Are you learning a language?
If you picked up this book, you probably are.
However, let me guess:
Even if you have been learning this language for months or years, you still can't speak it. When you interact with native speakers, you can’t understand them, and you can’t speak back.
This is both frustrating and embarrassing.
You don’t want to face ridicule, and you don’t want to waste hundreds or thousands of hours just to end up still not being able to speak the language.
You feel like you have no options.
But it doesn’t have to be like this.
From Fantasy to Reality
I was born in Mallorca, a Spanish island in the west. My native languages are Spanish and Catalan, but I heard many foreign languages from the tourists that visited the island every year: German, English, French, Russian, etc.
My passion for languages started back in 1999 when I was 14. At that time, I discovered the world of Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. Many people, at that time, were fascinated by the characters and story. I was, too, but the first things I fell in love with were the different languages and cultures from that fantastic world. I loved how they all had their own stories and evolution, their own alphabets and musicality.
I started learning the different languages of elves, dragons, and dwarfs. Even though I never planned to become fluent, I learned as many words as I could and memorized them. My username on multiple websites is written in Elvish, a holdover from my obsession.
From then, everything happened very quickly. I suddenly desired to speak as many languages as I could, but shifted my focus to real languages from our world. Thanks to Tolkien, I discovered my passion and my calling: languages.
Why? Because I wanted to discover all the stories behind them, their evolution, their musicality and alphabets. I had a huge curiosity about different cultures. My body wanted adventure and to explore different lands in this world through language.
The first language I chose to attempt fluency in was an easy choice: English. I had been learning English at school since I was 6, so I thought mastering it would be a piece of cake.
I started attending academies and courses, watching Friends on television to train my ear, listening to BBC radio shows, and reading short books for English learners. Slowly, I came to understand what I was listening to. I felt quite hopeful about mastering it.
Then, when I was 22, I traveled to Ireland for a month. I signed up through a school that offered an intensive course in the English language and a temporary home with an Irish family. For this, I spent a whole year of savings.
But since I loved Irish culture, I felt very excited about it. And, since I had been learning English for some years, I was very sure that everything would work out very well.
Ireland and the Harsh Reality
In Ireland, everything changed.
After years of studying and learning English, I couldn’t speak it at all. I had been speaking in academies and lessons with teachers, but now, “in the wild,” I couldn’t come up with any coherent phrases.
It was as if all the vocabulary and grammar that I had studied over the years had vanished from my head.
And understanding native speakers? Even worse. For me it was as if they were speaking an alien language. How was this possible? I had watched so many resources in English. Was it the accent? The Irish dialect? I remember arriving at the academy and not understanding the receptionist at all. I figured he was from an obscure village in the deepest part of Ireland.
It turned out he was from San Francisco.
From the United States? After watching Friends so many times, I couldn’t understand an American person? Really?
I felt so depressed!
Maybe I was just not good at learning languages. Maybe I was wasting my time and my money there.
My First Decision
After a disastrous week in which I couldn’t speak or understand a single word of English, I felt lost. I didn’t feel like attending the academy anymore. I started visiting pubs in Dublin, just thinking about my life, about what I was doing there.
I would sit there, order a pint of Guinness, and listen to the live music and the different people around me speaking English.
Eventually, one or two of them would start talking to me, and I focused completely on the conversation. I don’t remember whether I was making mistakes or not. I attempted to talk about Irish culture, music, history, traditions. Whatever. I didn’t care.
I often didn’t understand the whole conversation, but that didn’t stop me from speaking to them. The topics I focused on were fun for me, things I enjoyed talking about.
As my confidence grew, I started speaking with many people in English, and it only got better and better. The more fun I was having with the language, the more English became part of me.
After spending three weeks doing this one night after the other, I was speaking English and understanding native speakers without any problem. I was not aware of how this happened. It was just natural. I was so focused on making Irish friends and enjoying my time with them that I didn’t notice my language developing, but it was remarkably improving every day.
It seemed like magic.
How was this big transformation possible in such a short time? How was it possible that I came from not understanding anything to understanding almost everything? How did I go from not being able to speak, to speaking so well and so quickly?
The Polish Challenge
I tried to learn many other languages for years, but without success. I tried learning French and Japanese, but I never felt confident when speaking them. I always froze up whenever I was actively trying to speak.
Then, four years ago, I met my current girlfriend, Natalia. We got to know each other on a language-learning forum. She was from Poland, so eventually, I decided to try learning her native language: Polish. I wanted to impress her. Yeah, we men are so predictable.
Since it was a long-distance relationship at first, I started using all the apps, courses, and lessons available on the Internet.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite grasp Polish from the start. Its structure, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and expressions were so complex and different from what I knew that I felt I would never learn it just by using apps, courses, and lessons. I also needed speaking practice. And I felt I needed to start as soon as possible.
So I decided to do the same thing I did with English in Ireland, this time with hardly knowing the language. It was a crazy move, but I had to try.
The Big Realization
The first time I went to Poland to visit my girlfriend in her hometown, I was already prepared to not understand anything. And I was right. Everything sounded like gibberish. Polish people sounded as if they were whispering to each other. Almost like an ancient tongue of dragons, like the ones I used to learn when I was a teenager. But this was also what attracted me to the language.
From the first day, I tried to speak with my girlfriend (even though we were used to talking in English) and with her family. I would ask them to correct me all the time and make them repeat words and phrases. Then, I wrote down new words and phrases and tried to memorize them so that I could use them in the future. At the same time, I was reading Polish articles and watching Polish videos on YouTube. I tried to learn as much vocabulary as possible in the shortest amount of time.
And it happened again!
After a few weeks of speaking and listening to Polish people, I could speak the language in almost any situation and understand Polish native speakers. I was not fluent yet—far from it—but I could already have good conversations in my still-broken Polish. This gave me a lot of confidence and a drive to continue learning.
Then, six months later, after being immersed in Polish day after day, I found myself thinking in Polish and speaking it fluently, without effort.
How did this happen? Why did I learn more Polish in three weeks than I had learned English, French, and Japanese after many years of studying them?
Polish was much harder than English or French! And even harder than Japanese!
But this time, I understood it.
I had been learning languages in the wrong order. Actually, in the opposite order.
The great majority of courses and teachers focus on teaching you vocabulary lists and grammar rules. Then, from those lists and rules, they try to make you practice it by speaking and writing. And that’s not how you learn a language naturally.
You learn a language by speaking and writing it, and, while doing this, you learn new vocabulary and grammar. It’s an integrated process! And it’s in the opposite order from how we are being taught.
I couldn’t believe how simple it was and how terribly wrong language courses were.
This is how the most successful polyglots learn languages. They practice speaking and writing from the start and discover grammar and vocabulary while doing so. They don’t waste time memorizing thousands of words and rules out of context.
Do they still use good courses and teachers? Of course, they do! But they never stop speaking the language with native speakers and growing their vocabulary.
That’s the main difference!
Then, I thought: What if I can help people become fluent in my own language in this way?
I had been watching people fail so many times at trying to learn languages that it hurt me very much. It hurt me to see how much money they were spending, how much precious time they were wasting.
I decided this had to change for good, forever.
So I decided to help language students and learners become fluent in any language by engaging with native speakers about topics that they loved, and they would be speaking it in six months.
No more time and money wasted.
Saving Money and Time
By using this method, you will become fluent without having to waste thousands of dollars in courses and academies, and without having to take hundreds of private classes with teachers that, many times, are not teaching you properly.
And, more importantly, you will stop wasting your precious time with apps, websites, and Internet programs that don’t teach you how to really speak the language or understand what native speakers are saying.
Since getting to know my girlfriend, which changed my perspective on how languages work, I decided to become a language teacher. I was 26 at that time. At first, I did it out of necessity after being fired from a job. I hated traditional teaching methods like textbooks and exercises, but I needed money.
So I applied to the Cambridge University International House, received my teaching certificates, both in Spanish and in English, and started teaching online.
At the time, I already knew that traditional language teaching (with the formula of teaching grammar and vocabulary and then practice) was not effective. So I was kind of cynical. I was worried I would hate this job. I didn’t like being hypocritical and using methods I knew were not useful.
I started getting bookings from different students before I even knew how to structure my lessons. I was kind of terrified and not very hopeful about the whole thing.
I remember my first student: Helen, a gardener from Southampton (UK).
She started out with absolute zero knowledge of Spanish — a total beginner.
The majority of teachers, at this stage, would have given her vocabulary and grammar exercises, drills, and homework.
I didn’t want to do that.
I imagined myself signing up for a class like this and feeling bored as hell. I didn’t want to be that kind of teacher. I wanted her to have fun. I wanted us both to have fun.
So I asked her what she wanted to do with Spanish.
And she answered: “Basically, I want to travel to Spain.”
Without hesitating, I opened a Google Street View page with famous Spanish tourist spots and I said: “Okay, then, we are going to travel to Spain together.”
She started learning Spanish by describing the different tourist spots that she wanted to visit. She would do this by repeating the words out loud while looking at the images. And then by reviewing them at home and creating her own sentences.Then, we started on her favorite topics and interests.
We practiced real conversations that she wanted to have and situations she wanted to experience.
Six months later, she achieved her dream to travel to Spain and used Spanish with natives all day long.
She had become fluent.
Was she perfect?
She was still making mistakes, but she had the confidence to improve daily and learn from those mistakes. She had the confidence to step out of her comfort zone and talk to natives in all kinds of situations.
Another favorite of mine is Robert, a water engineer and teacher from the United States.
He wanted to learn Spanish to speak to locals in Costa Rica. His main goal was to explain to them how to avoid drinking and using polluted water, and how his company could help them increase their quality of life by using water-cleaning devices.
As you can imagine, Rob didn’t even know where to start.
Even though he had been taking Spanish classes for some years, he couldn’t understand what natives were saying to him. They were speaking too fast. And, obviously, he couldn’t answer back.
He was very frustrated by this situation.
So, first, I had Rob practice remembering what they were saying to him. He didn’t understand them, but a Costa Rican friend of his was roughly translating what they were saying to him. From here, then, we could imagine what the conversations would sound like.
We rehearsed the conversations for several weeks.
I asked him to watch real videos from Costa Rica. In these videos, people were talking about a pollution problem. This helped Rob get used to the vocabulary they were using and their way of speaking. But the real goal was to practice all the stuff he was learning, for real, with native speakers. And he had to do this very soon: next week. Even three days later!
To help him with this, I took the role of one of the villagers and talked to him like they did.
This taught Robert two very important things.
First, he could hear a lot of phrases in context. Now he knew what they were talking about.
And second, even more importantly, this gave him self-confidence to speak back to them because he was now able to talk back to native speakers without panicking and without worrying so much about making mistakes.
Six months later, he achieved his dream to speak Spanish fluently.
Thanks to his new language skill, he built an amazing relationship with the villagers and made connections with local governments and institutions to help his company clean their water.
Is he perfect? No, he still makes mistakes.
But, as with Helen, he is improving daily, with confidence, and this makes him more open to new ways of speaking and interacting with natives.
The last example is a good friend of mine. His name is John, and he is an American guy from El Paso.
When he came to me, he had been learning Spanish for years, but he was stuck in small talk and easy phrases. He couldn’t have serious and interesting conversations with native speakers, and, because of that, he avoided talking to his Mexican girlfriend in Spanish. They were speaking English instead.
This hurt him very much.
He had zero confidence, and making mistakes hurt him even more.
The first thing I asked him was: What would you like to talk about in Spanish?
I asked him to brainstorm a list of the things he liked talking about.
We talked about video games, philosophy, martial arts, politics, conspiracy theories, traveling, languages…
At first, he struggled a lot, but when he learned how to view his mistakes as an opportunity to improve, he gained confidence and started talking about the subjects he was reading or hearing about.
He was learning new vocabulary and grammar by preparing, reading, and listening to new content, and writing and speaking about it afterward with me and with other native speakers.
In other words, he stepped out of his comfort zone.
A few months later, he had become a good friend of mine, and we are still having Skype conversations from time to time about a lot of different subjects.
And he started speaking Spanish with his girlfriend, too!
And this is how I came up with the formula for how to speak any language fluently in six months. And, after the success I had with it, I decided to write this book. I want to share this wisdom with you, so you don’t have to go through the same pain and struggles that I did.
What You Will Learn From This Book
So, what are you going to get from this book?
You will learn the best strategies that polyglots and language achievers use to become fluent quickly and easily in any language.
By following these strategies, you will be able to speak any language fluently in six months. No more, no less. No matter the language.
This book will open the gates to a new world.
But to achieve fluency, you will have to change the way you learn languages.
Forget about exercises, drills, mindless memorization, repetition, and grammar explanations.
And remember, successful fluency will come as you commit to learning and practicing.
Through this book, I will guide you to your goal.