You're doing it wrong

General discussion about learning languages
MacGyver
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby MacGyver » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:22 am

aokoye wrote:Or it's an issue of people being competent enough to function in a society but not being able to pass the required test, chronically overestimating their skills, having others overestimate their skills, or not believing people who tell them that no, they aren't as proficient as they think they are (there are likely countless other reasons).


I disagree. To just blindly assume one will pass a test without doing dummy or practice tests, is arrogance, stupidity or laziness.

If I had to take a test on a subject I though was well below me, I would still dig up old exam papers to check what kind of questions there were and if I did indeed know it all or have gaps...
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby aokoye » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:52 am

MacGyver wrote:
aokoye wrote:Or it's an issue of people being competent enough to function in a society but not being able to pass the required test, chronically overestimating their skills, having others overestimate their skills, or not believing people who tell them that no, they aren't as proficient as they think they are (there are likely countless other reasons).


I disagree. To just blindly assume one will pass a test without doing dummy or practice tests, is arrogance, stupidity or laziness.

If I had to take a test on a subject I though was well below me, I would still dig up old exam papers to check what kind of questions there were and if I did indeed know it all or have gaps...

Or, in your example with regards to tests, it's not having the capital* to know how tests work, that there are resources for taking preparing specifically for the test(s), etc. I know there are people who have been warned to prepare by plenty of people and haven't heeded the warning, but I know the opposite is true as well.

*As in Bourdieu's definition of capital

mods - I recognize that I might be coming fairly close to the no politics line with the mention of Bourdieu and capital - let me know if you want me to take that bit out.
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MacGyver
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby MacGyver » Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:13 am

aokoye wrote:Or, in your example with regards to tests, it's not having the capital* to know how tests work, that there are resources for taking preparing specifically for the test(s), etc. I know there are people who have been warned to prepare by plenty of people and haven't heeded the warning, but I know the opposite is true as well.


And someone who ignores others warnings (because presumably they know better or don't want to put in more effort) is arrogant/lazy. No?
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aokoye
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby aokoye » Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:25 am

MacGyver wrote:
aokoye wrote:Or, in your example with regards to tests, it's not having the capital* to know how tests work, that there are resources for taking preparing specifically for the test(s), etc. I know there are people who have been warned to prepare by plenty of people and haven't heeded the warning, but I know the opposite is true as well.


And someone who ignores others warnings (because presumably they know better or don't want to put in more effort) is arrogant/lazy. No?

Someone who ignores the warnings - yes I would agree that they were, at the very least, being foolhardy. Someone who wasn't afforded those warnings for a whole host of reasons didn't ignore them though. Note the first sentence and the last clause of the post of mine that you quoted above.
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Inst
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Inst » Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:49 am

MacGyver wrote:Really? Not bother at all? If someone can speak Mongolian at age 35 after starting at age 25, doing 30 minutes a day, isn't that something quite wonderful? Or should they just have spent that 30 minutes a day watching TV?


It depends on what else they could have done with their time. For instance, spending the 10 years on this, they might have become a proficient painter, which might have brought them more happiness than a niche language like Mongolian.

chove wrote:I would honestly rather know a few languages to an intermediate level than one or two to C2. That's just my preference, because I'm unlikely to ever work in another country or become a translator or whatever. I can definitely see the appeal of speaking another language to native fluency, but it's just not my goal.


I think the big question is what you'd want to do with a language. For instance, others have stated that if you want to do Voltaire or Bourdieu without translation, you'll probably need post-C2. Others may want to be able to pick up local men or women in a locale, to be able to live without relying on English, etc... and this may need only B1 or B2 fluency.

The problem is, though, that English is becoming a very common language. I recall the Atlantic journalist James Fallow describing his experiences in France. In France, it appears, locals get pissed off if he tries to use the French language, because his French isn't very strong. The response of the locals is: "Speaaak Anglais!", because the French he interacts with are sufficiently proficient in English that it's easier for them to work things out in English instead of struggling with A2 French.

That's to say, B1 / B2 in languages other than English may eventually become superfluous. Intercourse and interchange in a lingua franca (pun unintended) becomes more efficient than low proficiencies in the local language.

And that's what's behind my C1 or nothing type attitudes; i.e, if you can't make the target language a productivity or enjoyment enhancer, Google Translate or plain English ends up being a more effective solution.

====

If you guys will forgive me, I'll translate a learner's text from my official HSK 6 textbook. It's very interesting in terms of what it has to say on our breadth vs depth discussion, and I'll note it takes your side.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby golyplot » Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:06 am

Google Translate can give you the gist of things, but it's not quite perfect yet. Especially with more distant languages, like Japanese, that tend to get turned into word salad.

That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if it continues to improve dramatically.
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sporedandroid
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby sporedandroid » Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:14 am

golyplot wrote:Google Translate can give you the gist of things, but it's not quite perfect yet. Especially with more distant languages, like Japanese, that tend to get turned into word salad.

That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if it continues to improve dramatically.

Google translate is also pretty bad for Hebrew at times.
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MacGyver
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby MacGyver » Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:22 am

Inst wrote:
MacGyver wrote:Really? Not bother at all? If someone can speak Mongolian at age 35 after starting at age 25, doing 30 minutes a day, isn't that something quite wonderful? Or should they just have spent that 30 minutes a day watching TV?


It depends on what else they could have done with their time. For instance, spending the 10 years on this, they might have become a proficient painter, which might have brought them more happiness than a niche language like Mongolian.


Presumably they are learning because they enjoy it. You are probably not going to study slowly over 10 years to pass a university exam. What if it was Spanish/Chinese/German/etc. The point is, to say don't even start anything if its going to take you longer than x time period isn't very helpful. Everyone is different, with different goals and expectations.

Inst wrote:
chove wrote:I would honestly rather know a few languages to an intermediate level than one or two to C2. That's just my preference, because I'm unlikely to ever work in another country or become a translator or whatever. I can definitely see the appeal of speaking another language to native fluency, but it's just not my goal.


I think the big question is what you'd want to do with a language. For instance, others have stated that if you want to do Voltaire or Bourdieu without translation, you'll probably need post-C2. Others may want to be able to pick up local men or women in a locale, to be able to live without relying on English, etc... and this may need only B1 or B2 fluency.

The problem is, though, that English is becoming a very common language. I recall the Atlantic journalist James Fallow describing his experiences in France. In France, it appears, locals get pissed off if he tries to use the French language, because his French isn't very strong. The response of the locals is: "Speaaak Anglais!", because the French he interacts with are sufficiently proficient in English that it's easier for them to work things out in English instead of struggling with A2 French.

That's to say, B1 / B2 in languages other than English may eventually become superfluous. Intercourse and interchange in a lingua franca (pun unintended) becomes more efficient than low proficiencies in the local language.

And that's what's behind my C1 or nothing type attitudes; i.e, if you can't make the target language a productivity or enjoyment enhancer, Google Translate or plain English ends up being a more effective solution.

====

If you guys will forgive me, I'll translate a learner's text from my official HSK 6 textbook. It's very interesting in terms of what it has to say on our breadth vs depth discussion, and I'll note it takes your side.


I also prefer to learn one language to C1/C2 level rather than multiple to A1/A2 level, but both are equally valid positions. Theres no right or wrong. 1 language to C2, 5 languages to B2, or 25 languages to A2. Whatever cranks your chain. It doesn't matter.

Saying a few phrases to a native in their native tongue might be all you want. And thats 100% fine. Your arguments about English and google translate don't seem to be particularly relevant to be honest.
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Cavesa
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Cavesa » Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:28 am

MacGyver wrote:
aokoye wrote:Or it's an issue of people being competent enough to function in a society but not being able to pass the required test, chronically overestimating their skills, having others overestimate their skills, or not believing people who tell them that no, they aren't as proficient as they think they are (there are likely countless other reasons).


I disagree. To just blindly assume one will pass a test without doing dummy or practice tests, is arrogance, stupidity or laziness.

If I had to take a test on a subject I though was well below me, I would still dig up old exam papers to check what kind of questions there were and if I did indeed know it all or have gaps...


But the tests are a tool for the CEFR, not the other way around. Self-assessment doesn't mean the same thing as arrogantly believing you would pass the exam right here and now or at any given moment when taken by surprise. Yes, the exam is better to be done with some specific preparation and it is wise to prepare. And it is possible to be at the level and fail one exam with real bad luck and even with the preparation. But it is also possible to pass without the specific preparation. I did it twice. There is also an opinion that the exam should actually be done with much less preparation, to better reflect real life, as some people really learn to drill just the exam type assignments (I've seen a few funny people like that). But for that, the exams would have to be much cheaper. :-D

Inst wrote:
MacGyver wrote:Really? Not bother at all? If someone can speak Mongolian at age 35 after starting at age 25, doing 30 minutes a day, isn't that something quite wonderful? Or should they just have spent that 30 minutes a day watching TV?


It depends on what else they could have done with their time. For instance, spending the 10 years on this, they might have become a proficient painter, which might have brought them more happiness than a niche language like Mongolian.


You are on a forum filled with language lovers. Most people here find Mongolian much more appealing than painting.
(Btw I recommend listning to the Hu, an interesting contemporary hunnu rock band, Mongolian sounds fascinating!)
And if you look at it from the purely utilitarian point of few, both these skills are equally useless. :-D

chove wrote:I would honestly rather know a few languages to an intermediate level than one or two to C2. That's just my preference, because I'm unlikely to ever work in another country or become a translator or whatever. I can definitely see the appeal of speaking another language to native fluency, but it's just not my goal.


I think the big question is what you'd want to do with a language. For instance, others have stated that if you want to do Voltaire or Bourdieu without translation, you'll probably need post-C2. Others may want to be able to pick up local men or women in a locale, to be able to live without relying on English, etc... and this may need only B1 or B2 fluency.

The problem is, though, that English is becoming a very common language. I recall the Atlantic journalist James Fallow describing his experiences in France. In France, it appears, locals get pissed off if he tries to use the French language, because his French isn't very strong. The response of the locals is: "Speaaak Anglais!", because the French he interacts with are sufficiently proficient in English that it's easier for them to work things out in English instead of struggling with A2 French.

That's to say, B1 / B2 in languages other than English may eventually become superfluous. Intercourse and interchange in a lingua franca (pun unintended) becomes more efficient than low proficiencies in the local language.

And that's what's behind my C1 or nothing type attitudes; i.e, if you can't make the target language a productivity or enjoyment enhancer, Google Translate or plain English ends up being a more effective solution.


I guess you're american. Because usually the americans are much more in favour of few languages to a high level, while the europeans tend to value more languages at a less high level. It is due to lots of logical reasons. In Europe, knowing a few languages to B1, in some cases even less than that, can already be a life changing skill. It all depends on each learner's situation.

Well the French do this not only to the bad speakers. Of course it is annoying for me, with C2 French, to have to deal with someones A2 English because they openly refuse to speak French to a foreigner because of their prejudices and because they want free English practice for my money (spent on my French and on my journey to the country). But not everybody is like the French (and even the French unpleasant experience can be lowered a lot. For example by learning to insist on the language, be more stubborn than the native, and caring more about yourself than someone else). Spanish or Italian are very good examples.

B1/B2 is definitely not superfluous, it is actually a very useful level for a lot of stuff.
You overestimate the level of English in many regions and demographics. Even the English usually spoken by international groups of professionals in many fields is actually not that great and it affects the communication. But if you really wish to be in more contact with a certain culture, country, or any part of it, B1/B2 knowledge of the language can open you a lot of doors and you might be thankful for having learnt it every day. I could write many examples.

You also overestimate Google Translate. The gibberish it produces in many language combinations is horrible. It is not just about the details, it is in basic understanding of the intended text.

If you are not too interested in any particular country or something from it, relying on everyone catering to you and speaking English is definitely possible, with your privilege. If they can't speak it well, it is your problem (at least if you are in their country). It is actually very common for expats. They live here even for twenty years. If they bothered to learn B1 Czech, their lives would be more normal outside of a small bubble, and they would actually not seem to be arrogant ignorants. If they don't care about the country and culture at all and don't respect the natives to such an extent, they should get out (those people who really care actually learn the language. It is not that hard). But if you are not an expat, you can definitely live with just English in most places, if you don't mind the limitations. Just please, don't be the tourist complaining about the locals' English. If the locals are at the hotel reception, or part of other paid service, sure. But other than that, others don't owe you speaking your language.

But I can definitely see some of the logic behind your reasoning. As I said, it is very common for the americans, as travelling anywhere abroad is simply rare, far, and expensive, only a few languages are within a reasonable distance. In any professional setting, the English native needs a really good level of the other langauge, or it will be the native with very good English as a foreign language, who wins with otherwise very similar CV. But this is not the same in other regions.

It is a beautiful goal, to really want the C1, don't get me wrong, it is worth it. But judging the lower levels as worthless and learning them as waste of time, that is extremely narrow minded.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Arnaud » Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:57 am

Cavesa wrote:
Well the French do this not only to the bad speakers. Of course it is annoying for me, with C2 French, to have to deal with someones A2 English because they openly refuse to speak French to a foreigner because of their prejudices and because they want free English practice for my money (spent on my French and on my journey to the country). But not everybody is like the French (and even the French unpleasant experience can be lowered a lot. For example by learning to insist on the language, be more stubborn than the native, and caring more about yourself than someone else). Spanish or Italian are very good examples.
You're never tired of repeating ad nauseam the same clichés and making generalities of your own unfortunate personal experience ?
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