Sunday 25 February 2018

Irish polygot signs book deal to teach others his 'language hacks' after web success of 'Fluent in 3 Months'

Benny Lewis of Fluent in 3 Months has signed an open-ended book deal with John Murray Press. Photo: Facebook
Benny Lewis of Fluent in 3 Months has signed an open-ended book deal with John Murray Press. Photo: Facebook

Sasha Brady

An Irish man, who speaks over 10 languages (all self-taught) and claims anyone can learn any vernacular in three months, has signed a multibook deal to teach others his "language lacking" method.

Benny Lewis from Cavan town signed his open-ended book deal with John Murray Press.

The publishers described the 33-year-old's teaching method as "groundbreaking".

Lewis runs a successful blog called Fluent in Three Months, where he offers "language hacks" to enable visitors to quickly improve their language skills.

The site attracts one million visitors a month, and while the title shouldn't be taken too literally, Lewis is confident that his method of teaching can help people learn faster than other methods.

His teaching method is divided into short lessons that each contain a "hack", (a tip that helps the reader use the language).

Lewis developed the website in 2009 as a way of tracking his own learning progress.

According to his publishers, it is now the largest language-learning blog in the world. His YouTube videos have been watched more than 6.5 million times, with his TedX talk attracting 1.2 million views.

The enthusiastic polygot left Ireland for Spain in 2003 after completing a electrical engineering degree in UCD. He took up Spanish classes but after six months he found that he could barely speak the local language.

"I spent six months in Spain. I took expensive language classes. I studied every day. I repeated the same words and phrases over and over. But I still couldn't actually speak Spanish," he writes on his blog.

However, he made a turning point after meeting a confident polygot at a party.

"While in Spain, I met a guy who changed my life. He was at an international party, switching from one language to another as he moved between guests," he says.

Lewis asked his new friend what his secret was to picking up languages and the answer surprised him.

"He explained that to speak a language, you’ve just got to start speaking it. There’s no magic, he said. You only need a willingness to make mistakes.

"I tried his advice, and I’ve never looked back since."

Lewis decided to abandon traditional learning approaches, and everything changed.

Lewis, who is an Irish language ambassador to the EU, says he can speak 10 languages, including: English, Irish, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Mandarin, Chinese and Esperanto, as well as being proficient in American Sign Language.

He says he has a "professional mastery" in four of these languages, "good fluency" in another two and the remaining five he can "get by pretty well".

"Learning languages has given me confidence in conversations, new friends and insight into other cultures. It’s opened up new worlds for me. I set up this community so others can have the same experience," says Lewis.

"I help people just like you to feel confident in speaking another language, even if they’ve only just started learning. My mission in life is giving people permission to make mistakes. The more mistakes you make, the faster you become a confident language learner."

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