Last week I wrote about Arkady Zilberman's pessimistic evaluation of language learners and what how he thinks that can be overcome. But Arkady hardly stopped at theories; he has made a product based on his take on language learning called Language Bridge.
This is what I'll call a "mini review" of Language Bridge. I'll call it that because I haven't actually purchased the product (it ain't cheap, at $149 a pop) but I think the information available online is enough for me to understand how the product works and to put my two cents forward.
The core of the method seems to be reading, listening and speaking simultaneously. According to Arkady, this "imposes a significant load on the brain and automatically eliminates cross-translation".
While I'm not so sure about that (if you're still relying on a mnemonic to recall a word, you'll need that mnemonic regardless of what's going on), I do like his idea of getting multiple kinds of exposure at the same time. However, while this kind of exposure would generally be good, my first issue with this method is that this particular exposure is not meaningful. You're supposed to pick up the meaning and grammar rules eventually through exposure, but as I've laid out in respect of grammar rules before, getting enough non-meaningful exposures before they become meaningful (which still puts you 15 to 20 exposures away from actually committing it to memory) is inefficient.
My second point of criticism is that it just looks boring. Just like with a text book, you're given texts to learn from. You don't get to pick what you like; you just get what they give you based on what they think is best for your learning. Even though the multifaceted exposure you're getting is good, prescribed content is the same recipe for boredom that's made textbooks so painful for oh-so-many years.
My last point of criticism would be that I don't see how feedback is being incorporated. Reading along with spoken text is great, but how would you know if you're totally mangling the language to the point where native speakers wouldn't understand you? There doesn't seem to be any mechanism to handle this.
Language Bridge says that it's four times more efficient than traditional language classes; given the catastrophically low bar set by traditional language classes, even if we take this at face value, I'm not impressed. (Back in high school, I studied on my own for maybe a month or two and tested out of two years' worth of high-school French. With the nine-month school year that we had, that in theory makes my method at least 9 times faster than those traditional classes.)
The core feature of Language Bridge—a tool that lets you read, listen, and speak at the same time—could very easily become a useful tool for language learners, but it would have to go from being a prescriptive "you learn this" sort of thing to the kind of free-for-all that tools like Learning with Texts and Lang-8 provide, which allow you to use any content you like. How this would work for Language Bridge—namely, how they'd get native-speaker recordings of long texts—is unclear, but I'd be very much up for a tool like that.