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By dvlong - Posted on 09 December 2009

Learning Like Children

Both children and adults alike naturally record what happens to them. Try forgetting a bad experience if you don't think so! Somehow, whatever happens to us becomes a part of us. This isn't something we must apply effort to – things naturally work that way.

Are YOU too old to do what the child does? Can you do what the child does?

When we experience things that include a language, that language is naturally recorded as a part of the whole experience. We don't need to think about it – we don't need to try to remember anything. It simply happens. In fact, trying to remember specific things during an experience limits what we gain from that experience. In other words, by focusing on a part, we fail to gain the whole. The strength of the ALG program is only seen as students gain the whole experience. What's important to understand is this: When we try to remember specific things, we are mostly not successful, but when we experience things, we remember all kinds of specific things without even trying!

This is the main difference between adult and child language learning. Adults are all the time trying to remember specific things, and to accumulate enough to say something worthwhile – while chidlren are just going about collecting happenings without any focus on trying to remember anything specific at all. In the end, children become fluent while adults always struggle to get things right.

To be sure there are problems with what the child does. For example, he can't make up sentences and try to impress others. He can't express things verbally for a rather long time - normally about 1 year of exposure (experience collecting). But when he does begin to express himself verbally, the child is always better than the adult who has studied and tried for that same amount of time.

Combining the Adult way and Child way...

While we might think that by combining the adult focus on specifics with the child's focus on happenings we can gain better results, this is never the case. What happens is simple. If you're focusing on a specific part of an experience, you're missing out on most of what's happening! It's impossible apparently, for our brains to do both. The best way to gain the most from an experience seems to be to NOT focus on any particular part. Can you remember a time when you were so focused on one thing, that you had no idea what else was happening around you? At ALG, we want you to do the opposite!

If you really want to learn Thai, collect as many experiences as possible, both in an outside of our classrooms. Do not focus on specific words or phrases. In this way you will become fluent naturally, as children do the world over.