I have mentioned this technique for advanced learners in earlier articles on Huliganov.TV, but today I wanted to make one article explaining who the Literature Drill is for and how exactly to do it, and incorporate it into a full learning programme stretching from complete beginner to near native.
Who should do the Advanced Drill?
In a sense this is about the most advanced drill that can be done, it is already intended for people who have completed all the grammar that is currently used and who know the top 5,000 frequency words – they have probably studied already exhaustively such excellent learners’ material as the “Using French” series from Cambridge University press, the Mot-a-Mot series or some similar, the Essential Grammars and the Frequency Dictionary series that are produced by Routledge. These in turn sit on top of having studied through a goof introductory course or two like the ones provided by Teach Yourself, Colloquial series and Living Language – some swear by Assimil and also there is a very good resource made by my friend Mike Campbell called the Glossika series. Each of these resources can be placed into your Goldlist. Prior to Goldlisting I tend to recommend front-loading audio only (though that’s not necessary with the Glossika method as there is audio for all of it and audio is part of the method intrinsic to Glossika) and so for most learners I would recommend going through whatever is available on Pimsleur before they even start the Goldlist phase and prior to Pimsleur for the few languages in which they are available, I recommend taking the very first steps using Michel Thomas method or Paul Noble for the three languages he does. Since all of these audio-only courses are not about writing this is all pre-goldlist stuff but helps to have an “inner voice” and a knowledge of how to pronounce the language which would be missing if we went straight into goldlisting a language form grammar books which we didn’t know how to pronounce. For classical languages that’s all there really is, I suppose – you can’t do audio only before Goldlisting Wright’s Gothic Grammar.
So I basically just went backwards along a list of things which a learner would be advise to do. If you don’t recognise the steps I just mentioned and can’t say that you know the sort of examples I gave for French in whichever language you are studying then probably the Advanced Learners’ Literature Drill I am going to talk about in a moment isn’t for you. Not yet, anyway. You’ll get there. Carry on doing the kind of steps for now that I’ve outlined in reverse order above.
However, if you are someone who has basically run out of learning material and you don’t know what to do next short of goldlisting a 20,000 word dictionary (which has its merits, too, quite a few people have done it to good effect but is a task not to be undertaken lightly). After all, most learning material is for beginners, there is some for intermediate learners and some for what they call advanced learners (usually the choice gets smaller the further you get) but for anything beyond the most popular languages you are going to encounter a dearth of learning material at the right level and instead you are going to have to “go live” with your languages, reading the same classics of the language which the natives did in school which will strengthen your cultural link with them and greatly enhance and deepen your feel of the language.The easy way in to using literature is graded readers. Read the rest of this entry
I don’t really like the term “final thoughts” as it sounds as if I am planning to stop thinking afterwards, or maybe stop existing altogether, which I am certainly not considering if I can help it, however I do need, as Victor Berrjod kindly reminds me, to round this off, hence the title.
Let me just get a coffee, this could be a longish article, maybe you would like one as well?
Right, let’s continue. The story so far is that we’ve divided the things or activities that you can do in a language, be it counting, swearing, praying, reading the paper, watching TV, learning the songs of the language or filling in a visa form or a job application into four basic types or functions, as shown in the above table:
Just about anything you can do in a language bases on one or more of these four functions.
Take a moment if you like to see of you can think of any activity involving language that is an exception, and by all means tell me in the comments. Personally I could not think of any exceptions.
We’ve also considered that for one pair of these functions, listening and reading, the learner is on the receiving end of polished language and therefore is able to use his or her passive knowledge to engage in the function and its related activities. Listening is more challenging than reading because the user has less ability to control the speed, although there are instruments available based on developing listening skills where you can control the pace of listening. We talked about audio courses where you have your pause button, and another good one is Audible where you can buy audiobooks in other languages and set a slower narrator speed, or a higher one in order to develop ‘listening fluency’. However, in the main, for the passive pair as long as a word is known passively the learner will not be put off his or her stride by reading or hearing it as they will be able to recall its meaning when it is given in the language much easier than when he or she needs to generate the expression and knows it passively, but is not in an active state, and the mind goes blank.
Conversely, we’ve recognised that the other pair of functions, speaking and writing, are ones in which we the learner are called upon to generate the learned language and not just fluently recognise meaning and stay with the flow of the presented foreign language material. This represents an additional challenge but one essential to get to grips with sooner or later if you want to SPEAK the language. We are always hearing the term “what languages do you speak?” rather than which can you read, listen to with understanding or even write in. Now more than ever nobody seem to be all that impressed by the ability to write in a foreign language – unless they actually watch you forming calligraphic kanjis with your hand – because things like Google Translate are available. And even though in the main the Google Translate users do give themselves away pretty quickly, seeing that the quality of that service is not yet all one might be led to expect, nevertheless sometimes quite convincing written language comes at you over the internet from people who don’t really know the language in question at all. They are having fun, but it also serves to undermine the value placed by the online community on written foreign language skills and so now, more than ever, the gold standard is really what you can speak. Read the rest of this entry
|Playout date:||12 November 2006|
|Post Production:||Windows Movie Maker – slight use|
|Location:||Cape Town, South Africa|
|Other people featured:||Waitress at Sheraton|
|Music used:||“This could be heaven for everyone” by Queen – Karaoke version|
|Languages used:||English and Xhosa|
A very nice lady helps me to get an idea of what the click consonants of Xhosa sound like.
This video managed to get a share of silly comments from people who don’t really get it. Never mind. Tidak apa apa.
- Video: 2 Rhinos Fight for Life after Their Horns Are Chopped Off (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Should You Go Back? (themanahouse.wordpress.com)
- from the click in xhosa, to the pulse in house (blkcowrie.wordpress.com)
- Nelson Mandela’s first language being cut from South African schools (drsaraheaton.wordpress.com)
- Cultural genocide in Azania (South Afrika) (umkhontowesizwe.wordpress.com)
- 11 words for peace from 1 country (mothertonguesblog.com)
- Why Do African and English Clicks Sound So Different? It’s All in Your Head (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
|Playout date:||14 October 2006|
|Post Production:||Windows Movie Maker – slight use|
|Other people featured:||None|
|Music used:||“Promise Me” by Beverly Craven – Karaoke|
|Languages used:||Geordie English|
Polish-origin Geordie Peter Paczek (pronounced Poncheck) returns to give us a quick lesson for foreigners learning English.
One of the pitfalls for learners of English is the problem of homophobes in English, Peter says. That’s words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Here is a guide to some of them.
We finish up with a rendition of Beverly Craven’s lovely song “Promise Me”. Don’t miss the comments to this one by clicking through to the YouTube original via the video above – there are some classical ones among the comments to this one!
- Can you play a movie made with windows movie maker on a computer without windows movie maker installed (wiki.answers.com)
- Police record more incidents of homophobic hate crime (pinkbananaworld.com)
- Tashing on – Geordie Shore (thestudentchannel.wordpress.com)
- Count von Weytzentrenner’s Oktoberfest appeal to North Korea (huliganov.tv)
I have been lucky enough this week to receive questions from two people on YouTube about aspects of the Goldlist Method, along with their permission to respond here so that I don’t have to fiddle about with the 500 character cut-off or however many it is over there.
Let’s kick off with this one from YouTube channel WellConditionedChimp
I’m wondering whether you are familiar with Mnemosyne, an open source computer program that is reminiscent of your method – it makes digital flashcards that come up for review after a variable interval of time. The interval is determined by how quickly you remembered the material the last time, if at all. In what ways is your method superior to this one?
I assume that you are referring to the Mnemosyne Project in which case I was not familiar with it, although it seems to be building on Piotr Wozniak, who in turn builds on other researchers going back to Ebbinghaus. In my case I only learned about Wozniak’s work on memory after my own system was complete, but as you will see if you read the Polyglot Project (available via syzygycc channel on YT as an e-book for free, or in paper printed and bound on Amazon.com for $16.95) you will know that my inspiration came from reading second hand about Ebbinghaus, plus my own experience as a linguist, plus the fact that getting back into numbers in order to become an accountant started to make me think along the lines of a numerically controlled learning system for languages. Read the rest of this entry
As part of the discussion in one of the pages here I got into a discussion with how one reader, Abdul, can tailor the goldlist to his study of Arabic. The nesting in the meantime has become so narrow that I need to continue with a fresh article. Have a look under the page “About HTV” to see the earlier part of the conversation, I’m only quoting the latest part.
Hi Victor, That explanation has really helped me out and I think I now know what I need to do. Based on your explanation I attempted to create a basic plan for learning over the next few months, which I really would like for you to see. The one query I had at this stage was ‘overlap’. For example, in my plan I’ve planned to do 4 headlists a day, 7 days a week, 28 headlists a week. Over the course of 4 weeks, this gives 112 headlists and consequently 2800 words. Do I do ALL the headlists first (112) and then move on to D1 – do ALL D1, then D2 and ALL D2, etc etc all the way to D7. That is, do I leave 4 week gaps for all movements across distillations? Or do I move to D1 after two weeks, in which case D1 distillation of headlist 1 will coincide with the beginning of headlist 57 (28 headlists per month, beginning of 3rd week), and this overlap will keep on continuing with D1 distillation of week 3 coinciding with beginning of D2 distillation? I know that sounds complex and I’d really like to send you my excel plan sheet if that’s confused you. I just want to know if its ok to be doing distillations and headlists on one day etc? Many thanks, Abdul
Abdul, you’re welcome to send me the excel file on firstname.lastname@example.org , however maybe it isn’t needed, as we can try to use the notation to set you a programme.
If I planned to do 2800 words, I would do the following bit of mathematics at the outset.
2800 words, each goldlisted off equates to an average of 3 iterations per word, so it is a task of covering 2800*3 ie 8,400 words, spread over the 8 levels of distillation including the headlist. At a rate of 28 sessions a week, which is, including the scheduled ten minute breaks a 14 hour a week job, you are able to headlist and distill the words you have in your target, namely 2800, in precisely 336 sessions (8400/25) and by the same token you would know all these words if you keep up the work flow without flagging in the course of 12 weeks. However, you know that it is in fact not possible to keep to the standards of delay and still do everything in 12 weeks because you have two weeks minimum standby time for each one, and hence the bare minimum to take it to 7 distillations would be 14 weeks.
I suggest we therefore take the following order:
Action 1 = H1-H2100 which takes three weeks of your time at the work rate
Action 2 = D1 1 to say 1500 which distils H1 – 2100 and takes a little over two weeks so hopefully you don’t run within two weeks of the headlist. If you do, just go back and add H2100-2300 or something to keep the flow right.
Action 3 do the rest of H, that is take H to the target of 2800. This will take you another week. We are into week six at the moment.
Action 4, and 5 So we’re in week seven and you’re turning the D1 words from D1 1-1500 to D2 say 1-1100, which will take you a little over a week, when you get to the end you are still nicely timed for turning H2101-2800 to D1 1501-2000 or however you manage it depending on your material and your confidence.
Action 6 If it were me I’d now be going back to H and adding more words beyond 2800, but if that was the target, then that was the target, so you’re left with nothing to do at H if you want to adhere to the target. If you are now far enough on in time (two weeks) to take the first words of D2 and turn them to D3, then you can do so, and you’ll follow that by doing the second batch of words which initially were H2101-2800 and take them to D2 level. But the process of taking 2100 headwords to D3 and 700 headwords to D2 from the respective preceding distillations is only about 5 or 6 days work at the work rate you gave, so now you have to wait unless you want to add more at H.
And so you continue, until the target is done.
Please let me know if I should elucidaye any part more clearly.
Excellent question, by the way, for which I thank you, and which you every pleasure and success with your study.
- Question about the Voynich Manuscript (huliganov.tv)
- The Goldlist Method and Kanji (huliganov.tv)
- Buy “The Polyglot Project” on Amazon via my aStore, or download e-book (huliganov.tv)
- Is Vinegar Safe for a Gluten-Free Diet? (everydayhealth.com)
- What are the most commonly used words used in a grade 4 spelling bee (wiki.answers.com)
Here it is the start of a new series of posts on this blog, and they’re gonna get their own category.
I also thought of another new series today – but I’ll start it in the new year, God willing.
In the meantime, the ICMTSU series is exactly what it says it is, and this piece I found in the Telegraph this weekend is a prime example of what I mean.
When I saw this I was moments away from sending it to the Private Eye, but I realised on time I have a perfectly good publication myself, if with a smaller readership for the time being, namely this blog, and so here it is!
- The Best Magazine of All Time is The Private Eye (bookstove.com)
- Wayne Rooney made one mistake – he got caught (telegraph.co.uk)
- Pimsleur Approach Announces New Online Resource Center for Language Learning (prweb.com)
- Voxy: Learn a Language from Life (go2web20.net)
- YouTube Brings Endangered Languages to You (googletutor.com)
There’s more than one way to be a polyglot. Let’s allow the not-strictly-true-but-true-enough assumption that the average word in any linguist‘s portfolio takes the same time to learn, and let’s give a value of one minute to that.
Now, say one polyglot has learned 60,000 words taking 60,000 minutes of his life but these are divided over 60 languages. This Polylot speaks 60 languages with one thousand words in each language.
Another has learned 60,000 words taking 60,000 minutes of his life, but these words are concentrated into 4 languages. He speaks 4 languages with 15,000 words in each language.
1. Which of these two polyglots has learned more language?
2. Which is the greater linguist and polyglot?
3. Who has worked harder?
4. Who has the greater achievement?
5. Who has the more impressive achievement?
6. Who gets more utility from his work?
Anyone who can answer these questions, kindly go ahead.
Because I can’t.
- Who is bilingual? (psychologytoday.com)
- The Greatest Linguist Ever to Live (socyberty.com)
- Bilingualism’s best kept secret: How extensive it is (psychologytoday.com)
- Mysterious language spoken by less than 1000 people, discovered in remote village [Mad Linguistics] (io9.com)
- The Language Archive (variety.com)
I’ve put down a goldlist for years and picked it back up and continued. The long term memory is the long term memory. Humans and elephants have it in spades. The difference is that we can turn ours off by switching on the short-term memory in the process of conscious cramming or deliberate rote learning. Elephants probably cannot do that – an elephant never forgets. Their sample rate is higher as their brain is 7% Hippocampus and not just 5% like ours. They have a language which we have a lot of difficulty in understanding as it is in infrasound, travels 10 km and they use they feet and trunks as well as their huge ears to pick up the auditory signals. We need machines to hear any of this, and then we don’t really experience it but see it as vibrations on a screen. They on the other hand can eavesdrop on human speech and they take a particular interest when their keepers describe what plans they have to do with them.
If elephants were formal linguists and polyglots then they probably wouldn’t need something like an SRS or a goldlist method, as they are very natural in their use of their facilities. But since we humans do very silly things with our minds in aid of learning, under the influence of schoolteachers utterly uneducated in how the brain actually works and using a “one size fits all” method for learning, we do need something that can get our minds working more optimally again while approaching the learning of other languages. And that’s what this method and some other methods try to offer.