7 Key Factors to an Ideal Language-Learning Method

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Re: 7 Key Factors to an Ideal Language-Learning Method

Postby einzelne » Wed Mar 31, 2021 8:05 pm

victorhart wrote:But, in fact, they're not.


They are. Example:

1. Is tailored to the learner's specific interests, preferences, and objectives.

My objective: I want to read books in a specific field and watch lectures/documentaries on this topic.

Ergo: I don't need the communicative approach but just a graded reader with grammar explanations and recorded audio.
Ideally, it should give me at least 5k most frequent words + the relevant vocabulary in my field.
That's it. No need to waste my precious time on developing active skills.
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Re: 7 Key Factors to an Ideal Language-Learning Method

Postby Le Baron » Wed Mar 31, 2021 8:47 pm

I'm sure it's basically sound. The main points are well-trodden approaches that have been hammered-out over the years from a combination of research and people's heard-earned learning wisdom.

However...this:

The idea is that, while getting corrections from a native speaker is necessary, if you can later review those corrections efficiently, you get synergistic benefits from combining repetition/memorization with real-life communicative context, which facilitates long-term retention.

Is like looking at an M.Escher illustration. What is it supposed to mean? Why is the word 'synergy' in there if not to make me believe it is an academic paper? Are you basically saying that having a native speaker correct you means that if you later revise your material you'll not be revising errors? What is the definition of 'efficiently' in terms of revising to get these 'synergistic' benefits?
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Re: 7 Key Factors to an Ideal Language-Learning Method

Postby leosmith » Sun Apr 04, 2021 2:04 am

victorhart wrote:Do you agree or disagree? Is it possible to characterize an ideal method? What factors would you include?

Maybe there is such a thing as an ideal language-learning method, but I do not believe it is worth trying to find. Even if what you designed was the true Ideal Method, I would probably do better with my own method because I am so comfortable with it. Judging by how varied the methods of successful language learners are, I believe I am not alone in this regard. I suggest designing a “good method” that would be appealing to many learners, rather than an “ideal method”.

To be fair though, you are not showing us what your actual method is here. You are just giving us a list of key factors of your method. While some of these factors are desirable, others are confusing to me, in that I cannot tell how they would affect the actual method. Without knowing what your method is, I will probably not be able to fully understand your factors. I can understand more specific ones like “design the method to make listening a priority wherever possible”, but “use authentic content” is too vague for me.

With any given language learning method, I believe one could generate dozens, perhaps hundreds, of factors such as you have listed. For example, note all the factors people listed in designing a textbook, which is just a single part of a language learning method. I do not think the seven you listed are necessarily the “key” factors. It may be impossible to determine which of the many factors are key. In fact, I do not think narrowing it down to seven would be extremely helpful to designing an actual method.

So, why are you doing this? Are you planning to use this list to design a method, or am I completely off base?
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Re: 7 Key Factors to an Ideal Language-Learning Method

Postby Cainntear » Sun Apr 04, 2021 2:30 pm

Le Baron wrote:
The idea is that, while getting corrections from a native speaker is necessary, if you can later review those corrections efficiently, you get synergistic benefits from combining repetition/memorization with real-life communicative context, which facilitates long-term retention.

Is like looking at an M.Escher illustration. What is it supposed to mean? Why is the word 'synergy' in there if not to make me believe it is an academic paper? Are you basically saying that having a native speaker correct you means that if you later revise your material you'll not be revising errors? What is the definition of 'efficiently' in terms of revising to get these 'synergistic' benefits?

My interpretation is that he means that because the material first arose in a natural context, either:
a) revising it out of a natural/communicative context is still natural/communicative because the language was natural/communicative in the first place
or
b) revising it out of a natural/communicative context will evoke the natural/communicative context it arose in.

I'm assuming he means b), because a) is a pretty weak view, and would work equally well for a course consisting of sentences taken from a corpus of real language. In fact, it has been demonstrated that real, natural sentences are in general pretty bad for demonstrating points of grammar or meaning of vocabulary as real language is very heavily contextually dependent, so a natural sentence is never complete in the same way that a contrived example sentence could be.

But b) is a still a stretch though. I know there's plenty of times where I have linked the specific context I've learned something in to the words/phrase/grammar itself, even to the point of associating specific parts of the city with things I was studying for my MP3 player while walking through them, but at the same time, there are many many more things I have learned without that contextual link.

I personally have a tendency to remember specific details about a lot of different things that others would forget, but even then, I do not have the capacity to remember and recall the individual contexts of every example sentence in my language notebook.
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Re: 7 Key Factors to an Ideal Language-Learning Method

Postby Cainntear » Sun Apr 04, 2021 2:33 pm

leosmith wrote:So, why are you doing this? Are you planning to use this list to design a method, or am I completely off base?

He runs a language school, which is where the blog he linked to comes from.
It looks like a fairly standard chat-to-a-native-about-various-topics type of affair.
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Re: 7 Key Factors to an Ideal Language-Learning Method

Postby Cavesa » Sun Apr 04, 2021 5:48 pm

I really like Cainntear's post on the issues with this and would like to add my two cents:

Points 1 and 2 don't go well together. Many people need just some of the skills much more than the rest. Or they may perceive each of them as totally differently difficult. This reminds me far too much of all those very generic and not too clever tutor profiles, that say "I'll tailor the classes to your unique needs, such as tourism". The "unique needs" become just empty words, if you immediately assume that the learner's needs are the most generic ones.

3:the communicative methods are in some ways a great improvement, but in others a huge curse in today's language learning resources.

If language is chopped into just solving various communicative situations, it can be extremely boring and the learners miss out on the bigger picture. Instead of learning a grammar feature and then all the awesome situations it can be used for, many coursebooks and teachers present one purpose scenarios, and limit the learners (which leads to a rather unpleasant feeling that i've heard from various people. Like "I've been learning for so long, and have completed a coursebook, but I still know so little, because I've learnt to deal with just one situation in each lesson"). Plus it leads to the unfortunate discouragement of the beginners, like the French learners thinking there are no rules to the language and just dumb memorisation, when they are given tons of unexplained grammar in the first two units of a communicative textbook.

Plus if you mean communicative as "totally dependent on a native speaker" (as you write a lot about natives and teachers), then you are immediately discouraging all the people, who simply cannot hire someone for tons of hours. Either for financial reasons, or totally different ones (irregular work schedule, health issues, lack of available teachers etc). This is also a problem with the point 6. Yes, detailed corrections from a qualified (!) native speakers are ideal, but not only difficult to obtain, but also unnecessary for the learners primarily after just the comprehension skills (which leads back to the first problem I mentioned).

And "just hire me" is not a learning method, let alone an ideal one.

4.Cainntear described the problems with the "authentic" material so well! Normal authentic stuff is necessary and accessible from B1 or B2 on. But at the lower levels, it can't really be that authentic. And as the "authentic" stuff is totally reworked by the teacher anyways, it may even end up being more boring, than the totally artificial stuff. Assimil is known for fictional but quite amusing dialogues (which facilitates learning, as the time spent with the coursebook is more enjoyable, and people are also likely to remember the funny stuff), while majority of the resources obsessed with the false "authenticity" gets limited to rather predictable and boring things.

No idea what does 7 mean. When you consume authentic and context based content, such as a book or a tv series, of course you reflect on it, or you speak or write about it. No need to specifically allow such "review". Not sure what you mean.

victorhart wrote:Not really. The idea here is that vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation content is extracted from your conversation and writing and that you are later able to review that content, with context, in dynamic ways. In the method I've developed, this is done using a trained teacher and technology my team has developed.


Well, there's a problem. In my opinion, an ideal language learning method is independent from any teacher. A teacher is, in my opinion, supposed to be just one of the resources, to be hired when needed, but not the main part. They are supposed to be one piece of the puzzle, most probably just the source of feedback and corrections.

You seem to confuse an ideal learning method, with an ideal teaching method (and even so, I wouldn't say your method sounds ideal). It is definitely nice to look for the best method with which your students should be taught. But that doesn't make it the best learning method.

My student who is in her fourth month of study engages beautifully with Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, and a variety of other classic children's literature authors. My advanced student engages superbly with academic texts on philosophy, political science, and public administration. I've found this to be consistently the case.


But these two are not the same person. The advanced student is now using authentic material of course, but they probably weren't using only authentic material back at the beginning level. So, what is "consistently the case"? The advanced learners are supposed to "engage with" authentic material no matter how they got to the advanced level. No matter whether they were using children's books at the lower levels, or mostly just textbooks with content of limited authenticity.
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Re: 7 Key Factors to an Ideal Language-Learning Method

Postby Cainntear » Sun Apr 04, 2021 6:05 pm

(Worth noting that this is an old thread and there's been no sign of the OP since September...!)
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Re: 7 Key Factors to an Ideal Language-Learning Method

Postby leosmith » Mon Apr 05, 2021 1:55 am

Cainntear wrote:(Worth noting that this is an old thread and there's been no sign of the OP since September...!)
Argh. Didn't catch that. :oops:
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