Saturday, October 10, 2009

Learning by Mixing target language words into native language texts?

I'm pretty sure this is not a great idea:
Waikato University PhD student Michael Walmsley is working on a project which will help language learners build their foreign vocabulary by reading texts online where some of the words have been replaced with words in their target language.
My big problem with this is that it'll keep learners away from actual exposure to the target language; instead of reading a pidgin text, why not just go to the native language? If the learner refuses to read native language texts, I think that learner's got a bigger problem than can be solved by throwing in some target language words to a native-language text.

Walmsley relates this to his own experience with Japanese:
I can always find time to read the newspaper to keep up with current affairs, but I can't do that in Japanese. It's just too time consuming. This way, busy people can squeeze in language study by combining it with their general reading.
I read that as saying that his priority is reading the news rather than learning his target language. I'd recommend he find short newspaper articles (such as those found here in Yahoo's headline news in Japanese) and read fewer articles while taking the time to understand them. If he's serious about learning Japanese, I'd imagine that he can get by without the crutch he's trying to create.

Link: New tool ahead for language learning [Waikato Times]

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