Fluent in Three Months
I'm curious if anyone else is here because of Benny Lewis' recommendation to learn Esperanto in "Fluent in Three Months". I recently reread the book and decided to use learning Esperanto as a break from German (which was starting to burn me out).
I'm actually here because I learned of DuoLingo on his blog a few years ago.
I've never heard of this book but had heard of Esperanto in other places. Can you summarize why he recommends learning Esperanto in three months? Or is that time frame not actually significant?
The book is not about just learning Esperanto in 3 months, it is about learning ANY language to fluency in 3 months. Obviously this is not always possible, and whether the result in 3 months is considered "fluent" is going to vary from person to person and situation to situation and language to language, etc., but it makes for a catchy title.
The author actually recommends spending 2 weeks with Esperanto to speed up later language acquisition. The reasoning is outlined in this blog post: https://www.fluentin3months.com/2-weeks-of-esperanto/
I like Benny's stuff. Just remember that the word "fluent" could mean you can order a beer in a bar OR it could mean you would be mistaken for a native speaker. Being mistaken for native is quite an ego stroke, but it can be a bit embarrassing when you actually don't know all the ins and outs of a culture and language. I think a spy in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) would have been more likely to be caught out on buying a newspaper, riding a tram or paying a bill in a café!
One of the things I really like about Benny Lewis is that he actually is willing to give a definition of fluency. He says that CEFR B1-B2 is fluent.
This is not uncontroversial, but it is better than most as other resources will hem and haw about how fluency means different things to different people and then never actually give an answer. "Fluent Forever," which is the book I picked over "Fluent in 3 Months," is one such resource. Instead of trying to define fluent in any objective way, it instead just says "...we must decide individually how far we wish to go."
I would assume a big reason for this is that any answer at all will get complaints, but I can respect Benny for trying to give one even though it is likely to be shot down more often than it is accepted. The B1-B2 level is where I currently am with Esperanto, and I don't call myself "fluent," but I have to admit that at that level I seem to make excuses for why I'm not fluent instead of make excuses for why I am.
I can say pretty much anything as long as it doesn't involve some sort of specialized vocabulary, and I can say things with decent confidence without pausing during a sentence. I can read article after article online without needing to check dictionaries, and even if I do check a dictionary I check one that is entirely in Esperanto.
That certainly sounds like fluency, so I understand why Benny says that it is. I just don't feel comfortable calling myself fluent because, yeah, I sometimes do have to check a dictionary, and I sometimes do stuggle to find words when talking about something atypical, and I still do occasionally have grammar questions. But, that said, I do the same things with English from time to time - it's just a lot less often.
I know others have their own definitions, but I've always taken "fluent" to mean your communication flows (just like the word implies).
My colleagues who teach Spanish and Italian (I teach Latin) use the word proficient instead of fluent lately.
I was learning Italian 2 years ago and struggling, so when I read an article on "Fluent in Three Months" where he spoke about the benefits of learning Esperanto I decided to do that first. So that was what sent me to Esperanto, and now I am using it to help me with my Romance languages.