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Linkword - load of tosh or useful?

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

  1. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    I see what you're trying to do with that last sentence. LOL. Get some qualifications in languages and education, then we'll talk. OK?
  2. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I'm afraid that you are completely missing the point that I and others have made when espousing traditional ways of learning a language (via grammar). The Grammar/translation method is how I was taught French and Spanish in school from 1965-1972, and later at university. It is not the method that has been used in schools in the last two to three decades. When I entered teaching in 1999 they used what I termed the Phrase Book Approach to MFL. Pupils rote learned teacher-prepared phrases. They were given scripted dialogues. The weakness was clear to me as pupils were unable to give anything but the rehearsed response to a question. they were like Pavlov's dog in only having the trained response in their repertoire. With 2 hours of MFL per week in large classes, they were never going to hone in on what Chomsky termed their innate grammar.

    Traditional grammar methods are short cuts that speed up language acquisition. Schools have been required to return to more explicit grammar in MFL in very recent years. Time will tell if we produce more pupils interested in pursuing MFL. I'd hazard an educated guess that if grammar input gets properly established (bear in mind that many younger teachers are not as au fait with grammar as we oldies were/are) pupils will achieve better results and will feel greater satisfaction with learning MFL.

    Those who become good language learners after formal education are often those who go abroad. That is clearly the best way to pick up a language, as long as you make consistent efforts to be out and about and communicating with the natives as much as possible. There's nothing like a real need to make yourself understood, and to understand others, to get someone fluent in a shorter time that is allocated to a GCSE course for a class load of pupils with different agendas.
    pascuam49 likes this.
  3. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Qualifications? I'm not meaning to deride teacher qualifications but when they are used as an evidence of authority or to invalidate anothers argument, I think that is a low level of debate. Teachers can get it wrong too. See below

  4. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

  5. Neil_Kendall_Languages

    Neil_Kendall_Languages New commenter

    You keep bringing up the subject of qualifications, but a person doesn't need to have qualifications in languages in order to test out Linkword and see how effective it is for them.

    Your point therefore doesn't make sense. It's a bit like saying that if I went into a restaurant and ordered a meal, and I didn't like the food because it was burnt or undercooked, that the chef would invalidate my opinion of the food because I don't have any qualifications as a chef.

    Just because one isn't a qualified chef doesn't mean they don't know good tasting/well cooked food from awful food.

    Likewise with languages, anybody, no matter how little experience they have of languages, can test the effectiveness of Linkword simply by working through it and seeing what results it produces for them. They don't need to be qualified in languages to do that.

    Learning grammar right from the start isn't necessarily the most effective way to build competency in a language. The problem with that approach is that it makes students study a language, with their head in books etc, while endlessly delaying ever speaking it.

    What language learners need to do in order to built competence quickly is to start speaking right from the start, using the core, everyday language, and build up their vocabulary fast using something like Linkword. The students can then learn and refine their grammar as they progress with the language. This is why methods such as Linkword, Michel Thomas, Paul Noble etc really do work.

    I'd like to point you to an interesting article I read recently entitled 'Why studying will never help you speak a language', that goes into this point in more detail:


    In fact, there is even a school of thought that you don't need to consciously learn/study grammar in order to reach fluency in a language. I mean, as children we didn't learning our native language by sitting down with our heads in a grammar book - we learned by speaking and making mistakes, gradually improving over time. The following is a great article in this subject:


    I don't necessarily agree with the idea of reaching fluency in a foreign language without consciously learning grammar - I do think one needs to actively 'study' it at some point in order to master the language and to be able to fully express themselves in it, however I'm do feel that if one starts out learning a language with their head in a grammar book, that it is less effective and will definitely slow down progress.

    It depends what phrases and vocabulary the pupils were being taught with this 'phrase book approach'. If there were taught the core of everyday language, such as in a Michel Thomas course, they would undoubtedly make progress in being able to actually speak the language, and would then be better placed to study and understand the grammar a bit later on to build their ability up even further.

    The problem was likely to be with the content of what they were being taught. Also, 2 hours a week isn't enough to progress fast enough.

    If traditional grammar methods were 'short cuts that speed up language acquisition', why did they produce such poor results compared to something such as Linkword or Michel Thomas Method?

    Not necessarily - there are lots of serious polyglots in the language learning community who have learned many languages without ever moving abroad. They learn with self-study language courses, internet resources, by talking to native speakers in their own city or via Skype, by watching foreign language film/tv shows via the internet, and by reading books and websites in other languages. All this can be achieved without moving to another country, and still lead to a high degree of fluency.

    There are also droves of British expats who move to Spain, Italy, France, Greece etc who don't even bother learning a word of the languages spoken in those countries (and shame on them for that).

    That said, I do agree that moving abroad and communicating with native speakers, as well as being forced to live your everyday life through a foreign language, is an effective way to improve your skills and reach fluency. But it is by no means the only way to achieve such a goal.
  6. Neil_Kendall_Languages

    Neil_Kendall_Languages New commenter

    The other point you miss, vuvuzela, is that there is no evidence whatsoever that starting out by learning grammar is effective. A rapid accumulation of vocabulary actually helps the learning and understanding of grammar by exemplification. I should point out that over 100 studies have proven the effectiveness of the keyword method, and that numerous school, including a head of MFL in Rugby, have proven and discussed how effective Linkword has been with their students.
  7. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I don't know where you get the idea that using grammar from the outset, when learning a language, somehow delays speaking the language.
    When I was taught French and Spanish in the mid 1960s, we were introduced to the pronunciation rules early on and were able to read aloud accurately from quite complex texts. We could take dictation in the MFL. We could be asked questions, work out what was being asked and were able to make up our own responses. We didn't rote learn any dialogues. We didn't waste classroom time drawing, colouring in and labelling pictures.
  8. RamiroRamiro

    RamiroRamiro New commenter

    Well, in fact yes, I have tried Duolingo and LingQ, and also Linkword; I shouldn't say nothing if I knew nothing bout them. I do apologize for putting Unilang in the same basket, that is a respectable and useful forum.
    I perfectly understand that schools system are obsolete, and I even agree. But in my opinion, you won't get a good level in any language just translating words as they mainly do in those methods. In fact, they do nothing new, you can do the same just reading by your own with a dictionary by your side; but there are mor colors, that's sure.
    The only really effective way is cultural immersion: you go to the country which language you want tot learn and you stay there for a couple of years.
  9. Neil_Kendall_Languages

    Neil_Kendall_Languages New commenter

    Starting out learning a foreign language with your head in grammar book does slow down being able to communicate in the language, because instead of simply communicating, you are just learning a set of isolated, out of context rules that mean nothing until you actually start using them.

    There are countless examples of language learners who have failed because they initially spent too much time on reading up on grammar rules to begin with, but didn't actually speak/use the language to communicate.

    A child doesn't learn their native tongue by sitting with a grammar book - they learn by speaking the language, hearing it in their surroundings, and then imitating what they hear. Grammar is only taught later on, once they are in school.

    I am not saying one shouldn't learn grammar when they learn a foreign language, but the best/most effective language courses always focus on practical and functional use of the language as a means to helping to also learn the grammar as you go. For example, Linkword does teach grammar, but also gives sentence creating exercises from English to the target language, and vice versa, so that the learner can use the grammar rules in the context of actual sentences, i.e. actual communication, which helps them to internalise it naturally.

    Michel Thomas Method teaches the everyday patterns and structures of the language as a means to help the student naturally learn the grammatical structures of a languages, rather than simply trying to learn isolated grammar rules.
  10. Neil_Kendall_Languages

    Neil_Kendall_Languages New commenter

    How far did you actually go with these courses - did you complete them fully, rather than simply dabble with them? What were your results?

    I'm not so sure you've fully tried Linkword - if you'd gone through one of their 4 level courses (Spanish, German, French or Italian), you would have learned a very extensive amount of grammar and vocabulary and be at a pretty good standard after completion. So tell me which courses you actually went through fully, and what results you achieved.

    See, your reply indicates to me very clearly that you have not actually properly completed a Linkword course! If you had, you'd know that Linkword is much more than 'just translating words'!

    I've probably said this before, and I'll say it again: A common misconception about Linkword, mostly by people who haven't actually tried them, is that their courses just teach lists of vocabulary, as if they are just glorified flashcards or something. Nope! Linkword teaches both vocabulary AND grammar, as well as gives sentence translation exercises so that the learner can actually use the vocab and grammar within the context of actual sentences. This makes it a really effective method of learning a language.

    Your comments on Linkword method are therefore invalid until you actually go through one or more of their courses in full...

    Are you serious? Linkword courses teach roughly 300 - 400 words per level (meaning a learner will learn around 1200 words for one of their 4 level courses), as well as grammar points and some everyday phrases. For each word you learn, Linkword gives you a ready made image to visualise - why you want to sit with a dictionary and do all that hard work yourself, when Linkword has done it for you?

    Sure, you could sit there with a dictionary and do it yourself, but that doesn't make sense at all when there's a resource such as Linkword available for around £20 that will save you all the time and effort of having to create image visualisations by yourself.

    Not only that, but the vocabularly learned in Linkword is categorised into many useful topics, meaning the learner gets a broad range of vocab - I doubt an inexperienced language learner would even know where to start in terms of which categories/topics of vocab to learn, so yet another reason they'd be better off getting Linkword.

    And even if one did learn vocab alone with a dictionary, that still doesn't teach them any grammar!

    Not true I'm afraid. As I've previously already alluded to, there are many, many successful polyglots in the language learning community who have become fluent in many languages by teaching themselves, without ever moving abroad. In contrast to this, there are many people who have moved abroad who have never become fluent in the language of whatever country they moved to.

    Simple moving abroad will not make one learn or become fluent language - even while there, they would still need to have an effectiver and efficient method to learn the language. Simply plonking oneself in a foreign country without doing anything else to learn the language won't be very effective at all.

    It is the method by which one learns, as well as their level of dedication in applying and using the language, that determines whether they will become fluent in a language. Moving abroad can be a good additional factor in reaching fluency, but is not a replacement for a solid language learning method.
  11. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    1. Grammar rules in MFL are specifically taught in context, not out of context! You learn the rule and immediately apply it, either in writing, speaking or reading comprehension. The rule speeds up your MFL acquisition.

    2. A baby doesn't need explicit grammar to learn their mother tongue because they are hearing their mother tongue throughout their waking hours. Babies have adults and older siblings using realia and gesture to explain what is being said. It still takes the baby several years to get to the stage of forming short sentences.
    You simply cannot use that language acquisition as a model for classroom use as pupils have just 2 hours per week (for 38 weeks per year) in MFL and do not have the surround sound of the MFL the rest of the time. Pupils also share the teacher's attention with up to 30 others (something rarely experienced by a baby).
    Having acquired their mother tongue, and then having been introduced to some of the grammar of their mother tongue at school, doesn't it make sense to transfer that understanding of grammar to the MFL classroom, especially when there are common roots to the structure of European languages?
  12. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    I have been looking for some of these 'polyglots' we're hearing about and they seem to congregate on Youtube. Luckily there is one guy on there who tells it like it is.

  13. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

  14. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Here's his website. Make up your own mind up about him.


    Will say though he does have for sale a language learning system called Volume Training Method for $60 but does not even give any idea what is in it and a strict no refund policy.
  15. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    Very intriguing! Why don't you get it, and see what it's all about? It will cost you less than 3 level 1 Linkword courses, and I bet it will get you a lot further than three of those in six years! According to my research, a 'complete' 4-level course is equivalent to a GCSE, at a vocabulary level at any rate. I'm very doubtful about the grammar and discourse aspects of what these courses can teach. That means a level 1 course isn't even close to A1 on the CEFR. Don't be one of these dilettantes Mr Cluston refers to.
  16. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    I'm not in the habit of buying anything sight unseen.
    Very interesting what you say about CEFR though. What level do you think a student achieving an A grade in any MFL GCSE in the UK at 16 after 5 years of study should be able to get CEFR level wise?
  17. Neil_Kendall_Languages

    Neil_Kendall_Languages New commenter

    If that's the case, why does it produce such poor results compared with methods such as Linkword, Michel Thomas Method, and many other self-study language courses?

    Learning a language in a classroom environment is a very slow and ineffective way to learn, and what you've written here further consolidates my view on that.

    It would make more sense to use better methods in the MFL classroom than the ones they currently use, because the current classroom methods take too long and produce terrible results.
  18. Neil_Kendall_Languages

    Neil_Kendall_Languages New commenter

    He doesn't 'tell it like it is', he simply gives his own opinion - there is a big difference.

    I checked out that guy's website and some of his videos, and there are many things wrong with what he's doing:

    1) He makes sweeping generalisations about 'Youtube polygots', saying things like 'they're all charlatans' and 'they don't know what they're talking about' etc. How on earth would he know that? Does he know every one of these polyglots? Nope. The fact is, there are many 'Youtube polyglots' who are very skilled at the languages they've taught themselves - they are not charlatans at all.

    The only reason he shoots them all down is so that he can big himself up and then claim he has the answer to how to learn languages, so that people then buy his course and he makes money. That's a classic, and cheap, marketing trick and I'm certainly not going to fall for it.

    2) He keeps rambling on about how he's got academic qualifications/linguistics etc, as if that makes him and his 'method' superior to everyone else's. However the mistake he's making is that he's presupposing that one cannot master a language unless they learn it via school/college/university and gain a formal qualification in it. He fails to acknowledge that there are many people in the world who have mastered one or more foreign languages and/or become polyglots without studying it via the academic system. He's basically presupposing that the academic system is the ONLY way to learn a language - but if we look at the real world, you'll see that's not the case, especially as the the academic system produces such poor results with language learning.

    3) He keeps rambling on about how he's somehow superior to language learners/teachers because he has formal qualifications in linguistics, but fails to realise that one doesn't need to have a deep understanding of every fine concept in linguistics in order to become fluent in a language.

    4) Regarding his so called 'method', there is absolutely no explanation on his website or any of his videos as to what his 'method' is, or what it is about. There is no demo, no sample for you to try so that you can decide whether it's for you or not. I also googled him and his method, and there is not a single review, case study or testimonial anywhere on the internet on his 'method'. He keeps going on about 'credibility', but has absolutely NOTHING to back up his claims about himself or his method. That speaks volumes...

    Contrast that to Linkword, Michel Thomas Method, and many of the other popular self-study language courses out there - you will be able to find countless reviews, case studies and testimonials that back up the credibility of their methods.

    The bottom line is, I'd say this guy is the true charlatan. If he's going to shoot down every other language learner and method, he'd better be able to back up WHY he believes his method is superior, with real unbiased reviews and case studies, but the fact is he has NONE of that. It's laughable that on one of his videos he writes 'Who's scared of the big bad power linguist?' Not me, that's for sure...
  19. Neil_Kendall_Languages

    Neil_Kendall_Languages New commenter

    Actually, most Linkword courses cost around £19.99 - some of them have up to 4 levels for that price, while others have 1, 2 or 3 levels. In fact, there is a special offer to buy all 15 Linkword courses for only £24.99 for the lot. That's far cheaper and far better value than that scam artist who's trying to sell us his unknown, unproven 'method'.

    Once again, you fail to realise that Linkword is not simply a vocabulary course! It also teaches extensive grammar, and let me tell you that the 4 level courses teach much more advanced grammar than GCSE level. I know, because I did languages in secondary school, and can attest to the fact that Linkword takes you much further than a GCSE or even an A Level course would, in terms of the level of grammar taught.

    Nobody claims that a level 1 course can get you to a high level, but they are an excellent, fast and effective gateway into a language that will give the learner an immediate sense of achievement that will carry them forward to further studying the language.

    However the courses that have 2, 3 or 4 levels are far more comprehensive will take you to a much higher level.

    Even if a 4 level course was equivalent to GCSE level, even vocabulary wise, the fact is you can get to that level in around 2 to 3 months with Linkword (and faster than that if you have more spare time each day to work through it), whereas it takes a high school student YEARS to get to that level. What do you think is the better, more effective, more efficient method - one that takes 2 to 3 months, or one that takes 2 to 5 years, to produce the same result? It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out!
  20. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    It would depend on when the student took the exam. I know things have changed very recently, but for years language GCSE's have been dumbed down to the point where an A* was attainable by knowing very little of the language, but by knowing exam technique for the easy exams that were deliberately easy to pass and by cheating on the coursework. However, in theory, a GCSE at Higher Tier should be equivalent to A2. There's some good information here: http://gostudylink.net/en/support/levels But A2 is still very basic really - it's still just functional phrasebook stuff.

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