Man’s commitment to language study is something that’s never made sense to me. A statistic that I’ve never heard argued is this one: Over 95% of those who study a foreign language fail! Wow!
If I said to you that I have a business opportunity, and that you must invest for a year to become moderately profitable, and you only have a 5% chance of that, would you invest? Of course not!
So what is it about language study that is so attractive? Classes tend to be hard work, students always make mistakes that are embarrassing, and it’s tedious. Most of us fail miserably.
Are we so short-sighted that all we need is to remember a few words each day in order to feel like we’re advancing?
Do our ego’s so control us that we’re unable to admit that language education isn’t working?
In any other field, a 95% failure rate would be a great indicator that it’s time to look for something different.
Of course we don’t have to look far – for over 30 years, we’ve had the theoretical knowledge of the answer – Krashen’s Natural Approach. The key is input. You don’t get output through practicing output – Output comes from input. Duh.
But even before Krashen, we’ve had a world full of masters at the game – those young children who go to foreign countries and simply pick up the language from their environment. How difficult is that? I know, I know. We adults are no longer 5 years old. So is that what’s stopping you from thinking? What is it that the 5 year old does, and doesn’t do? Can you replicate that as an adult?
Let’s face it – 95% failure means it’s time to get some new ideas people. A good place to start is with those who do it right, every time.