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emk
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United States
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2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 129 of 170
24 November 2014 at 8:29pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
It seems to me that the jury is in. For purposes of acquiring receptive competence, watching
incomprehensible authentic native media is very inefficient. On the other hand, watching comprehensible
media in a systematic fashion is very efficient. What more is there to be said?

I want to be fair: Learning Mandarin with no basis in a related language is much harder than moving between French and Spanish. My ~20 hours, therefore, should probably be compared to 80 hours studying Chinese, or possibly even more, because I get an extra boost from French.

One fun way to evaluate listening skills: Watch something, and make a list of things you understand without subtitles. For example, here's a list from Sprachprofi's 30-hour experiment:

Sprachprofi wrote:
Some examples of what I was able to understand ON FIRST HEARING, without having seen these exact phrases before:

450 cards in
お前 知ってたの?- You knew?
黒六十八目 - Black has 68 points.

800 cards in
もしかして強い奴? - Could he be someone really strong?
お前ならできるだろう - You can do it, right?
速く打てよ お前の番だぜ - Hurry up and move! It's your turn.

1200 cards in
なぜ囲碁部に入った? - Why did you enter the Go club?
私は最近ぜんぜん打ってないですよ~ - But I haven't played at all lately!
海王の三将ってどんな奴かな - I wonder who Kaio's third board is.

1500 cards in
俺は 海王の岸本と打ちたい だから 負けるなよ あんた - I want to play against Kishimoto of Kaio, so don't you lose.
佐為にも時々打たせてやりたいけど - I want to let Sai play every now and then
英語なんかできなくだっていいんだよ 碁を打つだけだから - I don't have to speak English, all I'm doing is playing Go.
普通の君がインターネットで世界中の人と碁 を打つの? - You're only okay and your playing people from all over the world through the internet?

I did a similar exercise with episode 6 of Avatar, which I haven't yet studied. This is after ~10 hours of Anki reps, or a bit under 300 cards:

emk wrote:
Quote:
Tenemos algunas opciones:
We have several options:

¿Qué fue eso?
What was that?

¡Es un maestro tierra!
It's an earth-bender!

¡Vamos a conocerlo!
Let's go (meet) him!

Hola!, aquí, soy Katara, ¿cómo te llamas?
Hello! (Here.) I'm Katara, how do you call yourself?


And I almost got this, except for the part in brackets:

Quote:
Si, el problema es que la única forma de {sentirme cerca} de mi padre ahora, es haciendo tierra control. Él me enseñó todo lo que sé.

(Roughly:) Yes, the problem is that the only way {to feel close to} my father now is doing earth-bending. He taught my everything I know.

You can see that I'm picking up longer phrases sooner than Sprachprofi did, though probably not 4x as fast. Well, except for that big one at the end—that really surprised me!

I'd love to see the equivalent information for pure video watching with no subtitles.
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victorhart
Bilingual Tetraglot
Groupie
United States
mandarinexperiment.o
Joined 1816 days ago

66 posts - 155 votes 
Speaks: English*, Portuguese*, Spanish, French
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 130 of 170
14 December 2014 at 4:57pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
It seems to me that the jury is in. For purposes of acquiring
receptive competence, watching incomprehensible authentic native media is very
inefficient. On the other hand, watching comprehensible media in a systematic fashion
is very efficient. What more is there to be said?


I share your admiration for emk's subs2srs method and would bet on its efficiency over
my method for a beginner learning an entirely foreign language such as Mandarin. My
latest blog post is about it and I hope to
incorporate it as a strategy at my language institute.

However, regarding my Mandarin method, don't you think you may be jumping the gun? Or
perhaps you had already come to your conclusion long before my experiment,
irrespective of my results . . .

According to the Foreign Service Institute's 50 years of experience, seasoned,
capable, and highly motivated language learners using best methods take about 4,600
hours, including one year in-country, to reach ILR Level 3 in Mandarin. I have thus
far put in 4% of those hours with a one-sided experimental approach. Why don't you
give me a little more time before calling in the jury?

Generally speaking, my goal in language acquisition is near-native mastery. Therefore,
I take the long view. If I get to a decent level of listening comprehension after
1,200 hours, and that provides the foundation for reaching ILR 3 after 4,600 hours, I
will deem my method a clear success. That's not to say there aren't better methods,
and I'm all for emk and others showing the relative advantages of technology-intensive
approaches such as subs2srs. I just think the issues are a bit more complex and
nuanced than your assessments would suggest. As I'm sure you know, language mastery is
not a 20 or 200-hour affair, nor a formulaic competition.

Edited by victorhart on 14 December 2014 at 4:57pm

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s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3539 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 131 of 170
15 December 2014 at 7:40am | IP Logged 
victorhart wrote:
s_allard wrote:
It seems to me that the jury is in. For purposes of acquiring
receptive competence, watching incomprehensible authentic native media is very
inefficient. On the other hand, watching comprehensible media in a systematic fashion
is very efficient. What more is there to be said?


I share your admiration for emk's subs2srs method and would bet on its efficiency over
my method for a beginner learning an entirely foreign language such as Mandarin. My
latest video-approach-to-acquisition/">blog post is about it and I hope to
incorporate it as a strategy at my language institute.

However, regarding my Mandarin method, don't you think you may be jumping the gun? Or
perhaps you had already come to your conclusion long before my experiment,
irrespective of my results . . .

According to the Foreign Service Institute's 50 years of experience, seasoned,
capable, and highly motivated language learners using best methods take about 4,600
hours, including one year in-country, to reach ILR Level 3 in Mandarin. I have thus
far put in 4% of those hours with a one-sided experimental approach. Why don't you
give me a little more time before calling in the jury?

Generally speaking, my goal in language acquisition is near-native mastery. Therefore,
I take the long view. If I get to a decent level of listening comprehension after
1,200 hours, and that provides the foundation for reaching ILR 3 after 4,600 hours, I
will deem my method a clear success. That's not to say there aren't better methods,
and I'm all for emk and others showing the relative advantages of technology-intensive
approaches such as subs2srs. I just think the issues are a bit more complex and
nuanced than your assessments would suggest. As I'm sure you know, language mastery is
not a 20 or 200-hour affair, nor a formulaic competition.

I like to think that I choose my words carefully. I said: "...watching incomprehensible native media is
very inefficient." I stand by this statement. If this experiment consisted entirely of watching Mandarin-
language movies without subtitles or the language-learning videos, I believe that the results would be
about zero.

The reason I'm so adamant about this is simply that without any kind of "hook" that establishes a
connection between the sounds of the language and meaning, it is impossible to make sense of the
sounds.

But what we have here is a modified experiment in which the Mandarin-language videos are
supplemented with English subtitles and the videos aimed at teaching Mandarin to young children.
These two elements are very important because they provide some of the missing hooks and elements
that give meaning to the sounds in the films. We are no longer working with entirely
incomprehensible videos.

I have conceded that this combination has some efficiency compared to the pure video formula. I still
think that it is inefficient, albeit less inefficient than the initial idea, but inefficient none-the-less. On
the other hand, emk's approach, following in the footsteps of others, is to go straight to the
fundamental foundation of an efficient learning strategy: associate sound, meaning and form through
the use of L1 and L2 subtitles and Anki SRS. The videos become comprehensible. And progress, as we
see, is rapid.

This approach, as demonstrated here, works for the very reason that the incomprehensible video
approach does not work: comprehensible input works. Incomprehensible input does not.

Edited by s_allard on 16 December 2014 at 1:13pm

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Snowflake
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4068 days ago

1032 posts - 1233 votes 
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 132 of 170
15 December 2014 at 5:30pm | IP Logged 
DLI (Defense Language Institute) starts their students with incomprehensible input from
day 1. So I believe there are benefits in using incomprehensible input even though we
don't necessarily understand the reasons.
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jeff_lindqvist
Diglot
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SwedenRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5018 days ago

4250 posts - 5710 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English
Studies: German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Mandarin, Esperanto, Irish, French
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 133 of 170
15 December 2014 at 5:58pm | IP Logged 
What does this mean? Basically everything except super-obvious cognates and visual cues will be incomprehensible in the beginning. And, even if incomprehensible input is better than no input at all, that doesn't mean it's "best". Why learn like a child when you're a grown-up?
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emk
Diglot
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United States
Joined 3641 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 134 of 170
15 December 2014 at 7:24pm | IP Logged 
Snowflake wrote:
DLI (Defense Language Institute) starts their students with incomprehensible input from day 1. So I believe there are benefits in using incomprehensible input even though we don't necessarily understand the reasons.

Well, I have nothing against incomprehensible input, and I strongly suspect that it helps. When I first moved to Italy, Italian was just a total blur. After a while, though, I started hearing syllables and words, even if I couldn't understand it.

My guess is that there are low-level subsystems in the brain that try to figure out how sounds fit together, and that remember which sounds tend to occur together. Dr. Paul Sulzberger had an interesting hypothesis about this:

Quote:
“Simply listening to a new language sets up the structures in the brain required to learn the words.”

I've experienced this: I'll hear a sequence of sounds until they're as familiar as an annoying top 40 song. And then one day, I'll finally hear them in a context where their meaning is clear from context, and I'll learn the meaning instantly.

But here's the catch: Incomprehensible listening may help prepare you to learn the language. But if all you have is totally incomprehensible input (say, local news radio for a farming town somewhere in Japan), how is your brain ever supposed to connect the words to actual meanings?

Again, my favorite example here is Egyptian: We had thousands and thousands of pages of text that remained untranslatable for 1,400 years. But even Champollion, a first-rate polyglot, needed to learn a related language (Coptic) and use a parallel text (the Rosetta stone) to actually make any headway.

Now, it doesn't surprise me that the DLI uses incomprehensible input. (I do myself, mostly as background listening.) But I understand that DLI also makes heavy use of vocabulary lists, grammar instruction and comprehensible input, as well as personal interaction. Is this correct?

Edited by emk on 16 December 2014 at 1:10pm

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Snowflake
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4068 days ago

1032 posts - 1233 votes 
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 135 of 170
16 December 2014 at 3:22am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
But I understand that DLI also makes heavy use of vocabulary lists, grammar instruction and comprehensible input, as well as personal interaction. Is this correct?


Yes, that is my understanding. On the incomprehensible input, one person mentioned watching the TL version of CNN news. Another person mentioned watching varied TV programs with lots and lots of advertisements. It seems like it would be quite a while before I+1 could kick in for these things.

Edited by Snowflake on 16 December 2014 at 3:25am

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Teango
Triglot
Winner TAC 2010 & 2012
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teango.wordpress.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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2210 posts - 3734 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Russian
Studies: Hawaiian, French, Toki Pona

 
 Message 136 of 170
17 December 2014 at 3:41am | IP Logged 
It's a brave and fascinating project you've got planned here, victorhart, and as long as you're having fun with it, I look forward to following how you progress over the longer term.

I particularly like that you provide personal insights and reflections in your weekly blogs alongside the more quantitative graphs, and share ongoing findings, links, and recommendations with readers. For example, my wife and I will be taking you up on one of your suggestions this evening by watching "Eat Drink Man Woman". We've been watching a lot of movies in Hindi with English subtitles more recently (my wife loves Bollywood), but I don't think we picked up much more than the word for "brother" and the phrase "Let's go!" I think it's about time for a Chinese romcom now. ;)

With regards to methodology, the first real step I guess is to notice useful words, either through repetition or some other salient feature that helps them stand out from the crowd. Once the much smaller set of commonly spoken words and phrases declines to a withering epic tail of low general frequency content words, watching movies you already know well, or that offer lots of repetition within a closely knit segment of dialogue on a specific topic, could be a way to boost comprehension a little further and help encourage uptake. Repeated watching could also be particularly helpful in this respect with enough time elapsing between viewings to let emerging structures settle in and subtly interact across different contexts. Good luck in finding these types of resources and staying positive and motivated throughout your experiment!


Edited by Teango on 17 December 2014 at 3:43am



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