The Biblical Language Center’s unwarranted assumptions

Amused by this bit on their “why it works” page.

Do you remember learning your mother tongue?  Probably not, it just kind of happened, as if without effort.   Wouldn’t it be great to learn other languages that easily and yet so effectively?  In fact, research has shown that the way a child learns its mother tongue is the best and most efficient way for everyone, at any age, to learn additional languages.  The trick, then, is to imitate how young children learn languages as closely as possible.

So how do they do it?  Well, they spend hours listening to the language before they start trying to produce or read it.  They immerse themselves (they call it “play”) in the world around them, interacting with objects, actions and ideas long before they know the proper words and expressions, knowing that with repetition meaning will become self-evident.  And when they do start talking, they make hundreds of mistakes, and they don’t care that they do (nor do their parents).

Um.

  1. Just because you don’t remember the effort of learning your language doesn’t mean you didn’t expend any.  Do you remember the effort of learning to walk?  Of potty-training?  Your parents will probably be quick to assure you that much work went into all of these things.
  2. The parents of small children do in fact care about the mistakes, and correct them.  (“Daddy, can I have the other one spoon?”  “Other spoon.”  “Other one spoon.”  “Say it with me:  Other spoon.”  “Other spoon.  Now can I have the other one spoon?”)

Which is not to say the BLC is wrong about which techniques are most effective.  Just that it’s silly to fancy it should be effortless on the basis of not remembering life as a two-year-old.

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