The Fluent Forever App

General discussion about learning languages
Cainntear
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Re: The Fluent Forever App

Postby Cainntear » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:20 pm

crush wrote:Arabic might cause issues, but as you mention, at least on Android (not sure about iOS), that is handled at the OS level, you likely won't have to do anything other than add the Arabic pack in and double check that it actually does work.

100% built-in support in iOS -- no point producing a premium product if you can't sell it to oil execs in the Middle East!

I've got a Python programming environment on my iPad which hooks right into the OS API, and it's perfectly happy for me to put different languages/scripts on any and all elements on screen, and even within a single element. There isn't anything in the mockups that would cause any problems for either OS.

If they do have any problems in that area, it'll be down to their own incompetence, and someone picking a cross-platform development environment that isn't up to the job.
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Cainntear
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Re: The Fluent Forever App

Postby Cainntear » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:30 pm

Also, is a native speaker recording really that important now? Every one of the target languages listed is available as text-to-speech for free in iOS, and I was using the high-quality voices for classroom listening exercises a couple of years ago (sadly Apple messed up the speech interface in iOS 9 such that I'm stuck with low-quality voices now as my iPad doesn't support iOS 10 or 11, where the problem was fixed) and it really was good enough. As far as I'm concerned, you only need to make up the sentences and check that they don't trip up the text-to-speech and leave it at that.
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lavengro
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Re: The Fluent Forever App

Postby lavengro » Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:02 pm

Cainntear wrote:Also, is a native speaker recording really that important now? Every one of the target languages listed is available as text-to-speech for free in iOS, and I was using the high-quality voices for classroom listening exercises a couple of years ago (sadly Apple messed up the speech interface in iOS 9 such that I'm stuck with low-quality voices now as my iPad doesn't support iOS 10 or 11, where the problem was fixed) and it really was good enough. As far as I'm concerned, you only need to make up the sentences and check that they don't trip up the text-to-speech and leave it at that.


Putting aside what appears to be a gathering consensus that we should arm ourselves with pitchforks and chase this scoundrel Wyner out of the village (and certainly no point in waiting to do so until beta testing is available), I was surprised to hear these comments about the status of text-to-speech quality. I wind up using quite a bit of text-to-speech for learning and while it appears to have very significantly improved recently, I would have thought most learners would still be in favour of native speaker recording over a Hal descendant given a choice.
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Cainntear
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Re: The Fluent Forever App

Postby Cainntear » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:10 pm

lavengro wrote:Putting aside what appears to be a gathering consensus that we should arm ourselves with pitchforks and chase this scoundrel Wyner out of the village (and certainly no point in waiting to do so until beta testing is available),

Don't mind me -- I'm just angry at myself that I'm not willing to ask for squillions of dollars for a very simple idea masquerading as something revolutionary.
I was surprised to hear these comments about the status of text-to-speech quality. I wind up using quite a bit of text-to-speech for learning and while it appears to have very significantly improved recently, I would have thought most learners would still be in favour of native speaker recording over a Hal descendant given a choice.

Well there are several points here.

First up, one of the points Wyner pushes hard on his website, in his book and even in the pitch video for this software is how important it is to build your own deck. But then he sells you premade decks... hardly consistent with his message. The biggest bonus of the premade deck is the accompanying audio -- very, very few Anki users go to the lengths of getting a native speaker to record all their cards for them. Using text-to-speech makes it possible to have a fully customisable and personalisable deck and have audio for every card -- you really can have your cake and eat it.

Secondly, while native speakers are good in theory, quite often what you get out of them in the studio is kind of unnatural. As a teacher, I've worked with various recordings that are utterly painful to listen to, because the actors hired to do the recordings tend to distort the language with an aim to make it clearer and easier to understand -- it becomes easier to understand by being less like natural language. For example, the weak schwa sound in English is often replaced with a clear vowel (in my head, I'm hearing the word ex-cit-ing being enthusiastically overpronounced by a drama school graduate as I type). In fact, the first time I was in the studio recording for a language course, I was being actively directed to overpronounce (my voice appears in two English courses).
Text-to-speech is designed to be easy to understand for native speakers, often in sub-optimal conditions (e.g. using a voice menu across a bad line or interacting with an app while sitting on a busy train). This means that they exaggerate the key characteristics of the phonemes -- what you might call their "salient features". One of the biggest problems to speaking and listening that learners face is getting stuck in the trap of processing the language through the sound system of their native language. I remember reading about a study claiming that exaggerating the salient features of phonemes in input led to learners noticing those salient features and resulted in better comprehension and production of spoken language.
So if you have a choice between a native speaker who exaggerates the wrong things and a computer that exaggerates the right things, which one are you going to choose?
In theory, a native speaking voice actor and director who both understand phonology would be the best thing, but there's not that many of either, and you definitely need both.

Plus, again, that restricts you to a list of preselected sentences which is diametrically opposed to Wyner's original philosophy.
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crush
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Re: The Fluent Forever App

Postby crush » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:40 pm

Cainntear wrote:Plus, again, that restricts you to a list of preselected sentences which is diametrically opposed to Wyner's original philosophy.

I think one of the selling points behind hiring the native speakers was to have them double-check and record the most popular community sentences, so the list of sentences with recorded audio would grow over time. I'm not sure how that'll work in practice, though.
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Re: The Fluent Forever App

Postby Adrianslont » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:53 pm

Cainntear wrote:
Adrianslont wrote:
smallwhite wrote:What do you call a virtual course that doesn't exist yet? A virtual virtual course? A yet virtual course?

Vapourware! It’s a real word!

Vapourware implies that you don't expect to ever see it.

Your comment sent me to google and I found these.

From Google itself: "software or hardware that has been advertised but is not yet available to buy, either because it is only a concept or because it is still being written or designed."

From Cambridge Dictionaries Online: "a computer program that is advertised but is not yet available or is never made available"

Or, more in line with your usage, from Collins online dictionary: "new computer software that has not yet been produced and which is likely never to be released or not to work as promised"

On the subject of the whether it will actually be released, my intuition is that it will. This is based on Wyner's track record - he's managed to get other products to the market and be successful with them. Of course, that doesn't guarantee future success but it's generally a pretty good predictor. This upcoming one is different in that it's an app rather than a book or simply an anki deck but it builds on his past projects so it's not completely new territory.
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Cainntear
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Re: The Fluent Forever App

Postby Cainntear » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:11 pm

crush wrote:
Cainntear wrote:Plus, again, that restricts you to a list of preselected sentences which is diametrically opposed to Wyner's original philosophy.

I think one of the selling points behind hiring the native speakers was to have them double-check and record the most popular community sentences, so the list of sentences with recorded audio would grow over time. I'm not sure how that'll work in practice, though.

Fair point -- if the curators are going to be full time employees, and they're native speakers (and therefore only curating 1 language each, or maybe 1.2 on average), then the crowdfunding cash they've currently got wouldn't keep the site going even one year, even if the app development was free.

It's really easy to underestimate how expensive these things can be.

(Incidentally, the reason I'm so interested is that my dreams of launching a super-duper language app are returning to me, and when I have some free time I'm going to try to get myself up to speed on Android and iOS development. I'm not badmouthing Fluent Forever because they're a future competitor, though -- I genuinely believe he's barking up the wrong tree and creating something very expensive that doesn't do the job as well as something cheaper could. I'm also trying to ground myself so that I don't go barking up the wrong tree myself. Oh, and if I do ever launch something, I fully expect to get ripped to shreds by you guys, so don't worry about that!)
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Atinkoriko
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Re: The Fluent Forever App

Postby Atinkoriko » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:09 am

No mas, por favor. It seems Wyner made an excellent investment in hiring a dedicated PR guy. Suddenly, these tech blogs all seem to be in absolute agreement that this yet unreleased and untested app truly is the solution to all our problems.

For a behind the scenes look at PR tactics, I highly recommend this book - Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trust-Me-Lying ... 1591846285

Slightly and deliberately sensational title aside, it truly is an eye opener as the author himself points to real life instances he had a hand in ie In order to promote his friend Tucker Max’s film, he posed as an offended member of the public and distributed angry letters of mobilisation to activist groups, hoping they’d take the bait and protest the film. They did and the film received the necessary dose of publicity it needed to succeed financially. What is relevant to this case is his explanation of how blogs work, as the realities of click based revenue squashes the ideals of journalistic integrity, and how one could easily spread misinformation or create a ‘consensus’ by simply getting one blog to publish the information. In order not to be left out, the other blogs quickly mirror the same popular story, often referencing one another. It truly is a fascinating read.

9DCCF18F-D2B4-4368-9063-A4C234ABD442.png
‘Fluency to the Masses’
9DCCF18F-D2B4-4368-9063-A4C234ABD442.png (327.48 KiB) Viewed 608 times
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Re: The Fluent Forever App

Postby smallwhite » Tue May 22, 2018 11:30 am

Cross-referencing threads:
The Fluent Forever App 30 Oct 2017
Fluent Forever app: holy grail or smoke & mirrors? 22 May 2018
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Re: The Fluent Forever App

Postby Hashimi » Thu May 24, 2018 12:46 am

Atinkoriko wrote:In summary to this rather long winded post, I’ll just like to present an example.
I have an old straight razor my grandad used to have. Of course it requires a little sharpening and I have no idea how to use it without slitting my throat but that is hardly the fault of the razor. It was made well and has lasted decades. It will continue to last a few more. Meanwhile, I have a few broken disposable razors right now in my bathroom’s trashcan, ostensibly the best and most newfangled offerings that Gillette has. Over the course of my shaving life, I’m sure that Gillette will continue to ‘innovate’ more razors into my trashcan but my grandad’s razor will still do its job in the hands of someone experienced enough to use it properly.

Just my two cents.


The Parable of The Razor, by Prof. Alexander Arguelles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-W0JIlyOWbg
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