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Only listen!

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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reineke
Senior Member
United States
https://learnalangua
Joined 4753 days ago

851 posts - 1008 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 17 of 90
07 April 2007 at 9:15am | IP Logged 
Ahh that's interesting. But children do not keep their yaps shut that long. They do make attempts at words and sentences and usually they suck real bad in the beginning. They're natural at it though and that was my point. They don't force themselves either to speak or to keep their pieholes shut all the time. I've heard a couple of theories disputing the "critical period" and even that it's been refuted altogether (from an old psychology teacher). I haven't researched it but I'd certainly like to believe it.

It's interesting how you find having to keep quiet a burden. I've always found being forced to repeat after the teacher and having fake practice conversations a real pain. This theory suits me.

Now, what about the languages where we were forced to speak for a long time? Are our brains "polluted" forever? What about long periods without much input and no attempts at speaking? Would a renewed effort at 800 hrs of comprehensible input and no talk work effectively? Would previous imperfect efforts at speaking be overwritten or refreshed together with other knowledge? :)


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Farley
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
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681 posts - 738 votes 
1 sounds
Speaks: English*, GermanB1, French
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 18 of 90
07 April 2007 at 10:47am | IP Logged 
reineke wrote:
Ahh that's interesting. But children do not keep their yaps shut that long. They do make attempts at words and sentences and usually they suck real bad in the beginning. They're natural at it though and that was my point. They don't force themselves either to speak or to keep their pieholes shut all the time.


I think the guys at AGL would agree with you. 1) Based on their course descriptions the classes are not simply passive, but filled with questions and answers to make sure the listening was understood and 2) when the student is ready they will start speaking. The emphasis is not on being quite, but listening. That is something easy to forget once you get into the mechanics of speaking exercises.

I tried applying the ideas to my studies last year and recommend their method with the following caveats: 1) How do you qualify ‘understood listening’? Here I think you have to apply some common sense to the problem and use whatever trick works to make it understood. And 2) how do you know when you are ‘ready’ to speak, at least in absence of a real immersion environment? I’d say you are ready whenever you want to start. The lesson learned here is that if you front-load you studies with plenty listening that will make the audio course or workbook much easier.

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frenkeld
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
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Speaks: Russian*, English
Studies: German

 
 Message 19 of 90
07 April 2007 at 11:26am | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:
... for example doing Pimsleur or FSI, but thinking the answers instead of speaking them out loud.


In thinking the answers you may have an "inner voice" going, which might still form a wrong model of pronunciation in your head. Pimsleur and FSI are too production-oriented, it takes some ingenuity to turn them into purely passive experiences.

Also, doesn't the method also warn against production of sentences before the grammar has been naturally absorbed?

They talk a lot about native-like pronunciation, because all other methods fail quite badly in that area for adults, but they also seem to want the grammar to fall into place naturally before production, presumably because that's the only way to avoid residual errors in speech in the long run.

Of course, just like with the accent, one may ask what price one is willing to pay to avoid these residual errors.


Edited by frenkeld on 07 April 2007 at 11:31am

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Linguamor
Decaglot
Senior Member
United States
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469 posts - 599 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Dutch

 
 Message 20 of 90
07 April 2007 at 2:40pm | IP Logged 
Children speak their first words between 12 and 17 months of age. They begin speaking as soon as they have acquired enough of the language - a very young child's version of the language - to begin speaking. They continue to acquire the language after they have begun to speak. In fact, most of the language is acquired after they begin to speak. When children begin to speak, they also have not acquired adult-like pronunciation. It can take two or three years after they begin to speak before they do so.

The above facts are sufficient to falsify the ALG theory that speaking while acquiring the language is detrimental to ultimate achievement.
       

Edited by Linguamor on 07 April 2007 at 2:43pm

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Ari
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 4888 days ago

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

 
 Message 21 of 90
07 April 2007 at 3:00pm | IP Logged 
frenkeld wrote:
In thinking the answers you may have an "inner voice" going, which might still form a wrong model of pronunciation in your head.


I did try to think in the voice of the native speakers on the tapes ("how would this sound if that girl on the tape said it?"), but I guess you could be right. Still, it ought to be a much lesser interference than speaking out loud, no?

frenkeld wrote:
Also, doesn't the method also warn against production of sentences before the grammar has been naturally absorbed?


I'm actually not too knowledgeable about the method. What I've written so far is more or less all I know about it. You're probably right about that, though. Forming sentences before it comes naturally might be a bad idea. Luckily, Chinese grammar is so easy I fail to see how residual grammar mistakes might sneak up on you. French, however, is a wholly different animal.

As for silence being frustrating, I mostly meant it for those who want to use their language. At the moment, I'm very content with being silent, as all I want to do with my Mandarin is watch movies. But when I go to China, I'm going to be very frustrated indeed if I can't try out what I know, even if it's only a little. Now imagine learning Thai, living in Thailand, and still having to get by on your English, despite knowing and studying Thai. I'd find that pretty frustrating.

Going ALG all the way is, I think, the only real method for becoming just like a native speaker. If you're moving to a country and planning to stay there for the rest of your life, you might consider it. If you're only going to stay there for a year, you might want to think about having to spend one of those years silent (with regards to the language in question). If you want to learn twenty languages in your lifetime, you might want to think about how much time you're willing to spend on the language. But I do think the method has a lot to teach us. It's a trade-off, quality vs. speed. I'm going for the level where people will tell me "wow, your pronounciation is really good!". I don't feel a need to be confused with a native speaker on the telephone.

But, as I said, if I move to another country, I don't think I'll want to have a foreign accent for the rest of my life, never mind how imperceptible.
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Ari
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 4888 days ago

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

 
 Message 22 of 90
07 April 2007 at 3:02pm | IP Logged 
Oh, and reineke, when it comes to languages you've been forced to speak for a long time, I recall seeing the expression "irrevocable damage" a number of times at the ALG website :)
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slucido
Bilingual Diglot
Senior Member
Spain
https://goo.gl/126Yv
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1296 posts - 1781 votes 
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Speaks: Spanish*, Catalan*
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 Message 23 of 90
07 April 2007 at 3:30pm | IP Logged 
Shadowing has been one of the best advices I have read in this forum.

Ardaschir wrote:
Shadowing can play a role in almost any stage of your relationship with a language. In the very beginning I would suggest a period of using it exclusively, and throughout the actual learning stage it should play the major role.


It seems Ardaschir recommend to speak aloud the language from the beginning.

And childrens' superiority to learn languages is not clear:


http://lmri.ucsb.edu/resources/ncrcdsll/mclaughlin.htm


And here some interesting differences between children and adults:

http://www.zompist.com/whylang.html


Quote:

Why do children learn languages well, when even adults who want to learn them have trouble with them? Innate abilities aside, children have a number of powerful advantages:

They can devote almost their full time to it. Adults consider half an hour's study a day to be onerous.

Their motivation is intense. Adults rarely have to spend much of their time in the company of people they need to talk to but can't; children can get very little of what they want without learning language(s).

Their peers are nastier. Embarrassment is a prime motivating factor for human beings (I owe this insight to Marvin Minsky's The Society of Mind, but it was most memorably expressed by David Berlinski (in Black Mischief, p. 129), who noted that of all emotions, from rage to depression to first love, only embarrassment can recur, decades later, with its full original intensity). Dealing with a French waiter is nothing compared with the vicious reception in store for a child who speaks funny.
If adults could be placed in a similar situation, they might well learn languages as readily (I don't say 'easily'!) as children.



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montyd
Newbie
United States
Joined 4845 days ago

32 posts - 38 votes
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 24 of 90
07 April 2007 at 5:55pm | IP Logged 
I am a great fan of listening in the early stages of learning to as much source material spoken by native speakers at normal speed as possible, but I don't see what possible effect this will have on my speaking ability. Listening and speaking are completely different skills. Different languages have different phonetics. Your vocal chords may need to work differently, your mouth form strange shapes and your tongue do strange things. It takes time to train the muscles and the only way to do that is by speaking aloud. A better trained ear may make you more critical of your own performance but most learners let the two skills develop together.


And if listening helps so much then why do I sing so badly. I must have spent years of my life listening to opera, almost entirely passively, so according to this theory I should be ready to go on stage at La Scala. And why can't I play the piano too. After all, why practise and hit the odd wrong note if just listening works better.


Generally (although there are a lot of exceptions), those who have spent a lot of time perfecting their accent in a foreign language tend to be those who have spent a lot of time learning the vocabulary and grammar too, whereas those with the worst accents also have a fairly limited command of the language. An accent can be worked on and improved just as can other parts of the language, if you want to. It just takes time.


Finally, I distrust any method that has such a high rate of attrition. In any class there are a couple of people who will learn the subject perfectly, no matter how bad the teaching is, a couple who will learn nothing, come what may, and a larger group in the middle who will succeed or fail according to the quality of the teaching. If the only ones who make it to the end are those two top students, then so what. Any other method would have produced more graduates, even if some of them weren't perfect.





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