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Polyglot Conference Video on PolyNots

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I think there's a trap either way. One can pin one's hopes on immersion, or on grammar books. But some combination is needed. The genius of LingQ is not that it obviates the need for studying grammar, but that it brings some order to the chaos of immersion.

Studying grammar, which I do, is not the same as practicing grammar or doing exercises, which I don't do. But in the end it is up to each person to decide what they enjoy doing and what works for them.

@creimann - agreed. I have seen videos and listened to people who have focused on listening and reading, and claim to do very little grammar study. Compared to a saturation (balanced) learner, their vocabulary is a little more extensive, but their grammar decidedly worse. They also tend to struggle a little more, and appear less smooth, which I attribute to less time spent on conversation...probably nothing to do with grammar. Basically, if you want to have good grammar, study and practice grammar at some point. If you don't care, then ignore this advice.

Once again about the lingQ word count. Yes, you can use it to tell that you have made progress. For example, if it says 10,000, you probably know twice as many words as when it said 5,000. And you can use it to help you choose appropriate articles to read and listen too. But you can't use it to tell you how close to your goal you are, because you can't tie it to the real world, CEFR level, etc. This is why I suggest testing users.

Here is Krashen's view on the relative unimportance of grammar instruction instruction with some references to research.

Success in language learning depends on the attitude of the learner, the time spent with the language and the attentiveness the learner. Therefore, it is difficult to compare the effectiveness of different techniques, since we usually don't know enough about the different learners' attitudes, time spent, and degree of effectiveness. So I think it is best to focus on doing those tasks which we most enjoy doing. This keeps us motivated. This ensures that we spend enough time. Probably this also heightens our attentiveness to the language.

I am closer to Krashen in terms of what I like to do. That is how we have designed LingQ. I do review grammar, but I don't do exercises. If I enjoyed doing exercises, I would do them. I don't think my language learning suffers because I don't grammar exercises.

The important thing about input-based learning, is that it creates the potential for us to become good speakers. It builds up our familiarity with the language, or ability to understand, and our vocabulary. Ultimately, however, in order to speak well we have to speak a lot.

The known word count at LingQ is relevant to the CEFR levels. For each level there is certainly a minimum vocabulary level required. I refer to passive vocabulary. These passive vocabularies are not enough to attain the CEFR levels, they just make it possible. As to how many known words would be needed for each level in the CEFR, we would have to do a study it to determine that.

I agree regarding CEFR. The best way to get a reasonable correlation is testing, imo. But there is an easier/less accurate way. Use "active" vocabulary levels established for CEFR (assuming these exist). Compare them to active vocabulary levels predicted by the LingQ word number. The hard part is estimating the word families type of vocabulary levels given the LingQ word number. This can probably be estimated by a simple ratio. And you could probably assume active vocabulary is 50% of passive vocabulary.

Not so simple. I have never seen estimated levels of active vocabulary required for the CEFR levels. Not simple to estimate active vocabulary. You would have to either record people speaking or takewhat people write, and analyze it. The sample would have to be quite large. It could be done but I don't see us doing it here at LIngQ.

The passive vocabulary levels cannot predict the active vocabulary levels, in my view. Passive vocabulary will become activated through lots of speaking and writing. There is no obvious correlation.

Paul Nation estimated that the ratio between word families and words in English was 1 to 1.6, I believe. One would have to look at his work to see how he defines word families.

So I prefer to stay with the passive vocabulary, or our known words count, because it is easy to measure. It is a valid indicator of one's language potential. The rest is up to each learner.

I loved the presentation and was lucky to be present in Budapest. Lots of things to think about and many useful ideas. Anthony is a hilarious presenter!

The presentation is being transcribed and the subtitles will be translated to other languages. Hopefully it'll appear here on lingq as a lesson if the license permits...

I found Anthony’s presentation highly entertaining, and so very inspiring. I didn't need to have to agree with everything said in order to benefit from it. I didn’t go along with the ‘short term memory’ thing for example, but who cares? I would personally love to see more presentations done by Anthony.

Interestingly, the passive/active vocabulary discussions have made me realise that I’ve been unconsciously recording words as known for LingQ purposes only when in fact they were really my active vocabulary. [not up to date yet either]. I suspect several members are doing this ie. not marking words known until they think they have learned them – eg. in my case, being able to comprehend and use them correctly in tests and written work, and also orally. Maybe even handwrite them. However, I do agree with Steve that it’s not necessary to know words actively for LingQ vocabulary tally purposes.

I took a break from my University language studies to turn my passive vocabulary into active vocabulary before I advanced any further. Except that I originally didn’t couch it in those terms in my mind. All I know is that I was frustrated from acing exams, but couldn’t say much, even though I’m really B2 in Japanese say.

Now I find going back over the nuts & bolts, and using such courses as Michel Thomas and Pimsleur very good for acquiring active vocabulary. They won’t necessarily give me a large active vocabulary, but they certainly are giving me more confidence to speak the language and use what I already know. We have to find what works for ourselves.


It is interesting that often those things that are directed at beginners such as easy graded readers, or grammar or Michel Thomas or Pimsleur, are actually most effectively studied after we have had enough exposure with the language

I think the reason for this is that when we are first confronted with these beginner programs, however much they try to gently introduce us to the language, the experience is overwhelming. Everything is new and strange. We don't know what to focus on or what to grab onto. We think we will never learn this language.

When we go back to these beginner materials at a later stage, after we have had experience with the language, we now know what to look for. It's as if we were able to take our life experience as a 50 or 60-year-old and go back and become a 20-year-old again. We would do a better job.

And so it is with language learning. As experienced learners, as people who have already been confronted with so many different aspects of the language, we now know what we want to focus on. We don't have to worry about acquiring unknown words or wondering what things mean. We just zoom in on those aspects of structure or grammar which we know cause us trouble.

@Steve -Oh, you are so right. I joked with my husband the other day that I wanted to call you Obi Wan Kanobe (except you’re *way* better looking). Haha! I’m using Assimil for both Japanese and Chinese at the moment, and it’s incredible what I’m noticing. Plus I can read the Japanese script fluently anyhow. I can do the hell I like on LingQ as you said. I don’t need anyone to come along and start scrutinising stats to fit CEFR levels et cetera. I plan on sitting JLPT & HSK exams, but won’t get hung up on LingQ stat correlations either. Your ‘Linguist on Language’ posts are particularly interesting of late.

In my case, I have accumulated years of passive experience in Japanese, commencing in 1975 (yeh, during the Vietnam War, wow). Then I studied it on and off over the years. I was reading & writing Japanese before all my native Japanese Uni lecturers were even born, which feels strange. I've stopped feeling regret for time wasted, and now focus on all the wonderful language study I'll be doing in the next 51 years! That will take me to age 102...

By the way, I am *so* looking forward to speaking to you on Skype in both Japanese and Chinese some day! Noooo, not yet! :)

You may judge how out of touch I am with modern culture by the fact that I had to look up Obi Wan Kanobe on google to find out who he was.

I look forward to our conversations in Japanese and Chinese. Meanwhile I enjoy reading about the different paths that people take towards their language learning goals. I see LingQ as a community of people with common interests, and a constantly improving source of resources for language learning.

I had to google his name to find the correct spelling!

You guys must be talking about Ben Kanobe.

Steve & others....I couldn't resist...check out Steve's "new" profile pic! Haha!


Steve as a Jedi knight!?

Does that mean that Friedemann is Count Dooku? Or Darth Sidious perhaps?

(I can think of a pretty obvious candidate for Darth Maul too, but he's going through a rough patch right now so I'll say no more...)

Yes, I go through cycles. Exposure, grammar, exposure, grammar, make fool of self, exposure, grammar, etc.

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