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Language Learning Orthodoxy You Ignore

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Bao
Diglot
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Germany
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 Message 25 of 116
29 November 2014 at 6:30am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
3. I should somehow manage to produce output before getting lots of input. Maybe some people can study some conjugation tables, vocabulary lists and introductory lessons, and then just start speaking idiomatically. But I need to hear and understand the language before I can build an intuition for what's "natural" and what's "weird."

They can't. That is, maybe somebody like Ioannis Ikonomou might be able to do it, but the people I met that had that approach were rather difficult to talk to.


vonPeterhof, yes, that was in response to your comment. Now, I don't think RTK is bad by itself, it's just that it has its limitations and many people who advise others to use it fail to realize that.
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Ari
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 Message 26 of 116
29 November 2014 at 8:44am | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
Assimil: I've never used it but have looked at a few courses. I can't deal with the slow, unnaturally precise and clear audio.


The first week's lessons all have two audio tracks. One is painfully slow and enunciated to the point where it's unrecognizeable as a language. The other is just very slow and articulated. I delete the first one using Audacity. The language does get quicker and more flowing pretty soon, though, and twenty or so lessons it it's pretty alright. Towards the end it even gets fast and slurry sometimes (at least in the Brazilian course I used).
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Jeffers
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 Message 27 of 116
29 November 2014 at 10:54am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

1. I might somehow "damage my language" permanently by starting the wrong way. This is the only one that reliably annoys me, because it almost always comes with a theory about The One True Way to learn a language.


This is one of my pet peeves as well. Similarly, when people ask if it would be "dangerous" to do something (most commonly learn two languages at once), I want to reply, "only if you do it in a tank of sharks with frickin lasers on their heads."

EDIT: Graded readers I must confess, I really love the idea of graded readers. The worst thing about graded readers is that publishers feel they need to load them with exercises which take up the 2nd half of the book. When they're done right, they are awesome, especially if they have good audio. But of the 20 or so that I own, probably 5 are excellent, 5 are good and 10 are rubbish. The worst tend to be adaptions of "traditional" stories like fairy tales or old literature. Good ones are slightly adapted versions of really good stories (an example in French are the Cle adaptions of the Maigret stories, which are only a bit shorter than the originals). The very best are well-written original stories, especially ones written by "real" authors.

If you are an unbeliever in graded readers, but you are studying French, check out Mondes en VF. They are available on Kindle and paperback, and you can download the audio for free if you own the books. They also have exercises available, but you download them from the website.

Edited by Jeffers on 29 November 2014 at 4:43pm

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s_allard
Triglot
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 Message 28 of 116
29 November 2014 at 1:32pm | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
...

That being said, plenty of people have successfully learned a language using SRS, Assimil, Michel
Thomas, Harry Potter, the pause button, News in slow X, etc. Learning a language on one's own seems
to be taking some from here, some from there and learning what works for you well. Where some of us
fall down is by being so rigid that we won't consider anything outside of our preconceived parameters.
I may use subs2srs one day. I may try an Assimil course (if I can somehow manage to stand its pace
and audio). You never know what means may be necessary to learn a particular language or what may
or may not be available. I will learn a language by any means necessary- if my passion for learning it is
strong.

I think this thread can be best summed up by the Zen koan: "When you meet the Buddha, you must kill
him". Not literally but figuratively. You must find your own path and not slavishly follow the path of
someone else. The vast majority of us are here because we have followed (or want to follow) our own
path.

I really think this says is all. I'm not sure there is even any thing such as language learning orthodoxy.
People learn in many different ways. Try something, and if it works, keep on using it. If it doesn't,
move on.

I've always raged against the widespread idea that you need a huge vocabulary to actually speak a
language well. That's because I personally emphasize mastering in depth a smaller number of items
rather than running endlessly after new words. But that's just me. At the end of the day, what matters
is the end result.

Edited by s_allard on 30 November 2014 at 4:25am

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luke
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 Message 29 of 116
29 November 2014 at 7:46pm | IP Logged 
You have to start speaking from day one.

Oh, and you only need 300 words.

Edited by luke on 29 November 2014 at 8:33pm

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AlexTG
Diglot
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 Message 30 of 116
30 November 2014 at 3:15am | IP Logged 
Use the recordings
I like to just read through courses. Listening comprehension can be developed by watching
great movies and TV shows and listening to music. Why waste time on mediocre dialogues?

Repeat lessons
I read from start to finish and then stop. Every extra run-though of a lesson makes
learning feel more like work.

Edited by AlexTG on 30 November 2014 at 3:15am

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garyb
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 Message 31 of 116
01 December 2014 at 10:42am | IP Logged 
I'm an Assimil fanboy like many of us, but the unnatural speaking can indeed be a problem. It depends on the course. New French with Ease understandably gets a lot of praise, but the fact that the audio just doesn't sound like how the French speak, even in later lessons, is a black mark against it for me. More natural speech would make it useful for working on my accent, giving me more mileage out of the product. The Spanish and Italian courses I've used are a bit better in that respect: the voices are more clear and enunciated than a typical conversation, but they still sound plausible (I know some Italians whose speech is quick and slurred, and some who speak about as slowly and clearly as an Assimil lesson).
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Iversen
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 Message 32 of 116
01 December 2014 at 12:52pm | IP Logged 
Sometimes it's hard to know what ortodoxy really is. I haven't got kids in school so I'm not quite sure how the majority of language teachers work today. But if they still force the pupils to engage in role play and songs then there are some pockets of ortodoxy which should be eradicated. Or at least made into voluntary exercises for those kids and teachers who like such aberrations.

I do know some of the current text books systems, and basically the traditional method with lessons consisting of a graded text, a list of new words, some grammar and maybe a bit of cultural information is OK, at least for beginners. But I have never heard a textbook audio which wasn't downright nerve racking - mostly because it was slow and repetitious, i.e. the exact same characteristics which are the official excuse for its existence. Besides multiple choice is not my cup o'tea - feels like cheating. And I rarely do the exercises - and even less the absolutely irrelevant 'games' polluting newer Teach Yourselfs and other modern text book systems.

I don't use Anki, mostly because I prefer memorizing to being controlled. If I want to be confronted with unexpected words then I sit down to read something. Using Anki is like being shot at at close range. Wordlists suit my learning style and personality as a glove. And learning vocabulary from extensive activities - which I keep strictly separate from intensive study - is at best like being a hunter-gatherer after the introduction of agriculture. The exception is of course technical vocabulary, which may explained in loving detail in non fictional writings about the relevant topics. But reading extensively before you have learnt the basic vocabulary is like driving a car before you have put the wheels on.

I can't see the fun in trying to speak a language before I can think reasonably fluently in it. Of course I'm willing to try out isolated sentences during travels - especially if it means that I get the ticket or food or nightstay I covet, but standing there like a stuttering fool in the middle of a conversation because I have forgotten some crucial word ain't fun at all. So learning principally from personal encounters is just not an option for me.

And that includes learning from teachers.

Edited by Iversen on 01 December 2014 at 1:20pm



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