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  • Judy Schulten

54. Look for Inspiration

I'm not always on fire to get out there with my bad Spanish. Laziness, timidity — sure, that explains most of it. But sometimes I can't get enthusiastic enough to make an occasion happen in the first place. 

That's when I'll browse online or in the library to find help. The best I've found lately is Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner. It's not a new book — 2014 — but it's evolved into a TED talk, podcasts, interviews, what you could call the Fluent Forever Empire. 

The main message is simple:  immersion, immersion, immersion. Gabriel Wyner was an opera singer who needed languages for his profession. He enrolled in the 7-week German immersion course offered by Middlebury College. An immersion pledge was required: only German 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week for the entire course. The penalty for speaking English was expulsion and loss of all tuition money. 

Gabriel Wyner learned German. From scratch. He did it quicker than he'd expected and left the program with better German than he'd hoped. Later, he enrolled in the same program to learn French, with the same happy results.  

Total immersion is not the only lesson of Fluent Forever, but it's the idea that gets me off the sofa and inspires me.

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53. Take heart from other mediocre linguists.

It's fun to read about other people's struggles with a second language. Fun, and somehow comforting. I just read Monsieur Mediocre, by John von Sothen, an American married to a French woman, living in


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