Top critical review
91 people found this helpful
Methods are good, rest of book is overblown
on October 9, 2005
To sum up Barry's methods, his multi track approach has merits, especially if you have no idea or game plan to follow in an orderly fashion. I give his methods a five, but the overall book gets a three, at best. A two wouldn't be off the mark.
The first sixty pages are complete with Barry gushing about the number of languages he says he knows. My only question - does Barry know just enough of each language to introduce himself, ask simple directions, and attempt to order a meal in an authentic restaurant, or is Barry fluent enough in over twenty languages to sit as First Chair Translator in the United Nations? At one point, Barry states his Chinese was so good, he flabbergasted a Chinese waitress so badly she screwed up the order for the entire table. I believe a more approximate assessment would be Barry's choice of vocabulary, diction and accent was so bad, she couldn't help but make major errors in their meal orders.
The language examples he provides in a language he speaks about sounds like something that can be found in any basic starter language book or audio course. The Appendix material starting at page 140 to the end are useless.
Between page 60 to the Appendix are Barry's methods. While I didn't really learn anything new that I am not already doing (learning Japanese) I applaud Barry's methods. A solid grammar course booklet, a good dictionary containing the target language and your own native language, the use of audio (tapes, CD's, MP3 players in today's lifestyle) flashcards, and other various printed materials and sources. Yes, the book needs to be updated, but anyone serious about their target language can fill in the updated blanks.
Barry makes a few good points. Set a game plan and stick with it. Don't give up. Be consistent in your studies. Use different sources. His use of memory aids. While some of Barry's ideas of using wasted time to study are a little off the mark (while brushing your teeth, or the one that made me laugh - while you are grunting inaudible 'yes, no, uh-uh, really?' responses to your friend blathering on the phone, pretending you are hanging on their every word) there are better down times that can be used, and will retain what you are learning. Commmuting to and from work. Lunch time. Mindless TV viewing. (How many times can you watch the same hour of ESPN reruns before you decide you had enough?)
If you have no clue as how to self teach yourself a language, then purchase the book. Otherwise, if it can be found in a bookstore, read pages 60 to 140, take notes and save your money. Or read the other posted reviews that pretty much explain his methods in a few sentences and save yourself the time and expense.