Can you imagine the frustration there must be in trying to learn a language in the old way?
I got the email below from a front line worker in NYC. I include my responses – in bold – because they bear heavily on why your are a member of this PLC:
I am a family nurse practitioner based in NYC who is looking to acquire French primarily as a language requirement for deployment with Médecins Sans Frontières and other humanitarian aid organizations. I am aiming to be at least B2 level. My primary issue with all language learning is hesitancy with speaking and mental translation. This sentence contains bias against the research. People expect to be able to not hesitate when producing speech. This is impossible bc of the dynamic being thereby forced on the unconscious mind, which alone guarantees free and natural speech output ONLY AFTER YEARS, with no thinking/hesitation/conscious control involved. So all you have to do is listen and understand what you hear and you will gain a high level of proficiency naturally w/o effort. Simple. Magical. No effort on your part. Just exposure to lots of listening and soon thereafter reading.
You cannot think your way to your goals here. No one should ever have to experience the high levels of frustration and failure that you have experienced in the past. Is you job working in NYC not hard enough? I won’t go into this bc of time, of course, in an email, but I would suggest that you read the beginning parts of each of the attached books (no charge – we should be paying you for your service to humanity), Doing that will provide you with the intellectual conviction for the plan I express below for you.
In the introductory sections of the attached books, (you may only need to read one to get the idea of how language acquisition ACTUALLY works. If you can thus become aware of what process is actually involved in moving to deeper and deeper command over the language, and eventual speech, you will see something that will allow you to not look at your lack of fluency as a “problem” but rather as an approaching enjoyable and effortless journey of simply hearing and understand enough language input in the form of reading and listening.
Just this simple process allows you to BYPASS your “thinking about” the language in the conscious mind and instead bathe your deeper mind, the part that ACTUALLY ACQUIRES LANGUAGE AND OVER TIME LEADS TO SPEECH IN A SLOW AND YEARS LONG BUT VERY ELEGANT NATURAL PROCESS THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SLEEP AND THEN SUDDENLY ONE DAY, WHEN YOU ARE WORKING AFTER THIS INITIAL PERIOD THAT YOU ARE IN NOW, with les MSF, in the future, you will find that suddenly as if by magic you will have command of speech output.
SO acquiring a language is merely a function of time and effortless listening and understand and then you can automatically speak, sans effort. How grand, n’est-ce pas? How absolutely wonderful! but in each of my past I have some background in the romance languages also; I have also studied Italian. Yes you studied Italian w. the intent to LEARN IT, but we don’t do that in real language classes Just listen and enjoy. YUP! That’s it! I have 1-2 years in terms of time to learn to this goal (or indeed well beyond it– which would be welcome as well.)
I am wondering if you offer private lessons utilizing the TPRS method. TPRS seems a much better fit for me and a much more effective method than others I have tried. My lack of French fluency has been a block in my career toward helping people in crisis and disaster situations all over the world for some time. I would like to take a decisive step toward making that obstacle a thing of the past.
I may have an answer. Generally, my work is about teaching teachers, not students of language. However, you have given me an idea. I am currently training a group of teachers on Zoom in teaching a language online (forced due to COVID, which you may know a thing or two about.).
We have a meeting today at 3:00 Eastern Time. I am inviting you and if you show up I will teach you French and you can thereby get started on meeting your goals today. Then you can decide if what I offer is helpful to you. I think it will be. I will teach a lesson of the type I want my Zoom group teachers to eventually be able to do online in the fall. I won’t do any pedagogy if you are there, no teacher talk, no English. Just teaching you French so that you can acquire (not “learn”). No focus on your speech, just focus on the message, as per the introductions to the attached books. you will speak after you have enough listening input in the form of my understandable speech. Wait. Listen. All of the French you hear me say will form a pool in your UNCONSCIOUS mind and from it you will speak, but the pool has to be big. Speech too early is not speech.
This can be our starting point. I am committed to your goals. If I were not, I would be crazy, bc your goals are for the betterment of humanity in service to others. So look over these books – just the introductory sections to get the REASONS why we will learn in the way I am suggesting.
Go beyond. Go past the insanity of all of the old ways you have tried to acquire a language.
Ben (Peace Force Member)