How immigrant kids learn languages

I was discussing in the Chinese forum the issue of immigrants facing huge problem learning English.

I feel pity for them, but on the other hand, I think many of them are stubborn. They insist on learning English the traditional classroom way. Of course, their kids learn English much faster than them. So they come up with all kinds of excuses.

Here is a clip of Jerry Dai takes on the issue. Listen to the whole discussion and see how many excuses they come up with. (from 29:35)

Jerry is quite well known within the Toronto’s Chinese community for his English course. I heard it is quite expensive, but many people still enrol (see how this traditional classroom mentality kicks in). I think he has started teaching Mandarin too, not sure how well it goes.

Edwin, I know many people in the Chinese community here, and have found it difficult to attract them to LingQ.

We began LingQ (The Linguist) with that community in mind. I had 26 infomercial sessions in Mandarin on language learning on local Mandarin radio. I never fail to mention it. I have given lectures. (Usually followed by many requests for my business card and a photo taken together.)

What did we get? Very little. What always impresses me is the difference between the enthusiasm with which they listen and agree to new ideas on language learning, and the universal lack of action or follow up, with almost no exceptions. At best I get offers to sell LingQ in China.

Any ideas you have would be most welcome.

Perhaps set up a classroom with some computers. Have 1 or 2 non-Chinese looking technicians there (call them instructors) to teach the students how to use the LingQ system, then charge them 10 times the fee. That might attract a crowd.

Just kidding … but it might work. Who knows?

Apart from the classroom mentality, I think a lot of immigrants see their most urgent need as to improve their conversational skill. They would pay a fortune to practice conversation (I remember you told a story of 3 Chinese ladies looking for an English course). They fail to see the importance of reading and listening.

I am just brainstorming here, not sure if it will work. May be try to host some meetup or English group, to let the immigrants get together to practice their English with some native speakers. At the same time, educate them on the importance of reading and listening. Encourage them to read and listen to a lot of English in their daily lives. For those who commit to read and listen more, tell them about LingQ.

I’m a victim of the same mentality. I’m an immigrant (big) kid to Hong Kong and I idiotically enrolled to Mandarin school because at the time Steve didn’t invent and he didn’t claim his linguistic aptitude on any forum or site. I was under the impression that you had to go to class to learn languages.

But, I think this applies to non-immigrants too being that nearly EVERY Chinese person I’ve seen is determined more classroom study will equate to better knowledge (grammar) of English, and finding a random foreigner on the street to talk is when they are actually learning new words.

I went to a French lesson at Alliance Française in Hong Kong yesterday. For one of the highest bands in the advanced level, the teacher spoke 45% English and 5% Mandarin (probably showing off) and 50% easy French with English substituted for any important vocabulary! I tried to convince a few students to go to as it’s the system I use to learn French (but because I have a non-native accent, they are convinced is a failure!), and they simply were not interested!! I think I’ll next time shoot a quick video of a typical classroom lesson so you all can see how “Advanced” French is taught in English for Chinese students.

Demand your money back! 45% English in an advanced class?!

According to this interview, AF in HK is the most developed/networked AF in China:

Edwin, If it’s the most developed AF in China, then the others must be ridiculously crap!

Milan, if you are trying to escape the “classroom” mentality, why do you still enrol yourself to the AF courses?

That’s a very good question… I didn’t learn anything yet after several classes. I’m actually paying to make my French worse at this school.

I need to also detach myself from these old habits… Though I listen to lingq for 6 hours per day, while AF is only a little fraction. Though it’s clear that I’m learning about French in English :wink: