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Less repetitive advice for new users

  Tags: Beginner
 Language Learning Forum : Collaborative writing Post Reply
43 messages over 6 pages: 1 2 35 6  Next >>
Emily96
Diglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 4159 days ago

270 posts - 342 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Finnish, Latin

 
 Message 25 of 43
19 June 2013 at 1:17am | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
Why nicely? It is truth.


Good point!

Thanks for the explanations, that helps. And i agree there should be a vocabulary page for beginners. It sure sounds
overwhelming when you don't understand half the words.
1 person has voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 5263 days ago

2615 posts - 8806 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 26 of 43
19 June 2013 at 2:58am | IP Logged 
Emily96 wrote:
I read over the two drafts emk wrote, they look good to me! I'm not sure if we can find a way to put this in nicely, but the FSI courses are rather... boring, haha.

Cavesa wrote:
Why nicely? It is truth. The FSI courses are mostly boring but they do bring good results. Wikia shold be firstly truthful, there are far too many advertisements for everything that are primarily nice but don't tell anything useful.

I think the wiki is most useful if it accurately reports the "HTLAL consensus" on a subject. For example, if almost everybody thinks a course is horrible, we can say, "Almost everybody at HTLAL thinks this course is horrible." If most people think the course is boring but effective, we can say, "Most people at HTLAL find this course to be boring but effective."

For an example of pretty negative page, see Rosetta Stone. I linked to reviews by several well-known polyglots and summarized them. Then I did the same thing with a few threads here at HTLAL.

This also works well if there's two sides to an issue. Instead of picking one side or another, we can just explain the debate: "Many well-known language learners, including the Antimoon folks, Khatzumoto and the researcher Stephen Krashen, prefer to delay speaking until they understand the language well. Benny Lewis, however, believes in speaking from day one." Then we can explain why they believe what they believe.

This is way easier than trying to figure out which answer is right. :-) And it still allows us to be brutally honest about lousy courses.

Edited by emk on 19 June 2013 at 2:58am

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Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 4740 days ago

3277 posts - 6779 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 27 of 43
19 June 2013 at 3:30am | IP Logged 
Sure, that is how I try to always formulate things on the Wikia. This representation of the concensus is another good reason to add links to the relevant forum threads.

Well, it is true that most people find the FSI dry and/or boring so I just said it. On the wikia page, I put something like "most htlalers find te fsi boring but efficient" but I didn't have time to search for the threads now.
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iguanamon
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Virgin Islands
Speaks: Ladino
Joined 4993 days ago

2237 posts - 6729 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Creole (French)

 
 Message 28 of 43
19 June 2013 at 3:48am | IP Logged 
I don't know if I'll contribute to the wiki or not. I'm a little bothered by the subjectivity of the opinions presented as a forum consensus when the forum can't come to a consensus on most aspects of language learning.

My fear is that the wiki will become a battleground for opposing views on methods and resources. Because an article is presented anonymously, as if it's a fact, when in actuality it is merely a view or an opinion. Views and opinions, we have a ton of them. Look at this thread for instance where a newbie- with no other language than English (a complete beginner) asks if it's a good idea to learn Spanish and Portuguese at the same time: Is it wise to learn 2 languages at 1 time? The opinions run the gamut here in a thread where I thought there would be an obvious consensus. Boy was I wrong about that.

Since anyone can contribute to the wiki, what's to stop the RS people (once they find out about it) from editing the RS article? What's to stop anyone with a product or method to promote from doing the same? Are there safeguards in place to prevent this from happening?

It seems to me as if the wiki is to become a backdoor FAQ page. Is it the intent of of this thread to merely link to various wiki pages and be done with a newbie poster? Yeah, they ask repetitive questions, but they also tend to get personalized answers. Some of these folks actually end up learning a language and become valuable contributors to the forum themselves. Some of these newbies who ask "boring, repetitive" questions become our new blood. I wonder if we just send them to the wiki, do they get their questions seemingly answered and end up not returning. Do we then run the risk of becoming a forum of fossils talking "inside baseball" to each other?

Be careful what you wish for. You might get it. Alright, now you all can shoot me down. Before you do though, please think about it a little more deeply, beyond the obvious. There's always the law of un-intended consequences to consider. I understand and believe that everyone contributing has the best of altruistic intentions to try and help people but biases are inevitable, especially in a field where everyone learns differently, knows what works for them and believes strongly in that, sometimes to the exclusion and outright dismissal of other ways/methods. Sometimes people who have learned several languages forget what it was like to be a new language learner with no experience and only one native language upon which to rely.



Edited by iguanamon on 19 June 2013 at 3:50am

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Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 4740 days ago

3277 posts - 6779 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 29 of 43
19 June 2013 at 4:04am | IP Logged 
I don't want to shoot you down, I believe you are right.

But at the moment, I believe the Wikia is the best solution for the faqs and as an alternative to the badly functioning search function and the pros outweight the cons in my opinion.

Sure, the concensus is always a tricky thing but usually there are two or three major views and the wikia should point to all of them and provide links to the relevant threads. Remember, right now we are still creating the bare bones which will be perfected over time if we keep to it. I hope noone will try to make wikia the battlefield. That's what many threads in this forums are for ;-)

Of course, the RS people could come and change the article. But:
1. the admins can reverse changes
2. Do you really think the RS people would put some efforts into changing a page for a while? I think they must have given up on this forum and they don't need to conquer this small corner of the market as their massive adds anywhere else allow them to rip off millions of customers no matter our opinion.
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Emily96
Diglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 4159 days ago

270 posts - 342 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Finnish, Latin

 
 Message 30 of 43
19 June 2013 at 4:28am | IP Logged 
You make some good points. However, I think those who have been working on the wiki so far have been pretty
careful about how they phrase the articles. I don't think any of it comes off as being too biased. The contributors
have tried to stay neutral and give all sides of the issue, like emk just said a few posts ago. As to the specific thread
you mentioned, my impression from my limited time on the forum was that whenever a newbie comes along with a
question people take it as an opportunity to restate their opinions and have the same discussions over and over, as
if they hope to convince everyone else this time round. When transferring that to the wiki, we're not going to take
just one of the points of view presented, we will summarize the main ones and link to the thread if anyone wants
more information. Lastly, the hope is that eventually the wiki will be able to answer any question someone might
have, and that sending them to it is not just waving goodbye to our "new blood".
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Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 4740 days ago

3277 posts - 6779 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 31 of 43
19 June 2013 at 4:37am | IP Logged 
Yes, I think the role of the wikia as the crossroads to good threads is an important one.
1.as Emily said, too many of the newbie question threads turn to vol 1001 of the what is fluency thread
2.the point of a wiki article should be to point the newbie to threads and give just a basic overview, help them find info faster, not to discourage them and drive them away. To me, it looks as a much friendlier way than to just tell them on their new threads to learn to use the search function or just give them the links without any other answer.
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Emily96
Diglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 4159 days ago

270 posts - 342 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Finnish, Latin

 
 Message 32 of 43
19 June 2013 at 5:08am | IP Logged 
Also, i just went and read the thread about the beginner wanting to learn Spanish/portuguese simultaneously. I'd
say there was a general consensus - since you're a beginner, pick one to focus on first and then benefit from the
discount when studying the other. What other view points did you notice? (Maybe this is taking the thread too off
topic...)


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