It seems to be working now. The only small detail is that whenever you tap on a term the list goes back to the start in the background. For example, if you scroll down to find words starting with an ‘S’ and you tap on a term, whenever you close the pop-up window the list refreshes and you’re back at letter ‘A’ in the list. That is a bit annoying but I don’t know if it can be helped.
I honestly think that the vast majority of English learners would be better off learning the American variant. I would only recommend British English to those planning on doing business there or moving to Britain. Obviously there‘s also the occasional language enthusiast who‘s fixed on learning that specific accent and that’s OK, but other than that I think the safest bet is American English. Here are a my reasons:
The vast majority of English native speakers (67 to 70 per cent) live in the United States (link).
The United States is undeniably the biggest economy in the world and an unrivaled military superpower so they have a huge influence on international business and politics.
The vast reach of Hollywood means that all of us are constantly exposed to American English and culture, and chances are that non‑native speakers around the world will be more familiar with that variant as well.
Even people from other English-speaking countries are exposed to American media on a constant basis, so they will be familiar with it too.
All that means that even though a British accent may make you sound more distinguished if you want to increase your chances of being understood across the globe, American English is the way to go. By the way, I should point out that this does not only apply to pronunciation but to vocabulary as well. Check this video. I think you’ll agree that most people haven’t even heard of some of these British English words.
Seems to be working now. The mobile version is a bit tricky to navigate but is working as well. If possible I would put the term list in a separate window with its own scrollbar, like you did with the term window. Otherwise, the term window just keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the page. If the list is too big you won’t get ever get to the term window.
Given the recent interest surrounding dark themes within the community, I thought it’d be a good idea to share this post. Until now I had only solved this on desktop devices thanks to a chrome extension called Dark Reader. This method, however, takes care of the issue when using a mobile phone (at least for Android devices). I don’t own any Apple devices so I couldn’t tell you if it works on their platform or not.
Para un hablante de Português es más fácil usar los artículos del español correctamente, ya que son muy parecidos en las dos lenguas, pero por sonoridad, tenemos problemas con la diferencia entre "el' y "lo". La gente que intenta el portuñol frecuentemente disse cosas como "lo perro"... puede usted aclarar aquella diferencia?
Hola, Valeria. Usar “lo” en ese caso sería un error. En principio los nombres comunes siempre llevan los artículos “el” o “la”. El único caso en el que se utiliza la palabra “lo” como artículo es cuando se nominaliza un adjetivo. Por ejemplo, “bonito“ (adjetivo) > “lo bonito” (sustantivo) = todo lo que es bonito.
Fuera de eso, “lo” también se usa como pronombre masculino acusativo. Sería el equivalente del “him” del inglés cuando se usa con un verbo transitivo. Por ejemplo, “llevé al living” > “ llevé al living”.
At the moment we lack the option to list the language combination of our choice in the vocabulary section. We can only select the source language, but the target language is always set to the native tongue. It would be great if we could switch that just like we can while reading a text. I, for example, study from English even though my native language is Spanish.
Hi. I’ve just tested this and it seems to be working pretty well. The only thing I’ve noticed is that existing translations will be replaced if they are different, but changes won’t be applied if they only involve differences in case. For example, if the default translation for ‘Häuser‘ was ‘Houses‘ it won’t be updated to ‘houses’ even though that’s what I imported. Other than that it seems to be working great.
The other thing I’d like to point out is that at the moment we lack the option to list the language combination of our choice in the vocabulary section. We can only select the source language, but the target language is always set to the native tongue. It would be great if we could switch that just like we can while reading a text. I, for example, study from English even though my native language is Spanish.
Haha no worries! No offense taken. If anything I would consider that a compliment since I love the sound of Portuguese And I guess I can see the parallel. Our use of the pronoun vos and its corresponding verb conjugations are quite similar to the Portuguese você. Although I wouldn‘t say we got it from them, it’s just what happens with sister languages. We have to remember they were once dialects of the same tongue.
The words vos and tú have always been present in Spanish, and they are the just the singular versions of vosotros and ustedes. While vosotros fell completely out of use in the Americas (though still the norm in Spain), vos only remained as the pronoun of choice in a few countries like Argentina, Uruguay and El Salvador. Most if not all Spanish speakers would understand it pretty well as far as I am aware, just like we understand a Colombian replacing tú and vos with usted.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, although for a foreigner these variations may seem like dialectical characteristics, for a native speaker they are just different choices within the alternatives provided by the language. This might be related to the frequent coproductions in cinema and TV including cast members from different countries. Many of us grow up watching soap operas and movies from different countries so we are somewhat used to it.
For the most part, we do. The standard ‘educated’ variant that you hear on the news and read in the papers is pretty much the same across all Latin American countries. There are some differences in vocabulary choice and pronoun use (Argentina, Uruguay, and Salvador use vos and its conjugations instead of tú for the second person singular, both being part of the standard language), but it’s all perfectly intelligible for the most part. As long as people keep a high register, make an effort to speak clearly and avoid slang, they can communicate without problems. I‘m Argentinian and I’ve had perfectly normal conversations with people from Venezuela, Colombia, and Mexico (the opposite end of the continent) with no hiccups whatsoever.
There will definitely be a big shift in accent though, so you will immediately notice if the other person comes from another country. Many of those accents are in fact very recognizable and, depending on the region, they can sometimes be so thick as to hinder comprehension. Chilean Spanish is probably the trickiest one in that sense. In my opinion, there are several reasons for this. First of all, they tend to speak faster than average, they have a different cadence (they speed up in parts of the sentence where we would normally slow down), and they also speak with a very distinct ‘melody’ which foreigners find extremely distracting. Their slang is also very distinct so it’s very hard to understand them when they speak in a lower register.
Very interesting article, leo. Although if I understand correctly they only make a distinction between words that are both similar in form and meaning and those that aren’t. But they are not taking into account the huge negative impact that false cognates have when trying to understand another language. And false cognates are usually really abundant between close related languages.
The other big factor is pronunciation. As a native Spanish speaker I would dare to say that I understand almost 90% of written Portuguese, but when listening to it I might only understand 40% of what is being said, and if we are talking about slang the number is much smaller. I think Portuguese speakers usually understand spoken Spanish much better though. That may have to do with the simpler phonetic structure of Spanish. I read somewhere that Portuguese has most if not all Spanish phonemes in its repertoire.
French is definitely not that close though. I would say I only understand 40 to 50% of written text and almost nothing when listening.
Is there any chance we could see who liked a given post within the thread itself (hovering over the like icon or something like that). That would avoid having to leave the post and search through the notifications as well as seeing who liked posts from other users.
While I often hear people talking about SRS systems as a way to learn languages faster, I‘d rather look at it as a tool to learn languages more in-depth. When done well (i.e. when you design the cards yourself) SRS can in fact take an enormous amount of time out of your schedule, but at the same time it allows you to memorize a lot of little details that you would otherwise skip entirely.
I lean heavily on SRS for my vocabulary study and create my own Anki decks. I’m studying German, which is a grammar heavy language with an excess of irregularities including 3 genders, 7 plural forms, 4 cases (nominativ, akkusativ, dativ, genitiv), 12+ irregular verb types, etc. That means that each word has a ton of extra information I have to know by heart before I can really say that I‘ve learned it. You could, in theory, learn all of that through bare exposure to the language, but I just can’t stand waiting around forever until I’ve run into each individual variant of a word enough times so that it sticks and I can use the term freely under any context.
To give you an idea, these are all the cards I will create for a single German noun:
DE (nom. sing.) > EN
EN > DE (nom. sing.)
DE (nom. sing.) > Gender
DE (nom. sing.) > DE (akk. sing.)
DE (nom. sing.) > DE (dat. sing.)
DE (nom. sing.) > DE (gen. sing.)
DE (nom. sing.) > DE (nom. pl.)
DE (nom. sing.) > DE (dat. pl.)
That’s just nouns. Prepositions, verbs, adverbs, etc. all have their peculiarities and card sets so you can probably imagine that this takes quite a lot of work. To make it a bit less time consuming I developed my own ‘smart‘ deck that lets me import spreadsheets with all the info in bulk and creates every card automatically. Still, it takes a lot of effort and fine-tuning and I honestly can’t expect most people to go through this kind of process.
The problem, as I see it, is that SRS only works if you do it well. That means creating cards that test a piece of data at a time and that are relevant to you. You have to keep things simple and sadly most publicly available decks will compress all of the information of the example above into a single card, which makes for a tiring and frustrating review experience.
As I said, German is a grammar-heavy language, somewhat distant from my native Spanish. On top of that, I intend to use German for work so I have really high expectations and cannot just sweep cases under the rug as most German learners do. Now, if I were to study French, which shares a ton of vocabulary with Spanish and English and has a simpler grammar this would probably not be worth the effort. So I guess it will always depend on the language in question, and the level you are trying to achieve.
I assume we are talking about conversation partners and not tutors. If that is the case, I would say that texting is a good way to start, especially if you are a beginner. It allows you to analyze both what you are reading and what you are writing more in-depth. When producing sentences, you can take your time, reread what you wrote and tweak it before you hit send. Those pauses also allow your partner to make real-time corrections. When it comes to reading the messages your partner sends you, you also have more time to look up words that you don’t know and point out specific things that you don’t understand. Not to mention that this takes the pronunciation and listening comprehension factor out of the equation. For that reason, I would say that this method is best suited for those looking to perfect their grammar, orthography, and vocabulary (spelling, declination, conjugation, collocations, etc.).
If you want to refine your listening and speaking skills as a beginner I would first start with audio messages. That allows you to think about what you want to say before you actually record it and slow down the pace of the conversation. You also get to keep a record of the whole interaction and relisten as many times as you want in case you don’t get it on the first try. This method would be better for those who want to polish their listening and pronunciation skills, and those looking to have a source of audio bits for later listening.
Finally, real-time conversation practice would be the most advanced of the three methods. I would say that the focus here is on so I would avoid it unless I am somewhat capable with the language already. Although many people try to push the idea that you should jump into conversations from day one I actually think that can be counterproductive. Notice that I am referring to conversation, not speaking. You can and should start to practice your speaking skills from an early stage but that would be best done through drilling or conversation with a tutor or teacher who knows what he is doing, not with a random conversation partner.
When you are proficient enough you should take advantage of all three methods, ideally.
I think that just like in most other languages, the standard, more refined or ‘educated‘ regional variants are mostly mutually intelligible. But saying that most English varieties are homogenous is a bit far fetched in my opinion. I think that illusion is due in part to the big influence of Hollywood and American media and culture in general. Take a look at this video for example. These are just impersonations but most of them are quite accurate.
I think after a certain point (probably around C1) the only practical way to acquire new vocabulary is to do it like the natives do, that is through exposure to genuine real-world content (books, videos, and podcasts). Also, you may have to readjust your expectations. Beyond the most frequent 10 thousand words, you won’t really get that many repetitions of a particular term unless you read very specialized texts. Here is where you have to start picking and choosing according to the topics you are interested in. Physics, photography, art, etc. all have their own lingo.
If you still want to go the app route I think vocabulary.com is pretty much as good as it gets. If you wanted more context you would just have to look up more examples in a corpus tool like Linguee. But honestly, at that point I think you are better off just reading extensively in areas that you find interesting.
Leo may have a point here. Are teachers always necessary?
Personally, I don’t believe that’s the case. In my opinion, teachers are best suited for less experienced learners, kids, people who are about to learn their first foreign language or those who aren’t all that interested in language learning but need it because of their job or life situation.
Language enthusiasts and self-taught individuals are a different breed and many of them might not find traditional language lessons all that useful. I happen to find myself in that category and, given the nature of this site, most of the answers you get will probably follow the same line.
If you study more than one language you eventually start to get a sense of what are the methods, materials, and resources that you find the most effective for you personally. At that stage, you will probably feel that language lessons offer diminishing returns and the cons start to outweigh the pros. You have to follow someone else‘s directives (who may or not be using up-to-date methods and materials), the teacher adapts to the group, not the individual, you are constantly exposed to broken speech from other students, and then there’s also the costs in money, commute time, etc.
In my opinion teaching definitely helps to cement your knowledge of the language and organize it better in your head. Being in front of a student you are faced with a ton of questions, which force you to rationalize the intricacies of the language, whether through the lens of traditional grammar or through your own study methods, summarize that knowledge, categorize it and teach it in such a way that a beginner can make use of it. In that sense, teaching will almost certainly be beneficial to you. I’ve done it with English in the past and I can attest to it.
Now, the question is whether it is beneficial to the student or not. And that can get particularly dubious if you decide to charge them for that service. Personally I wouldn’t ever charge anyone before I reach at least a solid B2 level in all 4 skills (reading, writing, hearing and speaking), and even then I would adjust my fees accordingly. If that weren’t the case I would do it free of charge.
Having said that, I believe we live in a free market, so people should be able to make their own minds and choose to validate a service with their money if they see it fit. What’s key here is transparency, so both parties have to be aware of what they are getting. In that sense, you should make it perfectly clear that you are an advanced student who has not yet mastered the language but can offer some valuable insight.
I created this course and forgot to add a description. I click edit and add the corresponding text but when I click save the whole thing disappears again.
Here is the note I wanted to add:
Grimms' Fairy Tales, originally known as the Children's and Household Tales (German: Kinder- und Hausmärchen), is a collection of fairy tales by the Grimm brothers or "Brothers Grimm", Jakob and Wilhelm, first published on 20 December 1812. Audio source: https://librivox.org
Probably a tab-delimited text file rather than a spreadsheet, I'm guessing.
Yes, you are right. I was thinking in terms of spreadsheets because my Anki decks have many extra fields, which means I will have to edit those out in Excel. But that’s just me and I can always save it as a CSV file again so it should be alright.
Yes. I think that would do it. So if I understand correctly the approach would involve two stages. You would import a spreadsheet containing known words on one hand and a spreadsheet containing words you are currently studying on a separate step. Is that right? If so, I think that‘d work great.
This is a continuation of this thread, which is currently closed.
I just wanted to report that the checkbox status in the profile language settings is not being reflected in the chat screen at the moment. As you can see, I have the checkbox unticked for English, but it still appears as learning in the chat screen.
I’m studying German myself and also signed up just a few weeks ago. I noticed you are around a B2 as well so I don’t know if we’ll be able to correct each other all that much but I’m here if you want to discuss any grammar topics you may be having trouble with.
I hope we get some Germans looking to learn Spanish soon so we can start exchanging corrections with them.
Hi, leo. Seems like I found this community at the exact right time ! Congrats on your book finally coming to fruition, I’m sure that involved tons of hard work and will surely pay off.
Regarding public domain material, I think the best place to start would be the Project Gutenberg site. The material is mostly dated, but you can find some gems in there and audiobooks as well. German is a bit tricky in that sense because it underwent an orthography reform in 1996, so anything written before that is ridden with spelling and orthography inconsistencies, but that is neither here nor there really. Personally, I would recommend the Grimm‘s Fairy Tales since it’s a pretty extensive collection of short stories well suited for German learners.
I haven’t been able to replicate this since it only happens when I get a notification on the platform so I don’t know what is really going on but I’m gonna try to explain the issue.
I had this happen twice. The first time the notification message fell into an infinite loop by itself. It wouldn’t stop ringing and piling up on the lower right corner of the screen so I had to block all notifications from the site to stop it. On a second occasion, it would just pop up again each time I clicked on it.
I’m not very familiar with Chrome notifications, so I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong but I think this might be worth checking.
I couldn’t agree more. I think the right way to go about corrections is to take a rather indirect approach. Personally, I would take note of the most frequent mistakes my students are making and then tackle those challenges via strategically planned grammar/pronunciation lessons. The idea is to never make it personal or make the student feel he/she is doing something wrong. On the contrary, the student should be encouraged to take risks and accept that mistakes are part of the learning process.
(edit - moved this here to close out other ticket)
Hi, leo. Yes, I’ve just checked this and it seems to work as expected. Nice work!
One last thing I wanted to point out is that I find whitespaces to be a bit too narrow at the moment. I don’t mind it that much because I’m already an intermediate student but someone starting out could find it difficult to distinguish one word from another. I bring it up here because this is particularly apparent right next to numbers or symbols. What’s more, whitespaces in between symbols aren’t shown at all, as can be seen between the colon and the quotation mark in the following example:
I am using the latest Chrome version on a Windows PC and I see this no matter what zoom setting I use.
I am not a teacher either. But as I see it there are basically two ways to approach this. One would involve using a common language that both the teacher and the student speak as a crutch during the first stage. You would do that while you cover the basics of the target language (pronouns, basic vocabulary, sentence structure, and grammatical quirks). Then you would gradually start to shift away from that second language and encourage students to communicate and formulate questions in English.
The other approach would be acquisition-based learning. That means that you would start speaking and explaining everything in English from day 1. This method only works if the students are getting the gist of what you are saying, so it’s paramount that you use all resources available to support comprehension. That means using lots of hand gestures, mimicking, and pantomime as well as pictures, video, and every visual support you can think of. I would also start with the most basic words like pronouns and verbs, and start to add new words and structures. The key here is letting the students slowly get a feel of the language and hopefully get to the point where they can start expressing themselves in English even if they use incorrect grammar. When they get to that point you will have a base to work from and you can start refining their form.
Whatever the case may be, I would go easy on corrections. They undermine the student’s self-confidence, especially in the first stages. What’s most important is comprehension, so as long as you can understand what they are saying I would avoid correcting them. Instead, try to lead by example and maximize exposure through lots of conversation, text, audios, and videos. After a while, exposure to the language will make them click and they will start to self-correct.
As Leo pointed out, pronunciation is key when learning English. The reason for that is that the way English words are spelled has little to do with how you pronounce them (e.g. though, tough, thorough, though). That’s why it would be a good idea to introduce the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) at some point and teach the pronunciation of all English vowels (12-20 depending on how you count them). That would allow students to look up the correct pronunciation of new words in a dictionary whenever in doubt.
Hi, leo. I’ve just added an update to the other thread you mentioned.
Regarding the chat language description, it’s definitely much clearer than before. However, and although admittedly nitpicking at this point, I still think the native language should be highlighted somehow. As of now, it’s not clear whether my native language is Spanish or English.
One could argue that it’s clear because I’m located in Argentina, but I’ve already seen some users who are expats living in a foreign country. I think this could be solved simply by placing an asterisk next to the word Native in the header and next to the corresponding language. Another way would be to use a different background color for the native language or just place it on a third category (like in the forum user descriptions).
I voted no. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. And whatever the case may be I think what’s most important is that the person is qualified for the job. Being a native speaker won’t cut it if you don’t know anything about grammar or language learning.
Native speakers will obviously have a better grasp of the language, better pronunciation, more examples at their disposal, more knowledge of idiomatic expressions and slang and a more up-to-date vocabulary, which is a HUGE plus. But unless they undergo proper training this could also come with some disadvantages. For example, they will most likely be biased towards their particular regional dialect or accent, which may be distant from the standard variant (Scottish English, Australian English, or Cockney, to name a few examples which may be hard even for other native speakers). Furthermore, if they haven‘t studied a foreign language themselves, they could be completely out of touch with the difficulties their students are facing.
This is were non-native teachers have the clear advantage. They have gone through the process themselves and know the hurdles and pitfalls of learning a language B from a specific language A, say Spanish or French. You see, language learning difficulties are very much related to the language you are learning from, because of cognates, differences in grammar structures, etc. That means that it’s very helpful to have a teacher that also speaks your language and has some knowledge of contrastive grammar. The other big advantage for non-native speakers is that at some point they were also strangers to the culture surrounding the language in question. This makes it easier for them to explain cultural differences and customs or habits that a native speaker wouldn’t be aware of or would find self-explanatory.
I want to upload a novel I'm reading to the platform and, needless to say, don't own the rights to it. I don't find it practical to assign the entire book to one passage so I want to load each chapter as a separate passage and then group all of them as a course. From what I can understand the course would be visible to everyone even if I set all passages as private.
I think many of us use other systems like Anki or have our own vocabulary lists, spreadsheets, etc. It would be nice to have the ability to import those into LT in one go. That would greatly reduce the initial workload for intermediate or advanced users, because they wouldn’t have to manually mark hundreds of words as known or learning when they start using the platform. Besides this would make the new texts statistics much more accurate right from the start.
Hey, leo! Yes, that would partially take care of the problem. Although I think it would be great if the user had the possibility to link the preposition to the verb manually (on a case-by-base basis) going from this:
The term window could then also reflect the change (‘hole’ -> ‘hole ab’) so that we could deal with ‘hole ab’ as a single term and group it with the abholen family as suggested in the other thread. What do you think?
I understand this won’t fix recognition in future texts, because there’s no way to have the system detect these combinations automatically. But it does help comprehension when reading this for a second time, or for future readers. Besides it would also avoid having the sentence saved as an example for the wrong verb (holen) and link it to the right verb (abholen).
Hey leo. That sounds awesome! I think it would be a real game changer. By doing that you would fix the skewed stats for known vocabulary and new texts. Nevertheless, I would highlight the importance of , as opposed to just selecting terms that he/she has already come across previously. That would allow for people to tackle the whole word family in one go if they wanted to, not having to wait until they find the additional variations in future texts. Does that make sense? It would also be great to have some way of highlighting the base form of the term family in that list so that it stays on top.
I think bringing back the note functionality you mentioned would be greatly appreciated by detail-oriented users like myself. That would indeed improve the whole experience. So if I understand correctly, the fly-over translations would remain as they are (showing the closest translation only, not the canonical form nor the notes) as to avoid cluttering, but the term window would display the term family with its respective notes for each variation. Is that right?
In German there is a category of verbs called trennbare Verben (separable verbs), which are somewhat akin to English phrasal verbs and are mostly formed by a verb plus a preposition. The difference is that, unlike their English counterparts, German separable verbs are not always separated. Their infinitive and participial forms are always a single word. For example, the verb aufhören (stop/quit) is formed by the verb hören (hear/listen) plus the preposition auf (on), and its participle is aufgehört. Here is a comparison between the conjugated forms of the base verb and the separable verb:
mich! = listen to me!
damit ! = stop it!
As you can see, the preposition goes at the end. And it can get even worse:
mit dem Lügen ! = Stop with the lies!
mit diesem verdammten Getrommel gegen die Wand ! = Stop that damn banging on the wall!
I understand it would be almost impossible to automatically detect if the preposition is working together with the verb or not. But it would be awesome if you could allow users to link those two words manually on a case-by-case basis. That would avoid having incorrect examples being linked to the base verb and it would help people reading public texts which have already been annotated by someone.
Hey leo! Thanks for taking this into consideration. I figured it would be a long shot, but I think it would make all the difference in the world. My impression is that the value behind systems like yours, LWT or LingQ lies in being able to select texts that have a reasonable amount of new words in them so that you don’t get overwhelmed. In that sense, grouping word families together would provide much more transparent stats. In turn, that would give people a much more realistic estimate of the amount of words they know, thus avoiding false expectations due to inflated numbers. Anyway, that’s just my two cents!
This way several words could be grouped under one base form. It would help with statistics, SRS card creation, and organization. Taking German as an example it could be implemented in the following cases:
Declension of nouns, plurals, adjectives and determiners:
Buch, Buchs -> Buch (book)
Bücher, Büchern -> Bücher (books)
gut, gute, guter, guten, gutem, gutes -> gut (good)
It would be great if these were regarded as different words. You see, in German all nouns are capitalized and sometimes there are other parts of speech which have the same spelling but in lower case and mean something completely different. For example:
Leben (life) and leben (to live)
Macht (power) and macht (makes/make)
Floh (flea) and floh (escaped)
Fliegen (flies, i.e. the plural of ‘fly’) and fliegen (to fly)
As far as I know there is no exception to this rule. The only problem would be how to handle words at the beginning of a sentence which could give a false positive. Maybe in this case the tool could show both possibilities.
I realize that most punctuation marks and numbers are already ignored by the platform, which is a great idea. However I noticed that there are still some cases in which they are regarded as words. So far I’ve spotted the following:
Here are some observations I had regarding the language settings and displayed languages.
First, I noticed that languages are divided in different ways in the settings screen (native vs known+learning) and the chat screen (spoken vs learning). So there’s a bit of an overlap between what I consider to be three distinct categories: native languages, languages you speak (non-natively) and languages you are learning. If we were to group them I would rather group the first two (languages you already know).
Furthermore, the native language is automatically set as default for translations in reading mode (it can be switched in the term edit window, ). This is a nuisance for me because my native language is Spanish but I prefer to study from English given that there are more resources available and it’s closer to my target language (German). That’s why I had to list English as a native language, which is not the case and could confuse people when looking for chat partners.
Last but not least, I noticed that the chat window displays native languages in both categories (speaks AND is learning). I actually think this division is the right approach, I would just take the spoken languages out of the second column and highlight the native language somehow in the first column (in a different color).