Posted in English

Becoming Fluent – Book Review

I just sort of filleted this book for ideas, rather than read every word. It’s looking at how adults learn languages, and how their acquired social skills and knowledge can compensate for the quickness and brain plasticity they might lack compared to children. It has some interesting “meta tips” in it. In other words, it doesn’t suggest any specific tools or actions or methods, but does talk about the kinds of ways adult minds learn languages and what general, broad strategies you can deploy to help things stick in your mind. Where it finds evidence lacking (eg that learning a language can stave off dementia) it is clear on exactly what does and doesn’t happen, and can be quite reassuring if you’re the kind of person who thinks they are past it, unable to learn or just uniquely shit and untalented at language acquisition.
In a sense it gives a lot of backing to the strategy often called “language-hacking”, which aims at getting people to grapple with the language more in a range of settings and study it less, but there are important differences. For example, it seems to be against the idea of massive input, and in favour of “little and often”. That’s not something you’ll hear in language hacking circles.
Quite interesting if you like to know the theory behind what you’re doing but if you really want to get stuck into a language you’re probably better off with something more hands-on like Fluent in 3 Months by Benny Lewis


Just a data nerd

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