TO CONQUER THE WORLD WITH 1000 WORDS
Ana Mª Quesada Armenteros DNI: 77357896-H Filología Inglesa y Turismo Programación y Evaluación del Inglés
In the 21st century, an evident fact is the necessity of English in our daily life. English is one of the instruments that move the world nowadays; it joins countries, cultures and continents.
An example of that is the requirement of the English
knowledge (together with the computer knowledge) that enterprises request in their job offers. This is one of the main facts that make people want to learn that language in a fast and easy way. And the same fact is what leads to the creation of new methods and techniques of teaching foreign languages such as the Maurer’s Method. Carlos Maurer has dedicated more than 20 years to the Objectivist Epistemology, the branch of the philosophy that studies the mechanisms of learning of the human beings from the Aristotle point of view. According to his own words: ““The human beings learn due to the fact that they possess a conceptual mind but few of them know what the conceptual term refers to. Because of that, many educators commit the mistake of designing methods of learning not adapted for human beings””
A study financed by the Government of the United States demonstrated that more than 85 % of the English that a native speaks is formed by only 1.000 words. Based on this study, Professor Maurer designed and developed his own method known as “The Maurer Method” or “Learn English with 1000 words” according to which a person can learn the 85% of a language just by learning these 1000 words. If the student learns 50 words per week, he/she will dominate the 1000 necessary words in 20
weeks. The method is designed for adults that start from zero, which means, knowing nothing at all of English. It is very simple, there are no pictures, dictionaries, DVD’s or even grammar. There are only 20 books, one per week, and each one contains the new 50 words. In words of the author “You do not have to study grammar. Nobody can speak English remembering every instant the grammar. When we learned to speak our mother tongue we did not need to study grammar,” Obviously this sounds very well to the profile of people that we have described previously. But, does it really work? Is it enough with 1000 words? Can a person face a real situation in English without having any problem? Could someone know how to speak English without knowing its grammar at all? In order to answer these questions, we are going to analyse the Maurer’s Method. Along the history of the education of English as a foreign language, many methods have been developed. All of them have the same goal in common: to make the student be able to communicate in a correct way and without having comprehensive or productive problems. When Professor Maurer speaks about lists of vocabulary I personally can not stop thinking about the Grammar-Translation Method. Both of them focus on the lexis, the role of the student is crucial and they pay no attention to speaking or production. They also have in common the importance of a mother tongue; the learner has to speak a mother tongue because he/she learns by means of translation. The process of learning is artificial, completely in a deductive way. The thing is that the Grammar-Translation Method was the first method created and it was used during the XVIII Century, however, the Maurer’s Method is one of the latest methods created in the XXI Century. Several disadvantages were attributed to this first method in that time. Disadvantages such as: to forget the words learned easily, to create frustration for learners and the moment in which a person starts to produce. All of them are applicable to this new method. Students know vocabulary or grammar but they do not know how to communicate. So, what is the evolution on the English Teaching Methods? The unique difference between them is the importance given to grammar.
Following the history of the methods we can find more coincidences between them and “Learn English with 1000 words”. The Direct Method finds usefulness the fact of teaching grammar. Berlitz said that ‘to learn a foreign language for business or professional reasons without learning grammar”. By contrast, he supplies the lack of teaching grammar by saying that students can learn it by listening the teacher or people talking, by reading texts, by using the language and by making mistakes; in other words, by acquiring it. Maurer thinks the same but “When does the student acquire grammar if he/she only study an isolated list of vocabulary?” Learners have no chance of acquiring it; furthermore, they do not put the language learned in practice until they get involve in a real situation. If they have a doubt they can write an email or telephone someone to solve it, but if they make mistakes nobody will correct them. For example, we can imagine a businessman/ woman who started to learn English from zero and has perfectly studied the 1000 words. Now she/he is supposed to be ready to put his/ her knowledge in practice. He/ she has a meeting with the boss of an international enterprise and the meeting is going to be in English. Under my humble point of view, I do not think that this person is capable to communicate in a clear and proper way. Maybe that man/woman knows the vocabulary but lacking the pronunciation, the fluency, the comprehension skills and a grammar base, the process of communication would be a difficult task for both parts. The Humanistic Methods (Community Language Learning, Suggestopedia and Total Physical Response) give a very important role to the teacher. He/She is the one that makes the student feel comfortable and receptive. Nevertheless the independent of learning that Maurer proposes is not a disadvantage at all. There are people that have not enough time to go to a class or that it is impossible for them to adapt their timetables. So the flexibility and the independence that this method gives to the student is a good point. By contrast, the humanistic methods support the idea of the natural acquisition of the language. The following Chinese proverb summarizes the main idea of these methods: “Tell me and I´ll forget. Teach me and I´ll remember. Involve me and I´ll learn” By reading it, we can realise that the student has to get involved, has to be a direct participant. Maybe the process of learning a language is not over for a learner that has learnt the 1000 words; maybe the learning of these 1000 words is only one step in the English learning process which will finish after having put it in practice.
The Lexical Approach Method focuses on lexis. But instead of learning isolated words, it shows the student how lexical phrases are used. It also has in common with the method we are analysing the importance given to the input over the output. The student is always receiving tones of information and trying to memorize them. In order to have an overall view of the Maurer’s Method, it is convenient to bear in mind its pros and its cons. On the one hand we have the richness and variety of vocabulary which let people maintain conversation of different topics, the independent of the student to adapt the method to his own life and necessities. Professor Maurer assures fast and good results that have been realized by students and he also assures a good level of English. On the other hand, we should say that there is too much input to memorize in such a short time so it is not difficult for the learner to forget easily what he/she has learnt. It is not proper for learners that start from zero but for learners who have already had some knowledge about English. There are not practical activities to prepare the student for the real world and that’s why people usually feel insecure with the pronunciation and fluency when they have to produce the language. There is no teacher to correct the mistakes, so instead of learning of them, students are going to continue making them. As a conclusion, it is important to know that the Maurer’s Method would be very useful to people that need English for their work or professional reasons and that need to learn it in an easy and flexible way. It is suitable to people that has had a previous contact with English, that knows something about its grammar and pronunciation. People that choose this method have to have a lot of intrinsic motivation and they have to be mature enough to put it in practice so they can improve the language little by little. They are given the tools- just the basic tool of vocabulary and they have to manage to look for the rest. So, is it possible to conquer the world with only 1000 words? The answer is: “It depends on the person”.
BIBLIOGRAPHY -HARMER, Jeremy. The Practice of English Language Teaching. 4th Edition. Person Education Limited, 2007. -RICHARDS, J.C. & RODGERS, T.S.2001. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. -TEJADA MOLINA, G., PÉREZ CAÑADO, M.L. & LUQUE AGULLÓ, G. 2005. “Current Approaches and Teaching Methods”, in McLaren et al. (Eds.), TELF in Secondary Education, Granada: Universidad de Granada -http://cursosccc.micro-site.es/ingles-para-principiantes.htm#03 -http://www.elinglesconmilpalabrasexpress.com/index.php?codigo=3RE -http://formacion.trabajos.com/formacion/1097/entrevista-con-carlos-maurer-autor-deel-ingles-con-1000-palabras/ -http://www.ingles-mil-palabras.com/ -https://www.institutomaurer.com.mx/ -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8oMYkG7auc -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1XXQsfZ9eQ