Learn a language in 7 days?

Ramon Campayo has written a book (in Spanish) with the title Aprende un Idioma en 7 dias”. It seems quite bizarre in its claims. His wife says that he knew no German and was able to learn enough on a morning plane ride to give a paper in German at a conference in the afternoon. The author is a memory champion, but he claims anyone can use his method and get similar results.

What I understood is that to use his method, you must first read the book, which has almost 400 pages – and, you are warned - without skipping. Naturally, I skipped, wanting to get to the kernel of the method. Then you must make a table of the most significant 600 or so words in your native language and the translation into the target language, along with some mnemonic of your own creation that links the two words. This would seem like a time consuming labor intensive process. When you have completed this, and only then, you are ready to begin your 7 days, 1 hour per day, perusing the tables and memorizing the vocabulary with the help of the memory aids. That’s about it.

Perhaps I have misrepresented or misunderstood what he’s written. Does anyone have experience or knowledge of this method and would like to comment?

You can have a perfect memory, but that doesn’t mean you will have the critical thinking necessary in some fields. And in some fields, you literally wouldn’t be able to read all the information in 7 days. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine is 4,012 pages; I don’t think I could even read it in 7 days, let alone understand much.

I could study linguistics, mechanical engineering, or general surgery for 7 days, but I don’t anybody would actually want me to give a class on any of the three topics. I don’t think his method is that great; 600 words is nothing. You could get a tourist level, survival skills in a language in one week. But why is there all this focus on get rich or get smart schemes lately? What ever happened about realizing that there are not extreme short-cuts and sometimes you just need to work at it for a while?

Well I guess if his field included a lot of loan words or latin words, I suppose that coupled with 600 words of his target language, then he could give a very very basic talk about his field.

I’m sorry but this sounds like nonsense to me. Even I would be able to learn 600 words in 7 days (although it would probably take me more than one hour study time a day) but that doesn’t mean that I’d speak the language. I could as well memorize a presentation someone prepared for me. Does the book say anything about listening comprehension? What if someone has a question? You simply won’t understand it when a native speaks to you. I really don’t like this “as fast as possible” attitude. Learning a language is more than memorizing a certain number of words.

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Here is the link for 850 basic words in English. See for yourself it you could give a speech about any subject in depth using these words.


Words like clothes, doctor, dentist, groceries, and apartment aren’t in there.

I second what nuriayasmin70 says; you can parrot a bunch of words but listening comprehension is pretty hard, too. And what about pronunciation? If you know the words but can’t say them correctly, nobody is going to understand you. :frowning:

This claim is pure nonsense, in my view. You may be able to give a presentation with five or six or 800 words. You won’t understand the questions unless you have many thousands of words. Learning words, enough words to enjoy books and radio programs and movies, is the greatest challenge in language learning. This takes a long time.


After a long time learning languages, you realize that the process to adquire a new language takes time, I need to mention Benny that even living in China was not be able to learn chinese in a short period of time. If people learn languages so fast like that, why we don’t see their method helping the others…why we don’t see it on TV if it’s so extraordinary…why their book is not a best seller… Think about it.

The most fast way to learn something is very simple “Give the information to your brain and let the brain work for you”

Campayo may have some good ideas. I just bought a copy of his book. I’ll write back if I think it looks interesting.

I suspect that his presentation in German didn’t take enough account of the grammatical variations of the same words, based on their role in a sentence, in other words, the declensions.

creimann is right, and to get use to the patterns of a new language, like declensions for example, takes a lot of exposure and a long time.

I’ve read his book now. His method is two-fold: first, learn the new vocabulary with the help of mnemonics based on a language you know well. Make up a funny, piquant, or otherwise memorable sentence in your known language to remind you of the sounds corresponding to the new word. Second, deliberately abandon grammar. For example, instead of conjugating the past tense, just use the infinitive and add “yesterday” or “then” or something. So, his method might be a way to get a start, which you can embellish later with more correct learning. However, I am sure that such a speech pattern grates on the ears of natives. I was recently in Germany, and even taxi drivers didn’t like it when I would get the article declensions wrong, and that’s a lot harder than just a verb conjugation. So, I’d say, save your $9.99.


You read a 400 page book in just over four hours?

This method is pure fruit-loopery!

It would be a better use of those 10 bucks to get some Jones special brew Kool Aid…

About half the book is a workbook.


Comrade creimann is loaded.


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@Creimann: Man, why did you buy the book? :slight_smile:

I talk with a Spanish woman and she told me about a central-european person that works around her house that is able to express herself in Spanish…but doesn’t conjugate verbs. So she makes herself understood but it is probably kind of surprising to native speakers to hear somebody like that. In English I wouldn’t like to talk to somebody with that level since it is like caveman speech. Well, it would be kind of funny!

Me eat. You eat. We go. Food. Happy? Stomach full?

English is probably a bad example since you just need to have two different verb endings to conjugate! Spanish is a much better example because there are 5/6 verb endings depending on if you are in Latin American or Spain.

There is a really good bilingual French/Russian film from a couple years ago called ‘Le Concert’ . Basically a group of former Soviet musicians get themselves a concert date in Paris claiming to be the Bolshoi orchestra. Throughout the entire movie the Russians speak a broken French that is entirely without conjugations, but it somehow works for communication. Its a great film, and interesting if you are interested in hearing this phenomenon, or just want to practice your Russian or French.

All the same, I would never learn a language ignoring the conjugations!

“I bang my knee!” (I walk into a coffee table.)

not caveman, but ultra modern.

I think it is important to make a distinction between ignoring the declensions, and not becoming obsessed by them. It has been my observation that when teachers or students focus too much on conjugation tables and declension tables, something else suffers. This is usually fluency in the language.

I certainly agree that we can and should refer to these tables from time to time, but personally I have never been able to memorize them or reproduce them when speaking, based just on studying the tables. Just as with the tones in Chinese, it is only lots of exposure and speaking practice that enables me to become more and more accurate over time.

We all have our own ways of learning, however.

I will suggest the following argument, however: It’s almost like postponing the details. The method he suggests might have the effect of breaking the ice, and getting you down the road to speaking. Just as long as you don’t stand still! Otherwise you’ll be left with pidgin. And to be fair, his book concludes with suggestions for continued study. So, it’s plausible that in the normal path of study, not the lingq path but the normal path, there is too much focus on getting everything right from the beginning, which can cause a halting speech pattern. By just learning the minimum but spreading it out over a larger vocabulary, one could perhaps get the tongue loosened up. Then by continuing to study, one would start to slot into place the conjugations, and so on. Just as long as you know, it will be grating to natives!

@steve: Oh, absolutely! Agreed!