English DNA turns the traditional starting place for learning new language on its head. Literally.

Goodbye textbooks!

It says goodbye to beginning with a text book which is how millions of people all over the world meet whatever language they're trying learn, including me. That's how I recall attempts to teach me French. That text book rapidly morphed from exciting to become a symbol for everything frustrating.

There were vocabulary lists to learn, verb patterns to memorize and twee stories with equally twee pictures of a very nice French family – la mère (a mother), le papa (a father), their deux enfants (two children) and un chat (cat). Those lists were torture. I wrote them out over and over again in an effort to imprint them in my brain and because my first language was English I quickly learned to look for similarities – something I could latch on to. I was grateful for English words faithful to their French origin. They made me feel better. Hurrah for chef, hotel, dessert and garage.

Looking back I realize those lessons were almost entirely silent. There was lots of written grammar, lots of written lists and lots of matching pictures to words but very little of the spoken language.

I also realize that had the language been Chinese or Russian for example, I would have been completely stumped as there is nothing comfortingly familiar in their written form for a native English speaker to recognize. It wasn't the fault of the teacher. I remember her fondly – her penchant for flowery skirts, her long black hair swept up into a messy bun, and rolling her eyes while imploring us to recall the conjugation - je suis, tu es, il est … She was following the accepted methodology of the day.

Hello sound!

In contrast English DNA takes us back to the place we were as very little children learning our native tongue. Using what's known about language acquisition through research its starting place is not textbooks filled with vocabulary lists and grammatical exercises, but sound. Or more specifically listening to English sound patterning.

As babies we listen to the voices around us. What we're absorbing is the sequential order of sounds unique to our mother tongue. We learn to discriminate, to hear, recognize and ultimately speak according to the complex rules underpinning the sound patterning of our first language.

Sound patterning and rules

As an example here is the English word “splat”. If you're a native English speaker you'll already know the sound pattern underlying “splat”. That in turn makes words like “split”, “splice”, or “splurge”, which use the same initial “spl ” sound combination, much easier to learn.

However if we change the order of the sounds in the words “splat”, “split” or “splice” they become more difficult to recall because, if the new combination or sound order does not regularly occur in English, we have no pre-learned “rule” to apply.

Changing Sound order makes words unrecognizable

Splat = tspal, lpsta, tplsa

Split = tspil, lpsti, tplsi

Splice = cepsli, lspcei, ipslce

What this means for people wanting to learn a new language, particularly one outside of their native language family, is that there is no sound foundation on which to build. The sound patterning is quite foreign. There is no intuitive recognition – no prior knowledge of “wordlikeness”, “word sound” or “sound order” to call on. Learning without that base becomes a frustratingly difficult task. We apply will, use visual cues, attempt to memorize but it's tough. How can we learn what we do not recognize?

The English DNA solution - an individually tailored answer

The solution English DNA offers is to take the most frequently occurring sound patterns found in the English language and to present them via an algorithm that continually adapts to its user responses. This means that the frequency or number of times a person listens to a word representing a particular sound pattern is determined by themselves. They will be presented with each word again and again to ensure they have learned to hear, recognize and recall it.

Learn 500 English sound patterns to enable easier, faster progress 

There are only 500 words in English DNA. Each has been chosen for the sound patterns they contain rather than for their meaning. The words are the representative  of the most common sound patterns in English - the very "DNA” on which English words are built. When a learner uses English DNA they are working toward establishing a foundation of sound recognition and familiarity. By the time a user completes the program that base will be in place and they will be able to quickly absorb thousands of new English words almost effortlessly.

Goodbye misery - Hello English DNA!

The anguish of English learners caused by adherence to the textbook first approach is unnecessary. It doesn't have to be so painfully difficult.