Posted on | July 25, 2013 | 6 Comments
“It is a wonderful system. Kids love it! Not a single word of English from day one. You cannot imagine how fast they can progress. Kids are already reading materials that are 2 levels above them. There is a grade 6 student who did her research work, completely in French. All parents are happy. The schools are already replacing their core French programs with AIM”.
I was interviewing this candidate to help out in our summer camp. I already heard about AIM and the good reviews that come with it. But whatever this AIM teacher was selling me, my gut-feeling is that – it is too good to be true. She was basically claiming that AIM is the ultimate solution to the problem.
Accelerative Integrated Method (AIM) is a foreign language teaching methodology that uses gestures to help students learn. When you watch an AIM teacher teaching her class, you will see everybody doing a lot sign language as they speak. Basically, there is a sign for every word. Judging from the reviews, this method seems promising.
But I do have problems with some claims this teacher made. She claimed that AIM students perform the same if not better than French Immersion students. I thought to myself, no way! I don’t have any proof to refute her. But common sense tells us that if you spend only a few hours a week in the language, there is no way that you can become better than those who spend hours every day in the language . If this turns out to be true, I can only say there must be something wrong with the implementation of French Immersion. One thing I agree with her is that French Immersion students sacrifice time from learning English, whereas AIM students don’t.
Another claim she made is that it is very effective to build up their French using their existing English knowledge, since both languages have similar linguistic structures and vocabulary. I am not sure if this is something that comes with AIM. My impression is that AIM, like TPR, attempts to bypass our native language by using gestures and signs, so that we understand the message without translating it in our brains. Anything that triggers our native language is going to slow down the process.
I did not hire this teacher at the end, not because of her claims. She was simply over-qualified. I was just looking for an assistant helper for our camp. Overall it was a helpful session to me to learn about AIM from someone working in the field.