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Steve's Youtube Videos - General Language Learning, Do we need the language classroom?

Do we need the language classroom?

First of all, I should say that I have my son and his family visiting from London, so I have two additional little grandchildren.

I have one son, Mark, who lives here and he has three kids and my son, Eric, who lives in London, has two kids and they're visiting, so it's pretty hectic. I've even got my brother from Toronto coming to visit next week. So we're going to be pretty busy here, but I did want to make a video because there's been an interesting sort of exchange on my YouTube channel. A person who calls himself Cheeky something or other commented on a video that I did quite a while ago where I talked about the future of the iPad and mobile devices when it comes to language learning.

I think they are phenomenal and I sort of compared them to the old clay tablet the Roman school children would carry around. Of course the iPad – and it doesn't have to be the iPad, any of these electronic tablets enable you to read. They enable you to look up words you don't know. You can store a tremendous amount of text and audio and even video there. You can communicate via Skype with native speakers. You can review flashcards. I mean there are so many things you can do on these mobile devices.

I use my iPad regularly.

On LingQ I prefer to create my links at the computer, but I don't read then. I go off and I can read in the comfort of sitting in my living room on my iPad. I can set my iPad up on my elliptical trainer. So I'm exercising and I have downloaded the audio which is running on my mp3 player. I could do it through the iPad, but I just don't. It's more convenient for me to have it going in the background. I'm jogging, I'm reading and with my finger I'm poking at words that I don't know as they pop up so I can keep up and I'm listening to the text. I do that for 25 minutes and it's a tremendous exercise of interacting with the language. I'm sure there will be more and more applications developed for iPhone, iPad or android or whatever, which to me is quite revolutionary. Someone came on and said that these iPads are a distraction and that, essentially, you have to have that face-to-face interaction between the teacher and the learner in order for learning to take place.

We've had quite a lively exchange and so I guess the question comes up, what is the future role of a classroom or a teacher insofar as language learning is concerned. I've often said that I believe massive input is almost a precondition for being able to learn grammar. That without this exposure to the language, the grammar explanations don't stick. I've said that it's very difficult and this is based on my experience as a learner and watching other people learn. It's very difficult to learn these rules, study a few words and try and put them together because all of these grammar concepts take a long time to sink in. It requires a lot of exposure and experience with the language before these explanations start to make sense and start to stick and, therefore, my preference is to focus on listening and reading, vocabulary accumulation so that I have a more solid base in comprehension so that I can understand the language. I don't worry about speaking for six months or for a year, depending on the language. I find that when I start to speak or if I have the need to speak, the bigger my vocabulary, the more familiar I am with the language, the better I understand what I hear, the better I do. So then what is the role of the classroom?

Well, the role of the classroom is not going to go away because most people aren't motivated enough to learn on their own. Most people believe they can only learn in a classroom, so the idea that there are all these resources available on the Internet is relatively new. I find that the explanations of grammar I can find all over the Internet, so I don't have to sit in the classroom and hope that the issue I have difficulty with is the one the teacher is going to focus on that day. I can zoom in on those issues that I'm interested in. Now, I want to backtrack and say that at LingQ I would say the best tutors are people who are professional teachers.

Teachers, whether it be Evgueny in St. Petersburg, whether it be Rinehart in Vienna. I'm not going to name everybody, but I deal with a lot of tutors. So that's the second issue, I need tutors. Once I have spent enough time with the language, be it six months or more, then I need to talk to tutors, I need the tutors to point out my mistakes, I need to sometimes ask them questions.

What also happens in the case of LingQ is you have tutors who create content about different issues of grammar and put them in our library so we can listen to them over and over again.

We can listen to them in the target language. Whether it be ’s content in German or Evgueny's in Russian, whomever, I can listen to it over and over again. So I'm listening and reading and also focusing on those grammar issues that I'm ready to focus on, that I want to focus on. So the role of the teacher remains important, first of all, as a stimulus.

If I know that I'm going to be talking to my tutor it kind of keeps me going. I want to show my tutor that I'm improving. The tutor is very often a source of encouragement, a source of stimulus, but it's not so much a matter of explaining things. That's the thing, the teacher as an explainer. I just don't see that as such an important role because the theoretical explanation is not going to do it. You have to see the patterns over and over again, refer over and over again perhaps to some grammar rules where the learner has the initiative.

So in my exchange, of course, with this person on the iPad and language learning or something like that, in fact, I might put a link to that particular video, he was on and on about how if you don't come to the classroom you can't learn. It's very difficult because there are five different future tenses. I mean, yeah, you can make the language sound as complicated as you want. I don't think anyone can absorb five future tenses at one sitting, but if a learner had enough exposure to the language bit by bit by reviewing certain grammar rules, either on their own or by having their writing or their conversational language corrected, they'll start to notice these things more and more. Many people tell me at LingQ that they have learned much more with us than they have in a more traditional classroom setting.

That's not to condemn the teacher. I think there are lots of excellent teachers, but in a classroom with 15 or 20 other students the teacher decides the agenda and I think the learner needs to decide the agenda and the learner needs to control their learning. The other thing people like to criticize me for is that I'm just out promoting and pushing this product I'm selling and stuff like that. Of course I'm promoting LingQ, but why did I create LingQ in the first place? Because I think it's helpful to language learning. Now, of course, we have a lot of costs at LingQ, so we're obviously interested in encouraging people to come and use it and the more people who come and use it, the more we can invest in making it better. That's no different than the commercial interest that a teacher or an ESL school has in promoting their form of language instruction services. It's the same. Ultimately, what matters the most is where the best return on investment for the language learner is.

In other words, is the language learner better off going to an ESL school? Say the person wants to learn English. Jump on a plane from Japan or Brazil, fly to Vancouver, enroll in an ESL school that's $1,200 a month, stay in a home stay, do all of these things, is that a good return on investment? Ultimately, that's what's going to matter and the market will decide that. I think that it's not ideal. I think a smaller number of instructional hours, a smaller number of hours of interaction, three hours a week. Five hours a week would be very heavy, in my opinion. One, two, three hours a week with a tutor either online or face to face and then some encouragement from the tutor, some explanation on how to learn and directing the learner to where they can find excellent resources. That's a better use of the teacher's time, better return on investment for the learner and it would enable teachers to reach many, many more people. In the case of Canada and immigrants, apparently we spend $3,000 per head per year on immigrant language training.

A recent study out of Toronto showed, at least amongst the Chinese-speaking immigrants who are the largest source country in Canada, that after seven years (a group of 3,000 of these immigrants were followed and were enrolled in language programs here) they made, essentially, no progress. No progress.

Sort of another group, the Slavic speakers, did make progress and the reason they made progress is because they were more likely to make friends with Canadians, interact more with Canadians and take a greater interest in the local culture.

In other words, what mattered the most was what they did outside the classroom not what they did inside the classroom.

That being the case, why spend $3,000 a year per immigrant or $1,200 a month for these ESL programs when there are more cost-effective ways you can utilize teacher resources.

After all, it's only a small percentage of immigrants that are helped through these language programs, many more are unable to get into these programs, so why wouldn't we devise a more efficient way to enable teachers to help learners or to encourage learners to learn on their own. I think in that regard the iPad, iPhone, other mobile devices, android, the Internet and all the resources that are on the Internet are revolutionary.

They have changed the paradigm and so to continue to insist that language instruction can only take place in the classroom as this Cheeky whatever is doing (he alternates between that and getting vulgar and insulting me) to me is crazy. I understand the guy. He wants to protect his job, that's fine, plus that's perhaps all he knows, but the reality is that there are so many other resources available today that didn't exist even 10 years ago let alone 50 years ago. So there you have it.

He's welcome to make a video and post it here as a response. Even though they are kind of a bit nasty, I haven't deleted any of his comments. Yeah, I think the free exchange of ideas. It's not, and I repeat this, it's not anti teacher. While there are some teachers that are protectionists of their position and closed minded, I know a lot of teachers who are looking for new resources, looking for ways to do their job better who want to help more people. Some of them are members of LingQ. Some of them are the best tutors we have.

I also recognize that in a public school environment a large number of students are not very motivated and, therefore, the teacher's job really is to push the curriculum at them and force them to take tests and hope that most of them pass. And, of course, if we look at the results in Canada, even where many do pass (say they're French) very few of them learn how to speak the language. So there is something fundamentally wrong with what we're doing in the way languages are taught in the school system and I think to, basically, dismiss the iPad and mobile devices as…


Do we need the language classroom?

First of all, I should say that I have my son and his family visiting from London, so I have two additional little grandchildren. En primer lugar, debo decir que tengo a mi hijo y su familia de visita desde Londres, por lo que tengo dos nietos más. Allereerst moet ik zeggen dat mijn zoon en zijn familie op bezoek komen vanuit Londen, dus ik heb nog twee kleine kleinkinderen.

I have one son, Mark, who lives here and he has three kids and my son, Eric, who lives in London, has two kids and they’re visiting, so it’s pretty hectic. Tengo un hijo, Mark, que vive aquí y tiene tres hijos y mi hijo, Eric, que vive en Londres, tiene dos hijos y están de visita, por lo que es bastante agitado. I’ve even got my brother from Toronto coming to visit next week. So we’re going to be pretty busy here, but I did want to make a video because there’s been an interesting sort of exchange on my YouTube channel. A person who calls himself Cheeky something or other commented on a video that I did quite a while ago where I talked about the future of the iPad and mobile devices when it comes to language learning. Una persona que se hace llamar Cheeky no sé qué comentó un video que hice hace bastante tiempo donde hablaba sobre el futuro del iPad y los dispositivos móviles en lo que se refiere al aprendizaje de idiomas. Uma pessoa que se chama Cheeky de alguma coisa ou outra comentou em um vídeo que eu fiz há algum tempo atrás, onde falei sobre o futuro do iPad e dispositivos móveis quando se trata de aprendizado de idiomas.

I think they are phenomenal and I sort of compared them to the old clay tablet the Roman school children would carry around. Creo que son fenomenales y los comparé con la vieja tablilla de arcilla que los niños de la escuela romana llevaban consigo. 我认为它们非常了不起,我将它们与罗马学童随身携带的旧粘土板进行了比较。 Of course the iPad – and it doesn’t have to be the iPad, any of these electronic tablets enable you to read. Por supuesto, el iPad, y no tiene por qué ser el iPad, cualquiera de estas tabletas electrónicas le permite leer. They enable you to look up words you don’t know. Le permiten buscar palabras que no conoce. You can store a tremendous amount of text and audio and even video there. Sie können dort eine enorme Menge an Text, Audio und sogar Video speichern. You can communicate via Skype with native speakers. You can review flashcards. I mean there are so many things you can do on these mobile devices.

I use my iPad regularly.

On LingQ I prefer to create my links at the computer, but I don’t read then. I go off and I can read in the comfort of sitting in my living room on my iPad. I can set my iPad up on my elliptical trainer. Ik kan mijn iPad instellen op mijn elliptische trainer. So I’m exercising and I have downloaded the audio which is running on my mp3 player. I could do it through the iPad, but I just don’t. It’s more convenient for me to have it going in the background. È più comodo per me farlo andare in background. I’m jogging, I’m reading and with my finger I’m poking at words that I don’t know as they pop up so I can keep up and I’m listening to the text. I do that for 25 minutes and it’s a tremendous exercise of interacting with the language. I’m sure there will be more and more applications developed for iPhone, iPad or android or whatever, which to me is quite revolutionary. Someone came on and said that these iPads are a distraction and that, essentially, you have to have that face-to-face interaction between the teacher and the learner in order for learning to take place. 有人上前说,这些iPad令人分心,从本质上讲,您必须在老师和学习者之间进行面对面的互动才能进行学习。

We’ve had quite a lively exchange and so I guess the question comes up, what is the future role of a classroom or a teacher insofar as language learning is concerned. Abbiamo avuto uno scambio piuttosto vivace e quindi credo che la domanda venga sollevata, qual è il ruolo futuro di un'aula o di un insegnante nella misura in cui l'apprendimento delle lingue è interessato. I’ve often said that I believe massive input is almost a precondition for being able to learn grammar. That without this exposure to the language, the grammar explanations don’t stick. I’ve said that it’s very difficult and this is based on my experience as a learner and watching other people learn. It’s very difficult to learn these rules, study a few words and try and put them together because all of these grammar concepts take a long time to sink in. É muito difícil aprender essas regras, estudar algumas palavras e tentar reuni-las, porque todos esses conceitos gramaticais levam muito tempo para serem absorvidos. It requires a lot of exposure and experience with the language before these explanations start to make sense and start to stick and, therefore, my preference is to focus on listening and reading, vocabulary accumulation so that I have a more solid base in comprehension so that I can understand the language. I don’t worry about speaking for six months or for a year, depending on the language. I find that when I start to speak or if I have the need to speak, the bigger my vocabulary, the more familiar I am with the language, the better I understand what I hear, the better I do. So then what is the role of the classroom?

Well, the role of the classroom is not going to go away because most people aren’t motivated enough to learn on their own. Bueno, el papel del salón de clases no va a desaparecer porque la mayoría de las personas no están lo suficientemente motivadas para aprender por su cuenta. Most people believe they can only learn in a classroom, so the idea that there are all these resources available on the Internet is relatively new. I find that the explanations of grammar I can find all over the Internet, so I don’t have to sit in the classroom and hope that the issue I have difficulty with is the one the teacher is going to focus on that day. I can zoom in on those issues that I’m interested in. Ich kann die Themen, die mich interessieren, vergrößern. Now, I want to backtrack and say that at LingQ I would say the best tutors are people who are professional teachers.

Teachers, whether it be Evgueny in St. Maestros, ya sea Evgueny en St. Petersburg, whether it be Rinehart in Vienna. I’m not going to name everybody, but I deal with a lot of tutors. So that’s the second issue, I need tutors. Once I have spent enough time with the language, be it six months or more, then I need to talk to tutors, I need the tutors to point out my mistakes, I need to sometimes ask them questions. Una vez que he pasado suficiente tiempo con el idioma, ya sea seis meses o más, necesito hablar con los tutores, necesito que los tutores señalen mis errores, necesito hacerles preguntas a veces.

What also happens in the case of LingQ is you have tutors who create content about different issues of grammar and put them in our library so we can listen to them over and over again.

We can listen to them in the target language. Whether it be ________’s content in German or Evgueny’s in Russian, whomever, I can listen to it over and over again. Ya sea el contenido de 's en alemán o el de Evgueny en ruso, cualquiera que sea, puedo escucharlo una y otra vez. So I’m listening and reading and also focusing on those grammar issues that I’m ready to focus on, that I want to focus on. Así que escucho y leo y también me enfoco en esos problemas de gramática en los que estoy listo para enfocarme, en los que quiero enfocarme. So the role of the teacher remains important, first of all, as a stimulus. Por lo tanto, el papel del maestro sigue siendo importante, en primer lugar, como estímulo.

If I know that I’m going to be talking to my tutor it kind of keeps me going. I want to show my tutor that I’m improving. The tutor is very often a source of encouragement, a source of stimulus, but it’s not so much a matter of explaining things. That’s the thing, the teacher as an explainer. I just don’t see that as such an important role because the theoretical explanation is not going to do it. You have to see the patterns over and over again, refer over and over again perhaps to some grammar rules where the learner has the initiative. 您必须一遍又一遍地查看这些模式,一遍又一遍地参考一些学习者具有主动性的语法规则。

So in my exchange, of course, with this person on the iPad and language learning or something like that, in fact, I might put a link to that particular video, he was on and on about how if you don’t come to the classroom you can’t learn. It’s very difficult because there are five different future tenses. I mean, yeah, you can make the language sound as complicated as you want. I don’t think anyone can absorb five future tenses at one sitting, but if a learner had enough exposure to the language bit by bit by reviewing certain grammar rules, either on their own or by having their writing or their conversational language corrected, they’ll start to notice these things more and more. Many people tell me at LingQ that they have learned much more with us than they have in a more traditional classroom setting.

That’s not to condemn the teacher. I think there are lots of excellent teachers, but in a classroom with 15 or 20 other students the teacher decides the agenda and I think the learner needs to decide the agenda and the learner needs to control their learning. The other thing people like to criticize me for is that I’m just out promoting and pushing this product I’m selling and stuff like that. L'altra cosa che la gente mi piace criticare è che sono appena uscito a promuovere e spingere questo prodotto che sto vendendo e cose del genere. Het andere waar mensen me graag om bekritiseren, is dat ik gewoon bezig ben met het promoten en pushen van dit product dat ik verkoop en dat soort dingen. Of course I’m promoting LingQ, but why did I create LingQ in the first place? Because I think it’s helpful to language learning. Now, of course, we have a lot of costs at LingQ, so we’re obviously interested in encouraging people to come and use it and the more people who come and use it, the more we can invest in making it better. That’s no different than the commercial interest that a teacher or an ESL school has in promoting their form of language instruction services. Eso no es diferente al interés comercial que tiene un maestro o una escuela de ESL en promover su forma de servicios de instrucción de idiomas. It’s the same. Ultimately, what matters the most is where the best return on investment for the language learner is.

In other words, is the language learner better off going to an ESL school? En otras palabras, ¿es mejor para el estudiante de idiomas ir a una escuela de ESL? Say the person wants to learn English. Digamos que la persona quiere aprender inglés. Jump on a plane from Japan or Brazil, fly to Vancouver, enroll in an ESL school that’s $1,200 a month, stay in a home stay, do all of these things, is that a good return on investment? Súbete a un avión desde Japón o Brasil, vuela a Vancouver, inscríbete en una escuela de ESL que cuesta $1200 al mes, quédate en una casa, haz todas estas cosas, ¿es eso un buen retorno de la inversión? Ultimately, that’s what’s going to matter and the market will decide that. En última instancia, eso es lo que va a importar y el mercado lo decidirá. Daar gaat het uiteindelijk om en de markt zal dat beslissen. 最终,这才是关键,市场将决定这一点。 I think that it’s not ideal. Creo que no es lo ideal. 我认为这并不理想。 I think a smaller number of instructional hours, a smaller number of hours of interaction, three hours a week. Pienso en una menor cantidad de horas de instrucción, una menor cantidad de horas de interacción, tres horas a la semana. Five hours a week would be very heavy, in my opinion. Cinco horas a la semana sería muy pesado, en mi opinión. 我认为,每周五个小时会非常繁重。 One, two, three hours a week with a tutor either online or face to face and then some encouragement from the tutor, some explanation on how to learn and directing the learner to where they can find excellent resources. Una, dos, tres horas a la semana con un tutor, ya sea en línea o cara a cara, y luego un poco de aliento por parte del tutor, alguna explicación sobre cómo aprender y dirigir al alumno a dónde puede encontrar excelentes recursos. That’s a better use of the teacher’s time, better return on investment for the learner and it would enable teachers to reach many, many more people. In the case of Canada and immigrants, apparently we spend $3,000 per head per year on immigrant language training.

A recent study out of Toronto showed, at least amongst the Chinese-speaking immigrants who are the largest source country in Canada, that after seven years (a group of 3,000 of these immigrants were followed and were enrolled in language programs here) they made, essentially, no progress. No progress.

Sort of another group, the Slavic speakers, did make progress and the reason they made progress is because they were more likely to make friends with Canadians, interact more with Canadians and take a greater interest in the local culture. Una especie de otro grupo, los hablantes de eslavo, progresaron y la razón por la que progresaron es porque tenían más probabilidades de hacerse amigos de los canadienses, interactuar más con los canadienses y tener un mayor interés en la cultura local.

In other words, what mattered the most was what they did outside the classroom not what they did inside the classroom.

That being the case, why spend $3,000 a year per immigrant or $1,200 a month for these ESL programs when there are more cost-effective ways you can utilize teacher resources.

After all, it’s only a small percentage of immigrants that are helped through these language programs, many more are unable to get into these programs, so why wouldn’t we devise a more efficient way to enable teachers to help learners or to encourage learners to learn on their own. I think in that regard the iPad, iPhone, other mobile devices, android, the Internet and all the resources that are on the Internet are revolutionary.

They have changed the paradigm and so to continue to insist that language instruction can only take place in the classroom as this Cheeky whatever is doing (he alternates between that and getting vulgar and insulting me) to me is crazy. Ze hebben het paradigma veranderd en dus blijven volhouden dat taalonderwijs alleen in de klas kan plaatsvinden, omdat dit brutale wat er ook gebeurt (hij wisselt dat af met vulgair worden en me beledigen) voor mij gek is. 他们改变了范式,因此继续坚持说语言教学只能在教室里进行,因为这个厚脸皮的人对我来说是件疯狂的事(他在那之间交替,变得粗俗和侮辱我)。 I understand the guy. He wants to protect his job, that’s fine, plus that’s perhaps all he knows, but the reality is that there are so many other resources available today that didn’t exist even 10 years ago let alone 50 years ago. So there you have it.

He’s welcome to make a video and post it here as a response. Even though they are kind of a bit nasty, I haven’t deleted any of his comments. A pesar de que son un poco desagradables, no he eliminado ninguno de sus comentarios. Yeah, I think the free exchange of ideas. It’s not, and I repeat this, it’s not anti teacher. While there are some teachers that are protectionists of their position and closed minded, I know a lot of teachers who are looking for new resources, looking for ways to do their job better who want to help more people. Some of them are members of LingQ. Some of them are the best tutors we have.

I also recognize that in a public school environment a large number of students are not very motivated and, therefore, the teacher’s job really is to push the curriculum at them and force them to take tests and hope that most of them pass. And, of course, if we look at the results in Canada, even where many do pass (say they’re French) very few of them learn how to speak the language. So there is something fundamentally wrong with what we’re doing in the way languages are taught in the school system and I think to, basically, dismiss the iPad and mobile devices as… 因此,我们在学校系统中进行语言教学的方式从根本上是有问题的,我认为从根本上将iPad和移动设备视为……