In praise of random repetition

I am not a user of Spaced Repetition Systems. I like Random Repetition, not repetition based on a time table set by a system, or by a teacher, for that matter.

I do, however, like to review flash cards. I do it occasionally especially now that I can do it on my iTouch. I feel it helps me to focus and it improves my attentiveness to the language. I certainly don’t do it every day. I do it when I feel like it. I read when I feel like it, and listen when I feel like it. I do what I like, when I like, but I do a lot of it. That gives me lots of random exposure to words and phrase. I like randomness because it increases my enjoyment and makes me spend more time with my language studies.

I did a video on the subject but I keep getting errors in publishing to youtube for some reason. I will try again and if it works I will post the video.

Help! What is the best way to create ‘text and sound only’ videos for youtube

I have been playing around with different ways to develop simple short lessons for different languages , but I have not found a useful software to do this. Does anyone have any advice on how to most simply create a text only video, consisting of words and phrases in a language. These would be accompanied by a narrative talking about the words and phrases that appear on the screen. Many thanks for any advice on how best to do this.

I would like to start a series of simple, easy to make videos as ice-breakers, or handy tips, for language learners. These can by learners talking about how they reacted to a new language,things they found difficult or easy,?? or native speakers focusing on certain points of usage. I see these as less then 3 minutes long, text and sound only. I would like to see a vast collection of these, on different languages, recorded in different languages. I have some ideas already but I cannot find the ideal software to compose these.

I see this as a collaborative effort, with learners asking for certain subjects to be dealt with, or others just creating them. Thus the method used for creating these needs to be easy to use.

Berta y ??scar – Spanish dialogues for learners, now available at iTunes

Berta y ??scar, a podcast of natural dialogues, about everything and anything, in Spanish, is now available at iTunes.

From time to time I will mention some of the wonderful learner content that our members at LingQ are creating for our libraries and making available on iTunes.

These are easy listening dialogues in Spanish, about 10-15 minutes long, between Berta, who lives in Madrid, and ??scar, who lives in Barcelona. These are free and the transcripts are available at LingQ, also free. The first five dialogues are in the iTunes store and five more are on the way.

Have a look, and if you like them, please do not forget to rate the podcast.

Rejection is a part of language learning. Meetup turndown. Maybe we need a LingQ Meetup.

I was turned down by a Meetup group here in Vancouver that advertized itself as a Russian Speaking Conversation and Adventure Group. To be fair I thought I would be turned down since the group was clear on the kind of members they wanted (see below with my comments), but I tried anyway. Maybe I should create my own Meetup group for LingQ, where people can get together and exchange languages.

Welcome, Russian Speaking Vancouverites!?? (OK, that’s me, no question)

This group is for former citizens of former USSR who would like make new friends at our various meetings ??? from sport activities and casual outings to business networking ??? in a relaxed friendly atmosphere. ( I am not a former citizen of a former state, I admit, but you can’t have all the necessary qualities)

– Raised in USSR (I confess, no) (meaning you are over 25 years old and have emotional connections with Russian language and culture (yes!))
??? Fluently speak Russian (not learning or practicing the language) (well I can try ). You can bring an English speaking friend if you want but we won’t speak English here. (can I come as a friend and speak Russian?)
??? You are a mature intelligent individual – easy going, active, have a positive attitude (yes, I like that description), able to listen and maintain discussion without suppressing others’ opinions. (depends on what kind of crack-pot crazy opinions they have)

Being an optimist, I still thought I had a chance, but the following line was the clincher, but I still don’t know how they knew.

* People with unhealthy habits like heavy drinking, complaining or obsessing with something will be asked to leave the group

Kindle kindles my fire

This morning Amazon sent me an email with a few books on education that their system thought I would be interested in. I agreed and decided I wanted to buy these books from the Amazon website. Then I looked at the shipping bill and said “hold it.”. I called my son who has my Kindle. I got it from him for Christmas and never used it, since most of my reading was in foreign languages at that time.

” I want my Kindle back, and while your at it please try to buy these two books for me” I said. Detto fatto. The books were bought. Then Mark gave me back my Kindle and I read the two books. I think of how much time I would have had to spend in stores, or waiting for my package from Amazon. Wow!?? And I thoroughly enjoyed reading on the Kindle once I got used to it.

I will be buying more books this way. Less clutter on my shelves. This is especially convenient for “information” books as opposed to “treasure” books.

I only wish they had foreign books and LingQ so that I could work on my foreign languages. Perhaps in the future.

The books were Liberating Learning and The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age.

A wonderful site for French audio and text content

A friend in Brazil told me about the web site “audiocit??” . Some wonderful jewels of French literature are available for free download, in audio and text.

For all you LingQ members out there, based on their creative commons license, this content can be shared in our LingQ French Library, since it is available free of charge to anyone. Just make sure you acknowledge the source properly, including a link to their site.


French immersion in Canada – does it work?

Many anglophone kids in Canada are enrolled in French immersion schools and take all of their education in French. My three grandchildren who live in Vancouver are in French immersion.

I find that, given the number of years of schooling in French, the fluency and pronunciation of these French immersion kids is not impressive. Swedish kids of the same age speak much better English, on average, and do not attend immersion. I am of the opinion that, with effective language instruction from grade 1, kids should be able to speak at least one language, and possibly more, better than these immersion kids in Canada speak French.

Wikipedia, that handy source of information, has the following misleading paragraph in its page on French immersion, which of course makes me question the whole article.

“French-immersion programs are offered in 9 Canadian provinces, except the province of New Brunswick, which has eliminated in the early grades in favor of universal French education grade 6. French popularity differs by province and region. Currently, enrollment in French immersion is highest in the Maritime Provinces and parts of Quebec and Ontario. Western Canada, which is predominantly Anglophone, is experiencing high population growth. This has resulted in increased enrollment in French immersion programs, which can be attributed in part to the immigration of Francophones from Eastern Canada as well as other parts of the world, such as Haiti and Africa.”

In fact New Brunswick probably has the highest rate of French immersion enrollment in the country. New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario are the only provinces with significant French speaking populations. The rest of the country, including the West is predominantly anglophone. The population growth in Western Canada is primarily due to immigration from Asia. Immigration from Africa and Haiti is insignificant and has almost zero impact on French immersion enrollment, which is largely an effort by parents to provide an enriched learning experience for their children, and get away from special needs kids in the system, such as the increasing number of?? ESL students.

How many words do we need to speak a language.

Here is an interesting thread at our LingQ Forum.

The first post said the following;

“I know this is not a new topic but a few months ago I read some polyglots claiming that knowing the 100 most used words (they even provide a list), you could understand basically close to 75 percent of what you read in another language and when you train your ear to listen, you could probably understand close to 50 percent. Others claim that on an average day to day conversation in your own language, we don’t use more than 1000 words, that for someone that is very well versed and speaks more advance using technical terminology, 3000 words would be the highest the person would used in any given day or week.
As humans, we tend to stick to the words we know and used on a daily basis and rarely (unless you are studying at school, learning a new language or preparing for an exam) use different terminology for each conversation we have. I see politicians for example: the vocabulary they use is always the same. They use the basic words we all use plus a dozen of their own such: constituents, government, bipartisan, etc. etc.
I want to experiment with these claims to find out if they are true or false but before I do that, I would like to hear your imput and to see if anybody has tried this before. I strongly believe that the more vocabulary you learn or assimilate, the more prepared you would be. Please let me know your thoughts, doubts, suggestions.
I started to learn in German these 100 words. I will print a lesson from Vera for example and will mark every single word of those 100 to find out the percetage of the total words used. I look forward to it but also know i might be dissapointed. What do you think?
pd. sorry if you find any mispellings. I am trying my new “Ipad” and it has a mind of its own. “

Here is my most recent post;


It is tempting to believe that we can just acquire a small number of very useful words, and sort of get a jump start in a language. I have never found that to be the case. Even learning where, when why etc. does not help a lot, in my experience. I find that we need a certain amount of time to get used to a language.

It is not difficult to get a list of the most “useful” words in a language. You can look them up, or you can just type them out in your own language and submit them to google translate. I doubt if that will help much, at least it does not in my case.

I find it just as useful to go after content, preferably interesting content, and pick away at these useful words, saving them as in LingQ. If they are really that useful, they will appear soon and often. And the less frequent words that I just need to get through the content,?? I save them as well but?? I ignore them until they show up often enough so that I soon find that I have learned them.

I create lots of LingQs, and not only of words I do not know, but also of common little words that work differently in the new language, like “meu” or “minha” in Portuguese versus “mi” in Spanish. Some of these common words I may Tag.

I just keep doing that and gradually improve. The more I do it, the faster I improve. There is no great leap forward. It is a long road driven by the three key engines; our attitude, the time we spend, and our ability to notice what happens in the language. “