By Tarun Patel
Duncan says, “I have often found that learners of all levels feel that there is inadequate time spent on listening in most language courses. Adult learners often complain that (sometimes) after years of study, they can’t understand native speakers. This is partly because they do not receive adequate exposure to authentic texts in class. Another is that it’s hard to find authentic audio texts that can be easily adapted for classroom use.
To tackle these issues, I have developed an approach to listening based loosely on the way children learn languages. I’ve found this to be hugely advantageous in my own language learning, and have passed it on to my students with considerable success.
Children versus adults – children win
According to estimates (Pinker, S., The Language Instinct, 150-151), an average six year old commands about 13,000 words, equivalent to acquiring a new word every two hours.
Children have huge advantages over adult foreign learners in the classroom – they are constantly exposed to the target language and their brains are optimized for rapid language acquisition.
In this article, I argue for a ‘simulated immersion’ approach. The idea is that learners engage in a variety of different types of listening in their own time, similar to what they would encounter if they were living in an English speaking country. Essentially they are trying to mimic the language learning behaviour of young children.”