an explanation of the automatic language growth method

Someone knocked on my door today to ask me to teach them English (I’m not joking!) They want private lessons, and I’m at a bit of a loss because I really, really believe in the method used at my Thai school, where you spend hours listening before you try to speak. Many people don’t like this method because they want to speak right away, but in my experience, especially with a tonal language like Thai, those people who speak early NEVER learn how to speak properly, and their accent is awful. They will never sound like a native speaker.

Similarly, I’ve studied both Japanese and Italian at university, and while I did well at the time, I remember maybe 5 words of each, now. Thais typically learn English in school for years, and most of them can barely speak at all. In both cases, it doesn’t stick. Whereas I feel like I will remember the Thai I know until the day I die.

I think in Thai even, sometimes now. I have to mentally translate to speak to my mother, because some ideas pop into my head in Thai.

Here’s an interesting video of David Long, the director of the Thai program at AUA, explaining the ALG method used in my Thai class:

1 Response to “an explanation of the automatic language growth method”


  1. 1 Catherine May 11, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I haven’t tried AUA’s formal lessons where you don’t speak for months, but I do own their old lessons. If modernised, the books would be grand.

    I’m another one of those who don’t feel they would have the patience to sit through hours of not being able to speak back to their teachers in Thai.

    I was iffy about it before but I now feel has merit. That’s because every time I watch Thai TV, I can tell that my ears are fine-tuning into the language.

    A given, listening, really listening, is just as important as talking. But as no one lesson plan suits all, I’ll continue on with what I’m doing.

    Slowly as she goes…


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