The Art Of Learning A Foreign Language By Benjamin Batarseh

About The Author

My journey with foreign languages began in high school when I was introduced to Latin culture through a friend and purchased a Spanish grammar book from Barnes & Noble. Fast-forward 15 years and I’ve spent a great deal of my life studying foreign languages (10+ years of Arabic and Spanish; 2+ years of Japanese and Latin; and <1 year of French & German). I’ve lived in the Middle East, Tokyo, and D.C., and worked multiple bilingual jobs, including my current one as a linguist in the American Midwest. Aside from being a language nerd, I enjoy blogging, web-making, hiking, and following professional sports. You can find me at https://creatorvilla.com

Amazon Summary

Language is the gateway to culture and the riches of humanity thereof. It affords access to people, history, ideas, art, religion, aesthetics, and economic opportunities. Language also exerts a transformative effect on the vessel through whom it is expressed. Charlemagne is reported to have said that “To speak another language is to possess another soul.”

The Art of Learning a Foreign Language consists of all the things I wish I knew at various stages of my language learning journey during the last 15 years—as a hobbyist, student, academic, and professional linguist. This book is designed to help the learner avoid many pitfalls and seize opportunities, with lessons on choosing a target language, travel, accent, immersion, technology, learning approaches, and the lifestyle habits of professional linguists.

Some of the chapters address topics of general interest to the language learner (“nice to know”). Other headings address more crucial issues with potentially vast implications for the language learner (“must know”). Had I known then what I know now, I would have made some different choices, but the beauty of life is that it can be lived in only one direction.

In sum, with unprecedented language learning resources at our disposal and abundant opportunities for cross-cultural connection, today is the most exciting time in history to acquire proficiency in a foreign language. Whatever your motivations for learning a foreign language—or current foreign language level—this digestible read will bring you closer to achieving your goals.

My Thoughts

Before I get into more of a specific review of the book, I thought I would share some general thoughts and opinions on it. I really enjoyed this book because it was about a topic that was extremely relatable to me since this book, as you can maybe tell is all about learning foreign languages. I speak four languages and I’m currently learning German. I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully proficient in German but I do hope to someday be good enough to have at least simple conversations with someone who speaks fluent German.

As I was reading the book, I found myself nodding along in agreement while reading a lot of chapters. And it was not just that I was agreeing with a lot of it, but I was actually learning a number of things too. I think I got quite a few tips from this book that I have written down which will help me with my language learning journey.

One of the chapters that I found really helpful was the chapter called “Thinking in the Target Language.” This was something I had never heard or read before in all the tips I have looked through while learning German. I realise how important thinking is (obviously) but I didn’t really think about the language I think in and how important that is when learning a new language. I’ve literally started to try to think more in German and it’s actually quite fun!

A chapter I found super relatable was “Music, Comedy and Dialogue Test Advanced Listening Proficiency” because it’s something I’ve actually talked about on this blog. I have mentioned before how helpful comedy and music has been with learning German. Listening to music helps you understand pronunciations better and teaches you the “lingo” which helps you sound less stiff and formal. And comedy is often simple but also complicated because every language has a specific style/type of humour. For comedy, I often read through Nichtlustig comics and I also try to listen to German music when I have some free time. It actually even inspired this poem at one point.

One thing I enjoyed about the book was its length and writing. Although it was quite detailed and there were some chapters that were quite in-depth, the writer seems to have made an effort to keep it simple and to the point. If I’m being fully honest, I get a little bored when writers drone on and on, circling the point but never getting to it. I didn’t feel like that with this book. Each chapter was quite precise and well written.

Another thing that made this book enjoyable was that the writer (as you may have noticed from his “About” section) has a lot of experience studying foreign languages. This made the book really interesting since he shared his own experiences with the reader. It allowed me, as the reader, to relate to him on a personal level since I found a number of his experiences relatable.

I wanted to end this review by saying, I really enjoyed this book. It only took me two days to finish it because it was so interesting to me and it wasn’t too long so I never found myself bored. I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking about learning a new language or in the process of learning a new language. I wish I had read this when I was just starting out with German because it would have saved me a lot of time but it is what it is. I’m happy to have read it now.

If you are interested in reading the book click here. It’s available both as a paperback and on Kindle.

For more book reviews please click here. 


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51 thoughts on “The Art Of Learning A Foreign Language By Benjamin Batarseh

    1. Thanks so much. Yeah there are some great jobs for people who know multiple languages and some of them are pretty well paying. I like that I have that option and I also just really enjoy learning new languages.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m currently taking a beginner’s Ukrainian class and am enjoying learning. I agree learning languages is great. This is my third language, but it’s meaningful, because my father was from Kyiv.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How interesting, Ukrainian sounds like a very interesting language. It’s great that you have a personal connection to it as well, that’s actually something mentioned in the book too. He talks about how you’ll do better if you have a reason to learn the language or some sort of connection with it. Good luck with Ukrainian!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! I did learn a smattering when I was a kid, but some of the people I heard speaking it were in fact speaking a Russified version.

        Since 2014 there has been a mindful and considered effort by the younger generations in Ukraine to speak the literary Ukrainian, and that’s what I’m motivated to learn.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, thinking in the target language. LOL. That’s so true. Often it is mixed. The mind just mixed the two language together when thinking about an idea. And it is interesting the mind doesn’t confuse one for the other even if it mixes the two up very often.

    I am always interested to know about other people’s learning experiences. I mean positive and negative, both are interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, it’s not available in paperback in India yet so I would recommend the Kindle version for now and I’ll let you know if it’s available in India in the future.

      Like

  3. Hello sir. Author here. Thank you for your interest. The paperback is available in the US, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Australia, Netherlands, and the UK. Unfortunately, it is not available in the Middle East or India at this time. I called KDP to see if I could get it published in these markets but they do not have access right now. Depending on where you live, a digital copy may be your best bet.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I just read the sample of the book, but I’m unable to buy it, since I am currently not financially independent. But I liked the sample I read, and I will buy it in the future. That is, if I remember. I’ll just save this post so I don’t forget.

    Also, you just made me want to learn a new language 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to hear that but I hope you read and enjoy it in the future.

      You should definitely learn a new language- it’s so fun! And it’s free if you use an app like Duolingo.

      Like

  5. Interesting. I never thought of learning a new language as having a process but I guess that is true. I know being around it and living in the culture helps it along. I learned Latin in high school mainly for the “root” of words and because Spanish was not offered. I’ve learned some Spanish because it is rising in our culture around us. I would love to learn more but have so many other things I want to spend time on. Learning other languages DOES intrigue me though. If I were younger, I might order that book. But I have so many books I’ll never get done with them. lol Have a good weekend (rest of).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think its one of those things you don’t think about until you actually start learning a new language. Latin and Spanish both sound like really interesting languages.
      I definitely understand the struggle since our TBR list is always growing. It’s hard to make time for all the books. If you do get a minute feel free to check it out (its under 100 pages) and if not that’s fine too.

      Hope you had a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Very interesting, learning other languages. I would love to learn Spanish completely because I took it as an elective for nine weeks in middle school, I would also love to learn French because it is a beautiful language.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love learning a new language that I wanted to study linguistics but ending up studying French as minor, English as major at undergraduate level and still studying communication and language art at postgraduate level.

    I will check out the book. Learning a new language is fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m TERRIBLE at learning new languages. I lived in Germany for a year and my landlord laughed hysterically because I couldn’t pronounce “vacuum cleaner” 🤣🤪 but I do know some German and some Korean. Enough to get by anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. What’s sad is that in Europe MOST people know several languages and it’s considered “no big deal”. It’s the norm for them to speak several fluently were as I stumbled over saying “vacuum cleaner” 🤣🤦‍♀️

        Liked by 1 person

  9. That seems like a great book! I also love learning languages (currently learning Spanish and Russian), but the hardest part for me is that it seems like a never-ending goal, especially as the perfectionnist that I am! I never thought about thinking in my target language and I’ll try this for sure! Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Wow, Spanish and Russian both sound like very interesting languages. I’m like that too so I know what you mean, I think learning German is going to take me a very long time but I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as possible for now!

      Liked by 1 person

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