A pair of inspiring videos provides a method for picking up a language without study through comprehensible input. Just listening when first using it and speaking one’s own language can lead to more native-like abilities, and let people acquire each other’s languages together.
ALG theory suggests that adults can effortlessly learn languages as well as young children do when they learn them like children: picking them up through listening and understanding without conscious study or practice.
This means teaching the language by speaking it in ways that students can understand it at their level, using non-verbal communication as needed, without adding things like translation or speaking practice.
I also couldn’t find any content that was suited to this kind of approach, such as videos in a foreign language that are both highly understandable and interesting for adults who are just beginning to learn it.
How then could I acquire a language the way I wanted to?
As someone who’s interested in advancing research on second language acquisition to help people better learn languages, I think that a careful and rigorous scientific approach is tremendously important.
Good research of lasting value involves carefully planned studies and experiments that require the investment of a lot of time, money, and human resources—not things that can be thrown together on a whim.
At the same time, I think there’s enormous value in also being able to research and experiment in a much more informal way: through unbounded play with language acquisition.
The ability to try out many things spontaneously can help us break away from preconceived notions and generate new insights, and this can ultimately lead to better research questions and better formal studies.
With indigenous languages making up most of the thousands that are in danger of disappearing, an important question is how to keep them alive.
Before getting into this topic, I must acknowledge that preserving and reviving endangered and minority languages requires the expertise of those who specialize in that area, and of course the involvement of the speakers themselves and other members of their communities.
I am not in any of these categories, but I want to share and discuss the Automatic Language Growth (ALG) approach because I think it presents some possibilities and methods that with research and development could be very helpful to language preservation.
The Automatic Language Growth page on this site features the script of the video and will eventually include and link to more detailed background information and research. For now you can watch the video and read this synopsis:
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.