169 - Fluent in three months, learn a language with Benny Lewis

Released Tuesday, 5th October 2010
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Benny the Irish Polyglot isn't your typical crazy Irishman. He spends his time completing language missions and currently speaks eight languages. Learn how to learn a language with Benny.

When he graduated from university with a degree in electronic engineering, he was fluent in only one language - English. He'd studied German at school, but didn't get anywhere with it, and after six months living in Spain was in a similar situation. But one day, he made a dramatic decision - he *really* decided to learn Spanish. He cut English out of his life as much as possible (he still had to work and talk to his parents) and spent the rest of the time speaking Spanish. It was the start of an epic journey.

Benny learned that the big secret to learning a language is to speak the language from day one. Don't wait until you're "ready" - you'll never feel ready. But you can communicate immediately, using what you have. In Spain, he used his body and extrapolated new words from ones he knew and ones other people used.

He learned that it's important to be confident and social. Just start talking to people with confidence and it will seem like you speak better than you actually can. To start, learn some phrases (Benny likes Lonely Planet phrasebooks) and leave the grammar to later - the point isn't to speak perfectly, it's to communicate. Break each task into small pieces and use creativity to help you learn - singing, for example, will help you remember phrases faster.

It can be difficult to get around the problem of people wanting to practice their English by talking with you, but it's possible. Benny always helps them by explaining how they can improve their Enlgish (websites, couchsurfing etc.) but he explains it in their language - giving him more chance to speak his target language.

Download Benny's book from http://indietravelpodcast.com/fluent

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