I'm Interviewing Benny Lewis on 5th July! What Would You Like Me To Ask Him?

On Tuesday 5th July I’m interviewing arguably the world’s most famous and beloved language learner on the I’m Learning Mandarin podcast. Benny Lewis.

I’m giving you guys, my LingQ Open Forum buddies, the chance to suggest questions you would like Benny to answer about Mandarin learning and language learning in general.

Let me know in the comments!


What is he reading while listening?
If it would be a religion, would he choose input or output?
Has he got a Chinese girlfriend?
Has he a girlfriend in general?
Maybe a parrot?

Hm, you mean the “real” questions are:

  • Will there be a parrot version of “Fluent in 3 Months”?
  • And what roles might girlfriends have in such a version?
    I think we have already found the answers to these questions:
    Let the parrots take care of the small data (sounds of doorbells, etc.).
    And let the AIs take care of the rest (see the echoic memory thread)

So parrots and girlfriends are “safe”

  • for the moment :slight_smile:

I have four spontaneous questions:

  1. What does Benny think of Will’s approach?
  2. How would Benny tackle the problem of “tones” today?
  3. And, in general, how important is pronunciation for him?
  4. Can’t we combine Benny’s approach (see here: https://www.amazon.com/-/de/dp/1473674271/ref=sr_1_1?__mk_de_DE=ÅMÅŽÕÑ&keywords=Benny+Lewis+Mandarin&qid=1656876349&sr=8-1) with Will’s method?
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Would you rather fight 1 Chinese girlfriend-sized SRP or 100 SRP-sized Chinese girlfriends?


Semi-serious question:
If Benny could trade all of his knowledge of L2s for one L2: Would he? Which? Why or why not?

Finally, if not, how about for three? Same follow-up questions.

I’d be interested in his natural/default listening and response strategies.

Many of us can talk on and on and also circumlocute on the fly without stopping to describe what we want to talk about using words we know (like Benny), but what are Benny’s strategies for responding to questions that are unclear–which I’m sure happens a lot in an output heavy approach, even with great tutors who know how to speak with beginners and who progressively ratchet up the difficulty if they feel the student can handle it.

For example: I will usually only ask for clarification if there’s one word or so that was unclear in a question or statement. If I don’t like the question, or I only understand several key words or the gist, I’ll take a politician’s approach and just answer whatever I want to about the topic. And if they still have questions after that, they can ask.

Also, in regards to active listening during conversations, what comes most naturally to him during his various stages of proficiency? Focusing mostly on key words he can understand and responding to that? Listening to every word closely without mentally translating and just letting the meaning or pre-linguistic sense of what was said come to him?

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Nowadays, I prefer to “kill them with kindness”.
For example, like this:

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Does he still believe the FSI is wrong about the number of hours?


What has he changed his opinion about? In terms of language learning and all.


What his daily language study schedule is like in the preparatory phase before he goes to his target language country for trying out his speaking from day 1 approach? What exactly is he doing in terms of language activities? Lots of listening? Lots of vocabulary memorization? Lots of grammar study?Thanks

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Good one!

Yeah I want to ask him about tones.

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