aaleks's log

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Cavesa
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby Cavesa » Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:55 pm

Yes, that is a shady way to recreate a forum. I have nothing against teachers' forums, of course they are a good thing, it's just useful to not mix various purposes and public together without a clear announcement of the change. If they are hostile towards the successful learners, then perhaps they should have opted for their own graphic style (at least different colours, and named it visibly like "efl teachers forum.ru"

Some of the complaints and criticisms towards the advanced learners remind me of the historical anecdotes of people worried that cars would be too fast and dangerous. Of course the horse carriage drivers were interested in spreading these :-D These teachers will hopefully be mostly out of jobs in the next few decades, just like those horse carriage drivers.

Well, my discussion with the "teacher" on the other forum is finally at its end. They even managed to understand and answer some questions, they are a language learner too, afterall. But still, they are incapable of distinguishing the research denial (that's what they accuse me of) from criticism of its implementation and its blind spots and bias (which is what I am really saying). But they are getting ridiculous, now with claims that they've gotten thousands of students to C1/C2. :-D

But what was more worrying: perhaps their obsolete attitude that "feedback is just one of four equally important strands in a language class" is widely spread. And perhaps this is one of the reasons behind learners' disappointments, behind all those "majority of the time in class was wasted just on coursebook exercises" experiences. Yes, learners like me tend to mention mostly anecdotic "evidence", but only because nobody bothers to really research the independent learners, few people research the needs of the advanced learners (and usually in a very flawed way), and we are in general being dismissed as dumb kids that just don't realize how awesome the teachers are. The fact most of them are just ignorants doesn't seem to bother anyone.

Honestly, it only motivates me to get a few more languages to C1/C2, to prove I am right. More anecdotes to share :-D And I am glad for all the anecdotes, that have helped me reach my goals much more than any teacher!
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aaleks
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Sat Dec 05, 2020 9:47 am

Cavesa wrote:Well, my discussion with the "teacher" on the other forum is finally at its end. They even managed to understand and answer some questions, they are a language learner too, afterall. But still, they are incapable of distinguishing the research denial (that's what they accuse me of) from criticism of its implementation and its blind spots and bias (which is what I am really saying). But they are getting ridiculous, now with claims that they've gotten thousands of students to C1/C2. :-D

But what was more worrying: perhaps their obsolete attitude that "feedback is just one of four equally important strands in a language class" is widely spread. And perhaps this is one of the reasons behind learners' disappointments, behind all those "majority of the time in class was wasted just on coursebook exercises" experiences. Yes, learners like me tend to mention mostly anecdotic "evidence", but only because nobody bothers to really research the independent learners, few people research the needs of the advanced learners (and usually in a very flawed way), and we are in general being dismissed as dumb kids that just don't realize how awesome the teachers are. The fact most of them are just ignorants doesn't seem to bother anyone.


To your Reddit "teacher" credit they at least read researchs. I doubt that many of efl.ru teachers read them, let alone are capable to take part in that kind of discussion. The few who do belong to the not-staying-long group. There are a subsection on efl.ru called "Флудилка" from the English word "flood". It's an area where the forum's members can chat about any not related topics - from shopping to coronavirus. Usually I read efl.ru through "Активные темы"/"Active topics", i.e. I open the active topics page and look through it to see if there's something I might find interesting to read. Sometimes it's not so easy to understand what subforum this or that thread belogns - Флудилка or the teachers one. Especially after starting to read the thread :roll: . At the same time, yes, in many discussion learners would be treated as "dumb kids that just don't realize how awesome the teachers are". Even when learners have more experience and knowledge on the topic being discussed than some of the teachers just because the former may actually read researchs and other things like that, and the latter seem to rarely do that. They draw conclusions from their experience of working with learners who often don't have any real motivation to learn English: kids not doing well at English lessons in school, adults thinking that they might need English but have no need in learning the language at the moment, adults who just want to be able to get by in a foreign country when they go on vacation, etc.

By the way, where has that discussion taken place on Reddit? I read Reddit sometimes, and I tried to find the discussion after reading your and Caromarlyse's posts. But I just a lurker-reader, not a member of Reddit, maybe that why I couldn't find it?
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Tue Dec 08, 2020 6:24 pm

I read the Reddit discussion mentioned before :) . Well... I think I gave too much credit to that "teacher" in the post above. The whole discussion reminded me of the ones I'd had on efl.ru. All that I-am-a-teacher-so-I-will-speak-and-you-should-listen attitude. And there were other similarities. I got such a strong sense of deja vu so I decided to go on efl.ru and read some of my old "battles" with the teachers. Actually I was trying to find one specific discussion - the discussion as a result of which I got that "teacher-hater" label. Fortunately, I wasn't a prolific poster :D . But finding that old thread still took me some time. When, eventually, I found the thread I was surprised to see how much alike that discussion and the Reddit one were. Both discussions were around the topic of teachers kind of sabotaging the progress of their students. For example, in the one I had on efl.ru one of the teachers tell a story about one of her students who she proudly called an accomplished beginner (in Russain she called him "конечный beginner" :mrgreen: ). Why "proudly"? Because she seemed to think of that level as a great achievement. For a student. And because she seemed to feel very proud of the fact that she kept working with him at the same level while others (teachers, I guess) would say that his level was at least Elemenary, or even Pre-Intermediate. From my point of view she was simply wasting her student's time and money. Btw, from reading her posts in that thread I got an impression that she saw dissuading students "illusions" about their English as the main purpose of her life :roll: .

Speaking of illusions. I lost some. In this post I mentioned another teacher who got offended when I disagreed that C2 is the level of a native speaker, and also said that a C2 level could deteriorate with time without some maintenance (reading books, watching tv). Back then, while we seemed to disagree on everything - she believed that a language should and could be learn almost exclusively from textbooks of all kinds, and saw consuming native media (books, tv, etc.) as something non-important and not-really-contributing to the learning process - but still I respected her achievement. Reaching a C2 level, passing CPE with a good score - is still a big deal. That's a result any language learner may and should feel proud of. And she was one of the few teachers who, occasionally, posted there in English. Most of them never do, and, unfortunately, it's easy to guess why. Back then, reading her English posts I wasn't always agree with her use of articles but in general it seemed to be good. It was two years ago. Yesterday I decided to look at her English with a fresh eye. I didn't find mistakes in her writing, of course (a couple of articles maybe?). But, almost quotting the mean teacher :lol: , that wasn't her main problem :geek: . I won't quote the "Russian syntax" phrase :D . I'd say that her problem, as well as some other teachers on efl.ru, was (is?) that she seemed to not have a feelling for the language. In that post that I read yesterday she'd write in a rather unnatural way. And there's no surprise considering her views on (not)impotance of tons of input in learning a language. What's a surprise, though, is that she's actually spent a year in the US as an exchange student when she was 15. Why, while staying there, she didn't pick up a natural way of saying/writing things in English is a mystery to me.

As I've written earlier I left efl.ru. One of the reasons why I wrote the post about the "mean teacher" was burning the bridges. I didn't expect the discussion that followed, and that it would serve as a kind of antidote for me. In the post I wrote in Cavesa's log I said that I lowered my expectations, lowered the bar, so to speak. But after this discussion I've started to think that maybe I'm not such a loser, English-learning-wise, as I used to think :roll: . Maybe there's still a hope for me, I mean my English, to improve? :D

overscore, iguanamon, Cavesa, Deinonysus, Caromarlyse, thank you for your replies! :)

Reading the old posts on efl.ru worked as an antidote as well. It helped me see how far from objective some of the efl.ru-judges of my English were.

The thing I'm sure of at the moment is that I should never return to that (efl) forum if I really want to improve my English.
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby overscore » Tue Dec 08, 2020 9:26 pm

Cavesa wrote:Yes, that is a shady way to recreate a forum. I have nothing against teachers' forums, of course they are a good thing, it's just useful to not mix various purposes and public together without a clear announcement of the change. If they are hostile towards the successful learners, then perhaps they should have opted for their own graphic style (at least different colours, and named it visibly like "efl teachers forum.ru"

Some of the complaints and criticisms towards the advanced learners remind me of the historical anecdotes of people worried that cars would be too fast and dangerous. Of course the horse carriage drivers were interested in spreading these :-D These teachers will hopefully be mostly out of jobs in the next few decades, just like those horse carriage drivers.


A long time ago there used to be elevator operators in every building in New York City because of public demand due to widespread fears of the technology. You'd get in and they would push the button for you. Eventually the operators formed powerful unions that probably contributed to a lot of urban legends of elevators falling down – until eventually the practice went away; probably displaced by more terrifying tech like the automobile.
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Cavesa
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby Cavesa » Wed Dec 09, 2020 12:39 am

aaleks wrote:I read the Reddit discussion mentioned before :) . Well... I think I gave too much credit to that "teacher" in the post above. The whole discussion reminded me of the ones I'd had on efl.ru. All that I-am-a-teacher-so-I-will-speak-and-you-should-listen attitude.

Yes, the person even lost track of what we were actually disagreeing on. :-D The problem is, that such a person can get so intense that one even starts to doubt themselves. That's actually their whole point. But I am used to much stronger opponents in the psychological warfare. Because that's what this is! (Yes, I've just started a sentence with "because". On purpose :-D ) The person in this conversation had nothing to add, they weren't even addressing my main point. They got totally ridiculous, when they started claiming that high quality input for the advanced English learners is hard to get without a teacher :-D :-D :-D Not sure whether this idea is more ignorant or delusional.

Yes, being a teacher is not easy, and teachers often don't get enough respect. But the reason are not people like you and me, actively learning. The main reason are people like what we see in these discussions (and in the offline world too). People focused on proving they are superior but without having the knowledge or other skills to support that. People incapable of a normal discussion. People totally out of touch with the reality of our century.

...I mentioned another teacher who got offended when I disagreed that C2 is the level of a native speaker, and also said that a C2 level could deteriorate with time without some maintenance (reading books, watching tv). Back then, while we seemed to disagree on everything - she believed that a language should and could be learn almost exclusively from textbooks of all kinds, and saw consuming native media (books, tv, etc.) as something non-important and not-really-contributing to the learning process - but still I respected her achievement. Reaching a C2 level, passing CPE with a good score - is still a big deal. ... she seemed to not have a feelling for the language. In that post that I read yesterday she'd write in a rather unnatural way. And there's no surprise considering her views on (not)impotance of tons of input in learning a language. What's a surprise, though, is that she's actually spent a year in the US as an exchange student when she was 15. Why, while staying there, she didn't pick up a natural way of saying/writing things in English is a mystery to me.


No mystery. She was probably much more focused on textbooks than the real life even in the US. In any case, she probably hasn't been getting enough input since, due to underestimation of the importance of both the input and the maintenance.

There are also huge differences between English and every other language people learn. We often talk about the tons of English input and also practice available to everybody and the relative lack of the same stuff in other languages. But it is true about the textbooks too. So, if you choose to get to the CPE the more textbookish way, totally dependent on classes and teachers and textbooks, you actually can. It is a worse way, the people are missing out on not only enjoyment but also some kinds of skill. It is also a more expensive path. But it is possible.

There is no other language with that many textbooks for C1 and C2 learners, that many support tools, and also that many teachers at least trying to address the advanced learners. We may agree that they are often doing lots of things wrong (I wish I wasn't too lazy to look up that awesome thread by Reineke with research links), but the teachers of the other languages are often not even trying. They refuse right away and believe the nonsense that "C2 is only for people, who have lived in the country or have a foreign wife/husband". Both of these extreme positions are wrong.


As I've written earlier I left efl.ru. One of the reasons why I wrote the post about the "mean teacher" was burning the bridges. I didn't expect the discussion that followed, and that it would serve as a kind of antidote for me. In the post I wrote in Cavesa's log I said that I lowered my expectations, lowered the bar, so to speak. But after this discussion I've started to think that maybe I'm not such a loser, English-learning-wise, as I used to think :roll: . Maybe there's still a hope for me, I mean my English, to improve? :D


You are already very good. And of course you will improve over time. There is no ceiling, no point at which we are "done with learning". It is a bit of a scary thought, which may be one of the reasons for which people love to believe the "C2 is native" nonsense. You're welcome. Don't return there, it sounds like a toxic community, that doesn't have much to teach you

edit:fixed a typo
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aaleks
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Wed Dec 09, 2020 4:26 pm

Cavesa wrote:Yes, the person even lost track of what we were actually disagreeing on. :-D The problem is, that such a person can get so intense that one even starts to doubt themselves. That's actually their whole point. But I am used to much stronger opponents in the psychological warfare. Because that's what this is! (Yes, I've just started a sentence with "because". On purpose :-D ) The person in this conversation had nothing to add, they weren't even addressing my main point. They got totally ridiculous, when they started claiming that high quality input for the advanced English learners is hard to get without a teacher :-D :-D :-D Not sure whether this idea is more ignorant or delusional.


I'd say you managed that "teacher" perfectly :) . Btw, I don't believe that they have learned five languages to C1/C2. IMO, someone with such a "track record" would be acting more reasonaly (and wouldn't need the help of Socrat and the others to make his point :lol: )

Don't return there, it sounds like a toxic community, that doesn't have much to teach you


I guess it really is a toxic community. And the weirdest one I've ever been part of. Well, the Internet is a rather weird place to begin with :mrgreen: What I mean is that it was the first (and so far only) forum where often I could neither predict nor understand people's actions and reactions.
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Fri Jan 01, 2021 4:51 pm

The first day of the year is a good time for a summary comnbined with plans, I think ;)

Every year before writing an year summary I read the one of the last year, and every time my first thought is "Why the writing didn't seem so bad a year ago..." :roll: Every time the entry seems to be full of mistakes, typos, and ill-formed sentences. That makes me sad and happy at the same time. Sad because I made those mistakes, happy because I can see them so maybe my English has improved a bit for this year.

(A link to the last year summary https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 20#p156608 )

My plan for French was finishing Hélène et les garçons which I did as a part of my French experiment. The experiment was the most important "event" of the last year for me. The main goal I pursued starting that experiment was finding a language learning approach that I could use for my other language as well. I think I've reached the goal, or am close to reaching it.

One of the things that makes me unhappy about my English is a layer of foreignness that seems to be always here. Recently I realized though that while my French is at a far lower level than my English there is no such layer of foreignness. Or I just can't feel it? Anyway, the thing is that my inner emotional reaction to French is very close to one I have to my native language. It's not the same, of course, it can't be the same, it's just French doesn't feel as foreign as English does. That's doesn't mean that I don't have an "emotional response" to English words, etc., it's just the layer of foreignness is often here like some kind of an invisible filter. It's hard to explain, even to myself, what that layer is because I often can't even tell right away in what language I'm watching or reading something - English or Russian. The barrier might be blur but the problem is it's still here. With French it's different, while my comprehension of the language is far from 100% there seems to be no such barrier. The reason for that I see in the approaches I've used to learn both languages. During the first years of learning English I used a dictionary a lot, I'd even say obsessively. Even though I didn't write down words (creating word-lists), or put new words in Anki and the like, I looked up every word I didn't know, half-know, or just in case. So, to me, every English word was first tied to its Russian translation, and only after that to the contexts I saw or heard it in. And since the brain was too busy with memorizing the word translation, sometimes with other meanings, etc., it might not have the power to really remember the context at all. With time the things changed but you know what they say about the first impression and the like. With French, for obvious reasons, the process of learning words was (is) different. Context was the only thing I had to somehow figure out the meaning of a word. So, this time the stages of learning words went like this: a French word - the contexts I'd encounter it in - the Russian or English translation of the French word. The last stage would be rather optional, occasional, and short-lived. What I mean is that a French word would be firmly tied to the context in the first place, and that's how I would remember the word. The translation might be used as some kind of "checking mechanism" - like, okay, now I understand, this word means X. But whenever I'd need to recall the word I'd do it through recalling the contexts I learned it from. My most recent French learning "discovery" is that when I translate I do it in kind of fleeting mental images. Sometimes I can understand what's being said in French directly without any translating at all, but sometimes I feel like the information is washing over my head so to anchor it I, as many other language learners, start translating in my head. At first I felt annoyed by the fact and the need for translating, only recently I realized that in case with French I translate not from one language to anothe language but from a language to an image of the word. Sometimes it might be translating to a word but it seems like, when it's possible, translating to an image prevails.

The downside of the version of the input approach I use is uncertainty. Actually with this approach it's really hard to define one's level of the TL because it doesn't follow the "path", a "plan" of learning a language one may find in a textbook. The order in which this or that word, phrase, or idiom would be learned or this or that grammar structure would be acquired depends on the native materials one uses. I have to admit that sometimes I feel really tempted to grab a textbook and work at least through some parts of it. But, on the other hand, I really like the result I've got and I don't want to ruin it. Besides, I think I can always use that textbook later, if I feel the need or get interested. There's always the question about effectiveness of one or another language learning approach. The input one seems to be often seen as less effective that more traditional approaches with texbooks, dictionaries, memorization lists of words, etc. Mimicking Krashen :mrgreen: , I'd say that my conjecture is that in a long run the input approach may provide a deeper understanding of the TL. By "long run" I mean C-levels and above. Learning a language takes time. A long time, if we're talking about a real understanding and good command of the language. IMO, there's no shortcut for that time because the brain will take as much time as it needs to "digest" and process the information and not a minute less. But if the deep knowledge of the language is not the goal, and one needs to learn the language fast to a functional level - the level where they could successfully fake without actually make it, or make it only partially - then a more traditional approach might be more beneficial. If one day such a learner decided to go further to higher levels they still would need to spend about the same amount of time in the overall on reaching those levels as someone who's been using the input approach. As I said above, there's no shortcuts for higher levels of language proficiency. This is my conjecture ;) . So my plan for French is to continue learning it the way I did through consuming native materials without help of dictionaties or textbooks. Actually, beside the native content I watch sometimes and youtube videos for learners such as Français Authentique and InnerFrench but I avoid anything resembling explicit explanations of grammar topics. Though, recently, out of curiosity, I made an exception for an InnerFrench video about asking question in French. As it turned out the only new information I got from watching it was the different registers themselves but the ways a queston can be formed weren't new to me - I'd seen and heard them before and could easily understand the example questions.

The thing that I feel proud of is that for this year of partial neglect I lost neither Italian nor German. This I attribute to the input approach as well. Italian and German were the first languages I tried to apply the no-dictionary-no-textbook approach to. Those were quite tentative and temporary attempts but still. For keeping Italian afloat I normally watch a new video of Italiano Automatico a week, and for German I try to watch an episode of one or another series on ZDF Mediatek. Ideally it should be an episode a week but often it will be two weeks (or more?). I think I need to start watching Easy German again.
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby Beager Eaver » Sat Jan 09, 2021 1:20 pm

Hello, aaleks! Glad that I found you here.
I finally left that pathetic excuse for a language learning forum. Should have done so a long time ago, really, but it was the only place that I used to talk about and around English learning in Russian, so I got somewhat addicted to it over time. Harking back to the past few months, I realise that my comeback was a mistake after all. The place has become a drain on my time, and it's kind of dried up as a resource for me as a language learner. Hope I'll become a more permanent resident here.
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aaleks
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Thu Jan 14, 2021 4:26 pm

Привет, Beager! :)

I'm glad to see you her! Sorry for delayed response. You are always welcomed in my log :) !

Should have done so a long time ago, really, but it was the only place that I used to talk about and around English learning in Russian, so I got somewhat addicted to it over time. Harking back to the past few months, I realise that my comeback was a mistake after all. The place has become a drain on my time, and it's kind of dried up as a resource for me as a language learner.


Exactly my feelings about the place, and my reasons for being there were quite similar.

Welcome! :)
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Wed Jan 27, 2021 5:19 pm

I have to admit that sometimes I feel really tempted to grab a textbook and work at least through some parts of it.


For some time I'd really been thinking of grabing that textbook but I decided not to, in this entry I'll try to explain why.

I'll start with the reasons why I was thinking about changing my approach at all, and so drastically.

First off, the no-textbooks-no-dictionary rule was a rule for the French experiment which came to its end in November (November 9th), so now I technically can do whatever I want, including changing the approach, or some part of it. Actually my rule for looking up words is not so strict now - I decided it would be okay to look up one-two words within one month but only if I really interested in learning the meanining of the word at that precise moment. So far I've looked up 5 words, and I'd say I like the no-look-ups approach more. Anyway, that's just an example.

The main reason for my looking in the textbooks direction was what language learner usually call the plateau. I'm not sure if I really have gotten to that stage though, it might be that I just want to progress faster. Either way, at some point I started to think - why not to "look up" occasionally something about the grammar too? There would be no harm in doing that...?

Here I need to mention that grammar was the part of language learning I failed when learning English. My lack of confidence in my English, and me as a language learner in general, has a lot to do with my failure to first pick up the English grammar from input, and then learn it from textbooks. Yes, I partially did both - learned some grammar from input and I think there was something I learned from textbooks as well. But the thing is when it comes to learning grammar I feel more like someone new to language learning rather then as an experienced (let alone successful) language learner.

There is a saying (?) or maybe Einstein really said something about the stupidity or insanity of "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result", either way I think there's some truth in these words.

I've tried let's call it the textbook approach with three languages: Russian, German, and English. With Russian, my native language, it was more about spelling/orthography and punctuation rules. German was the foreign language I was taught in school, and back then it was a rather grammar-translation method, I don't know to what extent traditional, but the point is it wasn't some "fun", communicative method - we had to learn a lot of grammar. My story of failure with learning the English grammar has been mentioned in this log many, many, many times :D .

The situations, context in which the languages were learned, my age at the time of learning were different, yet there's a similarity in the way I failed the grammar part in each of them. To try to narrow it down, I'd say it was always about me getting confused by the explanations. Not that I have problems with the linguistics terms, it's more like I have problems witn the linguistics logic. With Russian I solved that problem by simply building my own "system", finding a "logic" that would work for me. Reading books in my teen years helped a lot with that. Of course, it was easy because Russian is my native tongue. There isn't much to say about German since I have not yet learened the language despite the 7 years of school lessons. I'll just say that first during my first attempt to (continue) learn German on my own in the 2000's, and then after coming to this forum I realized that I had misunderstood some basic grammar when learning it in school. No one (out of the five German teachers) noticed. My story with learning the English grammar has been well "documented" in this log.

So, let's assume I take one of the two French textbooks I actually have and start working through at least some of the lessons - why this time the result should be any different from the ones I've had before with Russian, German, and English? Or at least with Russian and English? Both times I had to eventually give up and basically start inventing my own wheel. Why, for a change, not to start with the "wheel" part right from the beginning? From the little I've read about the French grammar I understand that it might be way more complicated system then the English grammar, and while for many my conclusion might seem counterintuitive but in my case that is exactly the reason why I need to avoid reading about it in anything like a textbook or, at least, postpone that moment.

There's one thing I want to stress, though - I don't hate grammar, I just don't understand grammar books. I'm not some kind of genius who can learn a langauge without textbooks, easily picking up grammar patterns, etc., I'm a person who can't learn those things from a textbook so I have to adapt. Maybe I would progress faster if I used a more traditional textbook based approach, the problem is it doesn't work for me as it seems to be supposed to.
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