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Super fast Polish language learning strategies from internet polyglots


slick578 11 | 16
8 May 2011  #1
A lot of bloggers out there who offer an alternative approach to language learning, such as Irishpolyglot ot Yearlyglot have both recently done things connected with learning the Polish language quickly. Irishpolyglot says that using his methods it's possible to communicate at near fluent levels within three months? Mostly, they talk about alternative learning strategies such as 'forget drilling grammar' or 'flash cards are useless'. Using Irishpolyglots methods he claims to be able to learn a new language to near fluent levels withing three months and he has plenty of evidence to prove this including a national radio interview in Spain when he learnt Spanish. Yearlyglot is a little slower and aims to learn a new language to advanced levels within a year.

Does anybody have experience in using these blogs as help learning Polish or any other language. I'm sceptical about what they can offer and I'm definitely not prepared to hand over 60$ for a book which Irishpolyglot produces but saying that the general content in the blog is good and has given me a little extra optimism with learning Polish

Fluent in three months (Irishpolyglot)
fluentin3months.com

Yearlyglot
yearlyglot.com

There is also quite a heavy criticism of these polyglots here on
englishfocused.com

An English language and Polish language website

and finally, on this website,

doyouspeakpolish.blogspot.com

they have a poll collecting peoples opinions on the value of these alternative strategies.

I appreciate everyone opinions. Right now I'm completing lacking motivation to learn Polish, I have B1 level put perfecting my accuracy with grammar is proving a nightmare!
Torq 26 | 2,370
8 May 2011  #2
Using Irishpolyglots methods he claims to be able to learn a new language to near fluent levels withing three months

When I was at the University, I took the MLAT test (as a part of scientific research
on linguistically gifted people) and scored at 97th percentile, but I don't think I would
be able to achieve fluency in a foreign language in 3 years, not to mention 3 months.

Polish is my native language, I have a fairly decent command of English and French,
but it took me years and years of studying, and I still make mistakes (as one can observe
by reading my posts on this forum). I can communicate in 4 other languages (Russian, German,
Czech and Italian) but it's on the "My want a buying ticket, very please" level :)

In my opinion, to claim that achieving fluency in a foreign language in 3 months is possible,
and within everybody's grasp, is nothing short of ridiculous.
OP slick578 11 | 16
8 May 2011  #3
Thanks Torq.
I think that everybody should start learning a language with the attitude that fluency is a realisitc target but without putting any sort of timescale on themselves
delphiandomine 83 | 17,626
8 May 2011  #4
In my opinion, to claim that achieving fluency in a foreign language in 3 months is possible, and within everybody's grasp, is nothing short of ridiculous.

The "irishpolyglot" guy is a fraud - I know someone who knows him, and he claims to have passed the C2 exam in German within 3 months. Funnily enough, when asked for the certificate - he won't show it. I've also heard that his German, although he can speak in it, he still makes plenty of mistakes and definitely isn't at the C2 level. As the englishfocused site says - he could already hold a conversation in German before he started.
alexw68
8 May 2011  #5
I'm sceptical about what they can offer and I'm definitely not prepared to hand over 60$ for a book which Irishpolyglot produces but saying that the general content in the blog is good and has given me a little extra optimism with learning Polish

Welcome to *FL marketing bullshit. When it comes to return on investment, only self-help books trump 'learn a language in x weeks/months' on sheer bloody uselessness. Needless to say, the book writers don't care. They just got your sixty bucks and engendered a habit whereby if this one doesn't work, you'll be back for more.

Nothing, repeat nothing, compares to being 'parachuted behind enemy lines' and being totally immersed in the culture - and even then, three months? Naaaah. Even on the most self-serving, reductionist view of what fluency actually means, that's rubbish.

For my money, fluent is when:

1) you can hold a conversation on the phone without recourse to gesture and other paralinguistic crutches;
2) you can do mental arithmetic in the target language at will, without latency. Numeracy in a target language is a late developer psycholinguistically (you can start counting as early as you like, but true mastery of numbers will still take time). Take a random (but reasonably round) number of pounds, convert to złoty at a rate of 4.40. Now do it in Polish. Fast. Not so easy, huh?
Koala 1 | 332
8 May 2011  #6
You want to speak Polish in 3 months? Just move to Poland and completely stop using any other language - don't even contact your family if possible. That way, your brain will be forced to switch to Polish thinking and will be bombarded by Polish, in conversations, TV, press, books, etc. Probably unfeasible in yhour life, though. :P Either way there are no quick ways, you have to practice a lot, read Polish books, watch some Polish movies, possibly talk with someone on Skype in Polish. If you can commit a couple of hours every afternoon, you could still learn it relatively quickly I reckon.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,626
8 May 2011  #7
2) you can do mental arithmetic in the target language at will, without latency.

Can you do this?
alexw68
8 May 2011  #8
On a good day. But not when tired or, er, tired and emotional :)
tonywob 6 | 43
8 May 2011  #9
This discussion is making its way around all the forums I've been to today.

@slick578

I've followed along with these sites for a while now, and to be honest, I don't think it's possible to learn any language if you lack the motivation. No Internet guru is going to make you feel any different. Learning a language involves a lot of hard work, and discipline. People are always trying to look for simple and quick solutions and shortcuts. If you lack motivation, you need to find out why and resolve this issue first.

The "irishpolyglot" guy is a fraud - I know someone who knows him, and he claims to have passed the C2 exam in German within 3 months

Irish Polyglot never claimed to have passed the C2 exam, if fact he openly admitted to failing it. It says so on his page. He also admits his Czech mission was a failure, and he didn't achieve fluency. People continually quote him out of context. I don't agree with the name of his site, but the advice he gives is generally good. What's important is the fact that he does speak several languages, and I'm pretty sure he can hold a decent conversation in German.

You want to speak Polish in 3 months? Just move to Poland and completely stop using any other language - don't even contact your family if possible

I think you underestimate how difficult Polish is for English speakers, it's going to take more than 3 months to become fluent. Maybe after 3 months of total immersion you could hold simple conversations. I'm happy to be proved wrong however. I salute anyone who has managed to achieve this.

However, I DO believe that an English speaker could get to a near fluent level in say Spanish within a 3 month total immersion (Studying 12 hours a day, etc.), but Polish, no way. I've been here nearly two years, and I'm only just starting to feel comfortable with the language, I have some way to go before I will consider myself as fluent
Koala 1 | 332
8 May 2011  #10
You got it wrong if you think learning Germanic languages is easy for us Poles. Something as theoretically as the concept of articles simple took me long years to comprehend and properly apply both in written and spoken language - we completely don't think about that stuff! I think now Iuse them properly and rarely forget or misuse them, but boy did I see many red "a/the" words written by my English teach in my essays and other homework!
Des Essientes 7 | 1,291
8 May 2011  #11
You got it wrong if you think learning Germanic languages is easy for us Poles.

Polish and the Germanic languages are on opposite sides of the Indo-European Centum/Satum divide. I wonder if Poles find Persian, Kurdish, Hindi, etc. easier to learn.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,626
9 May 2011  #12
On a good day. But not when tired or, er, tired and emotional :)

There's hope for me yet, then ;)

Irish Polyglot never claimed to have passed the C2 exam, if fact he openly admitted to failing it.

Strange - he was openly telling people in the Berlin CouchSurfing community that he had passed it. As I said - I know someone who knows him in real life (there's quite a complicated web of friendships between the Poznan and Berlin communities - so it's not difficult) who first told me about him and his claims. I'm surprised it's came up now - but it's certain that he's a bit of a fraud.

What's important is the fact that he does speak several languages, and I'm pretty sure he can hold a decent conversation in German.

From what I've heard, although he can speak, he's not fluent in most of them. I know a German girl who called him out on it and used some pretty difficult German in his presence (overriding the natural instinct to 'tone down' the language when speaking to non-natives) - and found that he wasn't fluent as he had difficulties with many non-typical topics.

Worth looking here -
how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=19939&PN=0&TPN=9

Those results are far from fluent - with such poor reading and listening scores, he's not fluent in German. Even the grammar score is rather terrible for someone who claims to be an expert in the language.
irishpolyglot - | 5
9 May 2011  #13
This is Benny.
@tony Thanks.
@delphian I don't know who these friends of yours are. Either you are making it up, or they are.

I never claimed to pass the German C2 exam, not in person, and not in Couchsurfing Berlin. I have claimed to pass the Spanish C2, since the Instituto Cervantes awarded me with it a few years ago so perhaps people got that mixed up? I am very proud of my results and what I did in 3 months. If you aren't impressed that's quite alright; I invite you to try to get similar results as quickly ;)

I also have no recollection of a German girl ever doing such a thing with me. If she did then that doesn't really prove much; if you try to catch me out *intentionally* (i.e. this is _not_ a natural social environment) you undoubtedly will in any of my languages, including English. Hit me with "non typical" topics like republican politics or biochemistry and you will indeed have me stumped. Do this in a social environment where I may have met your friend and I will conclude this person is too boring for me talk to and will nod politely while my attention drifts elsewhere.

This doesn't detract from my fluent comfort to socialise in the language with people who *don't* have an agenda to test me unfairly. Without any actual information it's impossible to decipher these misleading claims.

Most of the frustration from that Polish girl comes from a personal falling out that apparently she had with Randy. Why that involves making things up about claims I never made is beyond me. I tried to patiently answer her questions on twitter but it soon became apparent that she wasn't interested in my answers; it was an interrogation where she had already made up her mind about me. This is not a "discussion" I have the patience or time to indulge.

To people in general; there's nothing magical about what I propose. Start speaking your target language TODAY (even if you have just learned a few phrases), force yourself to socialise with natives (if you can't travel chat on Skype every day) and in a few months you will dramatically improve your level. Don't judge me based on my URL (which describes the fact that I TRAVEL every 2 or 3 months and aim high in my target languages; it's a travel blog as well as a language blog), read a post or two and you'll see that what I write actually makes a lot of sense for people focused on speaking better quickly.

If your focus is to write novels in the target language or pass the scrutiny of marine biologists who may appear at any given moment, then I definitely can't help you.

And please call me Benny. "Irish polyglot" isn't my name.
OP slick578 11 | 16
9 May 2011  #14
I've been reading Benny's blog and watching his Youtube videos. The more I watch or read the more impressed I am. Especially the interview in Hungarian, clearly you Benny wasn't fluent but what he could do after such a short time was impressive.

Keep it up Benny, I'm convinced.

youtube.com/watch?v=utbcp_4OtOE
irishpolyglot - | 5
9 May 2011  #15
Thanks slick ;)
Of course, I never claimed to be fluent in Hungarian. People who want to devalue my encouraging advice tend to do nothing but put words in my mouth. I'm proud of the work I did in Hungarian in 2 months, reaching precisely what I had aimed for, and I encourage others to try too. Note that sometimes I won't reach what I aim for; that's life. I'll pick myself up, dust myself off and try again ;)

What I do isn't so magical; I have met others who make incredible strides in a language despite not having "natural talents" only because they forced themselves to in a short time.

If it has taken you several years to reach a stage you aren't satisfied with it's because you aren't giving yourself any pressure. I give myself 2 or 3 months, so I HAVE to improve quickly! It's just Parkinson's law. If you think Polish is under some special cloak of being extra-hard, please keep in mind that Polish is way more similar to English in a lot of ways than Hungarian would be. I don't believe I can leave links here in my first comments, but if you feel Polish is one of the hardest languages in the world, please search for "hardest language to learn" in Google. I think my article about it is somewhere on page one.
Koala 1 | 332
9 May 2011  #16
Benny, while I do believe you that you learn a lot within those 3 months and are able to hold conversation on some topics, you still only scratch the surface of the knowledge/skills you should possess to claim fluency. Besides, I don't know what's the point of studying a language for 3 months only to drop it and move on to the next one. Unless your brain doesn't work like a human brain, you are bound to forget what you learned in the previous period as all the vocabulary gradually disappears from your head or takes forever to recall. Most people study languages to learn them and use them afterwards and that requires a lot more than said three months.

I'd be very interested to talk with you via Skype in Polish, if only to see if you remember anything at all.
irishpolyglot - | 5
9 May 2011  #17
Koala, I've never learned Polish. I was in Poland once for a week, but did nothing more than flick through a phrase book to get survival basics as I was actually there to speak Esperanto at a conference. You will never read me claim to have ever spoken Polish. So if you were to talk to me on Skype in Polish, I guarantee you wouldn't be impressed :-P

My comments about Polish are observations based on the 13 or so languages that I have devoted time to. You are right that I have forgotten many of them like Hungarian, Catalan, Czech etc. but the 8 I do speak fluently are those I maintain regularly. Here in Amsterdam I speak Spanish, Portuguese, German, French etc. quite regularly. I was just hosting a Couchsurfer from Gran Canaria over the weekend for example and was speaking in Spanish with her. She said several times that she feels like she is talking to someone from home (I aim for the Canary islands accent in my Spanish, as I find it's the most neutral internationally). This is certainly me using a language after having learned it ;)

The point to learn a language is different for everyone. I wish to have meaningful relationships with people from the country I am visiting. When I leave the country, occasionally I will decide not to maintain the language due to the work involved and the fact that I didn't resonate with that culture as I would have hoped, and sometimes I will maintain it. Criticising that decision is pointless as it's just my living and travel style. It says nothing against what you can do in 3 months.

"Most people" don't learn languages, or do so in school for a decade and can't communicate even basically. I find this terribly inefficient. If you wish to speak a language for life, then applying Parkinson's law and learning it quickly is the smartest move in my opinion. You'll still have work left and that's OK. I'd like to get back to all my fluent languages and ultimately eliminate my accent for example. There's nothing magical about 3 months; it's the time I like to spend in an interesting new city. But you *should* have tight deadlines.
Koala 1 | 332
9 May 2011  #18
Koala, I've never learned Polish.

My comments about Polish are observations based on the 13 or so languages that I have devoted time to.

So first you claim you did not devote any meaningful time to study Polish, then you let yourself judge the language's difficulty based on your experience with it. That makes no sense at all.

I still don't believe people can speak 8 languages and be actually fluent. I watched a youtube video where you were interviewed after months of being in Germany and you were not fluent at all. Then comes the

I also have no recollection of a German girl ever doing such a thing with me.

In a social environment you not only discuss weather, but also science, religion, politics, sports, mythology, travelling, movies etc. basically anything of human interest. If you can't pick up a conversation on any random topic you should be familiar with having graduated high school, you should not claim you speak the language.
tonywob 6 | 43
9 May 2011  #19
An important point here is, could you actually talk about the stuff in your own language as well. I could talk about weather, movies, some subjects in science for example, but if someone starts talking to me about politics, mythology or biochemistry I'd be lost in my own language, never mind in Polish :D
irishpolyglot - | 5
9 May 2011  #20
"then you let yourself judge the language's difficulty based on your experience with it"

Please re-read my comment. I said my thoughts on Polish were an extrapolation based on almost a decade of learning languages, NOT my ten minute flick through a phrasebook so that I could travel to Zakopane. This tendency to put words in my mouth is something the Polish blogger does frequently and it shows not reading what I write properly.

I didn't come here to argue, just to set the record straight on misleading comments about me that have been made.

If someone forces a topic on me that I'm not interested in, I won't talk about it. I can definitely discuss all those topics you listed in all my fluent languages, but if you spring religion on me when I'm at a bar talking about an upcoming party, I will zone you out until you leave me alone. The same way I will get annoyed if you talk about the party while I'm in the middle of an intense debate about epistemology. It's unlikely your friend scoped the social situation properly, especially if she saw it as an opportunity to expose me as a "fraud" rather than simply socialise with me naturally as everyone else was.

As I said, I would react the same way in English. I have little patience for people bringing up irrelevant topics of conversation. You can also conclude from this that my English isn't fluent if you like...

If you believe someone can't be fluent in 8 languages, that's fair enough. I would suggest you don't go to India or meet up with anyone who works for the European Union as this belief will get challenged. If you aren't impressed by a video of mine, that's your prerogative. Others agree this demonstrates good use of the language. The Goethe Institut themselves awarded me a 75% in the oral part of the C2 exam. I did badly in other parts, but people who read my blog know that my priority is always conversational.

My level isn't bilingual, but it is fluent. It's important that you don't mix up the two.

I am not so interested in hijacking this thread to explain myself, as I said I just want to set the record straight on misleading things that are being said about me. People should read my blog and decide for themselves.
Koala 1 | 332
9 May 2011  #21
An important point here is, could you actually talk about the stuff in your own language as well.

Of course you're not an expert in all of these subjects, but at least you have basic vocabulary in most/all of them (let's ignore biochemistry as it's a specialised branch of science). I mean, if you graduate high school, you have at least a vague idea what following words mean:

- physics - angular momentum
- religion - ascension
- movies - movie release
- politics - election or supremacy
- travelling - flight delay

If a polyglote can immediately give translation to all of the above pretty basic concepts in all his/her 8 languages, then I can say he is fluent in all of them. Otherwise he should probably focus on 2 or 3 as he's actual skill in these languages is very limited.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,626
9 May 2011  #22
It's unlikely your friend scoped the social situation properly, especially if she saw it as an opportunity to expose me as a "fraud" rather than simply socialise with me naturally as everyone else was.

Actually, as I was told - you were simply unable to communicate using any sort of advanced vocabulary as would be expected from someone who claims to be "fluent" in the language. Communicative, yes - but not fluent. C2 is defined as -

an express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

From what I was told - you don't have that level of mastery, and you failed the exam. Therefore, calling yourself "fluent" is simply misleading. Being able to talk about a party doesn't mean you are fluent.

I did badly in other parts, but people who read my blog know that my priority is always conversational.

Fluency is when you are capable in all aspects - your exam results clearly show otherwise. No-one would ever consider someone who failed a C2 exam to be fluent in the language, especially with such low listening scores.

My level isn't bilingual, but it is fluent.

You aren't fluent. In fact, you're actually proving it by admitting that you aren't very good in some aspects of the language.

Odd lag in that online video, too.

Worth pointing out as well that "irishpolyglot" went to Germany with at least an intermediate level of German. So - to go from B1/B2 level to C1 or so within 3 months of intensive study and pracice is really not that surprising, especially with several years of being taught German too.

Personally, I'd be inclined to take him far more seriously if he wasn't trying to make a quick buck.
irishpolyglot - | 5
9 May 2011  #23
More misleading information. If anyone here has studied a language in high school and received poor grades, then they know they are far from "at least intermediate level". I did study German in school, and was very open about this, but I got a C in my final grade. In retrospect my end-of-school exam was terribly easy; getting a C shows how little I cared about it. A few years ago I went to Germany and couldn't even order food or a train ticket with what I had. This is not intermediate. I was not taught German for several years, I was present in a classroom for an hour a week for five years as my teacher rattled on about DER/DIE/DAS tables.

Phrasing someone as earning money as the same as "trying to make a quick buck" is a loaded statement. I have written a book and multimedia course and have a link to it on my blog. Judge the guide or judge my completely free blog. The fact that I need to pay bills too doesn't detract from how seriously you should take the half a million free words I've written on the blog over the last 2 years. If you were an English teacher, then should I take you less seriously because people pay you to teach it? Many people earn from what they are passionate about. I put a lot of work into my blog and an occasional sale of the LHG covers that.

I need to make one sale per day to cover my living expenses, no more. So there is no aggressiveness in my sales pitches, no pop-up ads, no flashing fake highlighter pen and countdown timers etc. and this means I can focus entirely on blog posts. I'm actually redesigning the site right now and will take all links and banners away from the top on the main page, so it will feature even less prominently.

The one thing I would agree with you on is that what I achieve isn't surprising. The purpose of my site is to encourage others to try too.
Koala 1 | 332
9 May 2011  #24
You exaggerate your results and strongly abuse the word "fluent". If you were more honest about what you actually achieve after 3 months of hard work, people wouldn't react so rejectively towards your work.
tonywob 6 | 43
9 May 2011  #25
Of course you're not an expert in all of these subjects, but at least you have basic vocabulary in most/all of them

Off-topic, but funnily enough, science terms aren't that much of a problem, indeed many terms are easy to deduce because they look like the Latin/Greek equivalent, depending upon how advanced the dicussion goes. I often buy "Focus" and "21 Wiek" in Poland, and normally I can understand them. I can also, for example, talk about astronomy (I subject which I like), because constellations (If you use the Latin scientific names) and "most" stars have the same name.
Koala 1 | 332
9 May 2011  #26
That's true, especially if you know English, you could safely read scientific texts in French and understand pretty much everything. But these things can be quite different in every language - let's take the previous example of "angular momentum" in some languages:

-French - angulaire moment - similar enough, but 'moment' doesn't mean momentum, it's the mathetical meaning of the word "moment" (refers to vectors)

-Polish - moment pędu - again moment doesn't mean momentum, it's pęd that means momentum
-German - Drehimpuls - compleletely different word and if you see it for the first time (or at least I didn't and was dumbfounded when I encountered it at one point), you might not guess it's meaning. It derives from Impuls - momentum and drehen - to turn

I just wanted to show that relying on educated guesses might be sometimes misleading and it's better to actually study a lot of different topics individually, but it takes time, waaay more than 3 months, to cover the amount sufficient to claim oneself fluent.
internaldialog 4 | 145
9 May 2011  #27
In my opinion, to claim that achieving fluency in a foreign language in 3 months is possible, and within everybody's grasp, is nothing short of ridiculous.

shared sentiments on this and as i have pointed out elsewhere this is not achievable by any standard the most you can expect to know in that short time is basic words and phrases.
mrpootys - | 1
14 May 2011  #28
Why sit around critiquing someone because hes doing something your not. These forums used to be informative, but now its a bunch of people spending more time complaining than studying. If youve been in a country for 2 or 3 years and cant speak the language, then you arent trying to. As far as irishpolyglot, i think his experiences cleary give him a thorough enouh knowledge about languages to make an educated guess about the difficulty of polish. Especially compared to those who dont speak more than 1or 2 languages. Its not hard to understand that polish is indoeuropean and hungarian is not. As someone who learned russian as a foreign language, i will admit that it is not the easiest language. But, if you think it or polish are to difficult to learn, then youve never studied languages extensively. And a little fact that I learned while studying for my dutch and german certifications.-- The average citizen is only a B2. But as an American I have to be a c2 for my job. So, whoever said that someone who passed part of a c2 exam isnt fluent has never taken a proficiency exam, and has an odd idea of fluency. Would you say the average citizen isnt fluent in their own language? My old german teacher who barely passed her exam to become a US government translator spoke english better than most my class, and had a much larger vocabulary.
howdousaythis
3 Jul 2012  #29
Ugh, this guy pretty much says that he is fluent and if he doesn't understand something in his target language, "Um...I wouldn't know how to talk about it even in English!" This, of course, provides, a convenient crutch that hides any lack of knowledge of the target language.

Girl speaking German: "What do you think about atheists and agnostics?"
Benny: (In head:"crap, I forgot how to say those words properly and other religious terms")....Nods and smiles, changing the subject or acting like he didn't hear.

Guy speaking French: "I'd like to get a new sunroof for my new sedan. Also some leather seats and killer suspension."
Benny: (I didn't follow what he said but its something about cars...) "Sorry, I don't know much about cars. What about..."

These are just some examples. Benny may very well know all these terms but there are a TON of other situations in which one wouldn't what to say even when they would be able to do so in their native tongue. To me, its very arrogant, self-limiting, and anti-knowledge to say that you don't want to learn about a topic (whether language or whatnot) and that what you do know if equivalent to those that have accomplished much more.

Furthermore, I just learned that guys like Steve Kaufman and Benny Lewis have no formal training or certification in teaching, much less linguistic certification. I watched his linguist guy that works with prominent authorities in the subject rip the two apart. You can't just say, "Oh...I have this idea about learning languages but they have not been proven...I'll start espousing my unproven, unsubstantiated theories."

The problem is when you get overly confident and say that you know a lot when you don't. I would have no issue with Benny is he weren't so vociferous and quick to criticize anybody that expresses a viewpoint that goes against his own. The one positive I see from him is his enthusiasm to speak languages, but do you need to pay 60 dollars or whatever it costs to do that? Probably not. But, to each his own.

irishpolyglot
but if you spring religion on me when I'm at a bar talking about an upcoming party, I will zone you out until you leave me alone.


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