Have you heard of this guy Benny Lewis? He’s an Irish author and blogger who calls himself a “technomad language hacker.” Sounds like he’s up to some spy movie stuff, right?
But no, turns out he’s just really good at learning languages super quickly! He started a website called Fluent in 3 Months where he documents his attempts to learn new languages in, you guessed it, just three months.
And this dude doesn’t mess around – he’s written a whole book about it called “Fluent in 3 Months” (2014), and even has his own series of language courses called “Language Hacking” for Spanish, French, German, and Italian.
Benny Lewis’ background
So, Benny Lewis, the “technomad language hacker” wasn’t always a language-learning mastermind. In fact, he was pretty mediocre in languages at school, only managing to scrape by with a C in German and barely passing his Irish language exams.
But here’s where it gets interesting – after graduating in electronic engineering from University College Dublin, Benny went to Spain to learn Spanish. And it took him over a year to learn the language.
But instead of giving up, Benny got frustrated with conventional language-learning methods and decided to take a different approach. And that’s how he became the language-learning guru we know today. I mean, who needs traditional education when you can just hack your way to fluency, am I right? Benny, you’re a true trailblazer!
Benny Lewis online
Benny not only runs his website Fluent in 3 Months, but he’s also given not one, but two talks on TEDx.
Benny was also named Traveler of the Year by National Geographic magazine back in 2013.
And he’s the author of the five books we mentioned in the intro: “Fluent in 3 Months” (2014), and the four-course books published with Teach Yourself on Language Hacking in Spanish, French, German, and Italian. And if that’s not enough, he also coaches and gives private language lessons over the phone and Skype.
Language learning approach
Benny’s got a pretty bold claim – he says that ANYONE can become fluent in a language in just three months. I mean, who does this guy think he is, Harry Potter with a magic language wand?
But here’s the thing – Benny’s definition of fluency is a little different. He calls it “social equivalency”, which basically means a person can function in social situations in his target language just as well as he can in his native language. And his approach is pretty wild – he believes students should start speaking a new language right away, using super basic phrases like “me like ice cream.” Don’t worry if it sounds like you’re speaking like Tarzan!
As a disclaimer, Benny has explained that he calls his business “Fluent in 3 Months”, not because he’s promising some kind of magical timeline for language learning. No, that would be ridiculous! He calls it that because he moves to a new country for about three months and aims to speak the local language to a point where he can communicate with ease. So, the name of his business is not a promise to students, it’s rather a challenge!
What do you think about Benny’s approach to language learning? It’s a bit controversial. There is another famous polyglot online that has a different approach. And he and Benny have openly agreed to disagree on this point. Would you like to read about Steve Kaufmann’s approach?
Benny also has a recommendation for American entrepreneurs. He believes they should learn foreign languages. It will help them in more than one way! And you know what? He’s got a point. In Ireland, he says, they grow up hearing a range of Englishes, so it’s not a big leap to learn other languages. Come on, America, let’s learn some new languages! Benny, you’re an inspiration!