Speaking before travelling - Benny

(For those who get offended by yet another Benny’s post, please kindly ignore this thread and move on with your lives)

In his latest post “Why moving to a country may not lead to learning the language & what learners & expats CAN do”, Benny revealed a secret (at least a secret to me): In some occasions, he actually learned a language way before speaking from day 1. He wrote:

“I made the decision that I was going to move to Brazil for the first time several months in advance, while still living in Toulouse in the south of France, and decided that I didn’t want to slow myself down on arrival. So I started learning Portuguese then. Yes, you read that right I learned Portuguese while living in France.”

Apparently, you should still try to speak from day 1. But you may prepare yourself in day 0, day -1, -2, and so on.

Benny complained to me that this post is ‘pathetic’ and “makes no sense” to him. I reread my post and realized that perhaps I need some clarifications.

Benny always gives his readers a strong impression that with no prior knowledge of the target language (or with some but somehow it is irrelevant to the current mission), he will start speaking to locals from day 1 of being in the country, and he can learn the language in a short time (3 months or less).

In reality, this is not true. Take his “Become Brazilian in 3 months”. It turns out that he worked on his Portuguese for 5 months remotely and then followed by 3 months of full immersion in Rio.

When he claims to speak from day 1, he always gives people the impression that this is day 1 in the country. In fact, he means day 1 from learning the language. He also encourages people to make preparation before going to a language immersion trip.

This means that his real approach to become fluent is to learn the language remotely first for who-knows-how-long, then go for a full immersion for some months. There is nothing special about this approach. A lot of people are doing this today.

Then of course, he would mark the beginning of his ‘mission’ from day 1 of his trip. This is totally misleading.

Benny, I have nothing against you selling an overpriced language guide. But you should at least be honest about yourself.

edwin, I don’t understand. Which post did Benny find pathetic?

Bear in mind that anyone who criticizes Benny is, in his view, pathetic, or does not understand what Benny is saying, or is simply a blind follower of someone else who does not agree with Benny. For these reasons such people are usually blocked from commenting at his blog.

Steve, he was talking about the first post of this thread.

I see. Anyway the important thing in all of this is that, personal preferences have their place, but input based learning is not only easy to arrange, inexpensive and effective, but to some extent unavoidable.

I also think that we all lose something when ideas cannot be discussed.

Under the cover of this ‘language hacking’ trick, Benny just turns out to be adopting a common approach to learn languages. I don’t think people would criticize him this badly if he just admits it.

Hi edwin. You wrote: “Benny, I have nothing against you selling an overpriced language guide. But you should at least be honest about yourself.”

Actually, I think it’s precisely because Benny is using his blog as a tool to market his very expensive language guide that his mixed messages are problematic.

If he were not trying to sell a guide with the message that it will help people learn a language from complete scratch to fluency in a very short time, Benny’s comments would not really be misleading anyone. They would just be blog posts from another language learner. It’s when those thoughts are packaged as messages from a guru who wants you to literally buy into a “method” that things get… well, misleading.

Edwin, I find you pathetic because you are consistently quoting me blatantly out of context. Here is what I said just a couple of sentences after your quote that is clearly trying to mislead people as to how I learn languages:

“We met up several times a week, and I struggled at first but did indeed manage to reach a rudimentary stage of speaking without simply using Spanish instead. Then when I arrived in Brazil…”

Now how can you possibly misinterpret this? You read one sentence and started a forum post about it saying that I never actually start speaking from day one, when clearly I did start speaking from day one here. I said in this post that I didn’t use grammar books when beginning, but that I met up with someone, just that this once I started speaking from day one OUTSIDE of the country. I was under the impression that you actually read my blog, but like many here you have made up your mind about me and will do nothing but provide strawman arguments against me.

I said you were pathetic in starting all of these threads about me, by quoting my blog and making ludicrous extrapolations based on these quotations, usually ignoring the rest of the post that give it context.

The rest of you should be ashamed of yourselves! I’m trying to encourage people to speak languages and I’m being very successful in this. You don’t realise how many emails I get every week from people saying that my blog has gotten them speaking a language with their families or finally gotten out of this “I’m not ready” loop. Of course, you don’t think about that.

You all see me as this “snake oil salesman”. Why? Because I created a multimedia product that over 30 people contributed to (many of them working for about a month full time to provide the translation), to help support myself that is constantly praised by people as helping transform their language learning strategy. If it were one e-book I’d charge $10, but it isn’t. If you think it’s too expensive that’s fine, but stop with this exaggeration. NOBODY else who earns money from languages gets as much abuse from this LingQ community as me. If someone has written a book, or charges to speak in public, or is a language teacher etc. then they do earn from something they are good at expressing, as am I. But the Language Hacking Guide is such a minor part of my website! It’s a tiny banner from the half a million free words I’ve written for everyone.

There is nothing misleading or magical about what I discuss. Can’t you realise how intense use of a spoken language will lead to you speaking that language? How is this so hard to grasp? I’m representing a language learning approach that many use all the time. Maybe you disagree with the communicative approach to language learning? That’s fine, but stop making it a personal attack on me “selling magic pills”. I disagree with Steve’s approach, but simply state that; I don’t try to say he is misleading people by wasting years of their time with magic promises. Free content is my focus and about one sale a day of my guide helps support me to attempt to encourage other people to learn languages. Because I packed enough into it to make it worth the price, I only need that one sale a day so I don’t need to promote it aggressively. If any of you have seen Internet sales pages, pop-up sign-up forms, constant tweet reminders to buy etc. then you’d know what aggressive sales really looks like. I make a sale a day so I’m happy.

While you see me as nothing more than an Internet marketer, I’ve actually been invited to speak at two conferences this year to a large group of people, to encourage them to speak languages. What I’m proposing actually makes sense and many people see this. This was always my ultimate goal; to spread this message to many people. The opposite of the DISCOURAGING message to what many of you promote.

Have any of you bought my guide and applied my advice? Of course not. You just “know” it’s a con, because someone learning quicker than YOU, and not using studying as their focus is impossible.

I first got in touch with Steve over a year ago because I wanted to work TOGETHER to help encourage people to learn languages. I find it very sad that this community has nothing like that in mind; it’s all about tearing down approaches that they disagree with and using strawman arguments, opinions based on misinformation and character attacks to try to misrepresent people like me as having malicious intent.

I stopped commenting in these forums because CLEARLY, all I ever get here is abuse from people. There is no dialogue; it’s just a few people who think they know what I’m about from my URL starting an echo chamber of everyone else agreeing that this non-existent evil should be battled with. I come back this week and see that you are still going strong telling blatant lies about me. If there was any chance of people thinking with an open mind here I’d be glad to answer any queries, but of course there isn’t. I’ve learned long ago that arguing with you will just lead to a wave of more false accusations and nobody taking what I say into account. It’s pure offensive; there is NO discussion.

I came back this week to see what you are discussing and am terribly disappointed in all of you. SEVERAL posts displayed on the side are about me (or rather, an invented non-existent caricature of me)! I mean, don’t you have anything more productive to do? Edwin’s post here is an excellent example of trying to misrepresent me as a liar. Everything else you discuss related to me is just an echo chamber for people who don’t read my blog and THINK they know what I’m about based on nothing more than my site’s URL.

Please read the first part of this if my site’s URL is still causing you trouble: Fluent in 3 months language missions: Frequently Asked Questions » Fluent in 3 Months I’m not selling any magic formulae. I’m encouraging people to learn languages, and being very successful there. I was hoping to work together with people in LingQ, but I just see that as impossible since most people here are stubbornly clinging on to the belief that someone learning a language through IMMERSION must be a con-artist. Incredible!!

I’m not even sure if there’s any point in defending myself here? Will this entire post be ignored, as most of what I write is when used in discussing me? While many here are spreading lies about me, I like to think that some people in this forum are open minded and are not going with what they hear from second-hand information, and taking it on faith. Perhaps some of them will read my defence and realise that most of what has been said about me really has been lies. Or perhaps replying here really is pointless.

Criticism of actual things I discuss on my blog is fine, as it’s important to think about alternatives. But misrepresenting someone to prove a point is just misleading and terribly hypocritical with all of this “be honest with yourself” crap. Be honest with yourselves, and stop attacking me based on what others say about me. And please, try to keep an open mind about someone learning to SPEAK a language quite quickly because they speak it every single day. I invite people to actually read my blog, and to stop basing what you “know” about me on hearsay.

If this post results in a stream of more abuse, and bringing up old arguments I’ve answered many times before, then obviously I’ll just have to give up again. I really don’t have time to argue in circles with people who refuse to listen to me. Some of us are busy learning a language…

I’m not really sure why there is this gloating over any supposed ‘slip’ by Benny when he hints that there is a actually quite a lot to learning a language. Edwin seems to be saying the Benny cheated by starting his studies before setting foot in the country.

Most people haven’t got a clue about how to learn a language, and look at the vast expanse that stretches ahead of them. He’s quite right in saying that in three months you can make a huge amount of headway, if you’ve got the will to do it.

‘Fluent in three months’ is clearly hyperbole, and yes he is selling a book, but I don’t see anywhere him saying that buying the book will guarantee fluency. They’re clearly just hints on how to progress in a language based on his experiences, and probably other things he’s picked up on the way. He even calls them ‘hacks’, not ‘magic’.

Give the man a break.

Actually, mature discourse hasn’t been working for me on this forum so I’m going to try a new approach before I give up on this crowd!

If any of you watch the Colbert report you’ll see how he represents ludicrous claims by mocking the point of view they come from. I especially like how he “sides” with O’Reilly from Fox news. This satire actually explains how ludicrous a point of view can be much more than constant bickering.

This argument needs some humour. See my parallel post about burning me at the stake. If there are any criticisms of me I’ve forgotten, let me know. If this approach doesn’t work then I will perhaps have to give up.

@roan Thanks! A voice of reason!! :slight_smile:

Once again here is what “fluent in 3 months” comes from: Fluent in 3 months language missions: Frequently Asked Questions » Fluent in 3 Months (read the first part in bold).

Is it really asking too much that people do give me a break here? Anyway, as I said I’ll try to inject some humour into this attack against me in the separate post.

“The rest of you should be ashamed of yourselves!” -

Shame! I’m going to go hang myself now. Thanks Benny! You really helped me!

Perhaps a recording of that long post by idragon (Benny) could be uploaded with a transcript to lingq. This is great input material for the study of English. Great vocab here like “con-artist” and the use of CAPS on some words, makes it interesting for input style learners.

I think argumentative dialog is great for input style language learning.
In my experience, anticipation of response of someones opinion entices the learner to really understand the dialog.

Also… A Mandarin and Spanish version would be nice also…

"You read one sentence and started a forum post about it saying that I never actually start speaking from day one, when clearly I did start speaking from day one here. I said in this post that I didn’t use grammar books when beginning, but that I met up with someone, just that this once I started speaking from day one OUTSIDE of the country. "

  • Benny

@Benny: I clarified my point in the second post of this thread. My main point is not about ‘speaking’ from day 1, but how you count your days.

If you were just studying grammar and phrase books in that period, then you could still somehow ‘argue’ that your Brazilian mission really started in Rio. But in your latest blog post, you revealed that you actually interacted with Brazilians for some times while you were still outside the country. So your “Become Brazilian in 3 months” was actually “Become Brazilian in 8 months” with 5 months remote and 3 months of full immersion. Now, this is what I said you were misleading to you readers.

First, you redefined the meaning of ‘fluency’. Then you recalibrated the time “3 months”.

Ooh, more false accusations :smiley: I love it!

So please do share where precisely I mislead my readers and said that my 3 months in Rio were the only 3 months I had ever devoted to Portuguese? I have written MANY times about different trips to Brazil, bringing it up several times DURING the Rio mission itself too, but since you don’t read my blog you wouldn’t know that!

Here’s a quote from the post where I actually introduced my Portuguese mission: “Out of all the places I’ve travelled to, Brazil is by far my favourite. In 2006 I spent 3 months in the south, mostly on the island of Floripa, and in 2008 I travelled the northeast, and experienced the amazing Carnival in Olinda. Over both trips, and a total of about 5 months.”

When I aim for something I’m always clear about my starting point. My starting point was fluency in Portuguese, my end goal was to speak with a Carioca accent. I wanted to do this in 3 months. Should I draw you a chart to explain this?

Edwin, I can see where this is going. You’re just going to dig up more of YOUR misinterpretations and quote me out of context to portray me as misleading people, I answer and you retort with more lies, ad infinitum.

I’m done arguing with you. This will end up going on forever. I can only ask that you stop starting new threads posting misinformation about me on these forums. Constantly posting here about some latest thing on my blog is quite sad!

Benny, I have never said you are lying, but you are seriously misleading your readers.

I have never used insulting terms against you, as you have been doing to me. If you think my statements are wrong, you just simply reply with your arguments. Personal attack won’t work on me.

A while ago, other forum members claimed that you were rude. I wonder how so. You don’t seem to be rude in your blog. But now I see.

(The little trickster really does have some nerve posting here at LingQ, seeing that he censors people like Steve and Friedemann from posting any comments at all at HIS blog…)

Benny, apart from your misleading claims, your recent posts often contradict your old posts. For example, you said in your ‘fluency’ disclaimer:

“I consider fluency to be about 90-95% “perfect”.”

But one of your latest post seems to imply otherwise:

“Mastering a language does take time. I have reached fluency in a language in a matter of months several times, but continue to try to improve on what I have.”

You can still argue by playing around with words. But this is my whole point: you are misleading your readers.

Learning a language takes time and effort. Most people, even those who enjoy learning languages very much (as do I), can’t help but feel at least a bit of frustration because of it. Is this perhaps what irritates some people so much about Benny’s suggestion that you can be fluent in 3 months?

Personally, it’s difficult to imagine exactly how much I could get done in a language if I truly had 3 months to devote to learning it. In this regard, I really envy Benny because I wish I had the freedom to even try. But I do feel that if I found myself in a Portuguese or Dutch environment (two languages I have never studied), I could be pretty close to fluent in 3 months. I wouldn’t claim as much for Hindi or Mongolian, but closely related European languages, sure. Of course, there is no clear definition of what fluent means, but we all get the general gist that it refers to a certain degree of ease – and in Benny’s case, to his credit, it refers to a certain degree of ease in the real world, not on paper.

Benny – I was a bit shocked to see how strongly you came out. I do agree, though, that you are the person whose reputation is most attacked on this site, and I certainly understand how that must be frustrating, but inevitably it’s impossible to please everyone and there’s bound to be opposing views expressed about anyone present on the internet. I’m somewhat put off by how this is happening on a competitor’s site, but although Steve does occasionally contribute on posts about you, I realize what members decide to post is not up to him.

Somehow, something about what you do or claim irritates some people to no end. Personally, I don’t get it. I enjoy reading what you do. I only see two options here: you either accept that some people will simply dislike you, or you try to see and understand why that is the case, but either way, it’s simply impossible to please everyone.

There is a clear trend of polyglots coming out on the Internet and getting systematically lambasted. Perhaps it stirs up some jealousy, perhaps we do it ourselves among polyglots by being overly critical. Anyway, it’s part of the game. And I encourage you to keep playing.