English course promise Fluency in just 8 weeks

Sorry I have to show that english course that I found here in Brazil, but it is a complete joke to my inteligence.

http://www.universidadedoingles.com.br/

And what’s the bottom line? (i.e. how expensive are these 8 week?)

The bottom line that I think is impossible get full fluency in just 8 weeks, unless the learner study 24/7 * 8 weeks = 1344 hours.

I doubt they could get to fluency even if they studied 24/7. How much does the course cost?

around U$ 50 dollars or R$ 100,00(Brazilian currency), waste of money, I prefer go to the movie theater.

When courses advertise things like that, they usually mean you’ll be fluent in the phrases they teach you. They do make an effort to give you a base you can work off of, but they’re never forthcoming about how incomplete the course actually is.

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ad lingQuser: (…) When courses advertise things like that, they usually mean you’ll be fluent in the phrases they teach you. They do make an effort to give you a base you can work off of, but they’re never forthcoming about how incomplete the course actually is. (…)

I completely agree. Personally, I have never managed to become fluent in any language within a few months. It has always and invariably taken me years to achieve a reasonable level of proficiency and to maintain it. It is possible, however, to learn enough set phrases within a few weeks to get by in standard situations, provided you come across a patient native speaker.

In many situations this might be just what people look for and that is perfectly fine. Even if - through some sort of miracle - you were able to “reach fluency” within 8 weeks, you will need to continuously invest a lot of time and effort to not forget what you have learned.

I think that is one of the most important aspects of language learning that people seem to overlook. Learning a language is a never-ending process. You will never be able to say “I’m done now, I know it all and I won’t forget it anymore”. If we did not speak our native language every day, this would have an impact on our ability to speak and write correctly as well. The real challenge to me is to find ways to maintain a level I have reached. Getting there is one thing, staying there yet another.

@ Robert (lovelanguagesII) - “It is possible, however, to learn enough set phrases within a few weeks to get by in standard situations, provided you come across a patient native speaker.”

It has been my experience moving to Austria without knowing any German that with some hard work, one can quickly learn to speak well enough to get by in standard situations, but one cannot learn comprehension quickly enough to actually function easily in these situations. Every single problem I have ever had with my level of German in the 10 months that I have lived in Austria have been related to comprehension.

I remember being 10 weeks into learning German and having to go to some horrible government building in the middle of Vienna to register my permanent presence in Austria. If anybody at this place spoke any English, they did their best to make sure I did not know about it. At the front desk, where I had to interact with some angry young woman, who shouted at me for reasons I will never know, I was given a ticket and was able to ask what the ticket was for and where I should go in broken but perfectly understandable German, and didn’t understand a word of the reply. I worked out where to go because the ticket had ‘6. Stock’ written on it, and I quickly looked up ‘Stock’ in a dictionary. Later on, when I was actually doing the registration stuff, the woman who was doing it for me spoke some long sentences that would have been completely incomprehensible to me, except for the fact that they included the words ‘e-card’ and ‘kopieren’. Having gotten lucky by the fact that two English words happened to be in the sentence, I guessed that I was meant to photocopy some stuff and bring it back. I was able to clearly ask what I should photocopy, but did not understand a word of the reply (except for ‘e-card’ again), so I photocopied everything and let the woman select the stuff that she needed. Because I did not understand the instructions on the photocopier, I stood next to it and watched two other groups use it first.

My point is that after 10 weeks of intensive learning of German (2.5 hours a day, 5 days a week, in a language school, before I went to work!!!), I was able to speak in a way that was somewhat functional, but my comprehension was no better than it would have been 10 weeks earlier.

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“I think that is one of the most important aspects of language learning that people seem to overlook. Learning a language is a never-ending process. You will never be able to say “I’m done now, I know it all and I won’t forget it anymore”. If we did not speak our native language every day, this would have an impact on our ability to speak and write correctly as well. The real challenge to me is to find ways to maintain a level I have reached. Getting there is one thing, staying there yet another.”

I agree, but it seems this is how education systems encourage us to think. Once the exam has been passed, you can relax. I have an A level in chemistry, but right now I know practically nothing about chemistry, even while studying it at school I had a very wooly understanding of all the basic concepts. The teacher was very interested in achieving a lot of “high grades”, but would get cross if you admitted you had no idea about certain things. Of course, blaming one’s teacher is pathetic and I should have braved her rage and got her to explain the things that I couldn’t understand.
This is just an example of something that I am roughly “qualified” in, but actually have no competency in. I think a lot of people are in this situation, they may not admit it however.

@Colin “…It has been my experience moving to Austria without knowing any German that with some hard work, one can quickly learn to speak well enough to get by in standard situations, but one cannot learn comprehension quickly enough to actually function easily in these situations. Every single problem I have ever had with my level of German in the 10 months that I have lived in Austria have been related to comprehension…”

I find that genuinely very interesting, Colin. I must say that my own experience was the complete polar opposite - I could always understand much more than I could say (or write) in German. In fact, that still remains the case today! I can watch German TV without any difficulty. But ask me to be interviewed on German TV and I’d panic as much as the next person! :-0

Are you getting enough audio input?

Are you, like, watching TV, going to the movies, hanging out with native speakers…all that kind of stuff?

@ J_4_J - “Are you, like, watching TV, going to the movies, hanging out with native speakers…all that kind of stuff?”

I am now. I have been learning German for eight months now, the first four of which where in a language school doing intensive grammar study. I quit that because I knew too much grammar, and not enough of other things. For the next two months, I concentrated mostly on my ability to speak, and was not improving my understanding very well. For the previous two months, I have been improving my ability to understand with massive reading at LingQ and with interesting books, and with massive amounts of listening. My understanding is very quickly improving, but I still don’t understand very well. I don’t worry about it and find it all very enjoyable.

I wonder if the difference between our experiences is related to how fast we are trying to learn. I notice that people who say that comprehension is not such a problem, tend to have learned less intensively over a much longer time (this could easily just be a figment of my imagination). On the other hand, I remember reading about Benny Lewis’ three-month German mission where he said that he took the C2 exam at the end, and passed four of the five parts. The part that he failed was the listening comprehension part, and he also did badly on the reading comprehension part.

[edit:…and remember, the story I gave in the previous post was about my level at 10 weeks, and not my level now. If I went and did that registration again now, I am pretty certain I would comfortably understand the vast majority of what they said. That being said, some guy came up to me earlier today in an U-Bahn station and asked me a question. I did not understand a word he said to begin with, and did not understand his question at all when he repeated it slowly and clearly for me. I am certain I could have explained to him everything I know about the Viennese U-Bahn system, if only I knew his question. Once again, I don’t worry about it.]

@Colin: “…I wonder if the difference between our experiences is related to how fast we are trying to learn. I notice that people who say that comprehension is not such a problem, tend to have learned less intensively over a much longer time. On the other hand, I remember reading about Benny Lewis’ three-month German mission where he said that he took the C2 exam at the end, and passed four of the five parts. The part that he failed was the listening comprehension part, and he also did badly on the reading comprehension part…”

That may be a point - I had been taking lessons for a year before even getting on the plane. (I had also been doing massive listening using Linguaphone German, Linguaphone Advanced German, and PAIY German.)

BTW In the case of Benny Lewis, it should be noted that he too already had a very decent level when he started his ‘mission’. After attending a C2 course in one of Berlin’s finest language schools full time for three whole months he should really have done better, in my opinion.

“BTW In the case of Benny Lewis, it should be noted that he already had a very decent level when he started his ‘mission’. After attending a C2 course in one of Berlin’s finest language schools full time for three whole months he should really have done better, in my opinion.”

I don’t know much about his mission, but I think the example is still a good one. He intensively learned German, and was able to improve his speaking much faster than comprehension (although that may be what he was concentrating on, I don’t know).

The remember what I did when I was first learning to speak German. I was memorising various grammar rules, sentence structures, and basic vocabulary, and then practising putting it all together in many difference ways, until it became quicker and more natural. I remember learning mathematics in a similar way. One can memorise a lot of this stuff quite quickly, and get good (temporarily at least) at putting it together really quickly.

On the other hand, learning to understand seems to be something different. As I do lots of listening and reading, it feels like nothing is changing, however when somebody speaks to me, I understand more of what they say. When I understand something that they say, I don’t know why I understand it, I just do; it seems so simple, and I can’t imagine not understanding it. Maybe it just takes time to sink in. More experienced learners would know better than I.

@Colin: “…what I did when I was first learning to speak German. I was memorising various grammar rules, sentence structures, and basic vocabulary, and then practising putting it all together in many difference ways, until it became quicker and more natural…”

I don’t believe you will ever regret the time you have invested in learning German grammar. I noticed from your written German (on other recent threads) that you have an accurate knowledge of grammar and syntax, and you pay attention to getting things right. I like that. In my experience it is always a sign that a person is going to be a winner at German.

There are plenty of folks out there who take the approach “grammar doesn’t matter”, “mistakes are good”, etc. I have yet to meet even one such person who ever ended up being able to manipulate German reasonably accurately. (Of course, as foreigners we are always going to make mistakes, but we can and should strive to limit these, IMO.)

I believe in the importance of input. But I firmly believe that people should also learn the grammar. For me it’s very much a case of “both-and” rather than “either-or”.

(If I ever needed to learn Russian or Polish, the very first thing I would do would be to drum the main case-patterns into my head until I could recite them backwards in my sleep!)

Thanks for the kind words. I am glad we have been able to high-jack another thread on here and completely change the subject. I apologise to anybody who wanted to discuss becoming fluent in English in 8 weeks. :smiley:

I think it was a very good hijack, and I think that it also broaches the subject of just how different everyone’s experiences are. My neighbor in the Dominican Republic and I both spoke Spanish very well, but she was more “fluent” verbally and understood all the slang phrases, whereas my Spanish was always very “correct” grammatically with spelling, punctuation, and verb conjugation; but I was overlooked in social/work situations, because she communicated more “efficiently.” Another instance was in college. I met a girl who couldn’t read or write a lick of elementary Spanish, but she spoke and understood everything, because at home her experience with Spanish was very practical, and she had spent time hanging out with Mexicans in her neighborhood. You will always be better at whatever you focus on first. That’s why LingQ is good, because it has all the little bars so that you can try to keep them balanced and have a more profitable outcome overall. Getting back to the original idea of the post for a bit, those courses that talk about attaining rapid fluency, usually focus on the student; and therefore, it won’t promise that you’ll be able to understand natives as much as you’ll be able to communicate with them, as in you, the student will be able to say the phrases, but you may not recognized them when they’re said by a native at a normal pace. And finally, there is the matter of maintaining one’s skills. I agree that it is never stressed in courses, and if the teacher were to say that the exam at the end of the term covered all the material from the beginning, students might actually strike or get them kicked out or some other drastic option. Well, I think I’ve covered all bases I wanted to. This has been a very interesting conversation.

ad CPJ: (…) At the front desk, where I had to interact with some angry young woman, who shouted at me for reasons I will never know, I was given a ticket and was able to ask what the ticket was for and where I should go in broken but perfectly understandable German, and didn’t understand a word of the reply. (…)

I am really sorry that you had to deal with such ignorant and obviously incredibly rude people. If it is of any consolation to you, this kind of people treat us Austrians exactly the same way. Things have generally gotten better while in the past our civil servants almost got away with anything they did or said. In German we say “unsere Beamten hatten völlige Narrenfreiheit”.

I do hope you have met some nice people too. I think that most Austrians are friendly and welcoming towards foreigners. However, for whatever reason, you will find an unproportionally high number of rude people amongst civil servants, bus drivers, employees at ticket counters etc. I always tell my friends (both foreigners and fellow-Austrians) who come for a visit that it is better to ask people in the streets for information instead of trying to talk to some official clerk or bus driver etc. Of course, there are friendly bus and streetcar drivers out there too, but my experience has been that they are not as common as they should be.

As for the actual topic at issue here, I think that comprehension is tricky in most languages. I always try to get a good grasp of the basic grammar (without going through a “grammar boot camp” :wink: and then I try to learn as many words as quickly as possible. The more I read, write and listen, the better I will internalize the grammar rules I have studied before. To me a good foundation with regard to grammar (after all, I need to be able to reproduce linguistic patterns and personally I cannot do that just by listening and “absorbing”, I also need to “understand” what is going on) and a massive input of vocabulary is the only way to make any reasonable progress.

@Robert: “…you will find an unproportionally high number of rude people amongst civil servants, bus drivers, employees at ticket counters etc…”

That has been my experience too - in both Germany and Italy. So it certainly isn’t only Austrian bus drivers who are apt to get chippy! :wink:

In fact, in the case of guys selling railway tickets in Italy, I have more than once encountered a kind of…well…I was almost going to say “rage”…! (EDIT: I suspect that many Italians have a bark which is far worse than their bite, however! :-D)

Comprehension is the base skill, in my view. I strive first and foremost for comprehension. Output will come, but I first want to understand what is written, in books, newspaper, and what is said on radio and in movies, and most of all what people are saying to me. This takes a long time.

@ Robert - ‘I am really sorry that you had to deal with such ignorant and obviously incredibly rude people.’

Don’t worry, this has definitely not been my experience with Austrians in general. Even when doing official like things, I find I usually get somebody who is very polite. I don’t really blame the young woman for being angry. She was working in the department where foreigners staying in the country for more than four months need to come and register (apparently this is a new rule as I know people who moved here a few years ago and did not have to do it). The place was a madhouse and probably most of the people there didn’t know what they were doing, and didn’t know a word of German. I doubt that I could stay enthusiastic and polite in these conditions.

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