An interesting take on language learning

There have been numerous polyglots posting videos on Youtube lately, and one particular language enthusiast called Moses McCormick has uploaded videos of himself speaking around 20 or more mostly exotic languages, ie. no German, French, Spanish etc.

What is particularly worth noting about his approach to languages is his focus on output as soon as possible. He says that he loves grammar books, and once he can figure out how to construct sentences, he heads over to chatrooms and forums (as well as taking every possible real-life opportunity) to use and retain what he has learned. He says that through doing this, the vocabulary will follow. Using this approach, he has managed to make videos of himself speaking quite exotic languages like Turkish and Estonian only after one week of solid, intensive boot-camp style study. He also enjoys using phrasebooks during the beginning stages to get useful words and phrases that can be used for conversations, though he makes every effort to learn the grammatical structure of the language, and has also posted lessons teaching their rudiments. In addition, he has also learned to read, write and type every exotic script associated with the languages he has studied.

Here is his Youtube channel:

Also, another thread on him:

Thanks for the links. I watched him speaking Georgian and Japanese and read the first couple of pages of the forum (here’s an alternate forum URL Moses McCormick’s admirable achievement (Lessons in Polyglottery) Language Learning Forum )

At this stage, my impression is that he seems to be someone who could talk at a native speaker of one of his many target languages. But not necessarily connect with them.

I feel like he is overly conscious of what and how he is speaking when he is speaking. I instantly get the impression that were he to try going beyond small talk, the conversation would plod or perhaps grind to a halt, with his interlocutor finding him/herself stuck in a tutoring mode whether they want to or not.

In a nutshell, he seems to have mastered a lot of grammar patterns in each language but, I get the feeling that in most of them he doesn’t have the vocabulary to support them.

Just my preliminary point of view .

He’s very impressive.

He has his way and it works for him. I’m just not sure about the rest of us.

It all depends on your goals. To me the big challenge in language learning is vocabulary. I am more motivated to understand the language than to be able to make small talk in the language. If I speak to a native speaker I am more interested in what he or she has to say, than in being able to display a little knowledge of the language. Only after I understand a lot and have a lot of words can I engage in an interesting discussion, which is what I want to be able to do.

If anyone’s interested, he’s uploaded a video in several parts on how to begin a language from scratch. It’s quite interesting, since although his approach is quite different, he lines up on quite a few points with the philosophy of many of us here, ie. not focusing too much on grammar in the beginning, and accepting that those things which don’t make much sense now, will later on.