Almost everything I write here will directly reference or be influenced in some way by my knowledge and experience of Automatic Language Growth, so it’s worth starting off with a summary of this approach to language learning.
Automatic Language Growth, or ALG, is intended to bring learners of any age from no knowledge of a language to the native speaker’s level of ability without conscious effort.
ALG is based on the theory that, contrary to popular belief, adults have not lost the ability to pick up languages as effortlessly as young children do, and reach native-like levels of fluency and accuracy.
What has actually changed is their environment and the approach that they take, and these changes are the cause of the difficulties and lower attainment we typically observe in adults.
Adult language learners typically lack the rich environment of experiences through which children learn to understand and acquire languages.
Even given such an environment, they almost inevitably use cognitive abilities that they have gained with maturity, such as the abilities to consciously practice speaking and to study language.
According to ALG theory, using these abilities interferes with the process of second language acquisition and limits one’s ultimate attainment.
For example, in trying to produce a new language before having heard it spoken enough, adults fall back on their native language’s features and end up with pronunciation problems and “broken” grammar.
Adults can consciously study and practice speaking correctly, but by using cognitive resources to monitor their speaking, they end up sacrificing fluency for accuracy.
The claim of ALG, then, is if adults are given an environment in which they can understand and pick up a new language, and they approach it the same way that children do for long enough, and the eventual result will be the same levels of fluency and accuracy as if they had learned the language as children.
Next: The development of ALG, ALG in practice, and what research supports ALG.
More posts about Automatic Language Growth
The difference between ALG and AUA looks at the ALG approach and the AUA Thai Program where it has mainly been implemented.
From The Outside In The autobiography of American linguist Dr. J. Marvin Brown, which tells about how he came to originate ALG
ALG World The official ALG website
Automatic Language Growth (ALG) An overview of the ALG approach
Learning Languages Like Children A treatise on ALG by Dr. J. Marvin Brown