Language learning frustration
I’ve been wanting to learn a new language for years and I spent years not succeeding. Sound familiar?
The usual stuff of classes, programs, and apps just never worked. This drove me to come up with a way that actually does work.
Research and real-world testing
While I was teaching at Bangkok University I did a lot of research and worked with my colleagues to lay the groundwork for what would become Easy Travel Speak.
Once I had a working model, I put it to the test. I used it to learn
- Chinese – Mandarin
- (and now working on) Khmer
Over time, it’s been changed a little and tweaked a lot and I’m sure there are more changes to come, but it works. You can learn to communicate in any language in a few weeks and be on the road to fluency.
Grammar or no grammar?
Test or talk?
Now with that said, you need to know what your goals are for learning a language. If you need to take a test for school, work, or business such as
- The Cambridge English exams
then you need to know grammar very well. Many of these tests focus on grammar.
But if you want to talk to people, connect with the culture, and make friends; if you are traveling for leisure, or a short time, or want to focus on communication then Easy Travel Speak is your answer. Easy travel Speak is also your gateway to fluency.
So what your goal is – to test or to talk?
Grammar makes learning a new language harder
Grammar inhibits language learning in the beginning stages is because it is arbitrary. That is why grammar is so difficult to learn. It’s literally made up. There is no intrinsic reason for it. You can’t figure it out. Someone has to tell you how it works. You have to memorize it.
For example, in English to go to a place in the present moment such as
“I am going to the store” requires
- a helping verb – am (most languages don’t have helping verbs)
- changing the ending of the action verb – ing (Why? I have no idea)
- adding a preposition – to (although we already know what the preposition is telling us, it’s repetitive and unnecessary).
- adding an article- the (many languages don’t even have articles)
All that is really necessary for communication, to talk to someone, to get the meaning across is:
“I go store”
And I’ll bet you understand “I go store” just as well as “I am going to the store”.
The arbitrariness of grammar
Articles, ‘a’ and ‘the’, are great examples of the arbitrariness of grammar. Many Indo-European languages have several articles such as
- plural masculine
- plural feminine
- plural neuter
English has one ‘the’ and two ‘a’ (a and an) and this seems to work just fine. Chinese does not use articles at all and this seems to work just fine.
So why does German, for example, need 6 forms of ‘the’? Because of grammar.
And let’s face it, most of us don’t use correct grammar anyway because it’s not the way we speak. For example, “Which box is it in?” is completely understandable but grammatically incorrect. It should be “In which box is it?”
This is a discussion I had, and still have, with many of my colleagues at the university – do we teach students the correct grammar or how the language is actually used?
It’s no longer a question for me. I teach how the language is used.
I’m not in any way saying that grammar is useless or should never be used. What I’m saying is
- if you want to be understood you don’t need grammar
- learning grammar when starting to learn a language is a hindrance
The beginning stage of learning a new language is the hardest
Scott Young & Vat Jaiswal in their TEDx Talk ‘One Simple Method to Learn Any Language’ uses a nice analogy to explain the difficulty of learning a language at the beginning.
They talk about the “zone of fear or zone of frustration” and liken it to swimming in the ocean. When you begin an ocean swim you have to get past the waves breaking on the beach to get to the calm water. The breakers push you back to the beach, keep you from getting to the calm water, and continually push you under making it very difficult to get past.
What removing grammar from the language acquisition process does at the beginning is to get you past the breakers and into the calm, swimmable water, faster. Removing grammar would be like making the waves smaller. It’s still difficult but now it’s a lot easier than in it was before.
The next key item in terms of grammar is that once you start speaking and listening in the new language, you begin to pick up and use the grammar. And that is a lot easier and less frustrating than memorizing tables and charts and trying to remember when to use which grammar elements.
Why Easy Travel Speak works
This is a foundation of Easy Travel Speak.
From day one you start SPEAKING the language because there are ‘no’ grammar elements.
I put ‘no’ in quotes because of course there are some grammar elements. You need a subject and a verb at the least. But these are universal grammar points. Chomsky was correct, there is a universal grammar and from that, we communicate first and then incorporate the specific grammar of the target language.
If your goal is talking then take the first step getting past the “zone of fear and frustration”. Start speaking now!
Easy Travel Speak is designed specifically to get you speaking fast so you can talk with the locals or take the first step to speak fluently and enjoy learning the language.