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10,000 hours of input

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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iguanamon
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Virgin Islands
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 Message 9 of 60
13 February 2011 at 3:11am | IP Logged 
"10,000 hours" comes from Malcolm Gladwell's last book- "Outliers". Where he talks about how long it takes for someone to become a master in any field. The following quote is from the Wikipedia article about Outliers

"A common theme that appears throughout Outliers is the "10,000-Hour Rule", based on a study by Anders Ericsson. Gladwell claims that greatness requires enormous time, using the source of The Beatles' musical talents and Gates' computer savvy as examples. The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, therefore meeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell asserts that all of the time The Beatles spent performing shaped their talent, "so by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, 'they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.'"Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when he gained access to a high school computer in 1968 at the age of 13, and spent 10,000 hours programming on it."

You don't have to put in 10,000 hours to be able to play the guitar. Maybe you do need to do that if you want to be Eric Clapton or Baden Powell. Me, I just want to be able to communicate, to understand and be understood. Do I need 10,000 hours to be fluent in Portuguese? I think I can reach my goal with significantly less than 10,000 hours, but I won't be Jose Saramago or Caetano Veloso. I'll just be a foreigner who can speak Portuguese.

"10,000 hours of input before reaching native like (or even advanced fluency) proficiency", well, that depends on what your definition of fluency is. That is a can of worms that gets opened here every month and never really gets resolved.

I'm not saying that 10,000 hours of intense study and practice wouldn't be better than less. I am saying that it is my opinion that this "holy grail" of "native-like fluency" can discourage many people who say they want to speak languages because they think it takes years to get to a point where they can communicate and understand effectively. As a result, that is all that some people ever do is just study a language and never actually speak it because they feel that they're "not ready".

Edited by iguanamon on 13 February 2011 at 3:26am

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Huliganov
Octoglot
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Poland
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 Message 10 of 60
13 February 2011 at 12:56pm | IP Logged 
lingoleng wrote:
Bill_Sage667 wrote:
Cainntear wrote:
Akatsuki wrote:
I'm sure everyone has heard about the need of (at
least) 10,000 hours of input before reaching native like (or even advanced fluency)
proficiency.

10,000 hours is bad science. Ignore it.


When you say that, do you mean it takes much longer than that? Or shorter?

Much longer. For me. Much shorter. For you. And learning how to play the piano took my dog 20 487 hours, and he is still a really bad pianist. So it depends. It is a shame how much time I wasted training and supervising my dog. My cat, which is much smarter, learned how to run away from the piano in just 2 hours, another sign of her intellectual superiority and mature wisdom.
Sorry, just kidding. It is just a number, like 3 months (fluent in ...). Or seven days (the world was built in ...). Taking these numbers too literally is a mistake only marketing guys and religious fundamentalists should make.


That's not fair. I'm a religious fundamentalist and I wholeheartedly agree with you, up to the last few words.
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Huliganov
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 Message 11 of 60
13 February 2011 at 1:17pm | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
"10,000 hours" comes from Malcolm Gladwell's last book- "Outliers". Where he talks about how long it takes for someone to become a master in any field. The following quote is from the Wikipedia article about Outliers

"A common theme that appears throughout Outliers is the "10,000-Hour Rule", based on a study by Anders Ericsson. Gladwell claims that greatness requires enormous time, using the source of The Beatles' musical talents and Gates' computer savvy as examples. The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, therefore meeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell asserts that all of the time The Beatles spent performing shaped their talent, "so by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, 'they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.'"Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when he gained access to a high school computer in 1968 at the age of 13, and spent 10,000 hours programming on it."

You don't have to put in 10,000 hours to be able to play the guitar. Maybe you do need to do that if you want to be Eric Clapton or Baden Powell. Me, I just want to be able to communicate, to understand and be understood. Do I need 10,000 hours to be fluent in Portuguese? I think I can reach my goal with significantly less than 10,000 hours, but I won't be Jose Saramago or Caetano Veloso. I'll just be a foreigner who can speak Portuguese.

"10,000 hours of input before reaching native like (or even advanced fluency) proficiency", well, that depends on what your definition of fluency is. That is a can of worms that gets opened here every month and never really gets resolved.

I'm not saying that 10,000 hours of intense study and practice wouldn't be better than less. I am saying that it is my opinion that this "holy grail" of "native-like fluency" can discourage many people who say they want to speak languages because they think it takes years to get to a point where they can communicate and understand effectively. As a result, that is all that some people ever do is just study a language and never actually speak it because they feel that they're "not ready".


What this Gladwell character needs to bear in mind is the Pareto rule. If it were true (which I dispute) that you need 10,000 hours to become as native (although how this deals with your accent is anyone's guess) then you could get 80% of it in 20% of the time. That means you'd need to have 2,000 hours study to get to 80% of native fluency. Since that's ludicrously overcautios, I'd suggest that the 10,000 hour target for full native fluency is overcautious.

The fact is, a person could be like Konrad Korzeniowski (Joseph Conrad) and already writing ground-breaking literature in the language he or she had learned and still have a strong enough accent to provoke politely meant but annoying compliments on the quality of his language by native speakers.

In the end you just have to accept what English speakers accepted for their own language in the main long ago - that as long as it doesn't hinder comprehension, a foreigner's accent in English is just as valid as a "native" accent. This is easily accepted by multi-national or mega-regional languages like Spanish, Russian, Chinese, etc, but in places like Poland as there is largely only one way of speaking, the bar is raised for their own language.

So in fact that means that the same n-thousand hours done by an Englishman in Russian could have the Russians noticing very little different about the foreigner, especially if he has a bad haircut. Whereas if he has a really bad haircut and the same n-thousand hours of Czech, the reaction will probably be "he looks like one of us, but our language is difficult and so we must forgive the way he sounds, although obviously we are frank and friendly people so we will tell him to his face at regular intervals that his Czech sucks bigtime."

Given this subjectivity, I decided long ago never to walk in anyone's linguistic shadow, but simply to set amounts of words as targets. 15,000 words is in language learning, to my mind, what the marathon is in athletics. If you're fit, you can do it with patience and training. And if you can do it, nobody can say you're not fit.

There are longer races, there are tougher events. But the marathon is the 'classic' and the marathon runner knows that it's really a competition against yourself and not really against the runners alongside. Even people coming in at six hours are clapped and get a medal. So should language learning be.

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Cainntear
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 Message 12 of 60
13 February 2011 at 1:20pm | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
"10,000 hours" comes from Malcolm Gladwell's last book- "Outliers". Where he talks about how long it takes for someone to become a master in any field. The following quote is from the Wikipedia article about Outliers

Yup, and the book is peppered with dubious assumptions, fallacies and omissions. There's no observational evidence for 10,000 hours as either a general rule or as a language-specific one.

Gladwell was successful enough in selling the idea that a lot of language teachers picked it up independently and it quick became part of language myth.

The only purpose it seems to serve is as an excuse for the slow pace of language classes.
6 persons have voted this message useful



Akatsuki
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 Message 13 of 60
13 February 2011 at 1:43pm | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:
That depends. Is your definition of fluent or highly proficient the state one reaches after 10,000 hours of
input
? If it is, then the answer is no. If not, the answer is maybe. Hope that helps.


I understand your point of view, but actually, I can't say I know the state one reaches after 10,000 hours; that's what I'm trying to discuss here.
1 person has voted this message useful



Akatsuki
Triglot
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Portugal
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 Message 14 of 60
13 February 2011 at 1:56pm | IP Logged 
What about listening proficiency? We're talking about 10,000 of input not output. Do you think it's possible to reach the state of "epiphany" in under 10,000 hours of exposure to the language?
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lingoleng
Senior Member
Germany
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 Message 15 of 60
13 February 2011 at 2:08pm | IP Logged 
Akatsuki wrote:
What about listening proficiency? We're talking about 10,000 of input not output. Do you think it's possible to reach the state of "epiphany" in under 10,000 hours of exposure to the language?

Well, yes, yes, and yes again. Please, do yourself a favor and just forget this strange fake number, it is just nonsense.
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Akatsuki
Triglot
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Portugal
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 Message 16 of 60
13 February 2011 at 2:55pm | IP Logged 
What's with you? If you don't care about the subject on this topic don't start being rude. I'm sure there are more people interested.


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