iPad, Kindle, LingQ and the future of language learning

??iPad, iPod,?? Kindle and other hand-held devices for reading and manipulating language content on handy portable devices is the next frontier in language learning. See this post by Jeffrey Hill. Just as the MP3 player made it possible to carry your audio language immersion with you and to manage it easily, the new generation of reading/multimedia devices will make language learning more comfortable.
I see this trend as our future at LingQ. We have built an effective learning platform and community of learners. The point of contact to this world of language must become more mobile. This is our next frontier. We are working on it.

The role of correction in language learning – very limited and only with permission.

The role of correction in language learning – very limited and only with permission.

I recently did two youtube videos that are related to this subject, one in English and one in Spanish. This has generated some lively discussions. Some people felt that I was somehow too sensitive or proud and should accept correction by others. Another person said that we learn languages like children, and children are regularly corrected when they speak, so we should also be happy to be corrected.

Is that really so??? It is my impression that the amount of correcting that parents do is only a small part of the communication that a child engages in. There are parents who correct more, and parents who correct less. I suspect this has little outcome on how correctly the child speaks. What matters more is how his or her friends speak, the ones that he or she hears.?? This is certainly true of immigrants who arrive in a country at the age of 3 or 4 or 5. The parents are not in a position to correct them in many cases, and yet the kids learn to speak very quickly. So I do not believe the the parents correcting children has much influence

I also do not think that teachers correcting learners has much influence. There are some studies that show this, but I am always suspicious of these studies, even when they agree with my views. I notice that the people who learn to speak well are those who become committed to learning a language on their own, and do a lot of reading and listening or mix in with speakers of the language. Without the motivation all the correction in the world will have little effect.

That being the case, the question is really whether the correction motivates the learner. This fact, whether it motivates or not, is far more important than the specific grammatical structures or word usage problem identified in the correction. Here is video on?? the subject


Wikipedia again

I was searching for information on Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong and as usual Wikipedia popped up. There is what this authoritative source, carefully edited by its volunteer guardians of impartiality approved.

Ming Pao’s style is somewhat more professional compared to other newspapers, as well as its own previous incarnation. Instead of writing sensational headlines designed to attract the readers, Ming Pao prefers to use moderate wording and seems to take a professional approach. Thus, many readers find its articles to be fair and neutral. Entertainment news rarely make it to the front page on Ming Pao, unlike other papers in Hong Kong. Ming Pao is still best-known for being honest and responsible by publishing only the facts and not the exaggerated, gory photographs common in other newspapers that are unpleasant to readers, especially children.

According to Ming Pao, its main reader groups are the middle class, professionals, managers and corporate decision-makers. They are groups of generally higher income and education levels, making them a very important group in Hong Kong.

Ming Pao is also one of the favourite newspapers among educational institutions. Schools often list Ming Pao as the best newspaper for subscription, and often offer special discounts for students in order to encourage them to subscribe to and read the newspaper more.

Funding for immigrant ESL in smaller communities -$2,000 per immigrant per year.

According to this news item, the Canadian government is funding a program to train ESL coordinators who in turn train volunteers to teach English to immigrants. The funding for the program is $2 million and the number of immigrants served was 894. This comes to around $2,000 per immigrant learner.

What would happen if each immigrant were given a language learning voucher for $500 and allowed to spend the money as he saw fit, (at LingQ for example) and then was promised another $1,250 in cash as soon as he or she became comfortable in the language? Of course there would have to be some kind of test. For a few hundred dollars it would be possible to?? have an in depth interview with the learner, at the beginning and at the end in order to evaluate the learner’s progress.

If LingQ were used, the volunteers could tutor at LingQ and earn points for their own learning, or to convert into cash. The trainers would not be required.

Mandarin Chinese learning boom or is it a fad?

There was an article in the New York Times?? recently about the rising interest in learning Mandarin Chinese and the decline in interest in other languages. I wrote the following letter to the NY Times.

“A few words of caution on the Mandarin learning boom. Chinese is not an international language and is not used widely by speakers of third languages. Chinese is difficult to learn and has no vocabulary in common with English, unlike Spanish. Learning the Chinese writing system is tremendously time consuming. Most kids who study Spanish in school today do not?? learn to speak. Mandarin learners will have a?? much harder time.

There are excellent reasons to offer Mandarin, a major world language, as an option, in our schools, without the hype and without making it a “critical language”. First, however, schools should look at how languages are taught and why such a large investment of resources produces such poor results. Schools need to take better advantage of the Internet and modern technology, and liberate language learning from the classroom, enabling more kids to learn more languages, including, but not only, Mandarin.”

Avatar and language learning

Is there are connection between Avatar and language learning? Well there may be two. First of all, someone spammed my youtube channel with an offer to download Avatar free of charge.

This caused me to google Avatar to see what the movie is all about. It turns out to be some kind of ridiculous Hollywood fantasy about societies in outer space. Now that I know that, I will not go to see the movie. I may spend the time reading a book in a foreign language, or just studying German on LingQ, in preparation for a trip I have to make, not to outer space, but to Vienna, in February.