What do you think about Refold's **CONTROVERSIAL!!!** advice to delay outputting until you can "understand pretty much everything" in your target language?
Pinyin was introduced to standardize the pronunciation of Mandarin in China. It's an excellent tool for learning Chinese characters. The problem with pinyin is that sometimes we can not clarify the sentence's ambiguity without the presence of the Chinese character.
mù dì has the meaning of 目的（intention）， 牧地（pastureland)， and 墓地 (graveyard).
Another example will be yù zhī, which can be 欲知 (to find out) or 预知 (to foresee as in premonition).
Unquestionably, contextual clues come in handy sometimes. It's the very same reason that I recommend learning Chinese characters. I believe some fundamental language learning skills should be acquired as basic building blocks. Be able to sound out words, deduce the meaning of new words, and use context clues to expand and grow one's language repertoire organically and holistically. Indeed, knowing Chinese characters enables one to acquire vocabulary more efficiently. I am a listener in language learning myself, but without developing these crucial abilities in the language, tons of listening might be like rote memorization.
It is common for people to say, "oh, we belonged to the same family five hundred years ago." as a way to bridge the distance between two Mandarin speakers. We can never be sure of it without finding out the actual Chinese characters for their last names 关(guān) and 官(guān).
I don't think there's anything magical about Chinese characters in and of themselves that cures the pronunciation problems you've outlined.
Using Japanese as an example, I read in full Kanji because it's faster. I would hate to read anything at this point in just romaji or hiragana/katakana. But my knowledge of the Kanji, and even being able to identify the radicals they contain, doesn't ensure anything about my speech being proper.
I know exactly what "chopsticks" and "bridge" look like on paper, but the only reason I know how to pronounce them correctly is because I've listened to tons of folk stories that talk about bridges, and I've been out to eat with friends.
I rely a ton on my listening experience. I'm already clicking quite a bit when I'm stretching myself in harder lessons with a lot of unknown vocab. I don't click on or double check Kanji that I'm already confident reading or even confident minus. I just assume what sounds natural based on my experience and keep reading.
When I'm having a conversation and a word isn't coming to me, I circumlocute, and in the few seconds I'm doing that, just the process of talking about similar vocabularly normally scares out the proper word.
I don't have a mental visual scorecard in Kanji, romaji, or Kana. Nor do I make any discriminatory analysis about homonyms. I just say what comes out naturally. My Kanji knowledge has nothing to do with it, except for the huge secondary efffects of being able to read a lot more and hence have a higher input volume level.
For Chinese, the pinyin are dangerous for people allergic to characters because the pinyin are great. You can even denote the tones just using pinyin.
I don't see any problem with someone speaking Chinese and only knowing pinyin to do it. The only disadvantage is your reading input volume will be terrible because you could cover a lot more ground if you could easily read the characters.
But again, knowing the characters doesn't ensure anything about being able to speak properly.
For LingQ subscribers, I think Refold is telling us to Speak from Day1.
The advice is to start speaking once you pretty much understand everything.
Judging from a lot of our dogmatic answers here in this thread and elsewhere, we DO feel we pretty much know everything about language learning.
So, hey, whatever language you're studying, start speaking it.
Interesting "conclusion", kimojima:
As even native speakers "never understand everything" in their L1,
I thought that Refold was telling us to "never speak at all" in our L2s ;-)
How can we come to so "different" conclusions?
"we DO feel..."
Yes, humans feel a lot throughout the day.
Reminds me of the "Be like Mike" ad (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Be_Like_Mike):
"Being Mike" and "feeling to be like Mike" are two different realities in a performance-oriented basketball game:
- in the "being Mike" reality, MJ will rip you to pieces.
- in the "feeling to be like Mike" reality, your professional opponents will rip you to pieces if you aren't extremely well prepared (btw, I'm talking from experience here :-) ).
But, hey, reality distortion fields are great: what's not to like about them?
Switching to SLA:
As long as we don't speak, we feel that we have the best pitches and tones in the world. And nobody can take that away from us!
Ergo, talking is bad, bad, bad - it only harms our ego :-)
"Reliable source for that claim?
BTW, anecdotal evidence is just that ... anecdotal :-)"
I was referring to this adoption of a particular language as a matter of personal choice rather than the complexity associated with the language.
Some new immigrants in an English-speaking country speak different languages with some degree of mutual intelligibility. The language they initially choose to converse in and how it continues to dominate their daily interaction is the most intriguing. I had seen many people gradually become fluent in Cantonese even before acquiring similar competency in English.
"Speaking with good tones requires simultaneously training yourself to hear tones correctly and while reinforcing this with accurate mimicry."
"The "secret" (if there is one here) is probably:
1) it's deliberate practice
2) a reliable feedback mechanism
If that's not the case ,"outputting" (by practicing self-talk, for example) won't help much
to improve one's tones. It's the same for pitch accent in Japanese."
Unless you are in a classroom or language exchange session to deliberately learn the language, you will seldom get direct feedback from the speaker in real life. It should be considered reliable if you can detect the difference between you and the native speaker or a mispronounced tone. If self-practicing does not help to some extent in acquiring the proper pronunciation, then speaking atonal Mandarin must be unavoidable without intervention from a native speaker. Even if this holds to be accurate, I still wonder if it will be possible for following native speakers to learn or improve their pronunciation by self-practicing.
Any native speaker learns to speak with a Beijing, British, Andalusian, ... accent.
Any native speaker learns to speak the most standard form of the language because they may pronounce or mispronounce some words somewhat differently due to regional variances.
"The assertion that kids observe a silent period (as an example of keeping quiet until understanding is mastered) is not true."
Indeed, language learning can be as dynamic as you have described because language is much alive and undoubtedly an integral part of our life. It just happened that even if there was such a silent period, it did not prevent me and many others from speaking mandarin fluently as a native speaker. We did not communicate much in Mandarin until we graduated from elementary school. It was not a conscious decision that we made not to speak Mandarin although we were fluent at the time. Let's say that speaking Mandarin in our daily life was not expected.
My unique experience may not resonate or be helpful to others. But I want to point out that a typical native Mandarin speaker possess all skills to speak fluently.
- Impeccable listening comprehension
- Spontaneity in response
- Able to concoct any sentence by stringing words together naturally.
- Flawless pronunciation with mastery of Pinyin
In the case of listening and speaking skills, they may not be developed in parallel with the same rate of progress. Per the topic of practicing tone in Mandarin, it requires deliberate practice over time to achieve decent fluency in Chinese. I just can't imagine anyone would listen to audio for hundreds of hours without learning and practicing Pinyin. Skills in language learning are interconnected, and I tend to focus on the smaller goal to work on so that I can check my progress to determine if things are going in the direction I expected.
I think the main reason Matt and others advocate this is that speaking early screws up your pronunciation. Unless you have listened hundreds of hours to your target language, you will not even recognise if your pronunciation is off.
This guy from Dreaming Spanish explains it quite well:
That's an unproven hypothesis. Not a fact. For Mandarin it contradicts all the evidence I've seen and experienced for myself. ALL of the speakers with the best pronunciation I know spoke early. I've documented several cases on my podcast but there are plenty more.
By the way, many learners who have listened to THOUSANDS of hours of Mandarin but haven't drilled tones still can't hear their tones are off. I see this all the time.
In my view Chinese pronunciation isn't usually dictated by the number of hours of extensive listening you've done. It's not uncommon for learners to reach impeccable listening comprehension skills but borderline incomprehensible pronunciation. Of more importance is the type of listening activities (e.g. repetetive listening & shadowing etc) drilling phonetics (especially tones).
Sure, it is a hypothesis, but it makes sense to me. When you read texts you typically subvocalise the words in your head and if that is off, you will ingrain that bad pronunication even when you do not speak (but read). I recently started learning Spanish and even though I have listenend to some Spanish, my own pronunciation is still off and I notice it when I read texts.
I agree that repetetive listening, shadowing and drilling phonetics might also work, so in summary, there may be different paths leading to Rome.
"Sure, it is a hypothesis, but it makes sense to me. When you read texts you typically subvocalise the words in your head and if that is off, you will ingrain that bad pronunication even when you do not speak (but read)."
That's not an early output problem. That's an overrelying on reading and inefficient methods problem.
"I recently started learning Spanish and even though I have listenend to some Spanish, my own pronunciation is still off and I notice it when I read texts."
Have you drilled IPA? If your goal is to have near-native pronunciation that would seem sensible to do from the start. Spanish phonetics are especially challenging for non-native speakers (trust me it's my L1).
"so in summary, there may be different paths leading to Rome."
Really can you cite any success stories of late output for Chinese?
Do not be too certain of what you know or do not know. It is not as if there were any randomised controlled studies on this. There are plenty of quiet learners nobody has even heard of that are much much better than you or me. I have followed such people here on Lingq. Some of them get to 50k words in Chinese in 1-2 years following an input-driven approach. I would not be suprised at all, if they would very quickly become orally fluent, if they practiced intensely for 2-3 months, because they already know tons of words and their contexts. I have noticed this myself: When I listen to a podcast or YT channel and someone asks "how do you say XYZ in Chinese?" it automatically pops up in my head even though I mainly focus on input.
"Spanish phonetics are especially challenging for non-native speakers" I thought Spanish was like an easy language when compared to the other monstrosities out there?
Also to the both of you. Pronunciation can develop (improve) as one ventures through their language learning journey right? Speaking bad habits won't stay too long since you suck at your target language compared to your native language anyways? And people manage to stop saying certain things or in a certain way with their native language. So it wouldn't it be easy to break bad speaking bad habits since they aren't even learned that well in the first place?
@Hagowingchun absolutely right, languages are always a work in progress. After years of speaking English I came across a phonetic description and noticed that I had been mispronouncing the "v" (as in vine) sound. I had simply transferred the German "v" to English and never noticed anything being off. So what, I fixed it (more or less) and I'm sure I'll eventually come across another inaccuracy. No native speaker of English has ever commented on my accent or pronunciation, before or after.
Personally I don't understand the focus on pronunciation, to me this is easily the least important aspect when learning a language, what you say is far more important. But I realize perfectionists exist, and that's fine, although I would prefer if they didn't try to convince everyone to follow their creed and adopt their methods...
Addendum: Steve Kaufmann has a good video on perfectionism as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qntIW8h-Vro
@bamboozled it won't let me reply to your post specifically. But yeah ran into a few words like this in Spanish like a few days ago and my stress on them was generally right but needed some tuning. I find fossilization is definitely not the case we are constantly un-learning and re-learning daily. Also, I think pronunciation is important because there are some many people in the states that just speak English with their languages phonetic system and its honestly hard to understand these people even though they can speak in full sentences etc. So I understand the pronunciation argument haha.
@ Who is the perfectionist? My goal has always been to be understood clearly. I don't understand why that's considered perfectionism.
"Do not be too certain of what you know or do not know. It is not as if there were any randomised controlled studies on this. There are plenty of quiet learners nobody has even heard of that are muchmuch better than you or me."
>When did I say that I "know" anything? If there are learners out there who have better tones than me and only started outputting after reaching high levels I'd love to hear from them and would happily interview them on my podcast. I'd be fascinated to hear their story.
"I have followed such people here on Lingq. Some of them get to 50k words in Chinese in 1-2 years following an input-driven approach. I would not be suprised at all, if they would very quickly become orally fluent, if they practiced intensely for 2-3 months, because they already know tons of words and their contexts."
> What does the number of known LingQ words have to do with anything? It's irrelevant. I basically stopped using LingQ after around a year of doing so intensively. For multiple reasons that should be obvious there's just no connection whatsoever between LingQ word count and oral fluency in Chinese.
"I have noticed this myself: When I listen to a podcast or YT channel and someone asks "how do you say XYZ in Chinese?" it automatically pops up in my head even though I mainly focus on input."
I hearby extend a warm invitation to you to dicuss these issues with me on my podcast in Chinese.
"I basically stopped using LingQ after around a year of doing so intensively. For multiple reasons that should be obvious there's just no connection whatsoever between LingQ word count and oral fluency in Chinese." Really? you dont care about reading books and stuff in chinese? The 漢字 is literally art and walls of it are beautiful. Also you don't think reading books helps with oral fluency? Its definitely an inefficient route vs just practicing output type things but don't you want to eventually have the same vocab as you do in your native language in chinese?
Also, is it because of lingq's functionality or is reading chinese to speak chinese just too slow?
"Really? you dont care about reading books and stuff in chinese?"
Lol How on earth does that follow? Yes I do find reading is important and I can read pretty well in Chinese. I have a lot of room for improvement but do most of my reading outside LingQ now.
"Also you don't think reading books helps with oral fluency?"
Not much direct impact, no. I had read a bunch of books before I started working on oral fluency. I'm not saying all that reading didn't help at all, it played its part in establishing a foundation in the language. But I found developing oral fluency in Chinese took quite a lot of time and practice in itself and the best methods didn't involve reading.
Personally I think reading novels is an excellent way to enrich your language abilities and expand your vocabulary once you have already established oral fluency rather than a particularly good way to establish oral fluency in the first place.
Why would you stop using lingq after 1 year? In books in my native language i run into words i want to learn all the time and having fast dictionary look ups is just a god send unless there is a type of content that is unimportable into lingq i couldnt imagine me not using (for spanish) I will probably use it for the next 10 years, but i know it less functional with some languages so i don't blame you if thats the reason. Especially characters with books i would imagine one would need 4-5k to read some real hefty books. I also don't know if there are good character dictionaries for within words etc.
and yeah oral fluency is obtained by doing like speaking drills, conversing, and focusing on super common grammatical structures etc vs reading is just trying to learn a ton of words etc I agree with this completely.
"Why would you stop using lingq after 1 year? In books in my native language i run into words i want to learn all the time and having fast dictionary look ups is just a god send"
> Because I discovered this thing called a popup browser plugin dictionary and no longer cared as much about LingQ stats to keep track of my progress.
"Especially characters with books i would imagine one would need 4-5k to read some real hefty books. I also don't know if there are good character dictionaries for within words etc."
Agree. I'm more at the 3000+ mark. My oral is much stronger than my reading as I've focussed on that a lot more. So still have work to do on that. But if my LingQ vocab counter were more accurate though I'd be more like 50k+ for vocab though. Now when I briefly go back to LingQ I spend most of my time turning all the yellows into known.
I want to identify some key characteristics of Chinese Mandarin to pinpoint the exact issue of concern.
1. There are many homophones in Chinese Mandarin.
The article 施氏食狮史 consists of 97 characters with "shi" in pinyin without the tone. The romanization of Chinese characters only has phonetic value to it.
Another typical example is "to ask" and "to kiss", as you can imagine the situation if you pronounce the tone wěn instead of wèn.
2. Most Chinese characters form new words as prefixes or suffixes.
动 （dòng） to move
生（shēng, to generate）in 生动 lively is also used in 生气 (to get angry).
3. Most Chinese characters share some common parts.
Radical is used to determine the meaning of the character.
Other components in character can be used to determine the character's pronunciation.
蜻蜓 dragonfly, Radical 虫 indicates a type of insect or worm.
青 （qīng）in 蜻 （qīng）
蚊子 mosquito 文 （wén） in 蚊 （wén）
This might not always be the case. I want to say that most Chinese characters and their pronunciation are interconnected in some way, and four core skills in language learning are interconnected as well.
I would praise anyone who has achieved a high degree of fluency in any core language learning skill, but I am amazed by their arduous endeavor to pursue an unknown world with a curious mind.
One good test would be to have two non-native Mandarin learners communicate with each other, provided they have achieved a high level of fluency in reading and listening but not speaking. I would say way much longer than 2-3 months of active speaking is needed for them to exchange ideas freely on a particular subject.
On the other hand, if someone's functional in all four core language skills, then an immersion environment will be the best way to go.
The decision not to learn Chinese characters in the first place is counterintuitive for the reasons listed above.
"For multiple reasons that should be obvious there's just no connection whatsoever between LingQ word count and oral fluency in Chinese."
While the Lingq word count is not a perfect measure of Chinese vocabulary, it is meaningful in that someone with 3K know words on Lingq will have a more limited vocabulary than one that has 15K, 30K or 50k words on Lingq.
Reading alone obviously does not make you fluent in Chinese, you still need to practice speaking. No one (including Matt from Refold) ever said that. However, it is quite well known that people, who read a lot,in general, have a better vocabulary than those that do not. Yes, reading does transfer to your oral speaking skills. So, someone, who is fluent in a language and reads a lot will have a better oral vocabulary than someone, who does not. Your active vocabulary (speaking) will always lag behind your passive vocabulary (words you understand when reading). But, as your passive vocabulary grows, your acticve vocabulary grows in turn.
Anyway, it does not really matter. I know you try to stir up discussions to promote your podcast. Nothing wrong with it.
"it is meaningful in that someone with 3K know words on Lingq will have a more limited vocabulary than one that has 15K, 30K or 50k words on Lingq."
Your LingQ counter is not an indication of how many words you actually know. In my case it's several times lower than what I actually know because I have barely used LingQ for over a year while continuing to learn Chinese and read online with plugin dictionaries and hang out with native speakers.
"I know you try to stir up discussions to promote your podcast."
This allegation is totally without foundation.
"Your LingQ counter is not an indication of how many words you actually know."
You actually made this point yourself a couple of years ago when you publicly accused me of lying about my LingQ stats lol.
I think everybody is different. That being said as a child I didn't speak until I could speak in complete sentences. And I devoured books way before kindergarten. I've also known people that did it like this and were the problem comes I believe is the input source. Because once you start speaking you alienate people by your word choice like you're speaking above them. The hardest thing is to learn yourself and understand yourself it doesn't matter what the success is of 100 people if you do better doing it differently.
"Speaking with good tones requires simultaneously training yourself to hear tones correctly and while reinforcing this with accurate mimicry."
The "secret" (if there is one here) is probably:
1) it's deliberate practice
2) a reliable feedback mechanism
If that's not the case ,"outputting" (by practicing self-talk, for example) won't help much
to improve one's tones. It's the same for pitch accent in Japanese.
Apart from that, there are several key problems with the "input-only" approach:
1) The engagement level with the L2 (as pure "pattern recognition") is simply too superficial.
I've tested this with Portuguese - and I'm not happy with the result.
2) It matters "what" you digest.
Digesting random compelling content is simply not good enough if you want to become "fluent" in everyday language. In short, if learners want to become good at everyday conversations, they should use content with a lot of contemporary dialogues.
3) The claim that all language processing is "unconscious" is controversial. There's definitely a place in SLA for deliberate practice /intentional learning (that includes: explicit pronunciation training, explicit grammar study, and artificial SRSes for collocations, etc.).
4) And my personal pet peeve: the input approach is great because it leads to "effortless" learning. However, people who cling to effortless learning tend to be one thing above all else: subpar learners in any kind of practical skill acquisition process (SLA, math, programming, sports, whatever.). As soon as things get "tough", such learners tend to give up almost immediately...
it's best to avoid input or output "extremes" and resort to an IO mix depending on the time budget, the specific goals, and the language level.
where you can "understand close to everything"
There are thousands of job domains nowadays with their own lingo, specialized knowledge, methods / theories, etc. No native speaker can master all these domains. So, it's never possible to understand close to everything in your L1.
And if all native speakers fail miserably in this regard, so do all L2 learners...
Plenty of children with autism or anxiety do not output in their native language until they are near fluent. Pushing them to speak can lead to L1 mutism. As a classroom language teacher as well I don't really like to push output. However when you are a child or when you are in a Comprehensible Input classroom, you have lots of opportunities for one-word or non-verbal interactions
Plenty of "practice" approaches put output way too early and expect you to be able to output almost as much as you can comprehend from day 1, which definitely leads to language trauma, and I bet that is what they are trying to counteract--but they have definitely gone overboard.
THAT SAID as a self-motivated language learner who is following CI I don't think there is one right time to start speaking. The problem is their one-size-fits-all approach.
You have to practice speaking to become skilled at speaking.
Communication is the cornerstone of languages and language learning.
The input methodology is just our entrance ticket into getting into a communication mode faster.
Everyone starts by developing a little snowball of understanding or a Katamari of understanding that they use to roll up similar content that is ready to become understandable for them and thus increase their arsenal in that language and improve their ability to communicate.
The assertion that kids observe a silent period (as an example of keeping quiet until understanding is mastered) is not true.
Kids vocalize as soon as they're born. They are such little beings and incapable of forming words. It's a romantic idea of language lore to assume they're these little sages just soaking up everything uniformly until they're ready to speak.
No, they have a Katamari ball, just like we L2 learners, where they're rolling up words and phrases ready to be assimilated and they practice very early with what little they know, as soon as they can, to let parents know what they want.
Per the topic, it's very important to start speaking in Chinese as soon as you have a willing partner to be your language parent.
The best way to quickly learn a language is to have a relationship (romance, friendship, or close tutor) where the two of you constantly ask each other questions and provide the answers in the L2.
You won't get there as fast with input-only. Nor will you get there as fast just scheduling tutoring sessions where you go on a 30 minute or hour monologue by yourself, thinking that you're getting your money's worth by dominating the conversation 95%.
The input methodology beats the drum of engaging in interesting, compelling content. What could be more engaging than for people to ask you specific questions about your experience, your political views, passions, and so on. Having a native who is sensitive to your current (and increasing knowledge base) is perfect to listen to and interact with.
I enjoy my tutoring sessions on LingQ and iTalki, but I enjoy the free conversations in chat rooms possibly even more. I love being brought on stage and asked pointed questions about a specific topic, or how my week is going, or what fun or educational things my children are up to. Talk about active listening and the pressure to respond! It's sink or swim and it's great. I've been lucky enough to speak with Noriko sensei as well in these chat rooms several times for free. Last weekend, I spoke with a French lady for two hours and only ended it because I was hungry, had to go to the bathroom, and wanted to spend time with my family. That was two hours of speaking, intense active listening and also engaging her with interesting questions. You can't get communication like that by watching a movie or passively reading a book.
I say speaking is not only important but communication becomes the driving enchilada for excelling in our L2's.
I've heard a few Mandarin learners say, Thank God I kept going with my studies, I was about to quit because I was hitting a low intermediate wall and not progressing, but I pushed through.
I actually think that's false patting yourself on the back. It's not that you kept persevering with the input approach and that's what did it, it's that you found someone (or a group of people) who wanted to communicate with you often and THAT was the reason your Mandarin took off.
I don't think the speak from Day1 approach is wrong; the idea is just a little too extreme for me. I don't want to be in a chat room just introducing myself and not knowing how to say anything else.
I need at least an A2+ or B1- level to start engaging confidently.
I don't think it matters when you start speaking (A1+, A2, B1, B2) but the sooner the better as soon as you feel comfortable, because no matter when you start you will eventually blow the doors off of the input-only crowd if you keep with it.
Again, conversations that are balanced and engaging for both sides, spoken 100% in the L2. No monologues where it's just you speaking crappily, and no long breaks to "relax" back into the native language or ask questions in the native language about the L2. If your partner is good and knows your level, they'll be able to explain themselves in the the L2. And you stay in the L2 as well and don't forget about them. You have to keep it interesting for them as well even if you're paying or the session or else your time won't be as effective as it could be.
Can anybody point me to success stories/ cases that contradict my point of view?
Every skill set in any language requires deliberate practice to achieve decent fluency, and speaking is no exception. In my opinion, those language learners at stage 5 may not have the skills to quickly develop a high fluency in speaking a tonal language such as Mandarin. For the sake of argument, they must acquire the following skills so they can speak Mandarin fluently in a relatively short time.
1. A nearly impeccable listening comprehension of watching any TV series or shows in the target language.
2. Being fluent in exchanging text messages with others spontaneously with minimal or no grammatical or syntactical errors.
3. Record reading practice from time to time to bridge or eliminate the gap between you and a native speaker.
I am somewhat baffled by the idea that the tone could be internalized incorrectly for those language learners who have achieved exceptional listening comprehension skills. I don't see a problem with the main focus on listening and reading comprehension in the beginning stage of learning a language.
All skills acquired in language learning follow an S growth curve, although the progress may vary among language learners due to many different factors. Once you build a solid foundation, the major framework will be accomplished much faster.
There are two skills that I consider to be crucial not only for listening and reading comprehension, but also for achieving excellent fluency when speaking the language.
1. Be able to sound out a word (Foundation building)
2. To subvocalize unconsciously as the language learner follows along with the audio, which can be accompanied by the text. (Framework construction)
On the other hand, the challenge question is similar to the following, given that every language learning skill requires deliberate practice.
Is there any fluent Mandarin speaker (heritage language learner) who will be able to read Chinese at the beginning?
On a side note, it is interesting that a Mandarin speaker would pick up and become fluent in Cantonese through immersion, and the same thing for a Portuguese speaker to learn Spanish, but not the other way around.
Just an anecdotal example: My Cantonese native-speaking daughter-in-law tells me that she became fluent in Mandarin by playing with Mandarin-speaking friends while on holidays during her childhood. She went to an English school rather than a Chinese school. As a result, she did not learn to read in either Chinese language/dialect and cannot do so to the present day. She has no problem in listening to movies or news broadcasts, nor in interacting in conversation in any of her three languages.
"it is interesting that a Mandarin speaker would pick up and become fluent in Cantonese through immersion, and the same thing for a Portuguese speaker to learn Spanish, but not the other way around."
Reliable source for that claim?
BTW, anecdotal evidence is just that ... anecdotal :-)
After learning Br. Portuguese for ca. 1700 h (having learned Latin, French, and Spanish first), I'm pretty sure that there's "nothing particularly difficult" about Portuguese that a native speaker of Spanish can't master.
The only two major "challenges" in Portuguese are:
1. The sound system is more sophisticated than in Spanish.
2. There are "constant interferences" between Portuguese and Spanish, but that's a two-way phenomenon.
Apart from that, it's almost a "free ride" for Portuguese and Spanish native speakers...
(it's the same in the case of Dutch and German, for instance).
Speaking from my experience, I never really practiced when I was learning english, I didn't even practice speaking before I taking my IELTS English test and my overall score came out to be high C1 thanks to my perfect listening and reading score. I went to an english speaking country for school and I had trouble articulating my thoughts but it took a few weeks with total immersion to get extremely comfortable. I haven't really spoken english for almost 3 years and now it's extremely rusty but my understanding of the language is still impeccable.
At some point in your language learning journey you just *feels* fluent, you don't need a test to classify you as B2 or C2 because it can't really get any harder, listening and reading become automatic and effortless, anyone who's truly fluent in a language will understand what this mean. But speaking is a skill of its own, extremely high maintenance but easily improve once you can understand virtually everything.
With all of that said I truly think there's little reason to deliberately practice speaking if you're not using it daily or planning on soon because it's going to deteriorate very rapidly. Even my native language became rusty when I was not using it living in an english speaking country. My native language is Vietnamese btw and for Vietnamese speakers English is as exotic as it is for English speakers learning Chinese or Japanese
"...I didn't even practice speaking before I taking my IELTS English test and my overall score came out to be high C1..."
What were your scores for each part of the IELTS?
Listening-reading-writing-speaking : 9.0-8.5-7.0-6.5 overall an 8.0
I have noticed this as well "it's going to deteriorate very rapidly" the basics are always there but random things you should/would know slowly vanish while the passive abilities stay. I agree completely as well deliberate output practice should come from needing the language unless you just find these activities engaging/fun.
Well done by the way!
So B2 for speaking.
Perhaps if you'd practiced speaking before taking your IELTS test, your score would have soared reaching a C2 level - just as it did for listening (C2) and reading (C2).
It seems though you agree that it is important to practice speaking because you mention becoming rusty without practice.
Babies are the alternate test case.
Yes, parents and surroundings offer high input. However, from the moment a child is born they cry, and thereafter they try to get attention through such imperfect oral communication.
I agree with it. I reached a high level of Spanish without having to have many conversations. Each time I would have a conversation after listening for a ton of time, my ability to converse would be so much better. When it boils down to it, language really feels like just repeating phrases and grammar structures that you hear. To me, that all comes from extensive listening.
It worked for you in Spanish and therefore you conclude it's sound advice for any language, including Mandarin? Despite the fact that there seem to be zero sucessful cases of learners taking this approach? I literally don't understand this line of reasoning.
I would definitely say output takes practice especially with languages that don't share similar structures or sounds. I have studied spanish and korean and can say for a fact that output practice is needed for both but the amount is determined by the foreigness. Spanish is much easier because its the same order and the sound of it isn't super foreign (its still a eurpean language). Korean (or any eastern asain language whether its the backwards word order, weird sounds, or strange way of saying things) requires more time. I agree that the higher level one has of listening/reading the less time will be required in total, but regardless a ton of time is needed to speak anywhere near a passable level in real situations.
I have never done any conversation practice really besides natives i run into on a daily basis (spanish is very common in the states depending on the location). (I have done probably 10 hours max of this conversation practice) Most of my "output practice" is thinking in the taret language and figuring out how i would express this thing in my target language either through look ups or noticing from my input. Also, writing is great especially with languages with different word orders. Pronunciation personally I find it a great practice to say a word a billion times next to native audio (only if you already know this word) to then allow your mouth a ton of practice/repititions to learn the tongue/mouth movements/intonation etc.
"I would definitely say output takes practice especially with languages that don't share similar structures or sounds."
Yup. It turns out there is this thing called reality and unfortunately we live in it. Who would have thought?
They did it, it worked for them. Why wouldn't they assume it would work again?
Not everyone will care about the same parts of it that you do. I have zero interest in Mandarin. So I apply the topics we discuss here to the language I'm learning.
I doubt you know there are "zero successful cases of learners taking this approach." The reason? Because hardly anyone has the time to take this approach with a language so far removed from European languages such as Mandarin.
I would imagine it'd take 4-5 times longer than another European language would. That would probably amount to full time immersion for 5-6 years (or more). Who has the time to do that? That's why you don't know anyone who's done it. But I bet someone, somewhere, has.
Actually, there are a LOT of people, whom I don't personally know, who've done it, around 1.5 billion of them in fact. Why people constantly ignore this actual fact is baffling to me. TBH, it's really not that baffling, it's purely because people want a quick solution to a problem that takes much longer to solve than they want/are willing to admit.
I didn't say I "know" there are "zero successful cases of learners taking this approach." I actually didn't express my opinion on that. I'm open minded but extremely sceptical, for what seem good reasons.
I issued a simple challenge to give me an example of ADULTS who have taken this approach sucessfully.
And, predictably, nobody has risen to the challenge. Yet everybody still seems to have very strong opinions on the topic.
"Actually, there are a LOT of people, whom I don't personally know, who've done it, around 1.5 billion of them in fact."
They were children not adults.
Also the anti output plan for AJATT and japanese is important because of the word order/way things are expressed, but also matt's pitch accent was bad until year 5 when he realized it was a thing. So early output isn't bad unless you force it. You think his pitch accent would have been 100% perfect if he waited till year 10 to output? No.It's something that needs to be worked on just like anything else. Usually extreme viewpoints in anything are wrong and it appears to be true here.
Also, the finer points of any language like better accent and more complex grammatical things are usually ignored by second language learners. This includes (tones, complex pronunciation, subjunctive, and other complex grammatical features like cases etc)
So a few observations on this. Refold hasn't existed all that long, and as far as I know isn't all that popular a method or that widely known. I'm not a true believer in the method, nor have I even read it. Just glanced and moved on.
When I look at the guide I can see it is written in Polish, English and Spanish. So already we are talking about a community of primarily western people, many of whom are likely trying to learn a language without a naturally immersive environment.
The amount (raw and percentage) of people that go from 0 to hero in Mandarin, without essentially being forced to and without living in a naturally immersive environment, is not many. And the amount that do it in a few years is even fewer. I am not convinced that enough time has passed for a Refold'er to have succeeded in the method to point to an example.
Also this isn't their community :), the place to go to find examples, or the absence thereof, would be their Discord?
Languages are a means of communication and essentially intertwined with the culture that speaks it. Each language will naturally develop strategies for how to communicate things, and when those strategies involve things completely alien to our native language or at least one we are proficient in, those will naturally be harder to learn. Grammatical Gender, Cases, Verb Tenses, Moods, Tones, Clicks, Word Order, Modal Particles, etc. etc. etc. There is no such thing as "grammatical languages", just how much they differ from what we already are familiar with.
Mandarin has almost no cognates to English, a key feature that doesn't exist in Western Languages -- i.e., tones, and a writing system that uses logograms. All of this adds up to a language that takes westerners a long time to learn. Those new features require active study to learn, but beyond that I don't think you can put any language on a pedestal and say they are "unique" anymore than everyone's situation is unique.
I am also willing to wager there are some pre-global digital age adults in Hong Kong or Taiwan that learned to speak Mandarin as an adult after having a high comprehension of it. I am willing to put in no work to verify this (and I'm certainly not asking my coworkers in Taiwan, that natively speak Hokkien/Taiwanese or a Formosan language, how they learned Mandarin).
My point in this is, people learn to speak a lingua franca (including Mandarin) all the time for personal or professional reasons as an adult, and often after having a high understanding of the language.
- I am not a Refold apologist, nor even interested.
- I do not agree that Mandarin is unique in a way that can be used to disqualify examples from other languages, so much as it is nearly impossible to generalize anything about language acquisition because everyone's circumstances are unique.
- I do not think that waiting to speak is bad advice whole-cloth, but it does need to be understood that you will not wake up speaking the language one day, and when you begin to speak you will have a massive gap between what you understand and what you can say.
- Languages require deliberate practice to learn to speak. The longer we put off that deliberate practice, the longer everything will take.
- People can, and should prioritize, but prioritization has consequences.
"I do not agree that Mandarin is unique in a way that can be used to disqualify examples from other languages, so much as it is nearly impossible to generalize anything about language acquisition because everyone's circumstances are unique."
>I genuinely don't understand this point. There is a core difference between Mandarin and non-tonal languages which is absolutely essential to this question. You do not pick up tones from immersion alone so people who only input come out speaking basically atonal Mandarin until and unless they start tone training, and that can take a while.
This is a key difference between Mandarin and Japanese, where most of these examples stem from. With Japanese, learners who only immerse don't pick up pitch accent. But that matters much less. You can still be fluent in Japanese without pitch accent but you can't be fluent in Chinese without tones.
Nearly any language anyone could learn has features that require active study and dedicated practice to understand and use correctly. It just so happens for western learners of Mandarin, that they will struggle with tones because it simply doesn't exist as a way to pass lexical information in the Sprachbund.
If a user does not begin studying them from day 1, that is a choice they can make, but doing so they should be aware of the consequences, namely that it will still be hard to learn after a year and a half of immersion. That doesn't inherently mean the advice to wait on output pending that understanding is a bad thing.
Finnish has 15 grammatical cases. A learner can choose to forego learning them, but when they go to speak they can say wildly incorrect (incomprehensible) things by not using the correct grammatical case.
Swedish and Norwegian are rhythmically tonal (or have a pitch accent), and a ton of different vowel sounds. Flattening everything to schwa, and talking platt will at best make you sound Danish, and in all circumstances more or less incomprehensible.
Every language has these examples.
"Nearly any language anyone could learn has features that require active study and dedicated practice to understand and use correctly. It just so happens for western learners of Mandarin, that they will struggle with tones because it simply doesn't exist as a way to pass lexical information in the Sprachbund."
>Some languages have features of the oral language, e.g. tones, that will prevent learners reaching fluency - or even speaking the language in a manner that is comprehensible to native speakers - through mass input alone, and some don't. That's the crucial distinction.
Pitch accent, accent, cases, genders - they may be all good examples of features which require additional work besides pure input. But they will usually NOT provide a barrier to comprehension. Since they are not essential, the psychological blow from not acquiring them after thousands of hours of pure input is less brutal.
I think we need to stop pretending that this distinction isn't a) real and b) central to this discussion.
Languages have unique sounds that often times a learner will literally be unable to hear, for possibly ever.
Being able to accurately produce the sounds in the right way is a necessary requirement to speak the language. It is unusual that learners need to learn an entirely new vector which they must use to communicate lexical information (relative pitch), but also not unheard of (see any sign language...).
If you can listen to a sound, and correctly understand it reliably, I don't see how can you say it's not really internalized correctly. Now being able to output that correctly and reliably is a completely different matter that needs to be practiced separately.
I understand for many that inability to say anything accurately without the basic requirements may be a cruel dose of reality if they are unprepared or misled, but, again, so long as that's not being hidden or misconstrued, I don't see it as an issue.
If you were to get good at baseball, and as a pitcher. It doesn't matter how long you practice pitching, you won't wake up being an expert hitter. You will have developed instincts about hitting, and will probably get better more quickly when you start, but without dedicated practice you better hope you're in the AL.
It has nothing to do with children Vs adults unless you're specifically talking about time available, which was exactly my point. Or unless you believe there are 'special' baby brains.
The two biggest factors that separate Adults from children are (IMO):
- Time (the biggest reason)
Possibly 3 if you factor in 1st language interference. That said, if you spend the time in total immersion that factor diminishes massively (in the long term).
We're mainly talking about time (IMO). You're comparing adult learners who, on average, spend around 2-3 hours/day (and probably not even everyday), for 2-3 years (again, this seems to be about the average time period it takes learners to come to the conclusion that acquisition "doesn't work") with children who spend 7+ years in total immersion, all day, everyday.
Show me an adult who's spent 7 years in total, full time immersion, with zero time spent in their native language, and I'll show you someone who has fully acquired the language. Even tones can be acquired if you spend the necessary time, and replicate (as best you can) the environment.
The issue isn't the theory of acquisition itself, but rather that adults are expecting the same results without doing the same thing. Intensity also seems to play a big part. There's a huge difference between doing an hour/day for 10 years Vs 7 hours/day for 18 months. You have to completely saturate the brain for acquisition to happen, which is something those who argue against it don't seem to realise. The argument against always seems to completely ignore intensity and time. It comes from people expecting full time pay for part time work.
Just to address the other point, no child listens to their native language and then 'suddenly wakes up one morning able to speak their target language." The reason: because they have a HUGE survival need to communicate, and so they don't have the luxury to put it off until further down the line. Most adult learners do have this luxury.
I hope this doesn't come across as too preachy, The truth is nobody yet knows; we're all speculating. It's just that I, and those who support language acquisition theory, include the biggest sample size there is (native speakers) in our argument, whereas you, and those who don't, don't.
"If a user does not begin studying them from day 1, that is a choice they can make, but doing so they should be aware of the consequences,"
I don't get how anyone could even attempt to learn Mandarin and end up with atonal Mandarin, it's sort of a fundamental aspect. It'd be like going years without realizing what conjugations were. The tone sandhi of "bù" was explained on day 1 in my lessons. Minimal pairs show up almost right away, "Tā zài nǎr? Tā zài nàr" appeared on day 5 for me. You'd have to be pretty thick to not notice something's up with pitch. Seriously, who doesn't learn about the existence of tones on day 1? (I don't think we're talking about the extreme case of never having learned *anything* about the language, and you only learned from exposure. Everyone learns at least a few tidbits here and there. Even if you knew nothing, there's a lot minimal pairs in Chinese, if you listen at least several hundreds hours, you'd have to realize something was up.)
Maybe if you followed a traditional skill building course that's fundamentally backwards where you get just a couple minutes (if that) of listening a week and focus on text most of the time, you could end up with messed up, extremely incomplete results, like most language learners at school. It boggles my mind how common it is for people to think they can just read and somehow end up being able to interact orally in the language, as if phonology doesn't require exposure to acquire. Without listening exposure, your brain can't even segment the string of speech sounds into words, much less understand the words.
Agreed. I don't see how it's possible for a person to have acquired a "5" in their comprehension of spoken Mandarin without an internalized understanding of how tones work. It seems literally impossible. But to output them is still not going to be a straightforward or easy journey.
Now if the argument in all of this it's not even possible to reach a "5" in listening comprehension from immersion alone, well that's a different argument, but also one I'd think we'd have evidence of...
And yes, we need to listen to things to gain listening comprehension :). We cannot read and magically wake up understanding spoken language in the same way we cannot listen and wake up speaking.
Hi, random idea: do we have datapoints on tone accuracy of late talkers? Just how bad are those suckers, especially compared to precocious talkers?
I might be willing to offer a sample, that is, once I start speaking (currently planned after reaching 2k hours of listening). But maybe other LingQ users are willing to share some samples? For the sake of moving this discussion out of the realm of theory. There appear to be multiple input based Chinese learners in this thread...
@bamboozled I assumed you knew. We don't use any actual data points to convince one another over here. Just personal anecdotes and armchair hypothesizing.
In fact, I'm even more incredulous if someone links me a study that I won't read. It could say anything in there!
I think the recommendation to not output early is less 'avoid output at all costs until you understand everything' and more so because Refold mostly aim their advice to those living and working/going to school in one country while learning another language, without much access in their environment to native speakers.
During those stages where you understand relatively little of the language in the first place, I think their suggestion is that for most people in that position - given the conversations you are likely able to have - it's probably not worth the time/effort/money it may take to find native speakers to talk to when those resources might be better spent on getting good input, which is what will facilitate learning anyway.
I think they'd say that if you did happen to find yourself in a bar with a bunch of spaniards, say, during those early stages there definitely won't be any harm in attempting a conversation and having a good time with what you have. Different circumstances apply to different people.
I like the idea, but I always say to start talking whenever you feel like it and you shouldn't force someone that doesn't want to talk yet. If you want to talk early and have willing interlocutors, go for it. If you prefer to wait until your level is higher, that's good too. Imo, I'd say around the B1 to B2 threshold is about right.
Other than a 1 minute convo with a guy selling tamales (and unless you count babbling to myself, practicing pronunciation) my first conversation in Spanish was a complete conversation 30-45 minutes long. I wasn't necessarily at the level of understanding every single word all of the time but I was at the level of using anything as comprehensible input (no problem understanding telenovelas, news, etc, much of the time word for word, but still using context to fill in often). So I'd say a high B1. If B2 is "regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party." I'd say I wasn't far from that, definitely not fluent but certainly able to "get by".
I have zero interest in talking too early, it's like trying to run with my shoe laces tied, it's just too frustrating. I did the exact opposite in French, I tried speaking every chance I got before I had any business trying to talk (despite good grades after years of traditional skill-building classes), I was absolutely fearless, and it was just disaster after disaster after disaster (I was studying abroad at the time). I was a pain in the butt for every French person I interacted with. With Chinese, I'm just gonna chill, get my input, get at least a few Chinese TV series under my belt and someday I'll do some talking (or maybe not, not a lot of Chinese people around where I live).
I don't buy into any language being more or less special than any other one. So maybe this is a sort of middle ground between refold and talk on day one, although I think I definitely lean towards the refold view.
Well that's fine, you're not that bothered whether you can eventually speak Chinese fluently or not. But for the majority of people who do want to speak fluently, it might make sense to pay attention to what people who have achieved that goal did.
And as I keep repeating: I have seen zero success stories for people who followed the Refold Chinese method of only outputting once they could already understand everything.
"I don't buy into any language being more or less special than any other one."
WHat does that mean? No language is more "special" than any other languages. But different languages clearly come with distinct challenges and cannot be approached in exactly the same way.
Apologies in advance if I'm miscontruing some things (and I haven't watched the video yet, but will try to).
I think the question is whether speaking early or speaking late should be a MANDATE--or one approach considered "better" than the other. On this point I agree with jahufford. Do it when you feel like it. One can argue maybe which is more efficient or "better", but I think that will depend on the person frankly. If refold is saying it is better to wait until some defined timeline, then they are wrong. If someone is saying one should start speaking from day one or that you need to speak early, I believe they are wrong..
I personally want to speak German fluently at some point myself, however, I've chosen to wait until I can understand more meaningful conversations, or I have enough words to express something at least mildly interesting. This isn't to say I've not spoken in German at all, or had basic conversations or interactions, but any bit of speaking I do is on my own timeline of comfort. I also speak to myself occasionally as practice mostly. Occasionally to my gf. I will certainly start to transition into it more and have done so already...but again on my timeline.
Of course, caveat...I don't HAVE to do anything. So if there's the question of what's more efficient, my approach might not be as efficient possibly, although I don't know that it isn't either. Again, I think it's up to the individual mostly.
"If refold is saying it is better to wait until some defined timeline, then they are wrong. If someone is saying one should start speaking from day one or that you need to speak early, I believe they are wrong.."
>Right, I totally agree. People have different goals. But people are going to refold for a specific purpose. Refold claims to offer a roadmap for the most efficient way to learn a language to a high level.
"I've chosen to wait until I can understand more meaningful conversations,"
>That sounds like a totally sensible and reasonable choice.
But waiting until "you can understand close to everything" in the hope that you will one day magically wake up and speak fluently? I'm sorry, let's call a spade a spade: that's extreme. People are entitled to hold extreme and unfounded views but the rest of us should be free to describe those views for what they are. I think it's bad advice and I've never met anyone who followed that advice and got good results for Mandarin.
I think this credo of output-delay goes back to a website call antimoon, this message was then picked up by AJATT and is now in its third incarnation over at refold. The purported reason for output avoidance was, if I understand correctly, that it might do irreparable harm, especially to one's accent. But I have not seen or heard of any evidence bolstering this claim.
But people are going to refold for a specific purpose
I assume that people who prioritize output don't choose refold as their language guide. Why would they? Output as in communicating with other using the target language is clearly only a marginal issue in the guide. I'm certain that people who just want to get talking asap are better served following a guide by someone like Benny Lewis for example, a guide who puts output at front and center.
I'm also entirely unsurprised that few people following a delayed output approach reach high levels of output proficiency. Because output cannot be a high priority for them, else they wouldn't have avoided speaking for x years.
And not prioritizing output will naturally result in weaker results in that domain. While people who actually care about output will most likely start earlier and allocate more resources toward their goal than their peers in the output-avoidance camp.
"I assume that people who prioritize output don't choose refold as their language guide. Why would they?"
>Because many people look at success stories like Matt Vs Japan who *speaks* incredible Japanese and think...I want to achieve that but for Mandarin. Large numbers of Refolders ultimately want to *speak* near native level Mandarin.
And they are told that the best way to do that is to not output for the first two years until they can understand "everything." A strategy which for Mandarin has, as far as I know (any nobody has yet contradicted me on this point) never worked in the history of language learning.
And I am literally the ONLY person here who sees this as in any way problematic?
The mind boggles.
Cool, someone else that talks to themselves!
Along with my babbling practice, I found that as I was watching my telenovelas, I'd just start spontaneously forming sentences in my head, and started doing a little talking to myself. Eventually I got to a point where I felt like if I get an opportunity, I should try talking with someone. So it's not magically starting talking, I was practicing the muscle movements to pronounce things, and doing some talking to myself, so I guess you could say I was talking, but I wasn't forcing it. It was completely stress-free and just sort of spontaneous. Sounds similar to your approach.
But people are going to refold for a specific purpose I assume that people who prioritize output don't choose refold as their language guide.
For many of us "hobby learners" who are doing this later in life for personal interests, the refold method is a good starting template for self taught people who have never learned a language on their own before (and on the website I think it mentions that there aren't any hard and fast rules, except to prioritizing enjoying oneself to avoid burnout.) And again, the refold discord is full of cool people that are trying out different strategies and sharing what works and doesn't work for them.
Yes, if you need / really prioritize speaking, you should practice speaking. But if you 1. don't live in your TL country or have plans to go there, 2. don't know any native speakers, 3. don't have time or money (or are really cheap like me haha) to spend on classes or tutors... why force speaking from the beginning if you don't feel like it? You can master the other domains being self taught, and it turns out a lot of fun happens consuming content and interacting on the internet anyway - I've been enjoying shit posting comments on the danmu screens which is enough output and interaction I need for now.
People are really different, no one size approach fits everyone, it's important to take advice from various people who have achieved what your specific goals are - I don't recommend telling everyone that "You Will Regret Not Speaking!" - it's kinda offputting...
(You won't regret learning to get to a high reading comprehension... books are super nifty)
If you're doing a lot of listening, why would tones get internalized incorrectly? I'm certainly open, though skeptical, to the idea of there being some sort of feedback loop that output provides that helps with acquisition making it quicker/more efficient. Maybe some words *might* be incompletely acquired (maybe you just haven't paid enough attention to which tone it is until you try to say it, but if there's enough minimal pairs, you should still hear the difference), but incomplete is different than incorrect, and this would apply to basically any aspect of phonology, not just tones.
By special I mean I find most statements of the following form to likely be dubious "but with a language like X, it's different, you have do something different." Languages are languages and the human brain is the human brain. If early output is best for Mandarin, why not other languages too? Is it only an relative effect depending on L1?
Acquiring phonology is hard in any language. Every language has its peculiarities relative to your own language that might require a slight shift of focus, but a fundamentally different approach?
I have done both, but I am not really certain what conclusions to draw:
I started speaking Swedish and Norwegian (and German, but that was in school a long time ago), before I even knew about the input hypothesis. I talked about this before, but my first Swedish conversation in August of 2020, I Googled how to say my name and how old I was, and the proceeded to say it wrong.
During those first two months I read a lot about the grammar in Swedish and Norwegian and could have talked about nearly any concept in their grammars. But I'd say 99% of my "conversations" were me talking in English. When I learned about input, bought books I was familiar with, and forced myself to read them, my progress was rapid, and there was very little divide between things I could understand and things I could say.
In May of 2021, I became curious on how much Danish I could understand, and then read "Den lille havfrue" one random night. I tried to also start reading Dutch but that turned out to be too much. I continued with Danish for 30-60 minutes of input from May until having my first conversation December of 2021. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life, because I understood the entirety of what was said to me, and was almost incapable of saying things in Danish, my mouth had no idea what to do and everything was some weird "svorsk". I kept up with it, selecting tutors that do not understand Swedish or Norwegian (very well), and my progress week over week was unrecognizable.
I have never "studied" Danish grammar, but I have noticed over time the differences between Swedish and Norwegian. I also did not practice any Danish pronunciation before my first conversation.
In December of 2021 I picked Dutch up again, and read roughly 30 minutes a day, and had my first conversation 3-4 weeks ago. I did study some Dutch grammar (in Dutch) through that time and I did practice pronunciation of words I had a hard time hearing (e.g., graag gedaan). And my first conversation was possibly worse than Danish. Again, I found it very hard to not speak German or English. After week 1, I made a cheat sheet showing random words and phrases I like to use and their conjugations and have that up on a monitor to peak at in an attempt to not speak accidental German. Weeks 2 and 3 were much easier and I expect it to progress just as rapidly.
I did "speak early" with lots of corrections in tandem with mass input before learning a similar (mutually intelligible) language using input only. Even in that case, I did not wake up one day with a magical ability to speak that new language.
Agree on the point of hearing tones -- it's important. And I don't believe for a second the people linked on that page just started speaking for the first time.
But I have not done much output over three years and I don't regret it. A hard policy of -no- output is obviously not a good idea, but depending on one's personality waiting may be better.
My comprehension is C1 - C2 (I attend university level German language philosophy courses) but my output is B1 - B2. Sometimes I can still stumble in the simplest situations at a restaurant or something.
But here's the thing: I am only interested in real conversations with real people about real things. While learning I have not burdened my friends with “what's your favorite color” style conversations, nor have I engaged in much role playing where I pretend to call a hotel to make a reservation. Maybe this has stifled my growth, but I don't mind. It depends on your personality, and your friends, but if you want to talk about real things, it will take a while to learn the necessary vocabulary and expressions in the domains you aren interested in.
Another benefit of waiting is that I feel like I am not dealing with everything at once. I'm at the point where I understand almost everything I hear. So conversations for me are purely an output struggle, I'm not struggling at the same time to understand the other person and form sentences.
This all depends on personality. Some people would enjoy language class style roleplaying and that's ok. But for some waiting a long time to output works better.
As I said, I can't speak for other languages.
For Mandarin? DISASTER.
And anyone who disagrees please find me a single example of a successful Mandarin learner who waited until they could "understand everything" before outputting.
My question to you is what exactly do you understand and what exactly do you speak with little language exposure?
I am currently attending a formal language course at a language school where early speaking is encouraged in terms of asking questions about the language itself and about some randomly chosen topics. My experience over the months of observing these students speaking German is that 9 out of 10 times they can not string together a coherent sentence and moreover they are internalizing mistakes/sounds heavily influenced by their native languages. The teacher is too lazy to point out their mistakes and is under time pressure to complete his syllabus.
Your early speaking approach is like a suicide bomb ready to detonate if there is no "feedback loop" at all on offer as was the case in the above-mentioned formal language course.
Not everyone can find a patient native speaker friend who can provide nonstop feedback about their mistakes and then they are constantly making sure to fix them in their spare time.
With massive language input exposure, it is not that hard to convert your passive knowledge into active knowledge and develop some sort of spoken fluency. And you develop a clear mental image of your foreign language.
I've already covered this extensively on my podcast and blog.
Find me a single example of a sucessful Mandarin learner who waited until they could "understand everything" before outputting.
Tick tock, tick tock....
Doesn't it make more sense to ask the question somewhere where people following the method actually hang out, such as the Refold Mandarin discord server? Then you can come back and enlighten us.
Right now it feels a bit like you're asking an empty room and taking the lack of response as confirmation that your opinion is correct.
"they are internalizing mistakes/sounds heavily influenced by their native languages."
That's the main reason I think early output is a mistake. You literally can't say anything of substance without resorting to the structures of your native language, activating improper neural pathways.. Whether this has lasting negative effects, I don't know.
This sort of thing can go to ridiculous levels, I remember speaking French with another American at a French meetup and he was having trouble understanding a word I was saying (I've worked very hard on my French pronunciation and it's pretty decent, not perfect of course), so I said the word with a thick American accent (basically say it how it's spelled but with English phonology) and then he understood. Clearly, he's someone that hasn't listened enough, his phonological development just wasn't there. He had the wrong mental picture, so to speak, of what the word sounded like. If you can't recognize the word when it's spoken, how could you even hope of pronouncing it correctly on your own?
On the flip side, I think output can make you notice things you might have just passed over before, since there's so much redundancy and context in language. So I think output does play a role, Of course, outputting requires developing the neurological structures to do that, and to an extent you have to output to do that. But again, how can you output something if you don't already have the understanding of it?
well learning languages IS a simultaneously process, only for entirely talented can not we reach that by mentioned things. Now I have been struggling with Japanese study for which I can not output early times for some private reasons then here I came to the forum
A link to the guide in question: https://refold.la/roadmap/stage-3/a/starting-output