https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo

Do polyglots tell the truth when they say that anyone can be proficient in a language within a year?

Casper_duo
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They talk about only spending 1 hour a day.
Does that seems accurate to you from your experience?

From what I read from most of the users in this community it doesn't look to be even remotely close to that. They mostly speak on A2 or B1 (if you're lucky) levels. And I'm pretty sure they spent much more then an hour a day to reach even that.

Are those polyglots have better methods? More talented then us? Spend more time? How much time? Work harder?
For being more talented then the common person they say no.

What is their secret then?

I'm talking about reaching C1/B2 if we need to put a definition to proficient.

Edit:
By the way, what do polyglots think about duolingo as an effective learning tool?
I heard almost absolute nothing about them using it for themselves, or praising it as the "future" in language learning.

1 year ago

64 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
Lrtward
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There are tables that estimate how many hours it will take a person to reach various levels of proficiency in certain languages. The tables usually assume that your primary focus is on learning the language and that you're in an intensive course.

I see you're learning German. Here are some examples regarding German.

http://www.languagetesting.com/how-long-does-it-take
German:
8 weeks (240 hours) for the average person to reach Intermediate-Mid level
16 weeks (480 hours) for the average person to reach Advanced Low level
24 weeks (720 hours) for the average person to reach Advanced High level

http://www.effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty
30 weeks (750 hours) to reach “Speaking 3: General Professional Proficiency in Speaking (S3)” and “Reading 3: General Professional Proficiency in Reading (R3)”

I'm not sure how those might equate to C1; I wish everyone would just use the CEFR standards, but they don't.

Now if you do the math, you'll see that these estimates are expecting us to be spending 25 - 30 hours per week studying the language. They also assume a rigorous learning environment. "Ratings represent levels of expected performance for language learners who complete full-time intensive and/or immersion, proficiency-based language training under the supervision of an instructor and with 1-4 students per class." (1st link)

So, CAN you learn a language in a year? Probably.
Can you learn a language in a year studying one hour per day at home for fun? No way.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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You know what I just realized?
All those numbers are just counting the hours spent in a class session.
But it doesn't account to all the hours spent doing homework, researching and learning after class by yourself, the weekends when there is no class, or in the long vacation periods in between.
So you can see how the real number might be much bigger then their best estimation.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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This is the defenition of C1 from wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_European_Framework_of_Reference_for_Languages

16 weeks (480 hours) for the average person to reach Advanced Low level

I did do the math. That equates to only 1.3 hours a day.
So why do you say 'No way, Jose'?

They also assume a rigorous learning environment. "Ratings represent levels of expected performance for language learners who complete full-time intensive and/or immersion, proficiency-based language training under the supervision of an instructor and with 1-4 students per class."

I challenge the assertion that learning alone is much less effective then learning in a group environment. I'm not wasting any time when I'm learning. I'm very focused throughout my study and apply myself. There're many resources and teachers online.
Those polyglots are usually learning by themselves.
I would say I already spent much more then 120 hours on German. I'm certainly improving greatly, but I don't know if fast enough. I'm not "Intermediate-Mid level" (240 hours).

Here is a quote form duolingo advertisement which claim research shows it's more effective then attending a university course:

On average, it takes 34 hours of Duolingo to learn the equivalent of one semester of college. Since a semester of college generally takes a lot more than 34 hours of work, this suggests that Duolingo is more effective than a college course.

Why won't you speak how much time it took you? That is the data that I want to hear.
Not some statistics which I can't verify or test their accurateness.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
Lrtward
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Thanks for the C1 info; what I actually meant was I don't know how ratings like "Advanced Low Level" or "Speaking S3" relate to the CEFR standards. I prefer CEFR as I find they're more widely used and better defined. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

I did not discuss my own experiences because I do not devote an hour of study per day to my language learning (it is less due to work and family obligations). But since you asked: I have been learning Spanish for many years and I fluctuate between solid B1 and high B2. I have been learning French for about two years and I put myself at a high A1 or low A2.

I listed those two links because they do base their numbers on exhaustive studies and data gathering, and I thought they would prove helpful.

Here is how I did my calculations: Assuming a person studies every day, including weekends, with no breaks for vacation, travel, illness, weddings, funerals....

16 weeks * 7 days = 112 days
480 hours spread over 112 days = 480 / 112 = 4.3 hours per day

I do believe Duo is more effective than a college course. I've taken Spanish in high school and in college, and you do spend a lot of time waiting for your 25+ classmates to say "Hola, me llamo José" or for the teacher to help one student with the pronunciation of a certain word.

I don't, however, think it's possible to reach a reasonable degree of proficiency studying one hour per day on your own. Certainly not to a C1 level. I'd love to be proven wrong, though! Then I might finally be able to speak French :D

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HexManiacSarina

I think it's better than college/high school courses, too. I did 18 credits of Japanese courses (Skipped first year-level courses) and didn't... really learn much. We didn't even learn how to say "or".

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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Thank you for sharing your experience. That was helpful and what I was looking for.
It seems to support what I asserted here. It requires much more effort and time then what they tell you.

I listed those two links because they do base their numbers on exhaustive studies and data gathering, and I thought they would prove helpful.

I already did many hours researching this subject, so I'm familiar with all the official data. I'm just looking now for "on the ground" personal experiences. Thank you for your effort in putting this, but I already read those comments many times over.

Here is how I did my calculations: Assuming a person studies every day, including weekends, with no breaks for vacation, travel, illness, weddings, funerals....

16 weeks * 7 days = 112 days 480 hours spread over 112 days = 480 / 112 = 4.3 hours per day

A year is 365 days. 480/365 is just 1.3 hours a day.
Why do you calculate only 112 days in a year? We at duolingo learn all year round (it even suppose to be more effective this way).

Certainly not to a C1 level. I'd love to be proven wrong, though! Then I might finally be able to speak French :D

Yes, that is my belief also. I want to be proven wrong too as this basically the source of my motivation and hope in continuing. I can't spend all my time just doing this. That is not realistic.

Those people who know 10+ languages and demonstrate their abilities on youtube, that is not what they're preaching to the choir, no sir...
But they do look impressive.
So you ask yourself how did they do it?

I find it hard for me to reconcile what I know from reading other people comments and from personal experience, as opposed to what I see those people can do seemingly so easily.

Maybe it's just a "mirage" and their actual proficiency is much lower then what we incorrectly assume.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
Lrtward
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I did my calculations that way because the people spent 480 hours in 16 weeks, not 480 hours in a year.

I think people like Benny Lewis exaggerate their results because they are trying to "sell" something (even if it is just their blog, or their popularity).

I also think people here on Duolingo - and language learners everywhere - tend to overestimate their abilities in the early stages. I know I do. You spend a few weeks or months and all of a sudden something "clicks" and you can say a LOT of things. You can talk about food, animals, months of the year, items in the house and in the school. You feel like you are really starting to learn the language and you say "Hey, I learned to speak French in just six months!"

But later on, you begin to realize how difficult it is to get all the verb tenses correct, and how frustrating prepositions can be, and then you learn an idiom and think "I will never, ever, know how to speak French."

So, I think some of the claims are exaggeration, and some are just human perception - and our perception changes over time.

The people on YouTube who can speak many languages usually rehearse their video and make several recordings before they get one they're happy with. And well known polyglots like Tim Doner, Luca Lampariello, Susana Zaraysky, Moses McCormick, and Mark Kaufmann do nothing but study languages and promote language learning. That's what they DO. They spend their days studying, and practicing, and traveling to give speeches about language acquisition. Speaking of those guys, have you seen the "Skype Me Maybe" video? https://youtu.be/6HZbBLl4FA0

And some folks work in tourism or multi-national companies where they use several languages every day. So they may only study a few hours, but they are actually practicing all day long.

I think perhaps you and I are the guys who want to be olympic gymnasts or professional athletes after stretching a couple of hours per day :) There are folks who are great after "only" a year or two, but look at the effort they put into it!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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Speaking of those guys, have you seen the "Skype Me Maybe" video?
https://youtu.be/6HZbBLl4FA0

Yes, I did watch it.

The people on YouTube who can speak many languages usually rehearse their video and make several recordings before they get one they're happy with. And well known polyglots like Tim Doner, Luca Lampariello, Susana Zaraysky, Moses McCormick, and Steve Kaufmann do nothing but study languages and promote language learning. That's what they DO. They spend their days studying, and practicing, and traveling to give speeches about language acquisition.

Not necessarily. I did thought as much too, but I also looked on some very spontaneous looking conversations on youtube.

Here is one of them on skype between two polyglots, in which they have seemingly very fluent and natural conversation (and long... very long...) in 10 or so languages:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AAEYtDktFc

I can tell you Loca says he reaches proficiency by learning 1 language each year (just focusing on that 1 language) and spend about an hour a day studying.
One year is the time frame he needs to study any language.

Steve also says he mostly study on his spare time while driving, listing to audio books, or while doing dishes, or at his website doing lingq, but certainly not the whole day just doing that. They don't make it sound like they're doing such a big deal out of this, as to not having a very normal looking life.

Certainly not what this guy is going through (what I would expect):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oudgdh6tl00
This seems real (for us).

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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This video also look very honest and spontaneous:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9qFXFWeOHo

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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I watched the part of the interview between Steve Kaufman and Luca Lampariello in Russian. Luca mentions having studied if for five years (I think that's what he meant; the sentence didn't seem pronounced clearly or formulated well). Steve mentions only reading and listening for the first 6 months or a year (although that did include Anna Karenina). I would definitely describe his Russian as halting (Luca's is certainly more fluent), albeit he mentions having been studying Czech recently.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lizsue
lizsue
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How reliable was the information on that Wikipedia page when you checked it?

Sometimes a Wikipedia page fluctuates between vandalism and correction, so you'd have to know if the time you checked the article was after an inaccuracy was added and before it was corrected, or after all the inaccuracies were corrected and before the next inaccuracy was added.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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I don't understand the question.
Which information do you question and why? It is only a definition.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
Thomas.Heiss
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@Casper

Quote: Here is a quote from duolingo advertisement which claim research shows it's more effective then attending a university course

Here is the link: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/138340/A-study-comparing-the-effectiveness-of-Duolingo-to-Rosetta-Stone-and-college-classes

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuoFaber
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Who are these polyglots you're talking about...? Anyone in particular?

I see you mentioned Luca Lampariello, but he never said that 365 hours a year are enough to reach a C1 level in ANY language. He did say once that it took him about a year, at a slow pace, to learn Swedish. Do I believe him? Of course. But it's worth mentioning that:

  • Having studied several languages (about a dozen), he definitely has a better learning method than someone studying a foreign language for the first time.
  • He found a method that might not work for everyone, but it works for him.
  • Swedish is by far one of the easiest languages to learn if you're an English speaker. Japanese would take a lot longer, for example (unless you move to Japan and get to practice your skills all day, but that's not your question).
  • His other languages, especially German, really helped speed up the process.
  • Learning a 5th or 7th language is always easier than learning a 2nd or a 3rd one. If they're similar, they're easier to remember. If not, it's still easier to make all those different connections, think of the brain as a muscle.
1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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Who are these polyglots you're talking about...? Anyone in particular?

Not exactly. I watched a bunch of them.

I see you mentioned Luca Lampariello, but he never said that 365 hours a year are enough to reach a C1 level in ANY language. He did say once that it took him about a year, at a slow pace, to learn Swedish. Do I believe him? Of course. But it's worth mentioning that:

I don't think you heard him speak enough.
Yes, pretty much in any language. For ex. he doesn't believe Chinese is much harder to acquire as its reputation hold, and in fact he says there're many easy points in its grammar which make it simpler in this regard.

Having studied several languages (about a dozen), he definitely has a better learning method than someone studying a foreign language for the first time.

Irrelevant. He speaks about his journey in learning languages from the beginning starting with English and his native tongue Italian. He says that after his 2nd language he learned every additional language in a year, and became proficient with them. He didn't mentioned any official definition for proficiency but it implied to be able to understand almost everything and also speak with ease.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuoFaber
DuoFaber
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http://www.thepolyglotdream.com/how-long-to-learn-a-language/

Here he says that reaching a B2 level (which is different from C1), by studying one hour a day, can take from 2-6 months to 3-5 years. So no, he doesn't believe that 365 hours are enough to become proficient in any language, there are many factors involved.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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Look at this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCHzXn19cfo
Age 23 and knows how to speak 14 languages. He says 1 hour a day is enough.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuoFaber
DuoFaber
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Everything I've said about Luca Lampariello (about having a method, experience, and how all languages help each other...) still applies. It would be interesting to know how long it took him to learn his first 2-3 languages, or how long it took him to learn his first Romance or Slavic language. I mean, he doesn't say anything about learning ANY language within a year, and learning a 4th Romance language is much easier than learning the first one. And if Russian was his 10th language (I'm just saying, maybe it wasn't), he would still have had an advantage over those who are learning Russian as their second language. In any case, it's definitely inspiring to watch, thanks for sharing. He seems like a really great guy, and 14 languages are an impressive number!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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Subtract his age from the number of languages he learned thus far 23-14= 9.
So either a rate of about 1 language per year, or he started at the age of 6 years old which seems pretty unlikely... And not only Russian, also Hebrew, Greek and Hungarian (which to my understanding is notoriously difficult).
He even gone as far as saying he has friends who can speak 40!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuoFaber
DuoFaber
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I think you're looking too much at the numbers, and not at the process. His native language is English, a Germanic language heavily influenced by Romance languages. German, Dutch and Afrikaans are also Germanic. Italian, French, Catalan, Spanish and Portuguese are all Romance. My guess is that he spent more than one year learning some of his languages, and only a few months learning the other ones. It would make perfect sense, wouldn't it?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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Of course. I think so too. I just avg them to simplify it. There're easier and harder languages to each person, and the harder ones will take, obviously, more time then the easier ones.

My point is that the community in large here at duolingo is not able to reach such levels, be it Romance (and familiar) or not, in such a short few months... So why can he apparently do so and it's "understandable"? You certainly can't!

Are we doing something wrong? Why does it take so much longer then those polyglots who seem to have it that much easier?

I'll give you a case study as an example from one of the users here, which I thought was very good: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/20310314

The above user learned Spanish, one might say one of the easier languages (especially to an English native speaker), at first at high school for 5 years, and then here for another year and a half, was able to reach level 25 at duolingo, did meetups, and on top of that completed a bunch of other online courses too.

She certainly did her due diligence and no one is questioning that she is hard working or her will, so why the heck did it took her so long just reaching a B2 level?! This is astonishing to me but no here seems to ask this question or be puzzled.

From what I read, a few moments ago, the stretch it takes to reach from 0 to B2 and from B2 to C1 is much much longer... So she would probably need 3 more years at her rate just to do that in 1 language!

To compare, Luca estimate his abilities as C1 in 8 of his languages!

It would be impossible at this rate to acquire so many languages at a high level, as you would probably die of old age before you succeed.

Something is needed to be done to improve our efficiency. At least the community needs to become aware of this huuuge gap in correlation, and lower their expectations and aspirations.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuoFaber
DuoFaber
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She certainly did her due diligence and no one is questioning that she is hard working or her will, so why the heck did it took her so long just reaching a B2 level?! This is astonishing to me but no here seems to ask this question or be puzzled.

I think she made the mistake of wasting too much time on online courses. For instance, I honestly don't see the point in reaching level 25 here on Duolingo. Why would I waste my time reviewing the basics over and over again, when I can expose myself to real, interesting content? I mean, as soon as I finished my Spanish tree I moved on and left it there to die (I figured that if the vocabulary I learned here was really useful, I would have encountered it elsewhere as well, so there was no need to worry about it). The same goes for other online courses or Pismleur, that's not how you reach an advanced level. The reason why I love to watch movies, tv shows and read novels in foreign languages is that they teach you all that stuff that you can't find in a course or a textbook. My sister studied Spanish for five years in school, and after two months I had already learned more vocabulary than she ever did, including slang and common expressions, which apparently are never taught in schools. What I'm saying is, I basically do the same thing Steve Kaufmann does, although I think that he and I could both achieve better results by being less lazy and focusing more on our active vocabulary (by writing and speaking). That's probably our biggest flaw.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lorel90
Lorel90
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The polyglots I know of do not highly recommend options like Duolingo. Most of them use private tutors or move to a country where the language is spoken. They like Michael Thomas and Assimil. But be careful not all those self-declared polyglots are good examples. Some of them do not speak well the languages, one of the youtubers said that he speaks German but without cases, that is stupid, another one "learned" only spoken Japanese, other put a video of his German after living in Germany for three months, his German is very poor and incorrect. Some of them are great such as Luca and the twins, and Benny Lewis' Spanish is native level and his accent is close to perfect.

I think people like Luca are special. Benny lived for years in Spain, not only three months. I think with a good system you can learn a language to B2 in a year, but you need a good system. Speaking is the most important thing, it really forces the brain to learn. Level A1 and A2 should not take more than 6 months. The problem with Duolingo is that we think we are learning, but we are not really learning. Do not believe those tables with number of hours to learn a language.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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The polyglots I know of do not highly recommend options like Duolingo.

Can you link some responses? It would be interesting to see.
I only watched a review from the langfocus guy. He studies here Esperanto.

Most of them use private tutors or move to a country where the language is spoken.

Almost all the ones I know teach themselves from their home, but travel once in a while.

I think people like Luca are special.

Steve Kaufman thinks so too. He says he's the most talented polyglot he has ever seen, as he can achieve natural and spot on pronunciation and accent, much better then he can.

I think with a good system you can learn a language to B2 in a year, but you need a good system.

So are you saying duolingo is not a good system? Since people who follow this regiment here are not able to achieve the same results at equal expenditure of time.
What would you recommend doing instead?

And when you say in a year, what is your estimation on how much time each person needs to spend each day? Based on REAL numbers from you personal experience, or what you read from other learners in the same position as yourself.
At what level are you and how long did it take you to reach there?

Speaking is the most important thing, it really forces the brain to learn.

Steve Kaufman doesn't seem to think you should be overly concerned about this. He doesn't rely on speaking as his primary focus at all. Once he reaches a more advance stage, after a few months of listening and reading, he would do 1 hour of speaking session per week. His method is primarily input based. He says it's natural to want first to accumulate a lot of input before forcing yourself to do some outputting, and that you shouldn't stress yourself regarding this. He says that doing so too early can even ingrain bad habits in your speech, which can be hard to get ride of later on, if you get too accustomed to them.

The problem with Duolingo is that we think we are learning, but we are not really learning.

What do you mean by that? Are you not a duo "believer" anymore?
Do you think our time is better spent somewhere else?

Do not believe those tables with number of hours to learn a language.

Right?
Yes, they don't seem to correlate very well with our reality.
I think they don't take into account all the hours you need to spend out of class learning by yourself.

Thank you for your comment. You're smart and realistic. I always like reading what you write.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuoFaber
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Kaufman thinks so too. He says he's the most talented polyglot he has ever seen, as he can achieve natural and spot on pronunciation and accent, much better then he can.

In my opinion, it's not that Luca's more talented, it's just that Steve Kaufmann doesn't really care that much. I remember that in a video about Russian he once said something like "after years of learning Russian I still don't know the difference between ш (sh) and щ (shch), and I don't really care". That's his mistake.

I'm sure Luca had a different approach, something like, "what is the difference between these two sounds? Why did they need two different letters? I need to practice this". And that's how you achieve great pronunciation.

Steve Kaufmann is a great guy and a great polyglot, but he would improve a lot faster if he practiced his writing and speaking skills more often, relying solely on input takes longer. Still, that's his choice, and if he doesn't want to work more in order to improve faster, he's free to do that.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lorel90
Lorel90
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Thanks for your comment about my comments. Let see if I can reply to your questions:

I do not have URLs for the polyglots, but Benny Lewis is one of them, another is Tim Ferris, and I think Luca has also used tutors. I have not seen any recommendations for Duolingo from any of my favorite Polyglots, I think the reason is that they recommend personalized methods. We all learn in a different way and we have to discover what works for us. I like to write, I write a lot and writing helps me to learn better. Those polyglots are not against apps, but they do not recommend them.

Benny recommends to write short scrips for frequent conversations such as, my name is, my hobbies are etc.... you can practice them in your mind and they are ready to be used when you need them. Benny also recommends speaking, same as Tim. For me speaking is very important, your mind has to recall, listen, process and talk all in real time. When you talk you send the message to your mind "this is important, you have to learn it, we need this info"

I do not know who Mark Kaufman is, I know Steve Kaufman, he is the guy who speaks or knows German without the cases, but he claims he knows the language. In my opinion if you are going to make such a great effort, as it takes to learn a language, learn it well, it takes probably the same effort and time. And Steve criticized Benny, because Benny studied Japanese in Japan for three months and he was interested only in spoken Japanese. By the way Benny recognized that Japanese (even if it is only spoken) requires more than three months.

Duolingo is great to start, but it is too "light" and some people think that they are learning, because they are completing lessons. If they would take a test they will know that they cannot remember what they studied.

Duolingo is a tool, not a system, you need to listen to real people, speak, read, and write. If you want to understand grammar you need to go outside Duo and get a piece of paper and practice. Have you read "A Mind for Numbers" the same professor has a free Coursera class, it is very nice, I think it is called "Learning how to Learn."

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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Mark is Steve's son. Thanks for pointing that out. I once talked with him so I mixed the names up. I actually mentioned the name here multiple times but no one corrected me. I edited out most of these now.

Kaufman is a talented guy. He also has great many useful advices. The comment about speaking without cases sounds a bit fishy to me.
You can hear him talks some German with Loca here : https://youtu.be/JMAmyPBVDd4

You can clearly hear that Loca is better at this, but I don't think Steve is doing such a bad job either.

He also usually states that languages that he is not accustomed to speak, requires him to do a few days of warming up as to ACTIVATE, that is how he calls it, the language.

Do you know anything about sentence mining?
https://www.duolingo.com/comment/22181078
I think I'll give this a try. It sounds like an interesting concept.

And I did learn quite well at duolingo German, and I do remember a lot, but the spaced repetition algorithm is awful, in my opinion, and basically everything you spend that much time doing, you'll eventually also learn some, so "doing well" is relative.
I think the best quality of duolingo is the sense of community, and the fueling of your motivation to keep on learning everyday, which other platforms lack. That is what duo excels at.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
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A maybe interesting example (about memory thus) of the ability to learn foreign language word lists (like you have to do with regard to vocabulary) is Nigel Richards.

He became world champion Scrabble for the French language, but does not even speak that French language, but learned an entire French dictionary in just 9 weeks.

So at least some people are able to achieve amazing results, being it nature and or nurture.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
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Method: Frequency lists

I think a very good strategy to very quickly cover a lot of the vocabulary of a language (e.g. in a few weeks of learning) is to learn the most frequently used words in that language.

E.g. make or get this lists for each language and create or get flash cards for it for each language.

Then by learning only a few hundred words you cover then e.g. 50 to 70 percent of all the words used in that language.

See also:

http://tim.blog/2009/01/20/learning-language/

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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Yes, this is very useful and important. I very much agree.
I downloaded a few decks like this from Mermrise.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alHadzya
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Don't worry about all the elaborate numbers, tables, and gimmicks offered by everyone and their mother. An estimated 5,000 words are what is required to reach the level of proficiency or knowledge you are interested in. In addition to that, you must learn the basics of grammar, i.e. sentence structure -- and only three cover nearly all languages in use, today, and you are already intimately aware of at least one --, and verb and noun conjugation, where applicable. Just these few things will get you to that level, if you cover them well. It is up to you how you wish to tackle that challenge.

You can learn 5,000 new words in a matter of 20 weeks with a couple of hours of dedicated learning, easy, for example. Grammar is tricky, so this will solely depend on your ability and dedication to how quickly you will grasp it. It can be done for any language with dedication in mere weeks, to just give you an example.

Again, its really how you approach it and what your goals are. Sounds like you already have a goal, so just dive straight in and don't look back. Good luck!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ceren25418
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"i.e. sentence structure -- and only three cover nearly all languages in use, today..." what exactly do you mean by that?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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They talk about only spending 1 hour a day. Does that seems accurate to you from your experience?

Sure. I don't know about "anyone," but given that this thread seems to be talking about at very least 3rd and 4th languages instead of 2nd, then I think that's entirely reasonable, even slow, when discussing closely related languages, which at the end of the day constitute the bulk of what internet polyglots seem able to speak. I learned French laboriously through years of not-that-good classes in school, but I eventually did get competent in it, spurred on by a language program in France (in a couple of weeks all that I had learned came together, and I was pretty much fluent, despite having hardly ever spoken the language before that two weeks).

After that Spanish and Portuguese were just really straightforward.

Russian, well Russian's been harder. I did recently come across a person who mentions being conversational and able to watch TV after an hour a day for a year of Duolingo, Memrise, hiring a tutor, and lang-8 (particularly the later). They also mentioned finding Russian words just being easy to remember. This certainly has not been the case for me for the majority of my time learning Russian; it, in fact, has been a particular challenge. People's minds are wired differently I surmise. I seem to pick up Hungarian words a lot more easily relative to my actual knowledge of the language than I've picked up Russian words, despite their being just as unfamiliar. Who knows why? But I take it as given that those who end up quite accomplished polyglots probably have a general facility in this domain.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
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By the way, what do polyglots think about duolingo as an effective learning tool?
I heard almost absolute nothing about them using it for themselves, or praising it as the "future" in language learning.

Have you maybe read this DuoLingo review: https://language101.com/reviews/duolingo/

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TreesHugger
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I think the writer of that review comes off as bitter, having a major axe to grind. The review starts off with criticism of sentences like "I am a duck who speaks English. Not very practical."

That's a click bait argument since lots of people reject new learning methods in an effort to look practical and "sensible." First, whimsy reinforces memory. Second, saying "I am a man/woman/boy/girl who speaks English" only teaches the same nouns over and over. Harder for non-users to ridicule, but also a lot more boring, less memorable.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
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http://how-to-learn-any-language.com
http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/e/languages/similarities/index.html

See those detail explanations of languages like Spanish, Portuguese in the table on the left side, especially if you know a similar language from the same language group (e.g Romance).

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
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In the short time you signed up at DuoLingo you are IMHO already wasting your resources on multiple languages instead of only focusing on 1(-2) languages?!?

There was a blog article about a test between two persons, the first learning / speaking ONE language each 1-2 years, the second learning MULTIPLE languages at the same time.
The summary was: Concentrating on only ONE language for a longer period you can enjoy actually being able to speaking it much faster and longer and a higher level.
.
.
On DuoLingo IMHO you are not learning to speak phrases (like language101.com and others might teach it), creating longer sentences, including nested sentences, but actually you are TRANSLATING any short sentences, often quite weird ones you can probably NOT use in your daily usage of the language :-(

The Memrise Hacking courses and new offical 1-7 courses seem to take a different approach, even www.50languages.com teaches more realistic phrases instead of putting together random sentence pieces by a robot/script.
I have not looked into the Memrise Hacking courses of Benny lewis (e.g Hacking Spanish).
But they have already been created on Memrise for some courses by some users.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
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https://glossika.com/ works with a pool of something like 3000 sentences.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
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Thanks for the link. Did you try them? Are they any good?
They put here a nice overview about the different stages in the road to fluency: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8xj_zO3hu0
I acutely watched it a while ago.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
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I only watched a few videos of the founder of Glossika a week ago or so. But was or am not actually really convinced at this moment, e.g. he learned himself some language and made so many associations e.g. between words in order to learn it that I considered it a bit of overkill. This is my judgement until this moment, but it might change if I have more information.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
Thomas.Heiss
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As Knud mentioned Glossika:

You can try it and learn Catalan (and a few other languages) for FREE on Glossika: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/26604743/Catalan-Learn-for-free-on-Glossika-unlimited-free-reps-sentence-practice

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
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In the short time you signed up at DuoLingo you are IMHO already wasting your resources on multiple languages instead of only focusing on 1(-2) languages?!?

There was a blog article about a test between two persons, the first learning / speaking ONE language each 1-2 years, the second learning MULTIPLE languages at the same time. The summary was: Concentrating on only ONE language for a longer period you can enjoy actually being able to speaking it much faster and longer and a higher level.

I will tell you what was my reasoning and plan.

First, I agree it would be more time efficient just concentrating on one language, if you can, and starting another only after a year, once you achieved, hopefully, a very good level.

The problem was that I needed 3 of them quite urgently in my daily life, for different reasons. Those were: German, Swedish and Spanish So waiting a whole year to just to start another was a big problem for me.

The 2nd reason was that I had the time. I could spend at least an hour a day on each of them so no one got neglected, and this was suppose to be enough time to get real headway and within reason fast.
I from the start realized that 1 hour a day per language is minimum, which I must keep. And if could not maintain that I would not have picked other languages to learn simultaneously.

3rd. I've prioritize them by importance, and any extra time was devoted to the language, which I wanted to make the most progress with (German).

4th. Learning 3 hours straight of the same language each day, can become quickly quite tedious and boring, so switching to another language helps elevate the boredom and refresh my concentration so that I can still remain engaged and alert in language learning and not slouch, which otherwise would probably be time wasted and result in nothing being learned.

So it doesn't come in place of learning German but rather just utilizing all the time I have available the best I can.

5th. All the other languages you see at my profile with a score below 10, I don't dedicate to them more then 1 lesson per day (and recently nothing).
They're basically there as an experiment, to see how much progress can one make only with that, and to get a bit familiar with them. I don't waste more then 10 mins a day on each at max.

I hope now you see why I've chosen this path.

P.S. Hebrew is my native. I don't learn this language. It is only there so I can make corrections and help with the course to fellow students.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
Thomas.Heiss
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Thanks for your detail reply. I greatly appreciate your feedback!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NeridaPeters
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Starting from nothing, if you had perfect access to the resources you needed, including people to answer any questions and to practice speaking with. If you studied and practiced efficiently, you might be able to become proficient in one year with only one hour a day of study.

Most of us are not studying languages under those conditions. I know that I am not. I have access to Duolingo, and that has been very helpful for me, but it is not a perfect resource. If I had access to a teacher, I would only use Duolingo for practice, not for learning.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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Starting from nothing, if you had perfect access to the resources you needed, including people to answer any questions and to practice speaking with. If you studied and practiced efficiently, you might be able to become proficient in one year with only one hour a day of study.

The polyglots you see on youtube don't have better access to resources then you, and they're able to achieve their goals.
Their approach is self study.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
Thomas.Heiss
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Hey all,

as this thread is pretty active and interesting with lot's of great feedback:

Maybe one or another experienced (Romance) language learner with (multiple) finished trees or higher streak could give me some further tips - in my linked thread below - how I can better accomplish my Portuguese learning goal for the direction of speaking, writing....that is putting the learned puzzles together and produce the active part of the language?

Of course, I also have not found yet the right resources to strengthen my relevent skills for the listening and reading parts either (I wrote down some links about resources language pod 101, semantica, etc.).

I have updated yesterday my earlier thread "What to change / optmize in my Portuguese learning process": https://www.duolingo.com/comment/20450828/What-to-change-optimize-in-my-Portuguese-learning-process-Shall-I-switch-to-Spanish

inspired by the "Best way to complete a tree" thread and the question from anthonytera "How has it helped you (can you read, write, speak in the target language?)" and my longer answer(s): https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23105305


One tip I had received earlier was to go with the "Oi Brazil" book (or any other related resources), which is also being used by VHS (Volkshochschule). I don't use both.

On Memrise I also found some user-created courses about some chapters from the book "Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar (2nd edition)" besides user-created courses from "Oi Brazil" book chapters. I do NOT own a grammar book right now.

I also had added before the online resource links for the book / course "Ponto de encontro - portuguese as world language" (1st + 2nd edition), but have not started it.
It is somehow still a bit unclear to me what part is free or what other (online) part you need the expensive vouchers, I have read about.


What are your opinions joining the weekly language exchange meetup group in my city (see my linked threads), I found lately with my current Portuguese ~8 months learning status?

I guess finishing first Memrise PT5-7, my DuoLingo tree, 50languages AND taking some online live teaches classes (Italki & Co.) may be a better (required?) preparation than just jumping into cold water for a live meetup?

I do not know about a Portuguese language desk possibility besides German/English/French/Spanish desks, etc....would have to ask the owner.

In any case I do NOT feel well prepared in any way at this stage, as I did / could not follow the first rule "Speak from day 1" :-(

Maybe some didactical teaching from a native / professor is the better thing (at this stage) to give my Portuguese language a real boost than to struggle (the 1st time) with the live meetup?

Thanks for your feedback.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
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Some are very smart, talented and motivated and might be able to do it. But anyone probably is a big statement. That whole issue of fluency is fuzzy further, there are far too many variables involved.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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And what is the ETA for an ordinary person? Is there a reasonable avg number to specify based on actual people here who are taking courses?
What did your personal experience teach you about this?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
knudvaneeden
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There is too much variation possible to give a good answer to this in my opinion. Fluency and achieving it varies with time, from person to person, depends on the circumstances where you need it, your location (in the country itself, ...), immersion level, importance of speaking it or not, ...

But if you really immerse yourself one year (or thus average minimally 365 hours totally if 1 hour a day) e.g. in only one language, using all the available tools (apps (Duolingo, ...), books, Internet, courses, (very good) teachers, educations, examinations, ...) I personally would be (very or quite) surprised if the (average) learner would not be able to become (quite) proficient in it.

It depends further also on the difficulty (grammar, pronunciation, exceptions, writing system, ...) of the language (e.g. Russian, ...), and 'distance' between that language compared with your native language.

Also your experience steps in, if it is the first language it might be difficult and new, but many languages later then it might become more of a repetition of the same.

We should therefore probably talk in terms of probabilities and statistics (like as a theoretical example 1 standard deviation or let us say 68 percent of the people have a probability of reaching such and such (measurable) level after such and such time).

But similar like measuring intelligence, measuring fluency might be prone to discussion and controversy, there are too many fluctuating, fuzzy and not well-defined or not-possible to define variables involved.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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But if you really immerse yourself one year (or thus average minimally 365 hours totally if 1 hour a day) e.g. in only one language, using all the available tools (apps (Duolingo, ...), books, Internet, courses, (very good) teachers, educations, examinations, ...) I personally would be (very or quite) surprised if the (average) learner would not be able to become (quite) proficient in it.

So do you think people here are slacking off and not doing this already (internet/videos/books/speaking)? Doing too much duo strengthening exercises instead, falsely hoping that it will be enough?

I only learned German for 4 months and that was in conjunction with learning other languages, so I cannot really comment yet what exactly my progress would be within a year, and can only speculate, but not reaching a high level of ability would be a disappointment for me, and I will deem it as a personal failure.
Learning a language in 1 year or 6 is not the same, even if you eventually reach the same destination.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
knudvaneeden
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Also here difficult to give a precise and accurate judgement. There are many (personal, local, ...) variables and possible variations involved. It is like a system with tens to hundreds of variables so many degrees of freedom and possible outcomes.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
knudvaneeden
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> Are those polyglots have better methods?

Maybe sometimes.

E.g. look at the language learning methods of Tim Ferriss:

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

See also:

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
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Method: Get the grammar

And to get very quickly an idea of the grammar of each language you could check this

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wiktionary#List_of_Wiktionaries

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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Or, my preferred way, watching the langfocus channel. Reading wiki is a bit 'heavy', usually, and with too much information.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
knudvaneeden
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Not sure about learning the grammar on this YouTube Langfocus channel. I watched a few of Paul Jorgensen's videos earlier but not sure if you would learn the grammar there, at least I did not notice it at the time.

Can you give some example links of good grammar learning for some language there on LangFocus?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
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I only meant it as rough and quick overview to see the language grammar characteristics.
I don't believe you should go to much in depth into grammar as a beginner and just a taste is enough.
That would be pretty much any video he has there.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
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My personal first choice about grammar would further be to check the Teach Yourself book for that language. That has the grammar in a simple way presented.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IsakNygren1
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This guy Tammet learned Icelandic in a week but then he is a special case.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Tammet

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
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Well what should one think of that.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TreesHugger
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More anecdotal evidence that having a good memory or background in mnemonics helps?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
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For such a language a normal person would need months, as you will need to remember say 1000 words, sentences, learn grammar, pronunciation, .... Of course a good memory will help, also mnemonics.

But e.g. so called 'idiots savants' can sometimes achieve incredible things, e.g. the person (=Kim Peek) on which the movie rainman (with Tom Cruise and Dusty Hofman) is based https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Peek He could memorize the whole content of something like 12000 books which is of course extraordinary and unbelievable and in no way achievable by normal people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2HiLtgGdVg

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TreesHugger
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Yes, so a good memory or mnemonics training. Are you saying the post about Tammet was irrelevant? Maybe, but I guess I didn't mind. Anyway, I find the restriction to testmonials can't begin really to prove the truth one way or the other. What I think the original poster is looking for is advice to up his chances in learning more quickly.

Here's part of his question: "Are those polyglots have better methods? More talented then us? Spend more time? How much time? Work harder?"

And here's a quote from the Wikipedia article on Tammet: "In his book Moonwalking with Einstein (2011), science journalist and former US Memory Champion Joshua Foer speculates that study of conventional mnemonic approaches has played a role in Tammet's feats of memory. While accepting that Tammet meets the standard definition of a prodigious savant, Foer suggests that his abilities may simply reflect intensive training using standard memory techniques, rather than any abnormal psychology or neurology per se"

Whether Foer is right about Tammet, his point is valid that standard memory techniques, mnemonics, can go a long way toward superlearning--including learning a language faster than average. So I think the contribution of the Wikipedia link is relevant.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
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Are you saying the post about Tammet was irrelevant?

Such achievements are just out of this world but for some very special persons I deem it possible.

For normal people it will take months to years even with the best methods.

1 year ago
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