We exhibited at the yearly LANGUAGE SHOW in London, for the third year running, and as usual I gave a Public Lecture on accelerated vocabulary acquisition, and how to increase your vocab learning 5 times faster than using traditional methods.
We spoke to hundreds of the visitors non-stop for three days.
During the show a gentleman approached me to say that he had bought our 200 Words a Day! Learn French Course 1 and had learned 1,000 words in less than 2 weeks, but that he was not happy.
"Would you like to know why?" he asked.
Of course we want to know why.
We have given the gentleman the means to learn 1,000 words in a couple of weeks, AND he has done it, but somewhere we are not offering enough.
He then proceeded to go into the detail of the mathematical calculations used to calculate the 'Worst Words' lessons, and felt that the calculation methodology should be changed.
I explained that Tom our resident IT programmer nerd-geek (well he's not really a nerd or a geek, but he is brainy enough to be considered one), can programme anything and he can change the algorithms, mathematical calculations etc, etc to any sensible method.
To me, the one we have is fine, it calculates your scores over all the words on which you have been tested and ranks the worst thirty, putting them in to a lesson called 'My Worst Words', and you can go to that lesson at any time. But if you can suggest a better method we will look at it carefully, and, if we agree that it is superior, and that it is practical, we will implement it.
"But hang on, you are telling me you learned 1,000 words in less than 2 weeks, so the software works, and the goal of the software is to rapidly teach vocabulary!"
Then the penny dropped!
"Are you by any chance a software programmer?" I asked.
"Yes, as a matter of fact I am..." he said.
I have found that software programmers sometimes take this kind of approach. Not all of course, just a small few of them.
They are sometimes so clever at programming, and so knowledgeable about HOW the MECHANICS of a programme's code works that they can lose sight of the original goal.... which in our case is to learn loads of foreign language vocabulary fast, have tools to remember it, and consolidate this learning.
When you start to USE the language, in conversation, it becomes 'second-nature' and eventually, like training wheels on a bike, they are no longer needed. Once you are immersed in a language in a country where it is the spoken language (and preferably you 'abandon' your mother tongue) your intuition via 'the third ear' comes into play.
He then went on to say he has found a new programme with which he is learning 50 words a day! He has to input all the words into it himself, but he likes the programming in it.
He promised to email us with the suggested programming changes but to date we have not heard. (Still not heard a year later in 2007) But, as I said, we can often quite easily add changes to the programming.
Anyway, my points are:
Don't lose sight of the woods for the trees.
Originally written:10 November, 2006
Update: 15 September, 2007.
I've decided not to exhibit at this year's Language Show as we have so many other commitments, however I would encourage anyone interested in teaching or learning languages to go along.
The exhibitors at the 2007 Language Show, London Olympia from 2 to 4 November, 2007:
The 120 exhibitors include representation from language associations, companies giving correspondence courses, courses for families wanting to learn languages, cultural institutes.
There are always hundreds of dictionaries, and their many of their publishers, foreign embassies and ministries, language exchange programmes.
Many government departments are represented at the Language Show such as the Foreign and Commonwealth office.
If you want to know about language careers, holiday destinations, learning a language for business or pleasure, language learning holidays, language schools in the UK and abroad they are all there at the annual Language Show, London.
Language study guides are there by the thousand, and language teaching centres represented, and loads of language teaching materials on display.
Multi-media, online learning technologies feature prominently at the Language Show, London Olympia.
Also represented will are overseas property sellers, people promoting self-study courses, visitor and tourist boards, translation and interpreting companies, TV and video language courses, plus representation from universities, colleges and volunteer programmes.
Any person interested in language learning or teaching should attend.
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