brooklynmonk

Children Vs. Adults, Language Learning vs. Acquisition

In Uncategorized on June 29, 2015 at 3:15 am

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By Antonio Graceffo

I largely reject the notion that children learn languages more easily or that if they do, or that this somehow gives them an advantage when learning a foreign language. David Long, the director of AUA Bangkok and the world’s leading proponent of Automatic Language Growth Theory (ALG) said, “We don’t believe children learn physics faster. So, why do we believe they learn language faster?”

All over the world people begin learning English as a child. Across Asia and Europe, English is a core requirement of the school curriculum. And yet all of the professional translators, linguists and people who speak English at a level appropriate to their age and education learned THAT level of English as adults and through study.

My belief is that culturally, our society, all societies, are set up in such a fashion that you teach things to children. I watch a mother playing with her child and she holds up an object and says “ball, ball” a million times. then maybe she says “This is a red ball.” I wish I could pay someone to do that for me. But even with this constant input, it takes years for children to acquire their native tongue. And, acquiring a language is very different from learning a language. Acquiring language generally only happens for the first language is learned in this manner. Here, I am using a loose definition of “first language,” to include all languages widely spoken in the child’s home country. For example, a Swiss person who speaks high German, Swiss German, and French is simply speaking the languages he or she is exposed to and which he or she acquired. Statistically, Swiss are terrible language learners.

At the ALG school in Bangkok, we tracked people by nationality and evaluated who learned Thai the fastest. Swiss were among the lowest scorers. Acquiring language and learning language are very different concepts. I actually had a person who was a PhD in anthropology telling me that he believed Africans learned languages faster. He said, “Africans are such great linguists. I have been in villages where everyone spoke six languages.” First off, a linguist is one who studies language, not languages. Secondly, these people acquired these languages. The test on whether or not an African can learn a language faster than say a Singaporean would be to send them both to school in Latvia.

As an adult, you can use your intellect, discipline, self-control and knowledge of what a language is, to learn a second language faster than any child.

In both Taiwan and Thailand I had friends who were missionary families. The parents went to language classes, while the children attended the international school. A year later, the parents poke the local language, but the kids didn’t. To a thinking man, it should be a no brainer that the one who attended classes learned, but the ones who didn’t classes didn’t. But there is a magical belief that children simply acquire language out of the air. This is clearly untrue.

As for adult discipline, in Taiwan, back in 2002, Chinese textbooks are generally only available in English medium, or occasionally in Japanese. Two Italian priests, who spoke no English, were attending Chinese classes. So they could neither understand the explanations or translations in the book, nor could the teacher help them very much. Where I was able to complete a chapter per day, they could only do one page per day because it took them about 8 hours each evening, to go through the following day’s page, using a paper dictionary, translating each and every word into Italian. Most children couldn’t do that. Had you put 2 ten year-olds in that class, they would simply have failed.

I have had a standing offer, which no one has taken me up on, but I challenge anyone in the world to send me and a 10 year old to a country chosen at random, where neither of us speaks the language, and test which of us learns the language faster.

Brooklyn Monk and The Cell Doctor (Part 1)

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2015 at 6:28 pm
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A lifetime of accumulated sports injuries finally caught up with the forty-eight year-old Brooklyn Monk. Hoping to avoid expensive and very dicey knee surgery, he heads off to Pattaya, Thailand to meet Dr. Peter Lewis, a sports medicine physician from Australia, operating out of Surecell Clinic for Platelet Rich Plasma therapy, a new scientific breakthrough which is having wondrous results in the treatment of knees, elbows, joints, ligaments, and tendons. Listen as Antonio Graceffo, the Brooklyn Monk interviews Dr. Lewis about this revolutionary alternative to invasive surgery.

Watch: Brooklyn Monk and The Cell Doctor (Part 1)

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
The Monk from Brooklyn, the book which gave Antonio his name, and all of his other books, the book available at amazon.com. His book, Warrior Odyssey, chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia, including stories about Khmer and Vietnamese martial arts as well as the war in Burma and the Shan State Army, is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
Twitter
http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk
facebook
Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Foreigners confused about money in Phnom Penh

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2015 at 2:44 am

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By Antonio Graceffo

At a foreign restaurant/bar, in Phnom Penh, I witnessed some middle-aged western men vainly trying to persuade a friend of mine, who is a security manager, to get them jobs as security guards. The scene was so pathetic, and raised a number of questions. Why were they here? Why were they broke? Why didn’t they know that foreigners can’t work as security guards? Why didn’t they know that the money they were spending in the bar that night would equal about half a month’s wage for the job they were trying to get?

Cambodia, like Thailand, is full of foreigners with no money, looking for jobs or “opportunities” if they present themselves, and desperate enough to get suckered into any sort of nonsense. I have seen more than one foreigner tell me they were going to come to Cambodia and work in a security company. Security is a huge business in Cambodia, but they only hire Khmer guards, and pay them $85-$130 USD per month. They don’t need or even want you. A foreigners’ lack of Khmer language skills would be a huge impediment to the work of a security guard. The same goes for foreigners who want to come here and work in a restaurant or do some other low-level job. Foreign chefs can be paid fairly well. But they are bringing skills which locals may not have. But the salary for a common restaurant worker is between $85-$120 a month, for a ten-hour shift, 28 days a month.

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Other people tell me they want to come here and train in martial arts, offering their labor cleaning the school, in exchange for training. The local trainers are extremely poor and they need your money, not your labor. Your labor, cleaning the school, is worth about $3 a day. But that job can also be done by any of the Khmer students, for free, making you a redundant Whiteman.

Next, they think they will come here and work as trainers at fight gyms, in a country where the national sport is kick boxing. There are only about 5 gyms in Phnom Penh, and they already have their trainers in place. Others think they will start some sort of business, which entails a lot of lunches in restaurants, a lot of meetings, nights in bars, a lot of talk, and no actual business or money.

There are a few good jobs here. For example, teaching in an international school pays well, anywhere in the world. But you have to be qualified. You need a master degree, experience, a teaching license, letters of recommendation, and specific international school experience. But these are not the people who are contacting me about working here. NGO work can pay extremely well, but you have to have a skill that they need. And many will not hire locally. Remember, this is a country where foreign doctors and medical specialists from top hospital often work for free. You have to be hired from overseas. Basically, the rule of thumb is if you are a zero back home, if you find it impossible to earn a living in a rich country with a vibrant economy, where you were born, where you know people, where you speak the language, and have the legal right to work, don’t come to a poor country, with high unemployment and incredibly low wages, offering them NOTHING, and hoping to earn more than locals.

Dith Pran
Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
The Monk from Brooklyn, the book which gave Antonio his name, and all of his other books, the book available at amazon.com. His book, Warrior Odyssey, chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia, including stories about Khmer and Vietnamese martial arts as well as the war in Burma and the Shan State Army, is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
Twitter
http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk
facebook
Brooklyn Monk fan page
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brooklyn-Monk/152520701445654?fref=ts
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

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