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Moses McCormick’s admirable achievement

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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lackinglatin
Triglot
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randomwritingsetc.blRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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Speaks: English*, Esperanto, Modern Hebrew
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 97 of 221
05 March 2010 at 4:49pm | IP Logged 
This is a response to the youtube video linked above...

===
First: My youtube account and my omniglot account here both go back quite a ways... I'm just more of a reader than a responder or poster on either of those accounts.

I also could care less about youtube fame, but thanks anyways.

I'm also sorry (sorrowful) that you did not see me as a humble person. I was being straightforward, and that often causes problems online.

===
sometime like 6:00, repeatedly other places.
I have not seen all of your youtube videos, but I have watched a few, and I read this entire thread. I am well aware that you do not post videos for comparison, but for feedback--this is exactly why I responded as I did on youtube. I recognized that you simply wanted help improving, and I was glad to assist--my desired career is a language teacher abroad after uni, and I was glad to help.

On these omniglot ("read: awm-ni-glot") forums, however, the discussion has a very different tone, and a very different purpose. The goal here is to discuss polyglots (notice the subforum we are in: "Lessons in Polyglottery"), and see what we can learn from them.

Because of the renown your achievement has gathered here, many are very interested in your methods--that's clear from the first couple of pages, and indeed the entirety of this thread.

My point here is to question the usefulness of your methods by examining the results. I don't think you really know that much, and so I'm wondering if your methods are really that good in the end. I think there are some valuable take-aways, sure, but people should be aware of the quality of your results, in this context, and very few seem to have verified your language ability in the way that I just did.

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9:05, 9:55
I did indeed talk about myself a lot--it was almost painful to have to do so, but I needed to establish my credentials and my personal experience so that my response would make sense. Otherwise I would have just been written off.

I did not in any way intend to compare myself with you, to make myself look good or to make you look bad. It's obvious that 'there is no comparison'--you're self taught in America, I'm doing full immersion. I only clarified my level in Hebrew so that my criticism of yours would be taken seriously; I clarified my method of learning so that it would place my quality of Hebrew above reproach.

Again: I'm not trying to make you look bad. I could care less, and am much more prone to praise than criticism. This post had very little to do with you, and much more to do with the community and discussion here centered around you. This is nothing personal to me, and I wish it had not become so to you, though I do understand how that is difficult to avoid.

--
9:30, 18:20
I'm not upset by the praise you've received. I just think it's a little bit...overdone? Undeserved, at least to the extent it has been offered? Something to that affect. In my messages both on youtube, and here on omniglot, I have also given you praise--but I think my praise has been a lot more reserved because I see your accomplishment as perhaps something not quite as lofty as is so widely assumed here.

I also never insinuated that you 'came here to get praise'. I would like to point out, though, that you seem a bit touchy about someone saying some of it isn't fully deserved... which woulds seem to indicate that perhaps you've become a bit attached.

But perhaps I'm just psychoanalyzing?

--
11:20, 19:00

You say your Hebrew was of a sufficient level to "converse". Could I see a video of that? I will retract everything I said in a moment if I see that you can really converse with a native-level speaker on his terms. If by converse, you mean in a class of beginners about how interesting it is that there is a desert and a sea in Israel, then that's exactly what I would expect of your level.

When I say I can 'converse' in a language, I mean the freedom to express what I want, not the ability to produce sentences I've learned in advance. THAT is what it means to really speak a language.

Now, we all start somewhere, and I started Hebrew sounding very similar to the way you sound now (except for, perhaps, the very unnatural ayin, though when I tried to teach myself the alphabet in America, my 'chet' sounded nothing like the Israeli one, so we'll call it even ;). Almost everyone in this program does, excepting those who were taught it in school growing up (as lots of Jews do, apparently). That's fine, there's no shame in that... but I think using the word 'converse' at your level is a bit deceiving.

I don't think you're doing it intentionally, mind you. I just think you've never attained a high level of ability in any of your second languages, and so you don't know what it means to speak a second language well. Your bar in your mind has been set fairly low, and you imagine yourself closer to the end than you really are because you've never actually reached it.

That's understandable! I was the same way in all the language I dabbled in before I ever reached proficiency in any of them, thinking I really knew something about Koine greek after the first couple of lessons, after being able to read some sentences in the lessons that had been produced for me.

This comes up again in 16:30 or so as well. Your Thai shot up from native exposure, and you felt on top of the world! You feel like your Thai is awesome!

I remember that feeling in Hebrew, as well. I remember telling someone I understand 'about 50%' of what I was hearing of a speech someone was giving in Hebrew that I had English translation to over headphones.

But this proverb remains true: The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.

Nowadays, I would think I understand about 55%-60%, depending on the level of Hebrew being spoken--and my Hebrew now compared to then has probably increased by a factor of at least 8. Sometimes it's more like 80%, but that's on good days. The more I learn in Hebrew, the higher I can set the bar for myself. I don't doubt that after another year and a half, when I reach the end of the 601 class, that I'll look at this level and realize how little it really was.


--
Time:???
You talk about your experience in Hebrew class when you first came in... two comments.

The first is this: notice how you are talking about your own achievement? I could accuse you of bragging here, could I not?

But I won't, and I don't. I don't think you are bragging, even though I'm sure that's a fond memory that brought you much pride. I realize you are sharing this story to make a point--I wish you would extend me the same courtesy.

After all--no one likes hearing a polemic against themselves, and then having to read a string of youtube comments decrying them as immature, arrogant, etc., all playing up to their favorite star. None of that is directly your fault--all the infamous youtube commenters I do indeed hold responsible for their own action, and I'll be responding to them one by one--but misreading my tone and intention, and spreading it around certainly incited them against me without a fair trial.

Such is life, I suppose. Maybe I should have left out that I was 20, then I would have been given a little more respect. We live and we learn, no?

The second point is this: When I started this program in "advanced aleph" (think of it as the 102 class I would have recommended for you), I was sitting next to two university-educated students of Hebrew. One had a master's degree in biblical hebrew, the other had taken 2 years of courses in Hebrew at his home university.

It amounted to almost nothing, and they were struggling at the 102 class.

I'd also like to point out that this seems to confirm the level placement I would have given you.

--
Around 14:40

I'm having a little trouble understanding you... did you just say that if you'd studied Hebrew as much as I had here, you'd be much better at it than I am?

If I did understand right: do you have any way of validating that statement?

In any case, maybe you would, maybe you wouldn't. I certainly have no way of knowing.

--
16:40, until 17:15, and onwards...

You are mumbling over a lot of the praise I give you... it certainly adds to the impression that you're trying to make my post seem overtly negative.

Anyways, this is disjointed and leaves a lot to be desired. I'll be making a video that includes and reads a lot of this soon, I hope.

Be well, Moses and everyone else.
21 persons have voted this message useful





Fasulye
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 Message 98 of 221
05 March 2010 at 4:53pm | IP Logged 
It's Moses personal choice to decide to which level he learns his foreign languages. Every polyglot has a different strategy. Moeses enumerates 39 languages, other polyglots for example 10 - 15. If he chose to learn only 10 - 15 languages, he could dedicate more time and energy to this smaller number, so he would achieve higher levels in all of them. But this is such a personal decision. It's like my father saying to me: "You should not learn Dutch and Esperanto, but you should only concentrate on English and French". If my father says something like this to me, it has no influence on my learning strategy. The same effect will have, if other people tell Moses, how many languages he should learn or not learn. Every language learner is free to decide such strategical things by himself / by herself.

Fasulye

Edited by Fasulye on 05 March 2010 at 5:06pm

6 persons have voted this message useful



Pyx
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 Message 99 of 221
05 March 2010 at 5:06pm | IP Logged 
I'd like to repost here what I said on youtube:
--
What the heck? This guys goes through a great deal of trouble to tell you his qualifications for his comment (so people won't say "what does he know?"), and then respectfully and politely tries to bring a little bit of perspective to blind hero worshipping.. and that makes him a "hater" and an "arrogant" loser? Is it really "humble" if you can't even stomach that little bit of polite criticism?!
--
Moses, since you're so touchy about your achievements, I'd very much like to see you talking in Mandarin with a native speaker. You know, in natural speed...
15 persons have voted this message useful



Pyx
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 Message 100 of 221
05 March 2010 at 5:12pm | IP Logged 
Fasulye wrote:
It's Moses personal choice to decide to which level he learns his foreign languages. Every polyglot has a different strategy. Moeses enumerates 39 languages, other polyglots for example 10 - 15. If he chose to learn only 10 - 15 languages, he could dedicate more time and energy to this smaller number, so he would achieve higher levels in all of them. But this is such a personal decision. It's like my father saying to me: "You should not learn Dutch and Esperanto, but you should only concentrate on English and French". If my father says something like this to me, it has no influence on my learning strategy. The same effect will have, if other people tell Moses, how many languages he should learn or not learn. Every language learner is free to decide such strategical things by himself / by herself.

Fasulye

So I'll learn a smattering of 50 languages, add that to my profile, and will thereby be immune to any criticism?
The point is, as lackinglatin wrote before, to be able to set Moses' methods in relation to his achievements, which is a very important and valuable thing, if you want to learn from him! And since lackinglatin was only qualified to evaluate one of the languages Moses says he speaks, he had no choice but to limit himself to just this one. And I definitely applaud him for it.
8 persons have voted this message useful



lackinglatin
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randomwritingsetc.blRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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62 posts - 146 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, Modern Hebrew
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 101 of 221
05 March 2010 at 5:39pm | IP Logged 
I don't remember in recent times having been made the center of a debate, where people are attacking and defending me of their own initiative! How interesting.

Fasulye:
We are in perfect agreement. I do not mean in any way to criticize Moses (I feel okay using his first name now, considering he's publicly defamed me...) for having not reached a high level in Hebrew, I simply want that knowledge to be commonplace here.

On a separate note, while I may learn multiple languages at the same time, my goal in any language I learn is to someday become functionally fluent. Anything less is more or less useless to me, unless I am doing research and just need the basics.

That has nothing to do with my statements regarding Moses, however--I respect his choice to go for width instead of depth. I just wanted other people to realize how 'shallow' his understanding of those languages seems to really be, which is far out of touch with the perception here.
14 persons have voted this message useful



str0be
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 Message 102 of 221
06 March 2010 at 10:39am | IP Logged 
Moses has apologised for misinterpreting lackinglatin's comments:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS7OukuLtnA

lackinglatin has responded in the YouTube video comments:
"I appreciate it Moses. We're cool."
3 persons have voted this message useful



dragonfly
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 Message 103 of 221
06 March 2010 at 9:30pm | IP Logged 
Just a little comment concerning Mose's Russian lessons on youtube. From my point of view, it's not good to teach a language unless you are fluent in it. Superficial knowledge can do more harm than good, don't you think so? There are really many mistakes in the example words and sentences on the whiteboard.
17 persons have voted this message useful



numerodix
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 Message 104 of 221
06 March 2010 at 9:32pm | IP Logged 
dragonfly wrote:
Just a little comment concerning Mose's Russian lessons on youtube. From my point of view, it's not good to teach a language unless you are fluent in it. Superficial knowledge can do more harm than good, don't you think so? There are really many mistakes in the example words and sentences on the whiteboard.

Be that as it may, if he's using this as a way to learn himself (at least this is what he's said in the past), then maybe he's getting something out of it, even if noone else does.

Edited by numerodix on 06 March 2010 at 9:33pm



2 persons have voted this message useful



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