Flashcards as a learning/teaching method

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Flashcards as a learning/teaching method

Postby ironlady » 29 Apr 2012, 12:58

[Mod's note: in splitting this topic from an unrelated thread, I accidentally erased ehopi's original post somehow, but it is quoted here in its entirety. /il]

ehophi wrote:Meh, I've made flashcard decks that teach Mandarin better than any instructor or textbook would. If you're willing to dig past the first page of Google results and get creative with your search terms, you'll actually find a goldmine of free stuff that is equally or more effective than any single textbook would be.

Hell, an app like Pleco or Memeo (think CC-Edict plus built-in flashcard app), honest self-checking, some personally interesting reading material, and a good computer dictionary could replace 99% of what some professional college instructors offer.


IF you already know the structure of the language. Flashcards will not give you that. Reading could, potentially -- if you had enough structure in the first place to work out what anything meant.

Also, all professional college instructors I'm aware of teach using rules-and-output. So they are eminently replaceable with drills and flashcards and annotated reading resources. There are a few of us out here trying to do a bit better, though.
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby tsukinodeynatsu » 01 May 2012, 03:21

ironlady wrote:Also, all professional college instructors I'm aware of teach using rules-and-output. So they are eminently replaceable with drills and flashcards and annotated reading resources. There are a few of us out here trying to do a bit better, though.


The hardest part in learning an Asian language is the pedagogy that they use to teach them.

Seriously. I taught myself Jap (I was a nerdy teenager, OK?) and when my friend asked for help with his uni course, the textbooks just made me go @.@;;; I have no idea how you're supposed to learn what's a relatively simple language in the overly complicated way they love to teach it.

When I stopped paying attention to the textbooks and teachers, my Chinese improved in leaps and bounds.

Before that, the best Chinese teacher I'd ever had was a white lady who'd learned Chinese in Australia, Taiwan and Germany. And I think I've had around ten different Chinese teachers between Australia and here.
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby Icon » 01 May 2012, 09:41

tsukinodeynatsu wrote:
ironlady wrote:Also, all professional college instructors I'm aware of teach using rules-and-output. So they are eminently replaceable with drills and flashcards and annotated reading resources. There are a few of us out here trying to do a bit better, though.


The hardest part in learning an Asian language is the pedagogy that they use to teach them.

Seriously. I taught myself Jap (I was a nerdy teenager, OK?) and when my friend asked for help with his uni course, the textbooks just made me go @.@;;; I have no idea how you're supposed to learn what's a relatively simple language in the overly complicated way they love to teach it.

When I stopped paying attention to the textbooks and teachers, my Chinese improved in leaps and bounds.

Before that, the best Chinese teacher I'd ever had was a white lady who'd learned Chinese in Australia, Taiwan and Germany. And I think I've had around ten different Chinese teachers between Australia and here.


See? This was my point in asking about learning Chinese abroad. There has to be a better way. And I don't mean just books.
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby ironlady » 01 May 2012, 10:21

Icon wrote:See? This was my point in asking about learning Chinese abroad. There has to be a better way. And I don't mean just books.


Okay. I'm a teacher trainer. You can hardly get Chinese teachers (at least the ethnically Chinese ones) to try something that's not traditional. They'll come to workshops, do the practices, and be all enthusiastic, but when they have to go home and do it on their own, they just don't. Part of this is the lack of materials for CI-based teaching. It's tempting to just reach for the textbook and the pile of "extras" you've accumulated over the years, rather than do something that requires a lot of prep (writing all those readings).

There's definitely a much better way to teach Chinese, but it's very difficult to get it implemented. I'll be teaching at a local community college and will be using CI methodology for my classes, but I'm fortunate in that the program believes Chinese is "very difficult" (as this has been the experience of their students thus far) so they have limited the amount of material that needs to be covered. That's what makes narrow-and-deep CI teaching possible. They will be surprised when we use all the structure for the entire semester in the first three days, though. :D
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby Teddoman » 12 May 2012, 06:17

What's CI-based teaching? Maybe I missed something. What does CI stand for?
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby ironlady » 12 May 2012, 11:56

"Comprehensible Input". Lots of conversation about it over in Teaching English in Taiwan. CI-based instruction assumes that one acquires language through hearing and reading language you can understand, and the brain sorts it all out. Traditional (usually "communicative", these days) instruction assumes that you learn a language by studying the rules and the vocabulary and then putting them together, practicing by speaking and writing.
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby Teddoman » 12 May 2012, 20:02

Thanks. Checked it out. Wow, teaching English in Taiwan has gotten a lot more professional since I was a Hess monkey
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby ironlady » 12 May 2012, 21:40

Not sure the teaching has (overall, I mean) but the conversation has been pretty interesting. People care about how they teach English. The question is whether or not they're allowed to do anything about the fact that they care.
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby ehophi » 13 May 2012, 20:04

ironlady wrote:
ehophi wrote:Meh, I've made flashcard decks that teach Mandarin better than any instructor or textbook would. If you're willing to dig past the first page of Google results and get creative with your search terms, you'll actually find a goldmine of free stuff that is equally or more effective than any single textbook would be.

Hell, an app like Pleco or Memeo (think CC-Edict plus built-in flashcard app), honest self-checking, some personally interesting reading material, and a good computer dictionary could replace 99% of what some professional college instructors offer.


IF you already know the structure of the language. Flashcards will not give you that. Reading could, potentially -- if you had enough structure in the first place to work out what anything meant.

Also, all professional college instructors I'm aware of teach using rules-and-output. So they are eminently replaceable with drills and flashcards and annotated reading resources. There are a few of us out here trying to do a bit better, though.


Yeah, I covered those bases, and a flashcard program does give me that, since I can make and order a deck by sentential difficulty; but I did it with a bigram redundancy filter and a character frequency corpus. Even then, that moves me up to about 40,000 sentences for a 4740-character base.

There is a way to instruct syntax in a repetition-style manner (one that a flashcard app could handle), but it would require that someone parse relatively difficult sentences into their simplest constituent sentences. For the essentials, it would only take a dozen or so parsed sentences, but if I wanted it to cover the vocabulary, as well, it would require a lot more.
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby ironlady » 13 May 2012, 21:40

Except that a dozen exemplars are not enough for acquisition. Acquisition of structure requires literally thousands of unexpected encounters with structure that can be linked with meaning. That is the crux of the difference between rules-and-output teaching (which you seem to support: memorize and you'll "get it") and CI-based teaching. Rules and output may work for you (there are a small percentage of people who can get languages that way, and many of them become linguists or language teachers out of interest) but not for the majority.
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