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Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language…

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

by Gabriel Wyner

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250845,873 (4.06)5



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As a professional linguist (first in academia, then in industry), I know a little something about language pedagogy and how languages work. Nevertheless, it seems I'm a sucker for any sources that claim to have tips for making language learning more effective. I can't resist browsing through them to see if I might find a new tip I haven't heard of before, and 99% of the time, I'm disappointed.

This book pleasantly surprised me: it does contain some techniques I haven't heard of before. A lot of it was old news for me (learn high-frequency words first, pay attention to pronunciation, etc.) and much of it is an advertisement for spaced repetition, but there are some more novel tips here that really show promise. I love the author's idea for learning grammatical gender/noun class! (Hint: make it visual to help remember it.) Simple but effective, and he presents good ideas for making visual aids for even the function words with abstract meanings that are often difficult to visualize. (What image would you use for "the", for example?)

I did find the organization of the book a bit strange, but if you're willing to jump around and grab the bits that are useful to you, I think it could be very helpful. ( )
  Lindoula | Sep 25, 2017 |
I thought this book builds a solid foundation for learning a language. I started learning a new language a couple months ago (not regularly, however), and I'm glad I read this before I got any further. He provides solid advice for different flashcards to make, and I found his advice very helpful.

Another reviewer commented that his writing about gender made his book outdated. This is pretty confusing, as the book came out in 2014, and many languages still use gender...... so.... not quite sure what that was about. I was having trouble remembering genders for my language, and I think his advice has helped immensely.

I'd definitely recommend this to anyone studying a new language. At the end of each section, he even includes advice on how intermediate/advanced students should progress. The content was easy to follow, and his writing was funny to boot. ( )
  mckzlve | Feb 12, 2017 |
A must read for folks wanting to learn a language.

Something I liked:

The author’s knowledge of music and what a reader might find funny are especially connective due to references that only musicians get deeply. For example:
All of these pieces—the bits of grammar, the sounds, the spellings, the meanings and the connected words—are contained within the immense symphony known as "dog[".] And the moment I tell you that sobaka is the Russian word for "dog[",] that whole symphony collapses into a single, out-of-tune horn solo. Bwaaaap.
Something I did not like:

The author uses gendered language, which makes this work sound old fashioned in that regard.

Without this, I would have given this book five stars.
  ursula-gaosili | Oct 23, 2016 |
This book seems so useful I am overwhelmed by it. Ready to learn a language? You want this book. I don't have enough free time and brainspace right now to tackle a project of that size, but when I do, you can bet that this will be what I reach for first.


After I learned German, I thought, "Ach! If I could just go back in time and tell myself a few things, I would have had a much easier time with this language!" I had precisely the same thought after Italian, French, Russian (which I finally learned in 2012), and Hungarian (2013's project), 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. ( )
  emepps | Jan 23, 2015 |
In my search for good books about (re)learning languages quickly and efficiently, I came across this intriguing book by Gabriel Wyner which is a combination of existing methods that allow you to learn a language fast and thoroughly. Wyner is a fun writer. He clarifies his methods with a lot of humour and although he does not deny that learning a language requires a lot of hard work, it's also a lot of fun and a door to a new world. ( )
  MGovers | Jan 10, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385348118, Paperback)

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 languageAnd 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:34 -0400)

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