Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby Serpent » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:11 pm

Ahh I see what you mean. Many of these schools are nothing like immersion schools really. They simply have more English (or French, German) classes and (hopefully) more competent teachers.
I also went to the lyceum affiliated with Moscow State Linguistic University where the language teaching was better than at the university itself ;) We had separate classes for "practical skills", grammar and home reading/culture studies/literature. 6 classes a week (45 min each) plus a lot of homework. Very effective but nothing like immersion.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby aaleks » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:22 pm

Serpent wrote:Ahh I see what you mean. Many of these schools are nothing like immersion schools really. They simply have more English (or French, German) classes and (hopefully) more competent teachers.
I also went to the lyceum affiliated with Moscow State Linguistic University where the language teaching was better than at the university itself ;) We had separate classes for "practical skills", grammar and home reading/culture studies/literature. 6 classes a week (45 min each) plus a lot of homework. Very effective but nothing like immersion.

Yes, it is exactly what I meant :)

I myself went to a non language school where we had two hours of German per week. And of cause, when I graduated from school I had a very poor knowledge of the language :)
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby reineke » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:26 pm

Cavesa wrote:I'd say this is a classical strawman fight.

Noone is against immersion. It is just not the panacea and any guarantee, and there are some dark sides, such as the price/results ratio, which is not always that awesome. But in general, yes the early age and immersion are an advantage. But there still can be problems, mistakes taught, bad methodology, teachers who do more harm than good despite being native. Full immersion, including kids talking among themselves just in the language, with various teachers, with the full enviroment, is actually pretty rare and does sort out most of the problems by the sheer quantity of everything (time, people, resources). Most immersion programs do not go that far. And I am talking more generally than just about Quebec.

But what on earth is all that doing in this thread? It has gone far beyond examples illustrating arguments about fossilization and early speaking.


sfuqua wrote:Immersion has a couple of meanings. In this thread it seems to describe an organized academic program which attempts to maximize a learner's exposure to the target language while studying a language.
This is a far cry from a more general usage, the rather extreme experiences which happen to children of immigrants who are dropped into a school system in the US with no support. Or immigrants who are dropped into an area where there are no other immigrants from their language.
Or me, when Peace Corps dropped me into a village with no support and A1 (at best) skills.
I don't doubt that an academic program which maximizes time on task can be effective, but dropping a learner into an L2 environment with no support can be pretty rough. The loneliness, headaches, and regular embarrassment I experienced has left a bad taste in my mouth for the very word, immersion...
There is no magic to immersion other than time on task. With no support, this time on task may not be effective and may be miserable.
One shouldn't assume that an immigrant who rapidly learns a language has had a good experience. In my case, even when people were nice, being the village idiot for months on end left some bad feelings.
It did motivate me to study...


I have already shared the story of a Chinese-Vietnamese family that moved to the US in the 1980s. Only the two youngest children (who moved to the US aged 5 and 7) achieved native fluency. No one else in the family achieved native or even near-native proficiency. The males received more support. One of the four brothers only attended private schools. Six of the eight children attended college. In response to emk's comment in that other thread, the kids spoke to each other in English. They still do. Everyone watched a lot of English-language television when they were young. The two youngest male siblings were aged 9 and 11 when they moved to the US. Their written and spoken language production is heavily fossilized. The youngest brother is very fluent and can talk about all sorts of adult, advanced topics. His language production is error-ridden and his pronunciation is pretty bad. I had trouble understanding when I first met him. The second youngest brother, who was 11 when he moved to the US, speaks better English. Unfortunately his English is also heavily fossilized. I have met Vietnamese people who moved to the US as adults and whose English sounds a lot better.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby Cainntear » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:38 pm

reineke wrote:In response to emk's comment in that other thread, the kids spoke to each other in English. They still do.

This could be part of the reason for the fossilisation.

The problem in mass immersion settings is that kids learn from the language around them. To the children in such a setting, the errors of their peers aren't seen as errors at all, but simply as part of the language of their peers. Using correct forms is implicitly discouraged in many circumstances because the peers don't understand them.

This ties back to s_allard's point about correction -- because in many cases, the "correction" received from peers is actually an error anyway!

The phenomenon is clearest when you see native-speaking children going into fully or partially immersive schooling with a non-native majority, and they come home picking up their peers' errors. I've seen this with the daughter of an English man in Spain, and with Gaelic-speaking kids in Gaelic-medium schools.

When the early version of the Canadian model was heavy on accuracy, that's something that's not in fashion at the moment.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby aaleks » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:25 pm

reineke wrote: In response to emk's comment in that other thread, the kids spoke to each other in English. They still do. Everyone watched a lot of English-language television when they were young. The two youngest male siblings were aged 9 and 11 when they moved to the US. Their written and spoken language production is heavily fossilized.

It seems they picked up each other mistakes. An English-language television wouldn't be much of help here.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby reineke » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:43 pm

aaleks wrote:
reineke wrote: In response to emk's comment in that other thread, the kids spoke to each other in English. They still do. Everyone watched a lot of English-language television when they were young. The two youngest male siblings were aged 9 and 11 when they moved to the US. Their written and spoken language production is heavily fossilized.

It seems they picked up each other mistakes. An English-language television wouldn't be much of help here.


You may have missed that the youngest two achieved native proficiency. Everyone attended school in the US. The older two brothers sound better than the youngest. What about their writing? They weren't pen pals and I assume that they had to do a lot of writing in school. What I'm seeing here is that early production leads to early automatization. Not everyone crystallizes into a close approximation of the idealized native speaker.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby aaleks » Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:12 pm

reineke wrote:You may have missed that the youngest two achieved native proficiency.

Yes, I got a little confused in the youngests :)

reineke wrote: What I'm seeing here is that early production leads to early automatization.

I agree with you.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby blaurebell » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:50 pm

Can someone explain to me why this thread is all about immersion instead of fossilised mistakes? :roll:
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby tarvos » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:48 pm

s_allard decided to take the thread in other directions.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby Cavesa » Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:47 pm

blaurebell wrote:Can someone explain to me why this thread is all about immersion instead of fossilised mistakes? :roll:

tarvos wrote:s_allard decided to take the thread in other directions.

And all the attempts to change the direction back have been futile so far. We are actually lucky, there were even worse options on the horizon :-D

Is it worth it starting a new thread actually about fossilized mistakes? Or did we exhaust the subject for now during the first third or quarter of this thread?
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