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Learning exclusively with authentic video

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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victorhart
Bilingual Tetraglot
Groupie
United States
mandarinexperiment.o
Joined 1873 days ago

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

 
 Message 65 of 170
21 October 2014 at 9:23pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
Spoiler Alert!!!

You realize by saying this you're spoiling his experiment!!!


Haha, that's funny. Fortunately I already knew that, so I will be able to continue for
another 6 years.
1 person has voted this message useful



s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3596 days ago

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

 
 Message 66 of 170
21 October 2014 at 9:59pm | IP Logged 
rdearman wrote:
..

I also don't understand s_allards objections, since he has publicly stated you only need 250 words to speak a
language, and it looks like you'll know 250 words in Mandarin shortly. How many words do you estimate you
know? I assume you know all the numbers up to 1000 for example?

While I guess any publicity is better than no publicity at all, and I acknowledge the recognition, I have to say that I
did not say that you only need 250 words to speak a language, and certainly not Mandarin, of which I know
nothing. But I don't want to get into that debate which has nothing to do with this thread.

But since the question was asked, my objection has nothing to do with the number of words. My fundamental
objection is about the effectiveness of looking exclusively at videos one does not understand at all. If, on the
other hand, as been highly recommended by most people here, watching videos combined with some other
strategies and tools, including language-teaching videos meant for children, then we will certainly have good
results.
1 person has voted this message useful



shk00design
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 2610 days ago

747 posts - 1122 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin
Studies: French

 
 Message 67 of 170
22 October 2014 at 8:13am | IP Logged 
In my opinion you need to start with learning some very basic words & phrases first whether you are using
flashcards, computer programs like Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, etc. Watching video is a good idea but
without some basic vocabulary & grammar your comprehension would be so limited that you wouldn't be
able to pick up anything. Next you have to find TV programs & films with subtitles. There are lots of
Chinese programs from Singapore with both English subtitles & Chinese captions.

Watching a movie with Chinese captions you run into the problem of recognizing characters. You have to
spend at least 3-6 months before you can pick up enough characters. And you need to decide whether
you want to learn Traditional or Simplified characters. If you rely on English translations for a movie, you
are going to get the meaning of what was said by the actors but not necessarily the grammar rules or all
the words & phrases because there are differences between even close languages like English & German.

After that you can get into the 4-character proverbs. The Chinese would add proverbs in conversations
that you would find a few in a TV program or movie. In the past 8 months that I was watching Chinese
drama series (those with up to 20 episodes) and TV talk shows, I compiled over 100 different 4-character
proverbs including 莫名其妙 mòmíngqímiào (something that is unclear), 無師自通 wúshīzìtōng (self-
taught). You can spend another few months with Chinese proverbs alone.

And the language use a lot of short-forms such as: 奧運會 instead of 奧林匹克運動會 for the Olympic
Games, 民運 instead of 民主運動 for democracy movement. You need time to catch different words &
phrases that are shortened.

How many different words & phrases can you pick up in 1 day? You can't expect your brain to be a sponge
and get everything you hear on TV in 1 day. You need to repeat a phrase enough times to get it into your
head. If it is an uncommon phrase, you may hear it just once and never use it again.

You find different word usage between Mainland Chinese & Taiwanese Mandarin such as:
Taxi:出租車 - 計程車
Astronaut:航天員 - 太空人
Bicycle:自行車 - 腳踏車
Washroom:洗手間 - 盥洗室

Finally you can never pick up a language 100%. There are always new words & phrases that you would
pick up from newspapers, magazines, TV or radio. Yesterday I picked up a computer term: 翻牆 referring
to getting around the Internet to access web-sites that are blocked by the government.

Sometime ago, I went to a summer language exchange program in Taiwan with a friend from the US. We
were both assigned to an advanced level Mandarin class and passed. We would write letters back and
forth for many years before switching to E-mail in Chinese. My friend always claimed that his conversation
skills tend to be weak compared to his writing skills. He recently enrolled in a university level Mandarin
class while studying German. I haven't been in class for a while but kept up listening to Chinese programs
on radio and can read the newspaper reasonably well (about 95%) except for several words & phrases in
each article that I have to look up.

The bottom-line to learning and maintaining a language is exposure. You need to set aside time every
day or every week that you can watch a radio or TV program or a movie or read a newspaper.
2 persons have voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2699 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 68 of 170
22 October 2014 at 12:41pm | IP Logged 
victorhart wrote:
patrickwilken wrote:
Spoiler Alert!!!

You realize by saying this you're spoiling his experiment!!!


Haha, that's funny. Fortunately I already knew that, so I will be able to continue for
another 6 years.


It does point out how limiting your experiment is in some ways though. I have basically been native input all the way for the last two-and-a-half years in German. So I am certainly not immediately antagonistic to your general approach, but I think personally I would have had a lot of trouble working out the German number system just from input as it's often hard to know what a spoken/written number refers to in the real world (e.g., "the serial killer had five victims" - what does five mean in this context? "I was 28 when I first visited the USA" What does 28 mean in this context? "Their third dog was called Fido" etc).

I think there are lots of these "little" things (if you can call counting little) that are much quicker to learn in a "dirty" non-input fashion, that take nothing away from the value of learning predominantly by input from native materials.

Also as others have pointed out over the years (EMK had a nice post about this over a year ago) video input is a very poor analogy to the way children learn languages. And if learning solely via video is an unnatural act - you are after all one of the few people ever in the history of the planet to attempt to learn Chinese this way - then it's not really clear to me what the purpose of the experiment is. Perhaps you can learn the language this way. Perhaps not. But it's not a "natural" way to learn, and so it's seems to me to be just another technique - and most likely a rather inefficient one.

Edited by patrickwilken on 22 October 2014 at 1:13pm

2 persons have voted this message useful



smallwhite
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Australia
Joined 3474 days ago

537 posts - 1045 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin, French, Spanish

 
 Message 69 of 170
22 October 2014 at 2:00pm | IP Logged 
victorhart wrote:
My goals include (1) testing and hopefully proving the value of watching authentic
video sources, even for beginners (which I believe is much greater than you think, so
here we just honestly disagree) and...


I'm pleased victorhart is willing to do this experiment, because I don't think anyone else would. I'd just like to remind victorhart not to complicate the experiment by using non-video-watching activities like SRS or memorisation or Qiao Hu whatever that is, if possible. If you learn with both video & SRS, and do succeed in the end, I will contribute your success to SRS and not to video [reason below]. Then your experiment becomes wasted.

[reason for above]

Person A:
1. Sees an image of a dog in a textbook, captioned "狗", and realises that 狗 means dog.
2. SRSs it.
3. Learns and succeeds.

victorhart:
1. Happens to see an image of a dog in a video, subtitled "狗", and realises that 狗 means dog.
2. SRSs it.
3. Learns and succeeds.

Step 1 seems insignificant compared to step 2.

* * *

I think video-watching is just like L-R: subtitles in L1, images also a form of L1, voice in L2. Has anyone experimented learning via L-R alone? How long did it take? Maybe we can compare which method works faster.
2 persons have voted this message useful



YnEoS
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2420 days ago

472 posts - 893 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German, Russian, Cantonese, Japanese, French, Hungarian, Czech, Swedish, Mandarin, Italian, Spanish

 
 Message 70 of 170
22 October 2014 at 4:01pm | IP Logged 
smallwhite wrote:
victorhart wrote:
My goals include (1) testing and hopefully proving the value of watching authentic video sources, even for beginners (which I believe is much greater than you think, so
here we just honestly disagree) and...


I'm pleased victorhart is willing to do this experiment, because I don't think anyone else would. I'd just like to remind victorhart not to complicate the experiment by using non-video-watching activities like SRS or memorisation or Qiao Hu whatever that is, if possible. If you learn with both video & SRS, and do succeed in the end, I will contribute your success to SRS and not to video [reason below]. Then your experiment becomes wasted.


If he's allowed to review content I don't see why SRS would be out of bounds. SRS is just a scheduler for the content you see. It seems his experiment already includes re-watching and re-studying videos. So the same effect of SRS could be achieved by writing in your calendar "July 7th, watch Episode 6 time code 13:25-13:27, once without subtitles, once with subtitles". Only with SRS you can spend your time getting exposure to the language instead of writing in your calendar.

Though I think this brings up some interesting questions that patrickwilken was also raising, which is what is this experiment actually testing and where exactly are the lines drawn? Like translations seem fine sometimes and some kind of review/study of video content is okay, but any combination that would make learning more efficient is out of bounds?

If you're main goal is simply to avoid building strong ties between a mandarin word and it's English translation, why not greatly increase your speed using something like Gabriel Wyrner's method, and start by learning 625 concrete words with google image search + forvo and never put your eyes on the English meaning? Or is that not fun and too much like studying?

smallwhite wrote:


* * *

I think video-watching is just like L-R: subtitles in L1, images also a form of L1, voice in L2. Has anyone experimented learning via L-R alone? How long did it take? Maybe we can compare which method works faster.


Video + Subtitles is actually quite a different process than Listening-Reading. With subtitled video the content is synced up for you and the subtitles can pass by without you paying any attention to them. With Listen-Reading you have to keep the text and audio synced up yourself, so if you're not constantly matching what you're reading with what you're hearing, you're not in sync and you're not Listening-Reading. This is why I think Listening-Reading ends up being much more efficient, it requires more concentration to do, in addition to there being a lot more content and repetition.)
3 persons have voted this message useful



smallwhite
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Australia
Joined 3474 days ago

537 posts - 1045 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin, French, Spanish

 
 Message 71 of 170
22 October 2014 at 4:40pm | IP Logged 
YnEoS wrote:
If he's allowed to review content I don't see why SRS would be out of bounds. SRS is just a scheduler...

... which is what is this experiment actually testing and where exactly are the lines drawn?


I was more referring to the SRS that emk described - SRSing snippets of videos. I felt that drilling snippets was against the idea of immersion-via-videos, because it's unnatural. But that's just by MY definition of the experiement, not by Victor's. Like you, I don't fully grasp what exactly the experiment is trying to prove. I'll go read Victor's blog now.
1 person has voted this message useful



victorhart
Bilingual Tetraglot
Groupie
United States
mandarinexperiment.o
Joined 1873 days ago

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

 
 Message 72 of 170
22 October 2014 at 5:19pm | IP Logged 
smallwhite and YnEoS,

I really appreciate your thoughts and to be perfectly honest I'm not always sure of
the boundaries on what types of activities or compromises--in addition to just sitting
passively in front of streaming video in Mandarin without subtitles and paying
attention--are coherent with my experimental methodology. It is useful to get outside
opinions. For instance:

- It seems obvious that watching the same movie or even clips over and over is
perfectly acceptable.
- I am not yet familiar with SRS, but it seems that if I can use the technology just
to make reviewing these clips more efficient, without even including subtitles, it
would be perfectly acceptable. It's kind of like being able to skip tracks on a DVD
player rather than have to rewind a tape in a VCR. I'm not doing anything other than
watching video, but I am reviewing clips more efficiently.
- It seems that jotting down a word a day (my own phonetic transcription) on a list
and the exact source where I heard it is OK in that it is really just a way of
focusing my attention and facilitating review of specific video clips. If I start
reviewing the list in isolation to try to memorize words, then it seems that it would
be a violation. But if I use it just to help me find that part of the video where the
term is used and review it, it does not alter the experiment fundamentally. What do
you think?
- It seems clear that watching videos with English subtitles is a real compromise and
does alter the experiment somewhat. I am doing so basically because I enjoy the movies
much more that way, but I do occasionally remove or cover the subtitles, and plan to
do that more and more.
- Qiao Hu is just a show in Mandarin for toddlers that is readily available on
YouTube. It seems obvious that watching it is an inherent part of my methodology as
proposed from the outset.
- I have made little Qiao Hu study guides. It was a suggestion of a moderator from
another forum, to have something to share with others. Making the guides does not help
my learning except in that it helps me focus on what I'm watching. All I do is make
note, in English, of terms I think or know that I understood (and provide a little
summary of the plot). So although you could say it's sort of a violation of my
experiment, I think it will not significantly affect the results.

Regarding what I'm setting out to do with my experiment, I don't want to be repetitive
with what I've already posted. I want to test the value of watching authentic videos
in an utterly foreign language even for beginners. For some people, the idea that
watching authentic videos is beneficial for a total beginner may seem obvious; to
others, it may be ridiculous; yet others might find it intriguing and revolutionary.
By doing this exclusively (while acknowledging the main compromise of sometimes using
English subtitles with movies, but not with Qiao Hu or other sources), I believe the
evidence provided by my experience will be much more compelling than if I did it as
part of a more balanced approach to learning Mandarin (which would probably be more
effective).

In addition, I personally want to learn Mandarin, but am in no hurry and have very
limited time to commit to it, so this seemed like a fun, easy way to make some
progress. It is proving to be just that.


1 person has voted this message useful



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