The title is not claiming that any learner can become fluent in three months, but is instead connected with the goal of moving to different countries and attempting to become fluent in three months.
How long it will take you to achieve fluency depends on a few factors:
– How much time you have to dedicate to language learning, which is an overwhelmingly important factor
– How hard the language is. It simply takes more time to learn Japanese than Spanish.
– The quality of your learning
This will certainly take more than three months.
The core claim that any learner can vastly improve the speed at which they approach fluency by spending a lot of time with the language and spending it conversation practice, that is, using listening and speaking actively.
This system has attracted considerable controversy, firstly by the title being interpretable as a claim that anyone to reach fluency within three months, and secondly by the use of the word “fluency” in this context. The definition emphasises the ability for speech to flow easily, and it is associated with the level B2 in the CEFR. Most people would agree with this definition, but critics tend to say that achieving a B2 level in three months is impossible. A more realistic goal for most people is in the vicinity of two years, depending on hours spent and language learned.
One important factor to consider is that there is no objective definition of fluency, and this enables some people to use a looser definition than most. If you have encountered a person who claims to have achieved fluency in a language in a short amount of time, they are possibly working with a different definition of fluency than you. Focus on what the person (or you) can do with the language, rather than what the definition of fluency is and whether someone meets that definition.
Can one learn a language with the three-month-fluency method?
The core idea of that method is simple: speak early and speak as much as possible by seeking out conversation opportunities. Conversation practice is also highly recommended by almost all other well-known polyglots.
While this method can be very effective for some people, others prefer to learn with an initial silent period, since finding people to talk to and making conversation can be very difficult when you are at a beginner level. Others claim that speaking at the beginning stages is at best marginally useful, and there are other techniques that are more effective. Where other experienced language learners who do not follow this technique would agree is on what you should NOT do. Techniques that focus on studying grammar in isolation or doing drills simply do not enable learners to progress as fast towards their goals. Whether through speaking early or through listening or reading, the best way to learn is with lots of natural, understandable language for you to actively engage with as much as possible.
If you are travelling soon and are interested in having as much conversation as possible to experience the culture as closely as possible, there is no reason you should not be practicing conversation as much as you possibly can. You will progress much faster towards any goal if you focus on the skills that you need to achieve that goal.
While people may say you can never be fluent in three months, you can become conversational in a relatively short period of time – to the point that your speech flows significantly better than some learners who have been learning much longer than you. This will generally involve lots of pre-learned phrases, basic grammar, and lots of quality practice speaking and listening to normal speech. In conversation, you would generally stick with familiar topics and avoid using complex constructions. This duration might not necessarily be three months. Your progress is going to depend on how much time you can dedicate per day and how much time you have to reach your goal. Even if it’s not quite fluency, properly utilising this method will get you having conversations in the country of your language in a relatively short time.
It is worth noting that if you focus so heavily on conversation, you will have weaknesses in other areas. Your grammar may be limited, your vocabulary might not be quite what it could be, or you may struggle to read as well if the script is different. This is not necessarily a downside. There is nothing wrong with having weaknesses elsewhere if you have a goal and those weaknesses are not hindering you from achieving that goal.
For many other learners, conversation is a neglected activity simply because speaking is such a powerful learning practice. Hesitancy to speak and practice slows their progress.
All goals are perfectly legitimate, so if you find your goals align well with this method, then there is plenty to be learned from it. Even if you have different goals, you might still find this advice useful.