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So why do adult language learners even bother trying, when faced with these seemingly insurmountable odds? This is the question William Alexander opens with...

He takes the reader on a trip to meet IBM's universal translation program team and along on his seven-hour odyssey through Julia Child's croissant recipe. These become -- as he freely admits -- avoidance techniques rather than aids in his quest for fluency. "It was, all in all," he tells us, "far more entertaining and less stressful thinking about learning French than actually learning French." [read the full review]