by Dr. Monroe Mann, PhD, Esq, MBA, LLM, ME, EMT
Founder & Executive Director, Break Diving, Inc.
Progress in a foreign language is primarily about two things:
Constant practice and constant correction.
If you have both, you become fluent. But… it needs to be constant practice in all four disciplines, and constant correction in all four disciplines.
In other words: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening.
Here at Break Diving’s Fluency Project, we have a prescription for progress. We want to share it with you. If you can keep this up, month in and month out, for the next five years, you will become fluent, and probably in less than five years. But… can you do it?
Regardless of your level, the prescription is the same!
THE FLUENCY PROJECT MONTHLY CHALLENGE:
- LISTENING: Listen to six hours of audio per month. It should be a combination of audio books and live radio. The former teaches you vocab, and the latter, high-speed comprehension. I myself usually do 5 hours of a French audio book, and 1 hour of French radio, minimum, each month.
- SPEAKING: Speak at least six hours per month. It needs to be out loud, so either to yourself (for real), or with someone else. The other person’s level does not matter, but ideally, someone with whom you can have a conversation.
- READING: Read at least 60 pages per month. You should read novels, history, self-help, magazines, and newspapers, but work with what you can find. The five of these together provide a good mix of vocabulary and sentence structure. There should be at least 200 – 300 words per page. Underline words and grammar you don’t know, and look them up. Memorize grammar that you will want to use again.
- WRITING: Write at least 6 pages per month. Write using grammar and words you already know how to use. Do not try to be ‘smart’ by using fancy words and sentence forms–the purpose is not to show off. The purpose is to practice what you already know, and make it second nature. You shouldn’t even need a teacher to correct the writing because you’re only using what you know is correct. Use some of the new grammar and words from what you are reading each month.
That’s it! Every month.
There’s an easy way to remember the prescription: 6, 6, 60, 6. Six, Six, Sixty, Six. How to remember which one is 60? Well, reading is something you should be doing even when you are 60 years old, so that’s how you remember the ’60’.
Now… GET TO WORK!
One of two things are going to happen.
One, you will reach all milestones. If so, be careful, and don’t get cocky: it’s sometimes easy to get started, and then difficult to keep it up in months 2, 3, 5, or 9!
Or two, you won’t reach the milestones. If not, don’t get discouraged! It’s a lot of work, and it takes discipline. The next month, try again, and focus on scheduling your days better so that you set aside time each week to make progress.
Be sure to share your progress with other Break Divers in our free online language community.
Other Break Diving resources:
How to Become Fluent in Any Foreign Language
Setting Up Anki for Foreign Language Vocabulary Fluency – The Fluency Project Way
Proof That Your Foreign Language Vocabulary Probably Stinks — Take This Quiz!
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