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Silver Spoon / Neutrino stories?

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emk
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 Message 1 of 24
02 October 2013 at 9:02pm | IP Logged 
Has anybody here actually tried Khatzumoto's Silver Spoon or Neutrino courses? His students post surprisingly little information online, and I don't recall seeing many folks who claim Silver Spoon or Neutrino as the secret of their success. Of course, (1) these are pretty small courses, and (2) maybe everybody who took them is busily blogging away in Japanese, where I'd never notice them.

I'm not really interested in whether his course is a good value, because that depends almost entirely on the customer, and whether the course works. If the course works, there's always somebody who'd be happy to pay the price. (I know of a man who once offered a French professor a fairly expensive sports car. And plenty of language schools cost thousands of dollars.) And there's a money-back guarantee for students who aren't "fluent" by the end of the course, which I think is a nice touch.

But for such a gung-ho program, it's hard to find anything other than a few rare blog posts about the first few weeks. This is odd. Plenty of people are very successful with media immersion and AJATT-like techniques, so Khatzumoto's courses theoretically ought to work fine. But then where are the Silver Spoon and Neutrino graduates?

I'm curious about this because Neutrino is opening up for a large number of European languages, and I'd love to know whether it's worth recommending to people who'd happily spend quite a bit of money to be spoon-fed.
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emk
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 Message 3 of 24
02 October 2013 at 10:06pm | IP Logged 
erenko wrote:
You might want to visit http://forum.koohii.com/index.php.
There were some heated debates there. There was a time when the Admin explicetly forbade any mention of ALL JAPANESE ALL THE TIME and his site.

I like the Koohii forum, even if they have a rather weird relationship to AJATT. Sometimes they sound like former cult members—they talk about AJATT a lot, and about how it changed their lives, but now they feel the need to separate themselves from it. The Koohii forum is certainly one of the best language forums I've seen, with plenty of intelligent conversation and a reasonably friendly atmosphere.

And you're right—if anybody knew of successful Silver Spoon or Neutrino graduates, they certainly would. But they've never actually found an actual, successful graduate, as far as I can tell.

I find this pretty baffling. My methods are basically a "slacker's AJATT", where I don't do enough immersion, I spend way too much time using English, and I don't spend nearly as much time with Anki as I should. And yet I can watch French TV for fun, teach my French tutor how to make landing pages, read at 30–50% of the speed I read in English, and watch math videos on YouTube. Seriously, my French listening comprehension is largely due to Buffy and sci-fi novels, and I'm too lazy to look stuff up all that often. And I'm not the only person here at HTLAL who has done OK this way. So I would assume that Neutrino ought to work.

So I what I want to know is: (1) Are Silver Spoon and Neutrino actually producing any Japanese speakers?, and (2) If not, why not?

If Neutrino is somehow failing, we ought to be able to learn something from its failures. And if it's succeeding, well, then Neutrino is another possible language course for people who have money and who want lots of guidance. But there's no information at all, and so I'm puzzled.
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rapp
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 Message 4 of 24
02 October 2013 at 10:06pm | IP Logged 
I signed up for Neutrino Spanish when it opened at the start of September. As of today, I'm on day 32 of the program so far and am quite enjoying it. Is there some particular aspect of the program I could address for you?
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emk
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 Message 5 of 24
02 October 2013 at 10:18pm | IP Logged 
rapp wrote:
I signed up for Neutrino Spanish when it opened at the start of September. As of today, I'm on day 32 of the program so far and am quite enjoying it. Is there some particular aspect of the program I could address for you?

If you have some spare time, I'd love to hear a short review. What's the typical day like? What works well? What doesn't? Do you find it easy to keep motivated? And who would be an ideal customer?

But what I'd really appreciate is a followup post in 6 to 18 months, answering pretty much the same questions. I'd be especially interested in the transition from "social" fluency to being ready for something like a job interview, if you make it that far.

I can't offer you much besides my gratitude, or perhaps a beer/pizza someday if the logistics somehow work out. But I'd really love to know.
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Cavesa
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 Message 6 of 24
02 October 2013 at 11:27pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for bringing this up. I was actually curious about this as well even though I have never trully searched them.

I have always thought one of the main reasons is actually the price and therefore the likely customers. We all know learning a language and getting dvds, books etc costs a lot of money. And most people who feel the need to share their experience and consult their learning with others online are those who have a limited budget (smaller or bigger) and need to learn in a balanced learning value/money spent ratio (different for everyone of course). And those people, us, usually have time to spend on forums, blogging, googling free resources, getting info on whether to spend money on this or that and so on. Neutrino/Silverspoon seems to be for those who have enough money to buy everything Khatzumoto tells them to get and no time to search for it all themselves. That's the principle of the silver spoon. And as they have paid a fair amount of money for their success, they may not feel the need to pay with advertisement on top of that.

Second reason that came to my mind was that Khatzumoto would ask people not to write too much in order not to leak too much of his knowhow. But I wouldn't find this too probable.

Third: The poll of Neutrino students may just be too small to be sure to include an excited blogger. Do we know how many students are in a round? I have only noticed when a new round was opening and the info that only limited amount of people can get in. How many? 20? 5? 3?
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rapp
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 Message 7 of 24
02 October 2013 at 11:48pm | IP Logged 
Hmm, I had considered starting a neutrino log here, maybe I'll go do that.

Let me give an overview of how the program works here. On the AJATT site he goes on at length about how he's broken everything down into "atoms" for you, but it really isn't clear what that means.

Essentially, the program is a game. You log into the neutrino website and are presented with an "atom". I'll go into more detail about those in a moment, but the idea is that when you complete an atom you gain some number of experience points. You have a daily goal of gaining 1900 XP, and you win the game/complete the program when you've gained 1,900,000 XP. I've never failed to meet the 1900 XP daily goal, so I don't know if there is any sort of penalty associated with not meeting it.

One motivating factor is that XP are not permanently gained. They continually "rot" if you don't continually complete atoms. So if you slack off, your score suffers.

The 0 - 1.9 million XP spectrum is divided up into levels. Roughly every 60,000 XP you level up. I just levelled up for the first time a few days ago, and that seemed to be accompanied by slight change in the types of atoms I've gotten since then, but mostly it just seems to be a pat on the back for continuing with the program.

So, on to atoms. These are small, easily accomplished tasks. There are a wide variety of them, and they are heavily skewed towards immersing yourself in the target language. Some of the atoms I've seen so far are:

- Do 1 SRS rep
- Start any Spanish audio playing
- Open the nearest Spanish book and read one sentence
- Start a Spanish movie playing
- Subscribe to 1 Spanish podcast
- Start a Spanish "let's play" video playing in youtube
- Open a website of Spanish phrases - find a few interesting ones - make SRS cards from them (that would be presented as multiple atoms)
- Do 5 minutes of SRS reps
- Go to your favorite online bookstore - search for Spanish comic books - find one that looks interesting - buy it (again, multiple atoms)
- Look up any word, known or unknown, in a Spanish dictionary

I'm sure I'm forgetting a whole bunch of other ones. But for all of these atoms, there will be appropriate links provided. So, for example, that atom that says to watch a let's play video will be accompanied by a link that takes you to youtube with the appropriate search already done, so that you just have to click on whichever video looks interesting to you in order to complete the atom. There is also a "random linkage" section of the page that provides links to other interesting target language content not directly related to the current atom.

This is getting rather long, so I'll wrap it up by saying that the basic AJATT philosophy is to immerse yourself in a wide variety native materials that you find interesting. And I think that the neutrino program does a good job of presenting those materials to you and "luring" you into getting sucked into them. It might ask you to read a single sentence, but if you happen to end up reading a page and a half, we'll neutrino won't hold that against you.
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Cavesa
Triglot
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Czech Republic
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 Message 8 of 24
03 October 2013 at 12:07am | IP Logged 
Thanks, Rapp. That is a great insight.

I was just looking at the success stories (or rather blogs half the way) linked on ajatt itself (however, I'd expect those to be much more easily findable) and for one thing (apart from some of the links being dead), they are all quite far from the end. How far into the thing are you? How much progress have you noticed?

As the whole Ajatt method is based on finding things that are fun for you, how does the linking to sources go with it? Directions like "open the nearest book and read a sentence" are actually quite free of such worries. But when it comes to the online sources (videos, podcasts etc.), how is the balance between neutrino guiding you (so that you don't need to google a long time to find something good) and letting you choose?

On the explanatory page for Italian, I found one important answer to me. Khatzumoto got consultants for the european languages. It is a totally understandable approach but he doesn't introduce them at all. And they surely have a major say in the resources used. Does the Spanish appear to suffer from not being pure Khatzumoto made?

Did you know any Spanish when you started with Neutrino? What is your goal? :-)


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