Life after the Long Course

Some years ago, LCP’s method of teaching the Long Course shifted away from the Glassman approach (i.e., following the Glassman book, with a lot of explicit grammar instruction and rote practice), and toward the Growing Participator Approach (GPA). Since we found that some students don’t respond well to the GPA, in recent years we’ve offered both courses. Still, the majority of our new learners favor the GPA. This post will give a bit more information about the GPA plan, beyond what we cover in the long course.

Most people know the GPA as “the method where you don’t talk,” which is indeed the most noticeable thing about the approach in the first 15 hours! But in fact, the GPA is much broader than that. It envisions 1,500 hours of language learning time, with the growing participator (not to say “language learner”) becoming more and more familiar with the host language and culture.

1500 hours! And how long do we have for the Long Course? 20 weeks. I’ll save you the math: you would have to take 4 hours of lessons a day for almost 19 months to put in all the hours required for the GPA. And that’s not all. Take a look at the time breakdown for each phase of the GPA:


Time Required

Phase 1

Here and Now

100 hours

Phase 2

Story Building

150 hours

Phase 3

Shared Story Phase

250 hours

Phase 4

Deep Life Sharing

500 hours

Phase 5

Native to Native Discourses

500 hours

Phase 6

Self-Sustaining Growth in Community

∞ hours!

In the Long Course, our time runs out about 100 hours into Phase 3. That is, people leave the Long Course without having completed Phase 3. Now one of the most common things I hear in talking to people is, “I need to go back and re-study the Long Course!” There’s a kernel of truth in that: you do need to spend about 150 hours more in Phase 3!

Once we’ve finished the Long Course, however, we get overwhelmed with work. If we keep up our language, our focus is on learning the vocabulary for our job and interactions with staff. Actually, the things we do at sound a lot like Phase 3 activities: “deepening relationships with others,” “simple expository speech,” “having simple conversations on many topics,” “fairly intelligible,” “starting to share experience more richly, entering into and discussing it.”

So, more-or-less, the early stages of working in a project correspond to Phase 3 activities. (The major difference is that the GPA’s “time required” estimates assume that the “time” is filled with focused and structured activities, rather than just on-the-job learning.)

I conclude that most people – once they’ve been out of the long course for a couple of years, and are up to their necks in project work – need to be working in Phase 4. What is Phase 4? That will be the subject of the next blog post.