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Linkword - load of tosh or useful?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by minka1, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I dispute that effective learning needs to be fast and fun. Effective learning can often be the end result of gradual understanding: the 'penny dropping at last' moment. Learners tend to remember that sort of learning long-term.

    Real enjoyment of understanding something can often come from relatively boring hard work.
  2. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Of course it's all a matter of degrees. But you have to go below the surface of why most kids in secondary schools drop languages at the first opportunity. Things like finding words don't stick in the memory no matter how hard they, and they perceive themselves to be unable to learn a new language. Which then gets turned into justifications for not applying themselves such as well everybody speaks English abroad.
  3. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    You're not a teacher, yet you're telling teachers how to teach? It looks easy until you try it, and MFL teachers of all subject teachers know that all that shiny, new theory some bright spark or other comes up with in their ivory tower, might look great on paper, but in a language classroom the reality can be very different. I wish you'd said you weren't a teacher from the outset then I'd have known not to take you too seriously. So, what are you then? I'm just off to the Nasa website to tell them how to build rockets.
  4. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    This has jogged my memory and I remember trying something like this out of frustration years ago. I wrote the French out as it might look in English and was quite inspired to see an immediate improvement in the pupils' pronunciation in relation to the 'written' word. The trouble is, that written word wasn't French and I'd made a rod for my own back. Teaching is hard work. If there are shortcuts, there's almost always a negative pay-off somewhere down the line.
  5. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    Why would you waste time in teaching a language? Time in MFL is more and more precious these days. This is strange stuff.
  6. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    I agree. But remember minka1 is not a teacher. This sounds like some other (dangerous) theory that someone who has never taught for real is pushing. It's not necessarily his or her fault. S/he just needs to get into a language class and see what it's really all about.
  7. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    I think he was attacking some of the activities being used in mfl teaching which he considered were a waste of time. I think he recognises time itself is a precious commodity in teaching.
  8. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I can't work out what you were trying to say in the last two sentences.
    I would contend that many pupils, with the potential to be good linguists, drop MFL at the first opportunity because they do not make fast enough progress.
    I think that the major block to progression is the Topic-based approach that has been used for decades. I did not learn French and Spanish based on topics. We were focussed on language structures.
    As well as learning the basics such as numbers, days of the week, months of the year, we first concentrated on the two most important verbs in both languages, namely the verbs for to have and to be. We learnt those in the present tense and used dictionaries to find nouns to make up short sentences. We then read out our sentences, which were usually different from the offerings of classmates. The new words we found were written on the board, with the gender, and we all added them to our vocabulary books.
    We were taken through the pronunciation rules of the languages so that we could work out how to say any word that we came across. Eventually we would tackle fairly large texts, with each person in the class reading out one sentence. We would then discuss how best to translate each sentence or would do comprehension tests (in English) to show how much we could understand.
    The first year involved only the regular and irregular verbs in the present tense or the present continuous. In the second year we were taught the imperfect, the perfect/preterite and the future tenses. The conditional was added in the third year.
    Topic-based work keeps pupils at the same achievement level right through the first year of MFL lessons and often into the second year also.
    Focus on the language and you improve pupils' knowledge of their own language too because you are constantly drawing their attention to common derivations etc
  9. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    You forgot to mention the "We've done this!" when the topic come up again, albeit in more detail. Of course, when you ask them, they may have 'done' it, as in attended a series of classes where the topic was covered, but it doesn't take you long to see that they remember very little even of the of the vocabulary. let alone demonstrate any ability to carry out the functional language the topic is supposed to cover. They think they are just doing the same old thing again. How demotivating is that!
  10. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    TWALTing was about giving management what they wanted to see in a classroom. Pupils looking busy, noisy and active has, in recent decades, beenseen as proving that learning is taking place. Teachers have had to play the game, by planning games in the MFL classroom even when they know that less boisterous activities, considered boring, are more effective and authentic.
  11. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Sorry it was badly written. I meant to write
    "Things like: finding words don't stick in the memory no matter how hard they TRY, and they THEN perceive themselves to be unable to learn a new language. Which then gets turned into justifications, for not applying themselves, such as :" well everybody speaks English abroad".
    For what it's worth from a non teacher.
  12. Neil_Kendall_Languages

    Neil_Kendall_Languages New commenter

    Hello everyone, this Neil Kendall here from the Neil Kendall Languages website/blog. I was alerted to this post, and having seen some of the comments regarding Linkword, I thought I'd add to this discussion.

    First of all, I am a language learner based in the UK with ambitions to be a polyglot (actually, make that a hyper-polyglot because I would like to learn quite a lot of languages). This year I started a language blog to document my language learning journey and to inspire others to learn languages too.

    I am in my mid 30s. I 'studied' languages in secondary school back in the 1990s (German and French), and despite doing reasonably well at them at the time, after leaving education I was not able to speak either of these languages to any degree of fluency whatsoever, and could not remember much of what I'd learned at all. This says a lot of (negative) things about the way languages are taught in the classroom in the UK.

    I developed an interest in languages later in life - having travelled a lot, I was greatly inspired by a lot of multi-lingual people outside the UK and decided that I wanted to become a polyglot myself. Hence the journey I am on now.

    This year I have gone through 3 Linkword courses (so far) - Spanish, Japanese and German, and am about to start the French one. I reviewed these on my blog because I found Linkword to be a really effective and efficient method for me. In addition to this, I have also researched and tested out several other language learning courses/methodologies, some of which I've also reviewed on my blog, and formed my own conclusions about what the best language learning methods are.

    According to some online proficiency tests, I am around B2 level in Spanish (on the CEFR scale). This is directly from my language learning work I have put in this year, thanks to courses such as Linkword and a few others. I have also learned more in German in the last few months than I did in my entire time in secondary school. It is my personal experience that the way languages are taught in school/college/university is outdated, ineffective and inefficient, and that there are better, more effective ways to reach fluency in a language. In fact studying alone often produces better results than learning in a classroom.

    Language learning pioneers such as Dr. Michael Gruneberg, Michel Thomas, and many others etc have all developed methods that have been proven superior to the way languages are taught traditionally, but it seems the education system is slow to catch on and very set in its ways, and feels threatened by anything that comes along that produces better results.

    I say this not so much as a criticism of teachers themselves, because you serve society well for not always great pay, but rather of the educational system itself. I believe the language learning methods in schools could be greatly improved by adopting the superior methods like Linkword, Michel Thomas etc.

    Witness the fact that language learning is in decline amongst the youth of the UK, and that is all you need to know. This speaks volumes about how ineffective and boring the way languages are taught in school really is. If we are going to encourage young people in the UK to take an interest in foreign languages, the education system needs to change to embrace better methods of teaching.

    And now I'd like to address some of the comments made in this thread:

    To reference this Wikipedia quote, anyone who thinks it takes a lot of effort to learn words via mnemonics should try learning without them, and they'll soon see which requires the greater effort :)

    I am NOT in any way affillated with Linkword, and was definitely not paid to write my reviews.

    One of the misconceptions about Linkword is that it's simply a list of vocabuary - a flashcard type of thing whereby all one learns is a ton of out of context vocab. Nothing could be further from the truth. Linkword is a complete language learning method (more so for the longer courses, I add) that covers extensive vocabulary, grammar, common everyday phrases as well as contains lots of exercises that involve creating sentences by translating to and from the target language, therefore helping the learner to contextualise what they've learned.

    The Linkword mnemonics are applied not only to learning vocabulary quickly and effectively, but also to learning the grammar too, making the learning experience more interesting and more effective than with traditional grammar books. This is something that many people overlook. For more details, please read my review of the Linkword German course.

    I disagree with the premise of your comment - I'd rather judge something by how it works in the REAL WORLD with REAL people than some isolated study by a 'professional'. If something is tested out in the real world by real people and found to work, then that is proof it works. End of. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, and the only proof you need as to whether Linkword method works is to observe how it has worked for real life language learners. As well as working for me, it has been proven in numerous studies and testimonials to work for many other language learners too. You should check out the Linkword website for more about these.

    There we go, proof the keyword method WORKS. Frankly, I find it bizarre that you despite the fact that it actually worked for you, you're still skeptical as to whether foreign language should be taught that way.
  13. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    I'm not trying to tell anybody to do anything. All I'm asking for is a debate of the issues. If you think the papers I suggested reading are irrelevent to your teaching well say that when I presented them. If you do not want to read them say so.
  14. Neil_Kendall_Languages

    Neil_Kendall_Languages New commenter

    I believe that anybody with at least a reasonable amount of intelligence can be a good linguist. Language is a natural ability, but it is the current antiquated methods taught in schools that are the cause of much of the decline in interest.

    It is not the fault of the pupils. but of the way by which languages are taught in school. And learning by rote is extremely ineffective.

    Have you ever stopped to consider that the way languages are taught in school could be one of the root causes of all these things? I believe that if the language learning methods in school were updated and improved, this would not only encourage more students to learn languages, but would also peak their interest in all things foreign too, and perhaps there woudn't be so much hostility towards foreigners in the UK too.
  15. Neil_Kendall_Languages

    Neil_Kendall_Languages New commenter

    I'd like to add also that I do not work for Linkword, nor any other language learning companies, and was not paid to write reviews of their courses! I find such suggestions preposterous, frankly! I simply put my reviews of their courses on my blog because I found their methods to be effective.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
  16. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    I might read them. I might not. Don't hold your breath or anything. Well, you've got your debate of the issues. Now what? What do you hope to gain from the debate? You don't seem to be able to accept what teachers are saying about it, and unless you've tried your ideas in a real, secondary school and faced the challenges teachers face, you'll never be able to accept them. The ideas might work for some, granted but if methods such as Linkword are so amazing, why isn't everybody using them in class? This reminds me of the Michel Thomas method in schools. There is such a method, designed fr schools, but nobody is using it.

    I am curious to know what you do. Come on - spill the beans!
  17. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    So it has actually been given a name? That's rather amusing! Is it documented or something? When you say it 'was' about, what do you mean? It is no longer?
  18. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    It was simply what Londo Molari called the types of activities that he resigned himself to planning when teaching English abroad. The activities had a lot in common with the regime for teaching MFL in UK schools.
  19. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    I might spill the beans and I may not. If you can't be bothered to put in some effort then neither am I.
  20. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    LOL. Fair enough. I'd rather spend my time planning real lessons for real classes like a real teacher does. You bust your hand when you admitted you weren't a teacher anyway.

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