I want to start a major thread on the idea of how beginner content should be on LingQ. My current interest has been aroused by starting Arabic from scratch using LingQ. (http://www.lingq.com/learn/it/forum/1/9970/) This thread originates from a current thread (http://www.lingq.com/learn/it/forum/6/10583/?page=1) in which I summarise my views:
“Just to summarise my views, which are based on an encounter with a language VERY foreign to me, so as to replicate the absolute beginner experience as much as possible:
The main theme is that a beginner level should involve the learners MAKING ONLY ONE DECISION freely: to study. ALL DECISION ABOUT HOW TO STUDY SHOULD BE MADE FOR BEGINNERS. A second fundamental is that BEGINNERS NEED TO FEEL SUCCESS, SO THE STEPS IN A BEGINNER LESSON SHOULD BE EASY TO NAIL DOWN… TOLERANCE FOR AMBIGUITY WILL GROW AS THE STUDENT BECOMES MORE EXPERIENCED.
At LingQ, the beginner stage should be somewhat separate from the regular LingQ. Call it “KiddieLingQ” It should have 100 plus beginner dialogs of 10-20 words max, about traditional and non-traditional topics, spoken at regular speeds, and translated into all languages offered.
Each dialog should have premade flashcards (LingQ-packs) which correspond to the native language of the learner-- this means all different possible combos of the 11 languages offered.
The LingQ-pack flashcards should each have sound embedded, as well as any grammatical or pronunciation notes in the Hint. At the beginner level such notes in a separate ‘Resources’ tab will not be as effective.
In order to “graduate” to the real LingQ as we now know it, students will have to have all words in all LingQ packs at 4. At this point they can get a small seal next to their Forum profile. This, in effect will both encourage people to address them in their learner language and prevent people from cheating to get the seal, as it will become evident whether they have beginner proficiency or not in the Forums”
The following is my take on some of the debates that occurred in the previous thread. They are on speed of speech, length of lessons, beginner pre-made LingQs and whether or not to have a story cycle of beginner lessons. I list the pros for each side and my verdict. Feel free to dispute, debate,q derail, and disparage my views at will.
Beginner content at LingQ: Speed of speech: natural or slowed down?
Pro natural speech: Natural is more realistic; in connected speech, not all sounds that are supposed to be there are really there and the sooner our brains get used to it the better; if listening is the fundamental activity in LingQ, it should be the one we do not compromise on; listening to artificially slow speech creates a crutch that is hard to let go of ; if people want to know how a word is “supposed ‘ to sound they can check a transliteration, an IPA dictionary, or use the sound embedded in the flashcards; slow, over enunciated speech is hard to listen to multiple times
Pro slower enunciated speech: it will scare fewer beginners away; we need to attract people above all
Verdict: Go with natural speech. LingQ has to differentiate itself from other sites and since listening is the fundamental activity at LingQ we should keep it as real as possible
Beginner content at LingQ: Length of lessons in words: less than 20 words; greater than 20 words?
Pro less than 20 words: these have more potential to be interesting
Pro greater than 20 words: easy to nail down a dialog and get a sense of accomplishment from; shorter is more tolerable when listening to natural speech;
Verdict: Go with less than 20 words. Beginner content is rarely interesting anyway, so we don’t need to worry about that; Beginner language learners often feel overwhelmed, baby dialogs = baby steps= feeling of success
Beginner content at LingQ: Pre-made LingQs or student made LingQs?
Pro pre-made LingQs: reduces the pressure on the student to learn how to LingQ: often there are a lot of confounding factors such as temporary bugs, having to refresh the screen, not knowing how to deal with particles or phrases, not understanding why you need to LingQ each different form of a word, not understanding tags; you can also include any formal explanation right in the LingQ in the “hint” field
Pro student made LingQs: LingQing is as fundamental as listening so we should not compromise; the action of LingQing is good for your memory; making prefab LingQs in many native>target language combinations is a huge amount of work;
Verdict: Go with pre-made LingQs. The beginner needs to deal with as few technicalities as possible and they will still see the power of LingQing by reviewing the premade LingQs and seeing them in different contexts seeing how tags work etc. LingQing seems simple in practive, but is hard to grasp. In a way the prefab LingQs can be viewed as the “passive input” for learning the LingQ site itself.
Beginner content at LingQ: A series of unrelated dialogs or a story cycle?
Pro unrelated dialogs: The student will not care about the story cycle if they are doing repetitive listening so the work of doing a story cycle is not necessary
Pro story cycle: ?
Verdict: Go with unrelated dialogs, it is less work.