Names of subforums
Posted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 1:58 am
I've always been a bit confused about the names and descriptions of the top two subforums:
General Language Discussion
General discussion about learning languages
Practical Questions and Advice
Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
"General language discussion" sounds like the discussions are about languages themselves, but the description suggests it's about the process of learning them. Meanwhile, "Practical questions and advice" sounds like it'd be for questions about anything to do with either learning or languages themselves, but the description says it's specifically about individual target languages (?).
For the most part I just treat both as the same thing, but I wonder whether, judging from the descriptions, it'd be better to rename them "General language learning discussion" (or even just "General language learning") and "Practical language questions and advice" (or alternatively without the word "practical").
Re: Names of subforums
Posted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:00 pm
The forum names were a direct transfer from HTLAL in the beginning of this forum. It was what we were accustomed to at the time.
General Language Discussion was for interesting articles people had seen about language-learning or aspects of languages; discussion about language-learning in general- frustrations; time spent studying; the importance of "fun" for example. Great academic discussions also took place among the more learned of our members, those with a background in linguistics.
Practical Questions and Advice was for more specific questions, such as: The merits of Pimsleur; How best to use Assimil; Is FSI German too old to be worthy; Has anybody used the new X course or app?; How do I learn to listen to audio?; How do I best manage my Anki deck?; etc.
To me, the subforums have always been about where to post and not where to read. To browse the forum I do so through active topics. In this way, I see all the discussions from General Language Discussion, Study Groups and Language logs, etc. without having to click on each one individually.
In the past, at HTLAL, when I first joined in 2010, the General Language Discussion area was the most active discussion forum. Cristina would routinely post interesting topics for discussion which aptly fit the name of the subforum, like: Why do you like learning languages? What's your favorite course?; What reactions do you get from others?; etc.
We started getting away from that as the forum became more about learning languages than talking about them. A lot of the discussion started moving to the logs area as people could see what others were doing in real time, get advice and tips and see strategies play out. The General Discussion started to receive less traffic and participation. Many of the most interesting posters moved on and away from the forum to their own platforms and we are where we are now. In a sense, the log area gives members their own platform.
Could the General Discussion get reinvigorated? We certainly still have knowledgeable members capable of carrying on such discussions as in the past, but the will to create the topics that drive the discussion doesn't seem to be there as much these days. Perhaps because many of those topics have been discussed already and are not new anymore. When I first joined HTLAL, the DLI courses were just coming to be available online via "Fat Tony"; LR was a technique few had heard of; SRS was becoming a thing. Many newcomers to language-learning back then didn't have a clue about how to self-learn a language.
Interest in language-learning is still there but people have more places to go to look for how to start the process. I think where we fit into the mix best is in being able to provide guidance and clarity to the cacophony of language prophets out there, be they youtube polyglots; language apps or bloggers. The forum is one of the few places where members can come and get real-time advice delivered and tailored to them in a personal manner. Instead of a random redditer- people can see where and who the advice comes from. I'd rather take advice from one of our advanced members here than someone with a shaky A2 in one language and maybe an A1 in two other languages somewhere else. So, I think the forum still has a good use, but I do miss the days when the General Language Discussion was more interesting and the debates were invigorating.