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How to learn any language in six months: Chris Lonsdale

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In English, 1000 words covers 85% of anything you’re ever going to say in daily communication. 3000 words gives you 98% of anything you’re going to say in daily conversation. You got 3000 words, you’re speaking the language. The rest is icing on the cake.
Granted, this is better than '50% of all English consists of just 100 words!' or what was it, but this still seems a misconception. It's nice that this guy found a method that worked for him, but I don't think this is any kind of holy grail.

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Victor Mair was not impressed.

I thought that surely it would vie with ShaoLan Hsueh's Chineasy for the worst language boondoggle swallowed by masses.

 

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To be honest, I didn't even look at the numbers. I just looked at the principles and thought they would be helpful (not a Holy Grail)

 

Having seen the criticism, perhaps the mods can just delete this thread

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I wouldn't mind these "1000 words = 85% of typical text" statements if they made clear the intricacies and ability involved in actually producing such text. 85%+ doesn't just suddenly leap out of nowhere with no effort and leaving only the supposedly "harder" (less frequent) words needing to be slotted into readily-filled "gaps" or whatever. There is so much going on in language that it is no mean feat to make even basic utterances cohere well and reasonably idiomatically.

 

And the bonus of taking a more complex (or rather, detailed) view of language and learning, such as COBUILD's lexicogrammatical approach (see the attached pdf, and here: http://arts-ccr-002.bham.ac.uk/ccr/patgram/ ), is that it reveals something very helpful: that items plural of lexis, detailed and organized into shared pattern groupings, is revealed (perhaps unsurprisingly!) to all be similar on the semantic level. The meaning groups of the COBUILD Pattern Grammars are thus providing something akin to a thesaurus, but of not only meaning (hitherto quite decontextualized and handwaved at in more or less the abstract), but also the necessary structure. So in fleshing things out sufficiently one can move more easily between form and meaning, and vice versa. Whod've thought?! LOL

 

Verbs Observed - A Corpus-Driven Pedagogic Grammar.pdf

 

And now Patrick Hanks (editor of NODE fame) is doing something similar with his PDEV (Pattern Dictionary of English Verbs) at Wolverhampton:

http://pdev.org.uk/#browse?q=;f=C

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Flickserve, I don't think that's necessary. While it's not any kind of holy grail or revolutionary method, and while few if any people are going to get 'fluent' (whatever that is) in 6 months, there is still useful advice in there.

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"How to learn any language in 6 months"

the problem is Chinese is not any language :D

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Quick question: why does the subject of language acquisition tend to attract snake oil salesmen? No one says that you can learn rocket engineering in 5 minutes a day.

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On the one hand, people know that learning a foreign language is hard. On the other hand, they also feel that it indeed can't be quite as hard as becoming a rocket scientist. The two poles, hard and not that hard, combine to produce this belief that it can be done, but only or best with a spoonful or two of that skilled orator snake oil to help it "all" go down smoothly.

 

The only problem is, it then becomes a case of linguistic eyes being bigger than linguistic stomach, as it is hard to digest a whole language in just a few soundbites, and most people consequently lose their appetite and give up (and a few may even decide to try rocket science instead!).

 

If only the snake oil salesmen made it clear that the full distance of the linguistic journey was the equivalent of the 384,400 km to the moon (assuming one even makes it into space in the first place). That's obviously quite a way and a lotttt of baby steps (seeing as language learning as opposed to rocket-boosted travel only really has bodily ability and thus "human locomotion" to depend on. Grease not only your tongue but also my brain please, oh snake oil master!). The few spoons of oil soon run out over that distance.

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