Different approaches to multilingualism

When it comes to language acquisition there seem to be quite a few schools of thought, so it might be quite useful to summarize them here:


Noted adherents: Steve Kaufmann, Mark Kaufmann, Friedemann Rohr

Kaufmannism is an input based audio lingual approach. It is characterized by an initial silent period of 150 to 200 hours (unless living in a country where the language is spoken), and minimal focus on the study of grammar and syntax.

Verdict: known to be highly effective if applied with consistency over time.


Noted adherents: unknown

Jonesism may be regarded as a refinement of Kaufmannism. It was invented in the late 20th century by a vodka sodden Welshman. It is essentially the same as Kaufmannism, but incorporates the formal study of grammar alongside input based activities.

Verdict: the finest system known to mankind


Noted adherents: John Fotheringham, Igor the Beaver

Krashanism is, in many ways, a primitive precursor to Kaufmannism. It eliminates entirely the study of grammar, and recommends a silent period of up to 2000 hours.

Verdict: might work well for some


Noted adherents: Benny the Irish Polyglot and many deluded teenagers.

(NB There are worrying signs that Susanna Zaraysky may also be a follower.)

Bennyism is characterized by a desire to speak – pidgin style – from hour one. The exact details of the method have never been presented in an entirely coherent manner, but the suggestion is that one should simply walk into a foreign supermarket, grin like a senile ape, and…well…speak.

Verdict: based on a total lie. Benny has learned some languages to a high level, but certainly not the way he claims.


High Priest: Prof. Alexander Arguelles.

A highly mystical system, involving an input based simultaneously silent-and-loud period (known as “shadowing”) which lasts for countless thousands of hours. Disciples of this order go forth two or three times every day into public parks, march along in straight lines while listening to their iPods, and…well…shadow.

The method also incorporates strict old-school study of grammar, and the handwritten copying of copious amounts of authentic target language text.

Verdict: plainly not for everyone – although the results do speak for themselves. This method requires iron discipline, it is probably excellent for those with severe anal tendencies and OCD sufferers.

Hahahahahaha!!! I’m probably part of the Jonesism school. I completely agree with the Bennyism thing as well =D

I probably fall into the Kaufmanist camp, however nothing is set in stone.

I have yet to study any grammar in Spanish (assuming you don’t count receiving writing corrections back as ‘studying’ grammar). And when I return to German, I doubt I’ll ‘study’ any grammar either. I just can’t be bothered, although that might (have to) change when I start learning Russian! Time will tell.

Also, I might become more motivated to study grammar if I were living in the country and wanted to become ‘really good’ at the target language (particularly writing).


Contrary to what is said above, I am in fact a disciple of brother Jones, always have been and always will, and that in spite of the fact that I don’t drink and never have sex more than once per day!

Well, so far we have have declared adherents of Jonesism outnumbering adherents of Kaufmannism by a ratio of 2:1…! Steve had better look out here! :-p

Who is Jones, anyway?

LOL Nicely done!

For me, Kaufmannism. Jones’ disciples are just too scared to throw away the security blankey.

LOL that’s quite funny.
Who knew, I am apparently a Jonesist. clutches her grammar book

“Who is Jones, anyway?”

Clue: if he were an RAF pilot, his aircraft would be called “J-for-Jones”…!

Got it! … is it you? It’s you, right?!

Just as a point of clarification, Krashen doesn’t eliminate the study of grammar and doesn’t recommend a long silent period, i.e. a period where people are forbidden to speak.

Speaking on behalf the erratic Prof. Dr. Herr Kaufmann, (picture an older version of Einstein with even wilder hair)

He does not specify a silent period, nor the amount of time one should spend on grammar. He feels these things are up to the learner.

The only imperatives are 1) to enjoy what we do, 2) spend lots of the time with the language,mostly listening and reading, and 3) develop the ability to notice what is happening in the language.

In this latter regard LingQ can help, and so can grammar study, interacting with a tutor, having writing corrected, and whatever we enjoy doing.

Hahaha! I straddle the Jonesism and Kaufmannism camps. (Since my right foot is bigger than my left foot, I have to say that I lean more heavily on the side of Kaufmannism.) You can’t escape grammar–not even in your mother tongue. The thing is, grammar comes in stages, along with tons of input. Who would deny its usefulness? Plus, it helps to love the kind of input you’re receiving. I would also add that grammar makes more sense following loads of input/exposure. The ration for me is 75/25, input and grammar respectively.

I think we ought to distinguish between grammar workbooks, textbooks and references (Pedagogical Grammars) and grammar as the notion that language is rule based. The latter IS unavoidable, the former is best avoided*-- research has shown this time and again. I have already posted several links but even the most hard boiled rationalists on this forum tend to brush them aside.

*(unless you somehow enjoy the grammar input as if it were like input about any other arcane subject, without worrying to much about its efficacy and validity.)

I’ve mistakenly taken the title of this thread as “Different Approaches to MultiCulturalism”, read with amusement through to the end, re-read the title, and only then said Aahh!

I actually read it the same way, Ilya_L. Huh.

But anyway, I don’t really bother with any of those. I just do whatever I enjoy doing. That involves a weird time management system I have, lots of YouTube based input, random grammar review, and some other stuff.

Is it haphazard and probably not as effective as possible? Yes, but I find it works better than trying to use what works for someone else.

My approach to multilingualism

If my mother tongue had been Japanese and my “father” tongue had been English, I would have been bilingual. Luckily or unluckily, my mother speaks Japanese and my father spoke the same language. I think that the Japanese language will remain my first language until I die.
As a foreign language I began studying English at school when I was twelve, and I am still learning it. In my twenties I chose and learned German as the selective second foreign language in addition to my major subjects. It is strange that I felt sentences written in German were easier to read than those written in English at that time . . . . I feel that learning more than two or three foreign languages is difficult for me as long as I live in so-called this world.

I really hope that my last post was not off-topic.

Bortrun said:
“Just as a point of clarification, Krashen doesn’t eliminate the study of grammar and doesn’t recommend a long silent period, i.e. a period where people are forbidden to speak.”

Okay, maybe the big K doesn’t eliminate grammar entirely - but he isn’t exactly big on the formal study of grammar, is he?

Your other point seems wrong. It is only silent-period extremists who would actually “forbid” learners from speaking, I think.

I would understand a silent period as a phase of time during which the learner is passively assimilating a ‘critical mass’ of language. There is no special reason why people should not try to start speaking during this phase if the opportunity or need to do so should arise. But speaking early on will not help learners to progress towards the point of fluency any more quickly than staying silent - that is the point.

For me there is. I made an effort to be in situations where I could practice French while I was still a beginner (and before I found LingQ). It quickly became very discouraging for me.