How do we compare?
A traditional language learning course takes 15 years or 15 terms to teach the 3,000 items needed to achieve conversational fluency. At £300 per term, that is £4,500 and some 600 hours of your life.
By contrast, we teach the 3,000 items needed for conversational fluency in our course for £950, meaning we cost less than one quarter of what traditional learning costs, our students average a higher standard of excellence and each student saves roughly 500 hours to reach their goal.
Where does “conversational fluency” fit in with other language goals.
Most language learning courses deal with a kind of functional fluency. That is to say the ability to order a meal, book a hotel room, call a doctor etc. This can be achieved with a very small vocabulary of around 600 words. The major problems with stopping at this point is that if you order a coffee and the waiter asks if you want full fat or skimmed milk you won’t have any idea what they are saying. The second problem is that it isn’t much fun. When you get back to Britain you have no chance to use that ability and so it declines and then just before your holiday next year you have to swat up again.
Conversational fluency is, in our experience, the magic point. The point at which you can simply converse with others in their native tongue – communicate any idea you wish to get across to them and understand any point they wish to communicate back to you. This means you have reached the point of sufficient fluency that you can enjoy conversation in a second language just like you would in your first language. Thus you can keep using it and thus your ability continues to grow over the years rather than cycle up and down. We call conversational fluency – the brow of the hill. After which you will keep moving forwards because it is easy and rewarding to do so. It is a much smarter goal than to aim for anything less.
Courses that claim to teach fluency in 3 months
You need to be very careful about claims to teach “fluency” – which is a term people often don’t define. The famous Hugo’s in 3 months series (excellent books) is talking about 100 hours over the 3 months but leaves you with functional fluency at best (about 600 words, which is about one fifth of what is required for the point at which most people would claim any real fluency with the language.
Lately, we have seen sites claiming to teach fluency in 2 weeks. As a former world record holder in accelerated learning I can tell you that it is possible but not without special training. Very capable university students would manage only something between 70 and 140 words in that time. You need about 2,000 words to hold conversation (at minimum).
With our system we are talking about proper genuine fluency, very efficiently achieved, but that requires roughly 100 hours for our students even though we have arguably the most efficient learning system in the world. For 25 years we have been improving and improving the efficiency of our approach based in part of a world record holder in accelerated language learning. Still our students require 100 hours. We are not aware of any method that produces results in the real world that can do it any faster than that.
Maintaining your knowledge
Unused knowledge declines very rapidly. In one university research projects only one third of graduates could still pass a 4 year degree course 3 months after the exams were over. Language, however, is only useful to you if you can use it whenever it is needed. Total Fluency, as a programme, is designed to help students make very rapid progress. Just as importantly, you can maintain your language in excellent condition using just three minutes per day. That three minutes can be completed during one set of adverts on the tv, or while waiting in a queue at the bank or even while waiting for the kettle to boil as the program is designed to be divided into self-standing 6 second chunks.
Are native speakers the right people to give lessons
There are two factors here that are important. For the purpose of improving your pronunciation and especially your listening ability, there is simply no substitute for lessons with a native speaker. Non native speakers can almost never make exactly the same flow of sounds you will be hearing from native speakers.
At the same time, a native speaker is usually the wrong person to teach you their language. Because they learned it as a child, they have little idea of the challenges it poses to non-native speakers.
We design our curriculum using a combination of native and non-native speakers so we understand and can help with the specific challenges of going from one language to another. Our lessons are all provided by native speakers with good cultured and fairly neutral accents. This is a winning combination much appreciated by our students. Simply put – it is the right way and the best way to help someone learn a second language.