Why? Quintessential Language Learning System sm
(These notes were penned at the time we were creating stories for learning Chinese.)
People have been learning foreign languages for as long as they have been traveling to other countries and contacting peoples of other cultures. So, there is really nothing new in the process of language acquisition.
The simple methods used by children and visitors to a foreign country for picking up a new language have often been clouded by a plethora of systems, methods, procedures and programs that, in the my opinion, have acted as obstacles or barriers to the natural acquisition of a foreign language. For many people, these obstacles have also taken the fun out of such a pursuit.
-----THE PREMATURE STUDY OF GRAMMAR!-----.
The love of learning language and of sound for its own sake, independent of meaning is instinctive in a child. This realization that only by becoming a child again as we approach the study of a foreign language, together with my own personal experience as a failing student, brought me step by step to the creation of Quintessential Language Learning System sm. By means of this system we convert the foreign language learning activity from one of drudgery to one of pleasure.
Quintessential Language Learning System sm will give you the tools to master the language of your choice by using its ground breaking, unique and patent pending language learning system. This new language learning technology which the Quintessential Language Learning System sm uses will help you obtain the required ear training, comprehension and skills required for you to be on your way to mastering your new language.
Quintessential Language Learning System sm uses any computer with a sound card and a CD ROM drive to help you get on your way, quickly and easily, in learning your new language.
Learning a foreign language is a joyful undertaking and can be lots of fun. Many people have it as a favorite hobby for which they daily find time to pursue. The Quintessential Language Learning System sm will consider itself very successful if it can help to create this attitude in the users of its programs. That is, in a nutshell, it's goal and purpose for its creation.
2. Learning Languages Through Story Telling
An holistic approach to acquiring a foreign language.
The great poet and philosopher, Wolfgang Johanne von Goethe, describes how he learned foreign languages by following his natural inclination to language learning.*
"Thus I had learned Latin, just like German, French, English, only through practice, without rule and without system. Anyone who knows what the state of school instruction was at that time will not find it strange that I neglected the grammar as well as the rhetoric; everything seemed to come naturally to me. I retained the words, their formations and transformations in my ear and in my mind, and I employed the language with ease for writing and talking"
* "Aus meinem leben II, vi. Goethes werke, Cotta'sche bibl.d.welt-literature, 20. 218
Quintessential Language recognizes this Goethe principle, and inspired also by the McGuffey Readers, uses this wholistic approach,but adds to it a unique patent-pending process of color coding.
Do you remember how you learned your native language. You probably learned it through hearing stories and retelling them to your friends.
By means of mastering each story, you will build your vocabulary and start to intuit the grammar and structure of the language similar to that possessed by the native speaker.
Some people believe that the study of grammar is helpful to
the learning of a foreign language. The study of grammar is an intellectual pursuit that can actually become an obstacle in the path of acquiring a foreign language for it encourages one to consciously think of forms and patterns rather than doing the practice of listening reading and retelling that will lead to an unconscious automatic response that is required for fluent speech..
You must practice each sentence in such a way that you can read it out loud with ease and at natural speed and after reading it, be able to look away and say the same sentence without hesitation. This will require a little practice, but the results that come from this practice are inestimable.
Learning a new language requires much time and cannot be rushed.
Just as fine wine needs its own time to ferment, in like manner over an extended period of time daily practice will bring success to your efforts .
Language acquisition is a process of reprogramming our mental environment. It requires neither intelligence nor intellectual skills.
To rid you of any notion that you have an inability to learn foreign language, and to encourage you to persist in your efforts when you feel discouraged, it will help if you understand the stages one goes through in learning a foreign language.
First, we learn, then we forget what we learned. We relearn what we forgot, and if we forget again, we relearn again what we forgot.
If we forget again, we relearn what we have been forgetting. At last we begin to remember and it becomes our own.
3 Nature of Language and Our Focus
Since language is sound attached to meaning, 95% of our time should be spent in listening, and our main efforts should be devoted to developing our short term recall of what we hear.
In time with repetition, the strange sounds will become familiar and will take on a meaning of their own.
You have as much talent as any one else in learning a foreign language. It may eem difficult for you in the beginning because you may have to spend a long time
in learning how to learn, since learning a foreign language is not an intellectual pursuit.
It is a matter of developing new habits or reprogramming the mind. If you understand this process, then you will not become discouraged.
If you feel tired or become bored, stop, relax, do something else. Come back when you are fresh .
Just as water continually dropping upon a rock will eventually penetrate the stone daily practice will ultimately reprogram your mind to the new language.
Let your practice be like the water dropping upon the rock of your mind. Success is assured.
Develop the patience of the proverbial Chinese and
follow the Tao of Language Learning.
4 COLOR CODE
Children, in the course of learning their native language, from the time they start imitating adults, slowly but surely come to notice certain repeated patterns.
When somebody who is talking with them does not follow the pattern, the child, Mary, says, "That's not right." When asked how she knows, she answers, "It doesn't sound right."
Until she reaches the sixth grade when she begins her formal studies in grammar, "It doesn't sound right." is the only grammar Mary knows. By that time Mary has been speaking the language for about six or seven years. By the age of seven or eight, Mary is already able to expand her vocabulary.
Through the use of stories, avoiding all formal grammar which can become especially boring when one does not know the language, Quintessential Language attempts to duplicate for the adult the process of language learning employed by children.
Children learn the language by listening to the stories that their parents read to them over and over again or by seeing their favorite movie endless number of times. This "over and over again of the stories" cannot be overemphasized because it formed an integral part of Mary's first language acquisition,.
When learning a new language, in addition to playing the text over and over again, the practice for achieving a knowledge of its structure that takes the place of the study of grammar is to equate the phrase of one language with its equivalent phrase in the other. By matching phrases and memorizing them, one builds up a memory in the language that is absolutely essential for attaining the ability to think and to speak in the language.
To help the student in this matching process, Quintessential Language has colored coded the texts. As far as possible verbs or verb phrases are coded in red, nouns in blue and adverbs or adverbial phrases in green, brown is used sometimes for prepositional phrases or adjectives when needed. This is just a general rule. There will be exceptions to this general guideline in the interest of clarification.
The phrase at the beginning of a sentence in one language may occur at the end of a sentence in the other. Sometimes a phrase in one language is found to be separated by words or phrases in the other so that one has to be able to hold the entire sentence in mind in order to match them successfully.
Color-coding makes the differentiation between the phrases of each language and the discovery of how they match up with each other relatively easy
Enjoy the color codes. Have fun matching phrases.
There is a Tao of Language Acquisition: discover it.
5 TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
You have 15 minutes a day that you can spare to learning a foreign language. The questions is How to get the maximum benefit from 15 minutes. Understand your goal so you may not get side tracked
Learning a foreign language is exceedingly simple. It is a matter of being able to automatically substitute one set of sounds for another.
A language is nothing more than this automatic, instantaneous association of meaning with a particular set of sounds. Without the use of your memory, you cannot make this association,
and without making this association numberless times, it does not become automatic.
Memory of what you hear holds the key; however it is difficult to unlock the door to learning a foreign language by the use of memory because a set of sounds which have not previously been associated with meaning are difficult to remember and difficult to hear.
Unless one can remember a complex sentence from the beginning to the end, it is not possible to understand it. If you forget what went on at the beginning of the sentence by the time you get to end, you are in “no sense land”. It is relatively easy to understand a complex sentence that is written because the eye can be used to scan it back and forth, but when we hear it, our short term recall must do this “scanning”. That is why it is easier to read than it is to hear and understand.
A knowledge of grammar will not yield the automatic association which we require, and precious time out of our 15 minutes should not be wasted in reading about language, i.e. the study of grammar.
Therefore, it is recommended that your fifteen minutes a day be spent in listening to stories over and over again until you come to understand them without the need of translation. Follow this by equating the phrase of one language with its corresponding phrase in the other until an automatic association is developed. Quintessential Language with its patent pending color coding and audio indexing will help you to do this.
Review the old, expose to the new. Lay aside your intellectual processes for your rocket science work. Remember, a workout with weights builds the body, not reading about it. Apply the same logic to language learning and you will be very successful.
No questions, please. Just do as you’re told.
6 BOTTOM LINE
You can be as fancy as you want with all your systems and methods but the bottom line in learning a foreign language is you’ve got to be able to remember in your short term recall what you hear and be able to repeat it from the capital to the period. This is the key to fluency in understanding and speaking. There is no quick American way and there is no substitute for sentence and paragraph memorization for building a sound foundation in the language. Good wine takes time to mature and in the same way your knowledge of a foreign language also requires time. W.J. Murphy in a brief entitled ADVANCED LANGUGE LEARNING: Studying Foreign Languages The Hard way states: (and QL agrees with him)
“Heinrich Schliemann, the discoverer of Troy, used to pace the floor late into the night reciting paragraphs of foreign-language text aloud…might that not encourage you, or be perhaps just the thing you were looking for in the way of an offbeat but useful study tip? (It just so happens that paragraph memorizing, in our view, is arguably the single best study technique there is.) As for role models, who are the most successful language learners? Children! And so we’ll be counseling you in these pages to emulate, as much as possible, the actions and language-processing behavior of kids, the most ruthlessly efficient language learners around.” * p. 2
Q. And crucial, then, is to imitate a child’s intuitive learning of its mother tongue?
A. What children do naturally, you must do mechanically, deliberately, and repetitively. And systematically, in the course of a million or so conscious memory acts. p. 8
*Children demand the same bedtime story over and over again until they practically know it by heart. We had to memorize dates and events throughout our school day experience in order to pass exams. This is why we are so fluent in our native language. If we attempt to imitate these acts as adults when studying a foreign language, we become fluent. It’s that simple.
Question: How many times did your parents tell you the story of the Three Bears?
Why should you listen to me? It is the voice of experience that speaks.
7 Who am I?
A falling-through-the-cracks-language-student who became successful at learning languages, that's who!
When I started my first foreign language studies in the eighth grade, I was a failing student. But being on a college preparatory track, I had to get at least a "C". Eighteen lessons behind which I had to make up was definitely not the way to go.
By a strange coincidence, my Spanish teacher at John Marshall High School had also been the Spanish teacher of my mother at Venice High. Did this have anything to do with my squeaking through this class with a "C-"? Perhaps, I don't know. But I do know that we enjoyed no grade leniency for being a failing language student.
The following semester marked the turning point in my language studies for I had a teacher, Miss Arbour by name, who was very strict and made us do certain things that were linguistically sound. In those days we did not have the luxury of tape recorders or computer programs, and it was also the time when people studied foreign languages with the purpose of coming to a better understanding of their own. Emphasis was placed upon grammar with Latin being a preferred subject, and translation form the foreign language into our own was the common system in vogue, at least in the United States before World War Two. Mohammed had to go to the mountain. Modern technology now brings the mountain to Mohammed.
Under the tutelage of Miss Arbour, my failing grade rose to a "B". Armed with a new insight garnered from this experience with her, I decided to add a second foreign language, French, to my studies. From this time onward up to and including graduate work at several universities, I am not boasting when I say that my grades in foreign language courses never once dropped below an "A-" with the exception of one six week summer course for which I got a B. But the circumstances were special, and it was only my long years of experience in learning foreign languages that brought me through a course for which I had no preparation and which, for most students, would have been a Waterloo. But that is another story.
I never intended to become a teacher or to create a language program, but my friends who were taking foreign languages at the university needed my help. I knew how to approach the study of a foreign language, which, by the way, is quite different from learning any other skill, and wanted to communicate that realization to my friends.
I based my tutelage of my friends upon that which I had learned from Miss Arbour and with the simplest kind of practice, saw my friends also change from students having great difficulty to successful language enthusiasts such as myself. My success and their success continually reinforces the realization I came to regarding language acquisition back in high school. My wife, Maria, who successfully completed her Ph.D. candidacy in French Literature has her own story to tell. But that is for another time.
It was this experience with my friends, their failure and success, as well as my own early failure and subsequent success, that ultimately brought me to the creation of the Quintessential Language Learning System SM.
If you follow the simple steps as presented by the program, you, too, will be very successful.
8. What did Miss Arbour make us do?
In 1940 we did not have tape recorders, CDs, computer programs or anything related to modern technology. We studied a foreign language by translating the text into English when we were called upon in class. This is called Grammar-Translation and was quite prevalent; still is in some countries, I understand.
I shall never forget the first day of class. Our teacher to be was a little old lady, somewhat bald in front at the hair line, who leaned forward on her desk and with hands folded, peered over half glasses and in a very stern, measured voice said, "This is Spanish Four for those who want it." Our hearts sank and almost half the class got up and walked out. They knew it was going to be tough. I had no choice as one o'clock was the only time I could take Spanish Four, and I was on a college preparatory track and needed the credits.
Miss Arbour would assign a story. When called upon, we had to stand up beside our desk and tell the class in our own words in Spanish what happened in the story. This was not at all easy and we were filled with dread as all we had ever done before was look at the text and translate it into English.
Millicent Abrahmson, A fellow student, and I decided to meet at the cafeteria during lunch break. Our class met at one o'clock so we had a little time. We choose an isolated table far from every body and sitting across from each other, she would read the story out loud to me and then I would read the story out loud to her. She would read it again to me and I would read it again to her. She would then try to tell me the story in Spanish. If she had a problem, I would read that section of the story where she had the problem. She would try again to tell me the story. I did the same thing. Whenever I had a problem, she would read the story again out loud and I would try again to tell the story. We corrected each other based upon the text until we were able to retell the story with some success. With a this preparation, when called upon in class, we were somewhat able tell in Spanish what happened in the story. This is what Miss Arbour made us do. We were never called upon to translate the story into English.
As I wrote earlier, I was eighteen lessons behind in Spanish Three and just barely passed. I passed Spanish Four with a "B". The following semester I enrolled in Spanish Five and French One.
If you want to know what I did in French One, continue reading.
I can, I can, I can!
9 This is what I did in French one.
I studied the first lesson carefully and got between 90 to 100 as my first grade.
The next day before I studied Lesson Number Two, and this is very important, I read Lesson Number One out loud before I began to study Lesson Number Two.
On the second day I got between 90 and 100 in Lesson Number Two. Before studying Lesson Number Three, I went back and reread out loud Lesson Number One, Lesson Number Two and then began to study Lesson Number Three. I got again between 90 and 100. My grade was usually around 95.
Before studying Lesson Number Four, I went back and reread Lesson Number One, Number Two, Number Three and then began to study Lesson Number Four. I developed the habit of always reading the previous lessons out loud before studying the current assignment. This is the procedure I established for myself when studying a foreign language.
This continual daily review of previous lessons before studying the assignment made my study of French a lot of fun. My grades from that time onward all the way through graduate level never once, with one exception, sank below an "A". If I can do it, you can too.
I always read all foreign language texts out loud for the simple reason that I need all the practice I can get in speaking. I don't do this in my native language, only in the foreign languages that I am studying. I attribute my joy at learning foreign languages and the success I have had with them to this way of practicing.
In another place, if you are interested, I will tell you how I helped my friends out of the linguistic pit into which they had fallen. The other place is below, continue reading if you are interested.
10. How I helped my friends out of the language pit into which they had fallen and which ultimately got me into teaching.
My friend, Greg Clark, is but one example of a friend I helped to resolve his foreign language problems at UCLA. He was an Art History major at the time and was having problems with his German class. Being a friend of his and having had the experience of being at the bottom of the ladder in a language class and about to fall off into the pit, I offered to help him.
I went to his house taking a German dual language book. Dual language books have the text in one language on one side and the corresponding text on the opposite side. They are very popular and extremely useful and cannot be recommended highly enough.
This book had the German on the left side and the English text on the right. All we did could not have been simpler. We first looked at the sentence or phrase in English. I read out loud the corresponding sentence or phrase in German and made Greg do the same. We proceeded through the story phrase by phrase and sentence by sentence until we had read the entire story to the end. We went on to the next story and did the same, I, reading the German sentence out loud and making him do the same. That’s all we did. No why’s, no where fore’s, no questions asked and no answers given.
The result of this practice flipped a switch in his mind that made it clear to him how he should study a foreign language. His grade rose to a B for that semester and how high after that I do not know. I do know that since he was a great fan of the Tolkein Ring series, he obtained The Lord of the Ring in German and later in Dutch. He is now a tenured professor at a university in Tennessee teaching art history. The Getty museum sends him to Europe for research on a regular basis and has recently published a beautiful work of his on Medieval illumination of texts.
Another case was the daughter of a teacher friend of mine who was having problems with her French class in high school. I was working for a California teaching credential at the time and one of the requirements was tutoring. One of my favorite ways to work on a foreign language is to read a favorite text in that language. With a copy of the Little Prince in English and a copy of Le Petit Prince in French, I went over to her house, and just as I did with Greg, we looked at the sentence in English followed by my reading out loud the corresponding sentence in French. I made her do the same and helped her with her pronunciation. We never talked about why this was done or why that was done. We just read the story out loud, matching phrases and sentences. Her problems with her French class disappeared.
A third case was with another friend, Gary Klepper, who sat next to me in a Latin class at California State University Northridge. I could see he was having trouble with Latin and made the offer that we study together. Not only was I learning Latin but was pulling my friend out of the linguistic pits.
Another friend was Spencer. We were in the same Russian class. I needed Russian credits for my California Credential. Russian grammar with its six cases and complicated declensions can be very confusing. I met one day in the language lab and offered to help him. We did the same without change or alteration. We read a sentence in English followed by my reading out loud the same sentence in Russian. I made him read the same out loud and helped him with his pronunciation.
For your information, Russian was the language at which I officially and unequivocally threw the grammar books into the metaphorical river never to be seen again. I know many successful students of language may not agree with me. That is all right. My philosophy is do whatever you can to be persistent and successful, but as I wrote above, time is of the essence and we, as adults, do not have a lot of time do devote to our language practice.
I am currently studying Japanese, a language which is so different from English, and am so thankful that all I have to do is concentrate upon matching phrases and sentences without any consideration to the how’s, why’s and wherefores of the language. This continual experience not only reinforces my initial realization as to how to proceed when studying a foreign language, but has also crystallized it into a beautiful system I call Quintessential Language Learning SystemTM.
Tom Curtis © May 2, 2005 Northridge, California
THE QUINTESSENCE OF LEARNING A LANGUAGE
REVIEW AND DO NEW!
Because of what computer technology now makes possible, it is not necessary to go to the country for immersion in the language. A computer software program can give you a tutor who is on call 24/7.
The language software program should contain:
Your primary goal is to develop an understanding of the spoken language and your short term recall of what you hear. Repetition out loud is your speaking practice. Ability to speak is related to what you can retain in your short term recall.
*The following procedure can be used for any language. Color Coding, however, is available only on QL discs for Chinese. It could be used for any language but as far as I know, it has not.
On the following page is a suggested procedure
You select a text. Any text will do, but the text you select will give you only the vocabulary of that text.
You play it, you repeat it, you remember it.
If you can’t do this the first time around, you do it the second.
If you can’t do this the second time around, you do it the third.
If you can’t do this the third time around, you do it the fourth,
Until you can.
Words should be learned in context (in a phrase)
Phrases for syntatical structure;
Sentences for complete thoughts.
To increase your vocabulary, comprehension and overall performance you add on a second text, and a third , and a fourth and so on. You can continue this process up to the highest, most advanced levels of language which include works of literature and special subjects The student needs only the necessary material with which to work
The Only Grammar Worth Knowing
"It doesn't sound right!
Children, in the course of learning their native language from the time they begin to imitate adults, gradually come to notice certain often repeated patterns. When somebody who is talking with them does not follow this pattern, the child, Mary, says, "That's not right." When asked how she knows, she answers "It doesn't sound right."
"It doesn't sound right." is the only grammar she knows until she reaches the sixth grade when she begins her formal studies in grammar. By that time Mary has already been speaking the language for about six or seven years. At the age of seven or eight, Mary can already begin to expand her vocabulary.
Through the use of stories, avoiding all formal grammar, which can become especially boring when one does not know the language, QL attempts to duplicate for the adult student the process of language learning employed naturally by children.
Children learn language by listening to the stories that their parents read to them over and over again or by seeing their favorite movie endless number of times. This "over and over again" cannot be overemphasized because it formed an integral part of Mary's first language acquisition and will also form an integral part of your foreign language acquisition as an adult.
When learning a new language, in addition to playing the text over and over again, the practice for achieving a knowledge of its structure, sometimes called grammar, and which takes the place of the formal study of grammar, is to equate the phrase of one language with its equivalent phrase in the other.
By matching phrases and memorizing them, one builds up a short term recall in the language. This is absolutely essential for attaining the ability to think and to speak without having to translate.
To help the student in this matching process, Quintessential Language has colored coded the texts of its Chinese stories. As far as possible verbs or verb phrases are coded in red, nouns in blue and adverbs or adverbial phrases in green.
The phrase at the beginning of a sentence in one language may occur at the end of a sentence in the other. Sometimes a phrase in one language is found to be separated by words or phrases in the other so that one has to be able to hold the entire sentence in mind in order to match them successfully.
Color coding makes the differentiation between the phrases of each language and the discovery of how they match up with each other relatively easy.
Suggestions for Study
We suggest that you begin by reading the entire sentence in your native language. Then go back and reread the sentence.
Using the color code match each phrase with its corresponding phrase in the other language.
Read the phrase of the new language out loud several times and attempt to fix it in your short term recall.
When you are able to read out loud the entire sentence in the target language and hold it in your short term recall, you will find that an understanding of the text without having to translate it into your native language will begin to dawn on your mind.
Again, try to fix these sounds in your mind so that you can look up at the characters (for Chinese) and read them without having to look down at the pinyin. This will help you to develop a visual recognition of characters that will eventually allow you to read Chinese
Quintessential Language Series uses traditional characters throughout which simplified characters have sacrificed for sake of utility.
If you have a computer, the Wenlin limited edition will allow you to bring up the dictionary definition of any character and will show you the order of strokes and how to write it.
Choose a character or two a day to practice writing, and to discover the philosophical depth contained within the Chinese character.
You may be surprised at the results you will obtain in reading, writing and speaking Chinese by slow, deliberate, daily practice.
From GRAMMAR the EASY WAY by Ruth Beechick
The Old Schoolhouse Spring 2011, p. 140
“What, then, should we do about teaching grammar? First, let’s drop the schoolish pattern of grammar in grade two, grade three, and so on. That can bore the children (and us) with grammar, and apparently it is useless. By age 5 or 6, children use mostly correct grammar. You hear them using subjects and verbs properly …..All this proper language is best learned in conversation and in reading. Workbooks do not help that much. Grammar serves only to give names and descriptions to language that children already use correctly.”
”Children absorb grammar from the people around them. They already use mostly correct grammar before you ever try
to teach it.”
QL stories are designed
and independent study.
P.S. I have become interested in improving my Russian so that I may enjoy Russian youtubes To do this I have purchased major works of Russian literature, such as IDIOT of Dostoevski, Hero of our Time by Lermentov, Pushkin short stories, to name a few. I have purchased these titles in the original Russian as well as a translation into English. With audiobooks on CDs I play the audiobook and at the same time follow the reading with the English translation. In this way, like watching a movie with subtitles, I go through the entire story. After I have gone through the story, it is not put aside for I listen to it again. In this way my understanding of the spoken language as well as vocabulary is gradually increased. I submit this for your information. You may want to try the same.
BACK Tom Curtis