Students often ask whether or not they should study using a particular method or program. To me this seems like a Cost to Benefit question. Below are the things I would consider.
My recommendations for anyone depend on their goals. Before deciding on what you should be doing to get somewhere, you’ll want to think about where it is you want to arrive. Most of our students are not highly interested in becoming fluent, or else they don’t believe that it’s possible anyway so find it difficult to even make the attempt.
At the same time, our program is most ideal for the person who wishes to become native in their usage of Thai. This means that the people who end up being most satisfied in an ALG program are those who know they want to become highly fluent from the start. Those who didn’t really concern themselves with this at the beginning, often become the most dissatisfied. They begin by wanting what they call “survival Thai” (something that I think doesn’t really exist because all the words you learn in a simple Thai course like that are generally the words Thais already know anyway) but after arriving at say 30% fluency, they really ‘feel’ the 70% they don’t have, and so want more. By the time a person has reached 60% fluency through typical adult language study means, he is often unable to advance, but generally doesn’t know why. That’s when all of the ridiculous things that people say start – such as our tongues get hard, or we are tone deaf, or children learn easier than adults. By then, we too can’t be of much help. He has already established neural pathways that generally aren’t going to be undone. By identifying your end goal at the very outset, you can do the things required to arrive there.
FOCUS ON HAPPENINGS – NOT LANGUAGE
To my way of understanding, the more a student focuses on happenings, AND the less he focuses on language, the more fluent he will become. Happenings are the building blocks of language (and a whole lot of other brainside things). If you build language through happenings, you will become fluent. If you build it in any other way, you are using adult abilities which young children don’t yet possess. This will enable you to begin speaking sooner than the young child, AND you will limit the quality of the end product. How little or how much depends on what you do and when you do it.
In the end, you must answer the question – “What will you gain by using this program or material?” While it’s not popular, we would ask this question as well – “What will it cost you to gain this benefit?” There is always a cost involved.
In the ALG program, we offer higher levels of fluency than you’re going to find elsewhere. The cost is that you won’t be speaking very soon, though overall, the program doesn’t take any longer than other full programs. With a more traditional approach, you will be speaking sooner. What will this cost you? Non-native language use as seen by adults all over the world.
Do you want to become highly fluent? Or is an end goal of 60% fluency enough? This is a question each language student must answer for themself.