This week, I've been exploring Fluent In 3 Months Premium 2.0.
For those of you that don't know, Fluent In 3 Months is the world's most popular blog about language learning, run by the famous Benny Lewis, "the Irish polyglot."
It goes without saying, then, that I was thrilled to get a private beta preview of his new premium learning materials.
Here's what we're dealing with...
Fluent In 3 Months - Premium 2.0
Although I've known about Benny's site for quite some time, I hadn't even really dived into the details of his learning approach until preparing for this review.
To sum it up, here's the short version of his argument:
- If you want to learn to speak a language, you need to... well, speak the language.
- Specifically, you should start speaking from Day 1. (He also has a free "Speak in a Week" course on doing this in 7 days, regardless of skill level.)
On this site, I talk a lot about learning kanji at accelerated speeds. I talk about about building rad kanji memory palaces. I talk about using Anki to "manage your study investments." About harnessing the power of free software in order to learn Japanese through anime, in order to break down all-Japanese podcasts sentence by sentence. This is all, of course, in addition to the numerous posts on my site that are just straight-up Japanese lessons.
But I never really stress the value of sitting down with a native speaker, getting words out of your mouth.
As such, the program was a nice refresher.
FI3M Premium 2.0 - Pros & Cons
Overall, I was rather impressed with Benny Lewis' course. In particular, I liked that each part of his course is highly actionable. He tells you exactly what you should do during and after each module.
I'd feel comfortable recommending it to someone who is just starting out with a new language--especially if it's a European language.
- Each section has a nice, clean video intro; so I never felt disoriented.
- The checklists in each section are perfect for building up to a first conversation (and then moving on after that).
- Language tips are backed by true, relevant experiences.
- 30-Day, No-Questions-Asked, 100% Money-Back Guarantee
- Not much Japanese content.
- The premium site had a few bugs... but that's because I was looking at a beta version.
- The course seems less about all-inclusive language mastery and a lot more about verbal communication. For NativShark, our own premium learning product, we make it possible to achieve goals ranging from basic conversation to high-level proficiency in Japanese--good enough to enjoy music, watch movies, read novels, and work professionally in the language. Benny's resources are primarily about the initial stages of language learning--the parts you have to get past before you start aiming for total mastery.
FI3M Premium 2.0 - Overview
Fluent in 3 Months Premium 2.0 consists of the following 4 sections:
- Language Hacking: Finding the easiest and quickest way to learn a new language.
- Language Immersion: Benny's recommended habits, strategies, and so on for mastering a new language.
- FAQ's: Direct feedback on your personal language-learning issues.
- FI3M Library: Essentially the online version of Benny's bestselling book, Fluent in 3 Months (and more).
Stream #1: Language Hacking
The Language Hacking stream actually consists of quite a few sections, as you can see:
I'll give a few previews of each.
The Speak From Day 1 Video Course
The first section of the course is the Speak From Day 1 Video Course.
Here, Benny focuses on giving you all of the tools (and mindset hacks) that you need to start having conversations in your target language from Day 1. Specifically, there are 8 modules in this section...
Each of those modules has:
1) An instructional video:
2) Key points from the video:
3) A checklist that must be completed before moving onto the next module.
I have blacked out the premium content here.
4) Pro bonus tips.
Benny presents a great, step-by-step method for having your first conversation in a foreign language... if you actually do every single item on the checklist.
I talk about this again and again throughout my site, but there is a huge difference between active and productive studying.
Productive = Good \(^o^)/Active = Uh... not so good. (T_T)
Active studying is doing things like reading this article (yes, this article you're reading right now).Going through Benny's course, I saw so many things where I thought, Well yeah, of course that's necessary to do for having a first conversation. Then he'd call me out on NOT actually doing that stuff that's "so obvious." What can I say? I can't help but thinking, Maybe later. Maybe once I learn x-thousand vocab. Maybe after I master this intro grammar, at least!
Losers talk about later. Including me ^_^
Speaking of procrastination, I particularly enjoyed where Benny talks about the "I'm not ready fallacy," this idea that you haven't had enough preparation for having conversations.
The Premium Video Tutorials
This is where Benny goes into real detail on preparing phrases for lessons and language exchanges, utilizing a number of tools that we talk about here on NihongoShark.com from time to time.
Could be just the advice you need when preparing for your first lessons and/or language exchanges.
Masterclass Videos (= Interviews with Famous Polyglots)
I'm probably biased, because I already knew about a lot of the tools and resources that Benny introduces in other sections, but the Masterclass Videos were, for me, the most valuable by far.
In each video, Benny personally interviews a widely renowned polyglot:
I loved hearing the insights of these fellow language nerds.
It was a real treat to get the insights of polyglots with thousands upon thousands of hours of experience mastering languages. For me, these alone make the course worth the price.
I particularly loved the interview of polyglot Luca Lampariello regarding pronunciation, intonation, and reaching C2 proficiency (according to the CEFR):
This isn't even including the numerous audio interviews:
I still haven't listened to all of these, but I can say that the interview of Stu Jay Raj is awesome. (By the way, if you're interested in studying Thai, you definitely need to check out his book/course Cracking Thai Fundamentals.
Stream #2: Language Immersion
The language immersion section contains collections of useful links and (free) resources for learning a wide variety of target languages:
- American Sign Language
This was probably my least favorite section.
I'm biased, though, because our target language is Japanese, and the list of resources is still sadly lacking. Benny made it clear, however, that they're going to be updating and improving this section in the near future.
The compilations of resources for other languages--particularly European languages--were much more impressive.
Most of the sections on European languages, for instance, included both (1) a detailed Sample Daily Schedule and (2) a very detailed Ultimate Resource Collection:
Stream #3: FAQ's
In this section, you can not only view the questions of other students, but also submit your own.
A good feature because... yeah, obviously.
Stream #4: FI3M Library
This section has a wide variety of resources, my favorite of which was the "Director's Cut" of Benny's book, Fluent in 3 Months. Relevant articles, interviews, videos--language hacks galore.
What About Japanese?!
Anyways, I hope this review was useful. If you do try out Benny's system, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.
Also, if Japanese is your true language love, then NativShark is the place for you.
Good luck with your studies, everyone.