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

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

Postby mastrinka » Thu Sep 27, 2018 1:25 pm

I've learned that I learn best "in waves" instead of having a fixed schedule.
By "learning in waves" I mean - having periods of intense learning and periods of light or no learning. For example, for a few days (or weeks) I try to learn as much as possible, to completely dive into the language, and then leave it for a while.
I do it following my natural motivation cycle (plus catching up with other life responsibilities).

I've learned if I learn in a slow pace, it's like trying to ride a bike by slowly pedaling - it doesn't give me enough momentum. I keep forgetting and re-learning same things over again.
That's why I like this wave pattern learning. I feel like things I learn during an intense learning period find a way to stick in the brain and that I don't need to relearn much in the next "wave".
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby StringerBell » Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:40 pm

I've learned that language learning is not a linear process (at least not for me). The overall trend is one of improvement, there are a ton of really crappy days thrown in there that make me feel like I'm much worse than I was previously and I'm just wasting my time because nothing is sinking in...just when I start questioning that I'll ever be able to speak this language, I suddenly get much better, I see real improvement and all the doubts disappear. The "jumps" are often unexpected and the "crashes" are temporary. As long as I can be patient with myself, maintain a positive attitude, and be consistent, I will eventually improve regardless of how many potholes there are along the way.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby tiia » Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:46 pm

tiia wrote: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.

There is something more I have learned:

Language tandems work best for me, or have a higher chance to be continuous, when you set the next meeting at the end of the previous meeting. So you always know when (and where) you will meet next time and cannot forget to make out a new appointment. If possible, a fixed time once a week is a good idea.
Last edited by tiia on Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby zKing » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:48 pm

I've learned just how different a skill Speaking is than Listening.

For my main TL (Cantonese) I used to do almost zero output... I was much too dogmatic (lazy?) with my Krashen-esque POV about 'comprehensible input'. While I still consider it to be pretty much the solution for reading or listening skills, when I started to really focus this year on real conversational ability and attempted to speak... 'comprehensible input' showed its glaring weaknesses. You can kind-of-understand your way through a LOT of situations... but there is a MASSIVE difference between listening and fuzzily getting the gist of something in context vs speaking and being able to get across meaning on-the-fly. While I intellectually "knew" several of these differences, the real truth of it didn't hit me until I experienced it first hand.

Examples:
  • Speaking requires a MUCH smaller knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, but you must be MUCH more skilled with these bits.
  • To speak, you need ZERO synonyms, one word is (almost always) enough. Listening requires at least familiarity with sometimes a half dozen similar words.
  • Speaking (depending on the language) may often require reformulating your natural (L1-influenced) thoughts into other forms. With Listening you can take what's given to you 'as is' and just attempt to decode it.
  • Circumlocution is not just some 'short cut' or 'trick', it is an absolutely vital skill for speaking at the B1/B2 levels (!!)
  • Speaking requires you to simultaneously do several things at the same time: form grammar, mentally find vocabulary, pronounce, etc.
  • Any lack of instant automaticity in your Speaking skills will become a glaringly obvious pause in the action, Listening hiccups can be far less noticeable and less likely to break the flow.
  • For tonal languages, when Listening you can basically not know the specific tone of the overwhelming majority of words and do fine. Speaking requires you have a pretty good grasp of the tones for most of what you say.
  • On the plus side, Speaking allows you full control of the content... as long as you can form something that gets the meaning across, you are good.

Now I know this comes across as "Speaking is hard"... and most folks will say that Listening is the most difficult skill to learn, which is simply due to the lack of control of word/grammar content and speed. When listening, in theory, you could encounter ANY word in the language and you are likely to hear thousands of different words, so the raw volume of data you must 'know' is huge. I'll also admit that I've previously spent a LOT of time listening, so I've built a much stronger muscle in that department. But honestly, I'm not trying to compare the two as far as difficulty level. I'm just saying they are VERY different in character. This is why I use different methods to train these skills. For example, I use Anki for production cards but it is a tight set with no-synonyms and only 10 new cards per day. As I've said elsewhere, I don't think Anki (for me at my level) is a good tool for input. Large volumes of native comprehensible input does that job.

I'd say this is the most notable thing I've learned lately. YMMV.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby Iversen » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:43 pm

As I have mentioned in my log I now have to amend my earlier statement, in which I claimed that I had learnt absolutely nothing new about language learning the last couple of years.

I wrote that statement on September 17, and it was true at the time, but since then I have found out that it is not only possible, but also more efficient to base the wordlist that corresponds to a given text on the text itself instead of using the informal list of new words I have jotted down during my work with the article. Against expectation it is not a problem to remember which words I had trouble with when I see them again, and the second time I mostly even remember their meanings. OK, I still may have to look them up to check their morphological characteristics and check the meaning an extra time (since the meaning I remember may have come from a dubious translation), but I would also have done that when putting wordlists together before September.

As for my dictionary based wordlists I do them as I always have done them - no reason to change something that has functioned quite well until now.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby PandaIzumi » Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:03 am

I've learned that figuring out what study methods work for me is significantly better than trying to force methods that don't.

So basically, I've learned that I really dislike anki(after multiple tries with it) but I find goldlisting to be perfect for me.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby Expugnator » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:21 pm

I'll try to remain within the timeframe specified by the OP:

The past two years, mostly the past year, I've made some minor but significant changes in my practices thanks to finally surrendering to some notions I intuitively knew but was taking long to admit.

I've learned it's worthless progressing through too hard textbook just for the sake of completionism. Now if I notice a resource isn't teaching me the sustainable +1 way, I promptly put it on hold;

I've learned it's possible to learn new content AND review on the go in a way that is far more interesting and acceptable to me: I keep using a new textbook for consolidating and reviewing another, but sometimes the timespan is too large, longer than my forgetting curve; so I'm overlearning Clozemaster's early decks for that matter. That proved to be useful particularly for speaking, as I noticed an improvement on my so-far input-only Estonian through combining a short, overlearned Clozemaster deck and the pushy Speakly.me app. That accounted for most of my intensive reading on Estonian as well, as I don't actually do the native materials I'm working on intensively. Anyway, it's always easier to open earlier Clozemaster levels than it is to open previously studied textbooks.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby Xmmm » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:53 pm

I've learned that n+5000 activities are a waste of time.

Also, I have more respect for courses now. Assimil actually got me somewhere in Russian, and if I had methodically followed that up and completed Modern Russian instead of spinning off into the weeds, I would have saved who knows how many hours.
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby devilyoudont » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:44 am

Xmmm wrote:I've learned that n+5000 activities are a waste of time.


Sorry to be ignorant, but what's an example of an n+5000 activity?
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Re: What have you learned about language learning in the last two years?

Postby Xmmm » Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:08 am

devilyoudont wrote:
Xmmm wrote:I've learned that n+5000 activities are a waste of time.


Sorry to be ignorant, but what's an example of an n+5000 activity?


Trying to read original 19th century classic literature when you are at the A2 level by looking up every word ...
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