Product: Conversation Countdown
Overall Ranking: 95/100
Owners: Benny Lewis, FI3M
I’ve spoken “restaurant Spanish” for some time. You know, order the food, ask for the check, etc., pretty safe and predictable. Well, yesterday I had my first conversation over Skype with a native Spanish speaker from Columbia. I should have done it ages ago, but was afraid I’d draw a complete blank. Benny Lewis helped me get over my fears and take the plunge.
Benny is known as “the Irish polyglot” and has a number of products on the market. The unique thing about his products is this: they are focused on learning to actually converse in any new language. The specific goal of Conversation Countdown is to enable you to have your first conversation in your new language with a native speaker in one week!
“Is that even possible?” you may ask. Let me explain, and then I suggest you give it a try.
HOW IT WORKS
Benny contends that “Learning to speak a new language is something you can do in only a few months – if you have the right strategy.” His strategy is quite simple, break the larger task down into mini-tasks you can do right now.
Day 1: First of all, you have to speak from Day 1. Each day you read an e-mail, watch a brief video, and do a mini-assignment. Your first mini-assignment: to learn to say, in your new language, “Hello. My name is _____. Pleased to meet you. Goodbye.” What’s more, he directs you to a chart in which you can find those phrases in the language of your choosing. A few minutes of copying, pasting, and reading aloud, and you’re done for the day!
Day 2: This day you get a break – no assignment. The focus this day is to change the way you think about language learning. In the video, Benny walks you through three myths about language learning that hold countless people back from reaching their goals. Then, he presents three simple mental shifts that are essential for you to learn a new language quickly. Change these thought patterns, and you’re well on your way.
Day 3: “What you practice doing is what you’ll be good at.” So, if you want to converse, you’ve got to practice conversing. The next thing you do is start building your own unique vocabulary to say what you want to say in your first conversation. It’s really not hard, but Benny leads you through the process step by step – even providing links to free online resources to make it easy.
Day 4: This day is key! Benny introduces you to your most important language learning resource. He also walks you through the process of how to use this resource to your best advantage. Your assignment is threefold: 1) Schedule your first conversation with a native speaker; 2) post a personal introduction online and receive a corrected copy in your target language quickly and free of charge; 3) submit any questions that are troubling you.
Day 5: Now Benny gives you another free resource, a list of connecting phrases in the language of your choosing. Your assignment is to pick five, listen to the words pronounced, and memorize those five phrases.
Day 6: This day is for review, practicing your words and phrases. Better yet, try one of his novel and fun ways to practice.
Day 7: Now you get a few last tools and suggestions to prepare for your first conversation, things like:
• Start with 2-3 word phrases, and don’t worry about grammar.
• Fake it till you make it.
• What to say when you don’t understand?
• Why you don’t need to understand everything to hold a conversation, and
• A short list of tools to have on hand for your conversation.
Day 8: Now that you’ve broken the ice and had your first conversation with a native speaker, what do you do next? The primary key is to practice conversing in your new language frequently and with a variety of people. Again, Benny provides all the tools and step by step guidance you’ll need. A second key is to find ways to immerse yourself in the language; for ways to do that right at home, see my article “What is the Fastest Way to Learn Spanish? (or any other language).”
Day 9: Before leaving you to sink or swim on your own, Benny offers you a new, dynamic language learning plan named after his popular book Fluent in Three Months. Again, it’s not a course in Spanish or Mandarin or any specific language, it’s a strategy for reaching fluency in any language you choose and as many languages as you desire.
WHO IS IT FOR?
This is for anyone who wants to learn a new language, but has not yet reached the confidence to strike up conversations with native speakers. Whether you’re just beginning your language study or have taken years of classes really makes no difference.
TRAINING, TOOLS, & SUPPORT
This short course is presented entirely by e-mails, videos, links to free resources, and an open offer to e-mail and questions for assistance.
You may choose to try a variety of courses and materials. That’s up to you. But don’t miss this one. Sign up for your copy of Conversation Countdown today. True, it’s a starting point, not the whole enchilada. It’s easily worth the $47; but if that’s too steep for a first step, try Speak in a Week. It’s a ‘lite’ course, much lower commitment, but it’s free! You can’t lose!