Saturday, June 27, 2009

How Learn English: Listen, Laugh, and Stare

Watch children who move to a new country and are surrounded by people speaking a language that they don't know, what do they do? Look at a small child who turns on a video on TV in a language that they've never heard before. What do they do? They listen; they don't try to speak. Their eyes open wide and they listen intently. They don't think about it, they don't try to translate everything, they don't try to speak the new language- but they are learning it.
This was observed by Dr. J. Marvin Brown, founder of the Automatic Language Growth method and the ALGworld school in Thailand. He said, "We look at children who have moved to a new country, and we see them 'listen, laugh, and stare'. The child's secret; ears open, mouths shut, no tests. They become near-native within two years."

Near-native speakers within two years! Most people try to learn English with the usual methods for much longer than two years, and they can't even speak a few sentences in a conversation with a native speaker. I know this because I am an English teacher and I see it every day: students who study English for 5 years and even more, but who can't have even the most simple conversation with me in English.

Dr. Brown went on to say, "Then we look into language classrooms around the world, and we see just the opposite; ears practically closed (the students use their eyes instead), mouths open, and a lot of tests. Very few of these students become near-native."

This is the normal language student: not listening to native speakers, trying to speak before they know how, and taking tests. This is the normal, traditional way of learning English. It doesn't work! You will never become fluent in English in this way.

To learn to speak English you have to learn like a child does naturally. Just listen a lot to native speakers. Don't try to speak. Don't use textbooks. Don't take tests. And it's easier if you are laughing!
by English Teacher Fred

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