normally teach English
through a a book. But the textbook method is too slow and piecemeal.
ESL speakers take a shortcut. They adapt English words to their
own accent and syntax. The result is "broken English".
is no one-to-one map between a sentence in English and a sentence
in another language. Trying to learn a language through translation
slows us down because the map doesn't work. Translation
is also impossible in a multi-cultural classroom.
The immersion method
works because it replicates our first language learning experience.
The way we learned our mother tongue was by connecting a visual
memory with a speech sound. We connected "bye bye" with
putting on a coat and going toward the door.
immersion requires temporarily inhibiting expression in the first
language. New Americans hear
English on the street, but they express themselves in their first
language at home and at work.
what is the fastest,
most efficient method of learning English?
Learners can "read"
picture sentences almost immediately. We are wired to interpret
images as we are wired to learn grammar. Adults have been raised
in an image-rich environment that has much cross-culture redundancy,
so there is a comfort level with many symbols, such as an arrow
for next and a slash mark for negatives.
Adults are also problem
solvers and are not as literal-minded as children, so they can handle
even English rebus symbols such as an eye for an "I".
They enjoy both metaphor and the experience of a direct link between
picture and thought.
Early civilizations used picto-graphic languages. Over time, the
visual references became obscure and literacy became esoteric. Languages
like Hebrew, that used a phonetic code, had a huge evolutionary
advantage in learning efficiency. It was a kind of "just-in-time"
way of noting down what people said, and of course, was not metaphorical,
like signs, but a real transcription of the actual utterance.
But when languages
merge and spelling rules proliferate (English is the best example),
literacy again becomes a long formal process. So we need a short
Just as wireless technology can skip over generations of infrastructure,
we can skip the painful steps needed to learn the alphabet and phonics.
Using multimedia, we can simultaneously present an image, a sound,
and a label. It is this simultanaity that provides the brain with
a network of meaning, pronunication, text and grammar.