Effective language learning – just listen and read.

I agree largely with Krashen, and Kato Lomb, the legendary Hungarian polyglot. Input is the key to language learning success. It takes commitment, discipline and curiosity. It is very rewarding. Here I talk about this in three languages.

Chinese Japanese English

Let’s talk about LingQ and language learning: Hangout on google +

We have made changes at LingQ. I would be happy to explain how to take full advantage of these. You may have some questions about language learning in general or LingQ. All languages welcome.

The hangout is on Saturday Nov 17. 11 am PST (Vancouver time) : 2 pm EST (US East Coast): 19.00 (7 pm) GMT. Come to the LingQ page at google + and follow us if you are interested. Below is the URL of the LingQ page at google +. You should come and follow this page. The first nine people can participate in the hangout, and the rest can watch.





Struggling with Korean.

It is difficult to leave languages which you enjoy, where you are able to enjoy interesting content, and then have to start up again with a language where you struggle, where you have to go back to learner content.

I am working with Who is She and Eating Out at LingQ. There are still parts that I don’t understand even after saving all the words I don’t know, and listening to the episodes quite a few times, and reading them on iLingQ on my iPad. I will continue, however, because I know things will eventually click in.

What I enjoy more is reading online Korean newspapers. Even though I have to look up most of the words, the content is of interest. This is the same as what I did with Czech. I started reading online newspapers before I was comfortable with Who is She and other beginner material. The newspaper articles give you a sense of the country, what is happening, what matters in the language. On the other hand, the learner material seems stale.

I am helped in reading the Korean newspapers by my knowledge of Chinese. I make a point of finding the Chinese character in my Naver dictionary, and putting it into the Hint. Unfortunately Naver is not consistent in where it provides the character, so I have to look for it each time. Nor does Naver always provide a clear translation of the meaning. Not an ideal dictionary in my view, but the best available I guess.

Not fluent in Czech, but happy.

I did not get to fluency in Prague in five days, but I took my Czech to a new level. I am satisfied that this strategy worked for me, and satisfied with what I achieved by having a focus for a year, leading to a brief intense period of immersion. I will do it again, and again.

Ideally I would have continued to work on Czech after leaving Prague, but instead I took 5 weeks of while traveling in Spain, Portugal and going to Berlin. But I will continue to work on Czech and Russian, even as I get cracking on my next five days to fluency challenge,Korean.

But it looks like my wife and I are going to Mexico in the Spring so I may delay my Korean trip a little bit. We will see.


Failure and success in language learning

I did not become fluent in five days in Prague. However, I improved tremendously. I am comfortable in Czech. I read, I listen and understand. I can take part in a conversation but stumble here and there. I will post a video of an interview next week if I can.

Yet I feel that my whole fluent in five days experiment was a success. I have acquired a new language. I am not far from fluency. If I had the chance to live in the Czech Republic for a month or two I would certainly be fluent. If I had stayed there a few weeks instead of just four days I would have consolidated my hold on Czech.

As it was I left Prague and did not speak the language for the following month. Not ideal. But it does not matter. I falied to achieve fluency but I succeeded in becoming much more comfortable in Czech. I am now going to try to do the same in Korean.

Ultimately, fluency requires lots of interaction in the language. Once I have built up the base through my reading, listening and LingQing, I can easily move to fluency if I have enough exposure in real situations. And of course, the main thing is to enjoy the process.