The three keys to language learning success.

When I attended the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages ) Convention in San Diego, I heard the following wise words from Mary Ann Lyman-Hager, Director of the San Diego State University Language Acquisition Research Center.

“Language learning success depends on the attitude of the learner, the time spent with the language and noticing what happens in the language”.

Here is a podcast on that subject, which I will have transcribed over the next few days. I will divide it into short segments and put it all into the Library at LingQ.

Stonewalled by the bureaucracy again.

The British Columbia provincial government decides how immigrant ESL funds are spent in this province. Thanks to my local member of the Provincial Legislative Assembly, I was put into contact with the Minister of Advanced Education, to whom I wrote a letter describing LingQ and how it might help some immigrants to improve their English. I was contacted by the department that looks after provincial language programs. In late fall I was given an appointment for Feb 24th, a telephone conference. This was the earliest date they could talk to me since they are so busy.

Well, Feb 24 was yesterday. There were three people on the phone from Victoria, the provincial capital. None of them, nor any of their staff members had looked at LingQ. Not one. I explained the system on the phone. They had 3 questions:

1) How do we test? I said we do not test, but our members often go to third party testing agencies like TOEIC?? and report that they do very well after a period of study with LingQ.
2) What are the credentials of your tutors? I said, that our system is based on the learner, not on the teacher. All members help each other. Native speakers of one language help learners of that language.Credentials are not an issue, but anyone can be a tutor, even a credentialed teacher.
3) How do people learn to speak properly? I said that we put a lot of emphasis on input, and when the learners feel up to it, they can speak as often as they want with native speakers.

They said that I should approach the existing immigrant language teaching centres. I said that I had, and these people looked upon LingQ as competition.

Well they said, let us tell you about our programs. I said, you have no interest in my program, and to be frank I have no interest in yours. All I know from my immigrants friends, is that your programs are largely ineffective.

That ended the discussion.

Busuu and Livemocha, online language learning systems, are securing more financing.

Online language learning companies are securing additional financing, according to this article. I wish them luck. The bigger the online language learning communty becomes, hopefully the more people who will see that this method of language study is effective. Hopefully more learners will also look at LingQ. They are not the only ones according to this article.

The curious role of a language teacher.

What is the role of a language teacher? We have caused a little controversy at LingQ by opening up tutoring to all of our members. Some people feel that this will lower the quality of our tutors and make LingQ like Live Mocha. I do not agree. but this reaction is similar to what I hear whenever I talk to people in the education field. What are the credentials of your tutors?

These people have a totally different view of a language teacher than I have. Maybe this question strikes at the heart of the LingQ learning philosophy. To me a tutor or teacher is simply one of the many resources available to a language learner. A tutor or teacher is not necessary but can be both useful and influential. The personal relationship between the learner and the tutor can be very important. For some people, like me, it is a delight to have a variety of tutors to talk to. It is all up to the learner to decide. Learning does not begin with the teacher, but with the learner.

I am going off to take a tennis lesson in 30 minutes. I go to a tennis coach because the coach has skills that ordinary people do not have. But every educated native speaker of a language is equally skilled in that language, more or less, or at least skilled enough to tutor. Thus any native speaker of , say Russian which I am learning, who shares interests in common with me, and whom I like, can be an ideal tutor. A math teacher, or music teacher, or sports trainer have specialized skills that are not found in the general population. A language teacher is different There the role is to listen, encourage,inspire and sympathize. Credentials have little to with those abilities.