Author Topic: Complete immersion, 4 languages, 1 year  (Read 1872 times)

Offline Daniel

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Complete immersion, 4 languages, 1 year
« on: December 19, 2013, 07:13:08 PM »
http://vimeo.com/81616091

Interesting video.

I have some technical objections to their method (mostly that I'd prefer for research reasons that they would learn one language and show that adults could become native speakers, given time and lack of commitments), but it's very interesting nonetheless.

[I posted this over at the old forum, but I thought I'd bring it over.]
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Offline Guijarro

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Re: Complete immersion, 4 languages, 1 year
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2013, 05:11:28 AM »
Those two nice guys in the video had some sort of attitude which allowed them to profit from their Spanish holiday.

I have known emigrant Spanish peasants who have spent several years in Switzerland, France or Germany and, apart from some fixed formulae (good morning, etc, thanks, etc. and so on) and a few words (cow, milk, wheat, etc.) in the foreign languages, they could definitely not speak any of those languages.

So, I agree with you, Daniel. I very much doubt the effectiveness of this methodology if it is not accompanied by other variables --which will have to be described.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Complete immersion, 4 languages, 1 year
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2013, 05:35:56 AM »
I think I'd call this a step in the right direction-- better than other methods (like classrooms) for potentially becoming an adult-onset native speaker. But within that, there are some details to work out, of course. One important question: unless you're in it purely for the research, is this a reasonably productive way to spend your time-- 3 months and then actual proficiency? I'll be interested to see where they end up with this, especially by the 4th language!
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Offline Guijarro

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Re: Complete immersion, 4 languages, 1 year
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2013, 05:53:44 AM »
Why do we have such a nasty feeling about classrooms?

It depends on what you are able to do in them. I remember many years ago we made an informal experiment. We had during a month one of our students in a foreign place with no tuition whatever; and we had another, a student, with formal training over a month on that very same foreign language.

Well, the results were amazingly clear. The student in the classroom could do a lot better than the other in the foreign country.

I do not claim any value in this "experiment", but it was so striking that we were able to make comparisons intuitively and decided that classes could be a better start

Offline Daniel

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Re: Complete immersion, 4 languages, 1 year
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2013, 06:30:32 AM »
Quote
Why do we have such a nasty feeling about classrooms?
I don't! I've studied about 15 languages in university classrooms, some for several years. There's also nothing wrong with doing this in addition to immersion (in fact, the guys in the video did that-- not classrooms specifically, but more or less explicit instruction via audio/software training). In fact, I am generally opposed to classroom-based immersion/"conversational" approaches. I like explicit instruction.

But... it's an unfair comparison to children, and if the goal is to become a native speaker, I imagine it would look much more like what they're doing.

My point isn't that classrooms are bad, but that I don't believe they're likely to disprove that adults can't become native speakers.  If we want to test that hypothesis (either way) we'd need to have a fair comparison-- that would look more like this. You can't just take a classroom of ESL students and say "wow, they're not native speakers, let's assume adults can't ever become native speakers".

That's all I mean, just from a theoretical perspective. (As far as I am concerned, unless it is for pedagogical purposes, quite a bit of L2 research is flawed in using classroom-instructed adults. That isn't always appropriate for some of the questions being asked.)

Quote
It depends on what you are able to do in them. I remember many years ago we made an informal experiment. We had during a month one of our students in a foreign place with no tuition whatever; and we had another, a student, with formal training over a month on that very same foreign language.

Well, the results were amazingly clear. The student in the classroom could do a lot better than the other in the foreign country.

I do not claim any value in this "experiment", but it was so striking that we were able to make comparisons intuitively and decided that classes could be a better start
That's immediate performance, not ultimate attainment. I don't think there's any question that explicit instruction is: i) more effective short term (faster); and ii) less awkward/exhausting to go through.


So in the end, I don't know that I'd recommend doing 3 months of total immersion to someone just because they want to learn a language for practical reasons, but I at the same time I would like to do research with some people who are doing that, for the purposes of linguistic theory.
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