Adam Bevan, one of the co-founders of #DECODE is dedicated to simplifying language teaching. His professional journey has been focused on devising psycho-linguistically viable techniques to improve language learning.
Born in Nigeria to Welsh and English parents, his first language seems to have been West African Pidgin as his grandparents were unable to understand a word of his speech when he returned as a toddler for the summer holidays. This may have been the origin of a lifelong search for ways to bridge understanding between people through language. After graduating in linguistics, then spending four years producing news for the Welsh language service of the BBC, Radio Cymru, he left for Europe where he has taught English in Spain, Italy, Poland and France. Married to a native of Fujian Province in China he still hopes to master Mandarin with the future help of his little daughter, although so far it has proved to be the greatest language challenge.
“Over many years of teaching English, I observed that students tend to focus on problems connected to grammar which seem intellectually challenging and interesting and yet when it comes to producing sentences in unscripted conversation the real breakdowns come not from grammar or even pronunciation but rather from a gaping lack of vocabulary. So the aim of #DECODE is teach English vocabulary but more than that, to teach users how to learn vocabulary.
The attempt to produce a teaching method before #DECODE had many false starts as the methodology was honed through numerous experiments in developing language games on the internet. The whole situation changed when I met Alice in a café in the Marais district of Paris. Within minutes our visions of how to teach language clicked and before we had finished two coffees the outline of a mobile app had been developed.
The big change in approach came with the idea of a themed story to take the learner through the activities which would provide the main material to be learned. The story had to be dividable into short enough episodes to keep people interested but also have a long enough arc to carry the volume of vocabulary we wanted to impart. A life story seemed the best way forward and the life of a spy offered meaty enough fictional events and a way to go around the world to show how English has borrowed from so many different languages.”