Sunday, July 19, 2009

don't ever study English!

Have you every heard of ADSE? It stands for Absolutely Don't Study English and is also known as DESE, Don't Ever Study English. It's a method created by a Korean who then wrote a book for it. I believe the book was originally written in Korean and later Japanese and Chinese versions were published. Since it is a non-study way to learn a language, I am interested in finding out more about it and the man who wrote the book. Unfortunately, my Google searches don't give me much information.

The DESE process is outlined on this page and here I will quote it:
ADSE/DESE -- A Five-Stage Method of Language Acquisition & Language Learning

Stage 1: Select one audio tape suitable for your English level. Listen to it twice a day (one day off a week) until you can hear all the sounds of it. Don't try to translate and understand, comprehension is not important at this point, catching all the sounds is the goal.

Stage 2: Taking dictation of the whole passage sentence by sentence (not phrase by phrase or word by word). Looking up the English Dictionary (e.g. 'Collins COBUILD English Dictionary for Advanced Learners' or 'Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English') for the spelling of words you are not sure. Imitating the pronunciation and intonation, Reading the transcript aloud (recitation), you try to sound as much like the original as possible.

Stage 3: Writing down the definitions and the example sentences of the words you don't understand in Stage 2, you read them aloud. If there are any more words in Dictionary you still do not understand, you look them up and write them down, reading them aloud until you can understand all.

Stage 4: Select one video tape, VCD or DVD (Movie or TV Drama) without any model transcripts. Repeat the above Stages.

Stage 5: Going through an entire issue of an English newspaper printed in USA. (1) Read an article aloud (repeatedly). (2) Without looking, tell someone (or pretend to be telling someone) about what you have read. (3) Do dictionary work as needed. (4) One by One ...
I have a feeling the above quote does not give us the complete process. First of all, it doesn't really say how much nor how long. How long should the audio be for stage one? How long would this stage last?

In stage 2, for the spelling, what are you supposed to do about homonyms? If you don't understand the words yet, it won't be possible to pick the right homonym. It wouldn't even be possible to find the words in the dictionary either since the spelling patterns of English need to be learned before you can look anything up.

My main critique at this point is that every stage besides the first one looks like STUDY to me. Dictation is a lot of work and looking words up in a dictionary is tiring work. I thought this method was supposed to be based on enjoying the language. I would not enjoy all the work that this method prescribes.

I wonder what the results are like. If anybody can point me to any more info regarding this method, I would appreciate it. The only other description of it I found was written here.



  2. You should probably be aware that your blog has been called out on HTLAL (six-year old girl fluent "from" TV). I made a comment regarding your Chinese since someone confused our two blogs. I believe you deserve to know about it. BTW, the thing I posted in French mentions two Algerian children who learned German by watching TV. Considering that you've studied French etc. you should try reading it. One important thing - the jump between Arabic and German is significant enough that I'm less worried about this issue. The remaining concerns are adult staying power and whether such learners are perhaps too concerned with the goal vs. simply enjoying the content.

  3. @Reineke's first comment,
    the url you posted in the first comment is the same one I linked to and quoted in my post.

    @Reineke's second comment,
    I am aware of the thread and have been reading it, but thanks for notifying me.

    @the article Reineke posted and commented on,
    I don't know what issue you are talking about when you say you are less worried about it. My question in Japanese simply asks why you posted French content and then gave the post an English title. So then you are supposed to wonder why I posted a comment in Japanese to a post in French which has an English title.

    You sure seem to be able to find a lot of examples of children learning a foreign language through exposure to TV.

  4. I have to say, my first thought was that the entire process, not just everything except step 1, sounded just like study, but without the guidance of a teacher or mentor. It's all rather hit-or-miss on whether you learn useful things or not. Learning the right words first in a language will defintely get you on your feet faster than learning them in the order some random show has them.

  5. @ Keith I had two links, I posted the wrong one. I also believe your link initially pointed to a different site. Oh well.

    I was referring to the content of the French article and not your comment - which I sort of understood and answered. So you see I'm not wondering about it even though it was a nice try :) One of my main concerns regarding the TV approach (that I believe I mentioned here before) was that some languages would be perhaps too exotic to learn this way. The two kids learned German in perfect isolation. Their mother tongue is Arabic. I also realised that this is how my wife learned Chinese (however imperfectly). What we don't know yet is the learning time (but we're getting there).

  6. Reineke, perhaps you thought my link was different because there are 2 links in my post.

    If you are interested, contact me on Skype so I can try to understand your concerns better.

  7. The only thing I wouldn't consider study would be reading and listening to real, interesting material, enjoying what you understand and not worrying about what you don't. The way I see it, this method is just another variation of learning from recording with transcripts, like Assimil, L&R, shadowing, LinQ and so on.

  8. This is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek article on why English is a pain to learn!

  9. well, i have a copy of the book. for the first step you need to listen to the conversational audio for two hours.


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