As promised, I've set out my views more thoroughly, and I've done so in a new thread
to avoid continuing the domination of this thread.
What I'm going to say in this thread won't even attempt to undo the thread drift that has occurred so far, though.
tangleweeds wrote:I think we can improve this trainwreck of a thread by melding our current loathing of Duolingo with our historical hatred of Rosetta Stone.
Are their badnesses complimentary? Do you think it would help our theoretical dilettante to use both at once, or would that cause them to forget more language than they had ever known in the first place? (I'd been wondering where this aphasia was coming from...) Sarcasm aside, I'm losing too much time contemplating what profile of learning deficit might result might come via combining our two least effective learning strategies. What do you think?
I'll start with an analogy:
Personal trainer A recommends wearing a 5 kg on a weighted belt when going for a walk.
Personal trainer B recommends wearing 2.5 kg weights on each ankle.
Personal trainer C recommends 2.5 kg wrist weights.
Personal trainer D recommends a 5 kg backpack.
Personal trainer E recommends carrying a 2.5 kg kettle bell in each hand.
If you follow everyone's recommendations, you're following no-one's recommendations, as you've just loaded yourself with a staggering 25 kg of extra weight, when they each only recommended carrying an extra 5 kg.
Of course it's different in language, because cause and effect isn't so clear and straightforward, but we still have limited mental resources, and different tasks present a different cognitive load
. A genuinely good course will be planned and paced to avoid confusion and reduce the cognitive load on the learner. There are many ways to do this which might be similarly effective independently, but might interfere with each other.
For example, I remember reading a suggestion that teaching counting early on was a massive mistake, in that numbers evolve for extreme difference, so you end up introducing a lot of problematic new phonemes in one go. This was discussing Spanish in particular, and proposed that instead of 1,2,3,4... you start with "un" as the article, then introduce "diez" next, and "cien" after, because diez and cien share 2 out 3 phonemes -- the z/c consonant and the ie diphthong. If you use one resource that does and one that doesn't follow that principle, you're going to overall be introduced to all the phonemes at once anyway, despite the goals of the first course/teacher/resource.
Michel Thomas uses a non-traditional order of teaching verb conjugations, introducing endings person-by-person and possibly not even fully covering the present before introducing another tense (not sure -- I can't recall correctly). He reduces the work on your memory by having you only practicing one new thing at a time, rather than 6 or 7. If you use a resource in parallel that does
introduce entire tenses in a oner, then you're going to be thinking about the whole paradigm when you're doing the MT course, not just the words that MT teaches.
If you eliminate the benefit of the reduced cognitive load, then suddenly both strategies above lose most of their benefit, because now you're suffering under the cognitive load, and by practicing part of the knowledge without the other part, you're not actually resolving the cognitive load, because now you're also fighting harder to remember the bit you're not practicing.