4.0525 Mac CALL; Language learning (4/103)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 25 Sep 90 22:44:29 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0525. Tuesday, 25 Sep 1990.

(1) Date: Fri, 21 Sep 90 09:37 EDT (39 lines)
Subject: Mac CALL

(2) Date: Thu, 20 Sep 1990 22:52:36 GMT+0400 (37 lines)
From: Judy Koren <LBJUDY@VMSA.technion.ac.il>
Subject: Language learning

(3) Date: Mon, 24 Sep 90 15:54:10 +0100 (14 lines)
From: Tony Bex <arb1@ukc.ac.uk>
Subject: language learning

(4) Date: Thu, 20 Sep 90 20:23 EDT (13 lines)
From: Ruth Hanschka <HANSCHKA@HARTFORD>
Subject: re: Language Learning

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 90 09:37 EDT
Subject: Mac CALL

There's a lot going on. Private Tutor is a good recommendation. MacLang
(under pretty much continuous development by Judy Frommer at Harvard) is
brutally simple for faculty to use and is edging toward being as flexible
as PTutor. It now has error and score collection as well as pretty much
unlimited error correction. I am working toward having MacLang banks of
exercises which can be selected from for class-specific floppies.
Hypercard is another major area of activity. HyperGlot out of Nashville
publishes nothing butHyperCard-based CALL materials. Otmar Foelsche at
Dartmouth and Frank Ryan at Brown are two colleagues of mine (language
lab directors) who are intensively involved in HyperCard developments at
their institutions. Otmar has just produced a CD-Rom disc with a
Hypercard front-end for Chinese character study; lots is going on at

To complete my earlier mailing. I myself am working on what I call
"cultural environments" using HyperCard with the project name "Ambiances".
For hypermedia applications the Mac is way out front. Sound and imagery
can be added easily using MacRecorder (from Farallon) and HyperScan.
For example, I scanned 55 images onto cards for my current project on
the City of Paris in two hours. For videodisc and CD manipulation,
very simple toolkits are available from Voyager in California.

A final comment from the trenches. Systeme D is a monumental and
admirable achievement. When I used it in intermediate French it trashed
my evaluations. The interface took 2 solid hours for my students to
master; they never forgave me. That is why the HyperCard programs I
offer them have one technique-- the mouseclick--to master. I would
recommend foreign language versions of Word or WordPerfect with their
accompanying dictionaries for advanced students. Beginners probably
shouldn't be spending that much time writing anyway. Or maybe James
Noblitt will come up with a Mac version, as Gilberte Furstenberg has
done for her videodisc produced under the Athena project (highly
recommended--the Mac part, that is). By the way, the new cheap Mac is
the lab machine of the future.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------43----
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 1990 22:52:36 GMT+0400
From: LBJUDY@VMSA.technion.ac.il
Subject: Language learning

Re. Tom Nimick's comment that continuing to learn languages preserves
one's ability to do so for longer: my own experience is similar to his
(French from age 11, Latin from 13, German from 15, all carried through
to age 18 and I can still read them though can only speak French with
any fluency; at 22 I learnt Hebrew from near-scratch with no trouble, at
25 was immersed in German for a year, at 35 tried Arabic just for the
fun of it (Classical written) and had little trouble with the grammar
though I remember precious little of it now). Despite all this, I
suspect that what really counts is your ability to learn languages.
People vary widely in this, just as they do in their prowess at Math
or anything else. My father knew 7 languages and nobody in my family
doubted that it was an inheritable gift. I suggest that the people
who find language-learning easy, and consequently fun, are the ones
who go on practising the skill, whereas those who find it difficult
and can't get their tongues round the words or their minds roung the
grammar are those who give up as soon as they can and don't try again
as adults. Also, we're talking about formal, grammar-based language
learning, which is very different from the way young children learn
a language. I haven't seen anything to suggest that the latter, in\
which all normal children seem to be proficient, affects the former,
which as said varies widely, some can learn languages and some can't.
(NB I'm lousy at Math.)

Re language shifts in memory: on the contrary, my mind insists on
remembering events, people and situations in the language I would have
used had I been there. This gets to be highly annoying when remembering
things that happened in Switzerland, for example, or thinking of people
I know from there, since my German vocabulary was always pretty narrow
and my thoughts keep getting held up while I search for a word. Nonethe-
less it takes a real effort of will to switch languages and remember a
conversation in a language I did not/would not have used.

Judy Koren
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------27----
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 90 15:54:10 +0100
From: arb1@ukc.ac.uk
Subject: language learning

As usual I've come in at the tail-end BUT "overwhelming evidence that
learning another language is best achieved in childhood". Where's the
evidence? Whose is the culture? What are the languages?
I can see that this kind of mailing needn't carry a bibliography, but
statements like that sound suspiciously like myth masquerading as fact.
Most researchers into formal language learning have found that the
optimum age for learning another language is around puberty. (I'll swap
my booklist if you'll swap yours).
Tony Bex
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------18----
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 90 20:23 EDT
From: Ruth Hanschka <HANSCHKA@HARTFORD>
Subject: re: Language Learning

All of this has reminded me of something I used to wonder about. To all
the people who became fluent in more than one language at one age or
another [or semi-fluent, or whatever] : which language(s) do you dream
in? Or does anyone else besides me ever remember dreaming in more than
one language? No, I'm not fluent, but it happened anyway. :-) From
anecdotal evidence, memories do get translated; I'm just wondering if
dreams do too.