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emk
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 Message 97 of 170
26 October 2014 at 2:16pm | IP Logged 
victorhart wrote:
Wow emk, thanks so much for that tip and explanation!

I think I will do this, but sans the subtitles. Even though I am leaving subtitles on
when watching Mandarin movies, I'm at the point where I'm starting to take them off
for movies or clips that I have watched multiple times and have begun to understand. I
need to gradually transition to watching with no subtitles. In addition, with
bilingual subtitles I think the subs2srs would be a bit too "didactic" to qualify for
my experimental methodology. But if it's just video clips to review, as you say that
is absolutely in line with my methodology.

By the way, if you're interested, I've started a very small experiment with Spanish and subs2srs. I show how I pick materials, find subtitles, fix timing, and make cards. I also show what the actual day-to-day learning process looks like.

There are several similarities between your experiment and mine:

1. We're both working from native video.
2. We're both inferring things from context instead of explicitly studying grammar and vocabulary.
3. We're both just "taking it easy"—spending a few minutes on low-stress activities.

But there are also several differences:

1. Spanish is much easier for me than Mandarin is for you, because I already have native English and probably at least C1 comprehension in French.
2. Subs2srs provides me with much stronger hints about what the Spanish dialog says.
3. Anki allows me to easily review anything I figure out.

My prediction: The extra scaffolding I receive from the subtitles and the Anki reviews will make the whole process a lot less painful than it would have been otherwise. And of course, so will the extra "hints" I get from studying a related language.

However, I do not expect to reproduce Sprachprofi's remarkable results with subs2srs and Japanese.
3 persons have voted this message useful



victorhart
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United States
mandarinexperiment.o
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Speaks: English*, Portuguese*, Spanish, French
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 98 of 170
27 October 2014 at 5:46pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

By the way, if you're interested, I've started a very small ... experiment with
Spanish and subs2srs. I show how I pick materials, find subtitles, fix timing, and
make cards. I also show what the actual day-to-day learning process looks like.

There are several similarities between your experiment and mine:



I look forward to following your experiment, which may be more practical and
efficient, if less ambitious, than mine. I also really appreciate your pointing me to
Sprachprofi's page.

I'm still a bit torn about using the subs2srs with my experiment. Although I think if
done right it would be legitimate within my rules, it's on the threshold. I am
currently on a little Mandarin movie marathon and am really enjoying simply watching
movies straight through. It's a great thing to do when I'm sleep deprived and jet
lagged.

You and other posters have me fairly convinced that using subs2srs Anki cards would be
more efficient (at least in the short term, as I still have my doubts about long term,
deep assimilation), but the purpose of my experiment is not the find the most
efficient way, but rather a highly enjoyable way that evidences the value of video,
even for beginners. In that spirit, I don't want to bog myself down with exercises or
technology, as useful as they may be.

On the other hand—and I want to repeat my thanks to you and this community—I have a
Skype meeting in a few minutes with the manager and IT guy of my language institute,
in which I want to tell them about these techniques and encourage them to explore
their use.

Our teachers are native speakers that assign content tailored exactly to students'
specific profiles. Nowadays, that is mostly just links and other suggestions of
authentic content. We have very cool original methods for beginning students of
English and French (I developed the English version and guided the development of the
French version), but we have identified a gap between these first semester materials
and authentic content. We use readers and easy conversation, but a lot of students
need us to do more to help bridge that gap. I believe Anki cards and especially
subs2srs can be one of the ways, and will also be beneficial for intermediate
students.

Best of luck with your Spanish experiment, I will also comment on that thread!


1 person has voted this message useful



rdearman
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United Kingdom
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French, Mandarin

 
 Message 99 of 170
27 October 2014 at 6:24pm | IP Logged 
I've posted some links (and some great links from EMK also) with some TV content you might like. My Log.

Basically there is some video content, dramas/soap operas in Mandarin on Viki and links to places where you can get the subtitles. Or you can just watch them with the subtitles on or off.


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emk
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 Message 100 of 170
27 October 2014 at 8:28pm | IP Logged 
victorhart wrote:
You and other posters have me fairly convinced that using subs2srs Anki cards would be
more efficient (at least in the short term, as I still have my doubts about long term,
deep assimilation), but the purpose of my experiment is not the find the most
efficient way, but rather a highly enjoyable way that evidences the value of video,
even for beginners. In that spirit, I don't want to bog myself down with exercises or
technology, as useful as they may be.

Please keep in my that my experiment is just that: an experiment. I have good reasons to suspect that it might work, but no actual results yet. :-) And it's just a little experiment—I'm fooling around with this in my spare time, and it's a lower priority than Egyptian.

As for using Anki with students, here's a short, handy guide, based on bitter experience:

Anki should not be a torture machine; here's how to avoid that

1. Learn about 10 cards/day for the first month. Anki reviews add up quickly during the first month, and if you learn N new cards per day, you'll ultimately end up reviewing between 5N and 10N cards/day. It's easy to overdo it at first and crash and burn by week three. You can easily learn 40 cards on day 1, when you're full of enthusiasm. But when you find yourself looking at 200 or 400 "due" cards somewhere down the line, you'll hate your life. Once you finish your first month, it's safe to learn more cards if you wish, because you'll know what you're getting into.

2. Delete, delete, delete. If you look at a card and think, "Oh, no, not that card again," delete it. If a card makes you say, "Meh," delete it. If you need to know a word, you'll see it again in a better context soon enough.

3. Keep everything as easy as possible: Make cards via cut-and-paste from electronic sources. Make it easy to guess the right answer.

The idea is to use Anki to "amplify" selected parts of your input, but to still let plenty of things slip through the cracks. Don't get greedy: Let the hard stuff go. Let the bad cards go. Done right, Anki can be a very pleasant, laid-back activity.
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victorhart
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United States
mandarinexperiment.o
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Speaks: English*, Portuguese*, Spanish, French
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 101 of 170
09 November 2014 at 1:27am | IP Logged 
Shifting the discussion from high technology and advanced study methods to a more
universally considered topic, I'd like to share my latest blog post (pasted below)
about using L1 subtitles. I expect it will generate some debate.

First, however, I'd like to mention that I found an old thread on this forum that
references a study on L1 and L2 subtitles. It's important to note that in this study
L1 and L2 are closely related languages.

http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?T ID=39388&PN=1&TPN=13

I also found this more subjective and limited study on L1 and L2 subtitle use. It's
interesting because it's dealing with the same completely unrelated language pair as
my experiment.

http://120.107.180.177/1832/9801/9801-14pa.pdf

OK, so here's the text of my post (it loses all formatting).


L1 subtitles in language acquisition


Should one use L1[1] subtitles when watching foreign language films with the purpose
of improving one’s L2[2] oral comprehension? In the case of my experiment, should I
use English subtitles when watching movies and other videos in Mandarin?

Let’s consider three advantages and three disadvantages with regards to using L1
subtitles in general.[3]

Advantages

1. Increased enjoyment because one understands the plot and dialogue better.
2. Greater ease and likelihood of dedicating many hours and sticking with it (as a
result of the first advantage).
3. Greater ease in deciphering new vocabulary, especially at lower levels of
comprehension.

Disadvantages

1. Decreased focus on the audio and on the listening itself. Lower effectiveness in
getting the brain deeply immersed and accustomed to the phonemes, intonation, cadence,
structures, and mode of expression.
2. Risk of losing sight of learning objective. Need for greater effort and discipline
to maintain viewing as a learning activity. In other words, it’s easy to watch just
for fun and learn almost nothing.
3. Pitfalls associated with translations generally: learning terms by sometimes
incorrect and frequently misleading equivalences and risk of developing a mental
translation habit.

In sum, I would say that movies with L1 subtitles are easier to enjoy and keep
watching, but more difficult and problematic to use for improving listening
comprehension. At a very low level of comprehension, watching with L1 subtitles does
give one the added practical and psychological advantage of deciphering new vocabulary
more quickly.

As a general rule, I would recommend watching movies without L1 subtitles as long as
students can enjoy and stick with this type of study. If and when they cannot, I would
recommend using subtitles, but with great care to focus a large portion of their
attention on the spoken dialogue, even while referencing the text.

So how does this apply to my Mandarin language acquisition experiment?

In terms of isolating variables more carefully, and thus making the experiment more
scientifically rigorous, it would be ideal never to use subtitles. However, one of the
underlying conditions of my project is that my viewing needs to be relaxed and
enjoyable. Since I knew absolutely no Mandarin when I began the project, and no
languages that are remotely related to it, I was and continue to be an extreme example
of a student with very low comprehension.

Therefore, purely for the sake of enjoyment and motivation, I have often used
subtitles. Without them, watching Chinese films can be tedious, whereas with
subtitles, I have found them very enjoyable. If I never used subtitles, I would
probably feel the need to watch a lot more shows for toddlers and to repeat movie
scenes more often. Needless to say, I might get bored.

However, as I’ve explained, in terms of effectiveness of acquisition, I believe the
drawbacks outweigh the benefits.

For this reason, I have devised a plan to transition gradually away from using
subtitles. I expect this plan will allow me to continue to enjoy my daily viewing, but
provide better results in terms of developing listening comprehension. I am currently
at 182 hours of viewing, and thus far I have used subtitles for approximately 70% of
my total viewing. I plan to maintain that percentage through the 200-hour mark, then
reduce as follows:



Total hours of viewing     Maximum percentage of viewing with English subtitles
       
0-200     70%
200-300     60%
300-400     50%
400-500     45%
500-600     40%
600-700     30%
700-800     20%
800-900     10%
900-1000     5%
1000-1200     0%


[1] Your native language or, analogously, another language you already know well and
use when learning a second language.

[2] The language you are endeavoring to acquire.

[3] In this post I will not assess the use of L2 subtitles, which has its own set of
peculiarities, advantages, and disadvantages. I will also not assess the use of
technology-intensive methods such as subs2srs.

Edited by victorhart on 09 November 2014 at 2:00am

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emk
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 Message 102 of 170
09 November 2014 at 3:34pm | IP Logged 
victorhart wrote:
[3] In this post I will not assess the use of L2 subtitles, which has its own set of
peculiarities, advantages, and disadvantages. I will also not assess the use of
technology-intensive methods such as subs2srs.

For whatever it might be worth, there are also tools which can take L1 and L2 subtitles, and combine them into a single bilingual subtitle file. (In fact, subs2srs has a mode for this.) Again, this is a technology-intensive solution, but accurate bilingual subtitles offer a wealth of data to assist the student, and they probably help discourage fixation on the L1 text.

Personally, I'm seeing very nice payoffs from my use of bilingual subtitles: I use the English text to make guesses about the Spanish text, and I use the Spanish text to pick out details of the Spanish audio. But in the end, of course, my goal is to understand the Spanish audio directly, without any subtitles or translation in my head.
5 persons have voted this message useful



s_allard
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Canada
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 Message 103 of 170
11 November 2014 at 3:21pm | IP Logged 
victorhart wrote:
...
In sum, I would say that movies with L1 subtitles are easier to enjoy and keep
watching, but more difficult and problematic to use for improving listening
comprehension. At a very low level of comprehension, watching with L1 subtitles does
give one the added practical and psychological advantage of deciphering new vocabulary
more quickly.

As a general rule, I would recommend watching movies without L1 subtitles as long as
students can enjoy and stick with this type of study. If and when they cannot, I would
recommend using subtitles, but with great care to focus a large portion of their
attention on the spoken dialogue, even while referencing the text.

So how does this apply to my Mandarin language acquisition experiment?

In terms of isolating variables more carefully, and thus making the experiment more
scientifically rigorous, it would be ideal never to use subtitles. However, one of the
underlying conditions of my project is that my viewing needs to be relaxed and
enjoyable. Since I knew absolutely no Mandarin when I began the project, and no
languages that are remotely related to it, I was and continue to be an extreme example
of a student with very low comprehension.

Therefore, purely for the sake of enjoyment and motivation, I have often used
subtitles. Without them, watching Chinese films can be tedious, whereas with
subtitles, I have found them very enjoyable. If I never used subtitles, I would
probably feel the need to watch a lot more shows for toddlers and to repeat movie
scenes more often. Needless to say, I might get bored.

However, as I’ve explained, in terms of effectiveness of acquisition, I believe the
drawbacks outweigh the benefits.

...

The importance of L1 subtitles is not really enjoyment and motivation. Those are secondary effects.
The real importance is meaning and therefore clues as to what is being said in the language. This is a
fundamental change in the nature of the experiment here. I had originally thought that the experiment
was about watching videos with no subtitles at all, and my severe criticisms were based on that
assumption.

Now that it has been clarified that L1 subtitles are being systematically used and will be gradually
reduced, this changes the tenor of the so-called experiment. I now see this learning strategy as
something much more effective, albeit rather inefficient, because the viewer can make links between
sounds and meaning.

The next step would be of course to incorporate L2 subtitles, which in this case should probably be in
pinyin. This idea is the foundation of emk's approach.
2 persons have voted this message useful



garyb
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 Message 104 of 170
11 November 2014 at 4:29pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

For whatever it might be worth, there are also tools which can take L1 and L2 subtitles, and combine them into a single bilingual subtitle file. (In fact, subs2srs has a mode for this.) Again, this is a technology-intensive solution, but accurate bilingual subtitles offer a wealth of data to assist the student, and they probably help discourage fixation on the L1 text.


Now that's a simple and obvious solution that I never even thought of! All the subs2srs stuff seems like overkill for my current purposes, but I was thinking there must be a more efficient way of doing things than my low-tech one of using L2 subs and pausing frequently to look words up in the dictionary. I did try "Lingual media player", which can display two subtitle files at once, but it was unusably slow on my ageing laptop. Combining the files hadn't crossed my mind.


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