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How to learn any language in six months: Chris Lonsdale

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Lu

Agreed with Roddy. His Chinese is not perfect, but it's certainly good. Mind, that doesn't say anything about whatever learning method he is trying to sell or other claims that he might make. Just saying that he speaks Chinese well.

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Weyland

The question is; does he speak Chinese well enough for someone who has supposedly studied it for 40 years and is selling us his teaching/studying method?

No.

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roddy

Again, I've not watched the whole thing, so maybe there's a part where he gets left and right mixed up and mispronounces some stuff. (Oh wait, I do that. In my native language). But I'd say either 'yes' or 'the question is wrong'. You'd expect someone selling a methodology to have used that methodology successfully, I suppose, but also... do you have to? Me selling a book on interior design doesn't mean I HAVE to have a pretty house. I suspect, with the benefit of extra years of hindsight, I could offer a new learner a course of study which, if applied, would result in better Chinese than I had at any point in the process.

 

If I have an issue, it's with the general sale of methodologies. I think it's a bit of a red herring. Pick any reasonable one, put the hours in, you'll all end up in the same place. The differences between them are likely marginal and down to personal preference. Perhaps like diets.

 

I also think there's something weird going on which I don't understand. Do you get these kind of discussions on sites for learning French, Arabic, Russian? 

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Jan Finster
23 minutes ago, Weyland said:

The question is; does he speak Chinese well enough for someone who has supposedly studied it for 40 years and is selling us his teaching/studying method?

No.

 

I am not sure you can claim that he studied it for 40 years. Rather, he studied it 40 years ago. Steve Kaufman studied Chinese 55 years ago and it is clear that Chinese has not been his focus in life for a very long time. Still, while I would say his Chinese is not as good as Chris', I think it is still pretty Ok. I think there is a tendency to reactively devaluate Chris because of his claims and his self-promotion that borders on narcissism.

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Weyland
1 hour ago, Jan Finster said:

Still, while I would say his Chinese is not as good as Chris', I think it is still pretty Ok. I think there is a tendency to reactively devaluate Chris because of his claims and his self-promotion that borders on narcissism.


I'm not saying his Chinese is bad. I'm just saying it isn't praise worthy for a 40 year long track record. Whenever I'm judging someone's Chinese skill I think by myself; how long have they been studying Chinese? Where have they been studying Chinese? If this were a Chinese person talking in English with the same amount of skill, how would they be judged?

In 1980 he studied for 4 years on the mainland, then he moved to Hong Kong. And since then he has been producing content about Chinese and language acquisition. Which makes me assume it is his job. If I met a Chinese person with the same skill in English then I know for a fact he wouldn't be praised for his English in any nation within the aglosphere. Just because someone is praised in China just for saying 你好, doesn't mean we shouldn't compare like with like.

But, hey. Maybe I'm being biased. Maybe I shouldn't hold people to the same standards I hold myself to. For the last 2 years I have been improving my pronunciation, which has always been bad due to being hard of hearing. As such I pay much closer attention to his pronunciation than is maybe warranted. I just find it farcical that someone with his background and who toots his own horn as much as he does doesn't have better Chinese. You don't see me posting stuff on the internet with the title "my Chinese pronunciation has become more standard  than most Chinese" kind of nonsense you'll often see plastered over Youtube. No. What I'll do instead is; I'll get my 一级乙等 (1B >92%) certificate in the first half of next year, post it once on my socials and then shut up about it.
 

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roddy

Honestly, yes - I think you've set a very high bar for yourself, and credit to you, but... I suspect, but may be wrong, that native speakers make similar slips, and if you're hard of hearing and have spent two years working on pronunciation - you can probably pick things up that nobody else would notice, especially if just listening / communicating, as opposed to evaluating.

 

Have you come across any non-native speakers of Chinese who you think meet the standard you're aiming at? 

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Flickserve
29 minutes ago, Weyland said:

Which makes me assume it is his job. If I met a Chinese person with the same skill in English then I know for a fact he wouldn't be praised for his English in any nation within the aglosphere. Just because someone is praised in China just for saying 你好, doesn't mean we shouldn't compare like with like.


Wait. I don’t think anyone here is saying he’s fantastic and perfect nor gushing over about his level of Chinese. 
 

He is competent and relaxed about using it and can use it comfortably.

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Weyland
9 minutes ago, roddy said:

Have you come across any non-native speakers of Chinese who you think meet the standard you're aiming at?


To be fair, I haven't been looking. Most of the people I try to emulate are Chinese. Dashan is probably the guy you want to compare Chris Lonsdale with. Chris started in 1980, Dashan started in 1984.

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roddy

To paraphrase Indiana Jones, it ain't the years, honey, it's the hours. 

12 minutes ago, Flickserve said:

I don’t think anyone here is saying he’s fantastic and perfect nor gushing over about his level of Chinese.

As far as I can see on a quick look, he doesn't even describe himself as anything other than fluent - which seems reasonable, and if we can avoid a discussion on what that means, that'd be great. 

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Weyland
1 minute ago, roddy said:

and if we can avoid a discussion on what that means, that'd be great. 


So... The popcorn back in the cupboard?

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roddy

Only on what fluency means, which we've done several times to no conclusion.

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Jan Finster
1 hour ago, Weyland said:

I'm not saying his Chinese is bad. I'm just saying it isn't praise worthy for a 40 year long track record. Whenever I'm judging someone's Chinese skill I think by myself; how long have they been studying Chinese? Where have they been studying Chinese? If this were a Chinese person talking in English with the same amount of skill, how would they be judged?

 

To Weyland's defense, he is right about having higher expectations and applying a stricter set of criteria when judging someone, who makes teaching Chinese part of his public persona. 

I can ride a bicycle without killing myself in the city, but if I claimed, I was a cycling specialist, you would expect somewhat more. 

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Tomsima

I used to speak fairly okay Hindi back when I did a lot of traveling through India and Nepal. The first time I went to India, before leaving I spent two weeks reading through a grammar book and learnt a few hundred words. When I arrived in India I took a 27 hour train journey across the continent and managed to hold an hour long conversation in Hindi with a friendly passenger while onboard. The more we spoke, the more I felt how accomplished at how fluent my language abilities were, I was perhaps even a language genius! However, years later it seems obvious that the passenger was just good at learning what my strange limited expressions meant, and the more we spoke the more he was able to navigate my strange butchered Hindi.

 

I would presume this man's tales of going to China, where you are praised as being fluent for anything beyond a ni hao, are much the same, and he's running with his story because he's been telling it for so many years anyway. 

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杰.克

How to learn a language in 6 months?.... You can't

 

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/60348-a-normal-persons-guide-to-becoming-fluent-in-chinese/

 

On 8/31/2020 at 3:43 PM, 杰.克 said:

Something I reflect on alot, is people tend to have a warped view of how long it takes to become fluent in Chinese a language. I myself had it when I started. I told myself that if I did a year studying Mandarin at university in China, I would definitely be fluent in Chinese. 1 year? what the hell was I thinking. In part it's difficult not to think this way, with snappily titled Youtube videos such as "30 days to fluency" or engaging language services such as "The Mandarin Blueprint". It gives the sense, that becoming fluent is easy, can be done in a short amount of time, and is achievable in a smooth and routine  manner.

 

Well it can't. 

 

The guy is leveraging an extremely clickbait title, to sell a product. Simple as. He is wilfully misleading people to make money. That being said, its part and parcel of the modern content world. Anyone that puts out content, has to engage in this practice.  So no blame to him, AT ALL. If he hired me as a marketing officer, I would do the exact same thing.  It's just particularly aggrieving, when you know personally how much SHIT it is to say you can "learn" (only using the word learn, in my mind means you learn to completion) a language in 6 months. Mandarin Blueprint, 1 tip for PERFECT fluency, Fluent in 6 months, whatever farcical title people use blah blah blah. It's all sexed up marketing to sell product. But they have to do it. Otherwise their content (which may be very good) wouldn't get any exposure.

 

Because who is gonna buy the course called - Chinese, but its quite hard, and takes a long time to get a grip on, and perhaps even a lifetime to master. The 1258 Step , occasionally opaque Blueprint!

 

P.S - His Chinese seemed good enough to me. The Chinese people I see marketing english courses on douyin, I often think sound weird.

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roddy

Maybe capitalism is the problem. 

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Weyland
52 minutes ago, roddy said:

Maybe capitalism is the problem. 


*Takes out the popcorn again.*

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Lu

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: a big part of the problem is that monolingual people have no idea what it's like to learn a language, while people who have learned at least one language that is not their mother tongue have a much clearer idea of what kind of effort and time investment is needed. Monolingual people then see that some people do manage to learn another language, but not knowing how they did it, they're susceptible to snake oil remedies.

 

We see it here with English-speaking snake oil peddlers, but one can probably see it happen the other way around for Chinese people who want to learn English. I highly doubt it would be as easy to sell this stuff to Dutch or Swedish people. We spent years learning English/German/French and achieved a decent level, so we know it's completely possible to learn a language, but there are no real shortcuts, it just takes time and effort.

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Tomsima

I think its just human nature. I've been working really hard on my shorthand skills over the last three months or so (which is why ive not been around here much lately), and ive noticed in the equivalent 'shorthand forums' there are often people talking about reaching a certain WPM within a certain ridiculously short time span, then they bask in the congratulations and questions of how they did it. Is it a modern marketing thing, or is it just  humanity,,,

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imron
8 hours ago, roddy said:

Maybe capitalism is the problem. 

That's what Mao thought.

10 hours ago, 杰.克 said:

Because who is gonna buy the course called - Chinese, but its quite hard, and takes a long time to get a grip on, and perhaps even a lifetime to master. The 1258 Step , occasionally opaque Blueprint!

I'm going to call mine "Fluent in 60 months"

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Demonic_Duck

I'm all for structural explanations, but "because capitalism" seems a bit reductive. Exploitation of child labor is also ultimately down to capitalism, but that doesn't mean individual companies shouldn't be criticized for it.

 

Misleading marketing for a language course is obviously a lot less unethical than exploiting child labor, but it's still ethically questionable. It's also not so widespread that criticizing it would mean criticizing the entire industry. Plenty of businesses seem to manage to sell courses without claiming fluency in X months.

 

I think maybe the problem is businesses that have a mediocre product with nothing real to differentiate it. Where there's a real value proposition, the marketing centers around that. Where such a value proposition is lacking, it becomes "learn in X months" almost by default.

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