Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

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Ser
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby Ser » Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:13 am

iguanamon wrote:My question is in the topic- What is the relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your own individual learning style, if any?

Zero for both.

I think I am rather unfairly influenced by my bad first impression of YouTube polyglots, where two of them came to an old language forum I was in, and I couldn't stand them. One would post cringy videos of himself talking to immigrants very obviously without their permission, and the other had a stratospherically misguided concept of his skills (he'd even "correct" learners' Spanish badly, sometimes writing worse versions than the learners' original attempts...).

I've occasionally watched videos by other polyglots, but generally I haven't found them interesting.

Regarding SLA research, I simply don't read about it. There was one time when I read an undergraduate textbook on SLA (not at school but for fun; I don't recall the title but it was like a collection of essays in a normal non-academic style except for the use of references), and while it was interesting it didn't have much about methods. I remember one essay was basically a philosophical discussion of ideas of what "success" means in adult language acquisition, exemplified with study cases of individuals with inadequate pronunciation and/or grammar who had nevertheless achieved decent success in their lives in L2 environments. Very interesting in social/sociological terms, but still, not about methods.

I seem to be doing well enough as a learner as it is, considering the (not so great) effort I put in most of the time... Introductory textbooks, grammar books, and native input along with a good dictionary (and also, ideally, a translation, which then makes the input an informal bilingual text): all that and I'm good.
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby golyplot » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:07 am

When I first started, internet polyglots were important in convincing me that it was even possible to learn languages as an adult. Ironically, their deceptively optimistic marketing may have been a good thing in that respect! But nowadays I completely ignore them.
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby samothin » Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:10 am

I'm only interested in 2 languages, and I want to reach native level fluency in both of them, so I naturally gravitate towards Matt Vs Japan's Mass Immersion Approach.

I do however listen to lectures by Stephen Krashen, Paul Nation and Steven Pinker in confirming or modifying the approach.
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby guyome » Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:06 pm

I make no use of youtube polyglots videos and SLA studies. Not because I think that what I do is already perfect and that I have absolutely nothing to learn from them but because, from what I've seen, I have little use for what they have to offer. In no particular order:
- I study mainly dead/Classical/minority languages and things like "speak to natives from day one" are not exactly practical
- I started actively studying languages around 2004 (first to get my English to a decent level), at a time when there wasn't that much on the internet. This meant I had to find what worked for me on my own (not that anything I ended up doing is in any way special, of course). Things like using comprehensible input, books you've already read in your native language, etc., seemed like good ideas so I just tried that
- I've had reasonable success using a mix of "old school" textbooks and a lot of passive exposure, so I don't really see the need for a change, especially since a lot of the tips given by youtube polyglots often seem to involve doing the exact opposite
- I'm far too lazy/disorganised to follow any method with consistency, so I switch from one thing to another whenever I want to. It's probably not as efficient as a more organised study plan could be but I've found that staying motivated over time trumps any other consideration
- what I've seen of SLA studies (admittedly limited) gave me the impression that researchers in this field seem to be more interested in confirming their pre-existing theories than in doing honest scientific work.
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby Cainntear » Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:33 pm

Research into SLA isn't generally enough to build a new course from first principles -- it's too low level for that.

Where it comes in handy is when it comes to evaluating the claims supporting specific courses/techniques.

If the claims don't appear to be supported by the findings of SLA research, then there's something wrong.

I always talk about the difference between superficial activities and the real learning, which is what goes on in the learner's mind. If a technique is successful for some but not others, it's because something is going on in the successful learners' heads that isn't happening for everyone else.

Krashenite CI-based teachers claim that the learners who fail are simply not motivated enough or blocked by their expectations of how a classroom should be, or to put it in their own terms, they claim "their affective filter is raised". SLA research suggests otherwise. It suggests that the students who succeed have noticed things, and the students who haven't noticed as much haven't improved as much.

So the superficial activities can lead to success, but the methodology is flawed, because it usually involves explicitly telling students not to think about rules, when the successful students do exactly that.

As part of my CELTA course (4 week programme for teachers of English as a foreign language - TEFL), I had to take an hour or two of absolute beginner's Finnish -- Cambridge want every teacher to have experienced a completely monolingual classroom from the student's point of view. Because the CELTA course talked about not thinking about grammar except in specific grammar lessons, I actively tried to prevent myself thinking about language, to really put myself into the shoes of a student, rather than be my normal "overthinker" self. There were things I couldn't help but consciously notice, and I remembered them, but I struggled more with the things I wasn't thinking about. Most of my classmates did better than me at remembering the words and phrases, and the ones who did best could describe pretty much every feature of the language that had been used during the session.

So yeah... that's where I see the role of research. Evaluating courses, finding explanations for failures as well as explanations for successes that differ from the claims of the people proposing the methods.
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby Ice Blue » Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:48 pm

Zero relevance. I knew from the beginning the way I wanted to study languages: with a maximum of input and little grammar.

I used to watch youtube polyglots videos but haven't done so in a while. Mostly because they seem to be always the same and I'd rather spend my time watching something in my target language. Also, there has been some videos about polyglots going to talk with people on the streets and I remember feeling a bit bad about the fact that those people didn't seem always very at ease.
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby tarvos » Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:56 pm

Zilch, I listen to them for fun and to check out different accents but my study routine is my own :)

I should say that I have met the majority of them though :D
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby Cavesa » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:09 pm

guyome wrote:- I study mainly dead/Classical/minority languages and things like "speak to natives from day one" are not exactly practical

Yeah, finding an Ouija board in cuneiform is tricky :-D

Cainntear wrote:I always talk about the difference between superficial activities and the real learning, which is what goes on in the learner's mind. If a technique is successful for some but not others, it's because something is going on in the successful learners' heads that isn't happening for everyone else.

Yes! When reading some of the findings, I tell myself stuff like: "So, and where are the MRI's of the group?" :-D
Learning is an extremely complicated process that happens in an extremely complicated machine: the brain. Yet, the authors of the papers pretend that those differences are minor, and their method is the main factor affecting the process.

Krashenite CI-based teachers claim that the learners who fail are simply not motivated enough or blocked by their expectations of how a classroom should be, or to put it in their own terms, they claim "their affective filter is raised". SLA research suggests otherwise. It suggests that the students who succeed have noticed things, and the students who haven't noticed as much haven't improved as much.


I've already read such opinions related to other areas of education too. I think it was some of the alternative schools, the teachers of which claimed that the only children not responding well to their dubious methods were those, who had been brainwashed into demanding the traditional stuff before going to school. It is weird that this kind of argumentation is totally acceptable in education. When a mentalist or esoteric says "it doesn't work, because you have negative energy and don't trust me", people laugh. But teachers are allowed to talk about "affective filter raised" without being publicly mocked. What a weird world.

Ice Blue wrote:Zero relevance. I knew from the beginning the way I wanted to study languages: with a maximum of input and little grammar.

I used to watch youtube polyglots videos but haven't done so in a while. Mostly because they seem to be always the same and I'd rather spend my time watching something in my target language. Also, there has been some videos about polyglots going to talk with people on the streets and I remember feeling a bit bad about the fact that those people didn't seem always very at ease.


A question: Is it only my impression, or is this whole "youtube polyglot" phenomenon just an anglophone thing? I have seen a few non-English natives, but they seem to be a tiny minority. Is it only my ignorance, or is majority of these exhibitionists coming from the anglophone countries? And any idea why?
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby rdearman » Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:37 pm

I have met a few of them at various gatherings. Most of the ones I've found to have any useful commentary were normally either members of HTLAL or this forum, or both. Certainly Anthony Lauder (a member here also) was one I rember most fondly since he was doling out real actual practical advice which I could use. Some of the others had the odd bit of good advice. Now days I still watch a lot of YouTUbe, but the people I'm watching tend to be teaching their own language, in their own language. For example:



I don't get much advice from YouTube polyglots (when I have an entire forum full of them I can just ask!) I was never a big fan of talking head videos, although Moses McCorrmick was always interesting to watch.
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby Ice Blue » Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:08 pm

Cavesa wrote:A question: Is it only my impression, or is this whole "youtube polyglot" phenomenon just an anglophone thing? I have seen a few non-English natives, but they seem to be a tiny minority. Is it only my ignorance, or is majority of these exhibitionists coming from the anglophone countries? And any idea why?

I don't think it's only an impression. I remember that the polyglots' videos I watched years ago were all done by native English speakers, at the exception of one or two, maybe. I think youtube is mostly used by English speaking users and so the idea of making polyglot videos has been mostly seen and then copied by other anglophones. Their videos are also probably the ones that attract the most viewers too, and they are given the most visibility so we can also get the impression that they are the only ones making such videos. I haven't given it much thought so I don't really know!
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