ALG World

Automatic Language Growth was born from the desire to achieve fluency in a foreign language. During our quest to become "native" in a second language (something that many consider to be an impossible task), we have come to challenge many popular myths regarding language 'learning'. We invite you to visit our site thoroughly. It is our hope that what we offer here will challenge you and that you will benefit from our research and ideas regarding how we 'learn' and use language. And if you're one of the 90%+ who have 'failed' in their attempt to learn a foreign language, our message to you is take heart - it's not your fault.

Excerpt from Dr. J. Marvin Brown's book, “From the Outside In”

(download the book from our Archives page.)

Zambi came from the village of Makui in central Africa a hundred years ago and her parents arranged for her to marry a man in the village of Mujambi, which spoke a completely different language. She arrived there not knowing a word of Mujambi and nobody there knew any Makui-not even her husband. During the day, while her husband was hunting with the other men, the women took Zambi along with them as they did their basket weaving and gardening. At night everybody sat around the fire and listened to stories. Zambi’s daily life could be described as ‘silently tagging along’. After a year of this she understood almost everything that went on around her and could say a few words and phrases. After 2 years she was quite fluent, and after 3 or 4 years she was almost like a native Mujambi villager.

  • Mary’s way: What does that mean? How do you say this? How do you spell it?’
  • Zambi’s way: ‘Tagging along’-caught up in a cascade of everyday happenings without trying to say anything for nearly a year.

We don’t have to go to the Africa of 100 years ago to find people using Zambi’s way. We all used it ourselves. That’s how we learned our native language: tagging along without trying to say anything for the first year. It works for children. It worked for Zambi. Why doesn’t it work for everyone? The common belief is that we lose the child’s secret as we grow up. But what about Zambi? The answer seems to lie in the second part: not trying to say anything for the first year. You see, adults just can’t resist Mary’s way when it’s available. But it isn’t available to little children and it wasn’t available to Zambi. That’s the secret!

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