iguanamon wrote:There have always been posts here and back on HTLAL about prominent polyglots and SLA studies. Nary a week goes by without a post about them, so they would seem to be popular topics. While I find some relevance to prominent polyglots in what I do in language-learning- I had inspiration and influence in my learning style from Barry Farber, I quickly developed my own variation on the theme and have deviated from the original prescription. My hunch is that since self-learning of languages is so highly individual, so are all of our learning styles.
My question is in the topic- What is the relevance of youtube polyglots and second language acquisition studies to your own individual learning style, if any? I am curious to know. For me I don't watch youtube polyglot videos and I find no relevance in SLA studies. Am I wrong to discount them, and if so, please tell me why?
My supposition is that at the beginning we are influenced/inspired by prominent polyglots but as we successfully learn languages we develop our own styles from a variety of influences... including what has worked for us individually and what has worked for others. For me, it's like a buffet. In my case, to name just a few: emk's success with television series and comic books, reineke's cartoons, radioclare's soap operas; Ogrim's music, smallwhite's background listening, Serpent's sports and twitter- all have played their part to some extent. It is difficult to describe how much influence and from where, as the forum in general has played such a huge roll in my learning. Lucca, Steve Kaufmann, Benny, Glossika haven't played much of a role for me.
So I want to hear from you all about this.
Your question has a few different axes that I'd like to disentangle:
1. The timeline: At different points along the journey from beginner to more experienced learner, the answer is going to be different. You've asked specifically about whether "you" are wrong to discount the YouTube polyglots. But, you yourself are on the more experienced end of the journey, so you're not likely to discover much new by listening to prominent or experienced language learner on YouTube. However for someone just starting out, listening to the stories of successful language learners like Stuart Jay Raj or Richard Simcott can be inspiring and provide you with many ideas and insights that you have simply never heard before. Even for someone who generally prefers a different medium besides YouTube, a YouTube is still going to be more valuable to someone at an earlier point in the timeline than someone later in the timeline.
2. The medium: To me, YouTube vs books vs forums is not an important distinction. When I want to draw inspiration from more experienced language learners, I will go to wherever they are. Some of them are only on YouTube, some of them are only on blogs, and some are only on forums. It's the quality of the person's insights that matters more. I do not think that any medium is completely immune from garbage. However, there are various benefits to each different medium and ultimately I do not think one is always better than the other. Written text is easier to scan through. But podcasts can be listened to while doing other things like housework. And videos can make it easier to convey things with visual aids. Both podcasts and YouTube videos lend themselves to any discussion of pronunciation.
3. The authority: Who do we consider to be the experts that we listen to on language learning? Successful learners or SLA researchers or both? As a self learner, it has to be the successful learners because their learning environment more accurately replicates my own learning environment. If you're a self learner, and you read through various SLA studies that have been performed by researchers, you will very rarely find a study that replicates your own individual learning environment. For example, I was recently looking into the literature on "over learning" where you do lots of repetitions up front (similar to what Glossika does) rather than spaced repetition based on the forgetting curve (like Anki), and there is a study
that shows that over learning results in higher learning performance for an initial period of time, but that the over-learning effects were all but lost after 4 weeks with retention approaching 20%. So it would seem that over learning is a bad idea and should be rejected. But is this really a useful result and should you listen to it as a language learner? To come to the amazing conclusion of this paper, the experiment went like this: Subjects over-learned vocabulary on day 1, and then without any subsequent review in the intervening period, were tested on retention 4 weeks later. They could only retain 20-30%. Now does that sound like it perfectly replicates the environment of a language learner? Of course not. Surely on day 2, day 3, day 4 and onward, the language learner is going to be studying new material, and the nature of language is that words are naturally going to repeat. This study does not reveal whether the initial benefits of over learning would be retained if some other kind of repetition (e.g. natural or forgetting curve) were happening simultaneously. The point is, just because a study offers evidence to conclude that X doesn't work, it is fallacious to then conclude that X + Y wouldn't work and you would need a separate study done on that specific combination. Each language learner is going to try their own unique combination of things, and given the huge number of combinations and permutations possible, it is unlikely you'll find a study that replicates your specific permutation. They tend to mostly focus on permutations that map onto the class room environment. I do respect what the researchers do, having a research degree in another field myself, but the honest truth is that research will generally lag behind the practical needs of the average person, and it could take decades or perhaps centuries to catch up. This is because there are not enough researchers and the research methods are very slow. Meanwhile, we have a natural evolutionary experiment going on within the language learning community right now where massive numbers of people are learning languages in different ways, many are failing, and the successful ones make it to the top. When they share their insights, no matter the medium, of course I'll listen.