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How to study?

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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Iversen
Super Polyglot
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Denmark
berejst.dk
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 Message 17 of 48
09 June 2007 at 4:10am | IP Logged 
When I have internalized the constructions in the foreign language I won't need the mangled translations any more. Though some of them a so funny that I still remember them for a long time.

Some rules for word order can be found in grammar books, as for instance the rules governing the position of the verb in German or the position of the adverb in Danish. But the rules are not sufficient, and writing out the mangled translations will highlight many cases of unexpected word order which you cannot formulate as fixed rules in a grammar. It is more the other way round: you read about the rules in the grammars and then you can recognize the things you have read about when you meet them in practice.


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Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
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 Message 18 of 48
09 June 2007 at 10:21am | IP Logged 
Kleberson wrote:

Volte wrote:

"I understand what you're saying, I think, but it's not actually true. I wouldn't say "logicamente" in Italian; I'd say "in modo logico"; the first sounds every bit as weird to me as "in a logical manner" instead of "logically" does in English. I suspect you're using the rule-of-thumb that -ly becomes -mente; it's useful, but it's not 100% true, and there are some cases where it works but sounds extremely unnatural (I used to say 'usualmente', but this can provoke giggles; the correct form is 'di solito')."

Volte how do I know which ones are the odd sounding ones, and the correct sounding ones? Are they all still correct though, even if some do sound odd to the Italian ear?


As far as I know, the only way to know is to listen to and read a lot of Italian; then you start getting a feel for the language. The thread on
linguistic intuition may help a bit.

Not everything following general rules is correct, but most things are, even if they sound a bit unusual. There's also a continuum from slightly unusual to quite odd to probably wrong to certainly wrong; not everything is at one extreme or the other. Have you come across the concept of "false friends", or "false cognates"?

Basically, learning what is right, odd, or wrong is a very fuzzy process, and can't be boiled down to a few concise rules. Some things help develop this ability - lots and lots of meaningful input is definitely critical, and closely reading for structure, as you're doing, can also help I think.

Kleberson wrote:

Volte wrote:

"Again, the problem here is that you haven't really internalized the idea that there -isn't- a word-to-word correspondence between languages."

How do I do this?


The first step is to acknowledge that this is a fact and be aware of it. Afterwards, as you learn a second language to even perhaps an intermediate level, it becomes something that you take for granted. I don't know if there's any other way.


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Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 4738 days ago

4474 posts - 6725 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 19 of 48
09 June 2007 at 10:29am | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
When I have internalized the constructions in the foreign language I won't need the mangled translations any more. Though some of them a so funny that I still remember them for a long time.

Some rules for word order can be found in grammar books, as for instance the rules governing the position of the verb in German or the position of the adverb in Danish. But the rules are not sufficient, and writing out the mangled translations will highlight many cases of unexpected word order which you cannot formulate as fixed rules in a grammar. It is more the other way round: you read about the rules in the grammars and then you can recognize the things you have read about when you meet them in practice.

It's hard to overstate how crucial Iverson's points are. Grammar is something to recognize and become familiar with (whether intuitively or via active study), and which can help you figure out what you're reading/hearing, but studying formal grammars plus vocabulary are nowhere near sufficient to speak a language comprehensibly. Exposure to a lot of input (reading/listening) in the language is vital.

My initial study of Italian was largely in a classroom, where there was a focus on topics such as conjugating verbs. After several years, I spoke fairly little Italian, and with extremely English-like structures, even when I wasn't violating any rule that I'd learned.

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Carlisa
Diglot
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Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Italian

 
 Message 20 of 48
16 June 2007 at 11:51am | IP Logged 
One problem new language learners tend to have is that they worry too much about 'how' to learn a language. They are not confident with their current chosen method of study, and will continue to change their method continuously looking for the 'right way'; resulting in stagnation and at worst they regress in their target language.

In my opinion, there are three types of method, which everyone fits into some way or another, those who learn the 'Assimil' way, those who learn through the use of 'drills' and those who prosper on both types.

The Assimil way can be defined as 'assimilating the language naturally' through immersion or using such a method like Assimil.

The 'drilling of a language' can be defined as, well, drilling the language, using repetitive drilling of grammar points and other aspects of the target language. FSI is such a method that incorporates drilling.

The 'both fits all' category is where both methods are used in order to attain a language. Through the use of immersion (assimil) and drills (FSI). I think its safe to assume that most people will fit into this category.

So as a guideline, try each of these methods and see which one suits you best. I would say you will have found your chosen preferred method of study within the first six weeks. Then you can carry this 'chosen' method into your future languages.

Of course, this is just my opinion, but I have found that this is usually how it works out for all language learners.

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Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 4738 days ago

4474 posts - 6725 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 21 of 48
16 June 2007 at 12:12pm | IP Logged 
I think that worrying about 'how' to learn a language is quite valid. Before discovering either of the methods that you mentioned in your post, I spent -years- with extremely ineffective ones.

There are also examples of people who do extremely well with other methods - see antimoon, alljapaneseallthetime, and Iversen for some modern examples, or any polyglots from before the invention of these methods.

By all means, people should give language learning methods a serious try (which means -not- switching after a couple of days unless a method promises to deliver within that time and doesn't). That said, I'm not convinced by the idea that everyone fits into one of your three categories.

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Carlisa
Diglot
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Joined 4670 days ago

5 posts - 5 votes
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Italian

 
 Message 22 of 48
16 June 2007 at 12:31pm | IP Logged 
"I think that worrying about 'how' to learn a language is quite valid. Before discovering either of the methods that you mentioned in your post, I spent -years- with extremely ineffective ones."

I don't see how worrying will help with studying. You wasted years with ineffective methods; personally I don't see this as necessary, why waste years when you can find your 'grain' within a couple of weeks.

"There are also examples of people who do extremely well with other methods - see antimoon, alljapaneseallthetime, and Iversen for some modern examples, or any polyglots from before the invention of these methods."

After reading several of Iversens posts, I would say that he uses moderate use of drills. Memorizing vocabulary lists, and reading through grammars would fit into the category of 'drills' because essentially your drilling the grammar/vocabulary into your memory with repetitive drilling, and with Assimil it developes naturally. But I do see your point.

"I'm not convinced by the idea that everyone fits into one of your three categories."

That's fair enough, like I said it was just my opinion, and how I have observed learners in the past 5-6 years of language study shaped those three categories. It all boils down to comprehensible input, which all three methods (or however many methods there really are) provides, and that is the golden ticket to acquire a new language.

(EDIT) I have had a look at the other methods you said about 'alljapaneseallthetime' and 'antimoon'. They also seem to fit into immersion and/or drills.

Edited by Carlisa on 16 June 2007 at 12:40pm

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Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 4738 days ago

4474 posts - 6725 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 23 of 48
16 June 2007 at 12:54pm | IP Logged 
Carlisa wrote:
"I think that worrying about 'how' to learn a language is quite valid. Before discovering either of the methods that you mentioned in your post, I spent -years- with extremely ineffective ones."

I don't see how worrying will help with studying. You wasted years with ineffective methods; personally I don't see this as necessary, why waste years when you can find your 'grain' within a couple of weeks.


Of course wasting years is not necessary; I am not suggesting that it is. My point is that it's perfectly possible for a new language learner to -rightly- be concerned about their study methods, and not everyone knows about effective techniques, such as the ones you mentioned. If the way one is attempting to learn a language is obviously incredibly effective, spending some time thinking about how to improve that and looking into other techniques is time very well spent; that is all I meant to say.

Carlisa wrote:

"There are also examples of people who do extremely well with other methods - see antimoon, alljapaneseallthetime, and Iversen for some modern examples, or any polyglots from before the invention of these methods."

After reading several of Iversens posts, I would say that he uses moderate use of drills. Memorizing vocabulary lists, and reading through grammars would fit into the category of 'drills' because essentially your drilling the grammar/vocabulary into your memory with repetitive drilling, and with Assimil it developes naturally. But I do see your point.

"I'm not convinced by the idea that everyone fits into one of your three categories."

That's fair enough, like I said it was just my opinion, and how I have observed learners in the past 5-6 years of language study shaped those three categories. It all boils down to comprehensible input, which all three methods (or however many methods there really are) provides, and that is the golden ticket to acquire a new language.

(EDIT) I have had a look at the other methods you said about 'alljapaneseallthetime' and 'antimoon'. They also seem to fit into immersion and/or drills.


I consider 'immersion' to be a very specific technique. I've seen people who have done actual immersion - going to a country where they do not speak the language and immediately starting school in it - and the results have varied from impressive to saddening. Comprehensible input and immersion have a very small overlap, if any.

The closest that I've personally gotten to immersion was 6-hour-a-day intensive courses, with intentionally very comprehensible input, which were largely in the target language (not entirely, in the case of 2 for complete or near-complete beginners, and entirely in the case of one for people at a B2 level). These courses are a far cry both from real immersion and from Assimil.

Likewise, just because drills are -part- of a study, does not really make the study centered around them. There are also many, many different things to drill.

If I'd understood your initial point correctly - that is, that people tend to learn by comprehensible input, drills, or both - I would tend to agree. I misunderstood it as 'people learn by Assimil/assimilation, FSI/drills, or both', which I consider a much more restricted statement - I didn't realize that you meant for these to stand for such broad categories of language learning methods. I don't see what other methods there are, frankly - learning a language, in the end, comes down to memorizing and internalizing words, structures, and cultural context, and this can either be done implicitly (assimilation), explicitly (drills, study of grammar), or both ways.

Yet another case of vigorous agreement, for the most part, it seems.

Edited by Volte on 16 June 2007 at 12:56pm

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Carlisa
Diglot
Newbie
Joined 4670 days ago

5 posts - 5 votes
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Italian

 
 Message 24 of 48
16 June 2007 at 1:19pm | IP Logged 
"I consider 'immersion' to be a very specific technique. I've seen people who have done actual immersion - going to a country where they do not speak the language and immediately starting school in it - and the results have varied from impressive to saddening. Comprehensible input and immersion have a very small overlap, if any."

I look at immersion as being surrounded by the language (or thing), which to an extent Assimil provides (depending on its use), as does radio, TV et cetera, but the most amount of immersion is provided by being in the actual country of the target language.

"Comprehensible input and immersion have a very small overlap, if any."

I agree. But together they provide the most powerful way to study.

"I consider 'immersion' to be a very specific technique. I've seen people who have done actual immersion - going to a country where they do not speak the language and immediately starting school in it - and the results have varied from impressive to saddening."

This is my point, some people excel in a immersed environment, for others this is not the case, and therefore a certain amount of drilling is required for the learner to be able to progress to an immersed state of learning.


"Likewise, just because drills are -part- of a study, does not really make the study centered around them. There are also many, many different things to drill."

It's a necessity for a lot of language learners to centre their study on drills. (Again just my opinion)

"If I'd understood your initial point correctly - that is, that people tend to learn by comprehensible input, drills, or both - I would tend to agree. I misunderstood it as 'people learn by Assimil/assimilation, FSI/drills, or both', which I consider a much more restricted statement - I didn't realize that you meant for these to stand for such broad categories of language learning methods. I don't see what other methods there are, frankly - learning a language, in the end, comes down to memorizing and internalizing words, structures, and cultural context, and this can either be done implicitly (assimilation), explicitly (drills, study of grammar), or both ways."

You've got it, I wasn't clear enough sorry.



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