Motivation more important than technology

Moi non plus :slight_smile:

I actually think past a certain level transcripts don’t help, they hinder.

Well, I learned a few languages back in my youth, before I ever heard the word “Internet” (to show my age even more: I discovered the WWW during a visit to USC in LA in the early nineties, it took me a while to understand what it really was about) and now I’m learning new languages taking advantage of every single technological advantage I can think of (Lingq, youtube videos, spaced-repetition software, google searches of different ways to express an idea, …)
I certainly don’t feel that I’m “pulling things up on a freaking screen”. Learning languages is still a hard, hard, hard task. It still demands tremendous commitment, you still have to keep going day after day, try to make sense of obscure book excerpts or pick up some phrases in the dialogue of a movie. Sometimes you advance quickly, sometimes you come to a near halt but still force yourself to read a bit, listen a bit so you don’t miss the day.
I even doubt that modern technology really makes learning “easier” at all. It does take away some of the most unenjoyable parts of the process, such as leafing through a paper dictionary over and over, and over again. That’s almost a miracle for those of us who took days to read the first pages of our first novel in a foreign language. But we did it anyway and enjoyed the reading. In this case, technology mostly saves time, not so much effort per se.
For me, the main advantage of technology is not that it makes things easier but that it gets me in touch with the cultures and speakers of the languages I want to learn. I felt so far away in the old days. I only had my dictionary, my textbook. Very rarely could I buy an interesting book and listening to the language was harder still. I saved money for
long time to buy a short wave radio just for that purpose. It helped a lot but there wasn’t much to choose from and the signal had a penchant for getting lost just when things were getting interesting. There was nobody to talk to, nobody to discuss with.

And this is my point in this thread. For me technology is mostly a way to feel part of the culture. You can read the language whenever you want, watch the same videos speakers watch and engage in conversations and discussions (I am, right now, discussing in a foreign language abouta language learning with people living in the other corner of the world). I’m keeping in touch with the culture and that’s what motivation, real motivation for language learning, comes from.

And yet…I’ll venture a guess that English was one of the first you learned…am I right?

You write English today virtually at native level. So maybe the old way could deliver some results? :slight_smile:

I would say it’s higher than standard native level. Most natives can’t write that well anymore. French natives are getting pretty bad too. I know they’re not so great when i can spot mistakes in their writing despite being a poor writer myself.

Thank you very much to both of you for your kind words.
English was, in fact, my second foreign language. Definitely learned the old way

I absolutely agree with the way you study is important, but that goes along with having a good teacher, and motivation. Or else, it can be pointless.

Do you have an example of a philology student who graduated without feeling comfortable reading in a language? I was forced to focus much of my graduate degree in philology, and I feel it only improved my understanding of the language. I wasn’t expected to master Hebrew, instead given the tools to be able to analyze the material effectively. I feel more confident reading a text now, as I feel I have a deeper understanding than if I didn’t take those courses. I could be an outlier, or I can thank my teachers. Did you have a different experience?

-Cody C.
P.S. I also was in a slightly different field than most philologists, and this may have contributed to this as well.

I do have examples, and I’m going to give you two of them. First, if you can read spanish, there is an excellent article entitled “La gran estafa de la filología clásica”. Secondly, In this video (How to read and speak Ancient Greek fluently - YouTube), although its main purpose is to suggest how to learn ancient greek, the author explains what was his personal experience as a learner.

With regard to the benefits which you experienced, I’m not denying that you can obtain great insights and improve your understanding of the language by enrolling in universitiy programs. What I wanted to say is that those programs which are based on grammar-translation techniques have the deficiency that translation skills are different from reading skills, so students might feel deeply insatisfied with their personal abilities after graduating.

I never was a major student of classical philology, among other reasons, because is not possible to study this major in my country. I had one semester of ancient greek with a great teacher, so I’m acquainted with the nature of studying with a grammar-translation approach. I do recognize that explicit study of grammar is of great help, but instead of translating, I would say that the usage of parallel texts is a much better tool to attain reading fluency.