Learn the basics in the language first? Really?

Can we even learn the basics first? I find that I cannot do it. I just forge ahead and learn words and get used to the language? I think we need to cover a lot of ground, some new, some old. We need to explore new things, pushing the boundaries, while regularly reviewing the basics, many times during the learning process. The basics take a long time to learn. We need to go back to them over and over. I do not think they can be learned up front. I think trying to force learners to learn the basics first discourages many learners, since it is very hard to do, and for most people very boring.

Fossilization and interlanguage

Fossilization and interlanguage are examples of language teaching jargon. These kinds of technical terms that are associated with language teaching often strike me as unnecessary, and not helpful to language learners. I know that learners are not aware of these terms. However they are often used by experts in Second Language Acquisition, and people who teach teachers how to teach languages. I feel that these terms have had little if any positive influence on language learning. Language learning still comes down to motivation, time on task and the ability to notice. Here is a recent youtube video I did on the subject.

Turkish is added at LingQ!

We are adding one language a month at LingQ. The winner last month was Turkish. I am definitely going to get to that language. Now we just need some Turkish content. I hope our members come through.

You can vote for the next language. Just have a look under Questions at our Facebook page. Right now it looks like a close race between Farsi, Finnish, Cantonese, Modern Greek and Hebrew. There are also a few dark horses. Meanwhile enjoy Turkish.

Learn Turkish on LingQ!

Did you know that Turkish is spoken by an estimated 80 million people worldwide? It is an agglutinative language and has a word order similar to Korean and Japanese, but it also has noun cases like Russian and Czech.

Turkish underwent some significant changes in the early 1900s, including a change in the writing system, moving from an Arabic-based script to a Latin-based script.

For a list of great Turkish content, be sure to check out the Turkish Listening Library, assembled by Aaron Myers.

Get started on Turkish today!

Why learn Chinese?

I am back from my various travels and tomorrow I have a date. I am one of five judges who will choose the winner of the 2011 Miss Chinese Vancouver pageant. We will be interviewing the contestants in Chinese and English tomorrow afternoon, and this is followed by a Chinese dinner with them. Next Wednesday is the Gala Show on Fairchild TV, where yours truly will try not to make too much of a fool of himself.

For a look at the contestants, and to understand the advantages of learning Chinese, check out the photo gallery. Needless to say I am looking forward to a scintillating intellectual discussion and a great meal tomorrow. Ah the cultural delights of learning languages!

Why learn Russian?

Russian is an international language, used in the post-Soviet space as a lingua franca. Russia has rich literature, and has demonstrated genius and excellence in science, music, dance, and many other fields. Perhaps this genius and striving for perfection is embodied in this performance by these two Russian acrobats. I apologize for the ad that starts it off.??

Learning English in China, the language gets in the way of the tests.

Do tests get in the way of language learning or does the language get in the way of passing the tests. Try reading this article from China Daily about English learning in China. Below is a sample of the dog’s breakfast that is language learning in China. What about just listening and reading and forgetting all this junk. 400 million people in China study English in this sytem, how many speak it?

??from the report…”However, English teaching is designed without coordination for elementary schools, secondary schools and postsecondary institutions. That makes the transition from one stage to the next difficult, especially for students with test-conscious teachers and obsolete textbooks.

College English teaching for non-English majors is divided into six progressive levels, known as College English Test (CET) Bands 1-6. Every non-English major must take 280 hours of English courses – roughly five hours a week for 17 weeks, a semester – to meet the requirements of the twice-yearly CET-4.

Students must pass that test, or risk being disqualified for graduation or a job with the many employers that require a CET-4 certificate. Test results remain the sole criterion of CET assessment.”

That is enough to discourage me from wanting to learn English.


Bilingual children at a cost of $40,000 per year per child.

A new school is starting up in New York that will immerse kids as young as 3 years old in a second language. The cost is $40,000 per year, per child. Ouch!! I have 5 grandchildren. Three of them attend French immersion. Another one has French and Latin at school, all public schools.

I also believe that if kids are allowed to read and listen to stories regularly, in another language, they will learn languages, or at least get enough familiarity with them so that when they are older they can learn, if they want to. That is available to all kids, not just those whose parents have lots of money to waste.