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 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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 Message 33 of 90
08 April 2007 at 12:19am | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:
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?

Maybe, maybe not, or maybe not much less - I wouldn't want to trust my intuition in this case.

It's hard to assess how likely one is to succeed with ALG, but since most of us will never be able to try its full implementation anyway, perhaps it's not such an important question.

It is, however, interesting that some forum members reported learning to understand a lot of French after several passes of doing nothing but watching French in Action videos. Some of them may have delayed doing anything else until after the videos, and it would be interesting to know how good a pronunciation they ended up with in such cases.

Edited by frenkeld on 08 April 2007 at 12:31am

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 Message 34 of 90
08 April 2007 at 1:21am | IP Logged 
Wow, lots of discussion I missed out on.

First of all, I'm not a proponent of the ALG method. I find it interesting, and it seems reasonable, but I have no experience with it and I don't know that much about it.

My personal anectodal evidence tells me that my pronounciation benefits greatly from listening without speaking. This is how I learned English. I hadn't spoken very much English at all before I went to Chicago for a semester, and my Public Speaking teacher still exclaimed "You have no accent!" after my ceremonial speech (which is, of course, not true. I have a heavy American accent). I attribute all of this to Luke Skywalker and Bruce Willis. They're the ones who taught me English.

A similar thing occured with my French. I took a French class last semester, full time studying. I'd been doing six years of French without learning squat, but I'd spoken it a lot. And I spoke a bit during this class, but I still had fluency problems and not too great pronounciation. Towards the end, there were no classes, just home studying for written tests, so I didn't speak at all. I did, however, watch loads of French movies. Something like three or four a day. Then I got to the final test, the oral exam. And the teacher asked me, surprised: "Have you been studying at home much? You sound so much better!"

Interesting is of course the fact that I had already spoken a lot of French, so I ought to have damaged my future fluency. Maybe I have, I doubt I could pass for a native speaker. But the listening approach definately helped my pronounciation.


With all this in mind, my own approach to the ALG method is still something like this: Listening to a lot of the language before speaking it seems like a sound (haha) idea. In any case, it probably won't hurt. After my silent period, chorusing will probably be my method of choice for getting good pronounciation. Not until after both of these periods will I try to form my own sounds (though I will start to think in the language as soon as possible, to practice forming my own sentences). To me, this seems like the practical version of ALG's rather extreme method.


Oh, and as for their attrition problems, well, I don't really think much about that. My French class had big attrition problems; more than two thirds of the students bailed out before the end. Still, The few who remained had a good command of the language. I learned so much more during that semester than during my six years of high school French (which had a much lower attrition and produced much more graduates). From what I've read, just about anyone who finished the ALG method comes out with more or less native command of the language, something that few, if any, other methods can do.
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Bilingual Diglot
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 Message 35 of 90
08 April 2007 at 11:36am | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:
slucido wrote:
Shadowing has been one of the best advices I have read in this forum.

Shadowing implies that you are reading out loud, along with audio, right? Excellent technique.

For an even more intense focus on pronunciation, you may find closing the book and repeating a sentence, a phrase, a word or even a syllable along with audio more effective. I just set my audio to "auto replay" mode, hit play, and repeat. Every little discrepency is really easy to hear, and allows you to synchronize your voice to the recording, until it's a perfect match. It's biofeedback, which is just awesome! I can usually make my voice match the recording perfectly after only a few reps. During those times, my pronunciation is native. This method is called chorusing.

I agree with you, but "shadowing" is the same you are describing. The first description of the process of shadowing in this forum was here: ID=22&KW=shadowing

Ardaschir wrote:

1) I do not simply "listen," I "shadow." "Shadowing" means that you say what you hear instantaneously (rather than in a pause thereafter, as in the FSI methods), preferably while in motion, at least while pacing your room, but ideally while walking in the woods.

In another thread seems people names it "echoing": ID=410&KW=shadowing

About "chorusing" I found this: =12

And here an interesting article about shadowing from an english teacher:

Shadowing: What it is, and how to do it? adowing.html

Very practical and interesting.

Maybe it's bad to begin speaking the language too soon, but it seems "shadowing" while listening (or listening and reading), it is very good from the beginning.
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 Message 36 of 90
08 April 2007 at 11:56am | IP Logged 
I believe it might be a good exercise after a certain number of hours of listening. I don't believe you'll sound like Homer though :) You wait a second after the first word is uttered? I've actually done that before I heard about "shadowing" for the fun of it. I cannot do it for long though.I get a headache from all the "disharmony" and mixing of voices. Mental shadowing seems more practical.

Chorusing is when you listen, learn the sentence and pronounce it at the same time as the speaker? I've done that too for the grand total of maybe 20 minutes. Maybe the whole point in what I'm writing is that we should experiment and try many things. I find chorusing a bit tiresome. I imagine it would be most practical with something like Pimsleur tapes?

The ALG method might be most practical for related leanguages.

Edited by reineke on 08 April 2007 at 12:17pm

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 Message 37 of 90
08 April 2007 at 12:25pm | IP Logged 
reineke wrote:
when you pronounce it at the same time as the speaker

That's what Ardaschir called "shadowing". I believe slucido is using the term "chorusing" synonymously. In Ardaschir's world, shadowing can go on for several minutes straight, accompanying an audiobook or monologue/dialogue based lesson like Assimil.

Edited by luke on 08 April 2007 at 12:29pm

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 Message 38 of 90
08 April 2007 at 12:54pm | IP Logged 
Thanks, I'll try playing with it. I was thinking of trying the ALG thing too, maybe for Spanish. However some 200 hours of "traditional" work should give me some very good results while with the ALG method I'd need some 1600 hours of listening. Hmmm, do I really care that much about sounding 99% "native" and how badly can I possibly butcher Spanish with a wee bit of care using Pimsleur and having in mind that I already speak Italian? It's Spanish, after all, not Chinese. So this creates a funny situation where ALG seems more appropriate for languages where you need to pay a lot more attention to pronunciation and exactly these languages require a frightful amount of listening time with the ALG method.      
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 Message 39 of 90
08 April 2007 at 1:38pm | IP Logged 
reineke wrote:
Some very interesting reading about brain's response to foreign language learning: .htm

Brain processing of native and foreign languages

We used positron emission tomography to study brain activity in adults while they were listening to stories in their native language, in a second language acquired after the age of seven, and in a third unknown language. Several areas, similar to those previously observed in monolinguals, were activated by the native but not by the second language. Both the second and the unknown language yielded distinct left-hemispheric activations in areas specialized for phonological processing, which were not engaged by a backward speech control task. These results indicate that some brain areas are shaped by early exposure to the maternal language, and are not necessarily activated by the processing of a second language to which they have been exposed for a limited time later in life.

Distinct cortical areas associated with native and second languages

The ability to acquire and use several languages selectively is a unique and essential human capacity. Here we investigate the fundamental question of how multiple languages are represented in a human brain. We applied functional magnetic resonance Imaging (fMRI) to determine the spatial relationship between native and second languages in the human cortex, and show that within the frontal-lobe language-sensitive regions (Broca’s area), second languages acquired in adulthood (‘late’ bilingual subjects) are spatially separated from native languages. However, when acquired during the early language acquisition stage of development (‘early’ bilingual subjects), native and second languages tend to be represented in common frontal cortical areas. In both late and early bilingual subjects, the temporal- lobe language-sensitive regions (Wernicke’s area) also show effectively little or no separation of activity based on the age of language acquisition. This discovery of language-specific regions in Broca’s area advances our understanding of the cortical representation that underlies multiple language functions...

'The bilingual brain: proficiency and age of acquisition of the second language'

Functional imaging methods show differences in the pattern of cerebral activation associated with the subject’s native language (L1) compared with a second language L2 In a recent PET investigation on bilingualism we showed that auditory processing of stories in L1 (Italian) engages the temporal lobes and temporoparietal cortex more extensively than L2 (English). However, in that study the Italian subjects learned L2 late and attained a fair, but not an excellent command of this language (low proficiency, late acquisition bilinguals). Thus, the different patterns of activation could be ascribed either to age of acquisition or to proficiency level. In the current study we use a similar paradigm to evaluate the effect of early and late acquisition of L2 in highly proficient bilinguals.

We studied a group of Italian-English bilinguals who acquired L2 after the age of 10 years (high proficiency, late acquisition bilinguals) and a group of Spanish- Catalan bilinguals who acquired L2 before the age of 4 years (high proficiency, early acquisition bilinguals). The differing cortical responses we had observed when low proficiency volunteers listened to stories in L1 and L2 were not found in either of the high proficiency groups in this study. Several brain areas, similar to those observed for L1 in low proficiency bilinguals, were activated by L2. These findings suggest that, at least for pairs of L1 and L2 languages that are fairly close, attained proficiency is more important than age of acquisition as a determinant of the cortical representation of L2.

This sounds really complex.I tried reading that, but it is difficult with the numerous technical terms.Can you summarize it, and explain it in simpler words?
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 Message 40 of 90
08 April 2007 at 2:02pm | IP Logged 
The last bit is most relevant, I think, as they bothered to find out who studied language actively and who had poor knowledge of it. The desired result for us, language geeks er enthusiasts is to see the same parts of the brain fire up as those of a native speaker. This seems to be the case with the people who had good knowledge of the language. I doubt they all followed the same method. They did mention one caveat though: all subjects spoke two related languages. The most important sentence:

"attained proficiency is more important than age of acquisition"

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