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Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 1 of 14
30 November 2013 at 7:58pm | IP Logged 

I recently attended an Irish language immersion weekend in Portland, Oregon put on by
Language Hunters. I enjoyed the session very much and I have come away with a lot of
thoughts about how it will impact my own language learning here at home. In addition to
attending the session, I also picked up their book The Language Hunter’s Kit which is
available to read online or purchase here:
LH book and I’ve included some
highlights and summaries in this post.

While typing this up I realized this has been getting quite long so I will split it up.
I’ll cover some of the basic mechanics first, then go over their learning philosophies,
and then describe more of my personal experience and how I see it impacting my own

Language Hunters is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving endangered languages.
For that purpose, they’ve developed (and are still developing) learning methods to
effectively teach languages that lack a large native speaker community and learning
materials, and/or are commonly taught in ways notorious for being dull and painful for
students and fail to produce fluent speakers which are desperately needed. Their
methods could work for any language but they’re specifically designed to tackle these

At its core, Language Hunting is learning fluent language through gamification. Anyone
who has seen anything about it before probably identify it primarily through the
gesture aspect, which is an important part of the method but not the whole thing.
Gameplay is split into twenty minute sessions (borrowing from the Pomodoro productivity
technique) and players speak exclusively in the target language during this time. The
big no-no is talking about the language in the L1 (referred to as “killing fairies”).

To get an idea of what LH resembles, Willem Larsen, President of Language Hunters and
author of The Language Hunter’s Kit, lists the influences of the method as: 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, etc.


So the game they primarily play is called Tea with Grandpa in which players basically
learn to say all there is to say about a cup of tea. At the novice level it works
through the journalistic questions and how to answer them: What, Who/Whose, Where, How
Many, Which, When/What Time/How Often, Why, and How. The first round works on Me/You,
the second We/You (pl), the third He/She, and the fourth They. Additional rounds would
then go on to work on past tense, future, and conditional.

At this session they debuted their new printed, simplified game boards which they are
quite proud of. Apparently game leaders had a difficult time managing everything at
once before and the game boards are there to make their job a lot easier. And as an
added bonus, they had something to send us home with – we all got boards!

They measure fluency based on the ACTFL scale. At novice level players work on
acquiring the basic questions. Between novice and intermediate, they go on to stacking
sentences (3 or more) building up to be able to tell a story (my table and I who
started around novice to upper novice were working on the stacking sentences skill by
the end of the weekend). At intermediate players start planning the future. At
advanced, players work on hypotheticals, “problems with a twist” (dealing with
situations such as, “I reserved a room with two beds but there’s only one” or in the
context of tea, “I wanted tea but I got water”), and they do more detailed work to
improve accuracy. If there are players at the superior level, they essentially have
debate team (they’d be talking about subjects other than tea for this exercise).
This path is pictured in a literal fashion in this chart:

Each table consists of a GAME LEADER who already knows how to conduct the game and
manages all the players. He or she may not already be proficient in the language. If
not, there is a FLUENT FOOL who feeds the language to the game leader and whom the
other players copy. For a large learning session in an endangered language community,
the elder who is native in the language will sit with the most advanced group and those
with lesser proficiency will sit with others and will run to consult those with higher
levels of proficiency when they have a question.

Besides the game leader, there are three players at the table and others sit around
them. Those at the table are more “under the gun” (especially the player who
immediately follows the game leader) while the players around the table either can copy
with less pressure (if they’re feeling too tired mentally to sit at the table) or
assist those at the table when they get stuck.

Questions and answers are traded off between each player at the table with each player
in turn acting as “game leader” asking every other player at the table. This way,
everyone gets in a lot of repetitions and they start learning the role of game leader
which is important down the road.

If a player starts to struggle to respond, the game leader/fluent fool, and other
players will jump right in with the response which the player should copycat. This
caused some tension with one very analytical player who was hesitating a lot while
trying to figure out the answer while the game leader kept insisting that he just copy.
According to their method, developing fluent speech is of the utmost importance. It
doesn’t matter if the analytical mind can eventually get it “right” if you can’t spit
out a response in a reasonable amount of time. The leader was trying to communicate
that there’s a time and a place for the analytical brain but it’s not during
conversation. They don’t want the learner to associate frustration with the language
through constantly feeling under pressure to figure things out nor have other players
get frustrated and bored with other players slowing things down when they can just
copycat. This also trains for real conversations where a fluent speaker won't have the
patience to watch their conversation partner struggle which will only frustrate the
learner further when they find that fluent and native speakers aren't open to talking
with them in the L2.

As I’ll explain later, the players’ energy and focus takes a central role in the
method. Beyond the Pomodoro technique of taking a 5-10 minute break for every 20
minutes of gameplay, there are other forms of breaks built into the game. After every
regular round there will be another round that incorporates some kind of gimmick to
switch things up, either snapping them out of boredom or changing things around in case
they’re not understanding it the regular way. Some of these include fire drill, where
players go through rounds and then switch seats, rotating around the table, in addition
to speed rounds, negations, liar, whisper, shout, sign only, etc. Other modes of play
can be developed by players as long as they conform to the overall rules of play. There
is also some built in fun and silliness to keep things enjoyable and energy levels up.

They produced some videos here:
LH Vimeo though working through the
videos isn't the same experience as doing it live(they're also not totally pleased with
the videos which I'll talk about later). To see Irish gameplay, be sure to scroll
through until you get to L1G1 - Lap 1 Game 1.

To be continued - Part 2 language learning theories and philosophies.     

Edited by sctroyenne on 30 November 2013 at 8:06pm

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Senior Member
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739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 2 of 14
01 December 2013 at 7:37am | IP Logged 
As promised, here are some of the underlying principles of the Language Hunters method
(as understood by me):


Language should be presented in bite-sized pieces in a way that’s obvious to players so
that no extra brain power needs to be wasted on figuring out what’s going on. Players
should slowly work on these bite-sized pieces to focus on building fluency rather than
moving directly on to the next topic. This can be difficult as learners will want to
get an overview and both learners and instructors will worry about moving too slowly.
The work involved in building fluency at low levels can make learners impatient.

This method will resemble Michel Thomas in its focus on structure and limitation of
vocabulary. LH takes the view that in the interest of developing fluency, structure is
the most important to nail down while vocabulary comes relatively “cheaply”:

“Aim for ‘vertical slicing’ the ability to do a narrow range of things (within
the overall general skill), and follow this narrow track to the highest level of
performance, before expanding ‘horizontally’.” (p. 124)

My game leader and language instructor said that he deliberately worked with the self-
identified advanced learners during their five day program from the beginning. He found
that they struggled a lot and would get quite upset because they felt had deceived
themselves about their level. This is due to the distinction LH makes between
concentrating on learning ABOUT the language (which many methods focus on) rather than
practicing actual fluency and on actually being able to do things with the language.
While the advanced learners' knowledge of Irish was pretty broad they lacked a lot of
practice with even the basics:

“Expanding horizontally too soon, however, will slow you down, and is the top of
the slippery slope towards prioritizing knowledge-about over FLUENCY.” (p. 125)

And one more quote to drive home their focus on focusing on fluency from the beginning:
“With Language Hunting the answer is always: the first step to fluency is fluent
action. Whatever lies between the moment you ‘begin learning’ and the moment you say
something meaningful in your target language is a distraction from the goal of fluency
and increased proficiency.” (p. 34)


While getting an overview is useful in preparation for learning, too much of this is
only procrastination from doing the actual work to develop fluency from the bottom up.
Follow the language map (based on the ACTFL scale) to build fluency piece by piece:
“Delaying fluency until you’ve had an overview of an entire skill-set means you
have to start all over again to actually learn it, this time doing it for
real….Therefore, observe your target skill at all the levels of proficiency, and map
out the fastest route to fluency accordingly….Be aware of the overall path to mastery,
but don’t engage in discussion or speculation about higher levels; focus in on the one
you’re working on right now.” (p. 137)


So what role does the analytical brain play in acquiring a language? It can be used in
the “gathering” stage where a “language hunter” seeks out future hunts and obtains
bite-sized pieces, set-ups, lists, and conversations to practice during gameplay.


Ok, finally have gotten to the part that most people associate with LH. The gesture
system they’ve developed is derived mostly from American Sign Language with
modifications when they encounter a sign that doesn’t convey an obvious meaning to
someone who doesn’t know ASL or when something isn’t translatable. Do you need to learn
ASL to be able to do this method? Not necessarily. It can help, but players who have
gone off on their own have developed their own signs. Another option is to learn the
sign language associated with the L2 since it would more closely follow the thought
process of an L2 speaker.

Is it effective? It’s very important to the method for avoiding L1 if that’s important
to you (and for them it is). It can definitely enhance memory. Initially it is awkward
and difficult to link up to what you already know if going in with some knowledge of
the language, but the payoff down the line is greater ease in acquiring new knowledge.
It also communicates grammar without having to explain it explicitly, particularly with
the different forms of verbs and parts of speech (such as question particles) being
linked through signs. For remembering the structure, I found that “finding tá” became
an anchor. Figuring out where the form of “bí” occurred in the sentence through muscle
memory I had built up doing the signs seemed to make everything else fall into place
around it. For one player who was a complete beginner in Irish, she initially found
“tá”, “is”, “an”, and “an bhfuil” confusing but said the signs helped her associate
them. One of the “gimmick” round options was “sign only” which I really liked. It was
really effective to see the conversation we had been working (and struggling) through
boiled down to simple signs, especially when we tried complex sentence stacking
exercises (“Oh, so that’s all we’re trying to say here”).


This is probably the most important aspect of the underlying theory that drives the
development of the method. To learn most effectively, the learner should take care to
stay within his/her “fluent edge” which can be considered analogous to Mihaly
Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow”. If the concepts being learned are too easy, the
learner gets bored and disengaged, if they’re too difficult or too fast, the learner
will get overwhelmed and cease to work productively. The learning cycle is a flow
between energy and focus, focusing consumes energy, and so game leaders and the players
themselves should constantly be monitoring energy levels and tending to them.

They take care to make sure everyone in the learning environment gets their basic needs
met – healthy snacks are provided, players are encouraged to call “full” as soon as
they start to feel overwhelmed and sit out, take a rest, maybe browse some books or do
something enjoyable to refuel their energy. The latest iteration of the method has
introduced Pomodoro rounds that are strictly adhered to in order to ensure that breaks
are being taken in a regular fashion before players reach the overwhelmed stage. Most
of the updates they make to the method are added for the purpose of better managing
players’ energy levels and a lot of the “silly” and playful aspects of the method (such
as terminology like “killing fairies”) are there just to keep the mood playful.

Managing energy levels is one of the most stressful and draining roles of the game
leader. Hence the “teach a teacher” aspect of gameplay that trades off primary roles to
game players, which takes the pressure off the game leader if only for a few moments
(in addition to training someone in the method so that they can go off and use it with
new people). The new game board was designed with this in mind to make things easier
for the game leaders.

This concept runs counter to the belief that many learners and teachers have that the
key to effective language learning is discipline, discipline, discipline. Students who
underperform in classes often aren’t just lazy but simply aren’t in a proper mindset
for learning to begin with and their energy and engagement levels aren’t taken into
account during lessons. Language enthusiasts will have a higher tolerance for being
drained of energy but even they may have trouble monitoring their focus and feel like
they ought to just push through it when they get tired. Being able to call “full” is a
skill and often an enthusiast may feel they need to swallow their pride to do it. I
finally tried to sit out towards the end of the first night when the rounds were
getting very difficult and everyone was struggling but unfortunately most of the others
were dropping out at this point as well. I did manage to make a compromise to change
from the “hot seat” (the first seat after the game leader) to the last in the rotation
in order to take some of the pressure off.

When you remember that this whole method is born out of the desire to teach endangered
languages, often to young people within the ethnic community who may be reluctant
students, then you can understand the intense focus on maintaining energy and
enthusiasm levels. LH feels strongly that making learning a struggle will only build
negative associations with the language in the learner and ultimately turn them away
for good.

Regarding the videos – he’s not totally pleased with how the videos turned out. He made
the choice to put fresh interns in with no previous knowledge of Irish so that the
viewer could relate to their progress. But due to the constraints of filming schedules,
there was no time to implement all of the energy boosting and resting techniques that
he stresses is so important to the process. You can see them breaking down quite a bit
(Lap 20 resembles my group towards the end of Saturday night). But short of attending a
workshop yourself, it’s the best way to see the method in practice.

Also related: Analytical Brain vs. Automatic Brain:

It was interesting to note that some of the players who I definitely would have placed
above me in terms of knowledge about Irish before the weekend session ended up having
quite a bit of trouble not burning out on the method. My theory is that while being
presented with knowledge in this new, immersive method, they would try to reconcile it
with knowledge they had already acquired about the language. I reached the limit of my
acquired knowledge earlier than them and so I had no choice but to give myself over to
the method. Since my analytical brain wasn’t constantly churning in the background, I
feel I was able to conserve a lot more mental energy and ended up excelling on the
final day.


The game is based on players copying their game leader/fluent fool in order to acquire
new language bits. Learners should feel free to “dive right in” and relax and not worry
about mistakes In early stages, fluency should be more important than perfection of
details. Detailed work should be saved for intermediate/advanced stages:
quest for perfection is the surest way to paralyze learners.” (p 132)

As for how the language is provided, he stresses that “standardized language” isn’t a
“real” thing, that every language is made up of unique dialects and to regard them as
such. The learner should accept their teacher rather than stress about how the teacher
compares to some real or imagined “standard” that exists in a textbook. I can see how
this is really important in teaching endangered languages as this approach can quickly
quell any debates over dialect issues (which I haven’t delved too deeply into in the
online Irish learning community but I’ve seen snippets of how nasty it can get). Also,
the last thing they would want is to invite a proficient or native speaker to act as
“fluent fool” only to have some beginner criticize their accent. You learn to speak a
language in order to communicate with people so focus on the person in front of you,
rather than some abstract textbook.

Though he doesn’t mention it, I’m sure he would say that fear of fossilization is
overblown in the learning community and probably hampers learners from trying new
things in less than optimal circumstances (having a speaker as a teacher who’s not a
native in your preferred dialect, for example).


The game sessions are conducted entirely in the L2 and there is no “killing fairies”
(talking about L2 in L1 during the learning session). He believes strongly in the
“power” of being able to infer something on one’s own and that a teacher that
explicitly teaches grammar without providing copious opportunities for students to
figure it out for themselves through examples is “stealing” the “aha moment” from them.
While in the book he seems quite hostile to referring to reference works while in the
immersive experience, at the session itself he said that reference books on the side
were fine - just to keep them to ourselves and not quote the rules at the table.


LH views the decision to undertake learning an endangered language as a commitment to
keep that community alive. Responsibility for teaching is shared from early on and one
of the goals of the method is to foster new teachers in the method to strengthen their
local language communities:
“If you know one thing, you can teach one thing.”

Related to that and endangered languages, the language community is made up of babies,
children, teens, and adults (which can also correspond to beginner through superior
learners). Having any holes, especially at the early stages endangers the language. For
endangered languages, attracting young people and new learners is vitally important yet
traditional methods may turn them off the language forever. In any language community,
hostility or snobbism towards beginners can be a horrible disservice. Those learning
endangered languages take on a sort of duty of becoming ambassadors for the community
as they move up the ranks and should be willing to take on the teaching role if they
have any interest in serving the community.

And to end, a few last important quotes about the method that I couldn’t quite fit in

On memory and rest:
“When you exercise, you gain new muscle when you’re resting,
not when you’re working out. Learning is the same; you gain new ability during rest
periods, such as sleep, or varying your study. STRETCHING into new territory is great,
but you also must eventually FOLD to integrate it.” (p. 38)

And on how to approach learning grammar:
“Solve situations, not grammar
puzzles!” (p. 186)
The game is set up to teach learners how to get their needs
met and they happen to learn the grammar along the way.

In the next installment, I’ll offer up more of my personal reflections of the weekend
and the method and how I see incorporating it into my study.

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Senior Member
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Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 3 of 14
01 December 2013 at 8:43pm | IP Logged 
My personal reflections:

Going forward:

I’m now convinced that developing fluent speech is something that is necessary and
possible to achieve at the early levels. It’s nice to have a method such as this that
works on this – the “speak early” mantra always seemed vague to me as it was difficult
to figure out how. Becoming adept at this method would allow me to turn any native or
proficient speaker I encounter into a teacher which is amazing.

While it may seem boring doing nothing but talking about a tea cup for days, it’s
amazing how much of a language you can cover with one simple object. And my game
leader/teacher (who is the Irish language “consultant” for LH) pointed out that in a
highly inflected language such as Irish, just simply swapping out the cup for something
else can drastically change things (or adding an adjective). Then you can change the
game to handle different situations. He was also talking about changing out the squares
on the game board to make a game that covers all the Irish irregular verbs (of which
there are thankfully few). And ultimately have an online app that lets you change out
squares for all kinds of different modules which would make the game have infinite

I can respect the time it takes to really develop this kind of knowledge. There’s a big
difference between studying a chapter by simply going through it and reviewing
vocabulary versus the type and amount of work it takes to really imprint it and
transform it into fluent speech. I admit that I like to focus on how quickly I can move
through a course (in order to get out of that awkward beginner stage earlier and as
some kind of proof as to how “smart” I am) but I know it’s a temptation that must be
fought. Like the quote above said, there’s no sense in going over it if I’m just going
to have to go over it again much more slowly in order to really know it.

And though I “know” that respecting the mind-body-emotion connection is important to
learning effectively, that’s something that’s always easy to take for granted,
especially when I’m learning as a hobby and not out of necessity. It’s pretty easy to
get wiped out by a language like Irish (which explains all my false starts) and I need
to respect the process. I can see the importance of designing my study so that I remain
the most productive as possible. So that means focusing on small bits, incorporating
fun, breaks, and maintaining a good level of self-care so that it doesn’t turn into a

I also like the ACTFL scale (at least how it was presented to me by LH). It’s really
easy to see what exact bits of language I need to work on to move up the proficiency
ladder and it seems to be broken down quite a bit more than the CEFR scale (I haven’t
read through the whole thing yet but you can find the ACTFL scale here
ACTFL Scale).

This is a GREAT method to use with group study. I’ve already been working with study
groups in Irish which have been great though we fall into the trap of reading through a
chapter and proclaiming our study to be “done”. The book we use is often set up with
core questions and answers so it would be perfectly adaptable to this format (the
difficulty is developing the language hunter skill of setting up the game for everyone
to accommodate a different conversation). And I can see in a group “gathering” duties
can be shared. So you wouldn’t need to spend a lot of time with study materials because
you only have a little bit to be responsible for.

Also, this method goes a long way towards solving the problem of what to do with a new
group member who isn’t at the same level as everyone else yet which is great for
expanding your local community. It’s easy to take for granted being able to find
speakers of a language when studying Spanish, French, Mandarin, etc. Even if there’s no
one in your community, there are plenty of people online. The Irish speaking community
is much smaller and if one speaker is busy and you don’t get along with another one
then you’re out of luck. This gives you the ability to build your community which is a
fantastic tool. It’s empowering to know that even with my limited knowledge, I have the
tools to encourage total beginners and build my own language community rather than
feeling the need to have to seek out elusive fluent and native speakers to get any
contact at all with the language outside of books and passive media consumption.

A really neat thing is that great practitioners in the method can go on to use it to
draw language out of others and have them teach the language using the learner. Think
of the YouTube video with Benny and Moses in a mall in Ohio sparking up conversations
with random people in many different languages. Only instead of that, going to a mall,
encountering people who speak other languages and have them teach you a short
conversation. And to do so in such a way that a curious passerby can stop and join in
(and another, and another and so on). It’s very empowering for everyone involved – the
language hunter acting as game leader who can turn any person into their own language
reference (and a new friend), the native speaker who can manage to get this total
stranger communicating in his/her language, not to mention the feeling of pride and
respect that someone is making the effort to learn to speak to you, and the observer
who can learn in an easy way.


The book encourages the budding language hunter who wishes to become a practitioner in
the method to go on 10 “tiny hunts” with speakers of different languages. At my last
language group meetup I found one sole Korean guy who was looking for the group and we
chatted (turns out he’s only been learning English for 3 months and in light of that
his level floored me). I eventually talked to him about the method and we tried it out.
He took to it very quickly and I attempted my first tiny hunt by having him teach me a
bit of Korean. In order to make it truly effective, I ought to have gone for a full
Pomodoro session and it would have helped if we had other people joining in but it’s as
much as developing the skill and confidence to introduce it than it is to learn and
retain a bunch of languages.

I tried it out during my last session with my refugee student. She seemed to take to it
quite a bit. Instead of the focus on endless vocabulary (I’ll be looking for ways to
gamify vocabulary acquisition) she got to spend the whole session working on a mini
conversation. I think she felt very encouraged to be following along and being able to
comprehend and say everything.

The drawback, though, is when I had her try to teach me, is that she didn’t quite get
the importance of the signing and the structure of the game in teaching someone who is
completely new to a language. So instead of having routine, structured interactions it
was a bit more haphazard. It’s especially hard to communicate that she would need to
change the order of the signs to accommodate a different sentence structure or may need
to come up with different signs to accommodate features the signs for English don’t
cover (such as having two ways of communicating “to be” as in Irish and Spanish). I
know that Karen has a lot of word particles that transform the grammatical function of
the root word which would need to be taken into account for. I would love to see video
of Willem Larsen or some of the more skilled language hunters at work with a speaker of
a language they don’t know (either on a tiny hunt or working with a “fluent fool” to
teach a whole room of people).

I’ll keep working on developing the confidence to bust out the method on other people
while out and about and hopefully the Irish group will take to it so that I can hone my
skills as a game leader/developer.


Learning the method is work in of itself, and it only works really well if there’s a
fairly large number of people who can practice it well. As of now there’s no easy,
concise “method in a box” to turn over to would-be teachers that would have them up and
running. With a larger budget they could be doing a lot more with promotion and
development, but raising money is difficult to reconcile with their desire to keep it

The game is designed to keep vocabulary as limited as possible to communicate
structure. Right now the solution for vocabulary is to just study it on your own. But
it would be nice to have gameplay incorporate vocabulary boosters at a certain level. I
did come up with a very simple game based on Go Fish with my English students in France
to learn foods and training them on “I want (to)/I would like (to)” that I’ve always
wanted to expand into other areas. I’ll maybe get a deck of vocabulary cards and work
on something like that (any ideas are welcome).

As I’ve tried the method on people I find that some people get it and some people
don’t. A lot of that may have to do with the fact that I’m still figuring it all out
myself. But I find that some people get shy about signing and speaking while other
people just have trouble figuring out the signs period. It’s a lot different doing this
with people who have signed up to learn it versus people who have no idea what you’re

One of the obvious challenges in designing/expanding gameplay on your own is coming up
with the gestures. He came up with a few solutions: you can learn ASL which would give
you a bunch of them (some may need to be altered or added according to the language),
you can learn the sign language associated with the L2 which can be highly desirable
but quite a commitment, you can look up signs online as you need them or consult the
language hunters community for signs they’ve used, or you can just make something up
that seems appropriate and gets the meaning across. I find it’s not difficult to alter
signs down the road if you find something better so you don’t need to wait for the
“perfect” solution. But for some this may seem like a big obstacle.

I like that he pointed out in the book that in language learning it’s senseless to wait
for your learning conditions to be perfect (the perfect method, access to the desired
dialect, etc) and to not do anything for fear of learning mistakes. In a lot of ways
this method is like that – it’s quite convoluted and has taken many twists and turns
but if they had waited for the method to be a perfect finished project before debuting
it, we wouldn’t be seeing it now. And they would have been shooting themselves in the
foot because they wouldn’t be getting the feedback they need to perfect it from people
who are trying it on the ground as players and fledgling game leaders.

To those who have made it to this point, thank you for reading through this whole
thing. It's actually helped me a lot to organize all my thoughts and write them out
(the best way to learn something is to teach it as they say). Whether you're inspired
to become a Language Hunter yourself or just found a few useful tips or ideas to think
about, I hope this helps!
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Bilingual Triglot
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 Message 4 of 14
01 December 2013 at 9:14pm | IP Logged 
Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!
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Senior Member
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739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 5 of 14
02 December 2013 at 7:54pm | IP Logged 
I thought I'd add a little note about how I feel my Irish level was impacted by the
immersion weekend. Watching Aifric upon my return I find myself taking a lot more
notice of the beginnings and endings of statements (where the verbs/question particles
and prepositional pronouns are) which is what we drilled a lot through gameplay. By the
end of the weekend I was getting a better feel for the structure - especially how the
structure conveys the meaning of modal verbs in other languages. While doing written
drills of prepositional pronouns would probably give me a good overall sense for all of
them, I think learning them through immersive oral gameplay solidified it in a way it
wouldn't have through writing. I think doing written exercises and catching them while
watching TG4 will be of more value to me now after learning them through

I'd really love to do their five day immersion as I'm sure the effect is much bigger.
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 Message 6 of 14
13 February 2014 at 5:32am | IP Logged 
Just raising my topic from the dead to share this. I've been looking into Where are Your Keys? (WAYK) which was the precursor to Language Hunters (not entirely sure of how the one came from the other but that's not important here). Here's a really great video showing the technique in practice as it's being explained. If you don't feel like reading my walls of text above, just watch the video:

WAYK: Chinuk Wawa
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 Message 7 of 14
13 February 2014 at 7:49am | IP Logged 
Oh! And another one. I said before how I wanted to see how a language hunter pulls language out of someone (a "fluent fool") in action. Here are two videos doing that with Mandarin and Spanish. You can see that the students taking control of the lesson for themselves:

WAYK Language Hunt Mandarin (as someone with no knowledge of Mandarin I was able to follow this video more easily at about the halfway point)

WAYK Language Hunt Spanish
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 Message 8 of 14
13 February 2014 at 9:28am | IP Logged 
Someone posted a link to WAYK here several years ago. At first i thought that's what you were talking about (i couldn't remember the name until you mentioned it two posts ago). I kept in touch with one of the folks there for a while trying to find a way to get involved, but nothing ever came of it. It does sound interesting, though, but how can you get involved? How did you find out about the course you went to? Most of the stuff in the US seems to be concentrated in the northwest, unfortunately i'm on the other side of the country.

Thanks for sharing all of that, i just finished reading it all (and i have to admit my eyes are a bit sore now ;) ). Do you know how i/someone could get involved? To me the biggest hurdle always seemed to be the signs, i don't know how you could "language hunt" someone if you had to teach the signs to every person you met. It was an interesting read, though, thanks for sharing! Do you plan on continuing with it as you study Irish?

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