Book Review for: Learn Any Language

How to Learn Any Language by Barry Farber,© 1991

Genre: Non- Fiction

Who Might Like It: Anyone interested in learning a language from middle school on up.

Summary: Farber focuses on how to learn a language on your own. He begins by talking about his own experiences with learning languages and what he learned from each. He then moves on to specific advice on learning a language using “The Multiple-Track” approach. This means that you use different materials from different companies to help teach you, (i.e. text book, language tapes, newspaper, phrase book, etc.) He says this method keeps you from getting bored and helps reinforce vocabulary because you end up seeing it in more than one context. The author lays out exactly what materials you might want and how to use this approach, recommending that you use several different audio courses because “you no more want to limit your hearing of the language to one cassette course than you’d want to confine your tennis playing to one partner.” He also describes how to make and use flashcards and how to use mnemonic devices to better remember vocabulary. At the end, there’s even a review of each language you might want to learn written just like a restaurant or movie review.

What’s to Like: This book is like having my own personal coach to give me pep talks and advice. The author so enthusiastic about learning new languages, I wanted to start learning 2 or 3 right away too. I also found his multi-track approach idea very helpful. Gathering lots of different materials really did make language learning much easier and more fun. I learned a whole new way to make flashcards that takes less space and time, and yet is perfect for easy learning. His mnemonic devices were helpful too. Plus the language review guide was a lot of fun to read.

Other Info: The edition of the book I read is a little old so the author doesn’t mention anything about all the new computer programs out there. A new edition of the book just came out but I haven’t read it.

8 thoughts on “Book Review for: Learn Any Language

    • Ooh German!

      I use to know enough to get by when I lived in Germany as a teenager but I’ve forgotten most of it now. I promised myself I can start working on German again once I know enough Spanish and French to understand books and movies without subtitles. Why do you want to learn German?

      • Re: Ooh German!

        I was in Germany for two weeks while doing my Summer Drill in the National Guard. I was just starting to pick up the language (ordering beer, asking for the bathroom, please and thank you, etc.) when we had to leave. I liked how it sounded. I did attempt it with some tapes but not using it or being exposed to it I got bored. Might give it a second go with this method.

      • They might have Pimsleur kits at your library. Montgomery County has all the Pimsleur kits in just about every language– including Cantonese. Although I totally approve of anything that motivates you to finish Spirit Squad.

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