I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about the reasons for the Silent Period.
The main reason I’m interested in this topic is because I started speaking Spanish (as an inexperienced language learner) without having listened to a lot of Spanish and have had many of the usual problems which I do not want to repeat in future languages
I believe my problems are related to speaking too early. I’m still improving and I know I can defossilize some of these mistakes so all is not lost. However, I am going to use this knowledge to improve new language attempts.
Anyway, I can understand that the Silent Period gives you time to listen to the sounds and patterns of the language and to absorb vocabulary.
However, assuming Silent Periods (plural, because a silent period can still be applied at a later stage for late listeners) are key in advancing towards fluency then I think that the Silent Period literature is not providing some vital information.
For example, the ALG method specifies 800 hours of silence. They say that this is the required time that absolutely everybody in this program needs to absorb a specific quantity of vocabulary/understanding before speaking.
I was going to ask 2 questions but I think I only need 1 now. What amount of absorbed vocabulary through comprehensible input is needed before speaking (for the silent period to be deemed a success)?
I was thinking of questioning the number of hours through ALG (as mentioned in the link below) by suggesting that the implementation of TPR and other right brain learning techniques would reduce this value significantly but it all leads to the same question of how much vocabulary do we need? (Effortless English Archives: Silent Period Teaching Methods)
Frequency dictionaries talk about 70% coverage with the first ~1000 words, 80% with ~3000 words and 90%+ with 5000 words. So, how many words do we wait to absorb? (Vocab numbers in lingq are calculated slightly differently, I’m using Routledge Frequency Dictionary values here as a guidline.)
I think we need to know this amount in order to fully understand and benefit as much as possible from the Silent Period. Being silent for a short period is helpful but it could be too short to be truly effective for the learner. Likewise, I’m sure you can be silent for too long.
If we know the vocab number than we only need to flick through a Frequency dictionary to estimate if we are ready! That is assuming we know the number
Any thoughts on quantities?