The word Credibility in Language Learning

I read the recent post “Credibility and language learning” by Steve.

I like the idea of “the word credibility” Steve mentions.

I think this concept is applicable not only to my target language, English now but also to my native language, Japanese. When I try to write something, whether in English or in Japanese, I use words or phrases that I have enough familiarity with. I don’t use any of them if I have never heard or read them somewhere. I use them when they have enough credibility to me.

Obviously I sometimes try to use some words or phrases that I have not had much credit with them when I think they are the most suitable in the context. Yet I look up the words or phrases I try to use to confirm whether their usages are correct or not in the dictionary or on the internet in such a situation. When I am not sure of the correct usage, I have my writing corrected by tutors in a case of English.

I can do so when I write something but of course I cannot do so when speaking in general. So I try to use new vocabulary to me in my writing and have them corrected at first and after that I will be able to use them with confidence in my speaking.

Happily enough, I can get such a feedback both during and after discussions with tutors at LingQ. I think these kinds of feedbacks are somewhat like feedbacks that children can get from parents or teachers when they learn native languages. The difference between native languages and foreign languages is the extent of the exposure to languages and feedbacks from surroundings. I would like to increase the word credibility by using LingQ!

P.S. For example, I tried to use “credibility” and “credit” in my writing above. Yet I am not convinced whether these usages are correct or not. So I will submit this writing to my tutor.

Another thing I think of concerning the word credibility is that words or phrases that I acquire in a short period, for example, by cramming them into my mind using a words list without contexts or without enough exposure will be lost soon from my mind. It takes time, exposure and sometimes even patience for us in order to gain credibility from other people in our daily real lives. The same thing is true in language learning! We need time, enough exposure, and sometimes even a little bit of patience for words and phrases that are unfamiliar to us to gain enough credibility.

Hirohide, your writing above is really very good; however your use of “credit” isn’t so apt. To your credit, you have used “word credibility” in the way Steve used it. Opps! I see you wanted to submit to a tutor and didn’t request any feedback here. Please ignore the above and have a great weekend!

I must mention that ‘word credibility’ is a creation of Steve. It’s not something that you can generally use and people will understand at all. ‘word familiarity’ would be understood.

credibility is not the same as familiarity. I used the word credibility quite deliberately. Credibility is important. We learn better from texts that we think are credible examples of how the language is used. The first few times we encounter words or expressions we do not believe in them. After we have seen them in a few contexts we trust them more and start to use them. At least that is how I react. I put that out as a concept to hear the reaction of others.

To say that words gradual become more familiar is true, but trivial. The question is whether others find that words and structures become more credible to us.

I also think that we should not correct people who try to use words in new ways. I reminds me of a teacher I had in art in grade 4. I drew a hockey player with hockey pants, and she drew ski pants over the hockey player and told me that in winter people wear long pants. She was from somewhere in Europe and did not know what hockey players wear.

When I first read your blog entry, I took the thought a step further and reflected how I acquire words: rather than according ‘mere’ credibility to words, my brain seems to expect full security before it accepts words. This used to happen to me even in my mother tongue for new subjects. Familiarity only ever came after my brain had issued a certificate of trustworthiness, so to speak. It was not that my memory was bad, it just works differently, I was never able to learn things by rote.

I saw a video by Manfred Spitzer recently where he described how learning takes place, the moment the right stimulus is there, learning will happen. It doesn’t matter what we call it, the fact remains that the brain needs to be fully engaged. For some people this happens one way, for others another way.

Sanne can you provide a link to the Spitzer video?

Jolanda sent me the link some time ago and I was really grateful that I got the chance to see Manfred Spitzer in action. He is talking to a group of students and teachers. The lecture is in German, about 60 min.

Steve, I understand the difference of the words. I was simply saying that to most speakers, they won’t understand the usage ‘word credibility’. I can understand what you mean, because you explained it, but I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I wasn’t trying to ‘correct’ you in any way, but instead, letting a non-native speaker know that it isn’t something widely used. It’s not even jargon of a select “enlightened” few (yet hehe).


You feel that most speakers will not understand my use of the word credibility, even though non-native speaker Hirohide found it interesting.

I did not assume you were trying to correct me, but rather that you were advising Hirohide or other non-native speakers not to use the word in this way.

I think that this is an unnecessary restriction on the imagination with which we use and understand words. It is not not a matter of “enlightenment”, but one of allowing people to express themselves the way they want to and to imagine meaning the way they want, in other words to explore ideas and exchange thoughts through the use of words.

This is always going to be a point of contention. I like anybody else, has their own judgements when it comes to language (especially my native language). You have them too. I think we can both agree on that much.

I’m not a ‘word-creation national-socialist’, and I do like the creativity you showed there. Maybe it will catch on, maybe not. :slight_smile:

By the way, did you read the original post on my blog which started all of this? Just in case, here it is.

Credibility and language learning

The reason why I need a lot of input, listening and reading, in order to get used to words and phrases, has to do with the word “credibility” in a way. The thought just crossed my mind as I was reading in Russian on my deck this afternoon. In other words, only after I have seen or heard a word or phrase many times, does my brain accept that this is the way things are said in a language. If I just see one example, or even a few, I feel that I am still, consciously or subconsciously, reluctant to use that word or phrase. I don’t yet believe in this word or phrase.

At some point, with enough exposure, words and phrases, including how they are used, become established, credible, and I start using them with confidence, perhaps timidly at first, but then increasingly naturally.

Thank you very much for your kind words. I am relieved to hear from you that you could understand at least what I tried to express.

Thank you very much for your comment. I understand that “the word credibility” is a Steve-made expression. So, I expressed that I liked the idea or the concept itself and put the URL of the Steve’s blog entry for other LingQ members to understand it easily. I know that we need some explanations when we use unfamiliar expressions for other people. I think that Steve explained the idea of “the word credibility” very well in his blog. Even I, a non-native speaker, understood it very well. In any case, of course, I will use this expression carefully with some explanations when I use this among other people.

As always, your thought on language learning is inspirational and motivates me to learn a language naturally and enjoyably. I always enjoy reading your blog posts and watching YouTube video posts.

Yes, Steve, I did read the blog post before I even saw this thread. I’d calling the weaving of words into the web of language knowledge by repeated exposure “familiarity”. That’s just a matter of choice of words.