Looking to the future, is this the way LingQ could be going? What I mean is, will people be able to buy some kind of structured pathway of tuition from beginner to a particular accredited level?
In particular, will there be the option of taking a course of lessons (with marked assignments, etc) delivered via Skype?
I have noticed that a lot of traditional classroom based language schools are moving in this direction. To give just one random example:
(I don’t have any kind of association with these folks, BTW. And I have no idea whether they are much to be recommended. I just came across them at random.)
It just seems to me that there is some real potential to be tapped into here, isn’t there?
At the moment LingQ works well enough for well motivated people with intermediate or low advanced level. But in my opinion it doesn’t quite seem terribly well structured from the point of view of people with a definate goal - whether it be complete beginners who want to get off the ground within x number of weeks, or people with some existing proficiency who need preparation for a particular exam or test.
“At the moment LingQ works well enough for well motivated people with intermediate or low advanced level. But in my opinion it doesn’t quite seem terribly well structured from the point of view of people with a definate goal - whether it be complete beginners who want to get off the ground within x number of weeks, or people with some existing proficiency who need preparation for a particular exam or test.”
Let me start by saying I REALLY like Lingq, and I will probably use it for as long as it is online.
I have stopped recommending Lingq to people, for each time that I do it proves to be fruitless. They never like it or stick with it, even when I try my best to explain how it works or why it is useful. They don’t get it. Some of these people already speak multiple languages, others are monolingual. Some are advanced in a language, some are starting to learn one, and others just need to improve their skills. Maybe Lingq is just for those who learn the “Lingq way” and who stumble upon it on their own.
I have recommended LingQ to many people and they have never stuck with it. On the other hand, they have never suck with learning the language at all.
Accreditation is probably too complicated and expensive, but some sort of structure for beginners would probably be appropriate. The current set up is okay for those of us who have taken a language course or two, but one pretty much has to go elsewhere to get a handle on non-latin alphabets. And still the jump from greetings into ‘Who is she?’ is pretty big for someone starting from scratch.
Furthermore, computers, tablets etc have advanced so much, I don’t see why ‘beginner’s books’ should be the first resource anymore. Still I haven’t seen good software that would get beginners to the point where lingq is truly useful.
Yeah, I agree on all those points. I don’t personally like Duolinguo, but I keep meeting a lot of people who aren’t weirdo language hobbyists like us who really enjoy it and have gotten somewhat of a basic level with it. Maybe Benny’s new books will be some kind of answer (although I expect them to be like all other beginner coursebooks I’ve come across).
For me it would provide some real motivation if I knew that I had to do a session with a tutor every 3 days or whatever. I’d actually do the assignments and all that kind of stuff! I also like having definite and meaningful goals to work towards (GCSE through A Level in the case of this Dutch school I linked to.)
I do think Skype could be a game changer for language schools. I’m sure there aren’t actually all that many places where one can learn Dutch in the UK, for example. In the past one would have had to live in Oxford or within reasonable travelling distance to take lessons. Now, through the internet, the distance element is taken right out of the equation.
I wonder if there are any similar schools in South Africa offering Afrikaans courses? (I’d be tempted to go for that, actually!)
Accreditation would be immensely time/money consuming. Also, I do not presume too much but I feel the whole ethos of Lingq is to decentralise and demystify learning as much as possible, which is why I like it… but which also runs against accreditation by official bodies.
I have also recommended Lingq to several people, all of them bilingual. They have told me that Lingq is too confusing to use.
I have heard the same thing and I can only think that people have a internalised the need for a teacher so much that even the simplest self direction triggers confusion.
I don’t think that we can make our program into some kind of course with credits. However, as an enthusiastic user of LingQ 4.0 on my iPad, and being aware of what is on its way, I think more people whom you recommend LingQ to, will get it in the future.
If any of you want to try out the new Beta on your mobile devices I suggest you apply to be a Beta tester. But it is in Beta and there are still issues. Also, much of the new functionality is not yet there.
Yes, I also think that Lingq.com could be ‘a game changer for language schools’ or even a good addition for such schools.
But the administration of my school doesn’t like if I recommend my students Lingq.com. Although I tell that it is only the addition to the class language study, they are afraid that some learners won’t come to our school the next time when they start using lingq.com.
And I can’t dessuade my administration from such an opinion in spite of my efforts.
The biggest problems for new LingQ users are in my opinion
- No guidance for choosing the right course for a certain level.
- The community translations are often wrong or very poor.
- No possibility to test real LingQ-ing before subscribing.
- Too many bugs (i.e. in the moment: Library, Uploading own texts).
- People don’t know how to learn on their own, lose interest too fast.
“…I feel the whole ethos of Lingq is to decentralise and demystify learning as much as possible, which is why I like it… but which also runs against accreditation by official bodies…”
I guess it can only be a good thing to demystify and decentralise learning. But does LingQ’s method have a monopoly in this? I would say any form of effective tuition delivered online within a reasonably flexible timescale would meet that description?
As for accreditation of language proficiency, I actually do think this is often over-rated - especially as regards lower or minimal grade passes. Often people may have a piece of paper to wave around, but not have a very good practical level.
However I would say there are some good reasons why people work towards exams, certificates, etc - quite aside from a (perhaps misplaced) sense of kudos along the lines “hey folks, I’ve got certificate X in language Y!”
As I mentioned above, there are those of us who respond well to having some kind of definite goal to work towards - this can be a powerful motivation to keep up the work. Also, the fact of passing an exam or test - even given the limitations - does give one some kind of tangible means of monitoring progress. If, just for example, I were to pass an A Level in French I would have some good cause to believe that I would be beyond a completely rudimentary level.
Personally, I’ve yet to see a test that meant anything in the real world. Ordering food or holding a conversation with the person seated next to me in a train have always been leaps and bounds more difficult.
I think a good (language) teacher is more akin to a sports coach. You have to do the work of learning yourself, ultimately. But it’s still very valuable to meet someone on a regular basis who keeps you on your toes and gives constant and useful feedback. It’s also very good to have someone you can turn to for advice or guidance on any specific point of difficulty that may arise.
(I do think that complete beginners may benefit from some fairly intensive tuition - especially if there is no previous history of language learning, or if the target language is very different from the learner’s native language.)
Interesting article. I knew people like this kid at university. The trouble is, one can easily overestimate what ‘half-native’ speakers (as I call them) are able to do. It’s one thing too be able to chat to the family around the kitchen table. It’s another thing to be able to write coherently or to express intelligent opinions about literature or politics.
I remember one bilingual person in particular (the daughter of two German nationals, a girl who had lived lived in England since the age of about five) who was completely thrown in a German speaking seminar because she didn’t know the German words “einmarschieren” und “Massenvernichtungswaffen”!
(BTW at that time, one could hardly read a German newspaper article without encountering these words - so the fact she didn’t know them perhaps gives some hint at the level of her complacency and overconfidence…)
My high school was a third Hispanic, and many of these kids had the idea to take Beginner’s Spanish for an easy A. These were honest-to-god native speakers, who I’d see hanging out with each other speaking Spanish in the hall before class started, and who’s parents were largely monolingual Spanish speakers. In my class all but one girl did atrociously.
I think here at Lingq we get really good at the more academic side of language - reading complicated texts and the like - and at least some of us willingly forgo the conversational stuff until we actually need it. I however definitely feel like if you took a guy who studied Spanish for a year on Lingq without ever saying a word and dropped him in a university class in Lima, he would do better than the kid who came to the States at 5, speaks without an accent, but has never read a newspaper in Spanish.
@dooo You make a valid point. Yet in this case it’s as simple as Lingq being an entity too bothersome to embrace. Not everyone finds Lingq user friendly. And as adults, they are independent language learners capable of determining how they want to continue to make progress. It is not about needing a teacher; it is about not needing to go through the trouble. Essentially, it is about not wanting what Lingq has to offer.
Britain publishes excellent A level preparation material completely suitable for self-study (if one is smart enough, of course). I would just purchase the material and do it or the bulk of it myself.
If one is smart enough one could do what Kato Lamb did - Study a single random book diligently with the help of a dictionary and eventually know the language. As things get easier to learn with advancing technology it becomes clear to me it’s just a motivation thing.