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Moses McCormick’s admirable achievement

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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NielDLR
Bilingual Diglot
Newbie
South Africa
thelinguaphile.com
Joined 3913 days ago

11 posts - 17 votes
Speaks: English*, Afrikaans*
Studies: Mandarin, French

 
 Message 89 of 221
13 January 2010 at 5:56pm | IP Logged 
laoshu505000 wrote:
NielDLR wrote:
Hey Moses!

You really are an inspiration. My first foreign language is also Mandarin. I was just
wondering, what was the most difficult language you studied? Is it even possible to
choose such a language?


Hi there,

It's difficult for me to say which was the ''hardest'' language to learn overall since
I look at each language by aspects. I would say that Vietnamese would be the hardest
for me in terms of pronunciation. In terms of writing, I would say Chinese, Japanese
and Thai. Grammar , I would say Arabic, Georgian and Russian.

I think all languages have their own aspect that makes the language difficult to learn.

How long have you been learning Chinese for?

Moses

Thanks for the answer.
I've been studying it for two years at University level, but it's nowhere near what it
should be. Going to really try and put more effort into it this year.
1 person has voted this message useful



Po-ru
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3958 days ago

173 posts - 235 votes 
Speaks: English*, Japanese
Studies: Korean, Spanish, Norwegian, Mandarin, French

 
 Message 90 of 221
22 January 2010 at 11:05am | IP Logged 
laoshu505000 wrote:
elvisrules wrote:
Hi Moses,

I see you are learning Yoruba. I would really like to study the language to fluency and
was wondering if you had any advice on learning the language. I didn't find an online
Yoruba learning community and resources seem very scarce. Are there are resources you
would recommend I purchase?

Thank you,

David


Hi there,

I have a really good Yoruba coursebook and dicrionary which I haven't made a video
about yet. I will make a video for you when I get back home from work.As far as online
community, I have yet to find one myself unfortunately. Talk to you soon.



Moses McCormick


Hey Moses, I am just wondering what Uyghur and Tibetan resources that you use. I have
been finding these materials somewhat difficult to find.
1 person has voted this message useful



laoshu505000
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4294 days ago

121 posts - 231 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 91 of 221
22 January 2010 at 4:11pm | IP Logged 
Po-ru wrote:
laoshu505000 wrote:
elvisrules wrote:
Hi Moses,

I see you are learning Yoruba. I would really like to study the language to fluency and
was wondering if you had any advice on learning the language. I didn't find an online
Yoruba learning community and resources seem very scarce. Are there are resources you
would recommend I purchase?

Thank you,

David


Hello David,

Here I will post a few links where you could use some very useful resources for learning Uighur. Let me know if you find anything else.

http://www.uighurlanguage.com/logs/2005/01/1st_the_basics.ph p

http://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/dspace/handle/1808/5624 (Just published Uighur Textbook)

http://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/dspace/bitstream/1808/5624/4/En gYakDwy2009_Uyg1audio_10.html    (Audio for textbook)

Tibetan Resources:

http://www.youtube.com/my_playlists?pi=0&ps=20&sf=&sa=0&dm=0 &p=934A9D36C0429082

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Moses McCormick


Hi there,

I have a really good Yoruba coursebook and dicrionary which I haven't made a video
about yet. I will make a video for you when I get back home from work.As far as online
community, I have yet to find one myself unfortunately. Talk to you soon.



Moses McCormick


Hey Moses, I am just wondering what Uyghur and Tibetan resources that you use. I have
been finding these materials somewhat difficult to find.

1 person has voted this message useful



Ester
Groupie
Joined 4145 days ago

64 posts - 114 votes 
Speaks: Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 92 of 221
19 February 2010 at 11:00pm | IP Logged 
I have a question for you, Moses, and I apologize in advance if it was asked at some point in this thread (I may have missed it).
At what point do you decide you have learned a language, that is, at what point do you put the language from "studies" group into the "speaks" group? Is it after having done a specific set of things or finished a specific course for all languages, or it varies from language to language?

I'm especially interested in your Hebrew, as I'm studying it myself. I have watched your videos on Hebrew and saw what materials you used, but at what point you decided it was "enough" and that you were only going to maintain it somehow, not actively study any more?

Thank you for your answer.
2 persons have voted this message useful



laoshu505000
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4294 days ago

121 posts - 231 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 93 of 221
20 February 2010 at 3:12am | IP Logged 
Ester wrote:
I have a question for you, Moses, and I apologize in advance if it was asked at some point in this thread (I may have missed it).
At what point do you decide you have learned a language, that is, at what point do you put the language from "studies" group into the "speaks" group? Is it after having done a specific set of things or finished a specific course for all languages, or it varies from language to language?

I'm especially interested in your Hebrew, as I'm studying it myself. I have watched your videos on Hebrew and saw what materials you used, but at what point you decided it was "enough" and that you were only going to maintain it somehow, not actively study any more?

Thank you for your answer.



Hello,

I would say one is able to speak a language once they're able to actually converse pretty well with the native speaker although there may be limited areas. I wouldn't really consider speaking a language if your only able to say a few survival phrases.

All of those languages I have listed under ''speaks'' I was able to at least learn them to the point where I can actually speak with the native not just by using survival phrases. I mean able to keep a good flowing conversation. As far as ''not studying anymore'' I wouldn't say that I don't study a language anymore. I actually go back and study all of the languages I've touched as long as time permits it. As a matter of fact, I would still say that I study Japanese and Chinese which are my stronger languages and I will be studying them probably for the rest of my life. Me being the person that I am, loving to move around dabblin in other languages, it would appear that I don't study the languages anymore, but actually I do. I just may not be studying them intensively.

As far as my Hebrew is concerned, when I was studying that language really hard, I was able to learn quite a lot to be able to have decent conversations with the natives. I think at that time, I took a course up at the university plus using my techniques which allowed me to gain a little proficiency in the language. I would honestly have to say that, right now since I'm currently not and haven't been using Hebrew, I'm not as sharp as I was. I guess we all have our own interpretations for ''speaking'' a language.

So overall, it's never enough when it comes to learning a language and I wouldn't say that I'm completed ''finished'' studying a language.


Moses McCormick (Laoshu)
1 person has voted this message useful



lackinglatin
Triglot
Groupie
United States
randomwritingsetc.blRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4458 days ago

62 posts - 146 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, Modern Hebrew
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 94 of 221
04 March 2010 at 2:51am | IP Logged 
I wanted to make a comment. The only foreign language that I share with Mr. McCormick is Hebrew, so I also wanted to check the praised abilities he's received.

While I don't want to knock the impressiveness of learning street chit-chat abilities in such a plenitude of obscure languages--indeed, I really love that someone is picking up the rare ones for the fun of it, sounds like something I would do, and to a lesser extent indeed do, knowing a decent amount of Spanish and a smattering of koine greek, levantine arabic, finnish, french (and haitian creole), etc.--I wanted to perhaps question the depth of his achievement?

Many people here are expressing awe at his abilities. I'm 20 years old, grew up my entire life in a monoglot environment (excepting perhaps bits of overheard Spanish over the years) in the middle of Texas. At 17 I had one language, with a small amount of public school french and latin that really aren't worth mentioning, but a great desire to learn languages. I really started with Esperanto halfway into my 17th year.

I don't want to make a long post about myself now, but one of the points I'm getting to is that I'm 2 months into my 20th year, and I can hold in depth conversations at a sufficiently fluent level on a nearly unlimited number of topics in Hebrew and Esperanto, and I indeed do so. It's been a little over 2 and a half years. I also know about 5 or 6 scripts, I think; for example, my Arabic is probably very close to his, and I can more or less read the script, and I've never actually sat down and studied it except for a few times during one month a year ago. (I'm terribly undisciplined, alas, and I admire a great deal Moses' dedication.) I could go on a bit further, but to shorten myself again to come to the main point:

I have now studied Hebrew in Israel for 7 months, almost exactly. I've been doing an intense immersion program, as I intend to study my BA in this language. (I'm not Jewish or anything, I just found the opportunity to do such a program and learn my entire BA in a foreign language an interesting experience, with the Uni being very high quality and pretty cheap.)

I am intimately acquainted with the language, but also with the systematic teaching of the language--which I observe intently, as I intend to make my career an English teacher someday)--which is well developed, as Israel faces a unique challenge in having to teach so many immigrants to become fluent as part of its national goal... and has been doing so for a long time.

They categorize the language learning process into 6 levels, with a passing score on the final test being an indication that one can understand and communicate university-level Hebrew, perhaps better (or at least at a higher level) than a street native in some cases. It should theoretically take, at their pace, two years of almost nonstop study. This isn't just a fantasy--they've been doing exactly this for a long time, and I personally know people who came here in their late teens who speak flawless, native Hebrew *without* an accent. It's a proven program.

But I digress.

I'm currently in the second week of the third level, and am definitely at street-fluent. I can listen to entire teachings at a local church and understand enough to say that I understand the thing as a whole. (It's an entirely Hebrew-speaking community I mix sound for a couple times a month.) I could translate for someone, for instance, without missing much of anything important. I talk to the office in Hebrew. I can write a 15 line essay off the top of my head without a dictionary in about 30 minutes (though I've always been a writer in English, and that helps). I take a psychology class in Hebrew, as well as a probability class.

As an aside, my Esperanto is better than that in most areas, worse in a few--I recently had an Esperanto speaking Israeli immigrant of 12 years from America evaluate my Hebrew and Esperanto, both of which he speaks better than me, and agree they were close to the same level (though I feel much more comfortable in Esperanto... though WTC is not the same thing as proficiency).

That all being said, and Hebrew being the only language I can evaluate Moses in, I'm not particularly impressed with the depth of his language abilities. For sure, and it bears repeating, his width and breadth (and dare I say remoteness?) is deeply admirable, but... His Hebrew would qualify for *perhaps* being placed at the beginning of the second level, much more likely in an advanced first level class. (If we call their system as 101, 201, 301, 401, 501, 601 instead of "alef, bet, gimel, dalet, heh, vav" as they do, for your convenience, he'd be in 102 perhaps.) I would chat with him politely, but I'd have a hard time not giggling at his awful mispronunciation of ayin (which a day of chatting on the streets would fix, I'm sure) and I would easily realize that he's a beginner of the... not first class, but second class. He knows more than just smatterings of words, but not much more. I'd speak slowly, simply, and have to occasionally ask for him to repeat a word. (His ayin was so bad that almost any word he used it in I could not understand--it was not until reading the comments later by some others and then re-watching the video that I was able to tell what he was trying to say.)

For a bit more concrete example: he (almost) only uses the present tense, excepting one verb, "shamati", 'I heard', which he uses in the simplest expression of the past--the singular first person, which is almost completely consistent across every verb family. The present tense in Hebrew is almost as easy as the present tense in English. Once you get to the past--and later, and more difficultly, the future, the language explodes into its true depth and complexity. Even in the present tense, he has still made a couple of errors (though, to his credit, he was for the large part correct--over 90%, even. But this is just the easy present tense.)

If this is the depth of all of his languages, I find his "admirable achievement" less than the spectacular object of awe and envy than the 12 pages of posts I just read would have had me indicate. Still something, but... please keep in mind he is exactly what I would expect: a dedicated month-long beginner in those languages... which isn't really all that much, maybe 2-6% of the journey in a language.

Moses, as I'm sure you'll read this: I don't intend this in a negative way at all, and am quite sincere about my congratulations that I offer you... but I certainly think this thread could use a bit of balance. Perhaps your Hebrew is of a lesser quality than your other languages, as you seem to receive lots of praise in the other languages you speak from other foreign language learners...

...At the same time, after seeing your Hebrew video, I am left wondering if perhaps most would-be "hyper-polyglots" are quite a bit more shallow in their conquests than I'd previously thought. I'm sure your Chinese (was it Mandarin that you started with?) is probably significantly better than this, but I'd be interested in seeing you rate your own opinion of your speaking (and reading/writing, listening, etc. perhaps) abilities in various languages, so I could get a comparison.

I'd also like to offer that this is what I might expect from someone who moves around so much, but doesn't have the dedication to stick to a language through the hard parts. There are a lot of language learners of every level in Jerusalem, and so qualifying him as a beginner is easy, because I frequently qualify foreign speakers' Hebrew every day--better than an Israeli, actually, because they rarely have any idea of how their own language work at even the most basic level (many don't even realize that there are verb families, for instance). Actually, being at a university that has so many internationals, I live with and communicate with people at every stage of the Hebrew learning spectrum constantly, both higher and lower than me, and can usually even qualify those above me into their own respective level.

Perhaps most other people are unable to perform this categorization when they hear him in another language, and are taken in by his mostly correct speaking into assuming he is capable of being equally correct in any scenario he speaks (as many Israelis do when hearing beginners, actually)... when in reality, he is speaking phrases and conversations that he has rehearsed and studied, and that's all there is to it. For instance, in his video, an entire section (third? half?) is him saying "now I want to talk about Israel. I heard ("shamati") that Israel has a lot of desert, right? ...right? Interesting. Very interesting. Fine to everyone. (it is also incorrect in Hebrew to say it as he did, but also understandable, so I think this is a fitting translation...). thank greats. (also incorrect to say it as he did in Hebrew, but understandable, thus this is a fitting translation which captures the idea)."

That's great for an overview of the outline of the language of the language, and the basic present tense verb form. That'd be a little less than halfway through the beginner's book they use here, which is written almost entirely in Hebrew. Granted, he obviously knows *something* more than someone who got here yesterday, or even a week ago, or even more than a month ago. Heck, I know people who've been here for fifteen years that speak a little worse than he does. (There's quite an English-speaking subculture here, alas.) But it's nothing more than a vague outline. He would be clueless if shown a newspaper, unable to even read headlines. He'd not really be able to offer even real clues as to what is being talked about on the radio if he was listening to a late night talk show, though he'd surely pick up a few unimportant words occasionally. With the fast pace of Israeli Hebrew, he'd not catch even words he knew most of the time.

So: is this the depth of most of your languages? You'd blow me away if you could speak this well in Urdu, and I knew none (which I don't). But when I can really put it in perspective, I'm a little underwhelmed. This isn't your fault, mind you--it's mostly the fault of those who speak of you so highly. If I just met you at university as a fellow student or something, I'm sure I'd rave about your abilities too.

But on a polyglot forum... I expect perspective. Am I missing something here?
23 persons have voted this message useful



ChristopherB
Triglot
Senior Member
New Zealand
Joined 4794 days ago

851 posts - 1074 votes 
2 sounds
Speaks: English*, German, French

 
 Message 95 of 221
05 March 2010 at 10:40am | IP Logged 
Moses has made a video response to the above post by 'lackinglatin':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoA5H45iIHU&feature=sub
5 persons have voted this message useful



str0be
Senior Member
Korea, South
Joined 4082 days ago

103 posts - 148 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Dutch, Korean

 
 Message 96 of 221
05 March 2010 at 1:21pm | IP Logged 
I'd like to thank lackinglatin for bringing some healthy skepticism to the thread.

I watched Moses' response video just now and was disappointed by his immature reaction. He seemed to be very upset by lackinglatin's remarks, dismissing him as a 'hater'.

I think lackinglatin tried hard to phrase his questions in a sensitive way, and Moses' hypersensitivity isn't really constructive towards a healthy debate.

The likelihood is that many people on these forums and on YouTube think that Moses' language skills are higher than what they are in actuality. Moses may not have started people thinking this way, but he hasn't really done much to stop them or discourage them.

I'd like to add to the healthy skepticism by saying that I wasn't too impressed by Moses' Korean skills. When I saw he had a video explaining the Korean politeness levels, I was looking forward to his explanation, since this is something I was confused about. But when I watched it, I saw that he knew less about this subject than I did, and seemed to have botched the explanation.


16 persons have voted this message useful



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