The Khmer language school LINK, or Language Institute of Natural Khmer, closed down in 2016, but its YouTube channel remains online with more than 60 videos that you can use to help you pick up Khmer.
What makes these different from almost all other language teaching videos is that they’re designed for everyone, regardless of first language, to pick up the language from without translation.
The Khmer teachers do this by using a lot of non-verbal communication like pictures, drawings, props, and gestures to make the meaning of what they are saying understandable.
With this kind of understandable experience with language, known as comprehensible input, we can learn languages without conscious study.
This is the basis of the Automatic Language Growth approach used by LINK, which suggests adults can learn languages as well and as easily as children routinely do with the right experience and approach.
These lessons cover many topics from Khmer family words to Khmer numbers to cultural differences like Cambodian and Western breakfasts.
Some of the videos have conversations where a Cambodian person speaks Khmer and a foreigner speaks English or French:
In the ALG approach used by LINK, conversations like this where each person speaks their own language are known as Crosstalk.
With Crosstalk, each speaker uses non-verbal communication as needed to make themselves understood, and as participants understand more and more of each other’s language the need for non-verbal communication decreases.
In all these video lessons total around two to three hours. While this isn’t enough content to learn a great deal of Khmer from, this content is still a way for beginners and even more advanced learners to pick up vocabulary and hear how it is used in context.
In the near future, we may see much more highly understandable content like this, perhaps even enough that one can learn a lot of the language just by watching it without any other study and practice.