We have finished two weeks (50 hours) of our Hindi/Urdu language program and we are FLUENT! Haha yeah right :) That would be awesome if it was true....
The program we are using is called the Growing Participator Approach. It is based on the process children naturally learn language. Children learn by lots of exposure and repetition and are able to understand much more than they are able to speak.
It is based on the idea that language works in our brain like an ice-burg as we develop. Children have heard thousands of words, commands, ect by the time they are a year old. So they understand a lot, but the tip of the ice-burg(what they are able to communicate verbally) is still very small. As they develop, the words under the water of the ice-burg naturally begin to come to the surface and eventually you have a toddler who is chatting away. I know any of you that have children have seen this happen. One month your child can only say a few words, then a few moths later it seems like they are talking up a storm!
So what do we actually do in order to learn a new language in that way?? Well, the first week and a half we didn't speak at all. Our language nurturer(use the word nurturer- like a parent with a child) speaks to us only in Hindi/Urdu and shows us pictures/objects that are common things we see or use everyday. She tells us to sit, stand, walk, run, jump and we watch her do it and then try to mimic what she does by the words she uses as she does these actions. We do many activities with lots of repetition.
The first week we were exposed to around 400 new words. This doesn't mean we "know" these words or can speak them, but we are beginning to recognize them when used.
The last half of our second week, we began to speak. We did not learn as many new words, but began to try to use the words we had been hearing repeatedly. So we told each other to sit, stand, jump, point to the (...) picture/object.
We are in phase one"Here-and-Now Phase", which will last one month. So for a few more weeks we will continue to use words we have been learning and add new words to the ice-burg :) The goal is to learn 800-1,000 words in phase 1. Research shows that if you have around 10,000 words in a language you are fluent.
After phase 1, we will move on to phase 2 "Story Building Phase" and it will last 2 months. Then we will move to Kanpur and begin phase 3!
Ryan and I are enjoying this approach so far, but it is HARD WORK! I am not sure I have ever used my brain this much....EVER! I am amazed by people that speak multiple languages....