Your Language Learning Weaknesses

General discussion about learning languages
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Speakeasy
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Re: Your Language Learning Weaknesses

Postby Speakeasy » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:29 pm

Xmmm wrote: ... If you watch a 45 minute TV show, it is composed of scenes...
I would have to agree. In addition, I would suggest that the dialogue deployed in the average TV show or film is actually quite limited both as to quantity and expressiveness. That is, the plots are simplistic and astonishingly repetitive, the scenes call more upon the viewer's ability to follow the physical action, as the camera jumps quickly about and as the scenes switch every few seconds, than his aural acuity. Extended, vocabulary-rich dialogues are quite rare. What dialogues do exist are often delivered very quickly, either for dramatic or for comedic effect. I no longer consider the average TV shown or film to be a valuable source of expanding my understanding of my target languages. Clipped, taught, mumbled speech is freely available from anyone working behind a counter ... and you can always, politely, ask them to repeat their utterances.

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Re: Your Language Learning Weaknesses

Postby NoManches » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:41 am

Cainntear wrote:
kulaputra wrote:I feel I'm repeating myself so I'm probably going to let this topic be after this post.

You aren't -- you're defending your standpoint and explaining where you're coming from, which makes for a productive discussion.
.


Agreed! Not to mention you've learned multiple languages so you have different experiences than people like myself (who've only learned 1 foreign language).

I don't necessarily agree with everything you've said but who knows, maybe with more experience I'll change my opinions on certain things. If everyone on this forum agreed on everything and didn't have different ideas then I probably wouldn't be a member here :D
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Re: Your Language Learning Weaknesses

Postby Cainntear » Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:37 pm

Xmmm wrote:That's how you get a number like 60% comprehension. It applies to long TV shows (or books). Easy parts mix with hard parts and you average it.

Hmmm.... books don't have the same visuals to help cue understanding though. With TV, a change of scene helps reset and reground the viewer, whereas I find a change of scene in a book I don't really understand to be very disorientating.
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Re: Your Language Learning Weaknesses

Postby Xmmm » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:14 pm

Cainntear wrote:
Xmmm wrote:That's how you get a number like 60% comprehension. It applies to long TV shows (or books). Easy parts mix with hard parts and you average it.

Hmmm.... books don't have the same visuals to help cue understanding though. With TV, a change of scene helps reset and reground the viewer, whereas I find a change of scene in a book I don't really understand to be very disorientating.


Yes, I'd agree with that. The "60% comprehension" number is sketchier for books. When I reported 60% comprehension for the first few Italian books I read, it meant I could tell you the meaning of random paragraphs or pages but didn't have clue what the overall book was about.

But the learner needs some way to measure progress, right? If I'm reading a book in Wolof, I have 0% comprehension for sure. But if I'm reading a book in Italian and understand one third of the paragraphs, then my comprehension is 33% ... which functionally may be pretty close to zero. But it tells me as a user that I'm improving relative to where I was at two months ago when I was at 25%, or whatever. And yes you cross some magic line (80%) and everything makes a lot more sense, but it's unsatisfactory for the learner to go "0% 0% 0% 0% 0% whoa 80%".
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Re: Your Language Learning Weaknesses

Postby Monox D. I-Fly » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:34 pm

Xmmm wrote:
Cainntear wrote:
Xmmm wrote:That's how you get a number like 60% comprehension. It applies to long TV shows (or books). Easy parts mix with hard parts and you average it.

Hmmm.... books don't have the same visuals to help cue understanding though. With TV, a change of scene helps reset and reground the viewer, whereas I find a change of scene in a book I don't really understand to be very disorientating.


Yes, I'd agree with that. The "60% comprehension" number is sketchier for books. When I reported 60% comprehension for the first few Italian books I read, it meant I could tell you the meaning of random paragraphs or pages but didn't have clue what the overall book was about.

Seconded. Once I tried to read a few manga chapters in Arabic and my brother asked how's my progress. I said that I could only comprehend 25% of it... Only to continue that by 25% I mean for each speech bubble I could make out 25% of it... My brother said that he thought what I meant was 25% per page...
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Re: Your Language Learning Weaknesses

Postby zKing » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:03 pm

This is perhaps stating the obvious, but...

I think the difficulty with defining a % of comprehension scale often boils down to two experiences I believe most language learners have had, perhaps often:

1. I have read L2 sentences where I knew the meaning of 80% of the words in the sentence, but I could only guess at what overall meaning the sentence was expressing. And often I was wrong.

2. I have read L2 sentences where I knew the meaning of 25% of the words in the sentence and I knew (pretty much) EXACTLY what the overall meaning of the sentence was. (Often with the help of context: previous sentences, flow of the paragraph, visual cues in video, tone of delivery, etc.)

The frequency of those two experiences depends a LOT on the specific content.

And the nature of translating a "fuzzy understanding" into percentages amplifies this problem.
Counting words is (relatively) easy, counting "meaning" is hard.

So when, for example, one person says 50% and another says 80%... they really could be experiencing the same thing.
In the end these claims usually need to be followed by a lot of description to be useful.

Disclaimer: IANAL (I Am Not A Linguist) :D , there may be some clever/official method for this sort of thing.
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Re: Your Language Learning Weaknesses

Postby RachelMeier » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:48 pm

Production, I love reading and watching shows but I hardly ever speak or write. It’s really killing me with Korean right now. I’m so sad that I feel like I lost most of my speaking ability since my immersion course two years ago. Ugh I just want to quit my job and head to Korea for a six week class... :(
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Re: Your Language Learning Weaknesses

Postby patrickwilken » Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:44 pm

garyb wrote:Maybe being too invested in one learning philosophy is a language learning weakness? I remember a poster on the old forum (whose name I forget) who was determined to stick to the input method: avoiding speaking German whenever possible despite living in Berlin with a German wife, and steadfastly refusing to study grammar even though he admitted his grammar was a major weak point. He was very frank about his results, and eventually admitted what most of us know: input gets you quite far but most learners need other work on top of it in order to become a competent speaker in a reasonable amount of time. He's just one data point of course, but probably the best-documented example we've had of someone persisting with very input-focused learning over several years.


Weird (and somehow flattering) to hear about myself in the third-person. :)

I would like to clarify things a little:

1. To date I have watched about 125000 hours of films/TV (about 1400 over five years) and read about 40000 pages of books (and of course listened to radio, read newspapers in my TL etc). This sounds like a lot, but I like reading books and watching TV! I have read 88 books in English this year, and for a few years just switched over to German, starting with Harry Potter and moving up. WRT TV it's about hour a day or a movie every couple of days.

2. My "experiment" was never pure. I did do German classes before I started mostly doing input, but just didn't find them very useful. I loath grammar drills and just didn't work for me. I used Anki for the first year to load up some vocabulary, and after 365 days officially retired my deck and just relied on reading (extensive/intensive) and watching TV. Other than that though I have only used input. I guess when I started I was at a false-beginner A1-level.

3. I have never avoided speaking German in Berlin. That would be verging on crazy. I am actually that guy who speaks German in cafes to other English-speaking expats much to their annoyance. I don't do this deliberately, it's just hard for me to switch over purely to English without some warming up. I mostly spoke English with my wife, but that's some sort of relationship thing; I mostly speak German with my daughter. With everyone else I speak German. However, before you are at B2-level most German speakers who can, will switch to English automatically when they realize that you are a non-native speaker.

4. While it sounds sort of cool to be "probably the best-documented example we've had of someone persisting with very input-focused learning over several years" this should be seen as patently false. I know lots of people who speak at C2 level in an L2 who learnt it largely using input approaches; there are certainly lots of people on this forum and HTLAL who quite inspirational for me in this regard when starting out.

5. Overall my German is at a high-intermediate/low-advanced level. For comprehension I am definitely advanced (somewhere in C1) for production (at least for speaking) more in the B2 range. I actually find it hard to judge production as I don't have any direct access to knowledge about German grammar - I say things and people tell me that I am mostly right and about B2 level, but who knows? When I stumble in conversations it's because I am lacking words or cultural references, not because I lack grammatical constructions.

6. I definitely think if you want to advance to C2 you need to produce a lot of output (specifically writing) and get extensive feedback on this. That's exactly what happened to me when I was at school and university. You can call this grammar study but it's more about learning style from intensive study.
Last edited by patrickwilken on Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Your Language Learning Weaknesses

Postby garyb » Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:10 am

patrickwilken wrote:I would like to clarify things a little:
...

Thanks for the very informative post about your methods and results, and I apologise for misrepresenting them based on what I remembered on the old forum.
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Re: Your Language Learning Weaknesses

Postby patrickwilken » Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:37 am

garyb wrote:
patrickwilken wrote:I would like to clarify things a little:
...

Thanks for the very informative post about your methods and results, and I apologise for misrepresenting them based on what I remembered on the old forum.


No need to apologize. I seem to remember that I was more negative about my progress at the time I last posted. My German has continued to improve over the last few years, so I am pretty happy about a (largely) input based approach, but it's definitely not for everyone.
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