My 7 Goals of Language Learning - Steve Kaufmann

  1. Acquire words. Passive vocabulary is the best measure of my potential in a language.

  2. Read a lot. Reading is easier to understand than listening. I may read new material or re-read old material, but I read every day.

  3. Listen everywhere. I listen every day, either repeatedly as a beginner, or more extensively as I progress in a language.

  4. Speak when I have the chance. With enough input, I find it easier to speak and do so without worrying about how I do.

  5. Focus on grammar at the right time. With enough exposure to the language, enough errors in speaking, I circle back to improve my usage.

  6. Write as required. Writing is a great way to improve but how much I write depends on my needs.

  7. Culture. My ultimate goal in learning a language is to connect with the culture and history of the language. I can start doing this at any time, but find it most satisfying only after I have achieved a good level of comprehension and familiarity with the language.

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Any idea why Steve decided to replace his previous background contained actual books with a sheet containing only a picture of books?

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AFAIK Steve operates from at least two different locations, his home in Vancouver and a winter hideout in a golf resort. The real bookshelf being in the former. He explains his reasons for the new backdrop here: Common Language Learning Problems - YouTube

In regard to the video, while I’m a fan, I feel that some of the recent videos somehow lack substance, and don’t offer many new insights to long-time followers. Maybe all seven reasons could have been discussed in one video?

Hm, a few quick comments:

  1. Reading. listening, speaking, and writing per se are skills, but they aren´t goals - at least no SMART goals (3 million words read, 500 listening hours, etc.) that could be useful in any way.

It´s the same reason why “fluency” isn´t a useful language goal, it´s just “NON-SMART”, i.e. pure vagueness…

  1. For the majority of languages that have writing systems, it doesn´t make sense to separate “reading” and “listening” at the beginning and intermediate stages.
    It´s better if learners do both simultaneously, esp. for languages that have a sophisticated pronunciation (e.g.French or Portuguese), pitch accents (e.g. Swedish or Japanese) or tones (Mandarin, Vietnamese, etc.).

  2. Grammar:
    For Indo-European learners of Asian languages, for example, it´s better to integrate grammar sooner rather than later. Otherwise, they run the risk of projecting their Indo-European language and communication “logic” onto the Asian language to be studied.

Example: Japanese

  • In communication processes, Japanese tend to attribute to the situation (and not the actor) in contrast to Indo-Europeans, who tend to attribute to the actor (not the situation).
  • In the language itself: Japanese follows a non-egocentric perspective in contrast to English (and other Indo-European languages), which follows an egocentric perspective.

If Indo-European learners don´t understand such basic distinctions right from the start, they´re likely to create a complete Indo-European / Japanese “mess” for themselves because they remain prisoners of their Indo-European coordinate system (dito for grammars / textbooks that project the Indo-European “logic” onto Japanese).

For some background info, see these highly instructive videos by “Cure Dolly”:

PS -
The basic distinctions mentioned above also refer to a (weak) version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: Sapir–Whorf hypothesis (Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis)