I’m Tyler, or Hopefullanguagelearner, which ever you prefer and how much you value your wrists. I’m a 2nd year undergrad, my major in Computer Science. I’m also a vegan.

You might ask “why would a Computer Scientist who isn’t even a Computer Scientist yet want to learn a language, doesn’t he have enough of that with his programming or whatever.”

That is a pretty good question, but I don’t think anyone from any walk of life needs an excuse to learn a second or 12th or an excuse to learn Japanese in a year and a half and then get a job in Tokyo, in Japanese.

Actually, something I just noticed is that Benny, and Khatz both have computer related degrees. Hmm…

So, you’re here for the language right? Currently I’m learning Japanese, and I wrapped up 3 months of Esperanto not to long ago. If that isn’t enough for you, here is a list of languages I’d like to study in no particular order. This list will grow and shrink as I think about what languages I’d like to put time into.

  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Russian
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
  • Vietnamese
  • Korean
  • Thai

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please feel free to comment on any of my posts, or contact me. I’m always ready to talk, bonus if it’s in one of the languages I’m learning!

  1. “I don’t think anyone from any walk of life needs an excuse to learn a second or 12th” language — I totally agree with you that no justifications are needed. Learning a language grants entry into a world and range of experiences that would otherwise be inaccessible, and even if this entry is limited or partial, it can be very rewarding. I also think that the process of learning doesn’t have to be tedious or drudgery: it can be a lot of fun, and interesting in and of itself.

    Good luck with your language adventures, Tyler.

    • Thank you very much, Adam? (I’m guessing you wouldn’t use that name otherwise!)

      I agree with you on all points, especially that learning doesn’t have to be a drag! When learning is fun you learn even more, simply because it’s fun!

      Your language adventures seem very interesting, learning Thai in the same way one learns their native language. It would be quite the opportunity if I ever have a chance to do that with any language. I hope you continue with your adventures and see even more progress! I think I might borrow from you and count time spent listening and watching content in Japanese, with no ‘help’.

      Thanks again!

  2. Well, I think it’s got to be fun — or, you have to have a really pressing need — otherwise, over the long haul, you’re not going to stick with it.

    The key to learning a language the way that I’m learning Thai is the idea of “comprehensible input”, which means getting exposure to the target language that you can somewhat (not necessarily completely) understand. It involves reversing, to a certain degree, the traditional method for learning languages: it’s not that you study a bunch of vocabulary and grammar now so that in the future you will be able to understand the target language; instead, you subconsciously pick up vocabulary and grammar by understanding situations in which the target language is being used. If you’re a complete beginner, you’re going to need situations where you can get the meaning from nonverbal communication.

    I’m lucky in that I’ve had access to a school program that uses this methodology — it gave me a foothold in the Thai language so that now I can learn just by watching TV or talking with Thai people.

    But I think you could create your own “comprehensible input” situation if you had a native speaker of the language you want to learn who was willing to speak to you in their own language and use nonverbal communication (plus some other fairly simple techniques) to get the meaning across.

    I’ve written a bit about this on my blog (see the “crosstalk” category); I should probably do a more in-depth post on it…if only I could tear myself away from watching Thai soaps… 😉

    And yes, my name is Adam; again, best of luck!

    • Exactly, I feel that’s why even though I spent 7 grades in school learning French, I never really had fun or wanted to do it, so I never learned anything and I stopped learning French as soon as I could.

      I’ve read some articles about comprehensible input, I think Wikipedia calls it the input hypothesis? Pretty interesting stuff, I’ll take a look at those crosstalk posts! I also listened to a talk where the person says you need to get a language parent at first, someone who will try to understand you and use language you will understand, while not correcting your mistakes. Hes still big on doing other things but he talks about comprehensible input as well. Heres the talk (Skipped it to the part where he actually talks about language learning) ! http://youtu.be/d0yGdNEWdn0?t=5m41s

      Yeah I guess I could create that kind of environment, hmmm maybe I could set something up with one of my coworkers. Maybe one could use kid shows if they couldn’t find a native speaker, and work up from there? I watch kid shows in Japanese and I think they’re the bees knees, almost everything is easy to understand as a beginner but there’s still a little above your head.

      Certainly a lot of things to ponder about implementation, thanks for this!

  3. Thanks for the link to the Lonsdale talk; it was interesting and I’d be curious to hear the experiences of people who employ his strategies.

    There are some similarities with the method (ALG) that I use, such as the emphases on getting lots of input and on listening for meaning without getting hung up on individual words. There are also some big differences, such as starting to speak right away and having a timetable vis-a-vis when you should deliberately start using different areas of the language.

    In general, people have different ideas and different preferences about what works or what’s possible in terms of language learning. Experiences are often open to multiple interpretations. For instance Lonsdale talks about how you learn language when you really need to understand something – a reasonable point which I would agree with – and tells a story about a woman who spent a number of months trying to learn to type Chinese characters without much success. Then the woman got a work assignment that had to be done, and that involved a lot of typing of Chinese characters; the result of which was that within 48 hours, she finally became proficient in typing in Chinese.

    Lonsdale’s point is that all the practice that she did when she had no pressing need to acquire this skill was fruitless, whereas once there was a real need, the skill was quickly acquired. But it’s also possible to ask: if she hadn’t had all those months of practice and playing around, would she still have succeeded with typing in Chinese when the 48 hour project came along?

    Without running some kind of controlled experiment, I don’t know if it’s possible to answer questions like that.

    The “language parent” idea was very interesting and I think basically credible. I believe it relates to something that I’ve experienced, which is that I can understand much more of what’s said when I’m speaking one-on-one with a “sympathetic” Thai speaker (ie, someone who wants me to understand what they’re saying, and is willing to do things like explain, rephrase, or adjust their language if they see that I’m not understanding); whereas I understand less – sometimes a lot less – with people who seem to be speaking to me as if I were a fully fluent, fellow Thai adult; or if I’m listening in and trying to understand a conversation amongst a group of people speaking with one another (and not addressing their speech to me directly).

    Again, thanks for the link!

    • No problem, thanks for taking the time to watch it! I’m with you, I’d really like to talk with people other then him that have used the method he talks about. I was thinking about trying this on the side with Chinese when I return to work, as there are quite a few Chinese speakers there and they’re really nice guys and it a little easier to do then ALG with a coworker.

      I agree that a controlled experiment for the women typing Chinese is the only way to find out if the months of ‘fruitless’ practice was actually fruitless. I personally lean on the side that the practice got her to a level of typing Chinese characters, but there were just a few more barriers that were quite difficult or frustrating before mastery, and the urgency of the project caused her to sit down and plow through them. So you’re certainly right that experiences can have multiple interpretations, and I can’t really know how the her was typing before and after the project.

      I do give Lonsdale credit though, because for me Parkinson’s law, ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’, tends to be true for a lot of things, but on the other hand you can only squeeze a task so much before there just is not enough time to complete it.

      I’m glad you found it interesting, thanks for the thoughtful post. I never really thought about the Chinese typing in that matter!

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