by Gabriel Wyner
I picked up this book because, as I mentioned, I want to learn a complicated, local language. I am only 30 words into his recommended 625, but so far so good.
"The real challenge lies in finding a path that conforms to the demands of a busy life."
"Every time we see a new factoid (e.g. "In AD 536, a dust cloud...), the pleasure centers of our brains burst into activity, and we click on the next link."
"I like finding ways to make life more efficient, even when finding a faster way to do something takes more time than simply doing it." (this could be the motto of my family of origin)
"Every act of recall imbues old memories with a trace of your present-day self."
Anyone considering this book probably wants to know, does it work?
Yes, I would say it does. But like all language learning, you have to put in the effort to get results.
His modern approach made sense to me, and as a previous language learner, it seemed like a lot more fun than traditional methods. It does take time, but he explains why it is the very time that you take to create your own materials that makes his approach more effective than a premade program. Think of it like this, the kid in school who made the study guide for the big test usually didn’t need it by the time he or she was done. The learning is in the process.
His method is modern in the sense that it takes into account brain research, the internet’s global access, memory games, and the key element to learning – fun. Reading the book will make you laugh if you’ve ever tried to learn another language, because the author’s examples are spot on. His steps include: sound play, word play, sentence play, writing, talking, and watching TV.
I recommend a read-and-do approach to each section instead of trying to read the book straight through (like I did). He does give a summary in the final chapter, but the difference is in the details, the how and why of his approach. His explanation of why we remember things (or don’t) is fascinating and worth a read for its own sake. He offers the adult learner something scarce in the realm of language acquisition – hope. I also see great potential in the book for creating a faster, functional program for people who want to learn English, or perhaps even other skills.
That moment when you can fully understand and communicate in a foreign language is magical, and Wyner provides a clear path to achieving that goal. If you are looking for a one-stop reference book for an effective and fun language learning system, then this is it.
P.S. I would rate the book PG-13 due to a brief explanation of explicit memory tricks and a few other questionable examples.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed here are my own.
Anytime on my blog that you don't see this disclosure at the end of my "book notes," it means I just read the book and want to share. This is my first review for Blogging for Books and I'm excited because... free books!