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Re: "Usefull languages"

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Wednesday, February 13, 2002, 22:35
En réponse à David Starner <starner@...>:

> > Based on what I've read, it really makes no difference in adult (or > late > teen) education whether or not you include reading from the start; > I've > read studies that say that over three years, it all averages out, and > at > no point does the more vocal group really have an advantage.
Well, change readings, because this is nonsense :)) . What averages out is the competence of the students of different origins (for instance, a German student learning English will have an advantage over a Chinese student, but this advantage dies out after three years of conventional studies). But the difference between the vocal group and the reading group never averages out. As an average, it takes two years to a vocal student to reach a level that takes 10 years for a reading student. Believe me, I am a perfect example of this. I learned English in the conventional reading way of the French education, and it took me ten years to get to the level I am now. I may have had a good level in reading and writing after three years, but I couldn't utter a word correctly. Now I've taken Dutch through the Dutch system, heavily based on sound and actual use (to the point of giving no grammar lessons. "The grammar will come when you know the words"), and after four weeks of studies I'm able to find my way into Dutch and have conversations in it, something which took me more than 5 years for English (and I was much younger when I began learning English), and I can hope to talk nearly like a native within two years. It wouldn't have been possible with a conventional reading-writing study. Believe me, the learning of speaking is completely discoupled with the learning of reading and writing, except that if reading-writing is taken first, the mind gets clouded by the written language and gets less receptive when learning to speak, while if speaking is strongly emphasized (as in Dutch schools, and the high level of multilingualism of the Netherlands show that it works quite well), reading and writing can come after more naturally, much like for native speakers. It's also
> more comforting to the learner - I have no immediate need for another > spoken language. But if I can learn to read German, there becomes open > to me a great range of writings I didn't have access to before. >
I remember the time I learnt German by myself (only the reading-writing, I had no tapes). I could read it quite well, but impossible to utter a word. Result: I forgot everything after one month without reading much German. Now it's been nearly two months I stopped studying Dutch (and didn't use it as much as I would have liked) and I until now lost nothing of what I learnt. Learn only by readin writing needs constant training, or you'll lose your knowledge very soon. Learn by speaking and you can discontinue for a month or two without losing anything, and it will take hardly one lesson to get back to the level you were before stopping. If that's not an important difference...
> Anyway, do the Chinese have spelling bees, or the like? It seems like > they'd have more problem then the English at the correspondence > between > the written form and the spoken form. >
On the contrary, since the written form doesn't have the pretention to give phonetic clues (in fact it does, but in a way unclear enough that it doesn't impede things). The only difficulty comes from the big number of signs to learn, and the fact that the written language represents well only the Mandarin of the capital, which is only one dialect of just one of the languages of the country. The only spelling bee I can think of is the distinction between traditional and simplified spelling. But I don't know much about it, so one of our Sinologues should step in here :)) . Christophe. Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.


Almaran Dungeonmaster <dungeonmaster@...>
Douglas Koller, Latin & French <latinfrench@...>