Preface by Nathalie V. Fairbanks
Although Ms. Vera Birkenbihl came up with this revolutionary approach to learning language about 30 years ago, it is virtually unknown outside of Germany. When I saw the immense need for language learning, especially in English-speaking countries, I made it my mission to bring these ideas to the U.S. and to spread the word about the wonderful possibilities that these few steps give every student. Not only is it the fastest and most effective way of acquiring a language, it is also a catalyst for growth in its own right. By demonstrating that every student can learn a language, regardless of "talent", Ms. Birkenbihl undoes one of the prevailing myths of American society which claims that "language learning is for the talented".
Of course, even in using this approach, willingness and perseverance are still part of the learning equation. Once this approach is understood, tedious learning strategies become a thing of the past. In this explanation, I used mostly examples of English native speakers learning German, since this is what I have most experience in. Keep in mind that these principles works for any Native – Target language pair. The two studies described later were done with Chinese native speakers learning English. The Birkenbihl Approach as devised by Ms. Vera F. Birkenbihl is targeted to selfstudy.
I believe that although the classroom and an experienced teacher provide invaluable resources to a language learner, the success of each learner is determined by the quality of his/her self-study. It is thus essential to teach students how to use language learning materials in the most efficient way possible. In basing the language learning curriculum on the Birkenbihl Approach, students will be more successful in acquiring a language. SpeakEZ Languages, LLC, the company that I founded with my colleague Claudette Maier, has the mission to educate teachers and learners about this Approach and to produce materials that allow students to reap the full benefits of this amazing method.