What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

General discussion about learning languages
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zenmonkey
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby zenmonkey » Sun Sep 16, 2018 4:23 pm

I've become convinced:

a) that method, material and tools come second to doing the hours,
b) the choices of method, material and tools matter immensely in enjoying the hours,
c) attentive learning = f[(hours), (method, material and tools),(enjoyment)],
d) it's all about attentive learning (vs passive activity).

Ok, maybe I knew most of that before. Maybe I've only discovered more about what works for me as part of b).
I've certainly learned that what works for me isn't consistent and also that it isn't what I should always propose for others without understand their needs and attitudes and discovery processes.

I've learned that a lot of people are interested in learning a language but less are interested in doing the hours.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby tiia » Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:45 pm

Kamlari wrote:2. Two new words: Dunkeldeutschland and Lügenpresse.

Well, great... :? Do you actually know why it is called Dunkeldeutschland originally?

About the latter one... ehm... *reminding myself about the "no politics" in this forum*. It's no surprise someone following German media during the last years learns this word. :(


On topic: It realise that I somehow had quite a lot of luck with my school teachers, and that in this forum I seem to be an exception getting along with classes so well.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby tarvos » Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:56 pm

That language learning is a lot of work, but very rewarding once you get to pick the fruits after you've sown the seeds (of love).
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby rdearman » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:48 pm

Kamlari wrote:1.
It's nice to know a language or two.
2.
Two new words: Dunkeldeutschland and Lügenpresse.

Let's try to avoid words with political implications, although I think you're not trying to be political, just comment on new words.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby victorhart » Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:36 am

I am trying to learn to understand Mandarin exclusively by watching authentic videos, as an experiment. I watched a few hundred hours between 2014 and 2015, then stopped, unfortunately, due to life circumstances.

I've tried to pick it back up a few times in 2016 and 2017, without success, but now I believe I am back for good!

What I learned in the intervening two to three years is that my retention is better than I would have expected. Granted, I never made very impressive progress, i.e. it's questionable how much I had actually learned. However, my subjective impression is that months or years later I don't lose much of what I learned to understood in the first place.

Summary: if you watch tons of video and slowly pick up words that way, you are likely to remember them a couple of years later.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby Iversen » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:20 pm

I have not learnt anything new
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby garyb » Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:19 pm

Last year I spent several months travelling in target-language countries: one and a half in Spain then three in Italy. That taught me a lot and confirmed many of my ideas. I could write extensively, but I'll try to sum up the main points that come to mind (and for the morbidly curious, it's all in my log):

Unless you're planning to live in the country for years, you'll never sound and act like a native and you probably don't want to either. Better to accept and embrace being a foreigner. Understanding this helped me deal with perfectionism and be more confident.

Many people will not react well to an outsider coming to their country and speaking their language. This can be a shock after hearing the common romanticised ideas about how much the locals appreciate even a few words. It's a shame, but life's not fair, just focus on the positive.

Immersion is great but no substitue for intentional study. We all know this already, but a part of me had still hoped that this time in the countries would give me miraculous results so I needed to experience it myself to understand the limitations.


In terms of learning in itself, I've been coming to similar realisations as Zenmonkey's, especially about attention. It's not only the hours, also the quality: choosing materials and activities appropriate to your goals and paying proper attention to them. It's sad that many still refer to reading and listening as "passive" activities, as benefiting the most from them (whether extensive or intensive or whatever) requires anything but passivity.

Another big realisation in recent years is that more speaking isn't necessarily better, especially when pursuing opportunities to speak causes stress or you compromise by speaking with other learners or get into linguistic power struggles with unhelpful natives. Some learners including me absolutely need to practise speaking to get good at it, but it's important to remember that input, study, and writing all support speaking in some way and one has to find a balance.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby NoManches » Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:26 pm

garyb wrote:
Many people will not react well to an outsider coming to their country and speaking their language. This can be a shock after hearing the common romanticised ideas about how much the locals appreciate even a few words. It's a shame, but life's not fair, just focus on the positive.



I've spent a lot of time in Mexico and have never had this problem. Maybe people criticized me behind my back, but I was never aware of it....

In the U.S. however, I HAVE had negative experiences using Spanish. I've only had a few people make fun of my Spanish to my face, and every time it has been a Spanish "heritage speaker" (although I can only think about 3 instances when this has happened).



Back to the topic...


An interesting part about learning a language is that you learn HOW to learn a language. If I were to start another language tomorrow I'm sure I would find it easier than my experience with Spanish, because I now know what works for me and what doesn't work. I know what needs to be done, and what needs to be prioritized.

What I have learned is that when it comes to reading, speaking, listening, and writing, they are all important...but they are not necessarily equal. LISTENING is so important, and often times neglected because people want to "speak" a language and forget how important listening is.

I've also learned that no matter how much you study and speak the language, you will always be blown away by how much you don't know in the language. The sooner you accept this, the better.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby CarlyD » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:10 pm

I learned that forming the habit of studying is more important than anything else. You can have the best programs, best books--and best intentions--which won't get you anywhere without the habit in place.

I also learned that everyone has an opinion on the best ways/resources/methods. For them. I listen to them all, but have finally gotten that what works for someone else might not work for me.

rdearman wrote:Let's try to avoid words with political implications, although I think you're not trying to be political, just comment on new words.


I think it's good to know about the "bad" words, in case you hear them and totally misinterpret what the person is saying. I can translate that first word, but had to look it up on Google to see how it was being used--that meaning wouldn't have occurred to me.

I was watching stupid driver videos on Youtube. I noticed several Russian men all said the same word when some driver in front of them did something stupid. I heard it so many times I "knew" the word and could use it when someone did something stupid. Then I looked it up in Google Translate. Yeah, I won't be using that word in public.

Sometimes, learning what not to say in another language is important too.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby tarvos » Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:03 pm

Also, screw anyone who says logographic scripts are easy. They're annoying and they will always be, despite the fact I think they're necessary. They do my head in.
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