"mistakes are bad"
I generally agree with your article, but I also wonder what you think would be best for someone who has used the output-method a lot and has a lot of bad habits to do to break those habits.
Well, teacher1, I'm afraid to tell you that I have to agree with Antimoon that errors are bad. I have learnt many foreign languages and those in which I have meticulously avoided errors are the ones I speak best. Let me elucidate my reasons:
First of all it is important to note that in linguistics and SLA mistake means a slip of the tongue and error means getting something wrong because you were unaware of how it should be.
I assume that Antimoon are using the word mistake in the colloquial sense, and they actually mean error.
We must be careful also to make a distinction between pronunciation, word usage and cultural errors.
Pronunciation errors should be made at home and in the classroom during the learning process, one has to practise one's accent and must do so by training one's voice to make specific sounds.
Cultural errors, such as the use of the wrong politeness level are also difficult to avoid in the real world, as there simply are not enough sources to help students with this. Simply asking the person "should I refer to you in the polite form?" is often enough to fix this. Over time it is easy to learn when to use which politeness level.
Word usage errors are huge problems because they indicate the basic understanding of the language is not there. Usually, but not exclusively, due to translation from one language into another. While very small errors can creep in, it is best to avoid them. They can easily be avoided by only saying things you know how to say.
In my experience teachers simply do not correct all the errors in any piece of work, often my teachers correct my work grammatically, but leave in things that do not sound right. I have tested this by having my friends go over my work for me.
Also, if a teacher misses an error in a piece of work, the student may then go and learn that piece of work, treating it as if it were an error free document ripe for study. This method will obviously cause the student to continue to make the same error over and over again.
Also, someone may formulate a sentence in their head that they do not know how to make properly and then think "Wahoo! I've done it, must remember that for later!" As you can imagine, this is also a problem.
To make matters worse teachers often promote errors by telling students to write things that are much too difficult for the level the student is at. I do not believe there is any teacher that can possibly correct every single error they see and hear. Things always slip through the net so to speak.
A quote of yours troubles me: "Mistakes are a natural part of the language learning process. The idea that making a mistake reinforces the mistake and thus should be avoided is soundly stuck in the behaviorist camp, one that has been left behind by scientists since the 1970's."
Second Language Acquisition Theory is not science, for the moment it is purely hypothetical. Often researchers focus on students who learn through methods involving grammar study and vocabulary learning. Very few studies have been done on acquiring language in an Antimoon way.
There is no reason to put these ideas into the behaviourist camp. If a teacher misses an error and a student thinks that what he has written is good and decides to learn it he will continue to make the same error. This is a fact of life. Language can also be acquired in a "subconscious" way, that is to say without any discernible effort. Is it not fair to say that a student may acquire one of his errors by reading it and reinforcing it in his own mind without actually being aware of what he has done?
I agree that if a student wishes to use a traditional approach of grammar study and vocabulary learning like is done in most classrooms, then errors could be good as they will highlight irregularities that the student is unaware of and will show when a student is unsure of word usage. What Antimoon is saying is that this method is not the most effective one and that sentence study is a better way. With sentence study there is no reason to make errors, it simply means that you are trying to say something you do not know how to say yet.
I'm afraid I must agree with Achab that the results gained from these classroom methods are greatly inferior to those acquired with a method such as the Antimoon one. I have learnt languages with both methods and I would never go back to the classroom approach. Input is better than output and slowly but surely the results are coming in that confirm this.
We must be careful not to combine two separate issues.
Boo yah! I think you got everything Tom got, but I also think you got a distinction that I don't think Tom has made clear enough: that between mistakes/errors due to ignorance and mistakes/errors due to the fact that you're still training your language muscle to produce sentences; the former must be avoided like the plague when using the Antimoon method, while the latter is probably not so damaging, if you know generally what you're saying and it was just a slip up.
I think that most who criticize Antimoon fail to properly distinguish the two kinds of mistakes/errors.
'In my experience teachers simply do not correct all the errors in any piece of work, often my teachers correct my work grammatically, but leave in things that do not sound right. I have tested this by having my friends go over my work for me.
Also, if a teacher misses an error in a piece of work, the student may then go and learn that piece of work, treating it as if it were an error free document ripe for study. This method will obviously cause the student to continue to make the same error over and over again."
I agree. I want my errors corrected, but I suspect that teachers don't want to overwhelm me with the red pen (akapen), so they hold back on corrections that I would welcome.
If possible, it's important to have a thick skin when it comes to being corrected. Better to be corrected than to say something really stupid at an important time.
I wonder if people who come from cultures where losing face is an issue have more trouble getting the correction they need to succeed in a language?
The issue with mistakes is this: Some people do not want to be corrected. They accept a level in a foreign language that is messy, but meets their needs. It is very difficult to correct adults in certain cultures without causing a loss of face. Mistakes can become imbedded. We need sites like this to challenge learners to go beyond being "okay" in a language.
I agree with this comment. A lot of the pronunciation of Scottish people I would consider to be incorrect. However, because they are in the majority where I live, they are able say that how they speak is not only acceptable, but desirable.
Should native speakers have elocution lessons in order not to make mistakes?
BBC - Radio 4 - PMBeryl Bainbridge is right to say that the Liverpool accent has changed over the years, but wrong to say it's all down to the lack of elocution lessons (150 ...
- 195k -
;-) in this feminist age I sometimes use 'she' and 'her' to refer to womankind in general, including the men, and even the men with wombs. I'm sorry if it sounds odd to you, but it's a trivial concession to gender obssessives. We used to say 'he' and 'his' meaning both genders, so I see no problem using 'she' and 'hers'.
That's better than abusing verb/pronoun number agreement (using "their" or "them" to avoid "her" or "his," for example, when the antecedent and verb are clearly singular).
What really annoys me is when that's done in a context that purely and obviously pertains to a single gender. An actual example from a television newscast: "Every mother knows their own child."
That--coming from a person whose profession is communication--tells me this wasn't a matter of political correctness, but simply not knowing the basics of grammar.
You and your ilk have been failing us for years so don't try and peddle your services here. This is the 21st century and we all now know there are better ways to learn. In fact all of those "Reading is good" advertisements point to the fact that you guys knew all along the bland grammar explanations and rote memorization in English class was just busy work. You just didn't want to lose your job.
Mistakes are bad because they are dangerous. Practicing odd English will only lead to a reinforcement of that pattern. Maybe you guys have never had a teacher who didn't even know the basic sounds of English, and don't know how difficult it is to "correct" your mistakes after you have heard and repeated mispronounced words and wrong patterns for several years. It's brainwashing, so try not to let yourself be brainwashed the wrong way. Software like Supermemo (there are others and they are free, I think I need to point out) is designed to brainwash you the right way, the way that will help you form the right patterns in your head.
<<That's better than abusing verb/pronoun number agreement (using "their" or "them" to avoid "her" or "his," for example, when the antecedent and verb are clearly singular).>>
What are you talking about? "They" is singular too, according to the rules of a grammar that seems to be different from yours. That doesn't mean yours is obviously the right one.
<<I agree with this comment. A lot of the pronunciation of Scottish people I would consider to be incorrect.>>
It is correct by definition, because it's "native".
If some of you want to go on insisting that correctness in social and natural sciences must be based on something artificial, then go on showing your idiocy. I am sorry to be so abrupt, but maybe some of you don't even realize the amount of nonsense some statements often imply here on Antimoon. Some sound like "The earth is round, but that doesn't mean it's the way it should be. The real earth is supposed to be flat, because that's what the rules say, even though descriptive scientists claim there's no such rule and go on butchering real physics". That kind of nonsense. It's here, look around.
Thanks for listing the J. Marvin Brown link. I've known about his method for years. (I even had correspondence with Krashen about it!)
My question for you (and all others out there) is this: Assuming the comprehensible input method is correct (and I think it is), can you go to the extreme that Brown did? In other words, avoid speaking (and writing) completely, and let output "emerge," even if it takes a year (or more)? Krashen had a "silent period," but he never took it to what Brown considered the logical conclusion: if output is not effective (and in Brown's thought, even damaging), avoid it completely until one has totally "acquired" the language.
What do you think?
<<avoid it completely until one has totally "acquired" the language.
What do you think? >>
Maybe it would work if you're some stuffy academic locked away in a study all day, but some people actually learn languages because they need it to put food on the table!
Most people learning a language outside where it is spoken do not need it to put food on the table right away. (And most self-taught learners are the opposite of "stuffy academics.") So in that situation (NOT the situation that realist describes), what do you think?