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Language Learning Orthodoxy You Ignore

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Serpent
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 Message 65 of 116
04 December 2014 at 7:35am | IP Logged 
Nobody wants to butcher the language. Nobody wants to be unable to speak the language they can understand. It's just that most aren't willing to do what it really takes (to speak/write well), especially not in all their languages.

Edited by Serpent on 04 December 2014 at 7:37am

3 persons have voted this message useful



captainalan
Diglot
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Speaks: Spanish, Mandarin
Studies: Japanese, Korean, Esperanto

 
 Message 66 of 116
04 December 2014 at 6:08pm | IP Logged 
I've been using SRS for a number of years now, practically everyday, mainly as something
that's easy to do as a bare minimum for working on languages when I'm busy.

What I've found, is that it is very easy to become complacent and passively go through
review material just recognizing, but not deeply 'knowing' the material I'm looking at.

Now, compounded over the period of months or even years, I think this certainly has been
better than not doing anything at all.

But, I will have to agree with the orthodox wisdom in language learning that having lots of
native speaker input, practicing speaking, and drilling grammar and sentence patterns are
likely very good ideas for training speaking (and listening) ability.

4 persons have voted this message useful



Retinend
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 Message 67 of 116
04 December 2014 at 10:42pm | IP Logged 
In terms of sheer publication, is the real orthodoxy the "exercise and key" method?

In the school where I teach there are shelves and shelves of old textbooks, published through the years, which all uses such exercises as their bread
and butter. Classics of the "multiple choice", "reading comprehension" "gap fill", "ordering" "matching" variety. Occasionally there are listening
tasks that come with a complimentary cassette or CD, but by far the model of these classroom textbooks is the "Teach Yourself" variety. True, you are
also supposed to be interacting with the teacher and practicing your communicative skills, but in the classroom reality it is a very token and
artificial form of the real deal. Real conversation, in contrast, rarely costs money and is far more stimulating.

I never did any "exercise and key" work in German, and it didn´t hold me back. Well... I know that I could definitely benefit from doing these types of
exercises to tighten up particular points of grammar (and I plan to do so)... but through more intuitive assimil-like methods, with only occasional
reference to a grammar book, I managed to learn all the same points of grammar as class taught people. And I didn't need to pay anyone a chunk of my
earnings per month. It only cost me time. And then there's other non-exercise based methods too. Other people do the same thing with SRS-based study
programs and others by read-from-day one or speak-from-day-one approaches... The thing they have in common is that no one organizes and presents the
language to you with clever foresight. You make your own path.

But for this very reason, exercises are uniquely beneficial. You might likely make your path in a less than optimal way. In contrasts, exercise books
are written by someone with an expertise in the language and in language learning generally, and they can draw your attention specifically to the
likely mistakes that you might make. My problem with them is that they are burned through quickly and offer little value for revision. I believe in the
"multi track" philosophy (Iguanamon's?) and so I do not see much value in repeatedly reviewing completed exercises (in spite of teachers well-intended
encouragement to do exactly this). Compared with my own shadowing-scriptorium method - my own bread and butter - there is no element of searching and
discovery to the process of covering a hundred pages of exercises with graphite.

Just some thoughts! I certainly don't think that the "exercise and key" method is some corrupt, rotten regime waiting to be toppled, since I think that
so long as people are learning in a classroom with other people, there are inevitably going to be limited in what methods they can be taught with.
However it seems to me that, therefore, "teaching styles" and the methodology of the publication of these books cannot be seriously taken as a matter
of principle and educational philosophy, but of expediency and the strictures of classroom resources and the classroom environment. Even Michel
Thomas's courses are in an audible answer-and-key format, only more elegant and positively-reinforcing than typical textbooks.
2 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
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 Message 68 of 116
04 December 2014 at 11:41pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
My own position is that when I attempt to speak a target language, I aim to say
what a native speaker would say. Native speakers of French will make certain mistakes,
but none would mix up organe and orgue. People laugh at this mistake because it is
ridiculous. I don't want to appear ridiculous when speaking my target language.


Everyone aims to say what a native speaker says. You are not special.

It is a ridiculous mistake. This is what happens when you are a foreigner and you learn
another language. You make mistakes. Ridiculous and funny ones! The best learners have
long ago accepted that stuff happens and dealt with it.
8 persons have voted this message useful



s_allard
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 Message 69 of 116
05 December 2014 at 3:49am | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
Quote:
My own position is that when I attempt to speak a target language, I aim to
say
what a native speaker would say. Native speakers of French will make certain mistakes,
but none would mix up organe and orgue. People laugh at this mistake because it is
ridiculous. I don't want to appear ridiculous when speaking my target language.


Everyone aims to say what a native speaker says. You are not special.

It is a ridiculous mistake. This is what happens when you are a foreigner and you learn
another language. You make mistakes. Ridiculous and funny ones! The best learners have
long ago accepted that stuff happens and dealt with it.

Against my instinct and better judgment, I have to say that I agree with this post. First of all, I totally
accept that I'm not special. I don't think I said I was but I apologize for my erroneous English. Let's
move on. We also know that everybody makes mistakes, including ridiculous ones. We are told that
the best learners have dealt with them. How?

As we all know, the problem with mistakes is that most of the time we are totally unaware that we are
making them. Otherwise we wouldn't make them in the first place. Sometimes we can catch a mistake
because something doesn't sound right and then we can self-correct. But how can you deal with
mistakes if you can't detect them?

In the example that I gave of the person using organe instead of orgue, this person was totally
convinced that this was the correct form. I would be very curious to see how this person can "deal with
it", as suggested here.

In my opinion, the only way that the problem can be dealt with is if somebody brings the mistake to
the learner's attention. This, by the way, is exactly what happened in the example above. I went over to
this person and gently pointed out the mistake. I even offered to review future speeches to help this
person avoid other embarrassing mistakes. Is there a better way to deal with this situation? Should I
have just let this go by?

I like to have my professional writing in another language reviewed before I send it off. I wouldn't dare
send a cover letter in Spanish for a job application without having this letter vetted by my tutor. I like
to think that I adhere to the same standards in all my languages.

Not everybody agrees. It seems that some people find mistakes funny and amusing. That may be the
case, but I also find them embarrassing. I don't like to feel embarrassed. I don't think that language
examiners find listening to a candidate's mistakes very funny. Neither do I think that receiving a failing
grade on a language exam very funny. I certainly don't want to spend $250 on a Spanish DELE exam
and months of preparation thinking that I'm going to amuse the examiners with my ridiculous
mistakes.

I'm not sure about this, but we are told that that the best learners, of which I am certainly not one,
have figured out another way to "deal with it." I'm curious to see exactly what this is.


2 persons have voted this message useful



iguanamon
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 Message 70 of 116
05 December 2014 at 1:09pm | IP Logged 
Most of the time I'll catch my mistakes. When I don't, I laugh at myself and my silly mistake and move on. Whenever I meet someone in TL, I may get a compliment on my language. If I know we may speak for a good while, I will explain that I am not such a good speaker. While I may know quite a lot of their language, I will make mistakes. I will ask the TL speaker to correct me if I make egregious errors.

As much as we try not to in our learning, we will make mistakes. I think the key is to be able to laugh at your own missteps, learn from them, and make different errors the next time. I think that's what tarvos may be talking about with "deal with it".

Edited by iguanamon on 05 December 2014 at 1:10pm

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tarvos
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 Message 71 of 116
05 December 2014 at 1:12pm | IP Logged 
Rule 1 of internet arguments: trying to split hairs over semantics is NOT a productive
way of conducting arguments on the internet. But that gripe aside, let's see if
s_allard has come up with something worthwhile this time (вряд ли).

Ok, Mr Allard, let's see where you show your cunning ability to miss the point
this time:

Quote:
In my opinion, the only way that the problem can be dealt with is if somebody
brings the mistake to
the learner's attention. This, by the way, is exactly what happened in the example
above. I went over to
this person and gently pointed out the mistake. I even offered to review future
speeches to help this
person avoid other embarrassing mistakes. Is there a better way to deal with this
situation? Should I
have just let this go by?


Yes. Let them ask you. No one wants your help - if they want it, they'll ask for it. I
agree that feedback is a useful mechanism (I use tutors all the time!) but I do not
want a tutor to think that they know what's better for me. I can decide for myself
what is better and what is not, thank you very much.

Quote:
I like to have my professional writing in another language reviewed before I
send it off. I wouldn't dare send a cover letter in Spanish for a job application
without having this letter vetted by my tutor. I like to think that I adhere to the
same standards in all my languages.


Well have I got news for you. This may come as a shock to you, but (!) (and I
recommend you take notes, this might be important in your life and things, such wisdom
I'm spreading here!)

1. Not everyone needs to write professional letters. You may think whaaaaaat?
Isn't that why people learn to speak Spanish?

No. It isn't. cue shocked looks from the audience.. Some people live somewhere
and need it for daily life. Some people just have friends. I don't really need to
speak French professionally in my daily life right now, but if I did, I'd probably
hire a tutor to help me prepare for job interviews. But I don't have to so I don't
need to and that goes for a lot of people because get this, right: not everyone needs
professional performances in their languages! And as such, shockhorror, it's a clumsy
standard to judge people by!

Point 2: Not all languages are equal. Sorry, but my ability to write professional e-
mails in Greek couldn't interest me a single iota. I don't have to, I don't need to,
and I don't care. Maybe it's useful in Russian someday, but besides the 3-4 languages
where I actually have any sort of level where that kind of thing comes into play, I
don't care. Pure and simple. Does that mean I am now a terrible Greek speaker? No. All
it means is that Greek somehow does not have professional priority in my life. And
that works for many people.

I like speaking Greek cos I have friends that are Greek and because I am going to
spend time in Greece. And any professional letters do not fit into that equation at
this point in time.

Quote:
Not everybody agrees. It seems that some people find mistakes funny and
amusing. That may be the
case, but I also find them embarrassing. I don't like to feel embarrassed. I don't
think that language
examiners find listening to a candidate's mistakes very funny. Neither do I think that
receiving a failing
grade on a language exam very funny. I certainly don't want to spend $250 on a Spanish
DELE exam
and months of preparation thinking that I'm going to amuse the examiners with my
ridiculous
mistakes.


Ah yes. The examiner. Those evil human beings, who cross out things with their
red pens and send you to hell for making mistakes. I understand your fear. Yes, I
would face them with trembling knees and a pale face. That sum you handed over, a very
worthy amount. Your wallet will hate you! It is a sign that you must bow. Bow to the
infinite rules of examdom!

Feeling embarrassed when you make a mistake is a good thing. It shows you are a
normal empathetic human being who is responsible to criticism and will improve the
next time he does something. That's why people feel embarrassed. That's enough. I have
made funny or embarrassing mistakes in my life and guess what? The fact I made them
meant I'd already dealt with the problem. Because the embarrassment quite simply meant
I would never make them again. That's it. Please, I beg you, make 500 mistakes and
feel embarrassed 500 times. After that amount of embarrassment, you'll speak a whole
lot better because that's a whole lot of mistakes you've made and have been able to
correct because you made them. This is not the end of the world. In fact, it's the
beginning.

And about the exams: yeah, making mistakes might make you fail the exam. That's what
we invented trial sessions and advance practices for. All exams are standardized and
so if you've done your homework there's no reason you ever need fear an exam. The more
you worry about that embarrassing mistake you might make, the bigger the chance you're
going to make it. Confidence in the face of fire like you're the firefighter and that
hose in your hands is going to douse those flames like they've never been doused
before.

7 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
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 Message 72 of 116
05 December 2014 at 1:31pm | IP Logged 
(Moderator hat on.)

s_allard wrote:
For some strange reason a few people have taken umbrage to the idea of my calling certain mistakes
made by learners terrible.

s_allard, you have a tendency to slip little rhetorical barbs into your messages. These are quite obvious to readers, and they don't really contribute to the conversation. Could you please try to indulge yourself a bit less often?

tarvos wrote:
Ok, Mr Allard, let's see where you show your cunning ability to miss the point
this time:

tarvos, I understand that you're frustrated. But I would appreciate it if you could dial the sarcasm back quite a bit here. Thank you.



As a general rule, please do not attack or personally insult other posters. If you have a problem with somebody else's behavior, please consider reporting it to the moderators. Otherwise, we tend to wind up with long, angry threads that lead to stress (for the people emotionally involved) and nothing of interest (for everybody else). Thank you.

Edited by emk on 05 December 2014 at 1:34pm



3 persons have voted this message useful



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