How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

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RyanSmallwood
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby RyanSmallwood » Wed Oct 06, 2021 3:24 pm

I'll just throw out that Matt vs Japan's suggestion isn't based on any personal experience or studies, its just a vague recommendation to his target audience that he assumes is mostly interested in media and is studying at home. Also worth mentioning he spent ~6 months in Japan and said he basically spent the whole time in his room watching television, and regrets not taking more advantage of the situation and just doing what he could've done anywhere.

Not saying you're doing the same thing, or that you have the same priorities, so ultimately its your decision, I just wouldn't take the 2 year thing to be anything more than an arbitrary guess. Also worth pointing out, there will be tons of opportunities in the future to test out delayed output on languages where you're not living in the country.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Wed Oct 06, 2021 3:31 pm

It’s great that you want to read German literature. But reading German literature is really hard, and you have more important things to do. Personally I’d drop reading and focus just on speaking right now. You already read well enough to get by in Germany! Get your speaking skills up to speed! German literature will wait for you.

(As someone who studied German lit, I feel extremely qualified to say everyday speaking is way easier, with far greater rewards, than reading the German classics. You can do this!)
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby AllSubNoDub » Wed Oct 06, 2021 4:31 pm

german2k01 wrote:
What about writing in German and get someone to check it out?


Actually, I am not outputting voraciously both in speaking and writing. I am currently trying to test the hypothesis of Matt vs Japan. He recommends a silent period of 2 years for mass immersion. Every day I am immersing myself in the German language. March 2022 is when my two-year period will be ended as far as the mass immersion approach goes and then I will start writing carefully and get it checked by someone else. Meanwhile, I am also thinking about dedicating some of my time from listening to reading as well. I listen like 6 hours a day.


This reply might be better suited for the other thread you started, but I'll post it here since you brought it up. I think Matt's approach (well, Khatzumoto's approach really, which itself came from Antimoon) is fine for comprehension, especially if you have no need or plans to visit the country, and it will get your output abilities to a surprisingly high level. But it's only surprising because you can even output at all in my experience, not that it's smooth or eloquent in any way. This takes deliberate practice. Here's a German learner using Khatz/Matt's approach; YMMV but waiting 2 years to output for a language like German seems a bit excessive to me.

I have a couple of comments, since I'm pretty well versed in the methods of this approach and its associated "literature". I'm going to call this approach "AJATT" for simplicity.

1. This approach relies heavily on Anki, not for memorization per se, but more for spaced repetition for comprehension of unknowns. It's essentially "spaced repetition reading" or "spaced repetition listening", since you'll be inputting i+1 sentences (one unknown element) from the wild and then seeing them over and over. When reviewing, you only pass if you understand the sentence and nothing really beyond that. I think if used properly Anki can help output (e.g. repeating the sentences out loud until they flow effortlessly, translating from L1 to L2, etc.). However, AJATT is basically just comprehension. Also, I didn't see it mentioned that you were even using Anki - this is a cornerstone of the method.

2. I'm very skeptical about using AJATT for Indo-European languages. I have no doubt that one would reach a high level of comprehension this way, but there are so many shortcuts to learning closely related European languages and you'll be giving all that up with this method. I can read and guess the meaning of thousands of words in IE languages without having studied them and the vast majority of words will have one-to-one translations. That's not the case in Japanese, which is what AJATT is catered to (I'll concede that it's somewhat possible to guess the reading/meaning in Japanese after a while, but you still have to verify the reading/meaning with lookups).

3. Krashen. AJATT claims to espouse the beliefs of Krashen, but it's definitely not Krashen. AJATT is INTENSIVE reading, not extensive reading. With AJATT you are actively looking up unknowns and "memorizing" them through Anki (and you already know the Kanji before attempting to read). Krashen, on the other hand, is basically just extensive reading of graded, comprehensible input and you magically come to understand content with very little translation or looking up. The only real similarity in the two methods is both fail to bridge the gap to get you to outputting. I believe your approach will do the same. By the way, many here are skeptical of Krashen himself. I think Krashen speaks German, but he also lived there for a while in college. His description of his spoken Spanish sounds like he still makes extremely elementary mistakes still, though I have no doubt his comprehension is really good. Probably what Steve Kaufmann's German or Russian sounds like: comprehensible, medium-to-heavy accent, but plenty of mistakes, some of them very basic.

4. I believe Matt has walked back some of his statements on the efficacy that solely inputting has on your output abilities. Also, Matt did a lot of outputting. He has been studying Japanese for 10 years, thousands of hours, lived in Japan and went to Japanese high school for 6 months, had a deck of tens of thousands of Anki cards, has a Japanese girlfriend, did intensive pitch accent study and shadowing, and he's still not fully satisfied with his speaking ability (granted, he's aiming for native level perfection). Anyway, listening and reading without attempting to speak will not leave you sounding like a native, that's a myth.

5. Oh and no use of learning materials allowed! Reading literature and watching TV shows isn't going to give you everything you need in the way business vocabulary imo, depending on what field you're going into. Kind of hard to get this without learning materials, especially if you're just reading/watching for pleasure. Remember that native speakers have had 12 years or more of education in the language, including learning the "boring stuff"; hard to compete with that without the shortcuts learning materials provide.

I don't think you've said what level you're at or what courses you've done. It sounds like you're at a pretty high level if you can follow tv shows and books though, which is a great start. I think you said your goal is to be able to communicate in German at work at a professional level. This requires the ability to comprehend and to make yourself understood. I think a lot of people here believe that each of the 4 abilities (listening, reading, speaking, writing) synergistically build off each other, and I tend to agree with that. Learning one thing at a time is not the most efficient approach (a year of reading, then a year of speaking, etc.).

I found writing and getting corrections on lang-8 (there are other websites now) helped my speaking immensely! I'd sometimes write "scripts" for certain scenarios related specifically to my life and get them corrected, memorize them, record them, and get them critiqued. You can also get a native level speaker to record them for you and then shadow them.

Also, FWIW, I was always really inspired by Professor Arguelles's experience for German. His comprehension was already excellent and he had done some output (I believe he housesat an elderly man who only spoke Yiddish). He then moved to Germany and banished English from his mind and made German is sole "operating system", actively seeking out unknown words, getting lost in the library, getting private tutoring lessons for his speaking, etc. If you can get your comprehension to that level then "activate" it so to speak, that might work. I would assume the Professor already had an excellent grasp of the complete grammar at that point though, so it would likely take you much longer. Also, that would mean getting off this thread since it's mostly in English. ;)

Edit: Typos and clarification
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby german2k01 » Wed Oct 06, 2021 8:48 pm

But you are in the L2 country! And if you correctly described your level of understanding of German texts, you already have a huge passive vocabulary. At least huge enough for everyday conversations. So every single day is a lost opportunity for you. Why would you want to turn yourself into a guinea pig? 2 years? Why not 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days (ideally right next to Walden Pond)? Why not 3, or 4, or 5? Because some random guy on the Internet said it? Really, I have nothing against him personally.


I agreed with his language philosophy not because he is some random guy. He posits that early speaking without developing a strong sound system in your head - you will be prone to develop a bad pronunciation that can not be fixed later on or may take more time. Also, you will be inventing your own version of the language as you are not yet exposed to the native way of saying things. Hence, learners need a silent incubation period while they can absorb hundreds of collocations and grammar structures, etc naturally. Also, strong sound system.
I took it for granted when I heard Steve speaking in German. He starts speaking after a silent period of 6 months. It was the same issue with his Persian. He pronounces common phrases wrongly and is hard to understand. That proves Matt's point of view correct.
There is another point that is not relevant to the discussion, however, kind of verifies Matt's view. I noticed that my subconscious mind is doing a "soundcheck" if the pronunciation is slightly off from the standard one. That's how I detected errors in the pronunciation of Steve in German. (Founder of LingQ).
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby RyanSmallwood » Wed Oct 06, 2021 9:13 pm

There are lots of people who speak early have good accents. And plenty of people learn to do different accents very well in their native language, so we shouldn't be too worried about "never being able to learn correct pronunciation" otherwise no one would be able to learn good pronunciation in languages with lots of loan words, because they'd already have a version in their native language.

Also I wouldn't use Steve Kaufmann as a barometer for what method achieves what results, since he spreads himself thin in the languages he studies and said he doesn't care about being perfect.

If you're really concerned about pronunciation I think doing some minimal pair training (FSI courses have some good exercises for this, and Gabriel Wyner sells Anki decks for this), and regularly trying reading a text you have native audio for and recording yourself and comparing to the native speech. You don't really need to wait until you reach a certain level to check if you're hearing and reproducing the phonology of a language correctly.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby german2k01 » Wed Oct 06, 2021 9:14 pm

Also, I didn't see it mentioned that you were even using Anki - this is a cornerstone of the method


I did not use any Anki in the beginning stage of learning. I started from ground zero 17 months ago. I have been using LingQ in the meantime. Only reading & listening in parallel with watching television series. That was my strategy. However, for the last two months, I have been doing "Sentence Mining" adding sentences from my reading and carefully analyzing grammar structures. 30 minutes at max. At this point, I already read 20 books. In addition, I did L-R to 8 books as per its description a few months ago. Grueling experience both mentally and physically.

A Japanese native speaker did nitpicking of Matt's Japanese and also Khaztu's Japanese on his youtube channel. He remarked that their Japanese is so good that in a normal conversation he would not even think about their mistakes. It is not like they are faking it.

I will not describe my speaking fluently the way Germans speak. Only a few sentences here and there which I have heard many times.

However, when I asked a German lady with whom I am friends with. Once in a while, I have a conversation with her though she speaks most of the time. I asked her did I improve in German? She said she could understand me effortlessly.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby Le Baron » Wed Oct 06, 2021 9:18 pm

german2k01 wrote:You are right with your assessment. In order to be at C2 level, you have to read somewhere between 8-10 million words and also touch upon a variety of content such as books, novels, newspapers, academic journals, magazines, etc Not just novels.

I'd generally be wary of these sorts of counting up words/pages prescriptions assigned to any CEFR levels, or any levels. It's not the quantity, but how much it's understood and translates into useable language. People are doing all sorts of things with different outcomes.

I have nothing against qualifications, it's not that, but I think people obsess over them because of a eagerness to mark progress.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby AllSubNoDub » Wed Oct 06, 2021 10:58 pm

german2k01 wrote:A Japanese native speaker did nitpicking of Matt's Japanese and also Khaztu's Japanese on his youtube channel. He remarked that their Japanese is so good that in a normal conversation he would not even think about their mistakes. It is not like they are faking it.


This was after they had already been learning and speaking for several years. Khatz had been learning Japanese for 5 years and living and working in Japan 3+ years at the time that video was made. Both made numerous pitch accent mistakes in their respective videos. Matt also admitted to being able to "sound more advanced than he actually was" by practicing common things like self-introductions over and over.


german2k01 wrote:I took it for granted when I heard Steve speaking in German. He starts speaking after a silent period of 6 months. It was the same issue with his Persian. He pronounces common phrases wrongly and is hard to understand. That proves Matt's point of view correct.
There is another point that is not relevant to the discussion, however, kind of verifies Matt's view. I noticed that my subconscious mind is doing a "soundcheck" if the pronunciation is slightly off from the standard one. That's how I detected errors in the pronunciation of Steve in German. (Founder of LingQ).


It actually blew my mind that you used this as an example. I consider this a counterexample since most people don't wait nearly this long to speak. Are you actually suggesting that Steve would have sounded native if only he'd input for another year before speaking? 2 years? I don't think he would have sounded better at all and most likely would have engrained the incorrect reading voice buzzing around in his head into his spoken accent. My main point in mentioning Steve was his spoken grammar is pretty poor despite mainly relying on massive comprehensible input.

After 1.5 years I was told by the majority of people that my accent was close to native (obviously I would "expose" myself the longer I talked), I think maybe one person told me I sounded "slightly French". I spoke from day 1. It's a parlor trick. Some people are naturally very good at imitating accents, others are not, but it can be worked on. German pronunciation is very straightforward. Your accent will probably have zero impact on your ability to professionally work in the language.

Professor Arguelles is admittedly one of those that doesn't have the "knack" for accents. His German tutoring sessions were with a professional phonetician, which helped him considerably improve his accent. He has a very good German accent now.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby Le Baron » Thu Oct 07, 2021 12:00 am

I actually like Steve Kauffmann (after being a bit sceptical of him previously). His accents in most of his languages are a bit questionable, and though this doesn't bother me all that much I wonder how many people consider it with regard to what AllSubNoDub said about his massive comprehensible input. When I first saw him speaking French I couldn't understand some of what he was saying his accent was so unusual. And this was his first and most long-practised second language. I found this strange.

This leads me to agree that no matter what a person is doing - reading, massive listening input, L-R, going around speaking - there are just some people who tune into accents more intuitively or maybe they make a very conscious effort to imitate from the start.

I'm suspicious of the theory of not speaking/silent period for long periods of time. It's seems an unnatural thing to do. Isn't it lifted from the view of first-language acquisition, where the child who after getting input (by means of just being your child), supposedly starts talking at a certain point which is considered equal to this calculated time period? Is this really applicable? I would have thought that that special period was actually the initial development of the structure and that all second languages are arrived at alongside this, which is what make them different and more work to acquire? I'd say that moving into speaking as soon as you can is likely better; which doesn't mean giving lectures or holding long discussions about politics, but getting used to the surprise of interactions and responding to communication.

Anyway this thread is chiefly about reading, so I'll leave it there.
Last edited by Le Baron on Thu Oct 07, 2021 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby einzelne » Thu Oct 07, 2021 1:58 am

german2k01 wrote:He posits that early speaking without developing a strong sound system in your head - you will be prone to develop a bad pronunciation that can not be fixed later on or may take more time.


If that was the case, all of us who watched tons of American movies and TV series (some of us have been doing it from their teens) would speak with a native accent. I have bad news for you: adults rarely can get rid of their accents completely, and there's no direct correlation between your listening and your accent. You need to take special phonetic training but even this doesn't guarantee a thing (remember 10 lessons of FSI). There are some gifted individuals, of course, but they are expetions. Good news is that you don't need to think how be perfect but rather how to minimize your native accent in your L2. Other than that, people don't care. I have to American friends who speak Russian. One of them has such a pristine accent that initially I thought that her Russian was heritage. The other one has a distinct American accent. But it really doesn't matter because we have a lot of common interests.

german2k01 wrote:Also, you will be inventing your own version of the language as you are not yet exposed to the native way of saying things. Hence, learners need a silent incubation period while they can absorb hundreds of collocations and grammar structures, etc naturally.


It's really a non-issue in your case. First, I mentioned about the very effective retelling technique. Practice it with textbook dialogues and dialogues from the books you're reading. Besides nothing stops you from asking a native speaker: "Wie sagt man das auf Deutsch?" when you don't know how to express something naturally or idiomatically. Just make sure to write it down, so you won't forget it. It's the best way to develop fluency, since we all have our own indisioncraic ways of speaking.

german2k01 wrote:
I will not describe my speaking fluently the way Germans speak. Only a few sentences here and there which I have heard many times.


Well, what would you expect? No pain, no gain. And to demonstrate my point:
— Ubrigens, wie sagt man auf Deutsch 'no pain, no gain'?
— Ohne Fleiß kein Preis.
— Danke sehr!

See, it's easy.
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