Reading problems are related to listening problems.

According to?? research at MIT, our ability to discern and differentiate what we hear affects our ability to read. Dyslexic people have greater difficulty identifying the voices of speakers of their own language than non-dyslexic people. Non dyselxic people are better at this, but only in their own language. They are as bad as dyslexic people when listening to a foreign language, or so it seems.

What is not clear is whether people are dyslexic because they have trouble discerning differences in what they hear, or whether they have trouble discerning some aspects of what they hear because they are dyslexic. What causes what? I wonder if activities to improve hearing discernment in relation to language input could improve their reading skills, for example lots of listening and reading.

I have always found an emphasis on listening to be essential to my reading skills in foreign languages. Lots of prior listening provides a number of advantages to reading in a foreign language. We gain some familiarity with the subject. We get a little rhythm or momentum for our reading and almost end up hearing the text as we read it quitely to ourselves. Lots of listening, as well as deliberate vocabulary acquisition, are at the core of LingQ.

I have often suggested that the LingQ approach could work for literacy improvement in one’s native language. All my approaches to individuals and groups involved in literacy education have been met with indifference. Perhaps this research should make these people think again. Maybe I am reading too much into the research.


Shotgun approach to learning Czech

One of the 4 new languages recently added to LingQ is Czech. (Arabic, Dutch and Polish) are the others. I have decided to focus on Czech. It is fun to start a language from scratch again, although it is not entirely from scratch, since many words and grammar patterns are familiar from Russian.

Focus is not the right word either, since I am taking a shotgun or scattered approach. I am listening to and reading beginner material at LingQ, but also using more advanced material where most words are unknown to me. Advanced material is inherently more interesting and so I do not mind the extra work LingQing more words.??

I am also doing more flash card review than I am used to do with Russian or Portuguese.

In addition, I found a phrase book at home, that I bought when I was in Prague for a few days. It is small, so I can keep it in my pocket and read through it whenver I have a moment.

I do not try to memorize anything, but just want to expose myself to the language in a variety of ways. So far I am enjoying myself.

I may have a look at declension or conjugation tables later, and some grammar rules, but it will be much later, I think.

Which language should we add at LingQ? Where are the Esperantists?

Arabic, Czech, Dutch, and Polish have been added as Beta languages at LingQ. What should be next? You can vote on it at our Facebook page.

You will then need to click on What language should we add next? in order to vote.?? You can voter for more than one language. We will add one language a month.

Latin has a comfortable lead right now. I am surprised. What happened to the Esperantists?

The power of interesting content.

I recently had to do an interview in Cantonese with a local radio station. Forty-five minutes! I had never spoken for 45 mintues in Cantonese with anyone, let alone in a radio interview. I had only a few days to prepare, since prior to the interview I was away on holidays. I had also not found anything interesting to listen to in Cantonese.

Then a fellow member of LingQ pointed me to the Radio Hong Kong podcasts. I found one in particular that I enjoyed on history,??????????????????.

I probably listened to it for 6 or 7 hours in the few days leading up to the interview. I did better in that interview than I expected, perhaps better than I have ever done in Cantonese.

The power of listening to things THAT INTEREST US is phenomenal.

Of course, if transcripts were availabe, and if I could study these texts at LingQ I would have gained a lot of vocabulary. As it was there were many words that I did not understand. However, in terms, rhythm, timing, comprehension, confidence, I gained a lot, simply by listening. It would not have worked, and did not work, with uninteresting content.

Language politics in Canada, Seven-up and Quebec Health website.

Languages can divide just as much as they can bring us together. In Canada, French-English language hostility is something we have just become used to in our country. The most recent nonsense concerns two unrelated issues. On the one hand a francophone passenger on Air Canada was awarded $12,000 because he was unable to order a soft drink in French on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Atlanta. (He asked for half a million dollars.)

At about the same time, we have another controversy, as the province of Quebec put up a website with information about government health services in French only, promising that an English translation would be available in months. (Note that Quebec is 80% francophone).

My view is that a lot of people are being very silly. The French rights campaigner who won $12,000 is being silly.?? I have seen him interviewed, and he is fluent in English.

Air Canada, as the national carrier,?? is just stupid for not being able to provide services in both official languages.

Above all, it is appalling to me that in Canada, where English speaking school kids study French for ten years or so at school, people expect to be hired as flight attendants by the national airline, if they cannot communicate in French.

And the fuss about the Quebec website is also silly. I am sure that the Quebec government could have arranged for translation into English, concurrently with the preparation of their website. We deal with translation into 12 languages at LingQ and we do not have the unlimited means of government.

As with most government undertakings, this website probably cost millions and took years to produce, and so there was ample time to ensure that everything was available in both official languages. The Quebec government just wanted to make a language point.

On the other hand, if the inept Quebec government only has a French language version available, and assuming that the website has useful information, the government might as well put it up and help people, while awaiting the English version.

All in all, just a lot of silliness.