Fluent In 6 Months – Perfect Combination

There are blogs such as Fluent in 3 months where Benny attempts to get fluent in languages in three months and Fluent every year where Randy tries to achieve the same goal in one year. Here’s the breaker: I will join them! I am going to be choosing a period in the midpoint of 3 months and one year – exactly 6 months, take on a language and get fluent in it as well. They learn the languages they didn’t know before that are distant to them and so will I. Moreover, I will have this as a side project on the blog and not even quit doing the rest of the stuff I am doing. If you want to know how I plan to do this and what language I will be learning, read on.

These two guys have their own ways. One does go to the country where the language is spoken and stays there for his whole period of 3 months. Another stays in his own country and finds ways to practice. I am going to go the middle way: I will spend the first three months at home and then the next three in the country where the language is spoken. One likes to learn by using the language and only sometimes referring to tutorials, books and resources online while the other one does seem to use them more often when learning. Well, again, I am going to do both. I will first study the language without getting much exposure from non-study related material and then try to put it into practice. Just like them, I am going to be transparent about the things I use and the lessons I learn and blog about them in the category fluent in 6 months on this site (you can get the RSS of this category or the RSS of this whole blog).

But what language am I going to be learning? Let’s look at the languages they are learning first. After all, Benny has learned Czech, Thai (both of which where unknown to him) and worked on improving his Portuguese while Randy has learned Russian in a year (which was also foreign to him) and now learns Italian (which he doesn’t know either). Both of them had to learn foreign alphabets as well (Russian and Thai). The language has to be distant enough, yet it does not have to be completely out-of-this-planet (neither Italian nor Portuguese is). It has to be challenging to learn in the period, yet possible. It also has to be fair: no previous knowledge. Also it must be the official language of some country (Italian, Russian, Thai, Portuguese, and Czech all are) and lastly, it must have an interesting culture behind it, so that one could not only learn the language but also get more into the culture where that language is spoken. This pertains to things like discovering the Brazilian lifestyle, getting to visit the sunny beaches in Thailand, learning to understand Italian songs and opera or opening up the immense archives of literature of Russian writers such as Dostoevsky, Bulgakov and others.

Well, my language fits all of the above. It is a language I have never learned, never seriously considering learning, yet it was there all the time and, along with the culture where the language is spoken, made a big impact on a lot of other languages and cultures (very probably also yours and mine). The language shared its words with other European and often non-European languages and gave names to a lot of things that we still refer to today (and perhaps sometimes more often than ever). The language also has a great civilization behind it and a lot of cultural legacy. One could probably say that the Ancient civilization that used the Ancient version of this language were the cradle of Europe. Because… I will be learning Greek.

I will be learning modern Greek and not Ancient, mind you. However, they both use exactly the same alphabet and are still partly mutually-understandable (I will probably write about this more once I get to know the language better). As I have already stated, my learning of Greek with include a three month stay in Greece after the first three months of studying it at home. I will be there and hopefully will be able to practice it with the natives. What makes it even more difficult is that I will not do study my language full time and I will still continue learning other languages and working on this site, as well as doing my other duties, such as managing to pass my exams, learning interesting things, meeting people and doing whatever other stuff I do. I have already done something similar where I learned Portuguese in 5 months but then I did not blog about what I do. Moreover, at the first glance, Greek seems to be a lot more difficult than Portuguese! To make it worse… I will probably have less easy chances to practice the language than I did with Portuguese. I still think it is possible to do.

You will be able to see how I make progress, find out what things work for me (and thus could work for you!) and get a lot of tips coming from me for your own language learning! We will also be able to make a comparison of two different language learning strategies: learning at home and going to the country where the language is spoken. We will see which one renders better results and have ideas whether it is impossible or not to learn the language while at home. I have created a new category called Fluent in 6 Months on this site (get the RSS feed of this category here to be getting the updates) and I will soon explain my goals, methods, motivations, timing and talk about things related with the challenge. Stay tuned and keep checking for new updates to find out how I will be learning Modern Greek in 6 months!

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First Week, Review of Pimsleur Greek and First Impressions
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  1. Awesome! I am excited to (hopefully) pick up some Greek as I follow along with you blog. It’s definitely on my list for languages I’d love to know.

    Best of luck!

  2. This is a great idea! I can imagine the though of living in sunny Greece for three months would also be a great incentive to do some hardcore language learning! :)
    I’m looking forward to reading about your journey! Good luck!!

  3. Thanks, Randy and Jessica. :)

    Yeah, Greece in summer should be fun. On the other hand, I heard it gets too hot there at times. I will presumably not have very much free time there for language learning as well (more on that later).

    (On a side note, I should get DISQUS working again.)

  4. Excellent!! I love the idea :D A very precise mixture between both of the blogs and approaches – lovely!! I’m sure I will learn from your approach too: I never was good at studying before going to a country :P
    Greek is an excellent choice! Definitely on my eventual list some day :)
    Glad to see I’m starting a fluent-in trend among other bloggers :D :D As long as someone doesn’t start a fluent-in-2-months or one-month experiment, I should be safe enough :P :P

  5. Well, Benny, you never know. :)

    There has been a (seemingly successful) Fluent in a Week experiment (even though he has a bit of an advantage):

    He does have a blog but not about his challenge. If he starts blogging about that too, I guess we’re all screwed. :)

  6. Congratulations on selecting a Challenge! It seems like language learning never truly starts until you set yourself an incredible goal.

    And Greek, as I’m finding out this week, is an excellent choice. The alphabet took 10 minutes to learn, and pronunciation is not difficult whatsoever.

    (Technicality: Halfway between 3 months and 12 months is 7.5 months, therefore 6 months is very ambitious because it’s better than average!)

  7. I’d like to call attention to the fact, that the Irish guy didn’t speak Thai after three months, but that the end result was that he could, after a couple of tries each, convey his meaning in such challenging things as: ordering streetfood, and asking for a lower price for a pair of sunglasses.
    So, you’re sure about six months?

  8. J: From what I have looked, the alphabet is way harder than it seems. True, the letters are not very hard. However, knowing the letters doesn’t mean you can speak. It is true that the midpoint of 3 and 12 is 7.5 but a) six is a fair approximation of that b) it is double the first and half the second c) again, it is the midpoint of 12 counting from zero. “The 7.5 months challenge” just doesn’t sound right.

    Max: Well, to my knowledge, it was close to achieving his goal anyway. I’ll try my luck. ;)

  9. Trying to become fluent in any language other than your native language in 3, 6 or even 12 months is setting yourself up for failure. As Max stated above, Benny did not learn Thai, is not fluent in Thai and probably doesn’t even remember the little he did learn while in Thailand.

    I think it’s great when someone wants to learn a new language but actually learning any language to fluency with all the inherent intricacies is never something that should be time based.

  10. Talen: I see your point and that is probably true. One could argue that one is never fluent in a language no matter how much one learns (under the most rigorous definition of the word “fluent”). However, here and I guess in the other challenges, the word “fluent” is used just as a phrase to mean “speaking confidently and getting understood” (I will give my definition soon). It does not imply knowing all the intricacies of the language or not making many mistakes. (Well, it could, but that’s going to be my definition for the challenge anyway.)

  11. Hey, man! It’s great to see you posting frequently again!
    As for the challenge, I will follow your progress on learning Greek and try to use your tips in my learning of German. I want to get to fluency this year.(I started to learn in November 2009)

    Boa sorte com seu desafio!

  12. Well… that’s amazing but frankly i have a hard time understanding it… wonder what others have to say..

  13. Well… that’s amazing but frankly i have a hard time understanding it… wonder what others have to say..

  14. Roman: Obrigado. Boa sorte para ti também (com alemão)! :)

  15. Best of luck with your challenge.
    Greek is a language that I would love to learn one day!

  16. Wish you luck to your project …If you want to practice Modern Greek , I surely can help you as a native speaker…

  17. Glavkos Sorry for the belated answer. That’s very cool indeed. I’ve just found your blog about learning Greek and subscribed. And thanks for the support!

  18. It depends on your definition of fluency, but I think after a year you can definitely become fluent by most people’s standards in many languages, especially if the languages are closely related.
    While I don’t necessarily agree with the language gene idea, people do seem to forget that intelligence plays quite a big part, and someone very clever and outgoing in an immersion environment will thrive and could easily attain a very powerful and internalised command of a language within a year.

    While after 3 months if you aim high and put the effort in, you can achieve a good conversational level. 

    So I think it is good to aim high, because you won’t be setting yourself up for failure, but success, as even if you walk away not fluent, but competent, well you did pretty well.

  19. I can only relate this to learning the piano: it takes TIME for the new info/skills to embed into the brain and muscles. It doesn’t follow that doubling the daily practice time halves the months of study required to pass the exam. Yes, you can learn quicker by doing more hours per day, but there is an optimum time per day and a diminishing return after that. Learning continues when you are not actively working on the new skills too, ie the gaps between study/practice sessions, so you have to leave these ‘blanks’ for the brain to do its work. I’d say a year’s learning could be done in 6 months,, but not really in 3 – just my experience/opinion. I started learning Spanish 2 months ago so read your experiences with great interest – thanks.

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