Fluent Forever : How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It
Language learning is a sport. I say this as someone who is in no way qualified to speak about sports; I joined the fencing team in high school in order to get out of gym class. Still, stabbing friends with pointy metal objects resembles language learning more than you might think. Your goal in fencing is to stab people automatically. You spend time learning the names of the weapons and the rules of the game, and you drill the proper posture, every parry, riposte, and lunge.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
Finally, you play the game, hoping to reach that magical moment when you forget about the rules: Your arm moves of its own accord, you deftly parry your friend’s sword, and you stab him squarely in the chest. Point!
We want to walk up to someone, open our mouths, forget the rules, and speak automatically. This goal can seem out of reach because languages seem hard, but they’re not. There is no such thing as a “hard” language; any idiot can speak whatever language his parents spoke when he was a child. The real challenge lies in finding a path that conforms to the demands of a busy life.
In the midst of my own busy life as an opera singer, I needed to learn German, Italian, French, and Russian. Out of those experiences, I found the underpinnings for this book. My methods are the results of an obsessive need to tinker, research, and tinker again. My language-learning toolbox has, over time, turned into a well-oiled machine that transforms fixed amounts of daily time into noticeable, continuous improvement in my languages and in the languages of every person I’ve taught.
In sharing it, I hope to enable you to visit the peculiar world of language learning. In the process, you’ll better understand the inner workings of your mind and the minds of others. You’ll learn to speak a new language, too.
Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages.
1: Introduction: Stab, Stab, Stab
- Cheaters Occasionally Prosper: The Three Keys to Language Learning
- The Game Plan
- How Long Docs Fluency Take?
- Do This Now: The Path Forward
2: Upload: Five Principles to End Forgetting
- Principle 1: Make Memories More Memorable
- Principle 2: Maximize Laziness
- Principle 3: Don’t Review. Recall.
- Principle 4: Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me!
- Principle 5: Rewrite the Past
- Timing Is Everything: The End of Forgetting
- Do This Now: Learn to Use a Spaced Repetition System
3: Sound Play
- Train Your Ears. Rewire Your Brain
- Train Your Mouth. Get the Girl
- Train Your Eyes. See the Patterns
- Do This Now: Learn Your Language’s Sound System
4: Word Play and the Symphony of a Word
- Where to Begin: We Don’t Talk Much About Apricots
- Games with Words
- The Gender of a Turnip
- Do This Now; Learn Your First 625 Words. Music and All
5: Sentence Play
- The Power of Input: Your Language Machine
- Simplify, Simplify: Turning Mountains into Molehills
- Story Time: Making Patterns Memorable
- On Arnold Schwarzenegger and Exploding Dogs: Mnemonics for Grammar
- The Power of Output: Your Custom Language Class
- Do This Now: Learn Your First Sentences
6: The Language Game
- Setting Goals: Your Custom Vocabulary
- Words About Words
- Reading for Pleasure and Profit
- Listening Comprehension for Couch Potatoes
- Speech and the Game of Taboo
- Do This Now: Explore Your Language
7: Epilogue: The Benefits and Pleasures of Learning a Language
The Gallery: A Guide to the Flash Cards That Will Teach You Your Language
- The Art of Flash Cards
- The First Gallery: Do-It-Yourself Pronunciation Trainers
- The Second Gallery: Your First Words
- The Third Gallery: Using and Learning Your First Sentences
- The Fourth Gallery: One Last Set of Vocabulary Cards
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