Monday, February 24, 2014

Effortless English - The Mother Tongue

The Mother Tongue

It amazes me that you can travel almost anywhere today and find English spoken to a greater or lesser degree. 

English has become the Mother Tongue. I use that term because it was recently used by a young Italian gentleman I spoke with on Skype. He said it was wonderful to chat with someone who spoke the Mother Tongue, meaning a native English speaking person.

I met Max on Facebook. He is a fan of my books on Kindle. I remember him messaging me when I posted my first book in May last year. He said he was in bed, reading my book. It thrilled me to imagine him laying in bed, in Italy – half way round the world, reading my science fiction. It amazed me even more when I found out much later, that he was using my books to teach himself English.

Max belongs to a group on Facebook called Effortless English. They follow the teachings of a man named AJ Hoge, on YouTube, who instructs them to throw away their textbooks (no one talks like that) and read ‘authentic’ English material. By authentic, he means what an English speaking child would read. He believes you must learn English as a child would and you must have something that interests you instead of routine memorization.

Max has been reading English for 5-6 years. So, he is up to the reading level of about a middle-school child. He plowed through my science fiction books which I wrote with YA in mind. They are character driven and don’t contain any techno babble. When he finished those six, he asked me about my fantasy books. I told him they were for 9-13 year old. He loved them. It improved his English and the stories were about dragons which he enjoyed. I have English speaking adult followers on Twitter who enjoy them too.

After he finished the fantasy series, I sent him my latest paranormal which is a YA book with a more adult theme. He loved it.

It was at this point he told me about the Effortless English group he belonged to and how he would like me to meet them in a conference call. He thought it would be beneficial for both me and the group. I might receive more sales. They would learn of an author who wrote books an adult learning English could enjoy. They would also get a chance to converse with someone who spoke the Mother Tongue.

I recently put the first of the fantasy books in an audio form and was giving that away free. I suggested he have a listen and perhaps his group’s members could listen to the free audio while reading along with the eBook, available on Kindle for 99 cents. (An inexpensive enough textbook.) That way they could hear the correct way to pronounce the words as well as see them in written form.

Max put me in touch with Noam, on of the group leaders. He sent me the link to their group. He has an audio introduction on it. When I spoke with him via Skype, I complimented him on his current English. I told him it was better than the recording he sent me. He informed me the recording was done a year ago. It is phenomenal the progress he has made in a year just by reading.

Sunday after a month of talking and publicizing the conference call, we all got on for what we thought would be an hour conference. We talked for two and a half hours. Their questions were exciting and thoughtful. Some of them dream of becoming writers.

Prior to being published I had no idea how foreigners learned our language. I think if someone would have asked me to speculate, I would have said, ‘school, television or the internet.’ I had no idea the adults were learning this way and making a success of it!

These folks inspire me. They excite me. Italian, Israeli, Chinese, Maltese, Japanese, they all want to learn our language. I admire these dedicated people. If my books and I can help them learn to read and speak English then I can say I have accomplished a lot with my life. What could be a greater legacy to leave behind than assisting people of different nationalities to communicate in the same language.

Here is the link to the recording of our online conference:

Here is the main website for AJ Hoge's Effortless English Program:

Here is their group on Facebook if you would like to join: