For those who've despaired of ever learning a foreign language, here, finally, is a book that will make the words stick. At thirty years old, Gabriel Wyner speaks six languages fluently. He didn't learn them in school -- who does? -- rather, he learned them in the past few years, working on his own and practicing on the subway, using simple techniques and free online resources. In Fluent Forever Wyner reveals what he's discovered.
The greatest challenge to learning a foreign language is the challenge of memory; there are just too many words and too many rules. For every new word we learn, we seem to forget two old ones, and as a result, fluency can seem out of reach. Fluent Forever tackles this challenge head-on. With empathy for the language-challenged and abundant humor, Wyner deconstructs the learning process, revealing how to build a foreign language in your mind from the ground up.
Starting with pronunciation, you'll learn how to rewire your ears and turn foreign sounds into familiar sounds. You'll retrain your tongue to produce those sounds accurately, using tricks from opera singers and actors. Next, you'll begin to tackle words, and connect sounds and spellings to imagery, rather than translations, which will enable you to think in a foreign language. And with the help of sophisticated spaced-repetition techniques, you'll be able to memorize hundreds of words a month in minutes every day. Soon, you'll gain the ability to learn grammar and more difficult abstract words--without the tedious drills and exercises of language classes and grammar books.
This is brain hacking at its most exciting, taking what we know about neuroscience and linguistics and using it to create the most efficient and enjoyable way to learn a foreign language in the spare minutes of your day.
Gabriel Wyner graduated summa cum laude at USC, where he won the school's Renaissance Award. His essay on language learning for Lifehacker.com was one of the site's most read in 2012.