The Free and Legal Challenge- Discussion

Ongoing language-learning challenges, and team challenge logs (but not individual logs)
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Re: The Free and Legal Challenge- Discussion

Postby iguanamon » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:26 am

In my town, our public library has no fee for a card nor fees for materials use. It is taxpayer supported. I've stipulated internet access cost, having a computer or other internet connected device and even the cost of the electricity to run everything as a baseline part of the challenge. TANSTAAFL- There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch- is indeed true.

Generally, in life "you get what you pay for" as the old saying goes. I, myself, have used two free courses for Portuguese and Haitian Creole. I also used paid resources, but I could have done without the paid resources for Haitian Creole. Still, I believe that a learner using the internet or their public library (or a combination of the two) can get to A2 and maybe even B1 in many languages free and legally. B2 and beyond would be much more difficult without paying for something- books, tv series, films, tutors, travel. Anyway, we'll see how it plays out over time. I don't expect to see anyone here in this challenge take a language to B2 or beyond using only free materials. A2/B1, I think that's very doable for many languages- especially FIGS and even some smaller languages.

Sure, it's easier to go ahead and pay for what you want. It's also better to have more choice available and more that is of interest to the individual learner. And, yes, nothing is truly "free", as reineke rightly points out. The costs of a computer, smartphone, tablet and internet connection are a given. Most people have an existing subscription streaming service today for entertainment in their L1. The fact that something they probably already have is also available for advancement in language-learning is a huge bonus that a duolinguo user can use to their advantage.

This is a completely made-up challenge that artificially limits participants. The best way to learn a language is to do what works for the individual learner- be that purchased courses, internet subscriptions to learning resources, tutors, books, video, music, etc. I want to see if people can learn a language by limiting themselves (artificially) to what they can get for free online, or the library (without payment), or even the rdearman swap and trade method. Doing this can show that not only can anyone of reasonable intelligence and ability learn a language on their own, but that they can also learn it without having to spend any money other than what they already have for the internet (legally- we all know that we can get almost anything through other means online... though it's getting harder for the average joe these days).

The Pure Free and Legal Challenge is the (hardcore) version that almost all the participants have signed up for so far is what I see as the most valuable to the participant challenge. As someone who was forced to learn outside of the box because of the languages I chose to learn, I know that "less than ideal" resources can definitely be used for learning. I know that I can make the best of what I have available to advance. I've done that. Could you learn to listen without Buffy the Vampire Slayer dubbed dvd's and an accurate transcript? Yes, I believe you can, with free resources for many languages. Can you learn a language without Assimil, Michel Thomas, Colloquial and Pimsleur? Absolutely. Do you have to have a hard copy dictionary, paid or pirated e-books and videos, paid tutor? No, you don't. It may not be as enjoyable, in fact, it won't be. Any time I can use what I want instead of having to use what I have, that's optimal. Though, I must say that there is a certain sense of satisfaction that comes along with making the best of what is available.

Could an English-speaking learner learn Spanish to a high level for free (with my given expenses)? Yes, I believe so- FSI/DLI; VeinteMundos; GlobalVoices; librivox; project gutenberg; Destinos; Language Transfer; duolinguo; podcasts with transcripts; parallel texts; word reference; Linguee; Cervantes Institute, etc... Could a learner be more efficient and have a perhaps more enjoyable experience with Assimil, Pimsleur, a private tutor and any book or video of their choice, probably.

There's a reason why Assimil, Pimsleur and the other paid resources are useful, valuable and recommended to learners. They're well designed and they have a track record. They give the learner structure. They're easier to use and are more user friendly. If a learner has the option, which everyone outside this challenge has, why not take the best from wherever it can be found! This is a proven method time and time again... but we've all done/do that.

While many, if not most, will look upon this as a ridiculous, artificial limitation to learning a language, I think that there is a benefit to experimenting and challenging one's self with such limitations as in the Pure FLC. Being limited in such a way will force a learner to become better at utilizing the resources they have available and figuring out a way to use native materials to help them learn. So many times here, I see people who have worked with a course or two and finished them and then they ask: "So, now what do I do?". They seem to be lost without the structure that their course provides. Even when provided with beyond course resources, they often don't know how to use them to help them learn. When you have to struggle, scrape and scramble because you don't have ideal resources or a road map to follow, you provide your own structure. When you can do something effectively the hard way, the easy way is much easier. When I learned Ladino, Haitian Creole and LAFC, I found that having had that experience of scrambling for resources and figuring out how to use them to my advantage... I learned how to learn better, truly on my own.
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Re: The Free and Legal Challenge- Discussion

Postby kujichagulia » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:51 am

I like this challenge as well because of the philosophical and moral implications it has. Having taught English in Japan in various situations, I know that language learning can be a big business sometimes. Yes, you can become fluent in English... if you pay up. Fill out your credit card information here. Things like Pimsleur are great... if you have the cash or are lucky enough to live near a library that has it. The "best" resources are limited to those who are in developed countries or are rich. If the man or woman living in poverty can learn a second language for free or without paying a lot of money, that person as a chance to improve his/her station in life. And even for those who are well off, the money you save studying a language in this way can be used for other things you might be sacrificing because you paid a lot of money for textbooks.
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Re: The Free and Legal Challenge- Discussion

Postby Xmmm » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:33 am


If I were going to do the FLC challenge I would just pick a FIGS language and use duolingo, clozemaster, and youtube. This would work for Esperanto as well, though I might get tired of watching Inkubu over and over again.

If I wanted to learn Greenlandic on the other hand ... where would I even start? I read somewhere you should start by learning Danish, because all the resources are in Danish.

It seems like the challenge aspect comes from the language having few resources, not from whether the resources are free or paid.
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Re: The Free and Legal Challenge- Discussion

Postby rdearman » Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:26 am

LunaMoonsilver wrote:
reineke wrote:You know, libraries often charge a nominal fee that's usually lower than phone/internet subscription. I see that VPN/internet is ok. Good VPN iis not free. Netflix - the first month is "free"
Used book stores and library events is the closest you can get to "free". Eh...draw your own conclusions.

I mean, that's true, but it also depends a lot on where you live. I'm taking my challenge as pure because, honestly, using the library to learn a language isn't free where I am. It's free to join and free to use a computer with internet there, but it's £1.50 per three-week loan of a language course, £4.25 per inter-library loan and £0.25 per item reserved. Not overly expensive, but all those small charges add up and I know that using a library I'd need a lot of those inter-library loans because there isn't much in the way of language courses (aside from phrasebooks) in my local one. If I can find resources that can be freely used online, then the only thing stopping a person going to the library and using them would be time--something that's a problem for all of us.

Wow, I didn't realize that they charged like that elsewhere in the uk. Essex they only charge for audio or dvds. Book and reservation is free, that is why I reserved two book only courses. They only charge interlibrary if it is from outside the county.
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Re: The Free and Legal Challenge- Discussion

Postby rdearman » Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:47 am

My experiance so far with this challenge has been enlightening. Signed up for 2 different languages in 2 variations. Pure for Setswana, and Library with Czech. I had assumed going into this that I would struggle with Setswana. However, there are a ton of language resources and I find more and more the more I look. But I think I started this with a significant advantage over your standard beginner with an Internet connection. I had this forum.

I didn't start my Setswana language resource search without any knowledge. I already knew there were free courses from FSI, DLI, Peace Corps and there was the Bible (and possibly the Koran) translated into various languages and available for download. I knew there were internet radio stations for just about every language. I already knew that librivox and Project Gutenberg existed and had thousands of free books. I already had SRS on my phone, and knew there were shared Ankit decks available.

Within hours I'd already pulled in a lot of resources for both languages. When I thought I might do some LR with Czech I posted a request for public domain audiobooks and I have had a bucket load of stuff from other forum members who are in the know.

We cannot discount the knowledge and advantages being a member of a community like this gives us. So while the Internet and public libraries give all of us some limited advantage over the typical cash strapped beginner language learner, the real advantage we have is a knowledgeable community of like minded people. A network of helpful people is the true advantage.
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Re: The Free and Legal Challenge- Discussion

Postby eido » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:53 pm

I was gonna say I was gonna do this for either Polish or Japanese, but I keep getting intimidated by their difficulty, or apparent difficulty. I don't know if I can learn on my own. Maybe I should start with something 'easier' or more common, like a FIGS language. I would try to get up to the B1 level if I did do this. Mark me down as interested.
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Re: The Free and Legal Challenge- Discussion

Postby Elsa Maria » Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:29 pm

Xmmm wrote:If I wanted to learn Greenlandic on the other hand ... where would I even start? I read somewhere you should start by learning Danish, because all the resources are in Danish.

I have to admit, I had not thought about this benefit for my knowledge of Danish! And then just for fun, I started looking around for resources.

Here is a beginner online course (Dansk Grøndlandsk Sprogkursus) with a Danish base.
ETA: Here is the English-Greenlandic version. It is a lot less developed - I can only find the one page.

The Lexin Billedtema might be of more use to a non-Danish speaker. It is published by a Danish agency, but it is a picture dictionary. You don't really need to know Danish to use it. It has Greenlandic and also some other languages that have scant resources.
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Re: The Free and Legal Challenge- Discussion

Postby kunsttyv » Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:11 pm

Actually, without it being intentional, so far I'm following this challenge with my German studies. Many years ago I had German for three years at school, and some three months ago I figured it was time to pick it up again and learn it for real. I started out with the free courses from Deutsche Welle (from a Spanish base): Misión Berlín and Deutsch, warum nicht? One episode every day. I'm currently finishing up season 3 of DWN, and it is really good. I'm also slowly transitioning to native podcasts/videocasts by Deutsche Welle and Deutschlandfunk. My plan is to start reading books as soon as I'm finished with the courses. My local library has a huge selection of German books. At some point I will start to take occasional Skype lessons to activate the language (and maybe I'll do FSI although I doubt it), at which point I guess I'll break the rules of the challenge. But so far so good!
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Re: The Free and Legal Challenge- Discussion

Postby BOLIO » Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:05 pm

Oh my goodness!

How in the world did I miss all of this, this...beautiful idea.
Ok, I have a little 6-7 months self SuperChallenge I am doing for Spanish but after that, I am in. I will be doing the super strict version with either Portuguese, French or Russian. I think any of these languages should work. I have everything for Portuguese already to go.

FSI Portuguese for Spanish Speakers.
DLI Portuguese Head Start
DLI Portuguese Basic

French would be full of free stuff too. I assume Russian would need some sort of bridge before taking on Modern Russian 1 and 2. Maybe a head start program through FSI?
(Edit: Crap. I paid for the Modern Russian 1 and 2 textbooks. They would be a no-go. Creativity will be important. Excellent. )

Iguanamon what a great idea!
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Re: The Free and Legal Challenge- Discussion

Postby Ketutar » Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:56 pm

AndyMeg wrote:You can watch k-dramas for free on sites like Dramafever and Viki, but they come with ads. But if you subscribe you can watch without ads. So, for this challenge, only watching dramas with ads would count? (Well, in Viki there's also the option of becoming a QC and get access to all the content without paying for a subscription, so I suppose that would count too).

I would say "no". Aren't these series copyrighted? I don't know how legal these sites are, but I see them as "pirated".
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