Language Acquisition Made Practical
by Phil Martin
Sara and I are (hopefully) starting language school this week. We are using a book called Language Acquisition Made Practical (LAMP) to guide our language study. The idea is that most methods of language learning lead to vocab and grammar rich, readers and writers of a language who are essentially unable to communicate verbally. This matches my own experience in studying Chinese, and in meeting Chinese students who can read Harry Potter books in English, but can’t carry a conversation.
The basic method is to find a language helper who will correct your grammar, pronunciation, and word choice as you say a variety of phrases. The result is that the student is speaking for several hours every day, quickly building good pronunciation habits.
For Mandarin, we start by learning Pinyin, a romanization system that allows a student to learn to pronounce all Chinese words without learning the characters. After we are relatively fluent in listening and speaking, we will concentrate on learning the characters. By this time next month, I hope to have a progress report on our Mandarin studies.