I got an e-mail from my pen pal lives in Canada.
We've been enjoying mail exchanges these days and this helps us a lot to improve our English.
Her mother language is French and she learned English as a second language just like me.
I thought her English is so good and natural, so I asked her how she's been learning English.
First, I expected that she was a Canadian, so she might have got immersion education, but it was not her case.
This is the reply from her:
Like every _______(people from _______) my age, my first contact with english was on my first year of high school. I was about 12. To tell the truth, these english classes were very basic and quite boring. It was like 2 hours a week, really insufficient to learn a language thoroughly. I had those classes until the end of high school. My class mates didn't learn much during those years, they weren't very interested. I, on the other hand, was very curious and really, really wanted to learn. So i started to watch television in english, to translate songs i liked and... to do Tadoku even if i didn't know i was doing it! I started with pre-schoolers books with only one or two words each page. As time passed by, i chose books more complicated and by the age of 15 i was able to read Tolkien's Lord of the rings. I sometimes used a dictionary to help me with some words i didn't know the meaning of, but i soon discovered that it was better to guess the general meaning instead.
Sadly, when i was a student, immersion classes didn't exist. ________ has immersion classes, and i can tell you it is much more effective than regular ones. _____ will begin immersion in two years from now, and has actually 3 hours a week of english.
I use english quite often on a daily basis. The books, comics, mangas and magazines i read are either in english or french. Until last year i watched a little english TV and none in french. Right now, all i am watching is in japanese :-) But i do a lot of internet surfing in english (in french and spanish too), some of it for business research and some for pleasure. Well, OK, a lot of it for pleasure! What i am lacking, is practice in actually speaking it. But in Toronto i found out that my spoken english wasn't as bad as i thought it would be. My friend and business partner is from France, but lived in California for at least 6 years and to my surprise, i had to help her in some occasions during our trip. So i guess reading a lot does the trick!
end of the mail.................
You might realize now that she's been learning English just the same way as Tadoku approach.
Tadoku has three golden rules,
First: read from very easy simple stories,
second: skip the words you don't know, don't use a dictionary
third: put the books aside if you can't enjoy them, and read only the books you feel like reading
My pen pal started with pre-schoolers' books with only one or two words on each page.
This falls in the first rule.
She sometimes used a dictionary to help her with some words she didn't know the meaning of, but she soon discovered that it was better to guess the general meaning instead.
This is the way the second rule implies.
She is a very curious person and was not satisfied with her ordinal English class lessons so, unlike her classmates, she's started to do many things she really wanted to do like watching television in English, translating songs, and reading many books.
This goes to the third rule.
In the last part of her mail, she says, just like a Tadokist, that she found herself helping her friends, who might have had more chances to use English in real situations than her, because my pen pal have got more knowledge by reading a lot.
I guess there are many in the world who believe language learning should be started only with textbooks and don't know much more effective approach exists.
I guess I'd better try again to write the significance of Tadoku and Tachou with my own words.