How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

General discussion about learning languages
Cavesa
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Cavesa » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:29 pm

tangleweeds wrote:
However, I wouldn't be such a pessimist concerning the vaccine. The one developed in Oxford and now tested in Brazil looks promissing, the Lancet is the most reliable journal there is.
My concern is that we have never successfully made a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine. For example, they were pushing a feline coronavirus vaccine in the '90s to prevent FIP, which is fatal and nasty. But that vaccine is no longer available, because while it protected 90% of the cats from FIP, the other 10% suffered an exacerbated cytokine storm and died.


You're absolutely right, there are many risks. But the world has never been more motivated to spend efforts and money on this. We've finally realised that we are not untouchable. Not just the poor people in the developing world, but also us, in the rich countries with our hygiene standards for food, plumbing at homes, and access to healthcare. Before this moment, nobody gave a real damn. We had been warned this would happen. The epidemiologists fifteen years ago were warning us in the prestigious journals, the activists were trying to alarm others, and so on. Nobody gave a s..t until we, the lords of the world, have started dying too. We all know motivation is the key. Just like a learner studies differently for fun and differently to avoid starving in a new country, the same is true about the science support by the society and governments.

Btw as we were discussing that Duo has replaced RS in the public discourse: RS seems to be relancing. They are probably motivated by the quaranteen learners. I am bombarded by their ads on FB, web, and so on. The RS comes from various channels, and is impossible to just block (as it is always advertised through a different medium, blog, newspaper,...). And when I block the ad and FB asks why, I sorely miss a button "the product is trash" :-D
And Rosetta has drastically dropped their prices, to where, while still overpriced for the relative ineffectiveness of what you get, they're now *less* expensive that a number of other programs I'm running across in my explorations of currently available Japanese resources.

Full disclosure: A friend bought me the lifetime full access RS membership at the discounted price, and I enjoy playing with it more than I do Duolingo. I'm unsure how much I'm actually learning, but I do feel it helps re-enforce things I've learned elsewhere. It's pleasant to play with when I'm tired or it's much too hot to think--I enjoy clicking on the pretty pictures. I do believe they've improved both the diversity and cultural relevance of their photos, and I am impressed with how the photos are dynamic, compelling, and clearly relevant to whatever they're trying to reenforce.

But I don't think it's useful as a primary teaching resource, or necessarily worth what they charge unless you're getting the full access membership and using it to re-enforce a *lot* of different languages--which might be true for some people here. I think it might be useful for someone who didn't want a back-burner language to fade out entirely, but didn't have a lot of mental energy to put into it (and had $200 in pocket change to divest themselves of).


Yes, the RS has found their only chance to regain a part of the public. Everything about it is still true, but if you enjoy it as a fancy flashcard program (which is how some llorgers have been using it for languages like Tagalog), great.

Given their new price strategy and my new salary, I could actually afford it. But no, it is still not worth it to me. But perhaps I'll change my mind, when I need a ton of flashcards with audio for a less popular language. I'd say the fall of Duolingo has made me a little bit more open minded about the RS :-D :-D :-D And perhaps the prices of some other resources too. When I was exploring the available resources for Hebrew, I was shocked by the prices. Or when I saw a totally generic language coursebook worth 25 euro, but meant for the american universities at the price of 150 dollars. Wow. I cannot understand that at all.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby tangleweeds » Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:31 pm

Cavesa wrote:We've finally realised that we are not untouchable. Not just the poor people in the developing world, but also us, in the rich countries with our hygiene standards for food, plumbing at homes, and access to healthcare. Before this moment, nobody gave a real damn. We had been warned this would happen. The epidemiologists fifteen years ago were warning us in the prestigious journals, the activists were trying to alarm others, and so on. Nobody gave a s..t until we, the lords of the world, have started dying too. We all know motivation is the key. Just like a learner studies differently for fun and differently to avoid starving in a new country, the same is true about the science support by the society and governments.
Absolutely true, and so very, very frustrating to anyone with the political and/or medical/scientific background to understand how those in power failed to fund necessary research until they themselves were at risk. Plus a very apt analogy there at the end!

Yes, the RS has found their only chance to regain a part of the public. Everything about it is still true, but if you enjoy it as a fancy flashcard program (which is how some llorgers have been using it for languages like Tagalog), great.
I find it interesting, though, to explore how big players like RS and Duo go about making language study palatable to people like the average monolingual American who never actually learned to study at school. As mentioned above, a huge number of my co-alums teach in higher ed here in the US, and are appalled at how unprepared most of their students are. So how do you make language study appealing to such an audience, if you must do so in order to make a profit?
- Gamification? (this actually irritates me so I ignore it, but many seem to enjoy it)
- Pretty pictures? (yup, check, I'm a sucker for this one)
But it needs to be Quick'n'Easy all around though, or Americans won't buy it. Acquiring anything I want around here requires dodging a minefield of Quick'n'Easy, from cookbooks (as an artisan baker, I was a skilled member the culinary industry, so no thank you) and knitting patterns (I knit intricate lace out of tiny yarn to block rumination when depressed, complex enough to cause annoying mistakes and unraveling if I get caught up in my default mode network) to, well, language study (and so here we find ourselves).
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby kanewai » Fri Aug 07, 2020 6:17 am

tangleweeds wrote:I find it interesting, though, to explore how big players like RS and Duo go about making language study palatable to people like the average monolingual American who never actually learned to study at school. As mentioned above, a huge number of my co-alums teach in higher ed here in the US, and are appalled at how unprepared most of their students are. So how do you make language study appealing to such an audience, if you must do so in order to make a profit?
I think a lot of people genuinely want to learn, though. Part of my irritation with Brand X (formerly RS, now DL, it will be something else tomorrow) is that it's one more barrier for new learners to get past. It has practical implications for me. I'm still planning on leading a team to a conference in Marseille next January (assuming we're even allowed into France), and everyone is trying to brush up on their French ... and every single one is using DuoLingo. I've tried to gently push them to try a dozen alternative methods, but DL is just too comfortable for them.

But I can't judge too much. I had to fail at learning with a bunch of Learn French in Your Car in Just Five Minutes a Day! programs before I finally sucked it up and tried a more rigorous approach. I want my friends & other new learners to learn from the mistakes I made, but they won't. They never do.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Cavesa » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:06 am

tangleweeds wrote:
Yes, the RS has found their only chance to regain a part of the public. Everything about it is still true, but if you enjoy it as a fancy flashcard program (which is how some llorgers have been using it for languages like Tagalog), great.
I find it interesting, though, to explore how big players like RS and Duo go about making language study palatable to people like the average monolingual American who never actually learned to study at school. As mentioned above, a huge number of my co-alums teach in higher ed here in the US, and are appalled at how unprepared most of their students are. So how do you make language study appealing to such an audience, if you must do so in order to make a profit?
- Gamification? (this actually irritates me so I ignore it, but many seem to enjoy it)
- Pretty pictures? (yup, check, I'm a sucker for this one)
But it needs to be Quick'n'Easy all around though, or Americans won't buy it. Acquiring anything I want around here requires dodging a minefield of Quick'n'Easy, from cookbooks (as an artisan baker, I was a skilled member the culinary industry, so no thank you) and knitting patterns (I knit intricate lace out of tiny yarn to block rumination when depressed, complex enough to cause annoying mistakes and unraveling if I get caught up in my default mode network) to, well, language study (and so here we find ourselves).


kanewai wrote: I think a lot of people genuinely want to learn, though. Part of my irritation with Brand X (formerly RS, now DL, it will be something else tomorrow) is that it's one more barrier for new learners to get past. It has practical implications for me. I'm still planning on leading a team to a conference in Marseille next January (assuming we're even allowed into France), and everyone is trying to brush up on their French ... and every single one is using DuoLingo. I've tried to gently push them to try a dozen alternative methods, but DL is just too comfortable for them.

But I can't judge too much. I had to fail at learning with a bunch of Learn French in Your Car in Just Five Minutes a Day! programs before I finally sucked it up and tried a more rigorous approach. I want my friends & other new learners to learn from the mistakes I made, but they won't. They never do.


You're right that there are some good effects of language learning being seen as more accessible, but I agree with Kanewai. Unfortunately, both Duo and RS have become much more of an obstacle than help for most of these learners. They are turning people with some motivation and definitely sufficient intellect for real learning into failures.

One of the most toxic elements of their approach is the bad approach to gamification, already described by others on this forum (more rewards for easy stuff, while any good real game rewards you more for the difficult stuff). And the small but extremely impactful bits like the Green Owl congratulating you on the hard work of having answered 5 questions! That's ridiculous and it sets people up for failure, as they have no clue what real hard work on a language is.

You're absolutely right about the "Quick'n'easy" attitude. However, I am not that sure how much true is the "the americans wouldn't learn otherwise" argument. Or rather, wouldn't it be better, if the lazy ones didn't learn and stopped motivating the market to produce low quality resources?

How to make the americans learn like everybody else? Start demanding it from it. Obligatory B1ish high school leaving exam like in most countries, employers expecting people to know at least one foreign language to a level appropriate for the job, and so on. That's the key difference. Most people in other countries are just motivated to learn in any way available, because their quality of life is much more affected. If the americans get before the choice "stay poor and uneducated, or treat languages like an important subject too", they'll start learning en mass too.

The Duo or RS would be great as the gateway for the new learners, if they were very clear about the goals "this is a beginner's course, the point is to finish and move on". But that's not what they're doing.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby iguanamon » Fri Aug 07, 2020 1:24 pm

Cavesa wrote:...I am not that sure how much true is the "the americans wouldn't learn otherwise" argument. Or rather, wouldn't it be better, if the lazy ones didn't learn and stopped motivating the market to produce low quality resources?

How to make the americans learn like everybody else? Start demanding it from it. Obligatory B1ish high school leaving exam like in most countries, employers expecting people to know at least one foreign language to a level appropriate for the job, and so on. That's the key difference. Most people in other countries are just motivated to learn in any way available, because their quality of life is much more affected. If the americans get before the choice "stay poor and uneducated, or treat languages like an important subject too", they'll start learning en mass too.

Most Americans have no practical use for learning a language in an economic sense. Their jobs do not depend on having a second language nor will their job prospects be measurably improved or diminished domestically by learning a foreign language. We are fortunate (unfortunate) in having our language be the defacto international language already. I can make an analogy between Europe and America, as an American who has lived and traveled extensively there. The Czech Republic is located in Central Europe and it's size would be roughly comparable to Mississippi in the US. When a Czech travels outside of their country, they run into other languages immediately- German, the closely related Slovak, and the less closely related Polish. Going farther away from the bordering nations one encounters Hungarian; Croatian; Italian; French; etc. All of these are within driving distance and passport-free travel.

When an American who lives in Mississippi wants to enjoy a vacation at the beach, they can stay within their own state and drive to the Gulf Coast. The language and culture stay the same. When a Czech wants to enjoy a beach holiday, they go to the Adriatic or the Mediterranean where there will be several languages and cultures.

If a Czech wants to seek better job opportunities within the EU, they will have to learn another language... or two. If a Mississippian wants better job opportunities in the US, they do not have to learn another language.

Americans are this way, not because they're lazy , but because most have no practical use for a second language in work or travel or to consume media. Americans will not have a lower quality of life or be poorer because they do not know a second language. My brother-in-law, a monolingual, makes a lot more money than I do and he doesn't have an objectively lower quality of life than I do, or the rest of my family. Maybe if we didn't have our own quality media, if almost all films, popular music and television came from say, Norway and they were all subtitled in English... if we were exposed to Norwegian from birth every time we turned on the TV, went to the cinema, or turned on the car radio or streamed music... we'd probably be good at comprehending Norwegian.

An American, like myself, learns a second language for their own reasons which mostly are not economic or quality of life issues. I could life my life perfectly well here without knowing Spanish, Portuguese, Creoles or Ladino or Catalan. If I were living in a nation in mainland Europe, I would be much more limited as a monolingual. This doesn't mean that Americans don't want to learn a second language anyway, many have this desire but don't know how to go about it or what to do with what they've learned. They are also hampered by attempting to use their poorly acquired language with native-speakers who then respond in English, giving them credence to the belief that "everyone speaks English", even though we know it's not true. Imagine if after learning French, English, Spanish, Italian or German that every time you spoke it while you were traveling, that most people would respond to you in Czech. Imagine how demotivated you would be in learning if, in order to be spoken to in a second language, you had to prove your command of the language every time in order not to be spoken to in your native language. I know you have had your struggles in France as an immigrant even with C2 French, but if someone switches to English with you, you at least have the option of pretending not to speak it.

So, Americans do not need a second language to live a good life. If they do make the effort to learn one most do not have an easy and practical way to use what they have learned without traveling far away. If they do want to use their second language in large European cities, they're likely to be responded to in English anyway. This doesn't spark a lot of enthusiasm for learning.

Cavesa wrote:...The Duo or RS would be great as the gateway for the new learners, if they were very clear about the goals "this is a beginner's course, the point is to finish and move on". But that's not what they're doing.

From an American marketing perspective, selling to the masses, this would unnecessarily diminish a company's profit returns. People want an easy solution to complex problems. Most do not want to have to work too hard. RS and Duo give people that false sense of accomplishment for significantly less effort. Learning a second language is hard for a monolingual from an area where their exposure to, and use for, other languages in their life is minimal. People have the desire to learn a second language but soon run up against the reality of what it takes to learn a language... which is why used language courses for English-speakers are almost always in great condition... especially after the first 10 lessons. Giving people a dumbed-down learning system may not be what they need to really learn a second language but it can give them an easy to gain confidence that they are "learning"... at least something.

If the RS ad was "Hey, buy this and you'll learn some words and phrases in language X in an easy and fun way, but you'll still need to go through years of learning with grammar work, reading, writing, listening, speaking!" They wouldn't sell very much. Selling the illusion of learning is a better marketing ploy than selling the reality of learning a language. I have the same argument with Pimsleur. Their marketing hype is selling the same illusion. To me, it's useful along with a more thorough course. People who buy it thinking it will, on its own, teach them the language to a high level are headed for disappointment. People who think any course will do this for them are wrong too. It's a good start. It's why we all end up cobbling together a multitude of resources over time in order to successfully learn a language.

I know that this may come off looking as if I am defending not learning languages. I'm just stating why things are the way they are in my country. I guess sometimes, I just get tired of Europeans criticizing Americans for not being more adept at languages as they themselves are. There are reasons for this, and most of them are not laziness or arrogance.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Cavesa » Fri Aug 07, 2020 2:19 pm

iguanamon wrote:...

There is no reason to be so patronising. I am actually rather ok at geography (unlike vast majority of americans, I dare guess). It's just about what is considered to be the point of education and the demanded standard. Most people have to achieve a certain standard in many subjects they won't directly need, just to pass their highschool exams, for example. For some weird reason, the americans don't think languages are on that list. If we accepted that education is just preparation for the bare minimum you'll need to earn money, we could just get rid of half the curriculum of most subjects. And to get rid of some of them completely.

Also, don't forget that education is also meant to turn people into full value citizens with enough information to live in their society and vote for their politicians. From this point of view, the Americans should be held to a much higher standard in foreign languages, geography, and general culture, as your votes actually matter. A vote of any Czech doesn't matter that much, because our representants are worthless in today's world and have no real power (I mean outside. Inside the tiny country, they've got too much of course). Perhaps your nation wouldn't continually make such a mess in various international issues, if the general population cared a bit more about the billions of people outside of its country. And foreign language learning has a crucial role in this sort of awareness.


An American, like myself, learns a second language for their own reasons which mostly are not economic or quality of life issues. I could life my life perfectly well here without knowing Spanish, Portuguese, Creoles or Ladino or Catalan. If I were living in a nation in mainland Europe, I would be much more limited as a monolingual. This doesn't mean that Americans don't want to learn a second language anyway, many have this desire but don't know how to go about it or what to do with what they've learned. They are also hampered by attempting to use their poorly acquired language with native-speakers who then respond in English, giving them credence to the belief that "everyone speaks English", even though we know it's not true. Imagine if after learning French, English, Spanish, Italian or German that every time you spoke it while you were traveling, that most people would respond to you in Czech. Imagine how demotivated you would be in learning if, in order to be spoken to in a second language, you had to prove your command of the language every time in order not to be spoken to in your native language. I know you have had your struggles in France as an immigrant even with C2 French, but if someone switches to English with you, you at least have the option of pretending not to speak it.


I don't have to imagine this, they just respond in English (which is just as worthless for practice to me, as if they were responding in Czech). It is discouraging. But unlike me, the anglophones have actually caused this. And they can get out of the situation (more or less unpleasantly) just like me.


So, Americans do not need a second language to live a good life. If they do make the effort to learn one most do not have an easy and practical way to use what they have learned without traveling far away. If they do want to use their second language in large European cities, they're likely to be responded to in English anyway. This doesn't spark a lot of enthusiasm for learning.

You seem to not realize some of the differences. A monolingual czech can have a "good life" too. They won't starve. But even if it is so, they'll still be considered inferior. If the US manages to finally change the mind set and consider monolinguals uneducated (and treat them accordingly), the popularity of language learning will rise. If the americans want to be a world power, you should actually hold your society to a higher standard, not lower. It was scary, when some dumb americans after the Boston attacks were confusing the Czech Republic and Chechnya publicly, and calling for my country to be bombarded. It is scary, when your tv stations mistake which city lies on which continent, and when your president is clueless about other countries. A country with such powerful citizens (they vote, and any of them can fulfill their american dream and have power in our world) should simply force everyone except for people with certain types for health conditions to be interested in a foreign language or two, geography, and world history. These things are very closely tied.


Cavesa wrote:...The Duo or RS would be great as the gateway for the new learners, if they were very clear about the goals "this is a beginner's course, the point is to finish and move on". But that's not what they're doing.

From an American marketing perspective, selling to the masses, this would unnecessarily diminish a company's profit returns. People want an easy solution to complex problems. Most do not want to have to work too hard. RS and Duo give people that false sense of accomplishment for significantly less effort. Learning a second language is hard for a monolingual from an area where their exposure to, and use for, other languages in their life is minimal. People have the desire to learn a second language but soon run up against the reality of what it takes to learn a language... which is why used language courses for English-speakers are almost always in great condition... especially after the first 10 lessons. Giving people a dumbed-down learning system may not be what they need to really learn a second language but it can give them an easy to gain confidence that they are "learning"... at least something.

If the RS ad was "Hey, buy this and you'll learn some words and phrases in language X in an easy and fun way, but you'll still need to go through years of learning with grammar work, reading, writing, listening, speaking!" They wouldn't sell very much. Selling the illusion of learning is a better marketing ploy than selling the reality of learning a language. I have the same argument with Pimsleur. Their marketing hype is selling the same illusion. To me, it's useful along with a more thorough course. People who buy it thinking it will, on its own, teach them the language to a high level are headed for disappointment. People who think any course will do this for them are wrong too. It's a good start. It's why we all end up cobbling together a multitude of resources over time in order to successfully learn a language.

I know that this may come off looking as if I am defending not learning languages. I'm just stating why things are the way they are in my country. I guess sometimes, I just get tired of Europeans criticizing Americans for not being more adept at languages as they themselves are. There are reasons for this, and most of them are not laziness or arrogance.


Yes, I have no problem with the people not in need (or not wanting) to really learn a language buying a mass course. What I find rather bitter is the marketing power, that turns this trash into the standard. You have no clue how much do the americans affect the rest of the world. You've described yourself how much more does a Czech need to learn a language than an American. The problem is, that the Czech is trusting Duolingo too nowadays, due to its marketing.

You're absolutely right about the issue with the coursebooks being used at the beginning, and the rest is in pristine condition :-D

You're also right about Duo and RS giving people the false sense of accomplishment and sell an illusion. But I find that to be the worst problem. It fuels one of the most common reasons for giving up, the famous "I've been learning for years and still suck. It is impossible" attitude. It used to be just the result of school classes, now it is also the result of Duo and other such resources. And it also lower the achievement of the actually successful learners, in the eyes of many non learners. They think we've just been playing with Duo.

I think we disagree on something more, than just whether the americans not learning languages are arrogant (but I'd say yes, your society as a whole is arrogant about this). It is about the values. What is the purpose of education? If it is to just make people useful to an employer, then you're absolutely right. There is no reason why a standard american in the middle of nowhere should learn a language (or geography, history, music, or much or literature, or even much of chemistry). But if education is meant to help people become better people, informed enough to live in our world, then languages (and other areas too) are essencial.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby jmar257 » Fri Aug 07, 2020 3:08 pm

Cavesa wrote:Also, don't forget that education is also meant to turn people into full value citizens with enough information to live in their society and vote for their politicians. From this point of view, the Americans should be held to a much higher standard in foreign languages, geography, and general culture, as your votes actually matter.

I agree we need to improve our education system...but how do you propose we someone legislate everyone to fluency in another language? Most Americans have to take foreign languages to graduate high school, and a lot have to take more in college. Language classes without any exposure outside of the class are pretty ineffective, and as iguanamon said, there's a proliferation of English language media in the world. You have to make a conscious effort to expose yourself to other languages here, and for most people there's just not a good enough reason to. Why struggle through understanding a foreign TV show when all your friends are watching and talking about an American show? Or why struggle through watching La Casa de Papel in the original when there are good English dubs? For most people the juice isn't worth the squeeze, so to speak.


If the americans want to be a world power, you should actually hold your society to a higher standard, not lower.

We already are a world power.

It was scary, when some dumb americans after the Boston attacks were confusing the Czech Republic and Chechnya publicly, and calling for my country to be bombarded. It is scary, when your tv stations mistake which city lies on which continent, and when your president is clueless about other countries.
Can the average European point to Idaho on a map? Do you know the capital of New York state? Americans not knowing about other countries annoys me too, but lets not pretend like it's solely confined to America.

I wish more people were (seriously) interested in foreign languages as well, and try to promote it among my friend group and give people advice if they want it. But growing up speaking the global lingua franca is a blessing and a curse.


Edit: I'd knew I'd something like this before
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9GNf51_NvU

But I find that to be the worst problem. It fuels one of the most common reasons for giving up, the famous "I've been learning for years and still suck. It is impossible" attitude. It used to be just the result of school classes, now it is also the result of Duo and other such resources.
I've heard someone say they liked Duo because they learned more than they did in school...that's like saying "jogging half a mile got me in better shape than sitting on my couch". Yes but...you're still not doing much. And eventually they'll probably do exactly what you described when they actually try to use the language.


I think we disagree on something more, than just whether the americans not learning languages are arrogant (but I'd say yes, your society as a whole is arrogant about this).
How so? Just because we don't need to? (Need being used very loosely; I realize a Czech doesn't "need" to learn another language, but the benefits for them learning German or French far outweigh an American doing the same, in terms of employment and entertainment/travel). There's definitely people who think everyone speaks or should speak English, but if that's the boogeyman you're talking about, they're less common than stereotypes would have you believe. I live in the South and know plenty of people who think learning another language is a good idea (whether or not they do it seriously themselves; this includes people who think you should speak English if you're moving here*).


*Not "everyone should speak English all the time in the US", but "if you move to an Anglophone country you should be serviceable in English"
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby iguanamon » Fri Aug 07, 2020 3:49 pm

Cavesa, I apologize for being patronizing. I guess my experience living in England has colored my perceptions of Europeans. People, knowing where I was from in the States, a Southerner, would often talk to me about stuff going on in California. I'd have to explain to them that California was farther away from where I was from in the States than they were to Moscow. Once, one of my English friends asked me about why none of my family had a passport. I told them that they didn't need a passport to go skiing or get warm in the winter at the beach. I think sometimes it's hard for Europeans to understand what it is like to live in a large monolingual country (taking up half a continent) like the US and that colored my reaction to your post.

I agree with you about Duo and RS making us look bad and suckering people into language learning and leading them to bad outcomes. I also agree with you about education. I know what learning languages has done for me as a person, how it has broadened my mind and made me more of a citizen of the world. Even though I am an American, I live at the edge of it. Our nearest neighbor is a Spanish-speaking island with a population of about 4 million and also a US Territory- Puerto Rico. If my fellow citizens placed more of an emphasis on a good well-rounded education, we would all be better off. It's a hard sell, though, in a capitalist society. The first courses in schools to get cut in an economic slowdown here are languages and the arts. It's not right. I don't like it, ... but it's a fact.

Yes, learning languages would be a good idea for American students. Successfully learning a language opens the mind to other cultures, other ways of living and thinking and encourages acceptance. There are schools, even in the "middle of nowhere" that teach languages... again poorly as we know. Ultimately, I believe it comes down to how useful someone can make a language in their life. As we know here, one doesn't have to travel or speak the language on a daily basis for a language to make a difference in our lives. A language doesn't have to be economically useful either... and for many of us here... they aren't. I have done this... but not everyone has the same intellectual curiosity or joy in learning for the pure pleasure of it that I have. People get taught to read in school and are exposed to literature, but how many are avid book readers? Sure, we can force all Americans to reach a certain level in a language before graduating. There will still be a percentage of graduates who will promptly forget it after having fulfilled the graduation requirement- just as I can't remember much about chemical valences now, without a practical need for it. (I'm glad I took physics and chemistry even though I don't use them to make a living) While people may reach B1 in a language upon graduation, in a large monolingual country, many will simply have no need for it in their daily lives... and many probably won't make a need for it either. I don't like this... but this is often true.

Even though, I love leaning languages and I love doing what I do with the languages I have learned to a high level, I do not believe that this makes me more educated than an accomplished monolingual. Many monolinguals do great things, despite not having a second language, in science, literature and the arts.

Getting back to Duo and RS, they should have a disclaimer in their marketing about what learning a language takes. Assimil courses, for example, tell their users that learning a language encompasses more than their textbooks. I wish teachers in school would tell their students what it takes to really learn a second language to a high level. Probably, most people who finish Duo or RS soon find out that they do not have a high language level after finishing. It's a shame that they aren't told that going into it. We, as self-learners, know what it takes. Anybody who asks me about it, I tell them the truth. My best friend, who travels with me and has seen my ability in a second language first hand expressed a desire to learn. I told her all the things I tell people here. Ultimately, "you have to want it."
Last edited by iguanamon on Fri Aug 07, 2020 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Cavesa
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Cavesa » Fri Aug 07, 2020 3:50 pm

jmar257 wrote:
Cavesa wrote:Also, don't forget that education is also meant to turn people into full value citizens with enough information to live in their society and vote for their politicians. From this point of view, the Americans should be held to a much higher standard in foreign languages, geography, and general culture, as your votes actually matter.

I agree we need to improve our education system...but how do you propose we someone legislate everyone to fluency in another language? Most Americans have to take foreign languages to graduate high school, and a lot have to take more in college. Language classes without any exposure outside of the class are pretty ineffective, and as iguanamon said, there's a proliferation of English language media in the world. You have to make a conscious effort to expose yourself to other languages here, and for most people there's just not a good enough reason to. Why struggle through understanding a foreign TV show when all your friends are watching and talking about an American show? Or why struggle through watching La Casa de Papel in the original when there are good English dubs? For most people the juice isn't worth the squeeze, so to speak.


It's not that hard to at least get rid of some of the obstacles. For example outlawing the geoblocking would be a step in the right direction, that's for the exposure. Making a language exam obligatory at the end of HS or before entering the university is not that hard either.

Yes, I totally agree that the conscious effort is important and is much harder for the learners of anything else than English, even in the US. You have dominated the entertainment industry so much, that even a European learning German outside of a German speaking countries struggles. Yet, they often learn nonetheless.

If the americans want to be a world power, you should actually hold your society to a higher standard, not lower.

We already are a world power.

Of course your are. I didn't say "if you want to become", that would be foolish. But I simply don't think that a nation with atomic bombs should make it possible for ignorants to get to power. Which means also improving the education of the voters and to everybody ever likely to get to power. If a part of the americans think that Africa is a country, cannot name more than two or three european countries, and can't even pinpoint where on the map you're actually sending your army, that's a problem. And if you want to stay on top of economy and technology even with lower immigration due to law changes, covid, and other such stuff, it just means the americans need to work harder too. Including improvement of the foreign languages.


It was scary, when some dumb americans after the Boston attacks were confusing the Czech Republic and Chechnya publicly, and calling for my country to be bombarded. It is scary, when your tv stations mistake which city lies on which continent, and when your president is clueless about other countries.
Can the average European point to Idaho on a map? Do you know the capital of New York state? Americans not knowing about other countries annoys me too, but lets not pretend like it's solely confined to America.

I wish more people were (seriously) interested in foreign languages as well, and try to promote it among my friend group and give people advice if they want it. But growing up speaking the global lingua franca is a blessing and a curse.

If you want to go that way, do you know where does Lorraine lie in France? Bayern In Germany? Those are the equivalents of Idaho, even if they have fewer km2. Most europeans at least know Idaho exists. Do most american know Lorraine/Bayern exist?That's what the americans often seem to not understand. Idaho or the New York state are never internationaly important. Countries are the basic unit of our world's structure, and at least the major ones, or those with lots of ties to yours, should be known by the general public.

Yes, growing up speaking the lingua franca is giving you less of motivation, but perhaps people should be pushed out of ignorance. It should be absolutely automatic, that monolinguals without at least B1 or B2 in a foreign language shouldn't be ever accepted to universities (not only in the US, I'd definitely find this useful all over Europe too, perhaps two languages should be demanded here), that's a good example. Anyone able to get a degree but "unable" to learn a language is just a lazy and entitled brat, it's that simple.

So, if Duo is promoting language learning, it is not a bad thing. The problem is, that it has changed and goes directly against the initial values. It's making people fail, it is limiting their idea of what language learning actually is. It has brought some of the worst mistakes of the classroom learning (such as very slow curriculums) to the internet.
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Cavesa
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Cavesa » Fri Aug 07, 2020 4:06 pm

iguanamon wrote:Cavesa, I apologize for being patronizing. I guess my experience living in England has colored my perceptions of Europeans. People, knowing where I was from in the States, a Southerner, would often talk to me about stuff going on in California. I'd have to explain to them that California was farther away from where I was from in the States than they were to Moscow. Once, one of my English friends asked me about why none of my family had a passport. I told them that they didn't need a passport to go skiing or get warm in the winter at the beach. I think sometimes it's hard for Europeans to understand what it is like to live in a large monolingual country (taking up half a continent) like the US and that colored my reaction to your post.

And I apologize for being a bit harsh too. I am just a bit tired of listening to these arguments from the americans on one hand, and to the absolute nonsense of the least intelligent Czechs ("if we are forced to learn English, the americans should be forced to learn Czech") on the other :-D

As I was already explaining, the americans sometimes take this rather bitterly, that we don't know where your individual states lie. But you don't usually know where the individual regions within Germany, France, Spain, or other big european (or african, asian, or other) countries lie, do you? In this sense, the equal fo California is not Germany, but for example Freistaat Bayern.

You cannot take the English for the typical europeans. 1.They need passports, many other europeans don't. I don't have one, I can travel anywhere I need right now on my ID card. Just like the americans. Many continental europeans travel without one. 2.they tend to be a bit more oblivious even about their own continent, due to their history and as the result their culture being oriented a bit differently.

I agree with you about Duo and RS making us look bad and suckering people into language learning and leading them to bad outcomes. I also agree with you about education. I know what learning languages has done for me as a person, how it has broadened my mind and made me more of a citizen of the world. Even though I am an American, I live at the edge of it. Our nearest neighbor is a Spanish-speaking island with a population of about 4 million and also a US Territory- Puerto Rico. If my fellow citizens placed more of an emphasis on a good well-rounded education, we would all be better off. It's a hard sell, though, in a capitalist society. The first courses in schools to get cut in an economic slowdown here are languages and the arts. It's not right. I don't like it, ... but it's a fact.


It's hard to sell in any society, no matter which kind of economy you're going for. It's about other kinds of value. Even in such a tiny hole like the Czech Republic, you can still get a job without languages (or just with the useless minimum from school). During the communism, language learning could even cause you serious trouble, as one of the suspicious activities, and our older citizens (recently one minister) are still taking it for an excuse. But knowing a few languages is viewed by the society as a positive thing, something telling good stuff about yourself (that you're intelligent, value education, hard working, open minded). This connotation is in some ways much stronger than a direct tie between a language and a salary. If it was just about money, the Czechs would be learning just English and German. Yet, even Italian classes are popular.

Even the european countries with large languages (such as France) have this feeling about languages, even if you definitely don't need a foreign language too much here. That is an important difference.


Yes, learning languages would be a good idea for American students. Successfully learning a language opens the mind to other cultures, other ways of living and thinking and encourages acceptance. There are schools, even in the "middle of nowhere" that teach languages... again poorly as we know. Ultimately, I believe it comes down to how useful someone can make a language in their life. As we know here, one doesn't have to travel or speak the language on a daily basis for a language to make a difference in our lives. A language doesn't have to be economically useful either... and for many of us here... they aren't. I have done this... but not everyone has the same intellectual curiosity or joy in learning for the pure pleasure of it that I have. People get taught to read in school and are exposed to literature, but how many are avid book readers? Sure, we can force all Americans to reach a certain level in a language before graduating. There will still be a percentage of graduates who will promptly forget it after having fulfilled the graduation requirement- just as I can't remember much about chemical valences now, without a practical need for it. (I'm glad I took physics and chemistry even though I don't use them to make a living) While people may reach B1 in a language upon graduation, in a large monolingual country, many will simply have no need for it in their daily lives... and many probably won't make a need for it either. I don't like this... but this is often true.


You're absolutely right. We need more and more intercultural contact, outlawing of the geoblocking, and definitely more marketing for the non anglophone entertainment.

Even though, I love leaning languages and I love doing what I do with the languages I have learned to a high level, I do not believe that this makes me more educated than an accomplished monolingual. Many monolinguals do great things, despite not having a second language, in science, literature and the arts.


I'd never say you cannot be an accomplished monolingual, I know quite a lot of examples. However, I see an obvious correlation in my country and others, between language learning and much better attitudes about our world in various ways. You can see it even at the elections. The monolinguals (right now talking about what I've been observing in my country, which got a big language learning handicap in the older generations) are simply much more likely to believe lies about the other countries, to not look up info themselves, to not have emotional ties to the outsiders and are more likely to be nationalists, and are usually more envious and don't understand what pushes their usually more accomplished compatriots to go "against the national interests". Monolingualism correlates with all that.

Getting back to Duo and RS, they should have a disclaimer in their marketing about what learning a language takes. Assimil courses, for example, tell their users that learning a language encompasses more than their textbooks. I wish teachers in school would tell their students what it takes to really learn a second language to a high level. Probably, most people who finish Duo or RS soon find out that they do not have a high language level after finishing. It's a shame that they aren't that going into it. We, as self-learners, know what it takes. Anybody who asks me about it, I tell them the truth. My best friend, who travels with me and has seen my ability in a second language first hand expressed a desire to learn. I told her all the things I tell people here. Ultimately, "you have to want it."


I definitely agree! It is just sad that Duo and RS, initially meant to be better than the classes (that's what they promised), are doing a lot of things just as badly as the schools.
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