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TAC 2014 - dEhiN - Page 9 - UniLang

TAC 2014 - dEhiN

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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby dEhiN » 2014-10-19, 1:30

Wow, a lot of discussion suddenly erupted over language learning! (And here I was thinking people were mostly just skulking on my TAC :D)

I used to have a problem with these public "polyglots" as well, especially Benny! But now they don't bother me. I think it's because imo there will always be those who prefer to be in the limelight and even want to exploit it. This is especially the case with social media and sites like YT. That's not to say these public polyglots don't know their languages. Also, as Saim mentioned, fluency, or in general the level claimed by these polyglots, is the big question. I think there's a YT video of Tim Doner from March 2013 where he says how some languages he's advanced in and others just beginning. Of course since there's no standard definition of a polyglot (which is weird considering bilingual generally means you speak 2 languages at an advanced level), I supposed anyone who knows a bit of multiple languages can claim to be a polyglot.

All of that said, I do think some of these public polyglots are more talented at learning languages; or at least, for every hour they spend on language learning, they learn more and/or retain the information longer than others. Add to that the plasticity of the brain concept and for these 'talented' ones, as they progress on their overall journey of learning languages, their ability grows with time.

Lastly, on this issue of these public polyglots, I think that in general those who aren't good at a particular skill won't be able to distinguish anyone who seems to be good, or is definitely better than them (that is, displays some skill, no matter how small). While those who have skill and practice it, they will be able to distinguish who is good and who isn't. When I was more into music, the same held true. I met people who couldn't sing or play instruments who thought anyone who could do that was amazing! But being a musician myself, I could tell the various types of musicians apart: those who had some ability enough to get by, those who had good raw talent but hadn't worked on polishing it, those who had ability because they worked hard, and those who had raw talent and worked at polishing it. I imagine the same holds true for language learners. We who work at learning languages can identify which of these public polyglots might be true polyglots, and which may not be. But the general populous couldn't tell. (Nor, I imagine would they want to be able to tell. The average person has probably neither the time nor inclination to learn how to determine whether someone truly knows 20 languages or not).
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby dEhiN » 2014-10-19, 2:53

I broke up my reply into two posts - the former regarding my thoughts on public polyglots, and this one on doing a few versus multiple languages.

Firstly, thanks all for your thoughts and sharing your experiences. I don't have many experiences to relate, as I didn't start learning languages until 3 years ago, and even that only with French.

But after reading some of the advice linked to me, two things that stand out is that all the advice encourages you to stick with one language at a time, and that this is if your goal is fluency. I'm sure anyone's goal in learning a language is fluency...well, most people's goal. But I think the motivation behind it is a big factor.

It seems to me that with a lot of reasons people learn another language, the motivation/reason means that you will want to become fairly proficient in the language as quickly as possible. In that case, then I can see why focusing on the one language, doing 1 hr every day, etc. is necessary.

But if you just like learning languages, learning how different languages work, different ways to say the same thing, then you may not care how long it takes you to become proficient.

I guess for me, I'm vacillating because I'm torn between a desire to become proficient in at least one language (I don't count English since it's my mother tongue) and a desire to explore the world of languages and language learning. The desire to become proficient in at least one language stems from wanting to have a new skill to add to my abilities, which would help with say work and general life. The desire to just learn is content to go at a slow pace with each individual language in order to learn/study many languages at once.

I don't have any experiences to speak of in regard to what's the "best" or "fastest" way to become proficient in a language. But I do know from experience that I've seen my abilities to juggle multiple languages (and keep them straight) grow as I've actually attempted to do just that!

So maybe if I want to continue learning many languages I need to be content to go slow, since despite my constant meta-thinking I am improving.
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby Saim » 2014-10-19, 9:02

IpseDixit wrote:That's exactly the problem! Honestly, considering his arguable results, I don't think he's in the position to advice anybody.


 (ca) Jo vaig aplicar el seu mètode abans de tenir ni puta idea de com s'haurien d'aprendre les llengües, i em va funcionar. Sense els seus consells no hagués arribat a aquest nivell de català o holandès.

De veritat, la majoria de la gent que vol aprendre una llengua comença a llençar diners al problema, o mirar dues coses sense fer res d'estudi consistent, o més important, aplicar l'idioma a la pràctica. Aquest estiu al curs de polonès he conegut molta gent que "no estava preparada per parlar polonès", cosa que és absurda - per això valoro la popularització de la seva teoria, vull que aquestes idees tinguin alguna presència fora del nostre cercle de friquisme lingüístic, diguéssim.

 (en) I applied his method when I had no idea how to learn languages, and it worked for me. Without his advice I wouldn't have gotten to this level of Catalan or Dutch.

In reality most people when they want to learn a language start throwing money at the problem, or look at one or two things in a book without any consistent study, and most importantly without actually applying the language in practice. This summer at the Polish course I met lots of people who were not "ready to speak Polish", which is absurd - that's why I value the popularization of his ideas, I want them to have some presence outside of our circle of language nerds.

BTW I've just checked out his channel and I've found out he's also written a book! By the title of "fluent in three months" (therefore a misleading title if you say that "fluent in three months" is not really the true purpose)!


I agree that the title is hyperbolic, it's meant to draw your attention. When you actually read what he has to say the "three months" thing takes a backseat, although putting some goal is obviously key. Too many people want to "learn French" without saying "I want to be intermediate by December" or whatever. In this case it might even be better to set goals that you're likely to come short of (as Benny has many times on his blog); "aim for the moon and you'll land in the stars".

Estic d'acord en què el títol és hiperbòlic, però és perquè t'hi fixis només. Quan comences a llegir el que diu allò de "fluïdesa amb tres mesos" deixa de ser el punt focal, tot i que tenir algun objectiu és clau. Massa gent vol "aprendre el francès" sense dir alguna cosa del tipus "vull tenir un coneixement intermedi abans de desembre". En aquest cas pot ser que sigui millor posar-se una meta que no és gaire probable que compleixis (tal com ha fet Benny més d'un cop al bloc); "aim for the moon and you'll land in the stars".

As for Tim Doner, I would say it's mainly fault of the media which have acritically taken for true the claim that he speaks 20+ languages and have put him on a pedestral, and I have a hunch that his ego has gotten inflated by all this media attention.


Yes it was a stupid media thing that made language learning look like it's some kind of party trick. He's said as much himself. ("It became a bit of a media circus where people wanted to sensationalize my story".)

Sí, és una estupidesa dels mitjans que fa que l'aprenentatge dels idiomes s'assembli a algun tipus de truc divertit però no gaire seriós. Ell mateix ho ha dit.

dEhiN wrote: Of course since there's no standard definition of a polyglot (which is weird considering bilingual generally means you speak 2 languages at an advanced level),


Actually some linguists differentiate bilinguals (people who grew up speaking two languages) and biglots (people who are able to speak two languages).

dEhiN wrote:I guess for me, I'm vacillating because I'm torn between a desire to become proficient in at least one language (I don't count English since it's my mother tongue) and a desire to explore the world of languages and language learning.


In that case I would recommend bringing one language up to an upper-intermediate level, and then go back to trying to get the more broad vision.

Or you could even differentiate between two types of learning. You could make French (or whatever language) the minimum - whenever you have time to study languages, you study some French (ideally daily). Then when you've already done some French in a given day you can look over whatever other language in a less serious way.
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-10-19, 14:15

 (en) I'm happy to see that Tim Doner has actually managed to stay down-to-earth despite all the attention he got, so yeah I would say it was just fault of the media, it's really shameful to see where the quality of journalim has winded up...

 (lld) Son content de veder che Tim Doner é stat bon de restèr coi piesc jabas a despet de duta l'atenzion che l'à rezevù, donca dijesse che l'é stat demò cauja di media, l'é delbon da se tegnir de mèl veder coche la calità del giornalism la se é arbassèda...

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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby Meera » 2014-10-19, 17:20

IpseDixit wrote:
In fact, the entire point of Benny's blog is to give advice to "normal" people so they can do exactly the same thing


That's exactly the problem! Honestly, considering his arguable results, I don't think he's in the position to advice anybody. BTW I've just checked out his channel and I've found out he's also written a book! By the title of "fluent in three months" (therefore a misleading title if you say that "fluent in three months" is not really the true purpose)! And its ad seems quite pretentious to me. Anyway IMO this is the crucial point; as long as you just have a YT channel it's not that much of a problem of course, but when you become some sort of guru of polyglottery because of that, well I do find that kinda irritating and almost offensive. I mean, pedagogy is a serious discipline and I don't like how he's banalizing it.


Yes exactly, he isn't claiming to be better at it but in a subtle way he is. He is in no position to write books on language learning especially one entitled "fluent in 3 months", which is impossible in my opinion. It's kind of like the Pimsuleur 30 Day method, it doesn't work.
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby Meera » 2014-10-19, 17:26

Saim wrote:
dEhiN wrote:I guess for me, I'm vacillating because I'm torn between a desire to become proficient in at least one language (I don't count English since it's my mother tongue) and a desire to explore the world of languages and language learning.


In that case I would recommend bringing one language up to an upper-intermediate level, and then go back to trying to get the more broad vision.

Or you could even differentiate between two types of learning. You could make French (or whatever language) the minimum - whenever you have time to study languages, you study some French (ideally daily). Then when you've already done some French in a given day you can look over whatever other language in a less serious way.


Yes this is exactly what I am trying to say! David if you want to function in any language and get past the basics it's essential to focus on one or two until you get to intermediate, by doing more it just slows you down. Even if you aren't really interested in getting fluent and just like the idea of how languages work, I'd still recommend at least trying to get to to fluency in one because even though all languages work differently you will still have something to relate it too. I'm not sure if this is true or not, as I'm not a linguist but I'd still think it would help.
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby voron » 2014-10-20, 8:17

Saim wrote:I applied his method when I had no idea how to learn languages, and it worked for me. Without his advice I wouldn't have gotten to this level of Catalan or Dutch.

I agree with Saim. I especially loved Benny's relatively recent video report on his girlfriend's learning Esperanto. It is not the hardest language there to learn but she was able to communicate with others after just a few weeks and you could see what a boost of confidence it gave her. She was like "Now I'm up for learning Russian, I have confidence that I'll be able to learn it and I know methods to do it".

I love Timothy Doner too. His Russian may not be the best but he got the basics down and he's improving by communicating. And his Farsi received a lot of praise in comments to his youtube videos.
Last edited by voron on 2014-10-20, 10:25, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby eskandar » 2014-10-20, 8:47

voron wrote:And his Farsi received a lot of praise in comments to his youtube videos.
This has less to do with his abilities and more with the attitudes of different language speakers. French is one of the most commonly studied second languages in many parts of the world, and French speakers often have a bit of an attitude about the language, so someone who speaks pretty good French with an accent might not impress native speakers very much. However Persian is not a commonly studied second language, especially by Westerners, so Iranians typically fall all over themselves whenever they see a Westerner who is learning Persian. Doner's Persian is not that bad, but even when someone absolutely mangles the language (the equivalent of someone saying "hello, me talk English, English much good, me like") Iranians will often lavish them with praise ("WOW YOU ARE FLUENT, AMAZING").
Tracking my progress here. Please correct my mistakes in any language.

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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby Meera » 2014-10-20, 19:12

This is true with a lot of Asian languages I think or languages not commonly learned. I wonder if part of it to is that they aren't used to hearing an English accent so if the person can carry a conservation or say more than "salaam". One time a guy learning Pashto came into my cousin's restaurant and my dad was so impressed he gave him free desert and the guy only said two words.
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby linguoboy » 2014-10-20, 19:53

Meera wrote:This is true with a lot of Asian languages I think or languages not commonly learned.

Yep. I once had a Greek restauranteur ready to "give you the restaurant" (in my father's words) because I said "ευχαριστώ". I've gotten similar reactions from Koreans, Catalans, and others.
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-10-20, 20:08

When I was growing up, I could say pretty much anything in somebody's language, and invariably, the person I was speaking to would not only be extremely impressed but also say that they'd find me a nice girlfriend/wife from their home country (because of course somebody who spoke their language so well couldn't possibly be anything but 100% straight, right? :P), often going so far as to promise me that she'd make me all the dishes from that country that they assumed were my favorites.

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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby Meera » 2014-10-20, 20:18

linguoboy wrote:
Meera wrote:This is true with a lot of Asian languages I think or languages not commonly learned.

Yep. I once had a Greek restauranteur ready to "give you the restaurant" (in my father's words) because I said "ευχαριστώ". I've gotten similar reactions from Koreans, Catalans, and others.


That's so cool! Once I had gotten free coffee in Dunkin Donuts for just saying a little bit in Bengali. The guy was so excited he basically told everyone he worked with, "this girl speaks my language!" It was when I first started too, so I really only knew how to say hi how are you? And every time I came in for coffee he always remembered me. I had a job teaching English to adults, and we had a lot of Koreans and they'd get so excited when I said anyeonghaseyo and that it is the only thing I can say in Korean. :P
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby linguoboy » 2014-10-20, 20:25

There was one Korean couple who basically treated me to whatever they were fixing for themselves. It got to the point where I didn't even bother to order off the menu any more and just paid them what I thought was fair. I was very very sad when they lost their business. (And not just for that reason; they were genuinely kind and interesting people.) In this case, the affection was based as much or more on my cultural knowledge. They were excited simply to find out that I knew the names of common Korean dishes and had chosen a Korean name.
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby Meera » 2014-10-20, 20:26

vijayjohn wrote:When I was growing up, I could say pretty much anything in somebody's language, and invariably, the person I was speaking to would not only be extremely impressed but also say that they'd find me a nice girlfriend/wife from their home country (because of course somebody who spoke their language so well couldn't possibly be anything but 100% straight, right? :P), often going so far as to promise me that she'd make me all the dishes from that country that they assumed were my favorites.


I've gotten this too! One Hindi speaker told me, "you are all ready to marry an Indian boy." I've gotten proposals directly from some Pakistani, Arab and Turkish men to the point where it got creepy. I was really good friends with a Nepali family here and they ran a restaurant on the outskirts of Philly. My male friend and I went a lot and we became really good friends with them. So my friend looked up a couple of phrases in Nepali and Tibetan to talk to them, and the mom asked him if he would marry her oldest daughter. I felt bad for him, it was so awkward.
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby Meera » 2014-10-20, 20:28

linguoboy wrote:There was one Korean couple who basically treated me to whatever they were fixing for themselves. It got to the point where I didn't even bother to order off the menu any more and just paid them what I thought was fair. I was very very sad when they lost their business. (And not just for that reason; they were genuinely kind and interesting people.) In this case, the affection was based as much or more on my cultural knowledge. They were excited simply to find out that I knew the names of common Korean dishes and had chosen a Korean name.


That is so cool! It probably helped your Korean a lot too. That is so sad they lost the business :(
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-10-20, 20:31

Meera wrote:I was really good friends with a Nepali family here and they ran a restaurant on the outskirts of Philly. My male friend and I went a lot and we became really good friends with them. So my friend looked up a couple of phrases in Nepali and Tibetan to talk to them, and the mom asked him if he would marry her oldest daughter. I felt bad for him, it was so awkward.

Wow, was she really that serious? That's just crazy! :shock: At least in my case, the marriage proposals or whatever were always vague. Like they'd find me a girl, so they didn't have a specific girl in mind, and I never seriously expected them to actually go through with it haha. :P
That is so sad they lost the business :(

Yeah, I agree. I guess it happens but still. :(

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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby linguoboy » 2014-10-20, 20:39

vijayjohn wrote:At least in my case, the marriage proposals or whatever were always vague. Like they'd find me a girl, so they didn't have a specific girl in mind, and I never seriously expected them to actually go through with it haha.

I'm fortunate that I've been old enough to be written off as a lost cause. And now when the question comes up I can honestly say that I am married.
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby Meera » 2014-10-20, 20:48

vijayjohn wrote:Wow, was she really that serious? That's just crazy! :shock: At least in my case, the marriage proposals or whatever were always vague. Like they'd find me a girl, so they didn't have a specific girl in mind, and I never seriously expected them to actually go through with it haha. :P


Yeah she was serious. The daughter did end up marrying an American guy. I seriously think it was for citizenship because the rest of the family got sent back to Nepal. She is still trying to get them over here now.
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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-10-20, 22:37

linguoboy wrote:now when the question comes up I can honestly say that I am married.

Yeah, congratulations! :D

I didn't mind the vague marriage proposals, tbh (my dad witnessed probably all of them and told me this was the ultimate sign of acceptance, and I just believed him lol), but I did mind the time that we were in Croatia for my cousin's wedding and everybody there was so nice to us. Then just before the ceremony began, my uncle told the bride's best friend that he should find me a girl. That guy just smiled and nodded politely, and I was just standing there thinking, Please do not take my uncle seriously, pleeeeeeeeeeease. :lol:

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Re: TAC 2014 - dEhiN

Postby voron » 2014-10-21, 7:21

A couple days ago I was actually shouted at for knowing the language. I was picking my friend from the airport and I asked a staff lady where the international arrivals were. She was all nice and courteous helping a Japanese girl to use the ticket machine so she just waved her hand at me (probably showing me the direction or meaning 'I am busy, go', I didn't get it). I asked again, and she got all mad and started shouting at me. :para:

(I doubt anyone takes me for a Turk here -- it's immediately obvious from my looks and from my accent that I'm not -- but if a person is conversationally fluent they'd assume you have lived here for long so you get a lower priority in their help queue).

Sorry David for stealing your thread.


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