Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Leaving Bangkok

My study at AUA is finished for now. I'll return to my brother-in-law's house in Chachoensao this morning, and I'll leave for the U.S. tomorrow. The Automatic Language Growth (ALG) approach used at AUA works very well. It's better than "one way" listening, such as listening to radio broadcasts, since the comprehensibility of the classroom content is monitored and adjusted by a live instructor. As always, I have a long way to go, but I can see progress relative to where I was two weeks ago. My comprehension and speaking have improved effortlessly just by listening to interesting content in class.

I understood much more of the spoken content at the AUA classes than I did when I was here two years ago. There were some classes where I understood almost all of the spoken content, which never happened during my previous experience. There were other classes, like the News class at noon, where I had difficulty following the instructor. It was clear that the Level 5-10 classes are taught at different levels of difficulty, depending on the subject, the instructor, and the students in attendance. Last time, I didn't pick up on the varying difficulty. All the classes seemed to be at the same level, namely Hard.

It's unfortunate that the ALG approach isn't used in more language schools, but I think it requires an agreement on basic principles by the teachers and students, and it doesn't lend itself well to an institution where evaluation and examination are central. Still, I think motivated students in other language courses can add a type of ALG approach on their own just by listening to natural content as often as possible.


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1 comment:

Aaron Handel said...

Hi Scott

I will tell you why I'm not persuaded by the ALG silent approach. I have two friends who "learned" with this method and they cannot speak Thai at all. (One of them can write.) In your own case, you already had the traditional AUA drilling method before the ALG. I submit that is the reason ALG was helpful.

My view is that one can not learn to speak Thai unless they do exactly that--speak. Right from the start, speak. Then you can practice both speaking and listening in the real world. (Of course, this only works if you have access to Thai speakers.)

There are all kinds of modern theories, some based on research.
Ford motor company also does a lot of research, a lot more than any language school. I'd rather have an old Ford Mustang than a new Ford Fiesta!