Do we learn a language by speaking or listening?

We need both, in my view. But listening is very powerful and speaking, at least in the early stages, is largely overrated. Here is a podcast on the subject

Please vote for this blog

Lexiophiles has its annual poll on the best language blogs on the web. If you like this blog please vote for me. I don’t know what it all means, but once I am in the race, it would be nice to finish near the top.


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The reading crisis, a letter from Stephen Krashen

I wonder if getting the kids to listen to meaningful content on their MP3 players would not be more useful in improving reading skills than a lot more tests and classes teaching “reading skills”.

From Stephen Krashen to the New York Times

We now know that the reading crisis has reached the US Department of
Education. Education Secretary Arne Duncan thinks that there has been
no public opposition to his policies (“Education Chief Vies to Expand
U.S. Role as Partner on Local Schools,” May 3).

Clearly, neither he nor his staff members have been reading much.
Apparently, they have not read any of the articles in newspapers and
education publications, nor any of the recent books that oppose
Duncan’s program of spending billions on unnecessary standards and
tests at a time when schools are desperately short of funds.

Nor have they talked to many teachers.

Stephen Krashen

Auding or learning to listen

Main Entry: aud??ing
Pronunciation: ??o??-di??
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin audire + English 1-ing
Date: circa 1949

: the process of hearing, recognizing, and interpreting spoken language

Mirriam Webster (above)not-withstanding, according to Dr. Tom Sticht, an international expert on literacy.

“The term ???oracy???, referring to listening and speaking,
was coined by Andrew Wilkinson of the United Kingdom in the 1960s. The word
???auding??? as a parallel term to reading was coined by a blind student, D. P.
Brown, in 1954 while working on his Ph.D at Stanford University. He drew
the parallel as: hearing, listening, auding in relation to seeing, looking,
reading. Both auding and reading involve the use of language in addition to
the specific modality factors.”

He goes on to say;

“Numerous reports by business, industry, vocational, government, and other
organizations have indicated that adults??? oracy (auding and speaking) and
literacy (reading and writing) skills are related to productivity on the
job and hence to a nation???s productivity in the global economy.”

It appears that the speed and accuracy with which we comprehend what is said to us, varies with individuals, just as is the case with reading. But it can really influence our job prospects, and ability to learn things. Youngsters who hear lots of words at home get a head start, which they usually do not lose. They just get better and better.

As is the case with reading, vocabulary, prior knowledge of the subject, and practice can increase our ability to understand what we hear. It seems to me that it is something that we should teach and train in school.

I get back to my idea of having kids run around the school yard listening to lectures on their MP3 players. At first they may tune out. They need to continue in order to develop the habit. My wife used to fall asleep reading. Now she loves to read.??

I concentrate on my listening better when I am running than if I tried to sit down in a chair to listen. Maybe just me but I say let’s give extreme mobile learning a chance! Get mobile, get listening!

Learn Catalan with Oscar

Oscar Pellu, one our members at LingQ has started creating videos where he speaks in Catalan with sub-titles in Castillan Spanish. He promises to provide advice on how to learn Catalan as well. I do not know how he creates the sub-titles. I would like to do the same for my non-English videos.

I am going to follow his videos and one day I hope we can add Catalan to LingQ. I think this is a great way to introduce related languages, other Romance languages, or even Dutch-German(or English), or Slavic languages, and others. What do you think?

Private schools cost less than public schools.

Further on the subject of the public school system, it appears from this article that in many places the cost per child is much higher than $10,000 per child per year, and closer to $25,000 per child per year in many cases. Thus the cost for the public school system is three times as high as the cost for private schooling. We should be allowed to keep the money that goes towards public schooling and make our own choices.