Is being a visual learner, key to being a great language learner?

I’ve just posted two ‘free use of language software’.

The guy behind this software is Arkary Zilberman, a former Soviet simultaneous translator. He was interviewed recently by John Fotheringham from L2Mastery. (I’m having problem’s with John’s site so I can’t post a direct link.)

It was a fascinating interviewing as Arkary offered a surprising (to me) reason on why 95% of adult language learners fail (Does anyone know where this figure comes from?)

He said that after 18, most people become logical thinkers. So when it comes to language learning they have a lot of trouble switching off ‘translation’ in their heads. He seems to suggest that it’s this translation that blocks out the new language.

He went on to say that about 5% of adults remain visual and it’s this 5% that find language learning easy. He said that when he listens to a foreign language, he sees in pictures. Do you get this as well?

One of his solutions to this is to ‘bite your tongue’. I think, students hear the ‘story’ in their own language at first. They ‘bite their tongues’ so that it’s easier to ‘see’ the story.

After, they read, speak and listen at the same time (sounds like shadowing to me). Arkady says that this blocks ‘translation’ in the head and helps to develop a ‘speech centre’.

I know a lot of you here are great language learners. Do you primarily ‘see’ in the language you are learning? I know that a lot of the time, I translate back (does this mean I’m a logical learner?)

Here’s the link to the interview btw Arkady and John Fotheringham.

Very interesting.

Sorry you were having problems with my site, OrangeTuesday but glad you found the interview interesting. I’ve had a fairly continuous stream of hosting problems this year, but things seem to be leveling out a bit.

Also, I’m not sure why, but the LingQ forums seem to cut off the end of hyperlinks (I tried adding the full link to the Arkady interview but it got cut off just like the one above. I guess you can always just cut and paste the URL).

I think the theory is simply bogus. It’s as if learning theories (esp. of language) are going rather ‘new age’. The real chunky spiritual goodness is being ignored for shiny, marketable crap which people want to hear. (Words like ‘easy, natural, childlike’, etc.)

Alexander Arguelles, a logical thinker, knows dozens on languages with amazing depth.

orangetuesday, on shadowing, you’ve not understood the actual method as put forth by Professor Arguelles. In no way does he promote not involving your native language. That’s part of the reason that it’s so efficient. I suggest that you watch the entire video ‘shadowing step by step’.

Regards jolanda

to shorten the link, I use

Thanks Jolanda!

Imyirtseshem - A lot of us are looking for ‘the real chunky spiritual goodness’ with languages. Steve makes it simpler and Prof. Arguelles has provided a very useful technique.

You made a mistake with Arkady Zilderman’s approach. Like in ‘Shadowing’ students get the meaning of the text or story from their native language;

‘One of his solutions to this is to ‘bite your tongue’. I think, students hear the ‘story’ in their own language at first’

He just wants them to visualise the information rather than process it in a ‘logical’ way as he believes this gets over ‘cross-translation’.

Also, Prof Arguelles is certainly very methodical, hardworking and organisation but this doesn’t rule out he’s a visual thinker. The point is, does he process the information he receives in ‘pictures’ or through ‘words’. I don’t think you could know this, not useless you asked him or he has said in a video or presentation.

orangetuesday, I simply think this is another guy who has thought a little about how things might work, and he thinks he has come up with THE killer theory to beat them all. Throw it into the lava, I say.

Professor Argualles has clearly said before that his learning style is analytical and not visual. He admits that this is a possibility, but not of himself. I think that blows away the “95% of people can’t learn language because they aren’t visual thinkers”. It’s nonsense to begin with.

Are we not all visual and aural learners?

I have been quite successful learning languages and do not see pictures when I learn languages. On the other hand I find the translation of individual words into my language very useful. However, I avoid translation of whole texts, preferring to work the meaning out from the target language, and to listen often enough, and to enough content, until the language starts to make sense. This comes from my experience in language learning and confidence that I can learn this way.

Most people have trouble learning languages because they have not done it before. Things we have not done before seem problematical and difficult. We are afraid of them. Once we have done it once, we have more confidence.

Most people are reluctant to leave the comfortable framework of learning systems that don’t work well for them.

In my experience, a minority of learners are logical, and thereby able to learn a language logically. Most could learn with enough exposure if they let themselves go.

Indeed, Steve, we are all visual and aural. Though, some might feel more comfortable with certain modes. Some people are simply more comfortable with written materials, some with spoken. Just a matter of habit and personality really. I was reading adult fiction at seven and reading has always dominated my life. But, at the same time I’m a singer and musician. Also, I don’t like math. :smiley:

It’s true what you say about confidence. I think that it’s something which does hold back those who are really interested in learning a language. However, there are those who just don’t have enough interest, persistence, materials, the habit of study/contact with the language and the knowledge of how to actually approach the whole thing. That’s part of what you try to remedy, with this site and your blog and videos.

A minority of learners are logical? I’m not sure what to think about that. Don’t all humans have the ability to think logically? I don’t think that’s in doubt. Is it that you think that most people are unable to apply logic in the study of language? That would be interesting, even if to me, rather counter intuitive. I couldn’t imagine learning a language without the use of logical processes. It just feels so right! haha

(But, I do also learn with a great deal of exposure.)

Perhaps you could go into that a little more deeply, if you don’t mind.

Imyirtsesham – great, I didn’t know that P. Arguelles had said that explicitly.

It might be nonsense, but I thought that with the audio books I have at the moment, I’ll try and visualise them. It has worked to a certain degree, I get to see the story mostly in dark blurry pictures that are occasionally bright and sharp. I have no idea how this is effecting my understanding of the language though.

Steve, thanks for sharing how you process new language. I’m similar. That’s great to hear from someone who has become fluent in so many languages.

It’s funny, but I think many people stuck to what they learnt at school simply because it has the ‘education’ label attached to it. Even if they come away from so many years of learning a language with nothing more than the ability to order a beer in that language.

I don’t drink beer. :slight_smile: haha

Many people only want to be able to order beer! Unimaginable! For me, there are several languages which I want to learn very well, some others are just for reading but there is one which I’d even like to replace English in my brain (it was originally my native language but was removed early in my youth). :smiley: