A sensible approach that nonetheless requires a substantial commitment of time and energy; as the author well knows, there...

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FLUENT FOREVER

HOW TO LEARN ANY LANGUAGE FAST AND NEVER FORGET IT

The creator of the popular language-learning website Fluent-Forever.com debuts by putting between covers the essentials of the program that he and myriad others have found helpful.

The author is indeed a buoyant, ebullient Harold Hill of a salesman (no dour Willy Loman here!). Throughout his text—which includes many self-help design features, including text boxes, bullet points, illustrations, chapter-end reminders and “key points”—Wyner reminds us repeatedly about how enjoyable his program is. About the vocabulary cards he recommends, he writes, “You’ll discover that they’re a lot of fun to create and a lot of fun to review.” That’s certainly debatable. The author’s program does make use of many sensible and even revolutionary methods for learning a language—principally, the use of visual and auditory reminders of the vocabulary and grammar a novice needs to learn. The more senses involved, the more certain the learning and retention. Wyner also slays a few hoary dragons that continue to dominate lots of classroom instruction: learning vocabulary in clusters of related words (he proposes that learners begin with the 625 most common words), studying grammar in isolation, translation exercises (he advises using only the new language). His arguments and justifications take a little over half of his text; the remainder he calls “The Toolbox,” and here he gives very specific advice about—and illustrations of—his flashcard techniques. He also recommends the heavy use of Google Images and other online visual and auditory aids for beginners—especially sound clips of native speakers. He urges that learners would benefit from mastering the International Phonetic Alphabet early in the process, and he provides a host of appendices, including the “International Phonetic Alphabet Decoder.”

A sensible approach that nonetheless requires a substantial commitment of time and energy; as the author well knows, there are no shortcuts to learning anything worthwhile.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-34811-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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