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

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

Postby gsbod » Sun Feb 16, 2020 4:07 pm

It was around 12 years ago when I first started seriously googling "how to learn Japanese". Back then I knew pretty much nothing about language learning, my only real experience prior to that being high school language classes which I'd finished some 8 years before that. It's hard to give an accurate account without being inflluenced by the 12 years of experience I've accrued since then, but I think it's fair to say I took a lot of inspiration from the owner of HTLAL - whose website drew me into the forum in the first place, and AJATT, which in retrospect I have a lot of mixed feelings about, but we've all moved on since then.

I have no interest in watching videos of people making small talk in multiple languages, which rules out one class of youtube polyglot videos from the start. As for their advice videos, unless I need to kill some time, I would just prefer to read something, since it's a more efficient way of getting to the information.

These days, general language-learning advice isn't much use to me anyway. I'm reasonably confident in my own skin (this came more from successful career development than anything else) and I know how to take responsibility for my own learning (a skill that was directly developed through my language learning hobby). I've discovered that I quite like non-digital methods, i.e. the foundation has to be a (paper) textbook, notepad and pen. Where tech has genuinely really helped has been online dictionaries, mp3 players, facilitating access to native materials, and online language exchange (although offline language exchange is much better when available). So this means I'm really not interested in the latest language learning app. I'm also not that interested in optimising (or "hacking") my study - as long as I am getting results that feel proportionate to the effort I am putting in, I am happy.

What does genuinely interest me is much more language-specific. I am always interested in finding out about decent language-specific textbooks which correspond to whatever level I am at. I am also very interested in tips for interesting native materials to watch/listen to/read - something you will never get from a youtube polyglot or SLA studies, but pops up on language forums from time to time.

Also I keep coming back here mainly for the logs. As well as the textbook/native material tips, it's always uplifting to see a success story unfold in real time.
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby Stelle » Sun Feb 16, 2020 4:40 pm

I used to watch videos by youtube polyglots back when I first started learning Spanish, 7 or 8 years ago. I found them very inspiring at first, but I quickly lost interest. The youtubers just didn’t seem to be a very diverse group, and many of the videos served as advertisements for resources that didn’t seem all that useful to me.

I think that youtube polyglots are generally more appealing to new language learners. As a person studies, practices, cobbles together what works for them, and finds their own rhythm, they quickly learn that there’s no “one, true, magic way”.

I much prefer reading language logs here (and formerly on HTLAL).
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby mick33 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:09 am

I used to watch a lot of YouTube polyglot videos just after I joined HTLAL, and found them to be inspirational sometimes. I also found some had good suggestions about resources to use for learning specific languages. After a while though I noticed a few things that bothered me, such as a few of the polyglot channels that I really liked stopped making videos or deleted/changed their channels altogether. The ones who continued to post videos often seemed to be repetitive and the content is usually focused on appealing to total beginners, therefore it is not as helpful to more experienced or advanced learners. I don't keep up with watching most of these people's videos anymore mostly because I decided I could either watch their videos about learning langugages or I could learn languages myself. I mostly do the latter though I do occasionally watch a polyglot video for motivation.

As for SLA research, I haven't read much of it and what little I have read either wasn't relevant to me or went way over my head.
Last edited by mick33 on Tue Feb 25, 2020 4:49 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby Iversen » Tue Feb 18, 2020 7:07 am

Voytek wrote:(...) that Polish guy (Orzeszek) who developed the L-R method.


I have only known the inventor of the L-R method under forum names like Siomotteikiru and a a few more. Have you found his real name somewhere?
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby Voytek » Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:12 am

Iversen wrote:
Voytek wrote:(...) that Polish guy (Orzeszek) who developed the L-R method.


I have only known the inventor of the L-R method under forum names like Siomotteikiru and a a few more. Have you found his real name somewhere?


Yeah, in some old script but it was his nickname. Anyway I didn't like his idea of going really crazy and listening to two target languages audios at the same time. Or he had a really hard time trying to tackle Japanese since the syntax is different from the "European" and of course for its "alphabet"..
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby Cainntear » Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:22 pm

Voytek wrote:I'm referring to that Polish guy (Orzeszek) who developed the L-R method.

At the risk of making myself very unpopular, this is an example of what I hate most about the internet polyglot scene as a whole: the habit of taking a simple idea that has been done a million times before, describing a very specific version of it and wrapping it up in a grandiose title as if it's some wonderful original idea.

It usually involves the word "method" implying that what is in fact just one technique is a single unified path to mastery.

This isn't just an academic objection about style, because this type of presentation actively discourages analysis and discussion of underlying principles. It is given as a unitary, atomic, "thing" -- unable to be broken down or analyses by its component parts -- and often attempt to discuss principles is shrugged in a very circular way: this works for me, if your principle says it's not great, your principle is wrong.

L-R says "I'm a method, do this, only this, from day 1". That seems utterly crazy to me. Most people who talk about L-R in positive terms here do so as an activity that is only one part of a larger system of learning: "I do L-R and add new vocabulary into Anki for revision" is not "the L-R method", because the L-R method is L-R and nothing else; "I do L-R with passages taken from my textbook" is not "the L-R method", because the L-R method is authentic native texts with authentic native voice recordings.

He didn't invent anything. He didn't create anything. He told people to do something a particular way, and practically nobody even tried doing what he actually said. And yet here we are, years later, a bunch of clearly intellectually capable individuals talking as though anything that looks slightly similar to what he did is somehow "his invention". There have been parallel texts since no later than 196 BC. There has been simultaneous reading and listening since the invention of recorded sound (Linguaphone started on wax phonograph cylinders, before even the invention of the gramophone).

His supporting data is "it works for me" and it's caveated with "if it doesn't work for you, it's not for you".

Academics, on the other hand, at least attempt to show it genuinely works for more than one person.
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby Iversen » Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:56 pm

I don't often admit that I have learned anything about language learning from others, but Siomotteikiru/Orzeszek actually did teach me one thing, namely that if you somehow know what is written in a text in a foreign language then you can get something from listening to a reading of it. You may not know the the words yet, but in a weird way the unknown speech sounds seem to organize themselves into something that feels like real language and not just a chaotic stream of uncomprehensible babble. On the other hand I am as sceptical as Cainntear about adopting any complete system as a whole. I always pick out the elements that suit me and ignore the rest, and if somebody tells me that you need to accept the whole package then I just ignore this piece of really bad advice - I'm not the kind of person who accepts anyone as an infallible guru. However as for getting scientific confirmation of the efficiency of any complete method or elements in it... well, ahem ...it would be nice to have, but I doubt that we'll ever get there.

I have been active on HTLAL long enough to have witnessed the original publication of the L_R method. I seized upon one element, namely that you could get a translation of something in a new language and then just start listening, maybe helped by a transcript. And I applied this to some texts in a number of unknown languages (including Farsi) and remember that I felt that I could hear patterns in the speech. But maybe that was an illusion, and the example of Farsi also illustrates another problem, namely that the writing system could prevent you from using a transcript to 'break the code'. The original description of the system also implied that you should listen for up to 80 hours in one stretch to really get under the skin of new language - but who has time and patience for that? And where do you get sufficiently long texts read aloud, transcribed and translated almost literally? 'Free' translations are of course worthless in this respect.

I also tried the system out on Russian, a language in which my skills at the time were restricted to the alphabet and maybe a thousand words and a smatterign of grammar. But here I at least could read the letters, and I chose Bulgakov's Master and Margherita as my model text, but already after a couple of chapters I was close to vomiting because of the histrionics of the reader - some kind of actor I suppose. Maybe a neutral machine voice would have served me better, but I concluded that it wasn't practically possible to collect the three obligatory items in sufficiently long and vomit-proof versions to really test the L_R system as described by Sio - and there I left the testing. The main longterm gain I got from this experience was that I refined my 'listen-as-a-bloodhound' technique where you listen for linguistic structures rather than for meaning in order to get a foothold in a new (spoken ) language. And that is enough for me, but of course the value of this technique has never been confirmed at a scientific level (as little as the L-R system). If we only could employ methods that have been through such a test then we could just as well drop all language learning and start munching cookies while watching X-factor.
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby ryanheise » Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:47 pm

Cainntear wrote:At the risk of making myself very unpopular

[...]

His supporting data is "it works for me" and it's caveated with "if it doesn't work for you, it's not for you".

Academics, on the other hand, at least attempt to show it genuinely works for more than one person.


It looks like you're actually getting a lot of love, so don't worry ;-)

However, I think it makes no sense to hold members of the language learning community, bloggers and vloggers, to the standards of academics. The language learning community has its own informal and non-academic way of sharing ideas which, when viewed through academic eyes could be easily misconstrued as irresponsible assertions of scientific fact when it's more accurately just a point of view based on personal experience. I think most people recognise it for what it is, because normal people (non-academics) have a lot of experience hearing how other normal people speak, and we know when we're not listening to a scientist. Even without all the academic rigor (large sample sizes, years of research, peer review), there is value in hearing points of view derived from the personal experiences of people who have mastered a skill. Outside of the academic world, the mutual sharing and trying out of ideas becomes our alternative way to get a large sample size, and rather than a single author (or small set of authors) doing that before sharing the information, we the readers agree to willingly take it upon ourselves to try things out and experiment. The academic way is not the only way we can find something that works for us.

It is a losing battle to want bloggers to utter only sentences that would be accepted by an academic, and I would not want that anyway. Yes, academic language is more rigorous and reliable, but it is also 1) often more difficult to read, 2) at least 1000's of times slower to produce, and 3) generally dull. The research I would personally love to use doesn't exist yet, so the fallback option is to use the community of language learners and use my own critical thinking to assess what methods would suit me. (By the way, here I am using "methods" and "techniques" interchangeably because I am not writing a formal journal paper right now, and I'll assume the reader can think critically.)

Now, I might agree with you only to the extent that it would be nice if bloggers who write articles sharing their methods wouldn't say things like "research shows that ..." in order to appeal to authorities that they often may not understand. But one of the most responsible things that one of these bloggers could say is that "It worked for me, but it's not for everyone."
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Re: Relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your learning style

Postby Kraut » Tue Feb 18, 2020 4:17 pm

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

Postby IronMike » Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:04 pm

I started my language learning journey back in the day before Youtube, or any of this internet stuff, or cell phones, or CDs, etc...

Thus I have a pretty good idea of what works for me and what doesn't. So why watch a youtuber?

As to SLA studies, I read them back when I was doing my thesis on an SLA topic, but no longer.

For both of these questions, the real consideration for me is time. I have so little time and too many hobbies/languages that I want to work on. I don't need to watch someone tell me how to study a language. SLA studies, besides getting access to them, are just too long and wordy to read. And perhaps they won't even pertain to me, rather to beginner L2 studiers. Again, why spend the time?

Frankly, more worth my time is reading this forum. L-R for me was new and I learned about it here. Hell, the multi-track approach (thank you iguanamon) was my sloppy piece-meal studying put onto 'paper' and I wouldn't have discovered it without this forum. And the most beneficial is all the work you good people are doing finding resources, so I don't have to. Time well spent.

tl; dr: No. No. Thanks everyone for doing all the work for me!
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