How to learn any language in six months

Discussion in 'Learning Techniques and Advice' started by Big_Dog, May 25, 2014.

  1. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    Do you find anything objectionable about this guys ideas?
  2. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    I agree with his methods but not with his time frames. I want to hear him speak Chinese. Native in a little more than six months?
  3. Wise owl chick

    Wise owl chick Active Member

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    He is extremely annoying!!! always angry and shouting that we all do it wrongly.

    I think that he must demonstrate his "native Chinese" and then ask some Chinese people how it was.

    Some things I agree, but others not, and it is too simplified in my opinion. And so angry if you have a different idea.

    Then offensive yes, especially about the deaf question. I don't believe that the people in the US have asked the Taiwanese person if she was deaf. it's normal that if it's not your own lanagueg that you can't understand all, and he has made that to be deaf = to be wrong, stupid. This is nasty and discrimination. The deafs problems with the language learning are different, but why show such a stupid picture also about langauge deaf? I didn't like this AT ALL.

    In my opinion to not understand a language is not at all like be deaf. when i was about 13, it wasnt possible for me to hear what for example my mum has said or the teachers becuase it was so much noise in my head and louder. Therefor sometimes their talking was not hearable for me, but this was absolutly not similar with when I hear a person speak in a foreign language or a langauge I know but not natively. what a relief that now it's muhc less noise in my head and also their loudness is much less. I have a friend who is deaf and sometimes the people think that she is stupid or rude because she doesnt hear. I think that a university teacher must not insult the deaf people.

    This nasty teacher in the video has said that you mutst watch the speakers' faces, and imitate, this is little bit phonetics I suppose. Ok, good idea. And to have the language parent is good, but why without the corrections?

    All in all he didn't say new things, but onyl some basics and presented in his very annoying manner. What a relief he's not my teacher.
  4. Stelle

    Stelle Active Member VIP member

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    I liked the talk. I liked his methods. I'm a literacy expert (for small children) and modelling is one of the *most* important methods for teaching reading. I'm also a huge fan of the book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" (which I think might be the basis for the 5-day drawing course that he's talking about).

    And I love what he says about the importance of comprehensible input, positive emotions, accepting ambiguity and reading body language.

    I do think that his methods work best in an immersion situation, since there's no talk at all of learn-to-speak resources. For many of us, learning in a bit of a bubble, programs are an important part of the learning process. My goal as a learner is to use programs to learn the basics of a language, and to move as quickly as possible into using the language in authentic ways.

    I do think that there's too much of an obsession with "fast learning". I also think that the words "native level" are a bit overused. Fluent in six months? Sure, I think it's doable, given the right amount of time and a high level of motivation. But "native level" is a whole other world.
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  5. biTsar

    biTsar Active Member VIP member

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    I'm pinning my hopes on his baldness cure...
  6. Wise owl chick

    Wise owl chick Active Member

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    Baldness cure? haha LOL

    I don't know about the modelling or drawing rigth side of the brain, and I'm not expert in this or other things at all, but in my opinion it's absolutely obvious that you need comprehensible input. How can you learn langauge without this? But it must have some more difficult thigns also, or you won't learn more. So for example you can understand most, but some more grammatical structures and words are there which are new. Everyone do this, obviously.

    Positive emotions, yes, of course. If you feel panic or fear you can't learn. This is completely obvious for all the wordl including the squirrel in my garden LOL

    In addition, he didn't say how he has learned the Chinese grammar or write it. I've heard that Chinese hasn't tenses. I want that he will learn a more complicated grammatical langauge. I want to see his written Chinese. Then test his level.

    Native in 6 months? NO WAY. I don't believe him, you cant be native in 6 months in a completely new language. Only if you are a little child and you are suddenly in a new country and you go to the school there and all the class is native of the new language. I've never met a person who is become native in French when they've learned it when they were adults, and I've met some very clever ones.


    I agree a billion trillion times with you. Native level is MISUSED. he mean fluent and can understand the Chinese talking. I want that he will have a phone call with a Chinese about all different topics then after, ask the Chinese from where come the person? The Chinese will say that he is not Chinese, for sure. Then he must write an essay about soemthing, and a Chinese teacher will read it and for sure, the teacher will say that a foreigner has written it.

    I want that the man will not put his arms like an attack the whole time as well. And, the stupid picture of the brain with the English and Chinese words for a thing. Why must you do this like this?

    I think that the talk was completely stupid and all the infos were old, also the ones with which I agree were obvious and not news. It's icnredible that such an arrogant statement is made, and that it is believed - where are the tests' results that confirm that he has native Chinese? And the grammar? He has talked very little bit about basic pronuncation (extremely, veyr , toally basic) and then the same about the vocabs. Nothing about the grammar or writing.

    He must learn Russian in 6 months and be native, or if not such a diffciult one, then German, or French, both very close with English but I bet 3436383272525426272 million $ that he will be not native AT ALL after 6 months, but maybe B2. Anyway, C2 is NOT native and I don't believe that with his grammarless method that he can be C2 in all his life.

    End of my rant LOL.
    Last edited: May 26, 2014
  7. Cainntear

    Cainntear Active Member VIP member

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    I saw that months ago, and wasn't impressed. I took notes in order to write a blog post on it later, but never did, so I'll go over my views here now.

    First up, we've got a management training consultant giving the talk, and I'm very, very dubious of training consultants. All corporate training I've experienced has tried to reduce pedagogy to a series of trivial priniciples that ignore the complexity of the source, and disregard the importance of subject-specific teaching methods.

    EG "Tell them what you're going to say, say it, tell them what you've said."
    Everything we now know about revision -- the importance of intervals, the "test effect" (frequent testing aids memory) etc -- and they think that all you need is to say something three times?!?

    As for the specifics of the talk:
    30 or 40 years of research? Not quite. 20 or 30 years of Krashen quoting the same tiny number of studies from 20 or 30 years ago. This is typical management training consultant stuff. Do minimal googling, find an idea, fail to read the literature and talk it up like it's the bee's knee's.

    Comprehensible input is a nonsensical idea, because it requires you to learn from context, but language is context... or more specifically, functional language is context. Imagine the following sentence in AlmostEnglishese: "I like it because it's blark very woppit." Is "woppit" a positive or negative adjective? Well, that all depends on the meaning of "blark". If "blark is AlmostEnglishese for "not", then "woppit" must be negative.

    This is why all "natural method" style approaches tend to suffer when dealing with modals and hypothetical language. As a teacher, I try to stick to my employers' rules about translating in the classroom as little as possible (even though I personally believe in translation as a teaching aid), but I refuse to do the second and third conditionals with Romance-language-speakers without translation, because in English they're a direct translation of the Romance (definitely for French, Spanish and Italian). Why fight for weeks to get a consistently correct response when they can learn the whole pattern in 15 minutes?

    Chris Lonsdale is inconsistent in his advice. First he tells us immersion is like drowning (too much input), but then he suddenly comes out with this idea of "brain soaking"... which is different from immersion in what way exactly...? He never tells us.

    He repeats trivial myths about vocabulary numbers. Apparently 30% of Vietnamese vocabulary is cognate with Mandarin and 30% with Cantonese, so someone fluent in those two languages will understand 60% of Vietnamese. And focusing on high frequency vocabulary in any language will let you understand 85% of the language.

    NO!

    Understanding 60%/85% of the vocabulary will not mean you understand 60%/85% of the language. Need I say "blark" and "woppit" again? Understanding only 60% of the vocabulary means you probably will understand a tiny minority of sentences, and what use is understanding a part if you don't get the main bit?

    Furthermore, cognates are rarely 100% transparent, particularly in tonal languages. Mandarin has five tones. Vietnamese has 6. Cantonese has 9. That's bound to be a massive obstacle to the recognition of cognates.


    Anyway, why talk like a baby, which is what he basically proposes? Nouns, verbs, and "pointing words" to start with. Michel Thomas demonstrated how quick and easy it is to teach grammar, so why delay learning useful, expressive language?
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  8. Cainntear

    Cainntear Active Member VIP member

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    Also, the thing about vocabulary, and avoiding L1 words...
    But how do you evoke that internal representation? If I show you a picture of a red Ferrari Testarossa, does that represent the concept of "car"? "Sports car"? "Luxury sports car"? "Ferrari"? "Red Ferrari?" "Ferrari Testarossa"? "Red Ferrari Testarossa"? "Success"? "Wealth"?

    It embodies all these concepts, and activates them to a certain extent.

    The best way to reach an internal representation is by direct reference to it... with the word.

    Car... voiture. Car... coche. Car... macchina. Car... Auto.
    Red... rouge... rojo... rosso... rot.

    Yes, I know everyone can provide several examples of untranslatable words in at least one language pair, but a heck of a lot of words do translate directly, so pairing the words means tying the new word to the same box....
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  9. Wise owl chick

    Wise owl chick Active Member

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    I completely agree.

    When you know the word in your own langauge, this give you the exact knowledge what is this thing. It's why I foudn his brain's image with the English and Chinese words so stupid. If you know 'fire' then if you leanr the word for this in another langauge, then you haven't to sit one hour and meditate on what is a fire etc because you know.

    The only time when you must learn his way is when it's a thing which is culture specific or geographically specific and you didn't know it in your own langauge. For example a type of food which exist in the other country and not in your own one. But not chocolate, for example.

    Why avoid L1 words? I think you can't and anyway you mustn't.

    Then he contradict himself with the cognates haha. So, you must avoid L1 but you must use it. For sure you must tolerate ambiguity LOL o_O
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  10. Wise owl chick

    Wise owl chick Active Member

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    I don't know about the research at all, but when I did my high school diploma, I have written an essay because I don't do exams since I was 14. I had to say the source of the things, put the citations and inlcude a bibliography. I didn't see the man's bibliography or other things which are important.

    But I think that comprehensible input is important. You must read things which are bascially comprehensibel for you, then for improve your level the reading must also have some more difficult and new things.

    I agree, a direct translation can help veyr much.For me, it's the quickest and easiest method and I don't mind in which language the translation is in if I can speak the language or at least udnerstand the word, of course I can understand many cognates in languages which I don't speak. This is for the grammar and vocab, both.

    LOL, yes, and the man in the train was so wonderful that after this he could understand Chinese but before not one word. It seems magical but yes, we must not put the magical things in our work, but only the ones supported by referencing.

    I agree 100%.

    Dutch, German and English share much more that 30% or 60% cognates with English; the man must now talk in German or Dutch with a native and understand nearly all. Of course he can't. Cognates are clear when you isolate them and understand the pronuncation and orthohgraphy, but disguised and soemtimes false, and mixed with other non-cognates.

    Yes, I didn't understand this comment by him. But he doesn't learn grammar, therefore he can only say some separate words.

    I truly hate the video and his method. It is a completely headache and useless method in my opinion.
    Last edited: May 26, 2014
  11. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    I couldn't find a video of this guy speaking anything else other than English :/
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  12. Wise owl chick

    Wise owl chick Active Member

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    ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι LOL
  13. Iversen

    Iversen Member VIP member

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    I found his style so irritating that I didn't watch the whole video. But I find it feasible to learn a language in 6 months if you live in a place where you are surrounded by native speakers and you already know something similar.

    I agree with Cainntear: 30% or 60% of the words in a language is not enough to understand ordinary texts in a language. The thing that may blur the picture is that many of the words which you get 'for free' are international, meaningful terms - exactly the kind of words which a smart person may use to get the gist of a text. And if you top that up with the most common 1-2000 words then you have both covered the bulk of the words in running text or speech and a sprinkling of the meaning words. But when you have gobbled up all the free and lowhanging fruits you still have to add thousands of other words to read even a simple newspaper or a novel, and then we haven't even touched upon the problem of learning grammar and a good pronunciation. If you study at home, how much time can you really spend on learning a foreign language? A couple of hours at an evening school each week for 6 month won't bring you far. Maybe you can do the Katzumoto trick and establish a language bubble, but people with a job and family can't stay in it the whole time. So for most people the dream of learning a language in half a year must remain a dream.

    Comprehensible input, positive emotions, accepting ambiguity and reading body language (as quoted by Stelle) are all positive and relevant elements - although for me as an armchair student there won't be many chances to profit from body language studies.

    In contrast, the idea that all content in your own or other wellknown languages is something evil that should be avoided is squarely wrong. As Kuikentje writes: "If you know 'fire' then if you learn the word for this in another language, then you haven't to sit one hour and meditate on what is a fire etc because you know." There is simply not time to establish meaningful situations that cover all the 10-20.000 words you need to read even standard novels. My own formula for this is that there are intensive and extensive activities. You do the intensive activites to learn the elements of the language, and if it is quicker and more dependable to get the meaning of a word or an explanation of a grammatical rule in you own language then it would be idiotic to go for explanations in a language you haven't even learnt yet. But with extensive activities the situation is different: you do these to train things like fluency, stamina and robustness, and apart from a rare peek in a dictionary it would be against the whole purpose of those activities to waste half the time on your own language.
    Last edited: May 27, 2014
  14. BAnna

    BAnna Active Member VIP member

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    Here is an interview with him speaking in Cantonese. He seems pretty competent.

    Interview
  15. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    Wow nice find. I know 0 Cantonese. I don't think he sounded like an English speaker in any case. Anyone? Did we find the proof in the pudding, or the skeleton in the closet?
  16. Cainntear

    Cainntear Active Member VIP member

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    His ability is of little relevance, as his advice is so vague that it would be possible for dozens of people to follow it to the letter, but produce completely different learning experiences. I'm sure I could write a lesson plan that does everything he says (contradictions excepted) and taught absolutely nothing.

    This means that he must be missing the most important parts of how he actually learned the language. He's listed some of the big macro-scale activities that he learned from, but really not how he actually learned from them. I've always said that the actually learning is about thought, and we can do the same thought-level learning process with very very different styles of activity....
  17. Wise owl chick

    Wise owl chick Active Member

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    And? Why is it relevant?

    He should be competent, he speak Chinese since many many years . This isn't the point at all, he has said that with his method all the people can be native after 6 months.

    Only the Chinese natives can say if he is native in Chinese. And also, was he native after 6 months? did he only exaclty what he has told in his lecture for learn it?

    I think no, no and no.

    And, people are different, not all the poeple can learn. If a person say "everyone can do x" then I don't believe. Or if the person say "and adult will be native" then I don't eblieve. And anyway, his method were only some suggestions for soem things, and nothing new, and certainly not sufficient for learn a language.

    Yes but to not sound like an English speaker does not mean that he is native in Chinese. We didn't find proof of nothing or skeletons.

    How was his Chinese after 6 months, and anyway, he lived in CHina, therefore he had lectrues in Chinese, friends, shopping, all the tiem CHinese. and he was a student, therefore some intelligence and younger that most adults. 20 is not 50, univeristy student is not slow learner, live in the country is not live in your own one etc etc

    Cainntear, I agree with you. I've never taught or wrote lesson plans, but for sure the man's method in the lecture would not be sufficient
  18. Wise owl chick

    Wise owl chick Active Member

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    I agree

    Exactly, and anyway now he is very old but his first 6 months of Chinese were about 40 years ago. How can he exactly know?

    Yes, we are all different and why must we all do exclty the same things for learn a language? The man seemed very angry and nasty, with his arms and talking. If you tell him that you ahve a different method he would kill you. I don't understand how people can believe him or like him. I hate him.


    I agree with Iversen
    Last edited: May 27, 2014
  19. biTsar

    biTsar Active Member VIP member

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  20. Peregrinus

    Peregrinus Active Member

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    I agree with most of the criticisms above. Professional speaker who doesn't really understand all that is involved in learning a language, uses a low-bar definition of fluency which should be preceded by a modifier indicating very limited proficiency. Except for comprehensible input he mostly is touting small techniques. I would have liked to have been in the audience and asked him what amount of vocabulary one needs to read a general interest newspaper and how one goes about acquiring such a vocabulary and what the time frame for same is. At best his 'methods' can only result in a base from which one could then proceed to properly learn a language past chit-chat /touristy needs. The youtube/B1-glots will applaud him though. Strictly speaking as Iversen said, 6 months is enough for many languages, IF you can devote huge amounts of time to it AND learn far more than 2-3K words in the process.

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