Input only

General discussion about learning languages
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reineke
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Re: Input only

Postby reineke » Thu Jan 14, 2016 6:23 pm

James29 wrote:Maybe just think of it like a cup of coffee... different things "work" for different people. I like the vast majority of my cup to be caffeinated light roast (input), but I add a dash of non-lactose cream (conversations with natives) and two sugars (grammar study). In a pinch I don't mind having regular milk instead of non-lactose cream. Other people like to have half coffee and half milk with no sugar, etc, etc. There is not a "right" answer for how to make the most "effective" cup of coffee for everyone. We are all different in what "works" for us in coffee and we are all different in what "works" for us in language learning. There is nothing wrong with being different. There is no reason why different things can be effective for different people. Benny's all talk right from the start is just as "good" as those who swear by silent/input periods. Life would be boring if everyone had to have the same cup of coffee simply because someone determined for us what was the "most effective" or "best" cup of coffee.

If we compare language learning to the art of making and drinking coffee, most people will purchase the finished product and occasionally brew it at home. The "effectiveness" and quality of coffee are easily quantified. If coffee beans were truly native input, conversationalists would be chugging creamer all the time and grammarians would catch diabetes and never get that caffeine kick. The more creative of us here would dump the beans into cold water, nibble on them and obviously grind them to apply liberally all over skin before going to bed. We would all collectively suffer from runny bowels. Pills? If they existed, this place would get really dead. Which brings us to the sentence that "there is nothing wrong with being different".

Language input is already present in conversation and grammar books. Grammar can be inferred from native materials/conversations with natives. I believe the ratio of input/output out there in the wild was estimated at 65%/35% whereby the 35% refers to real output i.e. speaking and writing.
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James29
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Re: Input only

Postby James29 » Thu Jan 14, 2016 6:52 pm

reineke wrote: The ... quality of coffee [is] easily quantified.



Please explain. How do you "easily quantify" the "quality" of a taste? How is it possible that anyone can tell me I am wrong about my taste preference?
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IchBinEinPoly
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Re: Input only

Postby IchBinEinPoly » Thu Jan 14, 2016 6:54 pm

James29 wrote:Regarding your first sentence, how do you quantify "effectiveness" into precise numbers? It seems to me that numbers do not work that way. What does it mean to say something is "100% effective"? Additionally, do you think doing the "100% effective" thing for one hour and then the "10% effective" thing for 11 hours would be better than both?


Are you saying it's impossible to operationalize language proficiency? We do that all the time. See the CEFR rating system as an example.

100% effective means the making maximum possible rate of progress towards a language. It's theoretical, I know; but theoretical doesn't mean useless. It's an abstraction, but a useful abstraction.

James29 wrote:Regarding your second sentence, are you suggesting that everyone is the same or are you open to the idea that other people might learn more effectively with 50% input based?


It's certainly possible, but that's not the point I'm making. Sure input may have different levels of utility for every person, but unless that utility is zero (i.e., that person gets no benefit from input), which seems ludicrous, adding input into parts of their life where. Think of all the empty time in your life. Now imagine filling even some of that with listening. I'm talking about time spent driving, walking, cleaning the house, etc. It's time that can be spent listening but can't be spent doing other tasks that may be more productive, but likewise require more attention.

Also, I believe doing something is always better than doing anything, and many forms of intensive language study can bore people to death, even if you think they're more productive than just watching TV. So it's better to just watch TV. The point is to have fun.

James29 wrote:Please explain. How do you "easily quantify" the "quality" of a taste? How is it possible that anyone can tell me I am wrong about my taste preference?


I don't understand this kind of numerical fetishism. Just because things aren't precisely quantifiable doesn't mean they're not useful or real concepts.

It's totally possible to quantify taste by asking people to rate it. It's subjective, but so what?
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Re: Input only

Postby IchBinEinPoly » Thu Jan 14, 2016 6:58 pm

Montmorency wrote:In any case, I'm not at all sure that it's the concentration that burns you out. Many people work at jobs which they are good at for 8 hours per day or more without burning out. I think burning out is to do with things like working at too fast a pace, trying to do too many things at once, continually working against a deadline, and simply being overloaded and working too long without a break.


Americans hate their jobs. Indeed, I reckon most people to do everywhere in the world. I, for one, would hate to make language learning like work.

All of the factors you listed can exacerbate or increase the odds burn out, but simply applying mental effort for prolonged periods of time is sufficient to cause burnout.

Further, in my experience most of the people you claim aren't burned out actually are. We live in a burned out society that glorifies work for its own sake.
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reineke
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Re: Input only

Postby reineke » Thu Jan 14, 2016 8:00 pm

James29 wrote:
reineke wrote: The ... quality of coffee [is] easily quantified.



Please explain. How do you "easily quantify" the "quality" of a taste? How is it possible that anyone can tell me I am wrong about my taste preference?


Your rhetoric needs to be grounded in logic before you can build a successful analogy. What you have is a complicated metaphor that glosses over the main issues. You have identified "input" with "coffee roast". Coffee beans are first graded on their physical characteristics such as density. Coffee beans are graded and quality beans are priced higher. The coffee reflects the geographic region in which the beans were grown as well as the coffee species. Lower grade Arabica coffee may be cheaper than other types of coffee both because of actual quality of the beans used and the changing taste preferences.

Drawing from your analogy, I suppose one can compare different beans to the quality and genre of the native language material. Speaking with natives (i.e. "non-lactose cream") and grammar ("sugar") are external additives that further change the taste but do not carry the properties of the main ingredient ("coffee roast"). In that scenario, anyone buying the good stuff and drinking his coffee black will be most successful.

The input-output question is not easily answered and certainly not through faulty and complicated metaphors. Usually these discussions end in conciliatory language that we have our own approach etc. only to resurface over and over again.
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Re: Input only

Postby James29 » Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:15 pm

I'd love to see how "language proficiency" can be quantified into precise numbers. The example of CEFR does not do that. CEFR is an ordinal scale. Is B1 twice as good as A2 or ten times as good? Is C1 112.5% better than B2? Attributing "precise numbers" to language proficiency does not work any more than other things that are on ordinal scales. A1 is worse than A2 which is worse than B1 but that's about all the "math" you can get out of the CEFR.

If "100% effective means making the maximum possible rate of progress towards a language" is there no point in using our brains to becoming more efficient? This remind me of why 0 is 0 on the Fahrenheit thermometer. Or when it was "impossible" to run a four minute mile. If methods improve does something become 110% effective?

The point of the coffee concept was merely to show that different quantities of inputs work differently for different people. There is no perfect mixture of coffee ingredients and there is no perfect mixture of language learning ingredients. To claim otherwise is ridiculousness. The coffee, cream and sugar are merely ingredients that make up the final product. Cream could just as easily be the input. If Benny can learn a language most efficiently from nearly all active work from day one that is fine. His mixture is not "wrong" because someone else learns most efficiently with a long silent period.
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ThumbWar
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Re: Input only

Postby ThumbWar » Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:39 pm

Some ways I can think of are:
Size of vocabulary
Number of tenses you can understand/produce
Number of sentence structures you can understand/produce
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reineke
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Re: Input only

Postby reineke » Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:57 pm

James29 wrote:I'd love to see how "language proficiency" can be quantified into precise numbers. The example of CEFR does not do that. CEFR is an ordinal scale. Is B1 twice as good as A2 or ten times as good? Is C1 112.5% better than B2? Attributing "precise numbers" to language proficiency does not work any more than other things that are on ordinal scales. A1 is worse than A2 which is worse than B1 but that's about all the "math" you can get out of the CEFR.

If "100% effective means making the maximum possible rate of progress towards a language" is there no point in using our brains to becoming more efficient? This remind me of why 0 is 0 on the Fahrenheit thermometer. Or when it was "impossible" to run a four minute mile. If methods improve does something become 110% effective?

The point of the coffee concept was merely to show that different quantities of inputs work differently for different people. There is no perfect mixture of coffee ingredients and there is no perfect mixture of language learning ingredients. To claim otherwise is ridiculousness. The coffee, cream and sugar are merely ingredients that make up the final product. Cream could just as easily be the input. If Benny can learn a language most efficiently from nearly all active work from day one that is fine. His mixture is not "wrong" because someone else learns most efficiently with a long silent period.


Your point with the coffee concept is that a different quantity of (different) input will work differently with different people. Also that Benny, while chugging milk can be as successful as someone taking his coffee black. Milk and coffee are two different drinks. Benny also goes to the Alps for his milk. He practically drinks straight from the udder. Quantity and quality are two different concepts.

What you're describing as progress under CEFR scale is a very different business from defining "input" and "input only" and their role in language learning. Language progress is akin to filling a giant cocktail glass (hey, another metaphor!). It fills quickly at first and much slower as the notches start reading B2, C1 etc. However you can drip into it, fill it twice a week or daily utilizing a fire hose or a pipette. Of course, there are four skills and they can be achieved/graded at different levels of proficiency. Here's where input only/mostly and conversationalist approach come into play.
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Re: Input only

Postby Iversen » Thu Jan 14, 2016 10:10 pm

I am not going to discuss cofee - I don't drink the stuff. I am going to discuss Swedish.

For many years I didn't attempt to speak or write this arcane communication system for the simple reason that I expected its users to understand my Danish and vice-versa. In reality some of us have problems understand Swedish, mostly because they haven't watched enough TV from over there. And even more Swedish have problems understanding us Danes. The use of English between Scandinavians would in my eyes be tantamount to high treason so after years of pure input I decided to learn Swedish as an active language. Of cause I had to do some actual study to convert it from passive into an active language, but it went much faster than it would have done if I hadn't been listening to Swedish since the 70s. But input alone wouldn't have resulted in real Swedish, but possibly in the ghastly concoction called Scandinavian.
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Re: Input only

Postby nuncapense » Thu Jan 14, 2016 11:07 pm

Iverson, interesting story -- what kind of study did you do to activate your passive Sweish?
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