The following links comes from John Fotheringham email@example.com.
Thanks John for some very helpful thoughts!
I am going to share a lot of these thoughts with my chemistry students as well. Trying to force stuff into the memory bank is counterproductive. Facts ‘learned’ this way often do ‘an Elvis’ and elude us just when we need them, e.g. in a test.
Another comment I forgot to include the first time is that I find the big font and pinyin make a huge difference to my learning. I can remember the characters, sound and meaning much, much more easily now. I had stopped using LingQ for most of my Chinese learning because I was so frustrated.
Thanks again Team! Keep up the improvements!
Definitely some interesting points in this booklet.
Hi Ginkgo58, I have just read the article. It is very interesting to read it, let me give you my best congratulations by sharing it.
After some years trying to improve my english and french it is great to know this way in order to have some additional efficient methods and tools.
Have a great learning process!!!
Thank you for sharing the excerpt from my Master Japanese guide. Glad to hear the content is applicable to chemistry as well as languages!
Cannot take seriously a document which references Tim Ferris and Benny ‘the pretend polyglot’ Lewis.
That aside, it’s the same info that’s been floating around the language learning-o-sphere for years. Nothing new here imo.
I agree with you in regards to Tim Ferris- I didn’t read the above language guide so I can’t comment on it.
For example, his technique of “learning, but not mastering a language in one hour” involves him simply comparing a few sentences in English (de-constructing them) with that of his prospective TL- he then says that he decides as to whether he will study that particular language on the basis of how easy it looks (ie how close it is to English.)
In an article on his website, he additionally states that he has “de-constructed” Russian in the past, but has delayed learning to speak it because the grammar seems too difficult. His advice for learning languages is essentially “if it looks too hard to learn, don’t bother.”
Honestly, the only advice I’d take from him is how to write self-help books that sell well in the airport book store market- he seems to be really good at that.
I wouldn’t go as far to call him a con man, but let’s just say he writes loads of checks that you can’t cash.
“Cannot take seriously a document which references Tim Ferris and Benny ‘the pretend polyglot’ Lewis.”
To each their own. I don’t agree with everything Tim Ferriss and Benny Lewis say and do, but both have had a profound impact on how I learn, live, and work, and I find it unfortunate that so many people discount their entire bodies of work (or mine for that matter) because they disagree with certain aspects of their learning approaches or marketing techniques. But hey, as my man Epictetus said, “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”
I’ve been a big proponent of LingQ for nearly a decade, but I have to say that the prevalence of negativity and ad hominem attacks in these forums is a bit too reminiscent of Reddit and YouTube. The LingQ community is better than this, aren’t we?
“That aside, it’s the same info that’s been floating around the language learning-o-sphere for years. Nothing new here imo.”
I have certainly not invented every concept I write about, but it’s important to point out that I am serving an audience of new language learners, not seasoned polyglots and trained linguists. My goal is to encourage and equip, not break new ground. When you’ve been doing something for a long time (e.g. learning a language), it’s easy to take for granted all the knowledge and metalearning skills you’ve long since internalized. What’s obvious to the master can often be profound to the uninitiated. I consider it the job of a good teacher or writer is to help translate what experts know intuitively into what learners can actively apply along their journey.
Just think it would have been better to reference some of the actual pioneers in linguistics and applied language learning. An honest opinion about your writing isn’t ‘negativity’ just because you don’t like what is said. It’s also not ‘ad hominem’ to call a spade a spade.
Tim Ferris is a con merchant marketer and Benny Lewis talks at people with some memorised phrases and picks up on conversational cues which simply help him recite his lines on the right topics. He then passes this off as being ‘fluent’ when really he’s not. This is the truth as i see it. Nothing at all like an ‘ad hominem’.
Referencing such people, in my opinion, damages your credibility and makes you come off as small time.
“The LingQ community is better than this, aren’t we?”
Better than what? Does @JohnFotheringham only want positive reviews?
“Just think it would have been better to reference some of the actual pioneers in linguistics and applied language learning.” “Referencing such people, in my opinion, damages your credibility and makes you come off as small time.”
In the course of the 400 pages of my book, I reference lots of “pioneers in linguistics and applied language learning”. But one doesn’t need a degree in Linguistics to offer valuable advice to language learners. I have a degree in Linguistics and very little of what I learned in university applied well in real life. Much had to be unlearned and amended in the trenches. Steve Kaufmann (whom I also quote in the book) is case in point. As are folks I quote from non-language fields that have applicable wisdom to language learning. I have a degree in Linguistics and very little of what I learned in university applied well in real life. Tim Ferriss and Benny Lewis both have valuable strategies to share beginning learners, so I am proud to include quotes and tips them in my work and am not concerned if it “damages my credibility” in the eyes of those who are not in segment of the population I am dedicated to serving. If you try to serve everyone, you end up serving no one. Are either of the them the “best” speakers of their respective target languages? No. But their “why” in most foreign languages is reaching conversational fluency as quickly and efficiently as possible, not spending years reaching native-like mastery in any one language. This does not make them con men; it frees them from traditional learning dogma to use methods that fit THEIR goals. There are many paths up the mountain, and it’s up to each of us to find what works for us.
“An honest opinion about your writing isn’t ‘negativity’ just because you don’t like what is said.” “Does @JohnFotheringham only want positive reviews?” The negativity I was referring to is bashing people like Tim and Benny, not comments about my writing. I am always looking to improve and appreciate constructive, actionable feedback.
“Better than what?” Better than the vast majority of forums on the Internet. LingQ has an opportunity to be a place of respect, support, and tolerance of disparate views. You can learn something from every single person, even if you disagree with some of their opinions. I disagree with your opinions about Tim and Benny, for example, but it doesn’t mean I write off everything else you have to say.
The piece encompasses some good insight and wisdom overall. Yes, if you’ve been around language learning for a while, you might have heard some of these concepts, but there is nothing wrong with composing an article for those who are just starting out on their journey.
Benny Lewis is someone I’ve grown to disagree with on some points, BUT, it was actually his whole Fluent in 3 Months thing that reignited my interest in languages to begin with. So he’s a good example for me of a motto I came up with: “Learn from these self appointed gurus what you can, but stop attributing power to them”
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in My Guy vs. Your Guy BS and get in these chat room brawls – I see this in my professional life as well, but I know it’s just a part of human nature.
If Tim Ferris offers something for you, then great, take it, use it, profit from it. If not, there are others out there that might have good ideas you can grow with. But ultimately it will be your growth that will make a difference, not where the ideas came from or whose exact path you’ve followed.
I recently read the learning guide that was posted by Ginkgo58 & presumably written by yourself: it seemed like solid advice and in tune with the “lingq philosophy.”
Yeah, it doesn’t seem to contain that a lot of info that you wouldn’t come across if you’ve spent any significant time reading up on language learning theory. But then again, most people haven’t spent any such time, so it’s probably valuable stuff to know. I personally read a similar guide by David Snopek back in the day and it encouraged me to join Lingq.
I also tried to phrase my comment carefully so as to not attack either yourself or Benny Lewis- you are both much more experienced language learners than me, for starters. But the criticism of Tim Ferris stands.
I won’t go as far as to call him a fraud or a conman, but I’ll just say that much of the advice and claims that I have seen on his blog (the Four Hour Workweek) are either misleading and/or inaccurate. To the point that his advice is good, it is usually because it has come from experts that he has interviewed.
My problem with him is that he then aggressively markets this crap over the heads of others that are more knowledgeable/accomplished than him. A case in point would be his “Four Hour Body” book.
He’s essentially the Tom Friedman of Self help writing- an overhyped figure who travels around the world getting “gee-whiz” advice from rich/successful people and then writing about it.
Dear John Fotheringham
Are you familiar with Harold Palmer (IMHO the greatest writer on language teaching who ever lived)? He taught English in Tokyo at IRET from 1923 to 1936. In a book he wrote for his Japanese students on learning English he says:
What is, then, the most fundamental guiding principle?
It is this: Memorize perfectly the largest number of common and useful word-groups!
He relates this to his own efforts to learn Japanese:
“….but I know that whatever proficiency I have attained in Japanese conversation is due to the patient repetition of Japanese word-groups. Directly I stop my work of repeating new word-groups or repeating anew the old ones I find a decrease in my power of conversing in Japanese.”
So you lambast me for not liking your pamphlet. I think the words ‘respect’, ‘support’ and ‘tolerance’ don’t mean what you think they mean. Because you clearly think an honest opinion (call it a ‘review’ if you wish) negates all of these qualities just because the review doesn’t sing the praises of your work? Do one mate you’re just coming across as extremely bitter.
Me calling people i think are conning the public, con men, isn’t a lack of respect or ‘tolerance’ (whatever the hell that even is - why should we ‘tolerate’ something we find intolerable?).
I put my criticisms fairly bluntly but i wasn’t rude. If i wanted to be rude i’d have called it rubbish and a waste of 25 minutes. I didn’t. I just said that in my opinion you haven’t said anything that isn’t already well known common sense.
I think you’re far too sensitive to be in the public eye if you find this rude.
Thanks, I’ll definitely look into his work. I like his lexical focus; very LingQ-esque!
“I’ve been a big proponent of LingQ for nearly a decade, but I have to say that the prevalence of negativity and ad hominem attacks in these forums is a bit too reminiscent of Reddit and YouTube. The LingQ community is better than this, aren’t we?”
People who participate on LingQ forums are free to express their opinions and unless they engage in profanity or personal attacks against other members, they are not censored in any way. I hope that continues.
People like Ferris and Benny, or me for that matter, who publicly present their opinions, sometimes related directly or indirectly to the possibility of commercial gain, can expect to face scrutiny and criticism, whether here or elsewhere. People commenting on our forum should not feel under any obligation to express positive views about anyone, nor to refrain from criticizing anyone, including me.
I don’t know what is meant by “reminiscent of Reddit and YouTube” but I don’t censor comments on my Youtube channel either, with the caveats that I mentioned above. There may the odd unnecessarily nasty comment, but mostly I find the comments constructive, whether positive or negative. I rarely delete or block anyone.
Bravo, Steve. And long may it continue.
Repetition is shown to fail in the entirety of western schooling, though. There is also research to show that grouping words which look the same or have similar meaning tends to make people mix them up when using them.
I think his ideas are out of date, not surprising given the time he was teaching.