Language Transfer

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Cainntear
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Re: Language Transfer

Postby Cainntear » Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:13 pm

Random Review wrote:There are a number of misconceptions in this critique.

1) He may seem to you to be committing "classic" errors that everyone emulating MT commits, but he is no longer emulating MT, he has moved on from that. The way the new Greek course works is based throughout on building connections between the building blocks of words and I imagine he will have been doing the same in his German course (in fact German is the perfect language for that!). His approach to cognates is not the usual one of looking at correspondences; instead he draws you into seeing the connections between words (both within the TL and between the TL and English). In contrast the old Greek course was basically an attempt to continue where MT left off and contains far fewer cognates.

"Moving on" doesn't always mean improvement, though. Maybe the Spanish course is too old to judge the "new" method on -- I'll maybe check out the Italian course later. I have listened to the first couple of tracks of the Greek now, though.

First up... part of what MT got right was avoiding that feeling of "why am I saying this?" that you get in so many courses (Dear Harold Goodman, I am neither Chinese, American or English, so why do you keep asking me to that I'm all three?) but the very first thing in the Greek course was "I stay/I'm staying". Why? It felt really odd. To then move immediately on to "I'm waiting" was a bit jarring too.

Mihalis did this to demonstrate a point about prefixes, which is all well and good, but it felt a little abstract and removed from meaning, and one thing that most people in the language world agree on is that language has to be meaningful to be learnt. One of MT's main strengths was his interpretation of what "meaningful" means. Starting with "Es ist gut" and "c'est possible", MT gave us something that you takes no conscious imagination. I didn't think "when would I say this?" or "what am I trying to say here?", because it's something so universal. "I'm staying" isn't great for that. I found myself thinking about whether this was talking about where I live (because in Scotland we speak like that) or just not leaving, or both. It's not an ambiguity that got resolved in the first two tracks, and I now feel like I'm just been "word-juggling" instead of engaging with meaning. "I'm waiting" was unambiguous and meaningful, and then along came "I insist", which was unambiguous, but fell into the "why am I saying this?" category.

This leads to another point about what Thomas did in building long sentences from the start. Thomas's courses started by building up a phrases containing a lot of slots, so by about ten minutes in you had "wollen Sie heute Abend mit mir kommen?" or "ce n'est pas très confortable pour moi". That's at least 5 slots each (5 by disregarding pronouns and treating "mit mir" and "pour moi" as units), and by the same stage, Mihalis has only got as far as 4 (why not me you-wait). To count it as 5, you have to consider why as occupying two slots (for what), and doing similar puts the German at 7 slots and the French at 8.

This may seem like a small thing, but I think part of the effectiveness of Thomas was that he managed to do something most teachers pay lip-service to: teaching one thing at a time. If you teach vocabulary and grammar simultaneously, you're teaching two things. But you can't teach grammar without vocabulary for the grammar to act on.

Mihalis was quick to start presenting multiple items for several slots: 2 x verb prefix, 3* x question word, 2 x verb ending. So now the learner is forced to think about word choice and word order at the same time.
(* I actually wrote "2" here because I remembered being taught why and what, but not where. Although now that I think about it, "what" was never worked into a sentence at this point.)
I listened on another track, and we've still not got a lot of slots (although admittedly more than a lot of traditional courses), but the number of potential items in each slot is growing.

After 20 minutes we've got 3 x question word, 1 x negative, 1 x object pronoun, 2 x prefix, 3 x verb root, 3 x verb suffix, 1 x adverbial of time, 1 x subject pronoun (8 slots)

Meanwhile after 15 minutes in MT French, we've only learned two verb expressions, and we're not yet treating them as equivalent, because one's only in the first person (je regrette) and the other's in the third (c'est). But we're using them to build up complex sentences - "je regrette, mais ce n'est pas acceptable pour moi comme ça". The only slot where there's been any real choice of item so far is the adjective -- everything else is either present or absent, so you're thinking about meaning, but without lots of alternatives to hunt through.

My first impression of LT Greek is that I am trying to remember words, just like we're asked not to do, and I think that's because we're being asked to handle too many variables simultaneously.

2) You are wrong that he is not testing his courses. It is true that his funding model leads to the less-than-ideal need to create courses in stages; but each stage is tested with real students and then revised before the final version is recorded. He asks for volunteers for this.

Fair enough.

3) I do not believe the errors are scripted. Unlike MT, most of the students are not native English speakers and so they may indeed nail some parts that are very difficult for English speakers and find other parts difficult. I'd actually be more suspicious if they didn't.

Well the woman in the Spanish course seems to be a native English speaker, and her accent in Spanish (in the sections I listened to) is unbelievably good.

4) I checked out a little bit of his German course after reading your review. You are fine to go ahead with it IMO. His pronunciation is not perfect, but it is at least as good as MT's Spanish pronunciation TBH. All the audios are checked by native speakers before being published and any important errors corrected (I tried a bit of the Turkish course and this was sometimes quite amusing). They must have decided that this error is not a bad one. The wonderful thing about the nature of his community model is that if I am wrong and it is an important error, however, you can contact him and enable him to put it right!

I'll just not bother with the course and go back to MT and finish it off this time.

5) Regarding his funding model. You know I think you are wrong about it only benefiting people in rich countries, it is truly amazing how many members of the middle class in developing countries get themselves some level of English by hook or by crook. They can benefit from this.

A) Middle class people in any country can afford language lessons in their countries.
Also poor people in rich countries can benefit. I know at first hand just how little disposable income you have when you are washing dishes, cleaning offices, etc., because I did it for years (I say "little" and not "zero" because I was a single guy with no kids). I don't really like the fact that you are dismissing the fact that this project can provide access to information for people like I was TBH.

But you had access to libraries, didn't you? I sometimes wonder why I ever buy books at all -- I find as much material as I want in my local library (OK, there was a wider choice when I was living in Edinburgh). True, libraries are shutting down, but if I start down that road I'll end up going political and getting kicked off the site.

Everyone who contributes to his funding campaign knows how it works and does so of their own free choice.

True. I just don't like it. I reckon the fair thing would be to propose a roadmap and if people agree, they pay in. Paying to have the opportunity to "influence" is pretty illusory.

In a democracy, we all pay taxed into a central pot. In theory, the government then pays out something for everyone -- the money doesn't exclusively go to what the largest single group wants. But that's what happens with LT. Even though it's entirely opt-in, it still doesn't sit well with me that some people might never get any of their specific interests fulfilled. And what I really don't like about it is that it plays on human cognitive weaknesses, in particular the sunk cost fallacy. Anyone who has been putting their money in for a long time and not getting the languages they're interested in will be prone to continue putting money in because as soon as they stop they lose their vote, and suddenly all the money they've put in is seen as "wasted".

Now I'm not saying Mihalis has any ill intentions -- I'm quite certain he doesn't -- but the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say, you can do the wrong thing without meaning to. He has a noble goal, but he can't afford to do it without support, so he asks for money, and he uses an approach that has proven effective in raising money for others. The problem is all about where the value lies for the sponsor. Look at his Patreon rewards. Pay enough and you'll get an interlinear ebook every month. But there are only 8 interlinear books in the catalogue, and they're all different languages. It's a product that isn't really there, because he's splitting his attention between too many things -- see also the donated songs album (why? there's plenty of free music in every language on the net already -- why not just link to it?)
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Re: Language Transfer

Postby Random Review » Fri Sep 23, 2016 12:01 am

Cainntear wrote:"Moving on" doesn't always mean improvement, though. Maybe the Spanish course is too old to judge the "new" method on -- I'll maybe check out the Italian course later. I have listened to the first couple of tracks of the Greek now, though.

First up... part of what MT got right was avoiding that feeling of "why am I saying this?" that you get in so many courses (Dear Harold Goodman, I am neither Chinese, American or English, so why do you keep asking me to that I'm all three?) but the very first thing in the Greek course was "I stay/I'm staying". Why? It felt really odd. To then move immediately on to "I'm waiting" was a bit jarring too.

Mihalis did this to demonstrate a point about prefixes, which is all well and good, but it felt a little abstract and removed from meaning, and one thing that most people in the language world agree on is that language has to be meaningful to be learnt. One of MT's main strengths was his interpretation of what "meaningful" means. Starting with "Es ist gut" and "c'est possible", MT gave us something that you takes no conscious imagination. I didn't think "when would I say this?" or "what am I trying to say here?", because it's something so universal. "I'm staying" isn't great for that. I found myself thinking about whether this was talking about where I live (because in Scotland we speak like that) or just not leaving, or both. It's not an ambiguity that got resolved in the first two tracks, and I now feel like I'm just been "word-juggling" instead of engaging with meaning. "I'm waiting" was unambiguous and meaningful, and then along came "I insist", which was unambiguous, but fell into the "why am I saying this?" category.

This leads to another point about what Thomas did in building long sentences from the start. Thomas's courses started by building up a phrases containing a lot of slots, so by about ten minutes in you had "wollen Sie heute Abend mit mir kommen?" or "ce n'est pas très confortable pour moi". That's at least 5 slots each (5 by disregarding pronouns and treating "mit mir" and "pour moi" as units), and by the same stage, Mihalis has only got as far as 4 (why not me you-wait). To count it as 5, you have to consider why as occupying two slots (for what), and doing similar puts the German at 7 slots and the French at 8.

This may seem like a small thing, but I think part of the effectiveness of Thomas was that he managed to do something most teachers pay lip-service to: teaching one thing at a time. If you teach vocabulary and grammar simultaneously, you're teaching two things. But you can't teach grammar without vocabulary for the grammar to act on.

Mihalis was quick to start presenting multiple items for several slots: 2 x verb prefix, 3* x question word, 2 x verb ending. So now the learner is forced to think about word choice and word order at the same time.
(* I actually wrote "2" here because I remembered being taught why and what, but not where. Although now that I think about it, "what" was never worked into a sentence at this point.)
I listened on another track, and we've still not got a lot of slots (although admittedly more than a lot of traditional courses), but the number of potential items in each slot is growing.

After 20 minutes we've got 3 x question word, 1 x negative, 1 x object pronoun, 2 x prefix, 3 x verb root, 3 x verb suffix, 1 x adverbial of time, 1 x subject pronoun (8 slots)

Meanwhile after 15 minutes in MT French, we've only learned two verb expressions, and we're not yet treating them as equivalent, because one's only in the first person (je regrette) and the other's in the third (c'est). But we're using them to build up complex sentences - "je regrette, mais ce n'est pas acceptable pour moi comme ça". The only slot where there's been any real choice of item so far is the adjective -- everything else is either present or absent, so you're thinking about meaning, but without lots of alternatives to hunt through.

My first impression of LT Greek is that I am trying to remember words, just like we're asked not to do, and I think that's because we're being asked to handle too many variables simultaneously.


That is actually very interesting. I still maintain that in many ways he has improved on MT; but I think you might be right that there are still things that Mihalis could learn from him in terms of avoiding teaching syntax, vocabulary and morphology (see below) at the same time. You should write to him.

Having said that, I'm glad you bring this up, because Mihalis is introducing more "slots" than you think in your calculations. He is actually teaching how words fit together (i.e. you need to count morphological slots as well as syntactical slots) in Greek and the meaning of certain important building blocks that he will recycle many times throughout the course. Personally I think he could stand to do even more of this, but I'm still really impressed with what he's doing. You make some fair points, as I say, about how he can improve even further; but I think he's doing pretty well TBH.


Cainntear wrote:Well the woman in the Spanish course seems to be a native English speaker, and her accent in Spanish (in the sections I listened to) is unbelievably good.


What have you listened to? He tends to use a new student for each section due to the constraints of volunteer availability and location. If you tell me what tracks you have listened to, I'll have a listen myself.

Cainntear wrote:I'll just not bother with the course and go back to MT and finish it off this time.


OK. :lol: You'll definitely get a good grounding in the verb system.

Mihalis teaches the Greek gender and case systems, so I'm betting he does the same with German. That sounds much more pleasant to my mind than what I did, which was to learn verbs with Thomas and then grind through FSI drills to learn the gender and case systems. Well, I'm sure you have a plan.

Cainntear wrote:A) Middle class people in any country can afford language lessons in their countries.


That isn't always true.

Cainntear wrote:But you had access to libraries, didn't you? I sometimes wonder why I ever buy books at all -- I find as much material as I want in my local library (OK, there was a wider choice when I was living in Edinburgh). True, libraries are shutting down, but if I start down that road I'll end up going political and getting kicked off the site.


Living in the UK I did, yes, and boy did I use them. As you hint, material is no longer being replaced (at least in the city where I have my UK base) due to, well, you know why. That is a big problem with CD courses for obvious reasons.
Not everyone has time to use libraries, though (admittedly I did) or to finish courses in 3 weeks (with MT, I did).

Cainntear wrote:True. I just don't like it. I reckon the fair thing would be to propose a roadmap and if people agree, they pay in. Paying to have the opportunity to "influence" is pretty illusory.

In a democracy, we all pay taxed into a central pot. In theory, the government then pays out something for everyone -- the money doesn't exclusively go to what the largest single group wants. But that's what happens with LT. Even though it's entirely opt-in, it still doesn't sit well with me that some people might never get any of their specific interests fulfilled. And what I really don't like about it is that it plays on human cognitive weaknesses, in particular the sunk cost fallacy. Anyone who has been putting their money in for a long time and not getting the languages they're interested in will be prone to continue putting money in because as soon as they stop they lose their vote, and suddenly all the money they've put in is seen as "wasted".

Now I'm not saying Mihalis has any ill intentions -- I'm quite certain he doesn't -- but the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say, you can do the wrong thing without meaning to. He has a noble goal, but he can't afford to do it without support, so he asks for money, and he uses an approach that has proven effective in raising money for others. The problem is all about where the value lies for the sponsor. Look at his Patreon rewards. Pay enough and you'll get an interlinear ebook every month. But there are only 8 interlinear books in the catalogue, and they're all different languages. It's a product that isn't really there, because he's splitting his attention between too many things -- see also the donated songs album (why? there's plenty of free music in every language on the net already -- why not just link to it?)


I'm not saying you are completely wrong, but this is the "least worst" funding method I have seen so far. I know that isn't saying much.
I have the sense that people feel like they are contributing to a worthwhile project. Do you have any better suggestions?


I'd like to finish off by making a personal statement about why I love this project and what I think it has in common with what MT was doing. Most courses (and perhaps even a lot of classes) produce a kind of alienated knowledge. Useful though it is when handled with extreme care, FSI handled mindlessly (which it is all too easy to do!) is probably the apotheosis of this. With the exception of FSI (which makes it your responsibility) the better methods find ways round this: Assimil uses humour, charm and bizarre characters to try and beguile you into making what you learn truly yours and a real part of your personality. Some people advocate getting out of books and into native materials or talking with natives as soon as possible, the person behind the LR method insists that you use books that really speak to you. These (and others) are all very valid and effective ways of getting you to really make the language truly a part of you and yet not one of them is suitable for absolute beginners learning their first foreign language IMO (unless it is very closely related).

I know that Thomas was doing something very multifaceted, but to my way of thinking, the most important thing was that he found away to empower absolute beginners with no experience. That's why it drives me crazy when experienced language learners who don't need that kind of help complain about relatively less important things with MT (his accent, the so-called "slow" student, even his dentures FGS!), IMHO they have completely lost touch with what it was like to be a beginner learning their first foreign language and miss the point completely.
Like you, I watched his successors completely miss the point with the new generation of courses (and also Paul Nobel) and I watched the language-learning community pick apart his accent and his errors. My God, the amount of times I tried (and usually failed) to persuade people on HTLAL to stop learning his courses (and BTW, quite apart from the fact that it's not what they are for and he explicitly tells you not to, that kind of misuse is exactly when his accent and errors do become a problem). I genuinely thought that MT was just going to be a passing fad and would fade from memory and it made me sad.

But then there is Mihalis and he really is trying to do the same thing. Empower ordinary people. OK, so as your first paragraph (which I have to admit is very well thought through and probably mostly correct) points out, he still has things he can learn from MT. I guess that's not surprising as MT was perfecting his method for decades and Mihalis has only been at it a few years. Please write to him and don't just post that on here. Also I insist that I genuinely think there are some things he does better than MT (as I have argued in previous posts). I really, really like his new Greek course and think he is doing something with the words that Thomas wasn't.
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Re: Language Transfer

Postby Random Review » Fri Sep 23, 2016 12:24 am

Sorry to go off topic, but having worked for a certain well-known (in Spain) company that concentrates on grammar drills, I feel I know a thing or two about alienated knowledge BTW. There are few things more dispiriting than watching your students nail a grammar point every single week in class and then talking to them in the staff canteen and hearing "I didn't went" or similar.
My worst experience was letting a student show me his presentation he had given in English at a conference (all my students were adult professionals). This was something really important to him that he had really sweated over and that he was proud of and it was chock full of basic errors that he didn't make in class.
There were exceptions and by the end of the two years I was with that company I had got to the point where I could kind of tell which students would make what they were learning really theirs. They all used humour a lot, they would use structures we had drilled as a kind of flourish when we were practising different structures and so they hadn't been asked for them. One student even used to deliberately make a mistake, wait till I started to correct her, beat me to it and then laugh, which I thought was an interesting way of taking back control of her own learning (a friend who worked for a different company summed up the method my company employed very succinctly by saying, "it sounds very disempowering for the student.").

That is an extreme example, obviously, I know most language teaching is much better than that BTW.
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Cainntear
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Re: Language Transfer

Postby Cainntear » Sat Sep 24, 2016 3:04 pm

Random Review wrote:
Cainntear wrote:Having said that, I'm glad you bring this up, because Mihalis is introducing more "slots" than you think in your calculations. He is actually teaching how words fit together (i.e. you need to count morphological slots as well as syntactical slots)

I counted that in -- notice I had the verb prefixes and suffixes as slots.

and the meaning of certain important building blocks that he will recycle many times throughout the course. Personally I think he could stand to do even more of this,

I think he rushed it. He was too focused on what he was going to do with the stuff once it was learnt to release that it was simply too early to introduce that stuff, because we weren't ready to do anything with it.
but I'm still really impressed with what he's doing. You make some fair points, as I say, about how he can improve even further; but I think he's doing pretty well TBH.

So do I, I just don't think he's doing better than MT (although at least he isn't as obsessed with verbs as MT was!)

Cainntear wrote:Well the woman in the Spanish course seems to be a native English speaker, and her accent in Spanish (in the sections I listened to) is unbelievably good.


What have you listened to? He tends to use a new student for each section due to the constraints of volunteer availability and location. If you tell me what tracks you have listened to, I'll have a listen myself.

I'll try to check back later.

Mihalis teaches the Greek gender and case systems, so I'm betting he does the same with German. That sounds much more pleasant to my mind than what I did, which was to learn verbs with Thomas and then grind through FSI drills to learn the gender and case systems. Well, I'm sure you have a plan.

Not a plan as much as a hope that I'll find time to get a working prototype of my magical mythical language software finished... ;-)

I'm not saying you are completely wrong, but this is the "least worst" funding method I have seen so far. I know that isn't saying much.
I have the sense that people feel like they are contributing to a worthwhile project. Do you have any better suggestions?

If he said what he wanted to do, estimated how much it would cost and then asked for the money, there'd be some kind of oversight and potentially comeback.

The thing is, he's not a charity, so there's no Charities Commission making sure he's managing the money effectively. He's not "selling" anything, so there's no consumer protections. He doesn't seem focused to me.

Please write to him and don't just post that on here.

No. He doesn't want to work for free, so why should I give him anything for free? What I've written here is in a public forum and if he comes here, he's free to read it like everyone else.

Now I'm no arch-capitalist by any stretch of the imagination (I'm pretty red at heart), but the problem with the modern "sharing economy" is that many people fail to understand the idea of profit and see themselves instead trying to simply "earn a living" doing what they want to do. Well, profit is how the self-employed businessman earns a living. We charge more than a "wage" because we take on the risk of our own sick pay, slow periods in business etc. We charge more than our wage for tutoring sessions to cover the books, ink and paper we need for the lessons -- pay us less and you'll need to buy your own books, which will be more expensive for everyone.

I completely understand that he wants to make things as cheap as possible, but as long as he's getting paid for his time, if he doesn't pay people whose work he relies on for their time, then he's just not making enough money. Look at Uber, who have convinced members of the public to work for pennies, and while it's great as a short-term cost-saver for the public, and in the medium term they can rely on another couple of generations of mugs to replace the people who realise that they're not getting a great return, in the long run it's unsustainable.

As it stands, Mihalis is the only one making any money (however little) and he retains control over the only outputs with value (the intellectual property rights of the language materials). Everything goes to him. Even though he gives copies away free, it's still a real lack of quid pro quo.
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Re: Language Transfer

Postby Random Review » Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:11 pm

I haven't been able to resist checking out the new Swahili course, just out of sheer curiosity about how a Bantu language operates. So far the first 20 tracks are online (probably roughly a quarter of the final total) and I have done the first 13. I don't really have time for it, but I am definitely falling in love with the language. He hasn't got to the famous noun classes yet; nevertheless just what he has covered of the verb system is stunningly beautiful.

An example: in track 13 (which I just finished 10 minutes ago), he teaches how to use the object pronoun "ni" with an infinitive, but before doing so, he asks you to take an educated guess about how you would say "does she want to see me?", based on what you have already learned of the affix system. The student on the course first guesses (wrongly) and then tries to work it out (and comes close). I didn't know, but thought to myself how incredibly elegant it would be if it were: "ye anataka kuniona?" (kuona is the infinitive "to see", consisting of the root "*ona" plus the infinitive affix "ku"; and "ni" is the affix meaning "I" or "me", depending on position). Imagine my delight when it turns out that is exactly how they say it!

To see why this would be elegant, you have to do the course(!), but to give a rough flavour:

ye = yes/no question marker; anataka consists of the verb "kutaka" (to want), minus the infinitive affix "ku", plus the 3rd person singular subject affix "a" (he/she) and the tense affix "na" (present tense); "kuona" is the infinitive "to see" and "ni" is the affix "I" or "me" (depending on position).
For those who know Spanish or Italian, it seems to work a little bit like the clitic pronouns in these languages, but on steroids and for subjects and tenses/moods as well as objects.

I'm genuinely considering putting Swahili on my language wish list. Awesome language and really great course so far!

Slight criticism: having been inspired to read a little, I found out he is glossing over some of the pronunciation difficulties, like implosives, aspirated versus unaspirated version of certain consonants, etc.
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Re: Language Transfer

Postby mercutio » Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:00 pm

Expugnator wrote:Both Georgian and Papiamentu got voted, and it wasn't me! (I would have voted for Estonian).

One can always dream...

estonian is on lingvist i think, i do find lingvist boring though
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: 5 / 5 language transfer total Spanish :
: 5 / 5 paul noble Spanish :
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Re: Language Transfer

Postby Expugnator » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:11 pm

mercutio wrote:
Expugnator wrote:Both Georgian and Papiamentu got voted, and it wasn't me! (I would have voted for Estonian).

One can always dream...

estonian is on lingvist i think, i do find lingvist boring though


No, it's not, there is no Estonian course. The site is Estonian but they didn't bother writing a course on their mothertongue.
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Re: Language Transfer

Postby Random Review » Wed Nov 16, 2016 9:56 am

On the LT FB page today:

WOOOHOOOO!!! We're releasing again for Complete Greek... and aim to get an audio a day up until the whole series is finished!
Again, sorry for such a delay with this course, but the upside is I've had a whole year since we started recording to learn some new tricks! :) I hope you enjoy them!


:-)
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Re: Language Transfer

Postby Cavesa » Wed Nov 16, 2016 8:16 pm

I have tried several tracks of Greek and German. I put aside the German course as it wasn't completed at that point and I think I've been progressing a bit fast to wait. I loved the several tracks of Greek that I tried. I cannot afford to put time into Greek right now, but I loved the way he presented it. The only audio based course I tried before was Pimsleur (I don't need MT to show me and treat the mistakes typical of English natives, I have my own). And I hated Pimsleur. I hated the way it went directly to small talk, progressed "conversationally". LT Greek was starting in a simpler way, that made me create a few sentences of my own, instead of memorising set phrases (which is what Pimsleur does, in my opinion).

Yes, the pronunciation is an issue. But the system overall is well thought out. However, I totally agree it might be useful if he actually finished some courses already, instead of letting people wait for four at once.

I think LT is very useful for people on tight budged. Yes, middle class can buy lessons of the main languages or self-teaching courses to learn them. But do you really think lessons of the rarer languages come for the same price? And libraries vary. Those in Prague basically gave up on renewing the language sections, which were always poor for the smaller languages. You can borrow some useful stuff, but not enough to systematically progress from zero to useful level. Perhaps I should properly check all the university libraries. But still: not everyone lives in a bit city, not everyone can sign up to univesity libraries.

I think LT might finally give accessible means to the middle class and poorer people to learn the less common languages. THey can get basics of English and German/French/another regionally important language at school, with some luck and lots of work. But no country in the world pays the students classes in "useless" languages, do they? But learning a rare skill is a great step towards higher income, so I applaud this resource for learners of Arabic, Swahili, Turkish, and many more languages to come. But I think FIGS are not making that much of a difference. There are more free and not bad Spanish resources online than one could use in a lifetime. You can learn German and French for free as well. Yes, paid resources tend to be better, but it is still doable. But I don't think you can learn Turkish for free, or Swahili.

I totally agree it is sad that many people don't see their wishes fulfilled and the sunk cost fallacy principle may apply. French won't make that much of a difference on the language market for not too rich people, while Complete Arabic might. But since the first commissioned course is Swahili, perhaps the future commissioners will choose something equally great too.

And I am excited Greek is being continued, it is so tempting!
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Re: Language Transfer

Postby Random Review » Wed Nov 16, 2016 11:44 pm

Cavesa wrote:I have tried several tracks of Greek and German. I put aside the German course as it wasn't completed at that point and I think I've been progressing a bit fast to wait. I loved the several tracks of Greek that I tried. I cannot afford to put time into Greek right now, but I loved the way he presented it. The only audio based course I tried before was Pimsleur (I don't need MT to show me and treat the mistakes typical of English natives, I have my own). And I hated Pimsleur. I hated the way it went directly to small talk, progressed "conversationally". LT Greek was starting in a simpler way, that made me create a few sentences of my own, instead of memorising set phrases (which is what Pimsleur does, in my opinion).

Yes, the pronunciation is an issue. But the system overall is well thought out. However, I totally agree it might be useful if he actually finished some courses already, instead of letting people wait for four at once.

I think LT is very useful for people on tight budged. Yes, middle class can buy lessons of the main languages or self-teaching courses to learn them. But do you really think lessons of the rarer languages come for the same price? And libraries vary. Those in Prague basically gave up on renewing the language sections, which were always poor for the smaller languages. You can borrow some useful stuff, but not enough to systematically progress from zero to useful level. Perhaps I should properly check all the university libraries. But still: not everyone lives in a bit city, not everyone can sign up to univesity libraries.

I think LT might finally give accessible means to the middle class and poorer people to learn the less common languages. THey can get basics of English and German/French/another regionally important language at school, with some luck and lots of work. But no country in the world pays the students classes in "useless" languages, do they? But learning a rare skill is a great step towards higher income, so I applaud this resource for learners of Arabic, Swahili, Turkish, and many more languages to come. But I think FIGS are not making that much of a difference. There are more free and not bad Spanish resources online than one could use in a lifetime. You can learn German and French for free as well. Yes, paid resources tend to be better, but it is still doable. But I don't think you can learn Turkish for free, or Swahili.

I totally agree it is sad that many people don't see their wishes fulfilled and the sunk cost fallacy principle may apply. French won't make that much of a difference on the language market for not too rich people, while Complete Arabic might. But since the first commissioned course is Swahili, perhaps the future commissioners will choose something equally great too.

And I am excited Greek is being continued, it is so tempting!


Good post.

To my mind the Swahili commissioned course has been an absolute game changer. It has allowed Mihali to work full time on this and it is starting to show this last month or so. In June he only had one complete course finished, and even that in a language with far more resources available than most (Spanish), 3 introductory courses (Turkish, Arabic and English for Spanish speakers) and two incomplete courses (Greek and German). By next June, if he continues at this rate, he will have 4 complete courses (Spanish, Greek and Swahili almost certainly and German probably) and 5 introductory courses (Turkish, Arabic, Italian, French and English for Spanish speakers), online transcripts for some of his courses and at least one pdf publication.

That difference is night and day, no wonder he is so excited! Plus Swahili is such an awesome language, his course has got me completely hooked.

It could even have potentially been an even more impressive 12-month transformation had Intro to French not beaten Complete Arabic. Especially the way that happened there was quite disappointing TBH, but oh well... Mihalis seems to think Intro to French will be quite quick to produce and shouldn't delay Complete Arabic too much.

I think I am falling in love with Mihali (not literally... well, not yet ha ha), he is a beautiful and inspiring human being and his whole project is about far more than just languages (wonderful though they definitely are).
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German input 100 hours by 30-06: 4 / 100
Spanish input 200 hours by 30-06: 0 / 200
German study 50 hours by 30-06: 3 / 100
Spanish study 200 hours by 30-06: 0 / 200
Spanish conversation 100 hours by 30-06: 0 / 100


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