You're doing it wrong

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

Postby Inst » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:41 am

I've been promising this for a while, and I doubt people might enjoy it, this is a fun article I found in one of my Chinese textbooks.

改编自《北京青年报》同名文章,作者:孙小宁。

Modified from Beijing Youth Daily, article of the same name, author: Sun Xiaoning.

学一门外语需要理由吗?
"Do we need a reason to learn a foreign language?"

[Translation mine:] "Does learning a foreign language need a reason?"

我想学一门外语,迫不及待的想不再依靠翻译,独自阅读原文,哪怕是借助字典勉强查阅呢。我很快找到了一家语言学习机构,他在离我家不远的移动办公楼上。这天我兴致勃勃地转成钱去咨询。

I want to learn a foreign language, impatiently reading without translation, independently reading the original text, even if I must painfully depend on a dictionary. I quickly found an organization that taught languages in a building near my home. So today, I enthusiastically went to inquire inquire of them.

进了门,一位很有修养的女士迎上来,我以为交了学费就能开始快乐而美好的学习了,不了首先面对的是她接连不断地发问:“为什么要学外语?最近有出国计划吗?职业是什么?”

When I went in, a very cultivated lady greeted me. I thought that after paying tuition, I'd be able to start my happy and beautiful studies. I didn't know that I'd have to have her ask me such incessant questions: "Why do you want to learn a foreign language? Do you have plans to leave the country soon? What's your occupation?

“这很重要吗?”说实在的,她的问题涉及了我的隐私,我很反感,话也变的火药味十足。

Is this important? Speaking frankly, her questions violated my privacy, disgusting me greatly. My words tasted like gunpowder.

她极力忍耐着,“是这样,我必须了解学员,为学员着想,帮他策划学习方案,已达成他的目标。”

She forcefully restrained herself. "It's like this. I need to understand the student, in order to take the student into consideration and to help them formulate a study plan and achieve their goals."

我努力使自己的空气缓和下来:“我没什么具体目标。就是找一个班插班听课,随意学学而已。”

I assiduously moderated my speech: "I don't have a particular goal. I just want to find a class to audit, merely so that I can learn at my leisure."

....

I'll translate the entire text later, I'm tired and I have a bunch of things I need to do.

But you can get the gist of it, right? A language learner who learns for fun goes to a language school that's focused on results, and we get a fun looking little culture clash. It's similar to our argument and attitudinal difference.
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sporedandroid
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby sporedandroid » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:26 am

Inst wrote:I've been promising this for a while, and I doubt people might enjoy it, this is a fun article I found in one of my Chinese textbooks.

改编自《北京青年报》同名文章,作者:孙小宁。

Modified from Beijing Youth Daily, article of the same name, author: Sun Xiaoning.

学一门外语需要理由吗?
"Do we need a reason to learn a foreign language?"

[Translation mine:] "Does learning a foreign language need a reason?"

我想学一门外语,迫不及待的想不再依靠翻译,独自阅读原文,哪怕是借助字典勉强查阅呢。我很快找到了一家语言学习机构,他在离我家不远的移动办公楼上。这天我兴致勃勃地转成钱去咨询。

I want to learn a foreign language, impatiently reading without translation, independently reading the original text, even if I must painfully depend on a dictionary. I quickly found an organization that taught languages in a building near my home. So today, I enthusiastically went to inquire inquire of them.

进了门,一位很有修养的女士迎上来,我以为交了学费就能开始快乐而美好的学习了,不了首先面对的是她接连不断地发问:“为什么要学外语?最近有出国计划吗?职业是什么?”

When I went in, a very cultivated lady greeted me. I thought that after paying tuition, I'd be able to start my happy and beautiful studies. I didn't know that I'd have to have her ask me such incessant questions: "Why do you want to learn a foreign language? Do you have plans to leave the country soon? What's your occupation?

“这很重要吗?”说实在的,她的问题涉及了我的隐私,我很反感,话也变的火药味十足。

Is this important? Speaking frankly, her questions violated my privacy, disgusting me greatly. My words tasted like gunpowder.

她极力忍耐着,“是这样,我必须了解学员,为学员着想,帮他策划学习方案,已达成他的目标。”

She forcefully restrained herself. "It's like this. I need to understand the student, in order to take the student into consideration and to help them formulate a study plan and achieve their goals."

我努力使自己的空气缓和下来:“我没什么具体目标。就是找一个班插班听课,随意学学而已。”

I assiduously moderated my speech: "I don't have a particular goal. I just want to find a class to audit, merely so that I can learn at my leisure."

....

I'll translate the entire text later, I'm tired and I have a bunch of things I need to do.

But you can get the gist of it, right? A language learner who learns for fun goes to a language school that's focused on results, and we get a fun looking little culture clash. It's similar to our argument and attitudinal difference.

Ugh, those sound like annoying questions. :lol: I’m mostly learning a language for personal reasons and personal development. I know I’m not studying Hebrew as quickly and effectively as I could. But I enjoy the process of learning what I enjoy and tolerate and what burns me out.
As I get more productive at learning Hebrew, I also get more productive at life in general.
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Inst
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Inst » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:26 am

“可是,我们的班都是跟据学员的具体情况设置的,如果您没有具体目标,是学不好一种语言的。”

However, our classes are all set up in accordance with our students detailed conditions. If you don't have a concrete goal, you'll have difficulty learning a language.

没有目标就缺乏动力,这道理我固然懂,可是,我的确说不出她所说的目标。我说我回去想想。

Without a goal, neither is there motivation. This reasoning I admittedly understood, but I really couldn't give her a goal she'd accept, so I said I'd go home to think about it.

”您等一下。“她迅速出门,瞬间换来了一位男士。”您学这门语言是为了......“他态度和蔼,真诚恳切,我被打动了,跟他滔滔不绝起来:”我喜欢这个国家的文化,学习语言无非是为了看原文电影,读文学作品......“

"Wait a bit." She quickly left, and in an instant was replaced by a gentleman. "And you are studying this language for..." His attitude was kind, genuine, and sincere, and I was moved. To him my words poured out: "I like this country's culture, learning this language is solely to watch movies in the original, read literary products..."

”明白了。不想通过翻译,直接进入原文的世界?“

Understood. You don't want to go through translation, you wish to directly enter the world of the original text?

”对!“我欢天喜地,终于碰上了知音。

"Yes!" I praised heaven and earth; I finally found someone who understood me!

”我碰到过您这样的客户,可是,光凭兴趣,恐怕难以持久。“这顿时崩溃了,怎么说着说着又绕回来了。

"I've encountered these types of customers before. However, only relying on interest, these people can't endure." I instantly fell apart, how could we so quickly return to the old argument?

我果断地站起来,斩钉截铁地表明要走。

I resolutely stood up, and firmly indicated my desire to leave.

回家后,我不死心,开始在网上找在线学习。后来发现有一家,还真不错,从基础教起,每个句子的话发抖详细讲解,不留死角,和我的思维很大。更重要的是心里舒服--------没有人硬逼着我执行学习计划,也没人问我为啥要学它,以及我的单位,身份,包括薪水--我就是个语言学习者,你管我这些干吗?

Returning home, I didn't give up, looking for an online class. I ended up finding a rather excellent course, teaching from the basics. Each sentence's grammar was be explained in detail, leaving no gaps, well-suiting my thinking. More importantly, my heart was comfortable--no one tried to bully me into implementing a study plan, or ask me why I was studying, or asked me where I worked, what my identity was, or my salary--I'm just a language learner, why do you care about these things?

我的学习方式绝对对学习效果有利,当然弊端也不少:有利的方面如上所说,弊端在于高兴了拼命学一阵子,不高兴了就搁在一边。有时还前后颠倒,因为后面那颗的话题太诱惑我了。但是,利弊权衡,利还是大于弊。因为我总能在忘我的快乐中,津津有味地享受学习。

My study methods definitely were beneficial to my learning results. Certainly, drawbacks weren't few. One drawback was that when I was happy, I'd study in huge spurts, and when I was unhappy, I'd put the material away. Sometimes I'd learn in reverse order, because the material in the end enticed me. However, when strengths and weaknesses were compared, the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. Because whenever I began to forget my happiness, I could always enjoy my studies with relish.

===

Of course I'm not pointing this out because I'm trying to take the school's side or the student's side. The article is obviously written from the perspective of the student, who focuses on enjoying his language learning. But the article is unusually balanced; the school definitely has a point; if you want to seriously achieve some kind of proficiency for a language, you need a schedule, a plan, and an objective. Simply trying to learn a language, as in their experience, usually doesn't work out.

What my concern for is, that a student never quite reaches the level of being self-sustaining, eventually abandons the language, and all the time spent "enjoying" the "language learning process" just becomes wasted.

In the case of Chinese, especially, you have a bunch of big humps to get over before you stop speaking nonsense and you can start making sense of what people are saying or what you're reading. The idea of just learning 30 minutes a day for 20 years, well, doesn't that, first, sound arduous? Second, by prolonging the hump into something that could be 10 years, it just increases the chance of the learner becoming discouraged and moving on to a different language or hobby.
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Cavesa
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Cavesa » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:30 am

We can actually reinterpret your example in another way. An employer might be willing to pay for fluency in a given language, but are they willing to pay for "I'm going to learn a target language in 10 years"? The latter you're better off not even including in your resume, because it's childish and offers little value to your firm. Likewise, if you're B1 B2, I'd be rather embarrassed about including it because what it's communicating is "if we can't get professional or proficient translation for a target language, you can make me try to do it, but often I'll be limited and cause snafus".


You vastly underestimate the diversity of jobs and their requirements. Not everyone is a manager or a scientist. Majority of foreign language use for most people is not creating translations. B1 or even less in an additional language can already transform your career in some fields.

The employer is not paying for fluency. They are paying for your ability to do the job in the language. That doesn't have to be the same thing. There are different expectations from university teachers supposed to teach in the language (but you'd be surprised how bad English still gets people a three times higher salary per hour around here. Not kidding, three times higher. This is one of the examples, where I'd actually agree with you), from waiters (a waiter with just the barely necessary skills in three or four languages is much more valuable in a touristy area than one knowing just one language to C1. But as a classical czech comedy says: "Even a warehouseman may read Vergil in original" :-D), or from customer support supposed to be in contact with foreigners. Different jobs require different skills.

You also underestimate the level B1 and B2. Yes, C1 is better (that's why it is higher on the scale after all), but B2 is definitely not some stupid messing up of the language. For many jobs, it suffices. And the B1 and B2 levels are also meant to be used, while/if you are progressing to C1. The attitude of C1 or nothing leads to the weird situation (not uncommon at all), when people perfectly capable of using the language just don't use it at all for years. It slows their progress down, postpones any profit from their investment, and also creates tons of unnecessary psychological blocks.

About your travelling experience: we must agree to disagree. My experience is definitely not small either and I have no doubt that learning the local language is extremely useful. You should also take into account, that the situation with two non-native English speakers is different from yours, the outcome is heavily influenced by two sets of imperfections. If one of the parties speaks their native language and the other has learnt it to a sufficient level for that conversation, it is much better than both of them speaking a foreign language.

Zenmonkey summed it up really well in the other thread:
zenmonkey wrote:
Inst wrote:I'm familiar with first generation immigrants who are well-educated and have stayed in their target country for decades. Yet it always rankles a bit that they sometimes (or often in some cases) mess up the language they need for work and survival.


Does this concern about how other people use language come from your ideas that people must learn a language to C1? And yet here are all these people, walking around, living their lives, thriving and being the perfect demonstrations of just getting on with their so-called "messed-up" use of language. No wonder it rankles a bit. It is coming across as idiolectical arrogance.

If people didn't use the languages they are not C1 at, the world as we know it would not exist. Majority of the population would be partially professionally paralysed. Just a small part of any population would be able to use more than their native language. Very few countries have C1 as the standard level in a second language.

People learn as much as they need. And while we may all prefer to listen to perfectly speaking people, it is not a necessity. Those people you don't respect much are obviously perfecly capable of work and survival. You've said it yourself, they've been doing it for decades.
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Inst
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Inst » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:33 am

In this case, I'll let you get the last word on this thread as I do not wish to derail it. I assume our current strand of conversation is why the last thread was closed.

That said, I would like to comment on your last comment. You can view my response in the other thread for why I dislike "chabuduo"-ism and settling for good enough, but I agree with you that perfectionism and fear of embarrassment is a major reason for why people stall out in language learning.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Ser » Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:26 pm

Cavesa wrote:a waiter with just the barely necessary skills in three or four languages is much more valuable in a touristy area than one knowing just one language to C1. But as a classical czech comedy says: "Even a warehouseman may read Vergil in original" :-D

I don't understand this quote but I am very curious about it. What does it mean?
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Cavesa » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:24 pm

Ser wrote:
Cavesa wrote:a waiter with just the barely necessary skills in three or four languages is much more valuable in a touristy area than one knowing just one language to C1. But as a classical czech comedy says: "Even a warehouseman may read Vergil in original" :-D

I don't understand this quote but I am very curious about it. What does it mean?


The comedy Marecek, pass me the pen! is really old, made int 1976. It is about a class of middle aged people completing their high school education in the evenings, to fullfill new requirements for their jobs or promotions (any Czech learner should watch it. It is Marečku, podejte mi pero, and lots of the quotes are still used by people in normal conversations.). And this quote is about serious overqualification concerning the languages. (I may be quoting it imprecisely, though)

The situation: A very old professor offers voluntary individual Latin lessons, and the class is not too interested, understandably. A man, who works mostly manually in a warehouse, asks him "and what would I use that for?" and the teacher answers like that, and immediately signs the poor student up. The man is later seen as unhappy about the classes, just finding the courage to tell the teacher he's out.

I meant it as a part of my point that in many jobs, nobody cares about your excellent lecturing, discussion, or translation skills. And they are certainly not gonna pay you for that. All they want from the employee is to sell their products or services to as wide public as possible. If you can serve meals to people in three languages and answer their usual questions, you are awesome. Who cares, whether you can say anything else. This is true about many real jobs.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby aokoye » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:38 pm

Cavesa wrote:
Ser wrote:
Cavesa wrote:a waiter with just the barely necessary skills in three or four languages is much more valuable in a touristy area than one knowing just one language to C1. But as a classical czech comedy says: "Even a warehouseman may read Vergil in original" :-D

I don't understand this quote but I am very curious about it. What does it mean?


The comedy Marecek, pass me the pen! is really old, made int 1976. It is about a class of middle aged people completing their high school education in the evenings, to fullfill new requirements for their jobs or promotions (any Czech learner should watch it. It is Marečku, podejte mi pero, and lots of the quotes are still used by people in normal conversations.). And this quote is about serious overqualification concerning the languages. (I may be quoting it imprecisely, though)

The situation: A very old professor offers voluntary individual Latin lessons, and the class is not too interested, understandably. A man, who works mostly manually in a warehouse, asks him "and what would I use that for?" and the teacher answers like that, and immediately signs the poor student up. The man is later seen as unhappy about the classes, just finding the courage to tell the teacher he's out.

I meant it as a part of my point that in many jobs, nobody cares about your excellent lecturing, discussion, or translation skills. And they are certainly not gonna pay you for that. All they want from the employee is to sell their products or services to as wide public as possible. If you can serve meals to people in three languages and answer their usual questions, you are awesome. Who cares, whether you can say anything else. This is true about many real jobs.

Well - I know what I'm putting on my "to watch" (with English subtitles) list!
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