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Language Hunters

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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Bakunin
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Switzerland
outerkhmer.blogspot.
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 Message 1 of 11
21 March 2012 at 3:11am | IP Logged 
Using the search function, I couldn't find anything on the language hunters project
(languagehunters.org), but if there is already a thread on this, please point me to it.

Language hunting seems to be a very different approach to language learning, emphasizing
'no translation', 'fluency over knowledge', 'mumble along', signing as a bridge language,
etc. Does anyone here have experience with this approach, or an opinion? The materials
and videos on the website (and various other related ones) lack structure, and I wasn't
really able to get a good feeling for the main ideas of this approach.

Edited by Bakunin on 21 March 2012 at 3:38am

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sipes23
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 Message 2 of 11
21 March 2012 at 3:32am | IP Logged 
It sounds a bit like Where are Your Keys. http://www.whereareyourkeys.org/
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Iversen
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berejst.dk
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 Message 3 of 11
21 March 2012 at 10:21am | IP Logged 
I took a brief look at their Irish project, and I noticed that the method is like the extreme natural one with one addition, namely standardized body movements (almost like a sign language) which may be inspired by other language teaching trends - there is something called 'total bodily response' out there, though I haven't studied it. Within reasonable limits I do see this as an improvement on the classical natural method, where the teacher is jumping around like a panicked monkey while the pupils are sitting quietly around wathing the spectacle. The movements can undoubtedly be reinforcing the memorizing and recall of a certain sentence.

On the other hand it could be felt as one more step towards the total subjugation of the pupils if they have to closely mimick not only the words, but also the movements of the teacher. It is not an accident that the video on the first page of the Irish section is concentrated on the sentence "Ís cupan é" (= is! cup he -> it's a cup) which can be performed while sitting down - other phrases might be difficult to illustrate while sitting at a table. And errors can't be corrected in the most efficient and quick way - see for instance lesson L1G7 where the inflected preposition "ag" is illustrated. The forms in question are "agam" and "agat", which for instance are used in sentences meaning "I have" and "you have" ('for me is' resp. 'for you is'). The pupils clearly don't notice that the teacher points toward himself while saying "agam" and towards somebody else while saying "agat". And this is actually a very simple situation.

I have the usual qualms about this one as about other kinds of extreme natural methods, namely that they deliberately exclude useful techniques and tools like translations and grammar studies and looking things up in dictionaries. And although it is possible to illustrate a language purely through the target language even in writing (as proven by Ørberg for Latin) the written language is excluded in the beginning here (called lap 1,2) - with the consequence that the method becomes extremely teacher driven. I do think that sessions like the ones you see in the videos at this site can be beneficial, but only as a supplement to home study through more traditional methods.


Edited by Iversen on 21 March 2012 at 10:36am

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Bakunin
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Senior Member
Switzerland
outerkhmer.blogspot.
Joined 3497 days ago

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 Message 4 of 11
21 March 2012 at 1:46pm | IP Logged 
Thanks, Iversen, that's a very comprehensive answer. I can understand your reservations,
but exactly the avoidance of translation, grammar studies and memorization intrigues me
about this approach! I can imagine that the playful character of the sessions is
extremely beneficial to language acquisition, as is the sign language piece. I think,
language hunting has a radically different concept of what language is and how languages
are best learned (namely interaction, and learned through imitation and interaction) as
opposed to the traditional/established view of language as a set of facts that need to be
memorized (I'm oversimplifying, but you get the point).

Anyone out there who has taken part in a language hunting workshop, or has applied a
related concept (like where are your keys)?
1 person has voted this message useful



Bakunin
Diglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
outerkhmer.blogspot.
Joined 3497 days ago

531 posts - 1126 votes 
Speaks: German*, Thai
Studies: Khmer

 
 Message 5 of 11
21 March 2012 at 1:50pm | IP Logged 
Ah, by the way, I bought the book (the Language Hunter's Kit). It's much better
structured than the website and explains the techniques more coherently and in more
detail. Very interesting read. Need to digest it first, though.
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DaraghM
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 Message 6 of 11
21 March 2012 at 5:18pm | IP Logged 
In their sample PDF they mention a large number of individual techniques,

From languagehunterskit sample
P3.

.. "Language Hunting was born as the result of throwing everything
we know that works at the problem - Total Physical
Response, Signed Exact English, the ACTFL proficiency scale,
Where Are Your Keys?, Spolin Theater games, Coyote Mentoring,
Master/Apprentice, Communicative Learning, Language
Immersion, Peer Mentoring, NLP, Appreciative Inquiry, Agile
teamwork practices, Human Systems Dynamics, and on and on. "

Edited by DaraghM on 21 March 2012 at 5:19pm

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emk
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 Message 7 of 11
21 March 2012 at 6:25pm | IP Logged 
Interesting. This looks like an "immersion from day 1" approach, with a bunch of
mechanisms designed to keep the students from sinking.

How efficient is this method at providing (semi-)comprehensible input? If students did
this for an hour or two every day, where would they be in a year or two? (After, say,
350 to 1400 hours?) And does anyone stick with the game for that long?

And what happens when students get stuck at the intermediate level, or they run into
tricky bits of grammar, or find that some vocabulary just isn't sticking? I pretty much
blew off grammar books and SRS in French until I could hold basic conversations and
read books. But there came a time when I got sick of mubling "ce? cet? ou cette?" and
just looked up the rules, and it helped tremendously. Similarly, an SRS deck (or flash
cards) can work wonders for filling in vocabulary gaps.

In other words, I'm not convinced that 100% input and interaction is really efficient.
Sure, it works for kids, but they thousands and thousands of hours to burn and a huge
incentive to communicate. At least for me, spending 10% of my time studying grammar and
vocabulary has been helping tremendously at the intermediate level, because I start
noticing key parts of the input.

I could see this approach working very well for indigenous languages, where few
courses, grammars, books or recordings are available.

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Ari
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Norway
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 Message 8 of 11
22 March 2012 at 6:57am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
I could see this approach working very well for indigenous languages, where few courses, grammars, books or recordings are available.

Endangered languages is indeed the focus of the proect, so that makes sense. I also believe one of the goals here is to quickly make a native speaker into someone who can teach the language to others. Any comparison with grammar study and vocabulary building seems misdirected to me, since those methods will not produce a teacher in the language in a matter of a few days.


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