A powerful, precise language aptitude test is entering civilian life.
This was pretty interesting.
They say: "Most adults would have to put in 10 years or more of dedicated work to find out if they have what it takes to end up with the vocabulary, accent, and grammatical sensibilities of a near-native speaker. This test could direct them from the debút."
But, I would hate for something to deter people from learning a new language even if they never become near-native.
When I studied second language acquisition research, they explained a phenomenon called 'fossilization', which describes the fact that 95% of people who begin learning a language after the language acquisition phase will eventually reach a plateau in their learning and no matter what they do after that they will stop improving, meaning that 95% of people are incapable of becoming native speakers. But the program at the US State department says that that's okay, and their goal isn't to make people pass as native speakers, but be able to function in a high level at the language, to understand and be understood. I think that should be most people's goal. It's not about passing as a native speaker but being able to use the language to live.
I find it really interesting that the aptitude test found that the people who have the best ability to learn languages are the ones who just absorb concepts without explanation.
I think the most interesting thing about that is that it does suggest something like Duo is really the best method for those 5% with the 'best ability'.
I'm not particularly impressed by tests like this. It reminds me of my ASVAB experience in high school. I was #2 in my class academically. All of my college-prep friends were encouraged by the ASVAB to go to college. I, despite my Straight As, was encouraged to be a mechanic. Honestly, I would have been a great mechanic, but I went to college and have a post-graduate degree. Anyways, I expect that the ASVAB had teased out the fact that I have a severe learning disability, and statistically, I should have failed high school. Ooops . Anyways, because I actually have had psychological testing done, I expect I would do lousy on the Hi-Lab (my working memory is bad especially my auditory working memory). Shrug. I shall once more ignore its "recommendation" to give up, and continue to pursue things that I enjoy like learning a foreign language.
P.S. That's not to say that this test would not be very helpful to organizations that are trying to spend money economically. But, one has to be really careful to unintentionally exclude your best performers, because a test becomes gospel.
Potentially excluding the best performers on something like this isn't really THAT big a deal to a large organization, as I understand it.
If you're a large organization, a government, the military, etc, you probably need people who can learn a language to the point that I'll arbitrarily call the 90% threshold, just to represent that they're really close to perfect, but they're not actually fluent to the degree that they're completely equivalent to a native speaker. You need them to be good enough that they can speak to native speakers well, do translations for you well, understand when your adversaries might be trying to sneak something past you, and that kind of thing.
If you don't need perfect, then occasionally losing someone who would have been amazing in return for weeding out a few people who would probably be a bad investment of resources is a good deal.
Ideally, of course, the job is done perfectly and you never get a false-negative that cuts out someone who could have done a good job. In the real world, still, you only need to MOSTLY get it right for it to be a valuable test.
I think your perception of "its "recommendation" to give up," is more about your own personal history than about what the test is actually FOR and what it SAYS. There's absolutely nothing in the link that was made available that indicates that the test was designed to tell people who are learning for their own personal enrichment that they should give up.
Yes, very interesting.
There is no reason this research should deter anyone other than those whose goal might be perfection.
On the very positive side, Duolingo and other language learning systems should be able to use this research to improve their overall delivery system and to build in individual customization.
That'd be a very interesting prospect, if Duolingo were ever able to give this test for free to their userbase. There's a huge test pool here with access to exactly the same lessons and resources, presented basically identically (because it's all coming at us from a computer). I'm sure there are plenty of academics who'd LOVE to be able to size up Duolingo progress against the scores on a test like that to see what they can discover about its predictive value among the general population.
Very interesting! I can't wait for this to come out. Would you let us know if you happen to come across something saying that it's out for general release?