You're doing it wrong

General discussion about learning languages
Cainntear
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Cainntear » Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:12 pm

David1917 wrote:and without sitting the test you do not know what "B1" feels like. I am a self-described "pedant" in that I think it would be easier to only use the scale if you've sat the test, thus preserving the integrity of the term.

Except that's not how the term was intended to be used, and there is no "the" test. The first and least controversial goal of the CEFR was to have everyone using the same terms to describe language competence, to make recruitment easier in European businesses with the increasing mobility of the workforce. At the time, there was no reliable way to determine what translation for an English speaker's "intermediate" French would be in any other European language, as local conventions on levels were rarely compatible (and not even within one language, never mind across languages).

The CEFR is pretty vague, but it wasn't designed to be completely precise -- it was intended to bring a small degree of order to a mostly chaotic system.
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Inst
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Inst » Sun Mar 10, 2019 11:08 pm

MacGyver wrote:So the “The problem with learn x in x months” thread was locked for some reason, I can’t see why. Anyway to follow on from that…

In that thread I was mentioning how some advice had adversely affected my study. Mainly creating a tough schedule without really thinking about the how. Just assuming the learning would take care of itself.

zenmonkey wrote: I'm curious - what kind of program did you buy and what deadlines did they impose that you were missing? Were these self imposed deadlines? Or you were scheduling to spend 2 hrs a day and you were not finding the time?


I didn’t buy anything (other than textbooks). My problem was self imposed deadlines. I didn’t have a target, like achieve B2 in 3 months or anything like that. Rather, I would create a schedule based on I would do one chapter from a given textbook a day. I would do that for multiple resources, so for example Day 1 would be do chapter 1 from X, 2 lessons from freewebsiteY and z number of memrise lessons. Day 2 would be the next chapter, another 2 lessons, and more memrise, and so on.

There was little to no time in there for review, no float for missed days, etc. But my biggest problem was forgetting everything. Words, grammar the lot. I didn’t have a strategy for listening. I would go back and look at a chapter or lesson from a few days ago and I would remember nothing. Basically I was trying to study the same way I would have studied maths. I thought working through a textbook would get me where I wanted to be. Moreover, I didn’t know how to make a textbook work for me like I do now.

The biggest failing, for me, of the learn X in X months mentality was tying things down to a tight schedule.

First you need to learn how to learn, fail a few times to find the methods that do or don’t work for you. I found a far better schedule was to simply aim to do X hours or minutes a day.

What sort of fails or dead ends have you had. I see a language learning world out there full of lifelong beginners and false beginners. Most people here would have moved past that phase a long time ago, but you must have stumbled along the way.



The problem is, without an aggressive schedule, a lot of people end up being lax and not putting up enough effort. What I dislike the most are people who end up studying one language for 10 years and not reaching reasonable proficiency. If it's going to take you 10 years, you're better off either not beginning the language, or finding the opportunity to do it intensively.

What I think, for now, that works, is to try hard, but also forgive yourself when you fall behind. You need to hit the target, but also acknowledge that going over-schedule, from a behavioral economics or psychology perspective, is just how people are; i.e, when they say 2 months, it turns out to be 6 months, when they say 6 months, it turns out to be 18 months.


===

The biggest mistake I've made is between rushing and failing to rush; i.e, if you don't pay enough attention or set aggressive enough targets, nothing gets done. Rushing, on the other hand, if you're on stimulants after a long day, are you really remembering anything or are you just going through the motions?

So what I'm doing instead is prioritizing language learning tasks; i.e, the most mentally intensive tasks get allocated to when my mind is sharp, while grinds get allocated to when I'm tired.
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sporedandroid
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby sporedandroid » Sun Mar 10, 2019 11:27 pm

Inst wrote:The problem is, without an aggressive schedule, a lot of people end up being lax and not putting up enough effort. What I dislike the most are people who end up studying one language for 10 years and not reaching reasonable proficiency. If it's going to take you 10 years, you're better off either not beginning the language, or finding the opportunity to do it intensively.

What I think, for now, that works, is to try hard, but also forgive yourself when you fall behind. You need to hit the target, but also acknowledge that going over-schedule, from a behavioral economics or psychology perspective, is just how people are; i.e, when they say 2 months, it turns out to be 6 months, when they say 6 months, it turns out to be 18 months.

I’ve moved away from achievement type goals and do activity goals instead. So instead of saying I’ll be fluent in three months I’ll make very concrete goals. If I’m having trouble meeting those concrete goals, I’ll figure out why and try to fix it. When I focus more on the process, I’m often pleasantly surprised with the results. If I focus too much on results that’s when I get disappointed and demotivated. Here’s how some of my progress went.

1. Install anki and learn to use it.
2. Find a way to work anki into my daily routine.
3. I’ve noticed I’ve had trouble staying motivated to study anki, what’s going on?
4. I’m running out of word cards and I’m finding sentence cards too hard. It’s just not as straightforward as it used to be.
5. Since you have subs2srs you have a lot of sentences to choose from. Suspend the hard ones and try out easier ones.
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David1917
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby David1917 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 11:41 pm

Cainntear wrote:
David1917 wrote:and without sitting the test you do not know what "B1" feels like. I am a self-described "pedant" in that I think it would be easier to only use the scale if you've sat the test, thus preserving the integrity of the term.

Except that's not how the term was intended to be used, and there is no "the" test. The first and least controversial goal of the CEFR was to have everyone using the same terms to describe language competence, to make recruitment easier in European businesses with the increasing mobility of the workforce. At the time, there was no reliable way to determine what translation for an English speaker's "intermediate" French would be in any other European language, as local conventions on levels were rarely compatible (and not even within one language, never mind across languages).

The CEFR is pretty vague, but it wasn't designed to be completely precise -- it was intended to bring a small degree of order to a mostly chaotic system.


But now that there are tests for various languages, there is an exact way to determine if someone is at such a level. Sure, even at the onset of the CEFR scale's introduction if someone sent me a CV with "B2 Spanish" on it because they completed the Assimil Course which sells itself as such, but when they arrived for an interview couldn't really function in the language, then they would obviously be rejected. But now, if someone sent me a CV that said "B2 Spanish" my first question would be "When did you take the test?" If they had not, (and this is a case where it might be fraudulent to have claimed the level) I would then have to ask for some details on how long they studied Spanish, how much they've used it, if they've ever used it for work before, etc. So again, there becomes no practical difference between terminology used for a self-assessed level. It is, however, possible that Europeans are in general more attuned to what the levels are and what is prudent to claim on a CV. In the US, we always talk about how to "pad" your CV. So in this scenario, my skepticism is especially high.

But again though, I was specifically referring to the use of self-assessment in self-study as it pertains to goal-setting, and how it can create undue stress/frustration on the learner in the context of this thread's original question. If one person followed the DELE Cervantes course up through B2, then their self-assessment would be different (though probably closer to accurate) than someone who did the B2 Assimil course.
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DaraghM
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby DaraghM » Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:15 am

You raise some interesting points, but I'd like to challenge your last comment.

Cainntear wrote:Further, the neurological processes involved in infant learning and adult learning are extremely different. I'm not saying that adults are necessarily less neuroplastic than infants, but that they're differently neuroplastic. Being differently neuroplastic does not necessarily imply that a different learning process is required, but it does meant that we cannot assume by default that the learning processes are appropriate for both.


This is a commonly held belief among some educators, but is it backed up.

Edna Andrews wrote:As a result, we were able to analyze the degree to which fMRI can track language acquisition and derive empirically valid information about the achievements of the subjects in a range of measurements. In terms of understanding the relationship of brain and language, our results fit in with the important findings that proficiency is a more important factor than age of acquisition, and with higher proficiency there are more similarities in the mappings of one’s first and second (or third) languages.


https://today.duke.edu/2017/01/neuroscience-language-learning-why-most-humans-are-bilingual

Could you clarify "differently neuroplastic"? If the same areas of the brain light up in fMRI in proficient L2 speakers and native speakers, how are they different?

Note: I don't hold a strong position on various theories, but genuinely want to tease out the best approach, based on the evidence.

[Edit - For clarity and typos]
Last edited by DaraghM on Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:14 am, edited 3 times in total.
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MrPenguin
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby MrPenguin » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:52 am

Inst wrote:What I dislike the most are people who end up studying one language for 10 years and not reaching reasonable proficiency. If it's going to take you 10 years, you're better off either not beginning the language, or finding the opportunity to do it intensively.

What an absurd thing to "dislike the most". What is wrong about people who have other priorities in life taking a long time to learn a language? Not everyone has the desire to sit around studying for hours every day. If a person enjoys studying a language for a bit once in a while, and takes 20 years to gain reasonable proficiency, what's so bad about that? Telling them that they should just not bother strikes me as gatekeeping. There are many ways to enjoy hobbies. Having an all-or-nothing attitude is, in my opinion, one of the worst ways.

To quote Kató Lomb:
Language is the only thing worth knowing even poorly.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby zenmonkey » Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:02 pm

MrPenguin wrote:
Inst wrote:What I dislike the most are people who end up studying one language for 10 years and not reaching reasonable proficiency. If it's going to take you 10 years, you're better off either not beginning the language, or finding the opportunity to do it intensively.

What an absurd thing to "dislike the most". What is wrong about people who have other priorities in life taking a long time to learn a language? Not everyone has the desire to sit around studying for hours every day. If a person enjoys studying a language for a bit once in a while, and takes 20 years to gain reasonable proficiency, what's so bad about that? Telling them that they should just not bother strikes me as gatekeeping. There are many ways to enjoy hobbies. Having an all-or-nothing attitude is, in my opinion, one of the worst ways.

To quote Kató Lomb:
Language is the only thing worth knowing even poorly.


I'm more of the school "you do you". There's space for intense study and dilly-dallying with languages. There are goal driven learners, task driven learners and there are those that are neither. How others learn is really not something I'm going to examine beyond the idea of understanding if it is somehow relevant for my own studies. Even given 1000 years there are languages I've looked at that wouldn't go beyond the most rudimentary understanding.

It's interesting to see how quickly this thread went from "what I'm doing wrong" to "what is everyone else doing wrong".
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Cèid Donn
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Cèid Donn » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:46 pm

zenmonkey wrote:
I'm more of the school "you do you". There's space for intense study and dilly-dallying with languages. There are goal driven learners, task driven learners and there are those that are neither. How others learn is really not something I'm going to examine beyond the idea of understanding if it is somehow relevant for my own studies. Even given 1000 years there are languages I've looked at that wouldn't go beyond the most rudimentary understanding.

It's interesting to see how quickly this thread went from "what I'm doing wrong" to "what is everyone else doing wrong".


I agree with your "you do you" approach, but I'll take it a step further:

No one signs up to learn a language for the sake of being judged by random people. No one signs up to be a rat in an absurd maze made from others people's projections of anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. That is exactly what the Satirist phrase "Hell is other people" means, and I beg all of you, don't engage in that. It's really not healthy. :|

You know, I'm a "spoonie" and honestly, there is so much on this forum that I just don't have any spoons for and I'm often amazed at the kinds of things other, apparently healthier and more able-bodied people here willingly waste their energy reserves on. Granted, I shouldn't be surprised by this by now, but suffice to say, Shakespeare was on to something when he went and wrote almost 40 plays all on the theme of human folly. :D
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Ser
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Ser » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:49 pm

I feel attacked. I seem to be a fan of doing everything David1917 hates to see other people do. :lol:

Getting back to the original point of the thread, it's difficult to contribute something to this thread past the excellent first reply by zenmonkey early on, but I think a weakness I have that has not been mentioned is that I rely too much on reading and writing and don't practise oral skills enough. It tends to not matter a lot of the time because I'm not a very social person and I don't like to travel—I'd rather find myself reading a book—, but sometimes it does matter.
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David1917
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby David1917 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:12 pm

People have clearly taken what they wanted to from my first post, disregarded the majority of it, and wholly ignored my follow-up remarks. I'm not "attacking" or "randomly judging" or saying "what everyone else is doing wrong." Since every other post is solely autobiographical, and mine is the only one that offered criticism advice, I have to assume that all of these comments are directed at me.

Point "D" in my first post is not to compare oneself to others, the thing that should be shouted from rooftops. The narrative that followed is essentially "you do you."
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