Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?

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desitrader
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Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?

Postby desitrader » Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:25 pm

Apologies if this has been discussed before.

I have recently come across this site: http://www.apronus.com/norsk/

Has anyone here learned a language to a high level without making any effort to actually study it, and only by consuming native media?

That site resonated with me as I am embarking into my Norwegian journey. But if it's just one person's experience, and cannot realistically be replicated by anyone else then it's probably wiser ro stick to traditional ways of learning.

Thank you all.
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Re: Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?

Postby iguanamon » Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:10 pm

A couple of years ago, HTLAL member Victorhart, started a similar Mandarin-learning experiment using authentic native video. He also has an online blog.

While I find this intriguing, I'm a believer in early native input, I feel that something like this is like deliberately handicapping one's self. There is a reason, why aids to learning like bilingual dictionaries, a grammar book or outline, courses and parallel texts exist... because they can make learning more efficient. Of course, there's also sprachprofi and emk's subs2srs experiment but this depends upon comprehensible input (i.e. bilingual subtitles) and both are experienced learners (in emk's case, he's learning a related language). Member reineke has talked about his experience with watching Italian TV and learning when he was younger. Perhaps reineke will share this experience again. There's also the Nature Method, but this is a purposely designed course using monolingual instruction and illustrations.
Last edited by iguanamon on Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?

Postby Finny » Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:15 pm

Lots of folks learn without using grammar books, textbooks, or training courses, but by focusing much more on native input (I'm one of them). However, that doesn't mean they weren't trying to learn languages; it just means they learned primarily without resources focused on second language learners. It's possible to surround yourself with native speakers or media for decades and barely learn anything if you consciously or subconsciously shut out the language and culture, which people frequently do for cultural or cognitive reasons. Similarly, it's possible to spend years with grammar books, textbooks, and teaching courses and learn very little for the same reasons. There are so many ways to learn languages, but you do have to be open to a language to learn it well, regardless of technique.

Personally, I primarily use native input, but I'm happy to look up words or grammatical concepts as needed. Many ways up the mountain.
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Re: Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?

Postby aokoye » Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:14 am

I agree with those who disagree with the idea that Michał Ryszard Wójcik (the author of the blog/website in question) didn't try to learn Norwegian. Having read through his Norwegian blog a number of times over the years it is very clear that he was trying to learn Norwegian. He may not be doing so in a way that is common, but he's definitely making an effort.

Not trying would be doing something like living in Norway and refusing to take in or produce any Norwegian language.
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Re: Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?

Postby reineke » Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:28 am

I acquired Italian as a kid through Italian-language TV programs. I certainly wasn't trying to learn anything. My main interest at the time were Japanese cartoons but I watched all sorts of content. I don't remember trying to figure things out but I certainly paid attention to the characters and the storyline. I loved it.

Somewhere I wrote that I examined a non-exhaustive list of Japanese cartoons aired in Italy at the time and that I recognized around 150 titles including Ikkyu San (Il piccolo bonzo), the Time Bokan series (Yattaman), Lo strano mondo di Minù (Mrs. Pepper Pot), Pinocchio, Candy Candy, Lady Georgie, Maison Ikkoku, Urusei Yatsura (Lamù, la ragazza dello spazio), Sam il ragazzo del West (Kōya no Shōnen Isamu), Ugo il re del judo, and Mademoiselle Anne (Haikara-san ga Tōru). The combined running time of these shows is over 3,000 hours. That's without commercial interruptions and not counting the reruns and other types of shows I watched.

As a teenager I picked up German in a similar manner. I don't like language "experiments". It's difficult enough trying to convince people with sizable vocabularies to start consuming native content. There's very little research about this issue. Researchers and practitioners focus on i+1 comprehensible input and scaffolding . "Extensive reading" using graded readers is the favored approach rather than extensive listening. If you take a look at Paul Nation's booklet about language learning it's full of very conventional (and good) advice. I'm not aware that any reputable educator/researcher advocates using raw audio/video right from the start or as the main input channel (a little pun).

Edit: On Oct. 13, 2016 Krashen posted/updated his post about "compelling" comprehensible input: "Compelling: so interesting you are not aware of the language, sense of time diminishes, sense of self diminishes..." He also writes:

"Case histories: language acquisition never the goal, but a by-product. It was the story. Paul: Cantonese and English speaker, acquired Mandarin from cartoons and lots of TV shows and movies, with no particular motivation to acquire Mandarin."

http://skrashen.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2016-10-13T08:44:00-07:00&max-results=7
Language Acquisition without Speaking and without Study
http://skrashen.blogspot.com/2014/10/language-acquisition-without-speaking.html
Last edited by reineke on Fri Oct 14, 2016 6:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?

Postby Adrianslont » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:21 am

There is this case study that describes a young Finnish girl who, like Reineke, learned a language incidentally through cartoons. https://csclub.uwaterloo.ca/~rfburger/language/learning_by_viewing_1994.pdf
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Re: Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?

Postby s_allard » Thu Jun 30, 2016 12:14 pm

desitrader wrote:Apologies if this has been discussed before.

I have recently come across this site: http://www.apronus.com/norsk/

Has anyone here learned a language to a high level without making any effort to actually study it, and only by consuming native media?

That site resonated with me as I am embarking into my Norwegian journey. But if it's just one person's experience, and cannot realistically be replicated by anyone else then it's probably wiser ro stick to traditional ways of learning.

Thank you all.

Frankly, let's get real here. If you follow the link in the post here, you soon realize that the author put a lot of effort into learning Norwegian. How can you say that this person learned Norwegian without trying to learn it?

There is no such thing as learning a language well without trying to learn it. There may be non-traditional or innovative methods but the only method that I can think of that doesn't require any effort is listening to recordings when sleeping. And we know how well that works.

In passing, it's not clear from the website how well the person ended up speaking Norwegian with all that effort. Where are the Youtube videos of the person in conversation? Much ado about nothing, or as we say in Spanish: mucho ruido y pocas nueces.
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Re: Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?

Postby aokoye » Thu Jun 30, 2016 12:34 pm

s_allard wrote:In passing, it's not clear from the website how well the person ended up speaking Norwegian with all that effort. Where are the Youtube videos of the person in conversation? Much ado about nothing, or as we say in Spanish: mucho ruido y pocas nueces.


Do we really need to "prove" to other people on the internet that we've learned a language? I can assure you that I won't be posting any Youtube videos or audio clips of me speaking German. That, however, doesn't mean that I can't speak German to the degree that I've described on this website.

edit: also the bulk of his posts were created before the existence of Youtube.
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Re: Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?

Postby smallwhite » Thu Jun 30, 2016 1:53 pm

desitrader wrote:... without trying to learn it?

... without making any effort to actually study it, and only by consuming native media?


The Opening Post seemed to imply that the author of http://www.apronus.com/norsk/ wasn't trying to learn Norwegian and that he only consumed native media, and I thought I'd just clarify that that's not the case. What happened was he used textbooks and tapes that taught Norwegian in Norwegian, and he did study actively.

desitrader wrote:Has anyone here learned a language to a high level without making any effort to actually study it, and only by consuming native media?

That looks inefficient and unpromising to me. Whereas the method outlined in the website, making effort to study and using both textbooks and media in L2, looks inefficient but at least promising to me, given your native English plus B2 German background. If you want to try that (his) method, you have my support!
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Re: Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?

Postby s_allard » Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:27 pm

aokoye wrote:
s_allard wrote:In passing, it's not clear from the website how well the person ended up speaking Norwegian with all that effort. Where are the Youtube videos of the person in conversation? Much ado about nothing, or as we say in Spanish: mucho ruido y pocas nueces.


Do we really need to "prove" to other people on the internet that we've learned a language? I can assure you that I won't be posting any Youtube videos or audio clips of me speaking German. That, however, doesn't mean that I can't speak German to the degree that I've described on this website.

edit: also the bulk of his posts were created before the existence of Youtube.

Let's look at the wording here: That, however, doesn't mean that I can't speak German to the degree that I've described on this website. How do we know that your claim is founded? I'm not saying it isn't. I'm just saying that in the case at hand there is no proof other than what the author has written. So, let's forget the Youtube videos; what about having passed an CEFR or other recognized exam. Does anybody know how well the person we're talking about speak Norwegian?

I don't think we have to prove to other people that we've learned a language but I do think we have to be careful about making claims of proficiency. After all there is a difference between I think I'm C1 and I actually passed a C1 exam.
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