Fluent Japanese in 3 months

For those following Benny’s latest mission, from beginner to B2 in Japanese in three months, here is my video response.

I don’t understand what seems to be a recent phenomenon in which people try to do everything in a third, a fifth, or a tenth of the time that it took others. It’s like me saying, “I’ll learn all that my friend who has a 2 year masters in epidemiology” in 6 months. Will I know a lot about statistics and all that jazz that they study? Yes. Will my knowledge be anywhere close to the FULL-TIME, two year program that my friend did. Of course not.

That fluent czech guy did a good video about becoming fluent in a language in minutes, not years.

Attempts to go faster or further are good for the progress of all.

I just think, though, that this video is rather funny.

I think you´d have to spend approximately 3 hours per day for 10 years in order to do something for 10,000 hours…


You should watch the video that was posted by caza, the guy in the video provides some decent information about this topic.

@spfinegan: Another thing is that you will forget things. One thing is knowing how to say something and another thing is retaining it. Retention is a bitch.

My relatives that are surgeons (and I know a tiny bit about this subject) tell me that they could teach a monkey how to do the actual surgery. But the hardest part is knowing what to go if something goes wrong, the steps to take, post-operative management, etc. And the problem with cook-book medicine is that not every patient follows the directions. That bad case of cellulitis? Well it could be necrotizing fasciitis, a zebra.

But it is the same with almost every subject. I’ve taken one class on law (Spanish law while in Spain, specifically) and I know nothing compared to a JD with 3 years of work on it.

Nice video Steve. I think you are right when you say that Benny’s message about how fast one can learn is not constructive, though I do not have anything against the man. I have to admit, though I am not proud of it, that I find claims like these to be somewhat discouraging. Possibly this is the only thing that I find discouraging.

I have been learning German in the German-speaking world for over a year now and I am very happy with my progress. The one thing that I find discouraging are these nonsense stories that I get told about how people think they learned English. Things like “I learned all my English at some two week international summer camp when I was 17 years old, and all I did was turn up not knowing any English and then just had conversations for two weeks.” Or another one is “I went to England for a few months and I didn’t know any English when I arrived, I found it difficult to understand what people were saying in shops, but I just started chatting with people and I learned really quickly.” Funnily enough, I never hear stories about people going to Moscow not knowing any Russian and then learning really quickly simply by having conversations.

Anyway, Benny has a great website. It was the first one I found online a few months into learning German, and I found a lot of great advice and motivation on it, plus the review of LingQ, which is what lead me here.

Colin: What the Germans didn’t tell you was that they had English classes since age 12 and have taken it every year, read English every day, listen to English songs, and talk on Skype with English native friends. :slight_smile:

I’ve just had an “oh my gosh!” moment this morning (with admittedly some tears of surprise) because…drum roll…I can suddenly understand most of what I hear in my new (albeit lower level) Japanese lessons (without reading or studying the script first). Listening comprehension has frustratingly always been my weakest point, and held me up.

As you know, I was inspired by Steve’s video Listening Comprehension - The Core Language Skill - YouTube , changed my game plan, used my Mp3 player, got more active on LingQ, passed 4,000 ‘known’ words, and now look what’s happened. Priceless.


Glad to hear it Julz. Keep at it, especially if you enjoy it. Your speaking will also benefit from better listening comprehension!

Language learning is full of eureka moments, (as well as moments of disappointment and frustration).

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Some Germans start learning English earlier than that. I´ve started at age 9 for example…
I don´t think that a lot of us “read English every day” or “talk on Skype with native speakers” though.

However, it´s easy to get some speaking practice at nightclubs or at parties (at least here in Berlin) and a lot of people play videogames in English or watch japanese animes with English subtitles.


That´s awesome, congrats :slight_smile:
A while ago, I had one of these eureka moments with French^^

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@Paule - Ah, but did ya have tears in your eyes? Just kidding:) Congrats on the French.

@Kimojima - I’m not ready for conversation yet - can’t maintain a conversation, and just get told how “beautiful” in Japanese I sound saying very little. I’m not ready/don’t want to do Skype yet either.

But I agree with you about the passive/background noise - it’s pretty much useless. Doesn’t work for me, but maybe it does for Susanna Zaraysky (Language is Music). Songs don’t do it for me either, even though I have enjoyed learning to sing a couple of “pretty” songs in Japanese and Chinese. But did listening/learning songs improve my ability in those languages? No.

I have good listening concentration whilst doing ordinary things like laundry, hanging out the washing (yeh, I have a clothes line!), doing dishes, walking to the shops etc. The upside is my pronunciation is even better.

Optimal concentration is sitting still so I can hit pause and repeat out loud, or shadow without pause depending on audio speed adjustment.
I’ve learned to intensely concentrate over the noise of my large household and the autistic sounds, lol.

Great to hear you’re enjoying your speaking opportunities.

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@kimojima, good things you said there, but…
“listening while doing other things”. can absolute be better than “watching and listening”, sometimes you relax more
if you don´t concentrate.
And I understand MUCH better when i’m close to “not focused”, on the other hand, the amount of input is less, cause you probably “zooms in” - “zooms out” of what you listen to, and alot of the material stays in the backgroundnoise.

I think we all had those moments when we forgot that we were listening to our target language, or afterwards
cant really say in which language it was.

If I ask a native something, and kind of pretend that I dont care, if I understand the answer or not, I actually understands more.
Im not really sure how this works. Taking away the pressure probably helps the brain to function better.

@ Julz - Great work! I remember similar moments with German when I first realised I could understand some basic stuff and when I first realised I could understand more complex stuff. Nothing is more motivating and satisfying in my experience.

Anyway, I will be interested in hearing what your number one fan has to say about your newest breakthrough on his YouTube channel.

@Paule: “…However, it´s easy to get some speaking practice at nightclubs or at parties (at least here in Berlin)…”

Aha, so THAT’S the reason why so many girls zoned in on me whenever I went into a bar in Germany…

(And there I was fondly thinking it must be all down to boyish good looks and wicked charm on my part! :-D)

@ force_de_frappe

I am sure it is a bit of both.


I guess you’re right (well, let’s hope so anyway! :-P)

Sorry, but I have to disillusion @force_de_frappe : when a cool English guy hit our local Kneipe, most of the clientele (boys and girls alike) tried to get him to speak English with them, they were not all that interested in his boyish charms. He turned his attention to me because I was much too shy and too much of a perfectionist to use my very poor English on him. He used me to practise his German. Six months later we were married…

@ SanneT

…and would this work in Austria too?

I believe that we should be as objective as possible in order to satisfy as much people as possible. Now Benny’s statement must be taken into consideration until we see the fruits of he’s work. I remember him saying that he was planning to learn Chinese in 3 months in order to reach the C1 level ( if anyone has a video regarding this after his planned period I ask that someone to send me the link if it’s not too much to ask).

Learning a language from scratch to a high level as B2 or C1 in 3 months seems to a lot of people very difficult to fathom, but we are talking about people who learned a lot of languages and maybe there is a innate ability which furthers them to learn so many languages in a short amount of time.

Also I’ve been thinking about hyperpolyglots and how they may resemble chefs in the way that they show us what is needed for learning a language but they keep hidden the most important ‘ingredient’ which enabled them to reach such a level in all their languages.


I also remember that Benny didn’t get close to C1 in Chinese in the 3 months he studied. It was still a good result though.

I really don’t think that any of the online polyglots have any innate ability or hidden ingredient to learn a language in 3 months to a B2 or C1 level. Maybe there are savants who can do it, but for the rest of us, this will always remain impossible.