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Secrets to Learning Languages Faster

  Tags: Audio-lingual
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
9 messages over 2 pages: 1 2  Next >>
issemiyaki
Diglot
Newbie
United States
Joined 3504 days ago

38 posts - 58 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: French

 
 Message 1 of 9
13 July 2015 at 5:47pm | IP Logged 
It seems we might be in the midst of a language-learning revolution, thanks to the internet.

There are some great programs out there, but do they really work? Are their promises of "effortless" learning, too good to be true?

You can check out these programs online: Français Authentique for French. There's also Effortless English. And there's also Learn-German-Easy.com. There may be others.

What do they all have in common, besides saying you will learn the language effortlessly? They are all context-based, meaning you don't learn single words, you only learn words in phrases.   

Now, I am a highly fluent Spanish speaker, meaning, I can finish sentences for many native speakers, correct them, and sometimes I'm even more articulate. But, I've been speaking Spanish for more than 10 years, lived over seas, the whole 9 yards. The real breakthrough, however, came when I got my hands on a monolingual dictionary that came with example sentences. Within a few months my Spanish skyrocketed into the stratosphere, and I started to speak highly idiomatic Spanish.

However, I already had a solid base. Years of classes, failed exams, tears, and yes, the dreaded conjugation tables.

So, the question is: Are beginners wasting their time by starting with these programs that stress simply listening over and over to the same audio, and learning phrases instead of words?

Again, context learning is great. But I only got benefit out of that once I had a VERY strong base. Of course, there are many ways to skin a cat. And, maybe, had I learned through phrases from the beginning, I would have learned Spanish faster. But sometimes, like building muscle, there are no short cuts, you simply have to drag yourself to the gym and lift the weights.

Let me know what you guys think?

Edited by issemiyaki on 13 July 2015 at 5:48pm

1 person has voted this message useful



James29
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3850 days ago

1265 posts - 2113 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: French

 
 Message 2 of 9
13 July 2015 at 5:54pm | IP Logged 
Can you explain a little bit about what you actually did with the monolingual dictionary that was so helpful?
1 person has voted this message useful



issemiyaki
Diglot
Newbie
United States
Joined 3504 days ago

38 posts - 58 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: French

 
 Message 3 of 9
13 July 2015 at 6:57pm | IP Logged 
Sure.

First you need a great monolingual dictionary. I see you speak Spanish, so DO NOT
purchase, El Diccionario de la Real Academia. Why? It's not a "diccionario de uso,"
meaning all the entries don't come with example sentences to show you in which context
the words should be used.

I would recommend the Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Espanola. It is PHENOMENAL.
Or if you'd like to spend more money, el Diccionario Maria Moliner. Both of these
come with example sentences in every single context.

Second, you have to learn how to use these dictionaries.

Let's take one of the more convoluted words: deparar.

In English, it basically means, to offer, to provide. But this is only a rough
approximation.

In El Diccionario Salamanca ... you have several example sentences.

El viaje nos deparó muchas sorpresas.
You certainly wouldn't say in English, the vacation provided us many surprises. This
is where you take some liberties in order to smooth out the rendition. So, a good
translation would be: There were a lot of surprises on our vacation. Or: There were a
lot of surprises in store for us on our vacation. Or: Our vacation was full of
surprises.

La fiesta me ha deparado la oportunidad de conocer a mucha gente.
The party offered me the chance to meet a lot of people.

El nuevo trabajo me depara la posiblidad de trabajar de una manera más libre.
The new job allows me to work more independently.

So, when someone says: ¿Qué nos depara este fin de semana?
You know they're saying ... What's the weekend have in store for us?

So, by looking at these context-heavy examples, you come up with what it means to you!
And that way ... the next time you have a test that you're nervous for, you can say:
"Who knows what will be on that exam!" You can say: "Quien sabe lo que nos DEPARA en
ese examen."

So, now you see how many ways you can actually use the word deparar ... and you start
to hone in on all the things it can mean. So, essentially the word becomes yours.

Now this does have its limits. For example is someone uses the word "bacalao" ... no
matter how many context clues they give you, you're not likely to realize that they're talking about "cod fish." But nonetheless, context can be very powerful.

Hopefully this helps.

Edited by issemiyaki on 13 July 2015 at 7:08pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 5072 days ago

9753 posts - 15777 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 4 of 9
13 July 2015 at 7:51pm | IP Logged 
The dictionary basically just worked like native materials? I just prefer to get more input, most things become much clearer with time. I keep dictionary lookups for when they don't, or for when I need/want a more detailed comprehension.

The biggest secret is minimizing L1 use.
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issemiyaki
Diglot
Newbie
United States
Joined 3504 days ago

38 posts - 58 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: French

 
 Message 5 of 9
14 July 2015 at 12:28am | IP Logged 
I think we`re getting slightly off track on this thread. LOL. That`s okay though.

Is there anyone who can address my original question.

Thanks. :-)
2 persons have voted this message useful



dampingwire
Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3140 days ago

1185 posts - 1513 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian*, French
Studies: Japanese

 
 Message 6 of 9
14 July 2015 at 1:50am | IP Logged 
issemiyaki wrote:
So, the question is: Are beginners wasting their time by starting with these programs that stress simply listening over and over to the same audio, and
learning phrases instead of words?


I think that for me at least, using more than one course and more than one source of target language information is (was) very valuable. Listening from day one can be
useful (Pimsleur got me used to the rhythm of the language), but I feel that if that's all I'd done at the start I would have made less progress.

Generally I would say that different techniques work differently for different people: what works for me may well not work at all for you. I'd go so far as to say that what
works for me now may not have worked form in the past (and quite probably won't be so helpful in the future).

issemiyaki wrote:
What do they all have in common, besides saying you will learn the language effortlessly?


What I'm reasonably sure of is that anything claiming effortless language learning is not likely to be anywhere close to being correct ... (either that or I'm doing
something terribly wrong!).

4 persons have voted this message useful





Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 5178 days ago

9078 posts - 16471 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
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 Message 7 of 9
14 July 2015 at 10:38am | IP Logged 
I do think examples are important - but finding them in a monolingual dictionary should be reserved for advanced learners and native speakers who really can understand the explanations and maybe even remember similar cases from real life. For beginners and intermediate learners a bilingual dictionary is better - for the same reasons that bilingual dictionaries are better for learning single words.

As for listening to the same audio again and again (or similarly, reading the same text fragments again and again): it may be boring, but at least for beginners repetition is necessary - otherwise the things you were supposed to learn don't stick. The study of short passages until you understand them is essential at this stage. If you could do understand them at first glance you wouldn't be a beginner. Later on it is less important whether you read or listen to the same materials again because you have learnt the basics at that stage, and now the main focus should be on extensive study of large amounts of input. At that stage I definitely prefer reading or listening to new things instead of mulling endlessly over the old ones.

Repetition sounds boring, and if you can't see the purpose then it may be so boring that it beccomes counterproductive. But if you can feel the progress from one repetition to the next then repetition becomes less bothersome. Last evening I reread an Indonesian text about the Indonesian variant of Bigfoot, the mythical small and brownish orang pendek who allegedly loves sugar cane. Did it feel boring? No, partly because I have left it alone for several weeks since I worked my way through it the first time, partly because I now understand it without looking at the translation or checking words in my dictionary - but first and foremost because I actually find the topic interesting. If not, then I would have found it a chore to read it once more.

So repetition isn't a bad thing in itself, but it must be hard for others (including teachers) to judge whether you have reached the stage with a given text where one more repetition functions like a welcome return to a safe haven or whether it feels like dragging you kicking and screaming back to do one more turn inside the treadmill.

Edited by Iversen on 14 July 2015 at 10:54am

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issemiyaki
Diglot
Newbie
United States
Joined 3504 days ago

38 posts - 58 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: French

 
 Message 8 of 9
15 July 2015 at 9:13pm | IP Logged 
Iverson, thanks for chiming in. Always good to read your input.

Just over the past few days, I've noticed quite a bit of improvement with the program
Français Authentique. I'm clearly able to understand long dialogues and texts. While I
don't understand everything 100% the first time around, after listening for 4 or 5 times,
my comprehension goes from 50% to 90%, and I learn all sorts of great phrases along the
way. So, I'll stick with this for now.

Thanks again.



1 person has voted this message useful



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