Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Cross Talk

by AJ

Here's an idea I plan to implement as soon as I get to Hiroshima: Start a "Crosstalk Club".

It works as follows: Japanese speakers and English speakers come to a cool place and hang out together. This could be a restaurant or a coffee shop, for example. Basically, that's it.... with one caveat. Everybody speaks their native language. So the Japanese people speak Japanese and the English speakers (American, Brit, etc. expats) speak English.

There is ABSOLUTELY NO FOCUS on language learning. No grammar lessons. No drills of any kind. The sole focus is on communication. Of course, in order to be understood, each speaker will have to simplify their language. They will have to use drawings, actions, and gestures. They may, occasionally, resort to a dictionary. But all focus is on being understood.

This has many benefits. For one, it reduces anxiety. Most people (especially Japanese students) are scared to speak the target language. Its difficult and you feel like an idiot. Bu most people are much more comfortable listening to the language. There is a good reason for this.... we know from language acquisition studies that comprehension precedes speech by a year or more. We need lots of input before we are ready to speak. Most programs try to force the speech and end up scaring away their students.

In the crosstalk club, the Japanese students get tons of comprehensible English by conversing (listening to) native English speakers. Likewise, the English speakers get a huge amount of comprehensible Japanese. The great thing is that this language is acquired without conscious effort and without pain. They think they are hanging out and meeting people-- and they are-- but at the same time they are acquiring language. The purpose of the club is to make friends and have a great time... but language acquisition is a nice byproduct. In fact, my own motivation for starting the club is not to learn Japanese or meet students--- its social. I'm moving to a new place and would like to make friends.

Of course, the crosstalk club can be a starting point for further activities... parties, outings, workshops (NOT ABOUT LANGUAGE!!), etc.... Just let the members take it where they want to go.

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