into the way our brains secure memories and the rich experiences that come with communicating in another language. Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging for Books to be considered for an honest review.
I've been trying to teach myself Japanese for over a year now. In that time, I've managed to make some progress, but it's been really slow going. When I saw this book, I immediately wanted to read it and see if it could offer any advice. It ended up being even more helpful than I thought it would be. The book does a great job recommending what to do in order to actually learn a language, and it's all very easy to follow. I'm pretty sure that I've already accomplished more in the few weeks since reading this book than I did in the entire year before that trying to teach myself Japanese. I honestly can't praise it enough. This book has a lot of helpful advice, and the author clearly knows what he's talking about, which is evidenced by the number of languages he's managed to teach himself. The author also runs a website that is helpful as well, and the book provides a lot of advice for other resources to help you. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning another language by themselves. I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review
In a nutshell: 1) Make flashcards(physical or digital) for every aspect of your target language including pronunciations, spellings, translated definitions. Use a frequency dictionary(purchased separately) to determine the order in which you produce your cards. 2) Add mnemonic devices like pictures to enhance your personal connection to the information to memorize. 3) Review the flashcards. Repeat often. And then some more.
Review it please?