Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I have no formal training in linguistics, but I have been very interested to read about Stephen Krashen's research in second language acquisition. Krashen explains his comprehension hypothesis as follows.

"It hypothesizes that 'skills,' or mastery of the components of language, is the result of one particular aspect of language use, comprehensible input. It claims that grammatical competence and vocabulary knowledge are the result of listening and reading, and that writing style and much of spelling competence is the result of reading. "

I have been finding this idea more and more persuasive. Recently, I have been compiling and using comprehensible audio at what Krashen describes as level i+1, where i represents my current linguistic ability, and 1 represents a small supplementation. As I practice hearing Thai at this level, my vocabulary and grammar grow in a way that's completely different from a memorization approach.

My son has a number of Pixar and Dreamworks movies in Thai, and I have been practicing by watching them with him. They are very good, because I can rely on visual cues so that I am never completely lost. Upon repeated viewing, I notice vocabulary and grammar growing from the "inside out". Words and phrases that initially sounded like a random stream of syllables are becoming more and more comprehensible. Words and phrases I acquire in this way are available to me in a much more natural way than whatever I have learned through memorization and translation.

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