In this post I’m going to share some observations that I made while learning foreign languages. These observations contradict the common beliefs, as I found out that that we don’t need to study grammar rules, to practice speaking or writing, or to get corrections. This realization is what brought me to try to find alternative learning methods and alternative explanations to the different phenomena encountered by language learners.
Adults can’t learn a language as well as children can. Everybody knows that, right? Lots of research papers “prove” that after a certain age we can’t learn grammar and pronunciation to the same level as a native speaker (never mind that nobody seems to agree on what that age is). Well, I beg to differ. In this post I’m going to discuss why both popular belief and all that research are a result of flawed reasoning and how adults can learn a language as well and as effortlessly as children. Here’s a clue: be a child.
Would you teach a child how to swim by having the child read a book about swimming? I doubt it. Different abilities require completely different approaches to learning. In this post, I’m going to talk about the differences between becoming fluent in a foreign language and learning other abilities, and why insisting on applying concepts that belong to other abilities is preventing us from learning foreign languages as well as we could.
Can you learn a language visually? Imagine that you listened to audio recordings of Picasso while he was painting his masterpieces. Imagine that the sound was detailed enough that you could hear every brush stroke. Could you ever become a good painter by just listening to those recordings? No way! Why do we think that the opposite is true? Why do we believe that we can learn to speak a foreign language by looking at the written word?
I don’t think most people believe themselves to be stupid. So why is it then that we treat ourselves as if we were stupid when we are trying to learn a foreign language? Why do we seek an explanation for every detail of the grammar, a translation for every word, and expect to find a rule for when and how to use each word?
This post is about how reading and writing in a second language before being able to speak it can cause problems, why those problems happen, and how to avoid them. We'll see why nowadays it makes much more sense to start reading and writing a language when you’ve reached some basic fluency with it, as children do with their first language.
These principles have been designed to allow anybody to make steady progress towards their language learning goal. They’ve proven to hold true both for myself and for most people I’ve met who reached really high levels in a foreign language, including speaking fluently without hesitation, and a clear pronunciation close to that of a native speaker.
On the outside, Crosstalk looks a lot like language exchange. And it is language exchange. I would argue it’s the most authentic form of language exchange that exists. The experience of it, though, is very different to traditional language exchange.
There’s a big misconception that seems to be common among language teachers and learners alike: the nature of words. In this post I try to clear up the confusion that 99% of language learners and language methods seem to have. Let's start with what words are not.
The plateau of language learning. A term so often mentioned that few would dare questioning it. In this post I’m going to try to uncover its nature, explain why it is not what many believe it to be, and how knowing that can help us avoid it entirely.
Today I’m here to debunk a myth (again). This is one particularly important myth to debunk, since it’s the main pillar of traditional language education. The myth is that language can somehow be transferred from the brains of a speaker to the brains of a learner by explaining the grammar and the vocabulary. However, in this post we’re going to see how that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
This is going to be a very short post in contrast to most of my posts. Today I just wanted to share a very concise definition of the ALG method, invented by Dr. Marvin Brown and used at the AUA school in Bangkok to teach Thai. This definition was taken from the book “The Listening Approach“.
Between 2015 and 2016, despite having no interest in learning the Thai language, I spent 1 year in Bangkok with the sole purpose of attending 1200 hours of the Thai language course at the AUA language school. In this post I explain why.
My first time attending the Thai program at AUA was on a Saturday. On Saturdays there were always fewer students than on weekdays, so it was relatively calm. I should say that I was starting to learn Thai completely from ZERO. I had deliberately prevented myself from having any other exposure to the Thai language, since I wanted to see how it felt to learn only by listening from the very beginning and only using their method...
So, did I become good at Thai? What was my final achievement? Did I manage to order pad thai without shrimp? First let me put things into perspective by summarizing all the contact that I had with the Thai language...
Something drew my attention when I was in Japan. Some people I met had a curious accent, something that was not the typical accent of a Japanese person. I had encountered it before, so this is by no means exclusive to Japan, but I had never realized what it meant in terms of language acquisition, or tried to reason why such a thing happened.