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Pimsleur "approach"
Thread poster: finnword1
finnword1
United States
Local time: 09:15
English to Finnish
+ ...
Jul 27, 2013

Before you get too excited about speaking any language in ten days, check what US Foreign Service thinks about that:

http://www.effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:15
Russian to English
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Yes it seems pretty accurate, provided that they use the methods and discipline of the Department Jul 27, 2013

of Defense, which are pretty strict, and I think they might have conducted the research only on the groups of people selected by them -- they do some selection of candidates. It may take someone slightly less, or even much longer -- depending on individual talents and motivations.

I hope everyone in sound mind realizes that ten days is totally ridiculous -- it might be enough perhaps to say: "Thank you and Goodbye", and get slightly accustomed to the sound of a new language. I am not even sure why some companies want to become the subject of jokes through advertising ridiculous things like that.

[Edited at 2013-07-27 22:39 GMT]


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finnword1
United States
Local time: 09:15
English to Finnish
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TOPIC STARTER
sneaky? Jul 27, 2013

America Online promotes this "approach" frequently on their front page. What is really "sneaky" is that it is disguised to look like a news headline:

"Scientific discovery reveals how you can start speaking any language in just 10 days using this sneaky linguistic secret."

It's sneaky allright. At least I have no clue of what the "linguistic secret" might be.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 15:15
English to Polish
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What the? Jul 28, 2013

I find ridiculous the notion that Romanian is a language closely related to English while German more distantly so. Subsequently, Swahili is a language associated with fewer linguistic and cultural differences with English than a number of European languages have.

I realise that mathematical analysis may have been involved in some of the determinations, but it's all still ridiculous. I make no objection to the relative difficulty assessments, just for the record. It's all about calling Romanian more closely related to English than German is, calling Swahili culturally closer than Polish etc.

I visited the section about Polish and found some really cute English there:

The Polish language is the official language of the country of Poland. It is used throughout the country, with the vast majority of Polish people being Polish speakers. Standard Polish is spoken by all Polish speakers, though there are several dialects. However, compared to a country such as England, these dialects are little more than a change in accent, with some additional vocabulary. While they can be understood by other Polish speakers, learners of Polish as a second language often find distinguishing between these dialects to be relatively difficult


No comment necessary (I hope). I refuse to take any linguist's analyses seriously if he can't construct a complex sentence correctly and logically in his own native language.

[Edited at 2013-07-28 01:16 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:15
Russian to English
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You can definitely start speaking any language in 10 days Jul 28, 2013

finnword1 wrote:

America Online promotes this "approach" frequently on their front page. What is really "sneaky" is that it is disguised to look like a news headline:

"Scientific discovery reveals how you can start speaking any language in just 10 days using this sneaky linguistic secret."

It's sneaky allright. At least I have no clue of what the "linguistic secret" might be.


You can definitely start speaking any language in ten days -- saying "Hi", counts as starting, doesn't it?

As to your question, Lukasz, the department does not catalogue Romanian as a language closely related to English, but rather a language the features of which make it easier to learn for an English-speaking person. Romanian is a Romance language, just like Spanish, which is quite an easy language to learn for an English-speaking person. German has quite a specific sentence structure, more declensional features,than Spanish, for example, and quite long words, sometimes. I think the classification is right.

Swahili is not a very hard language, even though its name sounds quite exotic. It might be culturally closer to English, than Polish, in the respect that it most likely uses "you" -- general "you" to address people, whereas Polish uses all those titular terms -- "Pani, Pani, Panstwo" -- then you have to adjust the verb accordingly. I think this is most likely what they took into consideration. Even Russian does not have these characteristics, which are left from the aristocratic times, and I personally, cannot imagine Polish without them. They might be hard to grasp, and feel when the right term should be used, for a person accustomed to the American, especially, culture.

I don't find anything funny about the sentence related to Polish dialects.I think some mountain dialects may be very hard to understand to visitors, who don't speak Polish at a very high level. Some dialects, now catalogued as languages, are incomprehensible to the speakers of standard Polish -- I mean the Polish-born people as well, which are Kashubian and Silesian. (there is nothing wrong with the sentence,Lukasz,even if you just meant its grammar -- perhaps a comma missing)

[Edited at 2013-07-28 09:38 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:15
Spanish to English
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Glass houses... Jul 28, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

No comment necessary (I hope). I refuse to take any linguist's analyses seriously if he can't construct a complex sentence correctly and logically in his own native language.

[Edited at 2013-07-28 01:16 GMT]


Here's a comment: I find the sentence acceptable, as the context (rather than the grammar per se) lets us know what is being referred to, overriding the initial ambiguity. It's the kind of slightly ungrammatical sentence that native speakers construct all the time.

Nobody's perfect.

[Edited at 2013-07-28 09:38 GMT]


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:15
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
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Re. German~English~Romanian Jul 28, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

I find ridiculous the notion that Romanian is a language closely related to English while German more distantly so.


Assuming Romanian shares its key distinguishing features with other Romance languages, that categorization does make sense to me. German syntax and word order differ substantially from English, and German is rife with false friends that can lay nasty traps for the unaware. An English speaker with no knowledge of German would probably have difficulty making out the gist of a German text unless it contained obvious loanwords. However, most English speakers could probably easily recognize familiar Latin-based vocabulary in a French text, for example.

I admit that reading ability is just one consideration - depending on what the FSI means by "learning" a language, you'd need to factor in how hard it is to pronounce/speak or write, grammatical complexity, etc.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
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Russian to English
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Their research is not about closely related languages Jul 28, 2013

or mutual intelligibility, but rather which languages are easier for an English-speaker to learn, even if totally unintelligible, in the beginning.

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Srini Venkataraman
United States
Local time: 08:15
Member (2012)
Tamil to English
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Pimsleur approach Jul 28, 2013

I started learning Hebrew thru pimsleur, and in 10 days I picked up some 400 or more words. I am happy about the progress.This is a procedure of learning to speak only and not for acheiving overall mastery reading/writing/speaking. When I started learning - 10 X 30 mts audio in 10 days- I realised that this learning pattern copies the way in which Vedas ( Indian ) were taught. ( for I know some of that too) And vedas were handed over from one generation to next by chanting only- So obviously a proven method.The only problem in learning a new language is that I donot have some one to speak to improve my skill.
When I previewed Spanish and Russian courses they too were confident building( that I can hopefully learn them- only thing is Russian is a bit tough).


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:15
Russian to English
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How is this method different form other methods? Jul 28, 2013

400 words in 10 days is not that many for someone who already speaks a few languages, especially initially, 400. The speed of learning diminishes as the learning process goes on. It would be a lot for someone who has little contact with other languages.

If you start learning Russian, you have to learn the Cyrillic alphabet quite early -- otherwise you will not be able to read anything.


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Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:15
Dutch to English
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I expect Jul 28, 2013

Dutch is in category one because it's not so much declined as German. However, it does have the same word order and grammatical structure as German and many more exceptions, so, personally, I would deem it more difficult to learn, because you have nothing to refer to in some cases. Whereas German has one rule and that's it.

I have always supposed that learning the more difficult language in one language family offers you guidance to learn the others in that family. Knowing Latin will help you in learning Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Otherwise learn French. That may also be a help. Learning Russian has helped me understand Polish (although that language is a case on its own) and understand and putting little sentences together in Czech. Knowing German has taught me more about my own language and about other Germanic languages.

I suppose category 1 is 'easy' to learn in terms of structure, but whether what you are saying is truly right is another matter.

The idea to me about learning a so-called 'difficult' language is to accept it is different. If your brain thinks too much in terms of what it is used to, the new remains difficult. Although some structures are easier or maybe default settings (who knows?).

Personally I would also put Russian a little further down the list, because you have to learn to read all over again. Literally like a six-year-old, no joke. You realise how difficult learning to read actually was when you started.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 15:15
English to Polish
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Native speakers do all the time in all languages, but should linguists? Jul 28, 2013

neilmac wrote:

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

No comment necessary (I hope). I refuse to take any linguist's analyses seriously if he can't construct a complex sentence correctly and logically in his own native language.

[Edited at 2013-07-28 01:16 GMT]


Here's a comment: I find the sentence acceptable, as the context (rather than the grammar per se) lets us know what is being referred to, overriding the initial ambiguity. It's the kind of slightly ungrammatical sentence that native speakers construct all the time.

Nobody's perfect.

[Edited at 2013-07-28 09:38 GMT]


Nothing is unique to English in the situation we're talking about. It's an utterance with misaligned objects and verbs and false contrast, which is something native speakers of just about any language do all the time. English, French, Polish, German, who cares, it's still the same problem that has more to do with sentence logic in the first place. Linguists, however, or actually anybody with A-levels, should be able to write better.

So please don't defend that offending passage like it's some kind of native feature of English that's being criticised by a clueless non-native speaker because it is not. The ability of foreign speakers of Polish to understand dialect speech is contrasted there with the difficulty native speakers face in determining a dialect speaker's origin. That has everything to do with bad sentence construction, coming from linguists at that, and nothing to do with being a native speaker or not per se (theirs or mine).

[Edited at 2013-07-28 13:28 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:15
Hebrew to English
Delete Jul 28, 2013



[Edited at 2013-07-28 14:05 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
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Russian to English
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No, it is not, Lukasz. Jul 28, 2013

There is nothing wrong with this sentence, in colloquial English, or even just less formal English. This is the problem,that many people who have learned English mostly from books, often think that many constructions used in everyday English, which do not follow what has been written in the books are wrong, but they are not. You can shift the object to the frontal position for emphasis.

I cannot find anything confusing about this sentence (I even tried). It basically says that Polish-speaking people from Poland can understand the dialects pretty well, whereas the people who have learned Polish a second language will find it difficult to distinguish the dialects.

Going back to the Pimsleur method -- I think they also make some generalizations. Whether you consider a language easier or harder may depend on your attitude towards that language, interest in it, exposure and motivation. The features they describe are of amore general nature.

[Edited at 2013-07-28 14:17 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-07-28 15:03 GMT]


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:15
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
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Indeed confusing Jul 28, 2013

LilianBNekipelo wrote:

There is nothing wrong with this sentence, in colloquial English, or even just less formal English. This is the problem,that many people who have learned English mostly from books, often think that many constructions used in everyday English, which do not follow what has been written in the books are wrong, but they are not. You can shift the object to the frontal position for emphasis.

I cannot find anything confusing about this sentence (I even tried). It basically says that Polish-speaking people from Poland can understand the dialects pretty well, whereas the people who have learned Polish a second language will find it difficult to understand them -- the dialects.


That what the author *means*.
What he *says*, based on standard rules of sentence construction, is basically that *learners of Polish as a second language* [as the closest possible, and therefore - from a grammatical standpoint - the intended antecedent for "they"], while "they" can be understood by other Polish speakers, often find distinguishing between these dialects to be relatively difficult.
It's true that this rule is sometimes treated as flexible when there is no possibility for confusion and only one logical interpretation based on the context. That's not the case here.
Lukasz is right, though it wouldn't necessarily lead me to discount anything else the author has to say.





[Edited at 2013-07-28 14:42 GMT]


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