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Learning without a program?

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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Tyrion101
Senior Member
United States
Joined 1994 days ago

153 posts - 174 votes 
Speaks: French

 
 Message 1 of 9
10 October 2015 at 11:46pm | IP Logged 
I'll admit freely that I start off usually with some sort of program like duolingo or Rosetta Stone, when starting a language, however, they never go as far as I would like them to. I don't really have the patience to make my own flash cards, and they never hold my interest anyway. How do I keep up learning new words when either the program runs out of words and phrases, or they just don't have one for a language I'm interested in dabbling in?
1 person has voted this message useful





Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 4784 days ago

9078 posts - 16470 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
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 2 of 9
11 October 2015 at 6:07pm | IP Logged 
Use native sources and use at least parts of them for intensive study, where you actually try yo understand everything. Then you'll almost certainly meet words and constructions you don't know. And when you do then write things down. If you can't stand writing flashcards then the reason might be that you don't like the repetition system, and my cure against that was doing wordlists. You may also find them boring, but then try at least to write some of the words down which you look up or or copy some sentences where you remove the endings and prepositions. Can you reconstruct them one day later? If not, then you need to come up with some kind of system to retain things.


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Mork the Fiddle
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2050 days ago

86 posts - 158 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Norwegian, Latin, Ancient Greek

 
 Message 3 of 9
11 October 2015 at 8:55pm | IP Logged 
The only alternative that I know to making/studying lists or using memory programs like Quizlet or ANKI is extensive reading.

You can follow Kató Lomb's method or you can use apps built for the purpose with easily accessible dictionaries and a way to remember definitons without requiring you to look up a definition more than once*.

Kató Lomb explains her method in short booklet, which can be found here.

Of the foreign language reading apps I am talking about, I know of only four: (1) LWT (Learning with Texts), (2) LingQ, (3) ReadLang or (4) Fltr (Foreign Language Text Reader).

This page covers installation of LWT and includes a useful demo of how LWT and apps like it work. LWT

I suppose there is a third method of extensive reading, which is simply reading extensively without the encumbrances of learning and memorization schemes
or computer apps.

For my more recent foray into language learning, about 5 years ago I began with LingQ. After 3 or 4 years I switched to LWT, which works more robustly for me than LingQ. I used briefly LWT as set up on Benny Lewis's site, but I wanted something on my own computer, so I installed LWT on it.

Finally, if you do a search in this forum on the tag LingQ, you will find more information about LingQ and about LWT as well.

For better or worse, controversy seems to follow LingQ everywhere it goes, but I would advise not getting sucked into the controversy but just attending to the nuts and bolts of what LingQ and LWT do and how they work. ReadLang and FLTR work in a similar way, though neither is as comprensive, IMHO, as Lingq or LWT.




* Of course, many a word has more than one definition, and you have to look up each definition separately, I suppose.
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Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 4784 days ago

9078 posts - 16470 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
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 4 of 9
12 October 2015 at 11:07am | IP Logged 
I know from my own language studies that extensive reading in a language you don't understand is a cumbersome and basically worthless activity - even with a translation at your disposal. It's like sitting in an airplane and watching the Earth glide past below you.

There actually is something called the L-R technique, where you have a spoken source and transcript and an extremely loyal translation, and then you listen for hours on end while looking at the translation and later the transcript. In essence this technique compresses into a short timespan all the aided listening you normally would do over several months, and then the target language is supposed to seep into your brain. But I have never been able to get all three things together with really long texts, partly because I'm the direct opposite of a literature buff.

Systems like Lingq and bilingual texts deliver something similar, but in a less bulldozerlike way. However LR is by definition an extensive method, whereas you have the opportunity to do intensive studies with the other methods. As I have written before, I believe that intensive studies of texts with translations and/or easy access to word lookups (as in Lingq etc) is the way to go to 'crack' a new target language. When you know enough to start reading or listening for fun then it is time gradually to shift to extensive reading/listening, but I personally wouldn't ever drop my intensive study methods completely. I have stopped doing wordlists in Danish and English years ago, but still read language blogs and grammar for fun.

The problem with the recommandations of getting lots of input is that the input has to be comprehensible - or at least so close to comprehensible that dictionaries and translations can ease your way through the incomprehensible passages.


Edited by Iversen on 12 October 2015 at 11:11am

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Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3090 days ago

3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 5 of 9
12 October 2015 at 8:57pm | IP Logged 
Tyrion101 wrote:
... some sort of program like duolingo or Rosetta Stone, when starting a language, however, they never go as far as I would like them to. ...


I think this is the main part of the question. Neither Duolingo or RS should be expected to take you far, otherwise you risk being discouraged by the results.

For computer based learning, anki, memrise, quizlet might serve you well. There are tons of premade decks of good quality for each of the platforms, so you don't necessarily have to spend time creating one.

For serious learning based on a learner aimed resource, you have much better chances with "old fashioned" courses book+cd, like Teach Yourself, Assimil, or many others, often made by local publishers specializing in their own language. All the technological gadgets haven't replaced these so far. If you need your resources to be computer based for practical reasons, there are either pirated pdfs or sometimes official digital versions, such as those by TY or Assimil. Or there are resources like the Spanishpod101 (for various languages) which cover quite a lot of material.

But you can learn without a course, at least a related language. You might like to start from simple things like comic books and songs on lyricstraining and work your way up to movies and novels. However, I'd say such a journey is likely to be perilous, when it comes to distant languages.
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Tyrion101
Senior Member
United States
Joined 1994 days ago

153 posts - 174 votes 
Speaks: French

 
 Message 6 of 9
17 October 2015 at 5:03am | IP Logged 
I don't have a whole lot of funds, so what I can do must be extremely cheap or free. I love learning new words, and new sentences, and grammar and all that I just haven't found something that works on a consistent basis for me, the programs work for me because there is easy access to someone like me who can't always buy a $200 book, and so I'm left with what looks like very few options.
1 person has voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3090 days ago

3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 7 of 9
23 October 2015 at 6:43pm | IP Logged 
If you have a low budget, why are you using RS, which does have free alternatives, when it comes to the main function:SRS?

If you use a pirated copy, than what does the price of any resource matter?

Books that cost 200 dollars? :-D :-D :-D This is French, not medicine. Our textbooks are often nearing that price but something as mainstream as French learning is a different story.

Vast majority of book (or book+cd) based resources is somewhere in the 10-30 euro range (that's like 15-40 dollars, right?) and vast majority of them, unlike most digital toys, gives you material for months or even years of work and significant progress in the language. So, you just need to choose the right value/price ratio. You might find out that a month of learning (and progressing much more than with most apps and website toys) might be for a price of a beer or two.

Just examples or popular tools(prices taken from amazon.fr, in euros)
Grammaire progressive du Français : Niveau débutant, avec 440 exercices 20,10. Tons of material to go through, solid progress.
Vocabulaire progressif du français - 2e édition 19,90
Les 500 Exercices de Grammaire A2 - Livre + corrigés intégrés 10,50
New French with Ease (just the book) new and second hand from 15 euros and it does have a lot more content than Duolingo.

And so on. Second hand bookstore, websites and facebook sites where people sell used books are a gold mine, your local library may have something useful to offer as well.

And there are some free resources of excellent quality, such as the FSI (I haven't got direct experience with the French course but lots of people have recently progressed greatly with the Spanish one), Memrise (there are some awesome courses there), Anki (lots of great decks to be found as well), websites like about.french.com or what is the address with the basic grammar... really, even a learner with no budget can learn French but it is a harder path than with the paid tools and you need to weed out the worthless resources.
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shk00design
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 2525 days ago

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

 
 Message 8 of 9
26 October 2015 at 6:03am | IP Logged 
There are already language learning series online including on YouTube. I tend to like the shorter ones like French in 3 minutes or 10 minutes to give enough time to absorb the material. Listening to a native speaker online is more helpful than just reading native materials alone. You need to make an effort to listen to a few minutes of a language each day.

In the beginning you are going to go through the letters of the alphabet, counting numbers and the other boring stuff like subject-verb conjugations. Once you get going, you can be listening to travel guides, current news events, histories of places you may visit. You don't have to learn all the grammar rules first before getting into complete phrases and ideas.

I watched a video by the Italian polyglot Luca. He suggested reading parallel text on Wikipedia. You can go through any article of interest and cross-reference between the English version and the language you are studying.

To go 1 step further, I find this online blog helpful:
Français Authentique

Edited by shk00design on 26 October 2015 at 6:09am



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