Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

General discussion about learning languages
User avatar
reineke
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2094
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:34 pm
Languages: Engrish
x 3294

Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby reineke » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:53 pm

I have already bumped up a fossilization thread in which I asked the posters if they were able to bring under control the issues they reported last year.

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1026

No one should feel unwelcome or unduly called out. Immersion is on topic. Trouble starts if someone makes untenable statements and then fights every inch of the way as if it were Iwo Jima. S_allard has kindly answered the original question. I am glad that he's back. The follow up questions could be whether fossilization is inevitable, how it could be avoided or delayed etc. Should we completely write off pronunciation? I know it's "important" but so is breathing. I normally don't see people doing much about pronunciation except for saying that it's important or that immersion will take care of it. While the learners have to keep breathing, they have more options with regards to language learning. What's an acceptable trade-off between fluency and accuracy? What about the silent period?
Last edited by reineke on Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
0 x

User avatar
Serpent
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2466
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:54 am
Location: Moskova
Languages: heritage
Russian (native); Belarusian, Polish

fluent or close: Finnish+ (certified C1), English; Portuguese, Spanish, German+, Italian+
learning: Croatian+, Ukrainian, Czech; Romanian+, Galician; Danish, Swedish
exploring: Latin, Karelian, Catalan, Dutch, Chaucer's English
+ means exploring the dialects/variants
x 3232
Contact:

Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby Serpent » Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:21 am

While we're often okay with things other communities consider to be "backseat moderating", in this specific thread there have been way too many instances. From now on please report instead. It's okay to report a post which is just slightly off. We might not take any (obvious) action but rest assured, we'll have a look and keep your concerns in mind when making further decisions. And the moderators are already watching this thread 8-)

Also, discussing someone's style of posting is only appropriate if they ask for it, especially in a log or a team/challenge thread. In some cases it can also be okay to send a tactful personal message.
3 x
: 40 / 40 Budva na pjenu od mora: 3rd season (Croatian/Montenegrin)
LyricsTraining now has Finnish and Polish :)

GoSensGo
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:07 pm
Location: Canada
Languages: French
x 10

Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby GoSensGo » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:51 pm

9 upvotes for a first post - that's not a bad start, is it?

There are a few things I should clarify because I feel a little uneasy about how my experience can be misinterpreted.

1) The truth was that for the first 5 years of French immersion, I was a mediocre student. If it hadn't been for that turnaround in Grade 6, my parents would have switched me to the English stream by Grade 7. I would have then dumped hard on French immersion to s_allard's chagrin, although in fairness I would note that it was more about the quality of the teachers than immersion. In any case, I want this point to underline how important it is to have a high quality source/model for your learning (or work). This goes for teachers, tutors, and DIY-textbooks as much as bosses, mentors, and instruction manuals.

2) Starting to learn things early is important (and desirable in many cases), although we will disagree on timing as well as subject to be introduced. I repeat that those German acquaintances of mine started learning English at age 10, went all the way in terms of English classes to the end of high school (age 18 or 19 depending on whether they went to Gymnasium or not), and used their English outside class quite frequently. Coincidentally, kids in Ontario who are in the English stream start through mandatory French classes (called "Core French" as noted by s_allard) around age 10 (Grade 4) and take them until Grade 9 (age 15) (at that point they can drop it, and most do, given the low utility of the language outside Francophone areas) However there are two big differences between these situations: i) French is nowhere near as useful and widespread as English, and so it can be quite hard for a teacher to remove a kid's skepticism about the value of learning French ii) English is more closely related (and similar) to German than it is French and a kid can see (and exploit) that fact quite early on in the learning process.

When it comes to learning early, I think that it's important more because as we age, we're just less likely to have the energy and free time (in my view it's not always about young children's ability to absorb things like a sponge (and sometimes forget them in a hurry)). It's a bit like getting a driver's license in that it's a lot easier to schedule driving lessons when you're in high school and university than when you're "adulting" with trivialities such as a full-time job and/or children. Furthermore, your adult mentality may be more suited to driving because of how much more risk-averse you often are compared to your youthful self. While I doubt the wisdom about subjecting kids early to something that disinterests them because of the risk of turning them off altogether (think of adults who think that they're bad at learning languages because of unpleasant memories of French, Latin or Spanish classes in elementary and high school), there are, now and then, those people who are head and shoulders above their peers because they took to some subject(s) quite early in their lives.

3) While it's true that I got my first full-time job because I spoke French, I should add that I was applying for a job where being bilingual was mandatory, and more to the point I needed to have other educational requirements (specifically in financial economics). If I had been some bilingual applicant without an educational background in financial economics, I doubt that I would have got an interview let alone the job (I wouldn't have even applied), and so would have ended up interviewing for another job where being bilingual may have been irrelevant. Some of my former classmates did just that and they found their calling in areas where knowledge and experience in other areas far outstrip going through French immersion in the 1980s.
1 x

s_allard
Green Belt
Posts: 477
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2015 3:01 pm
Location: Canada
Languages: French (N), English (N), Spanish (B2), Polish (beginner)
x 694

Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby s_allard » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:54 pm

Since I am regularly (and falsely) accused of hijacking threads, I'll come back to the OP in a minute but I would like to comment briefly on GoSensGo's post about bilingualism and job opportunities in the Canadian context. I'm not arguing that speaking French or being bilingual replaces any other qualifications. The point is that language skills are enabling skills and may or may not be relevant to the job at hand. I hardly have to remind GoSensGo that in Canada bilingualism is perceived as an asset and this what drives parents to send their kids to French immersion.

To come back to the thread, the subject of French immersion in Canada, and even immersion in general, arose because it is the epitome of early speaking. And given that all learners make mistakes in a new language, does immersion lead to so-called fossilized mistakes or what I call bad habits? The answer is yes if the mistakes are not corrected.

There is no mystery here. Whether the correction comes through a formal process, as is often the case with adults, or just through exposure with charitable native speakers, the real issue is correction and and how to make the correction permanent. If there is little or no correction, learners will end up with lots of mistakes.

What I think is the big problem is how to make the corrections permanent. This is the essence of the problem of fossilization: certain mistakes seem intractable. I don't believe things are impossible to correct but I think the problem is usually deeper than we suspect. The problem is fundamentally a lack of understanding of how facets of the target language work. And we know that in adults particularly, the number one problem is the interaction with the native language

For example, the French-speaking learner of English will say something like: "I am living in Toronto since three years" instead of "I've been living in Toronto for three years". Obviously, if never corrected, this speaker will make these mistakes forever. If corrected on the spot with no explanation, this person will probably make the mistakes again. The real solution of course is for the learner to develop an understanding of how prepositions of time and verb tenses work in English. And with lots of practice, the problem will go away.
1 x

aaleks
Orange Belt
Posts: 222
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: Russia
Languages: Russian (N)
English (just learning)
x 342

Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby aaleks » Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:42 pm

s_allard wrote:...to develop an understanding of ...

Which is the hardest thing to do.
1 x
Sorry for my errors and mistakes in English.

User avatar
reineke
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2094
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:34 pm
Languages: Engrish
x 3294

Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby reineke » Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:36 pm

Cainntear wrote:
s_allard wrote:My takeway from this barrage of citations is that some researchers in the SLA academe believe..

Then I think you've missed the point of the "barrage" of citations. I believe what Reineke is trying to point out is simply that you (and Random Review) are misusing the term "fossilisation". In fact...

Reineke's posting style comes from a position of admirable intellectual integrity -- he's made the conscious decision not to promote his opinions, instead deferring to recognised authorities. The internet is already full enough of opinion masquerading as fact, and while this site is far from the worst, it's still hypocritical of me that I slag off "alternative facts" but continue to post strong opinions here without taking the time to refer to research.

I personally feel that much is lacking in Reineke's posting style -- particularly that there is rarely anything in the posts that links what he's quoting to the context of the discussion -- but none of us are perfect.


Thank you for the kind words, Cainntear. I have a penchant for dismantling people's hobby horses. I have given you grief in the past over the Michel Thomas courses and explicit instruction in general but I have always enjoyed your responses. While others may have remained "fossilized" in their attitudes, I have noticed that you have grown as a debater and a "languager". I also think that your forced departure from the old forum dealt it a major blow. It certainly contributed to my departure from the forum later that year. Finally, regarding my posting style:

"Nothing will ever please me, no matter how excellent or beneficial, if I must retain the knowledge of it to myself. And if wisdom were given me under the express condition that it must be kept hidden and not uttered, I should refuse it.

No good thing is pleasant to possess, without friends to share it.

I shall therefore send to you the actual books; and in order that you may not waste time in searching here and there for profitable topics, I shall mark certain passages, so that you can turn at once to those which I approve and admire."

Seneca
Last edited by reineke on Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
2 x

aaleks
Orange Belt
Posts: 222
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: Russia
Languages: Russian (N)
English (just learning)
x 342

Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby aaleks » Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:45 pm

Since “silent period” is one of the ways to prevent fossilized mistake, I'd want to clear something for myself about it. Does “silent period” mean that during this period of time a language learner will train speaking and writing but just doesn’t communicate with other “real” people in a target language? Or it means no (or almost no) attempt to speak or write in the language at all? I’ve heard several of Krashen’s lecture on youtube but I’m afraid I might get something wrong.
0 x
Sorry for my errors and mistakes in English.

Cainntear
Blue Belt
Posts: 826
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 1667
Contact:

Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby Cainntear » Tue Apr 25, 2017 8:12 am

aaleks wrote:Since “silent period” is one of the ways to prevent fossilized mistake, I'd want to clear something for myself about it. Does “silent period” mean that during this period of time a language learner will train speaking and writing but just doesn’t communicate with other “real” people in a target language? Or it means no (or almost no) attempt to speak or write in the language at all? I’ve heard several of Krashen’s lecture on youtube but I’m afraid I might get something wrong.

It means no attempt to produce language at all to begin with.

I don't believe in it myself, as it seems to assume learning a second language is like learning a first, which is not true.
0 x
A year of Tatoeba recordings: 40 / 365 One donated recording every day in 2017.

s_allard
Green Belt
Posts: 477
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2015 3:01 pm
Location: Canada
Languages: French (N), English (N), Spanish (B2), Polish (beginner)
x 694

Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby s_allard » Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:21 am

aaleks wrote:Since “silent period” is one of the ways to prevent fossilized mistake, ....


The "silent period" idea, often associated with the Assimil method, does not prevent fossilized mistakes. Fossilization comes from uncorrected mistakes. Learners always make mistakes even after waiting to speak. Lack of correction is the problem.
1 x

User avatar
jeff_lindqvist
Brown Belt
Posts: 1004
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:52 pm
Languages: sv, en
de, es
ga, eo
---
fi, yue, ro, tp, cy, kw, pt, sk
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2773
x 1635

Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:50 am

I once read a "silent period" blog post where the learner had watched (or listened to) many of hours of native audio, and felt guilty after saying a a simple "Hello" in the target language. :roll:
1 x
Leabhair/Greannáin léite as Gaeilge: 9 / 18
Ar an seastán oíche: Oileán an Órchiste
Duolingo - finished trees: sp/ga/de/fr/pt/it
Finnish with extra pain : 100 / 100


Return to “General Language Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest