Timing and language learning effectiveness.

Language learning effectiveness depends to a large degree on timing. There are times when we are prepared to learn certain things, and other times when we are not. If confronted with information at a time when we are not ready, or not interested, or do not see the relevance, we will have trouble learning it.

It is largely up to us find the right moment and to follow our interests and instincts in choosing learning activities. The teacher cannot decide these things for us. Here is a video on the importance of timing in language learning.

The truth about how I learn languages.

Language learning, to me, has always been a matter of relentlessly pursuing words, acquiring them and losing them, and gradually accumulating them as I read and listen to content of interest. Along the way I learn the language. I am an agressive LingQer, more so than most of the people at LingQ.

Recently I commented on this at our LingQ forum.

“I think part of the reason why I create so many LingQ is that I am quite content to LingQ my way through difficult texts, LingQing every third or fifth word without worrying whether I fully understand what I am reading, whether I can remember the words, or whether I can understand what I am listening to. I am confident that things will gradually get clearer.

Now I am going over some of my earlier texts and trying to Tag my saved LingQs for case. I may Tag some wrong, so I think I will submit this to the Doctor and send him some points if he will correct my Tags, or at least tell me which ones are wrong.

Tagging the words, either at the Vocab page, or upon clicking on your saved yellow LingQs on the Lesson Page is a good exercise. It forces you to think about cases, or whatever pattern, structure, part of speech or word ending it might be. Then when you review a Tagged List of a certain part of speech or case ending or whatever, you get a concentrate review of them.

This really helps me to get a better handle of the language. Then things are a little clearer when I once again start plowing forward in my reading and listening.”

Here is a video on the subject.

Czech vocabulary, time to regroup.

I will soon have been at Czech for two months.

I have been saving LingQ like mad in Czech. I now have over 10,000 LingQs in my database. These are words that I have looked up and am trying to learn. I occasionally move some to known, so that my learned LingQs total is about 700. In fact I know more than that, I just haven’t changed their status.

On the other hand I am told by the system that I know almost 13,000 words in Czech which I don’t believe. This is just the total number of words that I did not save when reading at LingQ. (I have read a total of over 100,000 words at LIngQ, from our own library and from imported content.) I do know a lot of words, though, since I can make my way through newspaper articles even without the dictionary, missing lots of parts, of course.

As to case endings, I have no clue about which endings are which case. So I decided that I have had enough exposure to the language. I have enough words. I have a feel. I have been exposed to the endings, now I need to try to get a better handle on the case endings.

I went into the Vocabulary section and started to Tag words based on case. I just look for the saved phrases for each word, and if I see an example of a case, I Tag it with what I hope is the correct case. I have a grammar book open with the case tables for nouns and adjectives, and a list of which prepositions take which cases. I hope I am tagging them correctly. I Tag some LingQs with more than one tag, for case, gender and for plural.

Every so often I meet a word in the captured phrase that I do not know. I then just save it as a term. If I am in doubt as to the gender of a noun. I look it up in the dictionary again and add it as a term in LingQ. I often refer to the examples in the LingQ box just to help me get a sense of the word.

This is quite time consuming. This is intensive vocab work. I won’t be able to do all 10,000 saved LingQs. But this helps me get a handle. Soon I will have some good lists of different case endings. When I have some good lists I may ask one of our native speakers to record the lists for me, to help me get used to the endings.

One advantage of this kind of work is that it is quite satisfying. Even though I cannot possible go through all my words, I do feel that this kind of random review increases my understanding and confidence. I only hope I have the will power to stay with it. I always tempted to just read and listen. I know that this work will increase the efficiency of my listening and reading. You do have to put in some time with the details of the language, the nuts and bolts.

Common Core State Standards for English. Who benefits?

Who benefits from the regular revamping of educational standards? Does educational achievement go up or go down? I suspect these activities have little effect on educational outcomes.

Stanford University researchers?? are going to help English Language Learners (ELLs) in the school system meet the Common Core State Standards in language arts and mathematics according to this article.

There is funding from Bill Gates and and the following is going to happen.

“To foster awareness and a national dialogue among key actors in standards-based education reform about the need to leverage common core standards for English language proficiency development, the initiative will sponsor meetings, webinars, and commissioned papers on key topics. Partners will include local, state, and federal educational agencies; experts in Common-Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics; developers of the next-generation science standards; and developers of new English language proficiency standards, as well as advocacy groups, publishers, and test makers.

Organizers will also collaborate with local school districts and their teachers to create clear specifications and exemplars of how teachers can foster English language proficiency as part of subject matter instruction, above and beyond any English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction that English language learners might already receive. This work will be widely shared and is expected to help shape how the new Common Core standards are used by educators to develop English language proficiency of their students.”:

I must say that I do not understand all of this. ELL’s largely cannot keep up with the minimal English language requirements that they face today, and as a result they do poorly at school. The main reason, in my view, is that they don’t read enough.

If they could be induced, encouraged, persuaded or forced to read more in English, much more, their language skills would improve.?? I really fail to see what this initiative will achieve, other than a lot of educators, administrators and teachers will spend a lot of time and money in committee meetings and publish lots of reports and recommendations.

It is not a matter of standards. It is matter of how to motivate the students to explore the world of the written language, through reading.


Anthony Robbins and language learning.

Motivation is the key element in the language learning tripod. (Attitude, Time, and Attentiveness.)

Anthony Robbins is a motivational speaker who talks about how to make money, but his ideas apply at least as much to language learning. This video of mine, about 16 months old,?? was brought to my attention by one of my viewers at my youtube channel. I think it is relevant to the discussion about LingQ, and why some people have trouble taking advantage of it.

Many learners say they want structure, or that they want the learning made easier.?? They tell me that LingQ works for me only because I am a good language learner. I don’t agree. I believe it comes down to attitude.

I believe I can learn any language. I am willing to take the necessary actions for success, find the resources I need,?? and commit to learning. I therefore achieve good results. These good results reinforce my confidence and on it goes. If we attend a traditional classroom, we surrender our independence, our?? decision making, to the teacher. We are given textbooks and a curriculum. We follow them. We are not required to take any deliberate actions, beyond what the teacher or textbook tells us to do.

LingQ is a resource. It need not be the only resource, nor even the main resource. There are many resources out there. If we expect LingQ to take over like a teacher, we will be disppointed. We are in charge of our own language learning journey, not LingQ.

Does input based language learning work for beginners?

I often hear the argument that LingQ is difficult for beginners, or even not suitable for beginners. I am sure that many learners feel this way. I can only say that I do not find this to be the case. It may be because I am a more motivated or more experienced language learner than most.

I started Czech at LingQ. I feel that I have made more progress in the last 6 weeks than I made in 3 months when I tried to learn Portuguese using Teach Yourself, and Living Language starter books, way back when LingQ was The Linguist and only offered English. This despite the fact that Portuguese is much closer to Spanish than Czech is to Russian, and despite the fact that I know Spanish much better than I know Russian.

After lots of listening to all the beginner dialogues at TY and disconnected phrases at Living Language, when I visited Portugal for two weeks (my first visit some years ago), I could not understand and could not communicate. This despite the fact that Portuguese and Spanish are almost the same language. Portuguese still felt strange. It was only later, after working on Portuguese at LingQ that on my second visit to Portugual, I started to feel comfortable.

Why? Because at LingQ I am able to tackle interesting content early, and I think that is key. I am able to read newspapers and listen to Radio Praha. I went through the beginner content created by our members as quickly as possible, not worrying about the strangeness of the language. I do go back and study any additional beginner lessons as soon as they are created, but mostly I read and listen to things of interest to me. My vocabulary and familiarity with the language are growing in leaps and bounds.

I can stream, listen and read at the same time, on the computer and in iLingQ. I save the words I need on the first read. Then I review the flash cards for the lesson, or read through checking my yellow words. Then I stream, listening while reading. Then I am ready to listen on my MP3 player away from the computer, and the brain is getting used to the language more and more.

People say they want structure. What kind of structure? I do not mind mixing tenses in beginner texts, difficult words in beginner texts. I do not mind not understanding. I have a small starter book with explanations if I need them. I can check declensions and conjugations in the book or on the Internet. I can ask for explanations on our Forum and get pretty quick response.

Some people like the comfort of going from lesson 1 to lesson 2 etc. I do not find that learning a language is that kind of a linear process. I do not find that lesson 1 contains the building blocks for lesson 2 etc. I find that the whole language is absorbed as an amorphous whole, a liquid jelly, that gradually starts accumulate in ways that we cannot account for.

Having said that, we appreciate any content providers that create notes for lessons. We are very soon going to enable learners to reward content providers who do these kinds of things.

We are also actively seeking to tie up with providers of more traditional learning systems to integrate with LingQ. If you have any suggestions about publishers of language courses that we might approach please let me know.

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