11 votes

Interlinear Books: Learn between the lines (Subtitled books)

19 comments

  1. [19]
    clone1
    Link
    Is this a good way to learn? If you could learn a foreign language by seeing it side by side with a translation for long enough, wouldn't most people who have watched subtitled anime for 10+ years...

    Is this a good way to learn? If you could learn a foreign language by seeing it side by side with a translation for long enough, wouldn't most people who have watched subtitled anime for 10+ years know a lot of Japanese?

    3 votes
    1. drannex
      Link Parent
      This is a time tested method, but not one that I have used. I personally translate material from one to the other for learning, but I could see this being very useful. The reason anime watchers...

      This is a time tested method, but not one that I have used. I personally translate material from one to the other for learning, but I could see this being very useful.

      The reason anime watchers likely do not retain, is because they aren't seeing the {primary} language above the Japanese original.

      1 vote
    2. [16]
      0d_billie
      Link Parent
      No, IMO. I don't think that any kind of translation method results in good acquisition. It encourages the learner to parse input into their L1 before thinking of an answer in their LQ and parsing...

      No, IMO. I don't think that any kind of translation method results in good acquisition. It encourages the learner to parse input into their L1 before thinking of an answer in their LQ and parsing it back into the target language.

      Immersion is good, as is having a non-language related task to do in the TL. But learning to translate word by word doesn't accomplish a lot, because (surprise surprise) there are not always a lot of one-to-one mappings between languages.

      1 vote
      1. [15]
        Adys
        Link Parent
        I disagree, for exactly the reason you state, actually. In learning a new language, especially early on, I find it EXTREMELY helpful to get very-literal translations for new words, expressions,...

        But learning to translate word by word doesn't accomplish a lot, because (surprise surprise) there are not always a lot of one-to-one mappings between languages.

        I disagree, for exactly the reason you state, actually.

        In learning a new language, especially early on, I find it EXTREMELY helpful to get very-literal translations for new words, expressions, especially new constructions. I find it helpful, for three reasons:

        1. It teaches me the literal meaning of the actual words used, which will help when encountering them again later in other contexts.
        2. It forces me to think about how exactly the construction works. Forces me to really understand what's being said, and why it's being said like this.
        3. Constructions are rarely one-offs. Similar ones often show up throughout a new language. It's not enough to understand, as a French-speaking English learner, what "Thank you" means and 1:1 map it to something like "Merci", you might also come across "Thank me", "Thank god", "Thank the heavens", etc. It's more useful to understand it means "Merci à toi".

        All the above combined means that I can get myself much more acquainted with how natives think. Get into their head. I cannot stress how valuable this kind of translation is, for that!

        HOWEVER, you do have to know how to use it. And it is important to force yourself to assimilate target language material while thinking about concepts, not about actual words in a different language. If I hear, for the first time, the word "Laptop computer", I want to think about a computer, a lap, and the shape of a laptop computer. I DONT want to think "ordinateur portable". The "secret" to fluency is of course the ability to think in your target language.

        4 votes
        1. [9]
          lou
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I tend to think, based solely on my own experience learning English, that such a comparative method is most useful after you have a more traditional introduction to basic grammar, vocabulary, and...

          I tend to think, based solely on my own experience learning English, that such a comparative method is most useful after you have a more traditional introduction to basic grammar, vocabulary, and other essential knowledge.

          That is, if you're an adult. A child or young teenager's brain is primed to absorb new languages in a way that is not really available after your brain "matures".

          1 vote
          1. [8]
            Adys
            Link Parent
            Absolutely. I'm just about ready to start reading the russian books here, and I'm already well into B1 reading comprehension. This is a myth, btw. A young child spends every waking minute of their...

            Absolutely. I'm just about ready to start reading the russian books here, and I'm already well into B1 reading comprehension.

            A child or young teenager's brain is primed to absorb new languages in a way that is not really available after your brain "matures".

            This is a myth, btw. A young child spends every waking minute of their day surrounded by their target language. They're bombarded with immersion, yet still needs years to reach levels an adult can reach in months.

            Truth is, as a teenager, I accidentally started following a very good way of learning English and I became fluent in a year. Now, 17 years later, I am following a well-crafted lesson plan to learn Russian (a far more complex language) and I'm seeing a very similar progress curve, or hell, even better.

            It probably comes down to time. As adults we don't have the time required to dedicate to these things like a kid does. How the fuck do you want to spend six hours a day passively learning your mother tongue, when your job wants "those reports by Monday" and you can barely fit two hours a week to do some sports you enjoy?

            2 votes
            1. [5]
              smores
              Link Parent
              I have the sense that I’m only preaching to the choir here, but it goes even farther than what you’ve said here. When you’re a young child, nearly every proficient language speaker you interact...

              I have the sense that I’m only preaching to the choir here, but it goes even farther than what you’ve said here. When you’re a young child, nearly every proficient language speaker you interact with is CONSTANTLY giving you feedback on your speaking. Adults repeat what children say back to them as one of the primary forms of interaction, and they do so with corrections. Through this process, children get near instant feedback on grammar and pronunciation the vast majority of their waking hours, of the nature adults often only get in a formal academic setting.

              2 votes
              1. [4]
                0d_billie
                Link Parent
                Interestingly enough, the linguistic consensus is currently that young children who are still in the acquisition process do not respond to corrections and feedback from adults. Anecdotally, my own...

                Interestingly enough, the linguistic consensus is currently that young children who are still in the acquisition process do not respond to corrections and feedback from adults. Anecdotally, my own daughter and nieces never fixed a mistake based on adult feedback, they all just grew out of it.

                1 vote
                1. [3]
                  Adys
                  Link Parent
                  Interesting. I suspect the way you correct them matters a lot. “Growing out” of a mistake is likely a matter of getting used to a different way of saying it. There’s a huge difference between...

                  Interesting. I suspect the way you correct them matters a lot. “Growing out” of a mistake is likely a matter of getting used to a different way of saying it. There’s a huge difference between being told “no, say it like this” vs repeating what they said but a different way. I’ve employed the latter much more when teaching someone else French or English.

                  Maybe I’ll make a kid and report the results.

                  1 vote
                  1. [2]
                    0d_billie
                    Link Parent
                    It's a very different process when you're learning even as an older child vs. acquiring a first language. You can bring general learning mechanisms and strategies to the fore, and do develop the...

                    It's a very different process when you're learning even as an older child vs. acquiring a first language. You can bring general learning mechanisms and strategies to the fore, and do develop the ability to learn from even a single correction. A very young child, acquiring language simply by existing in a linguistic environment on the other hand, is not applying the same kind of learning processes and strategies, using a brain primed for statistical learning to try to figure out what the patterns of sound that people around them make are, and how they map onto the world.

                    This is why children end up over-generalising grammatical rules, such as English's VERB+ed = past-tense. You often hear utterances like "I goed to the park," and no amount of correction from an adult will get them to say it correctly. The child needs the relevant input from the environment to be able to figure out the irregularity of go -> went, and that it has the same properties as play -> played.

                    Edit: In terms of language teaching, recasts are a really valuable tool in a teacher's arsenal, which is why you're noticing a difference between telling a student "no" and rephrasing what they said. Motivation and affective factors matter in teaching anything, and students tend not to respond so well to an explicit "you're doing it wrong" vs. a more gentle approach. You can seriously damage someone's motivation or increase their anxiety with the former.

                    2 votes
            2. [2]
              lou
              Link Parent
              Yeah, I was actually talking about language acquisition of a second language which was English in my case. I did not have the benefit of any actual immersion, unless you count playing videogames...

              Yeah, I was actually talking about language acquisition of a second language which was English in my case. I did not have the benefit of any actual immersion, unless you count playing videogames with a dictionary and making sense of grunge lirycs as immersion.

              1 vote
              1. Adys
                Link Parent
                Play enough video games in English during the day and yes I would count it as immersion :) My immersion was Diablo 2 and World of Warcraft. I absolutely think it counted.

                Play enough video games in English during the day and yes I would count it as immersion :)

                My immersion was Diablo 2 and World of Warcraft. I absolutely think it counted.

        2. [4]
          0d_billie
          Link Parent
          This is a fair response, and if it works for you I'm glad to hear it! My own experience with translation methods left a lot to be desired, so I'm certainly biased against this sort of thing.

          This is a fair response, and if it works for you I'm glad to hear it! My own experience with translation methods left a lot to be desired, so I'm certainly biased against this sort of thing.

          1. [3]
            Adys
            Link Parent
            I haven’t tried interlinear books yet, will do so soon, and I’ll let you know the results in the next language thread. But yes I came across them recently and loved the idea so much I needed to...

            I haven’t tried interlinear books yet, will do so soon, and I’ll let you know the results in the next language thread.

            But yes I came across them recently and loved the idea so much I needed to share it :)

            1. [2]
              0d_billie
              Link Parent
              I'll keep an eye out for it! I've noticed a lot of language-learning apps/services cropping up in the last year or so, but that might just be down to ad trackers figuring out I'm doing my masters...

              I'll keep an eye out for it! I've noticed a lot of language-learning apps/services cropping up in the last year or so, but that might just be down to ad trackers figuring out I'm doing my masters in linguistics and thinking that I want to learn a new language. I do, but that's not why I'm doing the degree! Either way, I'm always curious to hear about what people's experience of language learning apps/services is.

              My view tends to be that they are good as a supplement to overall learning, but that to rely on them alone is essentially useless. Some services are doubtless better than others, but I do genuinely think that the best way to learn is through immersion, and production-first & ideally task-based methods.

              1 vote
        3. clone1
          Link Parent
          This is the part of your argument that I think isn't quite right. I don't think a single native language word captures the literal meaning of a foreign language word in most cases, especially if...

          It teaches me the literal meaning of the actual words used, which will help when encountering them again later in other contexts.

          This is the part of your argument that I think isn't quite right. I don't think a single native language word captures the literal meaning of a foreign language word in most cases, especially if the languages are far apart.

          The common example in Japanese is 悔しい(kuyashii). The literal English translation is usually, frustrating, vexing, regrettable. But if I try to translate the definition given in my Japanese-Japanese dictionary, it's: The irritating regret felt when losing a match, failing, or being disgraced. That's a subset of what frustrating means in English, you can't say an itch that won't go away is 悔しい.

          That's why I feel like always relying on a translation doesn't give you a good sense of what things really mean.

    3. Pistos
      Link Parent
      It moves the needle, but it isn't good enough to get you to full fluency and understanding of deeper nuances of the language that you'd get with more formal study and immersion. I remember a...

      It moves the needle, but it isn't good enough to get you to full fluency and understanding of deeper nuances of the language that you'd get with more formal study and immersion. I remember a warning given when I was studying a classical language: when reading an interlinear text, there's a danger of being overconfident about one's understanding of a passage, and not arriving at the full meaning of the text that you would get with translating and studying it with the original (non-interlinear) text.

      It's a bit similar to rhythm games: if you're a rank beginner at music, sure, it'll move the needle and you'll learn a little bit. But if you want to become even just an intermediate musician, you'll pick up bad habits and misunderstandings about music performance from such games, and you'll be better served just picking up the actual instrument you want to learn, and engaging in more formal study and practice.