Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
studychinese

Calling out the polygots

Recommended Posts

Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

Shelley

This post might just raise your hackles https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/54435-easiest-way-to-pass-hsk-levels-1-and-2/#comment-418270

 

"give me 2 weeks, and i will learn the Chinese characters and grammar for levels 3 and 4, "

 

But on a serious note I understand your point of view completely, the argument that people who have spent time studying to a high level are put out to think that they wasted their time, because these so called polyglots did in so much less time, is the main reason these people (long time studiers) are upset with it, holds no water for me. As you say their patchy grasp of the language eventually shows and at that point the long term studier can take over the conversation.

 

I am not quite sure i would join in the queue to top myself, I do feel my ire rising though and so I have learnt to step away, oh heck, I have not stepped away:shock:

i must be more resolute, I must be stronger..........

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu

On one hand, I don't disagree with you at all, but on the other hand, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. Apparently some people manage to make a living by learning a large number of languages to a dubious level. Well, alright. If they want to waste their time on that...

 

I suppose the reason people are willing to pay for their advice is that they never got decent language education and thus look for a quick fix. That's a much bigger issue, in my opinion. As an illustration: Googling for 'learn Chinese fast' gets me all kinds of claims for learning Chinese fast, in three months, it's easy, what have you. Googling for 'snel Chinees leren' gets me three times Regina Coeli (a thoroughly reputable language school) and a few other pages offering regular courses and promising that if I take a class, I'll soon be able to speak a little Chinese. No quick fixes in language learning for the Dutch, in other words, and it seems to me that that might be because we learn languages in school, and thus know that it is difficult but doable but you need to put in the time.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JerryG11

Benny the Polyglot is the most famous one. I was impressed by him until I heard his Mandarin. Which he says he's fluent in 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
trevorld

I don't know, I find some of the advice from people who have studied multiple languages seem to contain reasonable advice for language deconstruction and sequencing even if you shouldn't adopt all their advice.

 

I thought Gabriel Wyner's book Fluent Forever and word lists contained some reasonable advice towards approaching language learning although you'll want to modify the advice in the book for Chinese (and although probably not intended or derived as such I find the advice in the "Hacking Chinese" blog in many ways to be such a modification to his approach in the book).  For example I think the section on advice based on the academic research on how to effectively drill foreign language sounds one can't initially hear to be applicable for many Mandarin learners (i.e. who can't initially hear many of the tones).   Note he's spent a fair amount of time studying Mandarin but doesn't claim "fluency" in it.  He claims reaching an "intermediate" status in Mandarin or Japanese (which he is better at) should take 1-3 years which doesn't seem crazily optimistic.

 

https://fluent-forever.com/how-to-learn-japanese-or-chinese-update/

 

Although the speed of acquiring "conversational fluency" maybe exaggerated some of the language arbitrage and sequencing advice that Tim Ferriss suggested in some of his blog posts and books seems to have a method in his madness (in particular he had a short section in The 4-Hour Chef on arbitraging conjugations I wish I had read when I was previously learning Spanish in high-school/college but which is irrelevant for Chinese and Esperanto which are the languages I currently practice) .  Note he did learn enough Mandarin (after Japanese) to read comic books and part of his thesis research was on neuroscience and unorthodox acquisition of Japanese by native English speakers but doesn't claim to be a "master hyperglot".  One interesting thing he advocates (that I don't personally do) with regard to learning Mandarin is that it might be easier to learn correct pronunciation with GR romanization instead of Pinyin romanization (since the GR spelling reinforces the intonation).  He also advocates reading comics (if you are into such things) which I do think is pretty good advice (at least for intermediate Mandarin readers who can aesthetically appreciate such art forms).  His writing suggests he doesn't think that learning Mandarin to "fluency" can happen for a native English speaker in 3 months (and he'd probably recommend you learn something like Spanish unless you have a compelling personal reason to learn Mandarin).

 

http://tim.blog/2007/11/07/how-to-learn-but-not-master-any-language-in-1-hour-plus-a-favor/

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
studychinese
20 hours ago, roddy said:

Why call them out on here, where they aren't? Go bother their Youtube comments. Or even better - avoid them. There's a ton of stuff on the Internet that'd annoy me, if I wasted time looking at it. 

 

But this is where they first came to my attention. Since then they have been everywhere like a plague. Besides, I have very little interest in interacting with them. Just venting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Musicmyfriend

I guess I'm a polyglot, but I hesitate to call myself "fluent" in other languages. I let other people do that for me. Even languages that I tested at advanced levels for, I still don't feel adequate enough to call myself fluent in. I enjoy learning languages for sure, but I don't think I'll ever sound completely fluent in anything. English is my native language and a lot of people probably would think I don't sound fluent in that either because I stutter and hesitate a lot when speaking. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Napkat

This thread is like a stress ball, and I love it.

 

I think my main irk with professed polyglotism - particularly the brand of which that manifests itself in fancy YouTube videos - is that it detracts from those who really have earned a high degree of fluency within multiple languages. Richard Simcott's my favourite example of someone who's really earned the title (indeed, hyperpolyglot) and claiming to be such with only an elementary knowledge of a few languages really takes away from what should be a high level of pride and innate achievement in being able to call yourself such.

 

Polyglots in training, sure! But I do wish people would refrain from calling themselves 'polyglots' if they haven't reached the achievement that the word implies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lumbering Ox
On 2017-06-21 at 3:36 PM, JerryG11 said:

Benny the Polyglot is the most famous one. I was impressed by him until I heard his Mandarin. Which he says he's fluent in 

 

I thought he admitted failure in that one.

 

I don't like the guy. He tosses around words like fluent, pre learns some languages and creates unrealistic expectations with his 3 months claim, also based on pictures I've seen he has a very punchable face.
 

 

OTOH, if you look deeper.

He actually defines fluency as being able to speak at IIRC a B2 level. It isn't what most people would think of as fluent but at least he defines the term in some sort of objectiveish way instead of letting it hang and let people assume.

When he has previous experience in a language, he doesn't hide it. He isn't fully up front but if you read enough of his stuff he will admit to it. I don't and even I've come across it.

Also I get the impression that in those 3 months he goes at it pretty much full time, say 90 times 8 is 720, for a Euro language and focusing on the spoken half... Too often when people talk about months and years they never mention how many hours a day and that makes a huge difference. It really is about the hours not the years. Well it's also about the base no treble as I understand it.

 

Still has a pretty punchable face though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
roddy

He's also quite possibly reading this, so, y'know, hold back on the punchable sentences?

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Napkat

I, for one, think he has a lovely face.

Just thought I'd make that known.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
天空神
On 7/14/2017 at 4:13 PM, Musicmyfriend said:

 

I guess I'm a polyglot, but I hesitate to call myself "fluent" in other languages. I let other people do that for me.

 

 

 

This ^^^ 

 

I work at a hotel and I had a family that was staying over that was from 天津. So I started speaking to them in Mandarin while they were checking in. Just asking how there flight was, where they were from and just basic small talk

 

Now I don't consider myself "fluent". I'd consider myself fairly advanced, but the front desk agent said "Hey man, I had no idea you could speak Chinese" then I just said how I was just okay. He says "You sound fluent to me" 

 

point being nobody really knows the difference between Advanced and Fluent. Unless you speak the language of course. I just kind of went with it haha

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
happy_hyaena
6 hours ago, Lumbering Ox said:

He actually defines fluency as being able to speak at IIRC a B2 level. It isn't what most people would think of as fluent but at least he defines the term in some sort of objectiveish way instead of letting it hang and let people assume.

 

I would also define fluency at a B2 level. I wouldn't expect someone at a B2 level to be able to understand a lot of 成语 or anything but they should be able to handle every kind of daily situation, and understand a certain level of native media. They would definitely be conversationally fluent at that point. HSK 6 is basically upper B2, and someone with it should be able to conduct themselves in a professional setting. I know at 南大 you need an HSK 6 to study at one of their Ph.D programmes.

 

6 hours ago, Lumbering Ox said:

Also I get the impression that in those 3 months he goes at it pretty much full time, say 90 times 8 is 720, for a Euro language and focusing on the spoken half... Too often when people talk about months and years they never mention how many hours a day and that makes a huge difference. It really is about the hours not the years. Well it's also about the base no treble as I understand it.

 

 

I think the point is that to the average person (especially to monolingual anglophones), learning a language seems like it's a collosal task that requires several years of hardcore studying, even if it is something "easy" like Spanish or French. So reaching fluency in 3 months, even with 8 hours of studying a day, is a big claim, but from what I see he seems to be able to make do on that in regards to the European languages.

 

(The only ones who could conceivable become "fluent" in Chinese after 3 months are probably those who are already fluent in, say, Cantonese. Koreans, Japanese and maybe Vietnamese as well, could probably come very far in a year.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lumbering Ox
5 hours ago, happy_hyaena said:

 

I think the point is that to the average person (especially to monolingual anglophones), learning a language seems like it's a collosal task that requires several years of hardcore studying, even if it is something "easy" like Spanish or French. So reaching fluency in 3 months, even with 8 hours of studying a day, is a big claim, but from what I see he seems to be able to make do on that in regards to the European languages.

 

I do suspect there is a bit of a difference between putting 720 hours crammed into 3 months vs putting 720 hours over 5 years [3 hours a week] in that in the latter case you are spending a lot of time just trying to relearn what you are forgetting. IIRC in Japanese there is the All Japanese All the Time which is the same idea of doing everything in your target language, only without the actually having to go to another country. I think some of the stuff on AJATT is a bit needlessly extreme.

 

720 hours done in a fine pace isn't very excessive for B2, based on various estimates I've seen though, double plus so if you are focused mostly on the verbal skills.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lumbering Ox
11 hours ago, roddy said:

He's also quite possibly reading this, so, y'know, hold back on the punchable sentences?

 

Fine no Backpfeifengesicht.

 

Note I am not actually advocating the actual action either by myself or anyone else.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
studychinese

Most of us here are Europeans, or part of the European diaspora, or otherwise have English as a first language.

 

When it comes to languages with a close 'language distance'. ie, other European languages, we can consider those languages easy to learn. And indeed, the more we learn, the easier it is to learn additional European languages because we are building upon a common base. This is why the 'polyglots' get stumped when they attempt Asian languages, in particular Chinese, Korean, and especially Japanese (which seems to be the one which stumps them the most). The language distance is so vast that their previous learning has no advantage - effectively they are the same as a second language beginner.

 

European languages are comparatively very similar to each other, which is why we see the polyglots tend to learn a handful of European languages, and fail abjectly when they attempt a non-related difficult language (like the languages of NE Asia).

 

BTW, on a technical level, I qualify as a 'polyglot' but I reject polyglotism. Simple communication strategies are not true communication. I find their shtick shameful. Beginner level in multiple languages is just someone that has never truly known languages.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Andrew78

I think we need to make two considerations:

 

1) you make a video, you rehearse a lot of times, you can make the video again, you had someone helping you with pronounciation and grammar, and you are able to impress people, you got time to prepare, but what about speaking with a guy on the street? what about understanding people beyond going to a pub ordering some food? helluva difference.

 

2) I got a B2 in Spanish in 3 months just because I'm italian and this two languages are very close, so, if an Italian polyglot claims he speaks 10 languages and among them we find French, Spanish and portuguese I will count these three as half, since they would be too easy to learn to impress people.

 

Then, the sole concept of fluency is a trick one, for istance:

 

if I go to Germany, I can order food in German, I can ask for directions, tell people what I do, where I'm from and even have some small talk, but.

 

1) my pronounciation is not good at all

2) I make many mistakes with articles and word order, even though natives are able to understand me

3) could a watch the news on Tv in German? not at all, I would not be able to understand anything

4) Can I read a german newspaper? "maybe" just the headline

 

So, what do you say? Could I include German among the languages I know? Matbe I can say "I speak a little bit of German" but this again could mean anything.

 

I can use German, yeah, but again even if I knew just 20 words in a language I could make some use of them, but that does not mean I really "speak"the language.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...