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 Post subject: Weird learning patterns
PostPosted: Thu 22 Sep 2011 4:56 pm 
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I've noticed lots of odd and interesting patterns to my learning over the years, and I'm wondering if others have experienced the same things.

For instance, I've noticed recently that, all of a sudden, I'm forgetting how to spell words...often very familiar words that I use frequently (in fact, the more frequently I use them in speech, the less likely I am to remember how to spell them).

Another pattern I've noticed over the years is that often a concept just won't become clear, no matter how often and how carefully it's explained...then all of a sudden, someone will make a chance comment and bingo! On comes the light bulb!

Same thing happens with words. There are some words that I seem to have to look up over and over again...no matter how often I see them in print, my brain seems to refuse to hold on to their meanings. Then, all of a sudden, I'll see or hear one of those words in a particular context and there they are...I internalize the meanings and don't have to look them up anymore. "Dallamullóg" is one such word...I've lost count of the number of times I've encountered that word in print and had to look it up yet again because I'd forgotten what it meant. All of a sudden, the other day when I was watching some back episodes of Ros na Rún, "dallamullóg" was used something like three times in succession and all of a sudden I have it.

Another interesting thing is how understanding comes and goes. I'll be listening to someone speak (or reading something in a book) and it will be effortless...I could be hearing or reading English. Then, all of a sudden, it's as if my brain suddenly gets full and doesn't want to absorb any more, and the next sentence or paragraph may as well be Swahili for all I'm able to understand it (even if the language isn't any more complex or unfamiliar than what preceded it). For a while I'll have to concentrate hard and really work at grasping what's been said or what's written. Then all of a sudden it will get effortless again.

I wonder if such patterns are common with language learners? If so, are they more common among self-taught learners than among those who have the advantage of working regularly with a class?

Redwolf


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PostPosted: Fri 23 Sep 2011 2:45 pm 
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Wow...don't everybody jump on this at once! :darklaugh:

Redwolf


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PostPosted: Fri 23 Sep 2011 8:31 pm 
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Sorry, Redwolf. I've been contemplating a reply but my mother-in-law is still here. :LOL:

I can relate to all of what you say. Sometimes I think it is information overload - it's one reason some people can't even pick up a dictionary in English let alone in Irish. (Linguists are of course a separate species. ;) )

Another is the "connection principle". People's memories work by association (sometimes in totally illogical ways like linking a smell to a word because you happened to be walking past a bakery while learning that particular word - one of the dangers of rote learning! :LOL: ) I won't remember a word until my (unconscious) mind (and body) is satisfied that I "need" to know it, and that comes from repeated exposure and association. The more diverse the association, the greater the chance of retaining the word. Conversely, repeated similar exposure such as rote eventually causes the brain to "switch off" or wander to other thoughts.

Studying from several different texts, especially ones that use different approaches, can be good in adding a "novelty" effect that helps build associations faster.

Another phenomenon I've encountered is that when I concentrate on reading a foreign language out loud for pronunciation, I don't take in the meaning at all and vice versa, especially in the earlier stages of learning the language.

And then there's those times when I look at an English word, my own native language, and think "that doesn't look right, it can't be spelt that way", only to find the word is fine, it was just me.

Now, back to other things ...

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WARNING: Intermediate speaker - await further opinions, corrections and adjustments before acting on my advice.
My "specialty" is Connemara Irish, particularly Cois Fhairrge dialect.
Is fearr Gaeilge ḃriste ná Béarla cliste, cinnte, aċ i ḃfad níos fearr aríst í Gaeilge ḃinn ḃeo na nGaeltaċtaí.
Gaeilge Chonnacht (GC), go háraid Gaeilge Chois Fhairrge (GCF), agus Gaeilge an Chaighdeáin Oifigiúil (CO).


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PostPosted: Fri 23 Sep 2011 9:51 pm 
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I found it very interesting actually.
A lot like myself especially when trying to learn Welsh.

My bigger problem is that I can go so far with a language, then hit a wall.
I never get anything near fluency with it. I never get passed the extremely basic stuff.
(German, and Portuguese specifically).
But that is not your problem Audrey, you are already fluent in Irish.

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It is recommended that you always wait for three to agree on a translation.
I speak Connemara Irish, and my input will often reflect that.
I will do an mp3 file on request for short translations.

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PostPosted: Fri 23 Sep 2011 10:14 pm 
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Redwolf:

This is an extremely interesting discussion for me. I wonder about this as well and think about it often. I go through spurts where I can learn 15 words well in a day, and then I can't learn a word over a 3 day (or 3 month) period. I've been going through Dennis King's list (that was posted/referenced on here a while back) and some of the easiest words just can't get into my head for some reason. I don't understand it. For me, the clincher to learn the word and to get it to go into my brain is first writing it, and then speaking it to another person and having that person understand it and speak it back to me. If I can do this 3-4 times during a conversation, I will seldom ever forget the word or expression. For me (especially for Irish), speaking the language and writing the language are almost like two different languages. I know when I write here on this forum, I might have a spelling error in every other word, but I'm essentially writing it out as it comes from my head. There is no misspelling in speech, and that is why I yearn for correct construction, vocabulary and syntax above my spelling. The spelling will come/and is coming as I get comfortable with the medium of speaking the language. I'm beginning to spell what used to be very weird words for me because when I make an error, I just know that "it doesn't look right". I sometimes experience the "connection" thing that Brendan is talking about, but more often than not for me it is just hearing the word spoken by another human being that helps me to learn it most. This is part of what makes learning Irish so difficult for me. There just aren't a whole lot of people around to hear speaking and to engage in conversation with.

I don't understand either why sometimes a "light" just goes on with a concept. I am taking a Skype course on-line now and the teacher was explaining yesterday about lenition of feminine words following the article "an". I've heard it over and over, but never got it til she said it yesterday. It was just suddenly there. I was just about to make a post asking someone to explain to me in as easy a way as possible how to know what consonant to put in front of vowels at the beginning of some words. (h-Éireann, etc) . Brendan wrote I won't remember a word until my (unconscious) mind (and body) is satisfied that I "need" to know it, and that comes from repeated exposure and association. I think there's something very real about that in my experience. I remember hearing "chor ar bheith" it seemed like every other sentence while in Donegal and I never could remember what it was. I confused it with "ar bith", etc. Then when I came home, I looked it up once and have never forgot that it is "almost". Although, my mind always wants to say "beagnach" because that was the first word I spoke to express that thought in my brain. I think my mind just finally said, "Alright dammit, just learn this thing so you'll know what it is when it comes at you." I guess learning is as unique an experience as our physical traits are unique to our appearances. Hopefully we can each help each other figure out our own way to learn and then encourage each other in that way.

Bríd writes, My bigger problem is that I can go so far with a language, then hit a wall.
I never get anything near fluency with it. I never get passed the extremely basic stuff.
That is sort of where I am with Irish. I can cover real basic stuff and actually some sophisticated speaking, but no sophisticated topics. I think that if I had about 8 weeks right now speaking only Irish I would probably become quite conversational. I remember breaking through that wall with Spanish when suddenly I was shooting it off like a machine gun. I think speaking any language is like wearing braces on your legs while walking. You have to have a teacher who is willing to let you SLOWLY grind through a sentence and then it just becomes more and more fluid. You are eventually able to just take of the braces, set them aside, and carry on walking. I think it is a great disservice to speak fast (like a native) when learning, without taking great care to nuances of conversation and pronunciation. Language is like music. If you want to play it cleanly at a fast pace, then learn it slowly and perfectly. Speed comes. I need that kind of experience in Irish, and eventually I'll find that person. I can teach anyone how to speak Spanish in that way if anyone on this forum cares to learn Spanish. It takes a lot of humility and I'm okay with that. For me, speaking the language is THE key factor. I have to hear the word out loud to remember it. That is why reading books, etc. don't do a lot for me. I often take the dialogue on Gaeilge Amhain FB, and I pastE it to WORD. Then I struggle through it trying to understand what is being said. Then I say it out loud. 10 minutes of conversation with a good speaker do more for me than 2 hours of that. Anyway....great discussion!


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PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep 2011 12:16 am 
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Bríd Mhór wrote:
But that is not your problem Audrey, you are already fluent in Irish.


I'm not really, though. That's the thing.

I read reasonably well (Aside from the aforementioned occasional incomprehension. If I find myself plowing to a halt, I can usually get things going again, even if it does require recourse to a dictionary). I can follow a lot of conversational Irish. Interestingly, I find it a lot easier to follow a live conversation, face to face, even if I'm not a participant in the conversation, than I do a TV program or even a Skype conversation. I can more or less carry on a discussion board conversation (though there's a lot of second guessing and looking things up that happens, and certainly some spelling and grammar errors). And, on the academic end of things, I have a reasonable grasp of grammar (though there are certainly gaps).

Speaking, though, remains a real challenge, despite having taken part in immersion programs and even, for close to a year, a weekly convo group. I think maybe it's a sort of "test anxiety." It's frustrating because I'm not sure why, after all these years, I'm still struggling with this.

I'm at that weird point with "fluency" where, if I were to suddenly find myself dropped in the middle of an exclusively Irish-speaking community (aside from rejoicing at finding such a place!), I could get by, but just relaxing and having a conversation isn't likely to happen.

And the really weird thing is I sometimes DREAM in Irish! And, if I'm watching a show on TG4 and someone here speaks to me, I sometimes RESPOND in Irish! It's like it's almost, but not quite, there.

Hah...maybe once the kid gets out of college, I just need to park myself in a Gaeltacht with a sign around my neck saying "Abair Gaeilge liom...níl aon Béarla agam!" for a month or two.

I'm just coming up on my third year in level 4 at the DSG wondering why in the heck I'm still struggling so with all this.

Redwolf


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PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep 2011 12:37 am 
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I don't remember the circumstances but I said "dw i'n barod" to somebody in a dream last night. :darklaugh:
I started recently again on Welsh.

I don't go on Skype much. But I'm always available on MSN instant messenger. It's less stressful as you are writing not speaking, no pressure to keep going. There are often long breaks until someone thinks of something else to say. At the moment I'm chatting to Lughaidh and Ben on MSN while checking the forums and facebook. Join MSN instant messenger Audrey and give it a try. You too Faber. Another thing on messenger you write without concern for typos or bad spellings.

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It is recommended that you always wait for three to agree on a translation.
I speak Connemara Irish, and my input will often reflect that.
I will do an mp3 file on request for short translations.

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PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep 2011 2:50 am 
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Bríd Mhór wrote:
I don't remember the circumstances but I said "dw i'n barod" to somebody in a dream last night. :darklaugh:


So now we all really need to know what that means! :darklaugh:

I had a dream the other night and when I woke up my first words to Tony were "when did you learn to speak Irish?" because Irish is definitely the language in which the whole dream was taking place! On the other hand, he once woke me in the middle of a concert season and said "If you absolutely have to sing in your sleep, could you at least do it in English?" :darklaugh:

Redwolf


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PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep 2011 3:27 am 
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A Bhríd:

Bríd wrote, "You too Faber".

Rinne mé é anocht.


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PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep 2011 11:39 am 
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"dw i'n barod" = I'm ready

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___________________________________________________________

It is recommended that you always wait for three to agree on a translation.
I speak Connemara Irish, and my input will often reflect that.
I will do an mp3 file on request for short translations.

___________________________________________________________


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