Featured Site: Fluent in 3 Months
Every now and again I come across a brilliant website, a blog, a useful web-tool or simply something I love… today I’m featuring:
Benny Lewis is an interesting character, not simply because he can speak multiple languages (eight fluently- and counting!), nor because he’s a vegetarian non-drinker who makes friends by handing out earplugs at rave parties or makes his living while he travels around the world. No, for me it’s the fact that he can keep me learning every time he posts on his site.
It’s the way he writes, you see. He’s down-to-earth and cuts out all the BS. While he’s busy telling it like it is he’s also giving excellent advice on how to learn languages and telling the stories of his travel adventures. He makes learning languages fun, interesting and interactive.
English is Benny’s first language and while this might seem to make his site irrelevant to English learners or teachers, quite the opposite is true. He isn’t just a multi-linguist or a polyglot, he is a Language Hacker. It’s a term I’m pretty sure he coined but it’s a really apt one for what he does because he writes in depth analysis of the language he is learning in a way that can be directly applied to any language and any language learner.
He hacks the language to death to make it easier for others to learn. Furthermore, he sets himself the challenge to learn the new language to fluency- that is, to spoken fluency- in only three months. No small feat.
For the ESL Learner
Fluent in 3 Months stands out as a great language learning website because it is written in simple English with the occasional colloquial expression so there is a lot of practice with a writers personal style, as apposed to the standardised grammatically perfect textbooks you might learn from in the classroom.
In addition to this practice, you can also pick up great tips on how to learn to speak a language better and most importantly, speak more often. Benny comes across in his writing as having a warm, relaxed charisma so I can see how it would loan itself to the techniques he applies to learning which ever language he’s tackling at the time. He makes speaking a language more important than any grammar rule and guides you gently to speak the language- as gently as pushing you head first down a language hill that is. Don’t worry, the tumble down helps you to realise just how easy and painless it can be!
For the ESL Teacher
This website is a gold mine for teaching techniques to apply in the ESL classroom, and is particularly useful for one-on-one tutoring.
Rather than go through all his archives for all the hints, tricks, and mastering he has offered in the past I recommend you pick up a copy of his Language Hacking Guide. (By the way, I don’t get, nor want, an affiliation commission from this post, it’s simply a good thing that he’s got going.)
Another tool that Benny’s been involved in is the Polyglot Project, which is jam-packed full of awesome articles written by polyglots all around the world and even better, it’s FREE!
Benny’s focus on speaking the language, rather than simply learning rules, has actually made my classroom a more interesting environment. He offers up reasons with his techniques and provides examples of how to apply what he does. This makes a big difference when you’ve got a classroom full of Chinese university students who are being forced to learn English for a credit in their degree. If you can make them laugh while they’re talking you’ve hit the jackpot. Fortunately, Benny’s got a great sense of humour too!
Image Credit: Fluent in 3 Months