I have been following the method to the letter for 5 months now. I finished my grammar book and learned the top 1000 words, so the next step is to read a book alongside an audio book. Gabe says that at this stage you should be able to read a book and learn words by context while enjoying the story. He says to read a book that you've read before in English. Since I haven't read a fiction book in 20 years, I chose instead to read the summary in English on SparkNotes.
I read the first chapter alongside the audio book and... I didn't understand anything. Not a single sentence. I know a lot of the words. They are the same words that appear on the 3900 flashcards I created. Those flashcards take me 1-5 seconds to answer, so when they are put together in a fast sentence, they go in one ear and out the other.
Since I am done with my grammar book and the first 1000 words of my frequency dictionary, I am just now starting to write my own essays. This way I can keep producing new cards, and essay writing is an important part of the method. But I'm not optimistic that this will work.
I also study a lot. 30 new cards per day takes me about 1 hour if I stay focused and go through them quickly. The card creation process is long to. It is not unusual for me to spend 1 hour to create 30 new cards. I have to find a good sentence, find pictures, snip the conjugation chart, etc.
I'm learning Spanish. On page 9 of FF, Gabe says that he suspects advanced French would take 5 to 8 months practicing 30-45 minutes per day. Here I am sitting at at 5 months and 4 days, practicing for 1 hour per day, learning 30 new cards 7 days a week, and I'm not even close.
Did I fail?
Update. Aleks was so kind to forward this message to Gabe. Gabe acknowledges that books can be really tough in the beginning, and that over time he has moved away from them and focused on conversations with tutors. He recommends that I try the tutor approach here: https://blog.fluent-forever.com/hacking-fluent-forever/ to learn new words, which will help bring all the individual words and grammar rules together into a language I can think and speak in.
Later, if I want to learn to read well (which I do), I can start reading something easier. Olly Richards has some good beginner-intermediate books for Spanish on Amazon.
I really like this advice and think it will work. I don't think I have been applying enough personal connections to my flashcards, and working with a tutor will help with that.