Steve Kaufmann: You Don’t Need Language Instruction

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You do not need the classroom. There are many ways to learn languages, especially today.

Study the transcript on LingQ:

Timelines:
0:22 Real learning takes place outside of a classroom.
1:55 3 things enabling you to learn a language on your own.
3:33 Studying in a classroom is fine if you like it, but it’s not if you don’t.
5:03 Formal structured language instruction VS Input based method.
6:39 A little bit of a system won’t hurt.
7:04 Chinese engineers reading cartoons.
8:34 Classroom is optional and not necessary.

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36 COMMENTS

  1. As a harp player I have made a decision never to go to another teaching workshop ever again…90% of the teaching is too fast and more about the teacher than the pupil.

  2. Loved the video, Steve. I prefer formal instruction, although studying is definitely a superior use of time, it can be demotivating.

  3. I go every Monday to study French formal way at school(not now because of corona) Sitting there for half an hour and make some progress do my homework 2-3 exercises in text book. If I leave it there, mmh..would not learn anything. I study top of my homework every day at least 30min, but normally 1-2 hours. So it's a lot learning time in a week, but only 1h a day learning, 8h sleeping and rest something else work etc. It doesn't take a lot to learn a bit of a language. Very good video!

  4. I think you should think again. A classroom is an inanimate object. We should focus on what lies within the classroom. If someone intelligent, versed in the arts of language acquisition, simulates natural environments that echo those in which we acquired our mother tongue's then we are in better hands than if we are alone, and without any method of instruction. However, most ESL teachers have little idea of how to do their job and this is accentuated by a billion-dollar industry where teachers or rather instructors use material and methods within a pedagogical approach that can accommodate those that have little or no experience, training or qualifications.

  5. I completely agree with you Steve. I don't like the way that the most of the teachers who thinks themselves as a SUPER STAR . All of us can learn any language without them

  6. 10/10 people who generate income from formal language instruction believe formal language instruction is required to attain language proficiency.

  7. I´m enjoying your videos, thanks. I learned very little in the few language classes I've taken. I just don't learn that way. I learned spanish just as you talked about, listening and reading (of course I now live in Mexico so that helped). Now I'm learning portuguese, one year and I can converse (mais ou menos). Today with Youtube we have a great advantage over people in the past. There are loads of movies with subtitles to read and learn from and then movies in all languages. Even though portuguese is similar to spanish it's still very difficult to understand someone speaking "street portuguese" like in the movies – but that's way to learn. I also watch tons of clases on Youtube but without trying to "study", I listen and absorb subconsciousely. Thanks again.

  8. I like your view of language learning. This is also one of my favorite occupations.
    I actually wrote a couple of iOS apps for that purpose, very much based on my own way of learning; which is probably quite close to yours.
    http://www.sofisfun.net/Language

  9. Hello Steve , could you advice me , what can I change to know more, I. Read a book easy to hunderstand I know now about 15000 word , but without seen them , I know about 1500hundred what can I change in my learnings? Thank you ,

  10. Very interesting and informative video. I feel that people, including myself, have always felt that their teacher was responsible for their success in learning. That is why we are always looking for the next class or course. But I now understand that it is the students job to find out what works and to learn. Now just to get thorough the material but to learn from the material. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  11. Hi, Steve how's going ? I'm learning English by myself and I love your tips, your suggestions about process of learning languages. I really appreciate your work and knowledge about it. Wishes from Brazil, bye and thank you

  12. anyone can do anything alone with learning languages they got tons of things now you can do to learn on there own with out huge grammar terms an text book an grades to tell you cause in class your just vomiting back up what a teacher told you so you can pass I know people got masters in langues an can't speak at all but know a bunch of rules

  13. My brother became fluent in a Filipino dialect simply by hanging out with his then-girlfriend (now wife) and her friends when he was still in nursing school. This dialect has not been taught in a classroom for at least 50 years. Today he is very fluent in that dialect, and proves to me that learning in a classroom setting is not really needed.

    I have taken French classes for nearly 4 years at places like Alliance Française, but I've only reached their B2 level recently. But once I stumbled upon Steve Kaufmann's videos and learned about the importance of reading and listening, my French just went into warp speed. My French teacher noticed my sudden progress and was kinda shocked. So was I. Suddenly, I was using high level French vocabulary with more ease. But to me, I was merely recalling words I read in the newspaper.
    My final note: I used to live in Las Vegas and worked with a lot of immigrants. I did my own survey one day and spoke to co-workers who were from Russia, China, Ethiopia, Thailand, Cuba, Argentina, Turkey. And here is what I uncovered:
    1. 100% said watching the news day in day out (even if they couldn't understand) was essential to train their ears.

    2. About 85% read, read, and read some more. They would read the newspaper and underline a lot.

    3. Some only took classes. One Chinese friend did he watched Friends for 3 years straight. At first, with subtitles in English, and later with no subtitles. (btw, his accent is quite excellent — very natural- sounding)

    4. The more successful communicators in the group treated the language acquisition process like a 'full time Jon's.

    Lastly, my friend Glenn who lives in Paris that he learned French by watching tv and that he had never taken a class.

    Caveat: I don't claim they all speak well, but they all can communicate and work effectively in the language they acquired.

  14. You made many good points.
    Some people still think formal instructions is a necessity to learn languages correctly. The polyglot Moses McCormick learned many languages in the US by finding native speakers locally and communicating with native speakers online. Most people in Europe tend to pick up several languages because they live close to each other and pick up TV & radio stations from neighboring countries.

    Canada is a bilingual country with English and French asthe official languages. There are many federal government jobs advertised stating that a person who is bilingual is preferred. I read an online post a lady was recently hired by a government department. Being brought up in an English-speaking environment, she learned to speak French and spent some time in France. According to her, there are many who learned to speak foreign languages and some actually majored in languages in a local university. When it comes to getting employed, she said her stay in France was invaluable. Many people have language diplomas and can speak quite fluently already but she stated that being in France (or the country where a language is spoken) made her skills more "authentic" compared to the other candidates having similar credentials.

    Recently I was in Hong Kong for a visit. There was a debate reported in the media regarding the appropriate age a child should be taught Mandarin (used for business transactions in Mainland China) without losing fluency in their native Cantonese (used in the province of Guangdong including Hong Kong & Macao). Many parents grew up with Cantonese as the primary language and English as the second language in school and HK natives still consider learning languages should be done in a classroom or with private tutors. In Chinese customs people respect teachers and those with years of experience.

  15. I really like your videos and I like how you tactfully touch on some controversial topics. I believe language learning at the moment is in a bit of a dark age but it's people like you that will help pull it out and usher it into a new golden age of efficiency and fun.

  16. I wish my college didn't require language classes and I could just learn my own. I'm trying to learn japanese but need either 3 semesters of japanese or 1 semester of german, but i'm not interested in german so i need to take 3 classes.

  17. Regardless of whether you have a tutor or not, when it comes to ANYTHING, you get out of it what you put into it.

  18. I agree on this. I took German classes in uni but whenever I was asked how I learnt it, I always said I did it mainly on my own, by listening to news and reading etc. And that was before hearing about you.

  19. Was terrible at language at school. It was so difficult for me to understand. Left school and fell in love with Hebrew, Greek, Russian and Chinese. Doesn't matter if I'm fluent or not I love the languages. All learned without classrooms!

  20. Well for myself I can say that I always struggled with learning english in a classroom. But after I started reading different stories, my english started to improve
    gradually. I just started to read and looked things up I couldn't understand. And if I meet the same word over and over again, they begin to stay in my mind and my vocabulary improves. Listening to english videos also helps a lot. And even if it's far from perfect it allows me to read novels wich aren't available in german. Now I'm planning to learn japanese in similar way.  I already learned the kana and now I'm teaching myself the kanji with Heisig in combination with Anki.

  21. I agree with you 100%. I learned German on my own. I think the most important aspect of not being in a classroom was that my motivation never waned and that going at my own pace allowed me to understand everything I needed to understand when I wanted to. I never got ahead of myself because it was just me.
    The challenge becomes, in my opinion, to have the ability to answer your own questions when you run into problems. And after a while, you find that there are so many resources online for this and what works best.

  22. I'm agree with you Mr.Steve, actually I'm learning and improving my english at this time, and eventhough I'd got classes at the high school I had 3 years without practice, and all that new things that I know I have been learning by myself, I hope and soon my english could it be better and better, also I want to learn more languages like french, italian, portuguese, german, chinese, japanese, russian, and more languages, but that will come with the  time, saludos, suerte

  23. This man looks like he has homosexual thoughts that he keeps hidden down deep inside. He hides it from his wife and the world. But it's something that haunts him.

  24. I like what you say around 5 minutes. In the U.S., some believe the flawed educational system in this country is largely attributable to John D. Rockefeller. I´m not sure how it is in other countries…..

  25. What would you say to the argument that only certain people can learn a language? I to an extent agree with this, as there only seems to be a certain percentage that can actually hear the differences in pronunciation and pitch, for example.

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