9 votes

Thoughts on learning languages

10 comments

  1. [3]
    Eric_the_Cerise
    (edited )
    Link
    Reading it now ... I don't believe anyone can categorically say that Duolingo is either good or bad. Every language pair is different, put together and maintained by different people, and some...

    Reading it now ...

    I don't believe anyone can categorically say that Duolingo is either good or bad. Every language pair is different, put together and maintained by different people, and some languages do not fit the basic language-learning template that most of the language-trees are built on (I'm looking at you, Hungarian), requiring significant customisation with debatable results.

    Generally, I expect the top languages (English, German, Spanish, French, etc) are probably excellent as part of a learning effort, while many/most of the smaller, less popular languages will be problematic and might even impede learning beyond the very, very basic levels.

    ETA: I don't think there's a clear line, but roughly speaking, if your target language has <1M people learning it in Duolingo (and especially if it's still in Beta), be cautious.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Adys
      Link Parent
      Yes that’s absolutely true, the quality depends a lot on the target language, and not only that but the language source as well. A friend advised me that reversing the language pair may yield very...

      Yes that’s absolutely true, the quality depends a lot on the target language, and not only that but the language source as well.

      A friend advised me that reversing the language pair may yield very good results in terms of how natural the language is. So instead of learning Russian from English, try “English for Russian speakers”. I did and indeed the course is very different. I will report fully on it when ive had the opportunity to play with it more.

      3 votes
      1. Eric_the_Cerise
        Link Parent
        I did that, too, originally "learning" English from Hungarian, which has been around a lot longer, is better supported, etc. It's not a worthless effort, I suppose, but in my experience, your...

        I did that, too, originally "learning" English from Hungarian, which has been around a lot longer, is better supported, etc.

        It's not a worthless effort, I suppose, but in my experience, your language learning hours would be better invested in other ways. Primarily, my favorite is now Olly's recommendation of just reading (and re-reading and re-re-reading) stuff in your target language that is just far enough beyond your comprehension level to be a bit uncomfortable.

        3 votes
  2. Adys
    Link
    I wrote this initially as a follow-up on my language learning thread update here, and converted it into a blog post. Please excuse the brain dump :) I am posting this here before posting it more...

    I wrote this initially as a follow-up on my language learning thread update here, and converted it into a blog post. Please excuse the brain dump :)

    I am posting this here before posting it more publicly, as I'd like Tildes' opinion on whether there's anything I missed and should talk about in the post. In that spirit, AMA? Are there unanswered questions or concerns you might have as a language learner?

    2 votes
  3. [6]
    nacho
    Link
    Does anyone have tips for learning a new alphabet, like the Russian, Korean, Greek etc? Are there sites that focus exclusively on that? Acquaintances say Duolingo is bad at this. I might consider...

    Does anyone have tips for learning a new alphabet, like the Russian, Korean, Greek etc?

    Are there sites that focus exclusively on that? Acquaintances say Duolingo is bad at this.

    I might consider learning another language, but then I'd want to finish the wrote learning of the alphabet efficiently at least to actually get started.

    I assume worksheets are last century (when last I learned a new language) and there are surely good wrote-learning apps or make-your-own cards etc. for these?

    2 votes
    1. Adys
      Link Parent
      For Greek and Russian, most courses include an alphabet primer. It's a lot easier than it looks, to be honest. My ex girlfriend learned Greek during our trip to Athens, in just a few hours, and is...

      For Greek and Russian, most courses include an alphabet primer. It's a lot easier than it looks, to be honest.

      My ex girlfriend learned Greek during our trip to Athens, in just a few hours, and is to this day able to read greek (albeit slowly) with zero practice since.

      2 votes
    2. [2]
      Eric_the_Cerise
      Link Parent
      I studied Russian long ago, forgot almost all of it. But I know that, if you do nothing more than learn the Cyrillic alphabet (probably 2-3 hours), you already "know" a surprising amount of...

      I studied Russian long ago, forgot almost all of it.

      But I know that, if you do nothing more than learn the Cyrillic alphabet (probably 2-3 hours), you already "know" a surprising amount of rudimentary Russian. A lot of Russian is fairly obvious English-similar cognates that are just obfuscated by the Cyrillic spelling.

      I would guess this is even more true for Greek.

      2 votes
      1. Adys
        Link Parent
        I think it's more true for russian than it is for greek, to be honest. Russian cognates are very easy. Greek cognates usually take a certain... linguistic knowledge to notice.

        I would guess this is even more true for Greek.

        I think it's more true for russian than it is for greek, to be honest. Russian cognates are very easy. Greek cognates usually take a certain... linguistic knowledge to notice.

        2 votes
    3. inwardpath
      Link Parent
      I cannot personally vouch for this yet, but have heard many people recommend Talk To Me In Korean - Become a Hangeul Master for learning Korean writing

      I cannot personally vouch for this yet, but have heard many people recommend Talk To Me In Korean - Become a Hangeul Master for learning Korean writing

      2 votes
    4. clone1
      Link Parent
      That's funny, in the japanese learning community, the widely held opinion is that duolingo is fine for learning the kana, but bad for anything else.

      That's funny, in the japanese learning community, the widely held opinion is that duolingo is fine for learning the kana, but bad for anything else.

      1 vote