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The natural approach & TPR


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TheWind

Hello everyone

I watched a video on YouTube (can find the link below) created by Jeff Brown, A full-time Spanish professor in the US and a Polyglot of 5+ languages. It discusses the "right" or perhaps most effective way to pickup a language - acquiring it.

in the hourlong video he describes in detail The Natural Approach (acquiring a language like a baby, and not learning it - he emphasizes the difference) and TPR (I forget what it stands for, but had a lot to do with reading and listening to stories)

I've never personally used this approach to study, I've always done a more traditional method of learning new words, grammar etc. So I was curious if anyone here has used it and what are their thoughts. According to the video, he was able to learn Arabic (a level 5 language for us English natives) to at least a intermediate level through this approach in 1-years time. Having spent 7x that long learning Mandarin (and I still have a lot to learn), I can't help but wonder if there is a better and more effective way to study.

I also found it a bit strange, since he's strongly encouraging to just focus on input, at least in the beginning until you have a solid vocabulary, which sort-of contradicts my original belief of the more you speak the faster you'll learn


Interested to hear everyones thoughts, thanks

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=illApgaLgGA 

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markhavemann

I'm always weary of the word "polyglot"...

 

Here is more about the "mass input" idea. If you choose to follow only one link, I'd say Matt vs Japan is probably what you are looking for.

Steven Krashen

Matt vs Japan

AJATT

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markhavemann

I would add that I focus 100% on input. It can be frustrating when you can always hear how terrible you sound. I almost miss the days when I thought my speaking was pretty good because I didn't know better, but I'd say that I have no doubtthat mass input is the only way to becoming good at a language. 

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TheWind
1 hour ago, markhavemann said:

Here is more about the "mass input" idea. If you choose to follow only one link, I'd say Matt vs Japan is probably what you are looking for.

Steven Krashen


Jeff Brown and the video I was referring to mentions Steven Karshen and his book, The Natural Approach, quite a bit. 

 

 

1 hour ago, markhavemann said:

I have no doubtthat mass input is the only way to becoming good at a language.


How long have you been studying and what are your primary or go to sources for input

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markhavemann
1 hour ago, TheWind said:

How long have you been studying and what are your primary or go to sources for input

Ten years on and off with loads of long breaks of no studying at all.

 

In the beginning I did loads of the (free) ChinesePod. Then I guess I floundered a with native content for a long time, not really sure of where to find the right stuff. Working through 家有儿女, some random textbooks, LinQ's content, and I can't remember what else, I sort of brute forced through that phase with the help of Anki and rote vocab learning. 

 

Recently I've gotten to a point where I'm reading news and novels without too much hassle so it's made mass input a lot more fun. I've been reading through 东野圭吾's books because they are interesting and reasonably accessible (possibly in part because they are translated from Japanese). 

 

For TV shows I take recommendations from the "What are you watching" thread somewhere on the forum, or just people around me.  Lately I've got chinese stuff on YouTube playing most of the time passively too. 

 

I wish that I'd done a sentence mining based approach much much earlier. Matt vs Japan has a really good video about using MPV media player and some plugins to mine sentences and lookup words on the fly when watching TV shows. If I had found that video in the beginning I probably would have been able to watch TV  for enjoyment at least a few years earlier than I did. 

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NanJingDongLu
2 hours ago, markhavemann said:

I wish that I'd done a sentence mining based approach much much earlier. Matt vs Japan has a really good video about using MPV media player and some plugins to mine sentences and lookup words on the fly when watching TV shows. If I had found that video in the beginning I probably would have been able to watch TV  for enjoyment at least a few years earlier than I did. 

Could you expand upon this a bit more. This is very interesting to me, but I'm not clear exactly what you mean.

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Flickserve
8 hours ago, TheWind said:


I also found it a bit strange, since he's strongly encouraging to just focus on input, at least in the beginning until you have a solid vocabulary, which sort-of contradicts my original belief of the more you speak the faster you'll learn.

 

You can speak but will you understand the answers? I.e. can you comprehend the input. 

 

Speaking and expressing your ideas is much easier to learn if you can understand the language around you.

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alantin
18 hours ago, TheWind said:

I also found it a bit strange, since he's strongly encouraging to just focus on input, at least in the beginning until you have a solid vocabulary, which sort-of contradicts my original belief of the more you speak the faster you'll learn


I find it strange that you find this strange.

A person's passive vocabulary (the words you can understand but can't come up with when speaking) is always bigger than the active vocabulary (the ones you can use while speaking) and all words will usually first become passive vocabulary and only then through repeated exposure slowly turn into active vocabulary. This is how it works for me based on my experiences learning English, Swedish, and Japanese to fluency (and forgetting Swedish for not using it for 20 years 😅).

 

I first heard about Dr. Krashen about a year ago. For some reason he seems to be a real celebrity among Chinese learners, but I had never heard about him while studying Japanese before, but pretty much everything I've heard him say makes perfect sense to me based on my own experiences learning these languages. Focusing on output really feels to me like putting the cart before the horse.. It is just plain impossible without the input first!

The idea in sentence mining is basically to collect sentences that are interesting to you and preferably contain only one new word. Then you put those in your SRS with audio and review them instead of single units of vocabulary. I basically began my Chinese studies like this. I did Duolingo for a little while and then started booking tutoring sessions on iTalki and basically just made sentences with the tutors and asked them to record them for me. The I would add those into Anki deck and review them (first try to read the sentence and then listen to the audio and check the pinyin), and I'd also listen to them while driving or exercising.

I also from the beginning requested my tutors to only speak mandarin to me even though for full two years I mostly spoke English to them. I didn't really try to force myself to speak Chinese to them until it began to came out naturally. The amount of Chinese in my speech basically increased more or less steadily up to a point where I have been able to leave English out of the sessions, except for checking a few words here and there, for about half a year now. During my first two years I also heavily concentrated on learning the 1500 most used Chinese characters and the tones, but now I'm mostly relying on picking the characters up through exposure and I'm currently concentrating on spoken Chinese and pronunciation.

Now I have been recording the tutor's voice during the sessions since February. I currently have about 5 one hour long chats with tutors every week like this. I then cut the silent parts away and listen to then while driving or exercising for about one or two hours a day. I've also been trying out 20 minutes of hackchinese SRS every day for about two weeks now and read some book for at least 10 minutes every day. That's all I do regularly as my "study time". In addition I chat with few people on WeChat in Mandarin almost every day and watch Chinese television shows or Movies when I feel like it. I also bought a couple of Chinese audio books and am listening to them too sometimes. The television shows and audiobooks are added extra and I'm not really striving to understand them but instead just listen to them and see what I can pick up. Which is more more all the time.

So I would say that in my study, output has only become more pronounced during the last six months but it still probably only accounts for about 10% to 15% of my time spent with Chinese.

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markhavemann
19 hours ago, NanJingDongLu said:

Could you expand upon this a bit more. This is very interesting to me, but I'm not clear exactly what you mean.

Here's a link explaining the basics. 

https://refold.la/roadmap/stage-2/a/basic-sentence-mining/

 

I personally have a card in Anki for specific words. Then I'll also have a sentence field that will make a separate card if it has content in it. Then for many (but not all) of my words I'll have at least two cards, one for the meaning and one with an associated sentence. 

 

For example, for a single word I might have: 

 

Sentence - Front:

image.thumb.png.9d5f31b7cd5f3342697acc458b63f213.png

Sentence - Back:

image.thumb.png.2546e9b6fa0ce7eacaf7ca08379f4235.png
 

Meaning Only - Back:

image.thumb.png.ad6948d6f8467191aad9d66760997ad8.png

etc. 

 

Often if I encounter a word for the first time then I might grab the original sentence that I saw it in. Other times I'll add a sentence to a word later if I find it hard to remember. 

 

The second way is using MPV player and extracting sentences from TV shows and movies. For this I won't have an associated word field for those types of cards, but I might highlight a word that I'm specifically targeting in a sentings. 

 

The BACK of this card will look like the picture below, and the front won't show the sentence text. 

image.thumb.png.adf7bca04f722edd762cce69442719b2.png

 

image.png

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tsitsi

One of my favourite methods in an arsenal of many :) I once did a lesson with this guy on youtube, for Polish to see it in action and I still remember 'Co to jest? To jest banan. To jest jablko'.  It stuck just from the one lesson, so yes definitely works LOL.

 

I find the different ways people learn fascinating. It always leads me down a research rabbit hole :) Here are some methods you can explore as ways people learn languages. Language acquisition theories and Second Language acquisition methods and theories are all fascinating :) I made these notes from a redditor way back when but the post no longer exists, so I use the names (people who propagated the method, or authors with good papers on the method) to help me research further when needed. 

 

'Linguistic' Methods:

  1. Text memorisation i.e. rote learning → memorise textbook, novel or movie, massive repetition involved. Still the most used worldwide, e.g to learn Quran, bible, English in South Korea, China due to Confucian heritage education systems. Pimsleur likely falls here (Y Ding, 2007. Gan, Z., Humphreys, G, & Hamps-Lyon, L. (2004))
  2. Grammar-Translation → Grammar structures that are to be learned and memorised; Said grammar structures are then to be practised by translating between L1 and L2. Most used method to learn classical languages Latin, Ancient Greek... Cook, G. (2010)
  3. The Lexical Approach → e.g. Michael Lewis → help students notice lexical chunks and appreciate their importance; deliberately target selected sets of chunks and apply techniques known to help students commit the chunks to memory; consolidate the knowledge through review → learn in meaningful units. Collocations are important, and there might be something to basing some learning on frequency lists / corpus data (Lindstromberg, S. and Boers, F. (2008) Willis, D. (1990) )
  4. The Comparative Method → scaffold ones own language to learn the second, compare L1 and L2 to aid learning (Lado, R. (1971), Scheffler, P. (2012))

'Natural' Methods:

  1. Total Immersion -> AJJAT, TPR, Silent Way, FLEX, FLES  so many 'immersion' methods..  a learner needs some kind of push for greater precision, and some kind of emphasis on correct form. Flying to Mexico is cool, but regulate and record the input you receive. Languages aren't absorbed by osmosis. (G., Boustagoui, E., Tigi, M., & Moselle, M. (1994))
  2. The Natural Method → Lambert Sauveur → Maximise your use of spoken L2, but maintain some focus of form, 'Co to jest? To jest banan. To jest jablko'. 
  3. The Direct Method → lack of reliance on translation, use pictures not words in your decks →Maximilian Berlitz, Rosetta Stone → Direct association of Perception and Thought with the Foreign Speech and Sound; Constant and exclusive use of the Foreign Language. (Robert Brown)
  4. The Oral Method → Harold Palmer → imitation first (say it), memorise it, learn it, use it in multiple questions → Association with the thing itself; Translation into the L1 (Palmer was not so anti-translation as Berlitz); By definition; By contextualisation.Listen even if you don't understand. Practice the basics until you can do it like a robot. Challenge yourself to just above your current level.
  5. The Reading Method → Algernon Coleman → use of graded readers, no translation; Read. Read widely, and read intensively. but pay attention to new words you come across in intensive reading. Extensive reading will make you a faster reader, but won't necessarily increase your vocabulary. (T Nakanishi, Stephen Krashen. Krashen has a lot of hypothesis that fall in different methods too, check out comprehensible output.)
  6. The Audiolingual Method → Charles Fries and Leonard Bloomfield → repeating the correct form of a sentence with one element changed each time until they had memorised it, known as a pattern drill. memorising is enough to understand it and learn it, and allow for it's active use in the future. -> these also probably fall here: Michel Thomas, Paul Noble, Language transfer
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