Today is the start of a new year, and it’s been exactly one year since I started this blog.
My focus remains on topics around language learning, and in particular, how we might effortlessly learn new languages to very high levels of ability at any age, while having fun and learning other things in the process.
Reflecting on a year having passed, I can’t help but think of the many language-learning opportunities that have been silently lost over this time.
Over this past year, many people have come to live in countries where different languages are spoken for reasons such as work or study.
In that time, they could have picked up enough of the new language to be able to communicate effectively about everyday things, and I think also could have gained the foundation to effortlessly reach much higher levels of proficiency.
But instead, they struggle to use no more than a few words or phrases, if they have even learned any of the language at all.
We can blame these people and say they’re being lazy, but I think what’s more often the case is they’re just too busy to go out of their way and get what they need to learn the new language with the way things are today.
I think the real problem today is the lack of easily available opportunities for adults to gain comprehensible input, or understandable experiences in new languages, in ways that are both engaging and efficient.
So the time just passes by and without even knowing what’s possible, they miss out on what could have been great learning experiences and the ability to understand and engage with another language and culture.
In many posts I have written about Automatic Language Growth, an approach based on creating understandable experience with languages that I think could provide a way forward for many adults who want to become highly fluent in a new language.
And even if one does happen to be in Bangkok and wants to learn Thai, the program has its limitations and is not convenient for those who work full time and have other responsibilities.
As with comprehensible input more generally, the ALG approach has not been developed and made available to people to anywhere near the extent it could be.
I think back on my own language learning over the years, which included learning Mandarin through an ALG approach by first watching TV shows and then using Crosstalk, then attending the AUA Thai Program to learn Thai.
Spending my time on these things benefited my own language acquisition, but did not directly help other people with their language learning.
This reminds me of a quotation attributed to oceanographer Jacques Cousteau: “When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.”
I’ve had extraordinary opportunities with language learning, among them, learning about ALG and what it has to offer and being able to see the unique AUA Thai Program firsthand.
Looking ahead, while I want to continue learning languages for myself, I want to do it in ways that make effortless language learning much more accessible to many more people.
That’s what I intend to work toward in the coming year.