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Stephen Krashen, an interview

 Language Learning Forum : Polyglots Post Reply
52 messages over 7 pages: 13 4 5 6 7  Next >>
s_allard
Triglot
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Canada
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Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 9 of 52
23 February 2013 at 1:13am | IP Logged 
If one can do without corrective feedback, that's wonderful. I can't. As I gear up for the C2 exam in Spanish and my weekly Skype sessions are a godsend. I don't see how I could do without them. For me they are invaluable because they provide exactly what I need: a native speaker who reacts to what I say. This is particularly important for things like idioms where usage can be really subtle.

But most of all, I enjoy the fact that I can talk about things that interest me and I have somebody who can show me how to say things in a better way that actually corresponds to what I want to say.
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iguanamon
Tetraglot
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Virgin Islands
Speaks: Ladino
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 Message 10 of 52
23 February 2013 at 1:19am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
If one can do without corrective feedback, that's wonderful. I can't.
...


I know that I most certainly can't do without being corrected either. It's humbling and a necessary part of learning a language, at least for me.
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schoenewaelder
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
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Speaks: English*, French
Studies: German, Spanish, Dutch

 
 Message 11 of 52
23 February 2013 at 4:12pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
...although, as the video points out, we can use a bit of formal grammar to clarify certain things.


I think Other Steve suggests it, but Krashen seems to dismiss it, suggesting that if he hasn't absorbed the rule through the CI, then it is probably because the grammar rule is "new" (which I interpret as probably meaning artificial/constructed/unnatural/irrelevant). (I think he says that he does read grammars occasionaly, because he is a linguist, fascinated by languages, but it shouldn't be a part of actual language learning)

I agree CI is great, but why is he so fundamentalist about it? Surely any shortcuts or anything that helps is good? Even doing a few drills or exercise from time to time. I really can't believe that a normal adult could learn the German case system just through CI, and although it is in a way "artificial" in that a random model from the existing German dialects was adopted as the standard, it's a pretty essential feature.

[Sorry, can't check the video to confirm what I think he said, as I am in the library]

Edited by schoenewaelder on 23 February 2013 at 4:16pm

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s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3690 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 12 of 52
24 February 2013 at 10:30pm | IP Logged 
I think that it should be pointed out that this Natural Approach based on Comprehensible input is really aimed at the beginner student. Here is a good summary of this approach.

I would think that as you progress to higher levels of proficiency, you would need to supplement CI with more formal study of grammar and vocabulary. A particular problem is the interaction between L1 and L2.
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Iversen
Super Polyglot
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Denmark
berejst.dk
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 Message 13 of 52
24 February 2013 at 11:51pm | IP Logged 
The ironical thing is that the natural approach based only on comprehensible input probably would work better with people who already had learnt the basics of the grammar so that they knew what to listen for - consciently or not.

That being said, comprehensible input is a very useful concept and Krashen's most valuable contribution to language learning, but in my view the best way to get some comprehensible written material is to use bilingual texts. Otherwise it is hard to find anything that isn't irreparably boring. For the spoken language simple communications with native speakers in real situations are unsurpassed for efficiency. Unfortunately I can't say the same about artificially orchestrated roleplaying involving fellow students, and finding interesting genuine oral content is as difficult as finding the Higgs particle on the tip of your nose. You know it must be there, but it takes a lot of energy and some luck to find it. And being oral it disappears while you listen.

Edited by Iversen on 25 February 2013 at 9:59am

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s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3690 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 14 of 52
25 February 2013 at 4:04pm | IP Logged 
I think the quintessential exponent of this Natural Approach has to be the Assimil method, and this probably explains much of its success. Bilingual texts, passive or silent wave, comprehensible input, it's all there.
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emk
Diglot
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United States
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 Message 15 of 52
25 February 2013 at 6:03pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
I think the quintessential exponent of this Natural Approach has to be the Assimil method, and this probably explains much of its success. Bilingual texts, passive or silent wave, comprehensible input, it's all there.


I think you're onto something here. When I compare a traditional course like Collier's How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs with Assimil's L'Égyptien hiéroglyphique, the difference is pretty stark. Collier's book contains of a small amount of actual Egyptian, which you're apparently expected to memorize by brute force. The Assimil course, however, puts the Egyptian content front and center, and sticks the explanations into the footnotes and the weekly review chapters. Even if you forget 80% of the content in the Assimil book, you'll retain the essential patterns that you see and over and over again.

But Assimil has one other good trick: The course is divided into little, bite-sized chunks, encouraging the student to spend 20 or 40 minutes on a daily lesson. This was enormously useful to me when I started learning French, because it gave me a simple and unambiguous goal.

As for Krashen, I have a great fondness for his work. He's one of those smart and entertaining people who devote their careers to explaining a single idea. I always appreciate that sort of researcher, even when I suspect that they're only 80% correct. In Krashen's case, his theories of comprehensible input make good sense in light of my own language-learning experiences. But at the same time, his theories can't explain all the data:

1) Jane Birkin moved to France in 1960 at the age of 14, and has apparently spent 50+ years hearing French. So why does she still make gender errors like une tiroir? Her French is extremely pleasant, but it contains residual errors that most native speakers eliminate by age 6 or so. This suggests that at least some adults may need something more than input.

2) Some heritage learners have native or near-native listening comprehension, but can scarcely speak a language at all. This suggests that some form of output practice is necessary, at least for some people.

But despite these caveats, I think the Krashen has some excellent points. And he definitely has both scientific research and individual case studies to back up his claims, as you see in this rather entertaining video on the power of reading. So that's my personal take on Krashen: even though he's probably wrong about some of the details, he has still made incredibly valuable contributions to the field of language learning.
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s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3690 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 16 of 52
25 February 2013 at 9:26pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
...

1) Jane Birkin moved to France in 1960 at the age of 14, and has apparently spent 50+ years hearing French. So why does she still make gender errors like une tiroir? Her French is extremely pleasant, but it contains residual errors that most native speakers eliminate by age 6 or so. This suggests that at least some adults may need something more than input.

2) Some heritage learners have native or near-native listening comprehension, but can scarcely speak a language at all. This suggests that some form of output practice is necessary, at least for some people.

But despite these caveats, I think the Krashen has some excellent points. And he definitely has both scientific research and individual case studies to back up his claims, as you see in this rather entertaining video on the power of reading. So that's my personal take on Krashen: even though he's probably wrong about some of the details, he has still made incredibly valuable contributions to the field of language learning.


I think that the weakness of the pure Natural Approach (i.e. no formal grammar) is that the learner may imperfectly (re)construct the target grammar. It could also be a form of fossilization whereby certain incorrect forms become crystallized in the learner's speech forever unless there is an explicit effort to remove them.


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