In previous posts, I have been asking why, if the conventional wisdom is accurate and language learning is inherently harder as an adult than it is as a child, we don’t then help adults by giving them more of the opportunities that children learning languages get.
I focused on two areas: comprehensible input and a “silent period”.
Young children get abundant opportunities for understandable experiences in a new language, and a chance to listen and absorb the new language before speaking much.
In contrast, adult learners have difficulty getting the same quality and quantity of experiences, yet they’re often expected to produce a lot of the language from the start.
The AUA Thai Program uniquely provides adult learners with the experience and approach of child learners, giving beginners the opportunity to listen to Thai in a way that is understandable through experiences and non-verbal communication, allowing them to listen for hundreds of hours without having to speak.
Continue reading “If language learning is harder for adults, why give them less and not more? Part three: Listening experience”
In my previous post, I wrote that while the ALG approach suggests adults can pick up languages as easily as young children can if they have the same learning environment and approach, even if language learning is harder for adults, the response should be to help them by offering them more of what children get rather than less.
I focused on how children naturally get many understandable experiences that allow them to pick up language without translation or study.
This kind of high-quality comprehensible input isn’t easily available to many adult beginning learners.
I asked why more such opportunities for input are not being created for adults, as has been done with the AUA Thai Program, which uniquely implements the ALG method.
In this post I want to look at another language learning opportunity that children get in abundance but is normally denied to adults.
This is the so-called “silent period”, but perhaps it’s better to refer to it here as “the right to remain silent”.
Continue reading “If language learning is harder for adults, why give them less and not more? Part two: A “silent period””
I’ve written a lot about the Automatic Language Growth, or ALG, approach to language learning, which is based on the idea that adults can learn languages as easily and as well as children if they learn them like children.
While I discuss how that idea may be accurate, I don’t expect anyone to necessarily accept it without more support from formal research into this area.
Although many studies have found that people typically achieve less the older they begin learning a new language, adults and children typically have very different language learning experiences and approaches, and there is very little research that really tries to control for these differences.
Let’s assume though that the brain does lose some ability with maturity, making it inherently more difficult to learn a language well as an adult than as a child.
Continue reading “If language learning is harder for adults, why give them less and not more? Part one: Comprehensible input”
Many language learning methods, programs, and products are touted as new, different, or even revolutionary, yet a cursory examination reveals they’re at most a rehashing of what’s been done already in many other times and places.
So often is this the case that I find myself wondering if the same thing is true of the Automatic Language Growth, or ALG, approach, and the AUA Thai Program where it has mainly been implemented.
Maybe they aren’t as unique as they seem, and I just haven’t looked hard enough to find other methods and programs that are essentially the same.
Continue reading “Are ALG and AUA really that different from other language learning methods and programs?”
Automatic Language Growth, or ALG, is a comprehension-based language learning method with the distinct proposition that adults can effortlessly approach native-like abilities in new languages if they acquire them as young children appear to—learning implicitly without study, translation, or practice, and letting speaking emerge gradually over a long “silent period” of mostly listening.
The ALG approach has primarily been implemented at the AUA Thai Program in Bangkok.
Students there attend classes where they watch and listen as two teachers tell stories, have discussions, make jokes, and give demonstrations, all in Thai.
The AUA Thai teachers use tools like props, gestures, and drawings to make what they’re saying comprehensible; this non-verbal communication is reduced in higher levels as students gain understanding of the spoken language.
Continue reading “Is Automatic Language Growth “passive learning”?”
The Automatic Language Growth method is currently being implemented in only one program: at the AUA Language Center in Bangkok, where it’s used to teach the Thai language.
This leaves those who want to use the ALG approach to pick up another language somewhere else having to find ways to implement it for themselves.
This can be difficult, but there are more opportunities than ever to get comprehensible input in one’s target language using media like TV and videos online, and, with the help of tutors and techniques like Crosstalk, create input that’s highly understandable as a beginner.
It’s also possible to apply ALG for oneself by attending classes at a language school that doesn’t specifically follow the method as the AUA Thai Program does.
Continue reading “Listening classes”
When discussing language learning and input-based approaches like Automatic Language Growth (ALG), I encounter many people who insist that you need to have someone correcting you in order to learn to speak a language properly, especially if it’s a “difficult” one like Thai or Mandarin that has tones and other features that don’t exist in English.
They are often quite adamant about the need for instruction and constant correction and can’t seem to conceive of an adult learner being able to pronounce a language correctly without study and practice.
In my experience, it is possible even as an adult to learn to speak a language pretty clearly, to say the least, without any explicit instruction or practice.
Continue reading “Is correction needed to learn to speak a language well?”