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I really hope I could show you around the Incubator internal course editor to see how things work but sadly I can't. In general, it is not the case that if one wants to add a sentence, just simply type it out and click "add". Each word must be "corresponding" depending on the skill order. These sentences are the results of adding process. We may improve it during beta to make more sense? Yes, but evidently it takes time.
Of course, I understand that it takes a lot of effort and time. And I'm honestly thankful somebody found that time and energy to do it. I am just trying to point out any flaws so when the time comes to make the course better it is easier to do so with all the feedback as input.
Coming back to this thread a month later, I must say that this one little silly sentence really made an impact on my learning. It really drove home the attention to qualifiers and similar looking words, and now it is getting pretty natural, but it really started back with "ăn một cái ca."
This is actually the better way, I do not understand why people continue to criticize using nonsense sentences for teaching. Grammar does not need to make sense. We lie all the time, but in a grammatically correct way. Grammar is like a 'conscience', it is the rules of a language. Example: Horses that think for themselves smoke cigarettes every night. Did that make sense? No, but it is definitely, definitely grammatically correct. And sentences like these are better for teaching so users will not just guess the words just to find the 'sense' and just to make sense, that's not learning grammar at all.
All of that was very well said, except for your comparison of Grammar to a "conscience". Your conscience is the thing that makes you feel guilty or regret certain things you've done, and I fail to see how it at all relates to a grammatical system. I think maybe you might have meant that grammar is something to be "conscientious" about, meaning paying close attention and being aware of it. Despite the similarities, these two words mean very different things. Besides that though, very well spoken post.
Of course a sentence can be semantically nonsense and syntactically flawless. 'Colorless green ideas sleep furiously,' and all that. No one is arguing otherwise. The question is whether it is helpful or a hindrance for a student to be drilled on such a sentence early on in learning a language.
Yes, sentence like that are better for learning, without a doubt! I have tackled that already in my comment. With normal sentences, students will just find the sense and guess the word. But that isn't what learning a language is. You have to understand the grammar despite the nonsense.
Finding the sense and guessing the word from context is ok. Honestly, it is. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm not sure why people think that's to be discouraged. In fact, guessing from context is how we all learned our first language as an infant! You didn't learn your first language by your parents 'tricking' you with vocabulary with minimal pairs to make sure you know the difference between 'foot' and 'food'. And learning through context is how language immersion also works.
Yes, it does mean that right now, at this moment, you may not be able to make the fine vocabulary distinctions that you'll want to be certain you can make later, but the point in early language learning is not to make those fine distinctions but to get a good grasp on the feel of the language and to begin to use it comfortably. That's why, for example, one can learn that 'S'il vous plait' is the equivalent to 'please' in French without necessarily being taught to fully parse it out that it literally translates as 'if it pleases you'. Being able to thoroughly parse word-by-word can come later. In contrast, being forced to make too many fine distinctions early on — however important they certainly can be for eventual vocabulary mastery! — can hinder the development of the linguistic patterns that are more important at that stage, by forcing students to work with the language too deliberately and less fluidly. Instead of confidence, it instills second-guessing.
As an extreme example, I don't know of any language course which would test a student on translating a sentence like, 'Yesterday my sister will go to the store when he buys it.' Syntactically, there's not really anything wrong with that sentence, but semantically it's a mess. But it would be absurd to argue: 'Students should be able to parse verb tenses and not just assume from the contextual word "yesterday" that the verb will be past tense.' Because we all recognize that language is a naturally occurring thing, where context matters, and is not just something to be learned in a lab for isolated testing purposes.
While 'Eat a mug!' vs. 'Eat a fish!' may test the ability to make a particular vocabulary distinction, it doesn't do so in a way that aids the student's ability to comfortably operate in the language. And THAT is the end goal of learning a language.
The purpose may be to introduce the alphabet, and you may say the meaning of the sentence is not the focus, but the meaning of the sentence is exactly what the learner is 'graded' on, so having a completely nonsensical sentence like this does NOT aid learning, but probably hinders it.
Yes, this is a good sentence to test whether you know the difference between the word "fish" and "mug" without using the obvious choice. I also like to laugh a bit at their funny sentences. It makes learning fun. When something is really different from the usual, that is when I remember it best. You can also eat a mug made of chocolate.
Then just test the word, not the word within a sentence where it is going to lead to confusion for a beginner. Furthermore, natural context actually leads to better language instincts, since as I already said, language-learning isn't only about learning individual vocabulary (e.g., fish v. mug) but about learning how to think and instinctualize in a different linguistic system. Testing your ability to distinguish fish and mug does not build that skill, especially not within the first couple lessons. When some of the earliest phrases and units which get drilled into a learner in the earliest stages are nonsense, it can hinder the brain's natural language ability and doesn't trust it to sort those things out eventually. In the early stages relying on what makes sense actually HELPS the brain make the natural connections it needs to smoothly speak and read with instinct rather than teaching it to rigidly parse each word individually.