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Learn English like a child: scam or an effective approach?

Just got an email from someone asking me to teach them the natural way - so they can learn the same way a child would. I had to say no.

CAN you learn English the way children do it? The short answer is, unfortunately, no. The longer version is below.

I remember working at a public school in China teaching groups of 40-ish kids. When I just started teaching them, the children understood a couple of words only: things like "cat" and 'hello teacher". And then there's this little girl who comes up to me and is like "Hi teacher Tina. How are you doing?" I thought to myself "That's unexpected! What is an American girl doing here?"

Turns out, she'd spent a year in California with her parents and she picked up a ton of English!

Adults don't learn the same way. Spending a year in the US far from guarantees noticeable progress. Why?

Kids have an edge with their adaptable brains and immersive environment. They do really soak up language like sponges, while we approach it with a bit more strategy. Critical thinking and grammar rules are our allies. We bring a methodical approach to learning, dissecting the language bit by bit.

Think of memory like a double act. There's the "Practice & Skills" memory (procedural) and the "Facts & Rules" memory (declarative) .

Kids lean on the first, learning by doing. As we grow up, we start to rely on the second more. This is one of the reasons you simply cannot learn English the way a kid would. Your brain literally no longer works the way it used to.

So as adults, we strike a balance, juggling both systems to tackle all the challenges of learning a language.

Certain things are better learned through doing, while with others it's best to learn the rules first (even better if your teacher guides you and helps you discover the rule), and then to practice it and only then use the "doing" part of your memory.

Anyone claiming they'll teach you English just like a child is peddling nonsense. Our brains have matured.

But guess what? With hard work, dedication, and proper feedback, fluency is entirely achievable.

So, don't buy into the hype. Embrace the challenge, tackle it head-on, and watch yourself progress. 📚💪🏽

🤠✌🏽If you want to save time, let me guide you to fluency. Text or email me - I'll be happy to help!

Tina is a professional English Teacher with a Cambridge education and 10+ years of teaching English to adults in-person and online.

She wants you and English learners like you to develop a solid understanding of what you need to do to start speaking better English faster (and not fall for English-in-a-month scams).


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