23 June 2014

Benny Lewis... fluent in 3 months...?

People who know me from sites such as HTLAL will know there's no love lost between me and Benny Lewis. The man always refuses to discuss anything, and takes mortal offence at anyone who doesn't agree unquestioning with every single word he says.

This is a shame, because Benny has a wealth of experience in language learning, and being able to "mine" this experience would surely reveal a lot of good stuff. Sadly, though, Benny's refusal to engage in any critical analysis of his own performance has led him to maintain a blog that is full of positively charged platitudes and little of practical substance.

Years ago, I borrowed a copy of his "Language Hacking Guide" from a friend, and blitzed through it making notes for a review on this site, but in the end I decided to let it slide and never published anything.

Now, though, the guy has another book out, entitled Fluent in 3 Months and published by no less than Harper Collins, and the press seems to be lapping it up.

Has Benny grown a clue recently? Has he stopped and given any serious thought to the language learning process? The writing on his blog is as devoid of content as ever, so I doubt it.

I'm hoping to get a loan of a copy of the book in a few weeks time to do my own review, but for now, you can read a very thorough review of the book by the user Big_Dog on the Polydog forum (accompanied by much discussion).

I have to say, most of what he says strikes a chord with me as typical of Benny's style. Woolly definitions, constantly moving goalposts, contradictions, overinterpretations, and just often downright wrong.

Does Benny say anything useful? Yes, he does, but then again, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

14 June 2014

Let's be honest with ourselves....

Well, in the last few weeks it has dawned on my how little I have achieved in 3 months in Sicily.

I learned a few previously half-learned, half-forgotten verb suffices and a handful of new words. I noticed a little bit about differences in vowels between Italian and other Romance languages. But that was about it.

So a couple of weeks ago I bought a pile of DVDs. I now have 5 TV serieses and a couple of films, totalling about 70 or so hours. I've watched two serieses and my brain feels far more comfortable with Italian already.

Why didn't I do this earlier?

Well, I was stressed out with work. But that's a weak excuse, because I still had loads of free time that I was wasting on the internet and silly computer games. I could have been spending that time far more productively, and I would have relaxed more.

I've now got a month and a half left, and I need to improve quickly, to make the most of my stay.

I never learned any Sicilian, and I think I'll have to give up hope on that front, because I was relying on my software to help me with that, and it's still not quite working.

But I will leave with better Italian, I have to.