Everyone wants it: The quickest, least painful, effortless, and fun way to learn how to do something.
Is there a quick and effortless way to learn a second or 6th language?
Fernando, our Academic Coordinator, just sent us this video that he found. It’s rather long, but the long and short of it is:
- A very intelligent researcher and language expert named Paul Pimsleur developed/discovered a way to learn any language with far less effort and pain than the normal route. In fact, their website claims you’ll “Learn a Language in 10 days.”
- There’s a strong focus on listening to native speakers, and repeating the natural language while employing something called “Spaced Repetition.”
- The approach also makes use of anticipation, core vocabulary, and organic learning.
- The method focuses on helping the learner to construct phrases and words from memory.
- Active participation is stressed.
- Audio proficiency instead of reading proficiency is also emphasized.
My thoughts: There are no silver bullets to learning a language. There are slick marketing messages though. I am sure that the Pimsleur approach produces results. But I remain very skeptical of anything that promises to get you near instant, painless and nearly effortless results with something so complex as learning another language.
Truth: You get what you pay for.
Truth: Anything worth having is worth fighting for.
I do think there are some valuable parts to this to learn and apply to how I teach:
- More needs to be done with intentional recall. Fire and forget doesn’t work – and sadly, that’s what often happens with unit vocabulary words, grammar, etc. You see it once, get tested on it…and then it’s forgotten.
- I love Pimsleur’s ideas about ‘Anticipation.’ Do you remember this post about how teachers should learn from teachers in other fields of study? The video speaks to the mistake we often make of not allowing students to anticipate. Everything is served up for students so they do very little mental footwork to arrive at answers. Pimsleur pushes for resistance - to invite the student to recall what they have previously learned, but not giving the answer too quickly.
- Pay attention to what is used most frequently by native speakers. This also makes sense – vs wading deeply into long meaningless lists of new words and grammar rules. Work on the most common ones.
What do you think? Are there ‘silver bullets’ out there that we just don’t know about?
Photo by kcdsTM