By David Bebko
Do you wish you or your child would learn to speak a second language? Most school programs fail to produce fluent speakers, despite the truth that there are few skills more valuable in the world today than mastering a second language.
I know this from personal experience. I have two daughters ages 11 and 9. They are adopted from China, and we care deeply about them learning Mandarin Chinese.
Few people doubt, the most effective way to learn a foreign language is moving to a foreign country, and immersing in the foreign language. Most people don’t have the flexibility to relocate, and even if you do, it takes patience and perseverance.
So…what can we do?
We’ve spent a lot of time trying the alternatives over the years – classes, books, DVD’s, videos, and personal tutors. All have added some value. But none have succeeded in producing a conversationally bi-lingual family. So, I decided to go a step further. I founded fluentlee.com.
We’ve spent countless hours researching effective foreign language learning. (sorry, but there’s no 10 or 14 day magical answer). Here’s what we learned:
1. There needs to be a high degree of motivation and sense of urgency. If you need to learn a foreign language to survive, you will be conversationally fluent within a surprisingly short time (still months, not days)
2. You must use your language skills every day. Tutoring can be great, but an hour a week isn’t enough practice.
3. You need to converse, with real people in real-life context – real life conversations are typically short in length, and with a wide range of people. You might talk to the grocer about buying 5 apples, probably not about memorizing a list of 20 fruits.
Language is no different than just about any skill: to become proficient, you have to practice it and use it. While books and video games for golfing can improve your skills (great golfers read books, watch videos, and have private tutors), you’ll never be a good golfer if you don’t get out on the course. The same goes for language.
We’ve built what we’ve learned into fluentlee. We want learners to be able to use and practice everyday. Short 15 minute sessions. Affordable 1-to-1 tutoring with native language speakers. No scheduling, just login anytime, choose a topic, and choose a tutor. I’m not just the founder, I’m a parent with a high level of motivation for my daughters to be well prepared in our increasingly global lives. The entire family has begun daily sessions, and even my pre-teen daughter is having fun! If you care about you or your child learning a foreign language, REALLY learning, give fluentlee a try!
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