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Stephen Krashen, an interview

 Language Learning Forum : Polyglots Post Reply
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patrickwilken
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 Message 41 of 52
16 April 2013 at 1:26pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

I would agree that many beginner and intermediate learners rely on "skills mastery" and practice. I don't, especially—I mostly just read and listen and talk to people, and spend a small amount of time reading about grammar. And as demonstrated by the study above, I think this distinction largely disappears for most adults once they reach C1. I know a huge number of grad students, post docs and faculty who've made it from C1-ish levels to near-native levels without any explicit study at all.


I guess it depends on what you mean by skill mastery. To me reading lots, speaking, listening, and any other way of actively using your language is practical training for the language parts of your brain.

How is this different from people who learn music or sports? I guess the big difference for expert performers in music or sport is that they focus on their specific weaknesses and do repetitive exercises to get better.

Interestingly most people play golf show rapid improvements in their game, but then plateau in terms of ability, despite playing lots of games over decades because they are not actively working on areas of weakness. I am not sure how relevant this insight is for language learning. It seems until you get to a higher area you are constantly working on your weaknesses.

emk wrote:

If there's a difference between childhood acquisition and adult acquisition, it may lie in the fact that only about 5–10% of native speakers need feedback from a speech therapist to clear up various weird problems in a timely fashion, but that a much larger fraction of adults would benefit from similar feedback from a language tutor.


Probably because L1 speakers don't have another language to interfere with their accents, and because they also don't need to speak perfectly to be understood.
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montmorency
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 Message 42 of 52
23 April 2013 at 11:47pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
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.


:-)

Two words, guaranteed to chill my soul: "group work"....
(and then you get 10 conversations going on all at once, in an overcrowded echo-y
classroom......very incomprehensible input).
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montmorency
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 Message 43 of 52
24 April 2013 at 9:34am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:


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.


Fascinating lecture! Thanks for posting that.


But while he doesn't seem worried by the advent of technology, e.g. computers and
email, there will not yet have been time for research to have take into account the
latest developments in mobile devices and social media.

True that teenagers could be reading literature on their smartphones, but are they?
Would they have the time and the attention span before being interrupted by a tweet
from a friend, etc? Not necessarily bad, or all bad, but not quite the same as his "
[uninterrupted] silent sustained reading".

I do wonder if the days of the battered paperback in the pocket are finally numbered.

But only time will tell.
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montmorency
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 Message 44 of 52
24 April 2013 at 10:04pm | IP Logged 
Since we are posting Krashen videos, here is my contribution:

From 1982, in 2 parts:

Stephen Krashen on Language Acquisition
Part 1 of 2


Stephen Krashen on Language Acquisition
Part 2 of 2



A little more hair, and of darker hue; a lot of the basic message is the same. Less
emphasis on interesting/appealing/compelling input, IIRC.


"I like talking about relative clauses...".


(Understandable; in the saloon bar of the Dog and Duck, they talk of little
else...).

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luke
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 Message 45 of 52
25 April 2013 at 3:05am | IP Logged 
montmorency wrote:
From 1982, in 2 parts:

Stephen Krashen on Language Acquisition
Part 1 of 2


Stephen Krashen on Language Acquisition
Part 2 of 2


I enjoy this video. Whenever I watch it, I think I should make a major shift in my approach to language learning. I.E., start doing what I really want to do with the language (read and listen to audiobooks).
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emk
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 Message 46 of 52
25 April 2013 at 5:08am | IP Logged 
luke wrote:
I enjoy this video. Whenever I watch it, I think I should make a major shift in my approach to language learning. I.E., start doing what I really want to do with the language (read and listen to audiobooks).

For me, a big part of language learning is building an enormous database of examples in my head. At first, this database only contains really common stuff that appears a half-dozen times on every page. As I listen and read, the database grows, until it contains lots variations for all the common words:

Quote:
J'arrive !
Il m'est arrivé quelque chose d'étrange.
Je n'y arrive pas.

And eventually, the database becomes sufficiently big that I can actually use it to infer the non-existence of certain constructions: "Hmm, they either said X, Y or Z. But if Y or Z actually existed, I would surely have encountered them by now. So they must have said X." Or "I've never heard a regular subjunctive for that verb, and I should have by now if it existed. Is there an irregular form?" And of the course the database also contains information about social context, register, and lots of useful stuff like that.

(For the geeks in the audience, the database is, strictly speaking, a probabilistic language model built by extracting patterns from input. A very rough analog would be the databases that drive Google Translate or Linguee.)

Explicit study either (1) clarifies stuff that was already in the database, or (2) allows me to better use new input for the database when I encounter it. So I make the most progress if I mix study and input. If I rely solely on input, I need a lot of input to improve. If I rely solely on study, I wind up trying to build the database consciously, one tiny datum at a time, which is a truly herculean task. If I ever had to sit down and memorize a grammar book, I'd loath every single minute.

Output is a bit weird. The easiest way for me to get really good output is to massively binge on input for half a day, producing what Iversen calls the language "ringing in my head". But there's also an element of practice—it's not enough to know how something might be said; I need that expression to fall off the tip of my tongue without any thought. Even there, the database is useful—my brain can compare my input to the way other people speak, and let me know if something sounds weird. Of course, this means that if the database is "cold", and it's feeding me information slowly, it can be very hard to speak, because words are always a few seconds late, and my brain tells me I sound strange two seconds after I spoke.

So for me, the input isn't the only thing, but it is the most important thing. And I find it's important not only to chip away at the completely opaque parts of the input, but also to heavily reinforce the stuff I can understand, until it becomes second nature.

I suppose all this is by way of saying that if you really want to listen to audiobooks, it seems like a perfectly logical and pleasant idea to me.
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luke
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 Message 47 of 52
25 April 2013 at 8:00am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
I suppose all this is by way of saying that if you really want to listen to audiobooks, it seems like a perfectly logical and pleasant idea to me.


Well put. (the whole post).
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patrickwilken
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 Message 48 of 52
25 April 2013 at 10:47am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

So for me, the input isn't the only thing, but it is the most important thing. And I find it's important not only to chip away at the completely opaque parts of the input, but also to heavily reinforce the stuff I can understand, until it becomes second nature.


I think the reinforcement of high frequency words and expressions by lots and lots of input is perhaps more important than learning the lower frequency stuff, which is why reading trashy novels can be so effective. Since any input will contain lots of examples of the high frequency stuff.


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