Did Benjamin Franklin have Lingq back then? He literally said: I had begun in 1733 to study languages, I soon made myself so much a master of the French as to be able to read the books with ease!

No wait, it is not only French, no it is not only the Italian, so read the entire essay he wrote about learning languages for fun.

I had begun in 1733 to study languages, I soon made myself so much a master of the French as to be able to read the books with ease. I then undertook the Italian. An acquaintance who was also learning it, used often to tempt me to play chess with him. Finding this took up too much of the time I had to spare for study, I at length refused to play any more, unless on this condition, that the victor in every game should have a right to impose a task, either in parts of the grammar to be got by heart, or in translations, etc, which tasks the vanquished was to perform upon honor before our next meeting.
As we played pretty equally, we thus beat one another into that language. I afterwards with a little painstaking, acquired as much for the Spanish as to read their books also. I have already mentioned I had only one year’s instruction in a Latin school, and that when very young, after which I neglected that language entirely. but when I had attained an acquaintance with the French, Italian and Spanish, I was surprised to find on looking over a Latin Testament that I understood so much more of that language than I had imagined which, encouraged me to apply myself again to the study of it, I met with more success as those preceding languages had greatly smoothed my way.

  • I typed this entire, just for you guys. It is no where can be mouse-copied from the Internet :), hope it is legal as it can hopefully spark a good discussion perhaps.

I am not wondering if he really mastered or knew very well these languages as he wrote, I wonder how on earth he could learn them easily as I see from what he said, and as I can read between his lines! and above that when you have no Lingq, no Assimil and to mention a few.

Did shallow work and the illusion of knowledge existed back then? I am afraid not, this is Benjamin Franklin.

You may also discuss any point you would like to discuss regarding the entire essay.


Many thanks to you sir for posting this. I have been a fan of Ben Franklin (and all our Founders) for so many years and always knew he was a linguist. However, I never read anywhere of his thoughts or writings on the subject of language learning.

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Yes, thank you!! I found this very interesting.

fantastic! sometimes i forget that it was totally possible to learn another language without LingQ. :slight_smile:

We refer to that time as the Dark Ages…hehe


I guess it was doable, but it is so much easier with Lingq that I don’t want to learn without it anymore.

Agreed. Like Steve once said, “I won’t study a language unless we have it LingQ.” That’s what will hold me back from Arabic (seems to need improvement) and Irish.