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 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 4783 days ago

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Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
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 Message 161 of 170
10 January 2015 at 6:14pm | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:
In my mind, the student who tries to learn from native input alone is as misguided at the one who tries to learn from translation alone. The first is guilty of using an intermediary technique in the beginner stage, and the second of using a beginner technique in the intermediary stage. This explains both the success and the high dropout rate of the NLA institute. People drop out because they're not getting anywhere in the beginning, due to bad methods, but once they get past the beginner stage, the method is well suited and they progress rapidly.

It's you who brought this up. I simply tried to say that what you describe here is only true for speaking. And you then confirmed that your main criteria is how fast it produces good *speakers*. Someone who does the hardcore traditional tools for three months will be better at speaking and writing than someone who does the natural approach, but after a year grammatical accuracy is the only thing where the traditional approach is superior, whereas the "natural" guy will be better at everything else, especially comprehension.

And I agree that using a translation or a dictionary is not harmful. I definitely think that the natural approach is doing itself more harm than good by banning ALL translations and not just the translation tasks that are so common in formal language teaching. But I don't think there's anything controversial about the fact that these tasks lead to harmful habits and an inability to think in L2. If you can afford doing no translations and having a silent period, then thinking in L2 will be easier later. Of course input can help if you want or need to speak from the beginning, but imo that's far from the ideal method for most. You won't understand much from the beginning anyway (and if you do, you can go straight for what you call the "intermediate methods").

Edited by Serpent on 10 January 2015 at 7:15pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



Ari
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 4768 days ago

2314 posts - 5695 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese
Studies: Czech, Latin, German

 
 Message 162 of 170
10 January 2015 at 7:18pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
It's you who brought this up. I simply tried to say that what you describe here is only true for speaking. And you then confirmed that your main criteria is how fast it produces good *speakers*. Someone who does the hardcore traditional tools for three months will be better at speaking and writing than someone who does the natural approach, but after a year grammatical accuracy is the only thing where the traditional approach is superior, whereas the "natural" guy will be better at everything else, especially comprehension.

When did I say this? Why does what I'm saying only apply to speaking? I have not talked about the separate skills at all.

I think we're completely talking past each other here. Here are two things I'm NOT saying:

* "People should produce their own sentences from day one." I don't think there's any reason to do this unless you want to speak early, which I have not advocated. I do think shadowing is a great early technique, but as far as producing language, I don't advocate doing it until you have to, basically.

* "Traditional methods are superior to natural methods." Whatever we mean by these terms, I'm saying we should use both. People who try to grow from input only, without grammar explanations or dictionaries, are misguided, as are people who try to learn by just memorizing the rules and sticking sentences together like a puzzle. The method I advocate is one of working intensively with parallel texts, shadowing them and working out the grammar (how it means what it means). After having done this for a while, the learner can proceed to massive input, such as reading with a popup dictionary and watching TV series. An SRS app can be used to learn a lot of vocabulary and grammar quickly. Finally, the learner can start producing their own sentences (once they are able to understand most of what they hear/read). Preferrably, this can be done in writing, which is corrected, and the corrections reinforced theough SRS. After this, speaking, which should already not be too difficult. Speaking is the last step in my ideal ladder, but this might change due to practical constraints. I would personally never do speaking after three months, not even when intensively studying a close and easy language. I prefer not to make my own sentences until I'm at least at B1, preferrably a low B2.
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Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 4783 days ago

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 Message 163 of 170
10 January 2015 at 8:21pm | IP Logged 
Well, "not getting anywhere in the beginning" applies much more to speaking and (grammatically correct) writing, imo. It's not about being misguided but having different priorities (and sometimes simply preferences, such as liking children's books more than explicit grammar learning). Also, the natural approach isn't input-only, it implies lots of interaction too. Read Bakunin's log(s), it's really interesting stuff.

Speaking of that, I agree with your implication that people have unrealistic expectations from the natural method (and at least sometimes advertising creates/feeds the expectations). It won't be easy and effortless, and if you lack internal motivation, it won't necessarily be more enjoyable than something more traditional. It's also probably better for those who do one language at a time and are single-focused in general.
1 person has voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 4783 days ago

9753 posts - 15776 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 
 Message 164 of 170
10 January 2015 at 8:43pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
Sorry to ask a really stupid question, but what do people really mean when the talk about using translations to learn?

I've benefited a lot reading German ebooks with an English pop-up dictionary. I certainly would not have been able to tackle the level of books I have so early without a dictionary to help, and when I am reading I certainly don't feel I am translating back into English. I am at the point now where I am starting to read without a dictionary (I'd love to use a German-German dictionary, but the Duden on the Kindle is fairly useless).

I have also done roughly the same amount of movie watching where I have only listened extensively, but I think I picked up most of my vocabulary from reading, and it felt much more efficient to get the rough translation of words on the fly as I read, rather than working them out from context (esp. when my reading level was relatively weak).

Well, plenty of people read without a dictionary before they are ready to. It depends on your mindset really. Are you ready to treat the book as a set of riddles? (similar to Katò Lomb's method) Do you want to understand every detail? For me, having an incomplete comprehension can even add to the enjoyment. I think most books are either too subtle or too straightforward, and in the latter case they are improved by an incomplete understanding. And with non-fiction, background knowledge can help a lot.

How much easy reading have you done? I'd think that reading through easy books can actually help you fix the cases, as the content would be so easy that you'd be able to focus more on the form. Of course it's not neceessarily more fun than actual grammar study, but I'm enjoying doing easy stuff in Swedish.
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patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2719 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 165 of 170
12 January 2015 at 11:39pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:

How much easy reading have you done? I'd think that reading through easy books can actually help you fix the cases, as the content would be so easy that you'd be able to focus more on the form.


I am sure that might be right, but I'm going to try to take the long way round and make the harder books easy and see if I can work out the cases from there. I just don't have the heart/patience to go back to children's book again.

But as a general question I am not sure I quite get what is so magical about using a pop-up L2->L1 dictionary. I am currently reading a novel in German, and occasionally using a German monolingual dictionary for unknown words. As far as I can tell reading the definitions of words in German, as opposed to English, is not that different. The German definitions are also relatively imprecise when the English definitions are imprecise. I like not switching back into English, but I don't get the impression that my German is getting so much better by not switching quickly back to English for occasional definitions (but perhaps I'm missing something).
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Ari
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 4768 days ago

2314 posts - 5695 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese
Studies: Czech, Latin, German

 
 Message 166 of 170
13 January 2015 at 8:35am | IP Logged 
Personally, I vastly prefer using a bilingual dictionary to a monolingual one. If I come across the word "cygne" in French, I don't want to have to read a long circumloqutious description about a white bird of the cygnini family before I finally get that "Oh, it's a swan". I want to get the word "swan" and go on with my reading.
4 persons have voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 4783 days ago

9753 posts - 15776 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 
 Message 167 of 170
13 January 2015 at 12:02pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
But as a general question I am not sure I quite get what is so magical about using a pop-up L2->L1 dictionary. I am currently reading a novel in German, and occasionally using a German monolingual dictionary for unknown words. As far as I can tell reading the definitions of words in German, as opposed to English, is not that different. The German definitions are also relatively imprecise when the English definitions are imprecise. I like not switching back into English, but I don't get the impression that my German is getting so much better by not switching quickly back to English for occasional definitions (but perhaps I'm missing something).

You've already done tons of reading in German though. And you're in Berlin. Nothing can hurt your German significantly anymore. (I wasn't necessarily suggesting children's books btw, just anything you can read effortlessly)

I think the biggest benefit of monolingual dictionaries is that they can make it easier to use circumlocutions yourself when needed. And if someone finds it hard to read without translating, they can of course help a lot. But tbh I do wonder if it's wishful thinking to decide "okay, monolingual dictionaries have helped me with intermediate Spanish, in my next language I'll use them from the beginning". At least for the average learner.

Although it should be noted that there are special monolingual dictionaries that use only the most common vocab and simple grammar. For example, this is the definition of swan from the simple English wiktionary: A swan is a waterbird with a long neck. They are usually white, but in Australia they are black.
I can see the value of getting a couple of sentences of comprehensible input to remember the word better. After all, it's not that different from how books introduce the terms that you'll need to know, whether real or specific to the book's universe.

Oh and as an English speaker learning German... don't take good bilingual dictionaries for granted.

Edited by Serpent on 13 January 2015 at 12:07pm

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victorhart
Bilingual Tetraglot
Groupie
United States
mandarinexperiment.o
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66 posts - 155 votes 
Speaks: English*, Portuguese*, Spanish, French
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 168 of 170
10 June 2015 at 4:18am | IP Logged 
I'd like to share an update on my experiment. I completed 360 hours, or 30% of my
total time. I conducted another self-test and estimated that I am understanding 15% of
the words (including repetitions) on first listening to a new soap opera episode (a
genre I never watch except to test myself every couple of months).

At 20%, I had assessed myself at 8% word comprehension. Although (assuming the results
are accurate) the progress is encouraging, it does not fundamentally alter my
preliminary projections at the 20% mark regarding my hypotheses.

My increased comprehension was due almost entirely to being able to hear (pick out)
very basic words more accurately, rather than due to new vocabulary.

I have introduced one significant change to my methodology, which is including kids'
music, alongside the videos, which I listen to and try to learn mainly while driving.
This represents only about 10% of my listening time, and the reason for including it
is just to make better use of my time behind the wheel. I started my evening Law
classes again this semester, so I am busy from early morning to late night and it is
harder to squeeze the Mandarin in. That is also the reason I haven't been
participating in this forum lately--which I definitely miss.

Otherwise, I continue to watch mostly Chinese movies (with or without subtitles),
followed by Boonie Bears (a Chinese slapstick cartoon for youngsters), and Qiao Hu (an
educational show for toddlers). I continue to post fairly regularly on my blog.

I am reducing subtitle use to 50% of the time, and after the 400 hour mark, to
40%, and then progressively downward.

I'm still having a good time with my project. Watching Chinese is a welcome break from
studying the Law books and a great way to wind down at night. (I also continue doing a
daily average of 5-10 minutes French listening at night or while driving, for my long-
term "French Fluency Recovery project").

Edited by victorhart on 10 June 2015 at 4:20am



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