Early on in my study of the thai language via ALG (automatic language growth) at the Ratchadamri branch of AUA (American University Alumni), the director of the program, David Long, asked me if I would document my experiences. But the idea didn’t interest me, so I declined.
One of the reasons that I had chosen to study Thai via ALG, as opposed to more traditional language learning methods, was the claim that students who went through the program and stuck to the ALG methodology ended up with native (or near native) level fluency. The credibility of this claim appeared stronger and stronger to me as I progressed through the program and my comprehension of spoken Thai grew.
I’ve been struck by how few of the people I’ve spoken with seem to believe that you could actually learn a foreign language using ALG, let alone that using it would lead to native level fluency. When I get into a conversation with someone who has not used ALG as a learning method, the reaction is usually somewhat negative. The advice I’ve gotten in these conversations has been to either eschew ALG altogether in favor of a more traditional textbook-based, drill-oriented method of study; or to at the very least supplement the ALG program with more traditional study. Even at AUA, it is obvious from the considerable number of students who tote around dictionaries and take notes, that a lot of those attending the program do not have confidence in the ALG method and therefore do not practice it.
My own decision to give ALG a chance was influenced in part by a former student’s online blog describing his experiences with the Thai program (daninbangkok). However, this was really the only testimonial to ALG’s efficacy that I was able to find online, other than David Long’s own writings and videos.
As I’ve been approaching the 1000 hour mark at AUA Ratchadamri, my increasing appreciation for ALG as a language learning method combined with my perception that it is neither well known nor (when it is known) trusted to actually work, has led me to want to document my experiences with the program.
Note: In September 2012, the Ratchadamri branch of AUA relocated to Chumchuri Square