Accelerated Learning and Second Language Acquisition
AL Learning Environment
An Accelerated Learning environment is safe, dynamic and fun. The central premise to AL methodology is that learning is an organic and holistic experience. Using games, drama and music as primary learning tools, the AL instructor promotes balance between the brain's right and left hemispheres.
The right hemisphere of the brain is the holistic hemisphere. When the right hemisphere is activated, learners experience languages globally through art, music and other non-linear activities. The left hemisphere is the linear, rational hemisphere. Mathematics, logic and distinguishing parts are the left hemisphere's activities. In order for learning to be most effective, AL presents information in ways that resonate in both hemispheres of the brain.
AL and Language Acquisition
An AL class has distinguishing characteristics from a traditional language learning experience. First and most importantly, AL does not teach grammar. Accelerated Learning begins from the foundational assumption that language is most effectively acquired in the same way that children originally acquire their native languages. Therefore, immersion is a first priority for AL.
Since children do not acquire native languages by first learning grammar, AL does not include grammar as part of its curriculum. Neither does AL emphasize memorization, per se. Although memory is activated through play, learners do not apply linear rote memorization techniques. Learners integrate whole phrases, words and concepts in the second language and then access those elements organically through experiential methods. The methods applied are designed to promote balanced brain activity. Most learners are surprised at how well they recall course content with AL strategies.
The Learning Environment
An AL language class must be experienced to appreciate AL dynamics. It is helpful, though, to describe what an Accelerated Learning classroom experience might be like. When learners enter into the AL class, they might be greeted by the instructor in the language they are there to acquire. There is no pressure at this point or any other. The instructor is gracious, friendly and supportive.
Learners may be directed to select a name tag, enjoy some refreshments and mingle until all of the learners have arrived. Juices, water, coffee, and tea will quench thirst throughout the class period. Cookies, fruits and vegetables give learners a refreshing boost during breaks. Looking around the learning space, learners will notice brightly colored posters that are related to the language in question. Music that is conducive to learning, such as Baroque music, will play throughout class time.
Learners will be comfortably seated, even on sofas and easy chairs. Comfort is an important component for an AL experience. When the language learning experience officially begins (it really begins as soon as learners arrive), the instructor will guide learners through a visualization meditation to reinforce a sense of mastery.
Learning may occur in brief spurts of 30 minutes with brief relaxation periods punctuating exposure to content. The instructor likely will guide learners through games, dramatic role plays and other energetic interactions with the language to be learned. There are no tests. As a child would use his native language, learners easily participate in the various activities, using the language they wish to learn. This means that the environment is completely safe. Errors are not considered failures. Rather, errors are guided to correction with humor and supportive-ness.
An AL language acquisition course might extend over the course of six-to-eight weeks. The way that learning is evaluated is by the way that learners are able to comprehend and speak the language in AL settings.