You're doing it wrong

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MacGyver
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby MacGyver » Tue Mar 12, 2019 6:06 am

Cavesa wrote:
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


Not if you are trying to pass a test for a non-European language... haha.

But failing a test after studying hard for it is not the same thing as overestimating your skills and getting a rude shock.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby chove » Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:53 am

Inst wrote: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..


But it does enhance my enjoyment of the world, it broadens my cultural horizons and even when I end up speaking mostly English with someone they usually appreciate that I've put in some effort to learn a bit of their language and shown an interest in their culture. And not everyone speaks English, or speaks it well enough that they don't need to occasionally slip back into their native language now and then. For me it's more about meeting people halfway a lot of the time.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby zenmonkey » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:13 am

Inst wrote: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..


One can't enjoy languages before C1?
And plain English is useless in quite a few places I've travelled.

sporedandroid wrote:
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.


It's terrible for Hebrew (doesn't even include pronunciations) and basically inexistent for most of the languages I study or want to study.
Aramaic, Tibetan, Tzotzil, Nahuatl, etc... are really not going to be google accessible for quite a while....
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Cavesa » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:59 am

Arnaud wrote:You're never tired of repeating ad nauseam the same clichés and making generalities of your own unfortunate personal experience ?


It is not one experience, and it is not only mine. It comes up sometimes and usually with the mistaken versions of the cliché, so adding the true information seems appropriate. Sorry to bother you. I'd love to see the old clichés die out, then I wouldn't repeat it ever again, it is definitely tiring.

MacGyver wrote:Not if you are trying to pass a test for a non-European language... haha.

But failing a test after studying hard for it is not the same thing as overestimating your skills and getting a rude shock.


Yes, this is definitely true. The non european languages and cefr are definitely a different kind of challenge.

The overestimation of one's skills with an unpleasant surprise happens much more often during the job interviews. It is one of the very common complaints of people doing these interviews and one of the most important points on any "what to not do while applying for a job" list. This would actually be less common, if the exams were more common. Or if people at least used the available self assessment tools and not just the very short vague description everywhere on the internet. But the rude shock for the learner (at least the one who is not lying on purpose, hoping nobody will actually bother to find out) is not rare, nor is the disappointment of the employers.

zenmonkey wrote:
Inst wrote: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..


One can't enjoy languages before C1?
And plain English is useless in quite a few places I've travelled.

Very true.

You're doing it wrong, if you are not enjoying a language before C1 :-) And you are unlikely to last long enough without the enjoyment of at least a part of learning it.

Thinking of it, Google Translate might be an effective solution for the person inflicting it upon another person, not caring about the result and the efforts required on the other side at all. For the person on the receiving end, it is much less efficient. One doesn't need to go as far as the non european languages. Even in Czech, majority of the grammar is usually wrong and lots of the words don't make sense in the context at all. The worst is getting such an email about an important issue without the original version. It is just alibism from the sender, who feels so kind and virtuous that they've just spared the other person the effort to copy it into Google Translate themselves or, what a horrifying thought, just read it. :-D

But it is definitely true that Google Translate is improving and some of the combinations are not that bad, at least for some uses. It has gone a long way and will improve over time. But I don't think it will replace normal language learning and its use within our lifetimes.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Inst » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:40 pm

I used Google Translate in 2012, 2017, and so on. They're actually taking in the raw data from Duolingo users (more reason to avoid Duolingo), and the software has improved dramatically. With a bit of puzzling through, you can even get the gist of Japanese articles, although many cultural references are lost. My expectation is that by 2025 we may end up being hobbyists or [redacted]; i.e, for all practical purposes, AI machine translation is supplanting the majority of need for learning languages.

===

As for A2 in many vs C1 in few, the way I look at it is the number of "important" countries as well as the cost-benefit analysis for various countries. In the EU, English is forming a Lingua Franca, not Esperanto. There's always going to be local languages, but English is so widely used and taught in additional to the native language that you can get reasonably by with English. In Asia, on the other hand, most of the native languages are extremely difficult for a native English speaker so the return on investment isn't good when you're talking about B2 proficiency. Latin America, on the other hand, is a major exception, because Spanish or Portuguese is common there, but Anglophony isn't, and Spanish and Portuguese are relatively easy to pick up and have good return on investment.

On the other hand, I am well in favor of A0, or tourist proficiency. Dhanyavad, Shukriya, Shukran, Anyeong Haseo, Kamsahamnida, Arigato Gozaimasu, etc. It's just learning polite language to attempt to show locals that you are making an effort and that you are trying to respect their society or culture. It's not the same as, say, learning survival terms (do you speak English, etc), because you aren't seriously trying to communicate in the target language (and in practice, you always want to find an Anglophone because there's little point in effectively communicating by pantomine except in emergency), but in my experience it is usually appreciated.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby MacGyver » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:07 am

Inst wrote:I used Google Translate in 2012, 2017, and so on. They're actually taking in the raw data from Duolingo users (more reason to avoid Duolingo), and the software has improved dramatically. With a bit of puzzling through, you can even get the gist of Japanese articles, although many cultural references are lost. My expectation is that by 2025 we may end up being hobbyists; i.e, for all practical purposes, AI machine translation is supplanting the majority of need for learning languages.

===

As for A2 in many vs C1 in few, the way I look at it is the number of "important" countries as well as the cost-benefit analysis for various countries. In the EU, English is forming a Lingua Franca, not Esperanto. There's always going to be local languages, but English is so widely used and taught in additional to the native language that you can get reasonably by with English. In Asia, on the other hand, most of the native languages are extremely difficult for a native English speaker so the return on investment isn't good when you're talking about B2 proficiency. Latin America, on the other hand, is a major exception, because Spanish or Portuguese is common there, but Anglophony isn't, and Spanish and Portuguese are relatively easy to pick up and have good return on investment.

On the other hand, I am well in favor of A0, or tourist proficiency. Dhanyavad, Shukriya, Shukran, Anyeong Haseo, Kamsahamnida, Arigato Gozaimasu, etc. It's just learning polite language to attempt to show locals that you are making an effort and that you are trying to respect their society or culture. It's not the same as, say, learning survival terms (do you speak English, etc), because you aren't seriously trying to communicate in the target language (and in practice, you always want to find an Anglophone because there's little point in effectively communicating by pantomine except in emergency), but in my experience it is usually appreciated.


Hmmm. I am aiming to learn Korean to a C2 level. I have no use for this language aside from watching some dramas (which I can easily watch with English subtitles). I have already put in a couple of years of study and will likely put in a fair few more. I have and will continue to sink a decent amount of cash on books and italki lessons. Return on investment? Dollars-wise it will be negative. So should I have not bothered travelling down this road?

Your reasons may be perfectly valid and reasonable for you, but not necessarily the person down the street.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Cavesa » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:29 am

Inst wrote:As for A2 in many vs C1 in few, the way I look at it is the number of "important" countries as well as the cost-benefit analysis for various countries. In the EU, English is forming a Lingua Franca, not Esperanto. There's always going to be local languages, but English is so widely used and taught in additional to the native language that you can get reasonably by with English. In Asia, on the other hand, most of the native languages are extremely difficult for a native English speaker so the return on investment isn't good when you're talking about B2 proficiency. Latin America, on the other hand, is a major exception, because Spanish or Portuguese is common there, but Anglophony isn't, and Spanish and Portuguese are relatively easy to pick up and have good return on investment.

On the other hand, I am well in favor of A0, or tourist proficiency. Dhanyavad, Shukriya, Shukran, Anyeong Haseo, Kamsahamnida, Arigato Gozaimasu, etc. It's just learning polite language to attempt to show locals that you are making an effort and that you are trying to respect their society or culture. It's not the same as, say, learning survival terms (do you speak English, etc), because you aren't seriously trying to communicate in the target language (and in practice, you always want to find an Anglophone because there's little point in effectively communicating by pantomine except in emergency), but in my experience it is usually appreciated.


Do you have any actual experience with Europe? The fact English is so widely taught doesn't mean that much, the usual level varies a lot (good luck in the countries worse at English outside of the touristy places). Or does a large part of the US citizens forced to spend some time on Spanish at school speak it?

(or Asia too. I have only two weeks of experience in Japan, and I can tell you that relying on the natives' English outside of the main tourist places is definitely risky. The pantomime was often actually better.)

For some basic touristy situations, you don't actually need any langauge, not even English. Pointing on things and paying will work. But in many situations, the local language is extremely useful. And the more you travel, the more likely you are to get to less standard situations, and you'll appreciate the language in such moments a lot.

Nobody was talking about Esperanto, that is another category. But learning the languages of countries you are likely to travel to repeatedly definitely makes sense. It can improve the experience immensely and be very practical.

Of course you can stick just to English everywhere. But you shouldn't expect much from such travelling, just some sightseeing and that's it. And that's still just tourism, you leave out the millions of people travelling for work, for study exchanges, and so on. But even as a tourist, you can experience much more, if you are willing to not be lazy. A2 or B1 for one weekend doesn't make sense. But for twenty week or two long stays in the country, it definitely does.

It depends on your definition of "getting reasonably by". And you really are an optimist, willing to rely on finding good enough English speakers everywhere instead of relying on yourself.

Also, knowledge of two foreign languages, English and something else, is becoming more and more of a standard for the younger generation, and many job offers require exactly that. Obviously, the other language brings something valuable to the skillset. If it was that useless, as you naively think, the employers wouldn't be willing to pay for such a skill.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby zenmonkey » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:47 am

Inst wrote:I used Google Translate in 2012, 2017, and so on. They're actually taking in the raw data from Duolingo users (more reason to avoid Duolingo), and the software has improved dramatically.


As far as I know, (and I've read more than a few technical papers from Google) this doesn't have anything to do with Googles improvement. Rather it moved from an SMT model (statistical model - based largely from UN documents) to NMT (neural network) with a much larger corpora and the Translate Community that works to correct errors. The Google NMT also no longer uses English as an intermediate translator for many languages (although the models from prior translations are still used, so there are relic effects).

Inst wrote:...cost-benefit analysis for various countries...


While you calculate that math.
The counter argument is right there waiting.
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Last edited by zenmonkey on Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby chove » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:47 am

Inst wrote:It's just learning polite language to attempt to show locals that you are making an effort and that you are trying to respect their society or culture. It's not the same as, say, learning survival terms (do you speak English, etc), because you aren't seriously trying to communicate in the target language (and in practice, you always want to find an Anglophone because there's little point in effectively communicating by pantomine except in emergency), but in my experience it is usually appreciated.


It shows that you're willing to put in some work and by extension that you're open to their culture. It's surprised me how people are a lot more willing to talk to me if I know about three words in their native language, especially immigrants to my country who might otherwise feel unwelcome here. There's more to communication than just sharing a language, it can show a willingness to connect.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Inst » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:29 am

Cavesa wrote:
Inst wrote:As for A2 in many vs C1 in few, the way I look at it is the number of "important" countries as well as the cost-benefit analysis for various countries. In the EU, English is forming a Lingua Franca, not Esperanto. There's always going to be local languages, but English is so widely used and taught in additional to the native language that you can get reasonably by with English. In Asia, on the other hand, most of the native languages are extremely difficult for a native English speaker so the return on investment isn't good when you're talking about B2 proficiency. Latin America, on the other hand, is a major exception, because Spanish or Portuguese is common there, but Anglophony isn't, and Spanish and Portuguese are relatively easy to pick up and have good return on investment.

On the other hand, I am well in favor of A0, or tourist proficiency. Dhanyavad, Shukriya, Shukran, Anyeong Haseo, Kamsahamnida, Arigato Gozaimasu, etc. It's just learning polite language to attempt to show locals that you are making an effort and that you are trying to respect their society or culture. It's not the same as, say, learning survival terms (do you speak English, etc), because you aren't seriously trying to communicate in the target language (and in practice, you always want to find an Anglophone because there's little point in effectively communicating by pantomine except in emergency), but in my experience it is usually appreciated.


Do you have any actual experience with Europe? The fact English is so widely taught doesn't mean that much, the usual level varies a lot (good luck in the countries worse at English outside of the touristy places). Or does a large part of the US citizens forced to spend some time on Spanish at school speak it?

(or Asia too. I have only two weeks of experience in Japan, and I can tell you that relying on the natives' English outside of the main tourist places is definitely risky. The pantomime was often actually better.)

For some basic touristy situations, you don't actually need any langauge, not even English. Pointing on things and paying will work. But in many situations, the local language is extremely useful. And the more you travel, the more likely you are to get to less standard situations, and you'll appreciate the language in such moments a lot.

Nobody was talking about Esperanto, that is another category. But learning the languages of countries you are likely to travel to repeatedly definitely makes sense. It can improve the experience immensely and be very practical.

Of course you can stick just to English everywhere. But you shouldn't expect much from such travelling, just some sightseeing and that's it. And that's still just tourism, you leave out the millions of people travelling for work, for study exchanges, and so on. But even as a tourist, you can experience much more, if you are willing to not be lazy. A2 or B1 for one weekend doesn't make sense. But for twenty week or two long stays in the country, it definitely does.

It depends on your definition of "getting reasonably by". And you really are an optimist, willing to rely on finding good enough English speakers everywhere instead of relying on yourself.

Also, knowledge of two foreign languages, English and something else, is becoming more and more of a standard for the younger generation, and many job offers require exactly that. Obviously, the other language brings something valuable to the skillset. If it was that useless, as you naively think, the employers wouldn't be willing to pay for such a skill.


Indirect experience in Italy:

"Policeman: is your son a boy or a girl?"

And I've been in quite a few European countries; most of Scandinavia, for that matter.

It depends on your definition of "getting reasonably by". And you really are an optimist, willing to rely on finding good enough English speakers everywhere instead of relying on yourself.


I've been in around 25+ countries and I don't think I'm alone. One way to put it is that there's a lot of literature I don't read because I'd rather read the original than do the translation and then do the original again. But in practice, it just means I'm putting things off indefinitely. What you're suggesting is that you exclude a bunch of destination countries just because you don't speak the language.

And I'll say I'm not an optimist, just experienced. I've been able to get reasonably priced drivers / guides who speak English in Mongolia, of all places.

Also, knowledge of two foreign languages, English and something else, is becoming more and more of a standard for the younger generation, and many job offers require exactly that. Obviously, the other language brings something valuable to the skillset. If it was that useless, as you naively think, the employers wouldn't be willing to pay for such a skill.


I'm not an anti-polyglot or anti-bilingual. I think being able to speak multiple languages is a valuable or even necessary job skill. I'm just too familiar with people who decided to climb the Japanese wall and never quite got anywhere, or people who've been stuck in slog territory forever.

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".

I know, for instance, of many people who are actively dismissive of people claiming they can speak Chinese; i.e, they usually end up getting a fluent Chinese-speaker on their staff to interrogate and evaluate the hireling. The "bad" Chinese actually becomes a demerit when it comes to the job application.
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