A question about ALG

“‘[S]peaking’ in the early stages might damage the student’s ability.” alg history http://www.algworld.com/history.php http://bit.ly/eBx5Hl

Why do they think that speaking in the early stages of learning a foreign language might damage our ability? Why should we be so stoical?

Even I do not buy that. I think we should do what we want to do. How do you prevent people from speaking if they want to? I just think that the pressure to speak early is not needed nor helpful.

I think that what Steve said “I think we should do what we want to do.” is true.

As for me, I started studying Chinese with native speaker on Skype. Actually she speaks Japanese, so it is no problem to continue to learn with her.

The pressure to speak early is not needed nor helpful.

I think it is not true. It depends on tutors. If we meet a good tutor, it is possible to start to speak a little with him ore her. Actually, I enjoy the pressure.

In my view, speaking’ little by little in the early stages is one solution to learn a foreign language naturally (in a real situation).

Sorry, I made a mistake. In my comment, I wanted to say “a good tutor means one who has capacity to manage to have learners speak a little even if they are beginners” but it might not be helpful to speak in the early stages with native speakers who has no experience to teach foreign languages.

who has–>>who have

The ALG program does not focus on speaking, until words occur on their own. If you don’t understand target language properly, early speaking creates built-in mistakes. That’s my own experience. I try not to speak and listen and read a lot. I just talk to my boss,who is from Germany, from time to time. (Me: Would you like coffee? He: Yes, quickly please. Me: Yes boss.) :))

Correction: I try not to speak but I listen and read a lot.

It might be very smart or ideal to listen to and to understand completely what native speakers say, but it is difficult to do that. It is a question of retention. I can not memorize all the sentences I listen to in foreign languages even for one minute.

And it is very stressful for me to speak no words even in the early stages.
Naturally, I want to produce even a simple word I have just learned.

Listen carefully and repeat, that is a natural activity of learning, I think.

A monologue practice is the best way to memorize words and phrases.


I can’t even memorize sentences exactly for one minute in my native language. However I know the whole meaning. When I listen to English lesson many times and try understand the meaning I hear phases and sentences without any effort of memorizing.

Corection: phrases

Only listening to contents many time is not helpful for me. Listening to them many time & reading aloud contents many time is more helpful than simply listening to them. This activity allows me to pay attention to and to memorize each word and phrase because I use each function; eyes, ear, mouth, at the same time. Also, reading aloud & writing activity is helpful because I use hands at the same time.
In my vies, more we use functions of body, more we memorize words, phrases and sentences easily.

The “danger” with ALG and other passive methods is that it might take forever for the learner to feel confident. While listening is a great activity, not only by giving the student a chance to hear the language/comprehension skills etc., but also that it in fact helps the speaking skills (especially if you’re speaking along - search for Olle Kjellin’s works), one has to start speaking sometime, if only by practicing the sounds and establish such things as sentence structure. See the “Polyglot sentence method”:

In fact, ALG sets a limit of 800 hours before you speak, so it is not really indefinite.

I agree with ALG that “‘speaking’ in the early stages might damage the student’s ability.” Notice the usage of ‘might’, meaning that it depends on the learners. Some “might not”.

Correct me if I am wrong, my impression with ALG (I read the whole book) is that learners are never forced to speak in the class for the first 800 hours. So no one really forces you NOT to speak outside the class, but it is not encouraged.

If we assume that we take 120-minute lesson every day, 800 hours signifies 400 days, that is, more than one year.

I wonder if writing in the early stages is also not encouraged.

Some people takes 4 hour or even 8 hour daily classes.

A silence period of 3 months to a year sounds about right to me.

I tried writing at early stage, not useful at all. Very discouraging too.

My brother’s ex-wife(from Russia) had a poor speaking skills at the beggining of living in Czech republic. She became pretty fluent after at about 7 months. She didn’t train speaking at all. She answered questions very shortly. She spoke Russian with her husband.(My brother’s Russian is very good.) However she was totally surrounded by Czech native speakers. She listened a lot. She guessed a lot. She read Czech magazines from time to time. I listen to English via my smarthphone. I read lingq content. I watch english TV series. My progress will take longer because I listen to English just one hour a day.

What you’re saying is merely that listening provides valueable skills; and if you do less listening than others you might find it difficult to keep up with them. It doesn’t automaticily mean that you will be a bad speaker.

There are still some methods for beginners that focus on lots of speaking - Berlitz-type classes and repeat-after-me type of classes. The idea was that by repeating sentences a lot, you’d internalize the sentences and be able to use them.

But I think most beginner methods today focus on either providing lots of meaningful comprehensible input and/or providing traditional grammatical instruction. So, in that sense, ALG is not unusual. It’s an outgrowth of Krashen and Terrel’s Natural Approach, which is based on providing comprehensible input, with minimal overt grammar instruction.

As for why speaking early might be dangerous - it could result in the formation of incorrect language usage which could be difficult to change later. I think that’s the main worry. This is what often happens/happened to immigrants. They get to a new country, and they have to start speaking immediately, and so the language they produce is heavily influenced by their native language. Their comprehension can improve to be native-like, but their spoken language may remain stuck in that hybrid “interlanguage” phase.

I don’t think this is so relevant for language learners because, even if we’re speaking at early stages, we’re probably mostly listening and we’re able to go back and use our study materials to analyze our errors (or have a tutor point them out). It’s not like we’re being thrown in the deep end of the pool and forced to sink or swim 24/7. Even Benny, with his “speak from day 1” approach, is mostly trying to get people to talk to him. It’s not like he has to get a job and function in the language all day.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the website seems to say that the program began as a way to teach Thai to foreigners. I’ve been to Thailand a couple of times, I took a Thai class while I was there, and I can tell you that I can easily imagine having to listen to 700 or 800 hours of meaningful comprehensible input before being able to express myself orally.

So, I don’t know if they mean to suggest that everyone studying every language should be quiet for 700 or 800 hours - but that was their experience with Thai. They are “Natural Approach” based, so of course they will expect and plan for a “silent period”, but I think the silent period will of course vary from person to person and language to language.