Fun experiment: getting started with a language by learning to read aloud without knowing the meaning of the words

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Khayyam
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Fun experiment: getting started with a language by learning to read aloud without knowing the meaning of the words

Postby Khayyam » Fri Sep 30, 2022 3:20 am

I know the Persian alphabet (well enough to recognize letters when I see them, I mean; not necessarily well enough to recall them) and can get a fair idea of how most Persian words sound from seeing them in print. However, my vocabulary is essentially nil. I've decided to try a rather perverse (but to me, very fun) little experiment: I'm going to repeatedly "read" (does it count as reading if you don't know what the words mean?) a short children's story in Persian while listening to a narrator slowly read it, and I'll keep at it until I can say every word along with him, matching his rhythm and pronunciation as closely as possible. Then, I'll read it aloud to myself a bazillion times without the help of the narrator. And only then will I look up the meanings of the words. (There's an English translation on every page, but I'm going to try extremely hard never to glance at it.)

What draws me to this approach, I think, is a desire to sort of recreate the experience of being an infant who's immersed in a language without knowing what it means. I find Persian very smooth and soothing, so it seems like an ideal candidate.

Once I'm done with this project, I tentatively expect that I'll be able to easily recognize all the words I've learned in the story any time I see them from then on.

What do you think? Ever try an approach along these lines?

Edit: I sometimes fear that my posts come across as braggy when I get really excited about what I'm doing. ("Ooh, look at you being so fancy and innovative, Mr. I-Can't-Even-Speak-Two-Languages-Yet!") Know that I'm not necessarily recommending what I'm doing to anyone else, or saying that it's a smart or efficient path. All I'm saying is it's fun and motivating to me.
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Re: Fun experiment: getting started with a language by learning to read aloud without knowing the meaning of the words

Postby jeffers » Fri Sep 30, 2022 11:49 am

Learning like a child as an adult has one problem: you don't have 20000+ hours. However, I do think there is some merit to what you are planning. It should help you develop both an ear for the language and prepare you for speaking. If nothing else, it could be a good way to start.

It doesn't sound fun to me at all, but everyone has their own ideas of fun! :lol:
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Re: Fun experiment: getting started with a language by learning to read aloud without knowing the meaning of the words

Postby Khayyam » Fri Sep 30, 2022 12:01 pm

jeffers wrote:Learning like a child as an adult has one problem: you don't have 20000+ hours. However, I do think there is some merit to what you are planning. It should help you develop both an ear for the language and prepare you for speaking. If nothing else, it could be a good way to start.

It doesn't sound fun to me at all, but everyone has their own ideas of fun! :lol:


Well yeah, I don't expect to actually build my immersion base to learn the language in the same way an infant would. I just want some of the experience of being awash in words without knowing their meaning.
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Re: Fun experiment: getting started with a language by learning to read aloud without knowing the meaning of the words

Postby Cainntear » Fri Sep 30, 2022 12:10 pm

Khayyam wrote:
jeffers wrote:Learning like a child as an adult has one problem: you don't have 20000+ hours. However, I do think there is some merit to what you are planning. It should help you develop both an ear for the language and prepare you for speaking. If nothing else, it could be a good way to start.

It doesn't sound fun to me at all, but everyone has their own ideas of fun! :lol:


Well yeah, I don't expect to actually build my immersion base to learn the language in the same way an infant would. I just want some of the experience of being awash in words without knowing their meaning.

Except it's going to be a totally different experience. Children know the meaning of words long before they can utter them themselves, and you're doing exactly the opposite from that.
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Re: Fun experiment: getting started with a language by learning to read aloud without knowing the meaning of the words

Postby Khayyam » Sat Oct 01, 2022 3:29 am

Cainntear wrote:Except it's going to be a totally different experience. Children know the meaning of words long before they can utter them themselves, and you're doing exactly the opposite from that.


Yeah, you're right--I missed the mark quite badly with that comparison. It would be more accurate to compare this to...maybe meditative chanting? In the first phase, it'll be like a mantra with no meaning, and in the second, it will gain meaning.

I love the beauty of the Persian script and the sound of the language so much that it's really pure pleasure to spend a while hanging out with just those things--no meaning required.

If I were to share a track of myself reading the story aloud before I learned what the words meant, would anyone here who's fluent in Persian be willing to indulge me and tell me how good I sound? It'd be interesting to know if you think I sound like I know what I'm reading. (I guess another way, and probably a cooler way, of doing this would have been to just share the track without revealing that I didn't know what the words meant, and see what responses I got. Oh, well!)
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Re: Fun experiment: getting started with a language by learning to read aloud without knowing the meaning of the words

Postby leosmith » Sun Oct 02, 2022 2:37 pm

Khayyam wrote:What do you think?
I think it's a really bad idea. It's as if you are training yourself to ignore meaning, and that is a dangerous habit to get into. A language learner should be curious, and their mind should constantly be trying to understand things. Giving it zero chance to understand decreases motivation and discourages it from trying.
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Re: Fun experiment: getting started with a language by learning to read aloud without knowing the meaning of the words

Postby ryanheise » Sun Oct 02, 2022 3:23 pm

Khayyam wrote:I just want some of the experience of being awash in words without knowing their meaning.


You might be interested in Alexander Arguelles's shadowing technique, since his first step sounds similar to what you want to do:



The first step, which he calls "Blind Shadowing", involves listening to a short audio and simultaneously repeating out aloud what you are listening to until you feel comfortable producing the sounds. The goal of this step is to pay attention to the sounds and focus on your own production of those same sounds, getting your ears and mouth muscles used to the language. But he also suggests that blind shadowing can take advantage of an interplay between curiosity and memory:

"So yes you're going to start out with slow speech, wondering what the words mean, and the principle there is that if you can become curious (that's why you should stay with the blind shadowing for a while and that's why you should stay with each of these stages before really finding out what things mean), if you can be curious about something, if you can become familiar about it, wonder what it means, and then find out what it means, that's a tremendous boost to your memory. You'll tend not to forget it or have problems with that."
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Re: Fun experiment: getting started with a language by learning to read aloud without knowing the meaning of the words

Postby Khayyam » Sun Oct 02, 2022 4:37 pm

ryanheise wrote:
Khayyam wrote:I just want some of the experience of being awash in words without knowing their meaning.


You might be interested in Alexander Arguelles's shadowing technique, since his first step sounds similar to what you want to do:



The first step, which he calls "Blind Shadowing", involves listening to a short audio and simultaneously repeating out aloud what you are listening to until you feel comfortable producing the sounds. The goal of this step is to pay attention to the sounds and focus on your own production of those same sounds, getting your ears and mouth muscles used to the language. But he also suggests that blind shadowing can take advantage of an interplay between curiosity and memory:

"So yes you're going to start out with slow speech, wondering what the words mean, and the principle there is that if you can become curious (that's why you should stay with the blind shadowing for a while and that's why you should stay with each of these stages before really finding out what things mean), if you can be curious about something, if you can become familiar about it, wonder what it means, and then find out what it means, that's a tremendous boost to your memory. You'll tend not to forget it or have problems with that."


YES! YES YES YES! This is the tree I'm barking up!
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Re: Fun experiment: getting started with a language by learning to read aloud without knowing the meaning of the words

Postby Khayyam » Sun Oct 02, 2022 4:39 pm

leosmith wrote:
Khayyam wrote:What do you think?
I think it's a really bad idea. It's as if you are training yourself to ignore meaning, and that is a dangerous habit to get into. A language learner should be curious, and their mind should constantly be trying to understand things. Giving it zero chance to understand decreases motivation and discourages it from trying.


For me, the "blind shadowing" (love that term) increases curiosity and therefore motivation. Is it possible that you're labelling this boring and demotivating just because it'd be that way for you?
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Re: Fun experiment: getting started with a language by learning to read aloud without knowing the meaning of the words

Postby Khayyam » Sun Oct 02, 2022 5:40 pm

Also, if I had my German-learning experience to do over again, I'd spend more time focusing on pronunciation, rhythm, etc. in the beginning instead of hardly caring about all that as long as I understood what I was reading. When I get into a story, my natural inclination is to forget about everything that slows me down at all. Great for reading comprehension, not great for learning to speak.
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