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Scoop site to learn languages

By marcos in Internet
Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 03:21:56 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

The idea is of a collaborative website which is there to allow people learn how to use foreign languages properly. The site is modelled around Kuro5hin, where people post articles about various topics, and the articles are discussed. The difference is that the articles are posted in different languages, and the discussion is not limited to a single language. Rather than modding down people with poor grammar and spelling, people are helped to learn the language better by native language speakers.

That way, one can write freely without fear of mistakes, and better learn foreign languages.

Note: There has been discussion of this topic, here, here and here.


To get it setup, there will be need for an initial capital to get a hosting box for about a year. This money can either be contributed by a number of people, or a single person takes over and manages the site. Alternatively, scoop site owners like rusty can also contribute space for a while till the site gets going.

In such a case, one could make a collaboration between K5 and the site, in that articles that are posted on K5 can be translated and discussed in other languages on the website. However, I would think that the content should be a bit lighter, and there should be more room for tomfoolery, since langauge learning should not require excessive brain use.

And like Kuro5hin, stories should be voted on from a story queue, but the edit queue should be a langauge learning experience for the Author also.

Comment Threads and Stories

The site is targeted at people with basic pre-knowledge of the language, and not people that are yet to learn a single word. People who learnt a foreign langauge formally, but never actually used it in real conversation will so have a chance to use and practise the language.

When comments are replied to, the reply can either be to the content, or to correct the sentences. This is left to the discretion of the users. Like suggested here by TON, one can allow editorial comments be shown all the time.

Stories should not be country centric. Rather, a broader international theme should be used, with stories about travel (like the interesting diaries we see here), about experiences in foreign lands, foreign policy discussions, international politics, real humour, artifical languages (including programming languages), reviews of langauge learning books and websites, columns like "Spanish Basics", etc.

The site will also have to have links to Babelfish translate comments and stories. There should also be various foreign language "skins" of the site.


For such a project, an initial capital will be needed, as well as a running capital. If such a community grows, the disk space as well as bandwidth needs will grow. All this will require financing. The site has got to make some money.

I suggest a truely democratic site - people contribute towards the financing of the website, but these contributions will be similar to shares. The more a person contributes, the larger percentage of the site he owns, and should the site ever turn a profit that exceeds the needs of the site (bandwidth and space),  the money is shared out among everybody who contributed in the ratio they contributed.

Also, the 20 largest shareholders make the decisions regarding the site. They vote on every decision in a truely democratic manner.

As a signal of appreciation, the people who contribute the server and bandwidth money for the first 12 months get the uids, 1 to 12. That way, they will be recognized as the "founders" of the site.

But how exactly could such a site make money?  Well, taking the cue from Kuro5hin, "Focus On..." sections could be made, but targeted specially at online language learning schools. A school that teaches Spanish, for example, can post short articles for their students to discuss as an exercise. The language schools offer student interaction with one another, and with native speakers on various topics, which makes that school more attractive.

Advertisment is also likely to work, since the group that attends is quite niche, and thus of interest to people who are in the language teaching business. And like TON remarked, textbook publishers already advertise on existing language learning sites.

Another idea is one-on-one language learning. There is something like a Diary, but just accesible by 2 people; a mentor and a student. The student posts a diary in the langauge he would like to learn, and the mentor corrects his grammar and spelling, and discusses the mistakes with him. For the focused one-on-one session, the student pays a minimal sum, example $10. The site takes 2$, and the teacher takes the rest. It doesn't seem like a lot, but all it involves for the teacher is a bit of commenting, much like we do everyday on K5. And if the teacher has 20 people he is taking care of, that would come to 200$ a day.

There are other ways the site can make money without descending into blatant commercialism, or plastering ads everywhere. And of course, the money will not go towards enriching any particular person, but to keep up the site, and to compensate the people who contribute.


I personally like the idea, as it would help me improve my Spanish, English and German. I don't claim the idea, anybody who wants to do it should please do so, but try to make it collaborative, and in collusion with K5. I would contribute a bit for scoop hosting if it came to that, perhaps to host for a single month.

What do you think?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


What do you think of the idea?
o Great idea 34%
o Great idea, but I'm too lazy to help 25%
o Hmm, I'm not so sure... 11%
o I don't like it 6%
o It has already been done 1%
o My mind is blank, and I have no opinion, only an incredible urge to vote 21%

Votes: 95
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Scoop
o Kuro5hin
o here
o here [2]
o here [3]
o here [4]
o Also by marcos

Display: Sort:
Scoop site to learn languages | 78 comments (70 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
Dit... (5.00 / 4) (#1)
by tps12 on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:28:20 AM EST

...is een goed idee.

Nou... (none / 0) (#2)
by ti on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:31:02 AM EST

Waarom kunnen we niet gewoon in het Engels een discussie houden dan? Als je een andere taal wilt leren zijn daar betere plaatsen voor...

[ Parent ]
You know what (5.00 / 1) (#4)
by marcos on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:37:16 AM EST

If you know english and german, you can decode dutch. The first sentence is - Warum können wir nicht (wie) gewonht in English _ diskutieren.

I don't get the rest. Something like: ___ bessere Platzen vorn...

[ Parent ]

natuurlijk (5.00 / 1) (#5)
by tps12 on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:41:31 AM EST

Kijk naar een kaart.

[ Parent ]
Translation (none / 0) (#6)
by ti on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:43:45 AM EST

"Why can't we just discuss in English. There are better places if you just want to learn a new language..." Learning a language just by reading won't do I guess. You first learn how to speak a language, and then how the grammer works. The process describe in this story is missing a step in the learning of a language.

[ Parent ]
This is for users with pre-knowledge (none / 0) (#9)
by marcos on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:52:40 AM EST

Of course, I don't envision such a site for people to learn the first 3 words of the language. More like people who have learnt a language like German or so in school to actually use the knowledge they have, and practise speaking the language.

Think of this common situation - a chinese student want to study in German. He goes to german school in China. He learns german, but there is no-one to speak to. When he arrives, he can understand what people say mostly, but he cannot speak, because he simply ahsn't done it.

If he were to go to a german newsgroup for example, he woould get flamed for generally poor langauge and grammar. Nobody likes people who their sentences construct badly.

A site like this will give him the conversational experience he needs. That is sort of the target group I am looking at.

Not people who want to learn a new language, but people who want to learn how to properly use a language they have learnt.

[ Parent ]

agreed (none / 0) (#16)
by tps12 on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 10:37:20 AM EST

I took Dutch for 2 years in college, but living in Pennsylvania I have no one to practice with (factoid: the Pennsylvania Dutch are of German descent). I can read news sites, but discussion would be lots more fun.

[ Parent ]
Add it in (none / 0) (#19)
by doru on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 10:40:00 AM EST

Maybe this could go in the body of the story ? Reading it made me wonder who the site is intended for. Perhaps clear up some points :

-Which languages ?

-What level of proficiency is required ?

For the moment your proposal, interesting as it is, is too sketchy. I would first try to find out how many people would be interested before discussing financing alternatives
I see Rusty's creation of Scoop as being as world changing an event as the fall of the Berlin wall. - Alan Crowe
[ Parent ]

Oui, (none / 0) (#74)
by sgp on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 09:10:43 PM EST

c'est vrai

There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

[ Parent ]

Omdat.... (none / 0) (#27)
by jacoplane on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 12:47:33 PM EST

Het lijkt me erg leuk om op deze manier bezig te zijn met een nieuwe taal. Ik ben bezig met Japans leren, en ik kan je vertellen, ik ben die studieboeken behoorlijk zat. Als ik een onderwerp kon hebben waar ik met andere beginners een soort van gesprek over kon beginnen, zou ik het graag doen. Dat is in ieder geval wat anders dan zinnetjes in een boek lezen. Het is natuurlijk wel belangrijk dat men een minimale beheersing van de taal heeft. Eh ben, c'est la vie.

[ Parent ]
yeah (4.00 / 1) (#3)
by pb on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:33:36 AM EST

I read some of those comment threads already, and it sounded like a cool idea.  Of course the best way to learn a language is immersion, and this is sort of an online way to do that. (provided you read the site way too much, as some people do with K5  :)

Good luck!

P.S.  You might think about posting this to scoop.kuro5hin.org, but I'd definitely post it to kuro5hin.org anyhow just for the discussion and advice.
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

read two sites in parallel (none / 0) (#70)
by panck on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 09:43:59 PM EST

It might also be a useful thing if K5 (and other sites) were syndicated/mirrored in a parallel way (so that you could read both at the same time) in multiple languages.

The idea of a scoop based site for helping people learn foreign languages is really good, but it might be hard to find content...  I know that all the Spanish text books we had to use were boring as all heck.  Who wants to read about Juan y su bicicleta (woah I'm rusty) all day? (no, not Rusty!)

It would be cool to read K5 with the English and Spanish versions of the text next to each other.  Or have it so I could try to read the Spanish one, but at my option translate sentences, words, or the whole text.

Heck you could just syndicate stories from K5 or anything else anyway, and just have a link back to the original story (in whatever language).  You just need people interested in translating the stories as they appear.

I really like this idea.  Maybe I can finally brush up on my Spanish again.

[ Parent ]

Comments? (none / 0) (#76)
by sean23007 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:24:48 PM EST

Would the volunteer translators also have to translate all the comments? I don't think that would go over too well, because of the vast number of comments as well as the general incoherence of such a large percentage of the comments. Enough of them are hard enough to translate to English, I can't even imagine how hard it would be to translate from English.

Lack of eloquence does not denote lack of intelligence, though they often coincide.
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid I can't see this working... (3.50 / 2) (#7)
by poopi on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:47:56 AM EST

People have a hard enough time posting to K5 in English, even if they're english speakers! Posting an article to be critiqued by hundreds, perhaps thousands of strangers calls for courage - posting it in a language you are less then fluent in calls for a self confidence and thick skin that few possess. Just my 2cents.


"It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - chimera

That is exactly the point (5.00 / 2) (#10)
by marcos on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:58:30 AM EST

I'm not fluent in French. I always feel very inadequate when posting to a french board, afraid that I'll be making terrible grammar mistakes that I don't see. So I prefer to post on German or English boards, lanaguges I know well.

But If I knew that this site EXPECTS your grammar to be terrible, and nobody will judge you, then I will be encouraged to post. The more I write, the better I will be able to write, and after a short while, my confidence will increase dramatically.

There will be a bit of stage fright, but in the end nobody knows who you are, just like here at K5 (mostly).

[ Parent ]

Courage ? (none / 0) (#42)
by sushibar on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 05:23:45 PM EST

Maybe I didn't understand the author's idea due to my poor English :-), but I think it should not be required that articles are posted in a - for the poster - foreign language.

I, for example, would be glad to read some interesting French stuff, posted from s.o. who is a native french speaker or s.o.who has a good french for another reason, and then post my comments on that topic in my - also poor - French. Of course, I could head to Le Monde to get my French-flash but there are at least two important reasons why I did rather read it on K5: The author knows that the article she posts is intended mostly for people who are not fluent in that language and it will be still an article in the K5 style.

[ Parent ]
I don't think you need another box to get started (4.50 / 4) (#8)
by Scrymarch on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:52:32 AM EST

Colonise the diaries.  Maybe use a marker in the title - say "Je can't believe je ate le tout thing [LANG: FRENCH]" (it should be obvious to even the most casual reader that I need some tutelage).

The marker indicates to anyone reading that they can jump in with editorial comments and language tips.  It's also searchable.  Sounds like the content you're aiming at is diary stuff anyhow.

If the idea takes off spectacularly look more seriously at spawning a new site with separate hosting, business plans &c.  

spelling nit (none / 0) (#17)
by tps12 on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 10:38:38 AM EST

It's spelled "tootelage."

[ Parent ]
bzzt! wrong.. (none / 0) (#24)
by infinitera on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 11:54:32 AM EST

Thank you for playing. It really is tutelage.

[ Parent ]
Does this mean... (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by Elkor on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:59:52 AM EST

Iay ankay etgay elpphay ithway myay igpay atinlay?

Egardsray, Elkoray
"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
Only if you start a pig latin section :) (none / 0) (#12)
by Ranieri on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 10:07:42 AM EST

Hmm, why is it called pig-latin anyway? It doesn't sound remotely like latin.
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]
Chinese Cat (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by nospoon on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 11:17:23 AM EST

I long i kong e tong o song pong e e kong chong i nong e song e cong a tong! Bong u tong i tong dong o e song nong tong tong rong a nong song long a tong a tong e tong o wong rong i tong tong e nong vong e rong yong wong e long long.

dong a nong kong e yong a long long!

[ Parent ]

This is a great idea (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by dinkum on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 10:14:03 AM EST

So how is scoop's support for international character encodings? (e.g. Shift-JIS for Japanese, Big5 for Chinese?). I'd like to use it to improve my Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. I think this would be a great way for language students to get together and help each other out.

it supports Unicode (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by tps12 on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 10:39:50 AM EST

I think all you need is a browser that lets you do foreign script input.

[ Parent ]
Use utf8 for everything (none / 0) (#45)
by PresJPolk on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 07:23:05 PM EST

If you use utf8 encoded unicode for everything, then you don't have to worry about juggling multiple encodings or converting or whatever.

[ Parent ]
Subject is not Ok (пл&#108 (none / 0) (#49)
by BlowCat on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 01:49:07 AM EST

The comment body is fine, at least with Russian symbols (все в порядке).

[ Parent ]
Making money (1.66 / 3) (#14)
by E r i c on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 10:35:32 AM EST

It's really tough to make money on the Web, especially without selling tangible goods.  I would seriously question someone's business sense if they went into a Web venture with the hopes of it being incredibly successful, especially if advertising had anything to do with their "get rich quick" plan.

Just some sage advice from someone who knows the Net...

I blame my past transgressions on Eminem's music. Reform number five is currently in progress.

Très bien ! (5.00 / 3) (#25)
by quasipalm on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 11:56:50 AM EST

It'd be nice to have areas or filters where all but the languages I want to see would be hidden. This would keep users from having to dig through dozens of stories that are illegible.

Also, it'd be awesome if the site had lots of links to language services. For example, a "help translate" option could rebuild the page with any word over x characters linked to a translating dictionary. For example, people learning English could click on a word they don't know and be swept away to M-W where they could find the definition and even hear the word spoken.

Another issue would be the site interface. It would be ideal to have many different languages available for the site interface itself. This, of course, would be a huge headache but also very cool.
Suggested Content (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by keenan on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 01:30:07 PM EST

I think your idea is a really good one.  For example, I'm Canadian and took a bunch of French but since I've moved to Seattle, I don't have any opportunity to practise.  

The one thing I disagree with is the focussing of content, the paragraph where you said that "a broader international theme should be used".  I know that while I was taking French, my teachers were always talking about France and French culture etc. and it just got really pedantic after a few classes (let alone years).  Let people talk about what they will.  If people happen to want to talk about biology, for example, all the power to them.  You actually pretty much contradict yourself by suggesting travel & politics as good topics -- how do I talk about things to do in Seattle or the current Canadian political crisis without making it country-centric?


No detailed american politics (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by marcos on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 01:45:17 PM EST

At K5, we often have stories that are very detailed American, and are only of cursory interest to non-Americans. As a general rule, I would suggest stories that have international appeal - rather than story like those about legislation some county in South Carolina which will further limit the freedoms of American citizens.

I also very much hate those essays we have to read about countries. That, in fact, is the country specific stuff I don't like.

You are quite rught, any topic is relevant, if it is interesting to an international audience.

[ Parent ]

Someday, (none / 0) (#39)
by dirvish on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 03:56:00 PM EST

I want to learn to speak Canadian.

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
[ Parent ]
Scoop i18n support? (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by molo on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 01:33:17 PM EST

Does Scoop support non-european encodings?  Can I run a Scoop site in UTF-8?  Howabout ISO-2022 or Big5?

Without this support, I only see limited use for this idea.

Whenever you walk by a computer and see someone using pico, be kind. Pause for a second and remind yourself that: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." -- Harley Hahn

I don't think so (none / 0) (#32)
by marcos on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 01:47:13 PM EST

But no point biting off more than one can chew. One could start off with Euro/Westernly written languages, and then if there is interest, allow scoop support other encodings.

Too many languages will fragment such a site way too much, one should concentrate a bit.

[ Parent ]

Chinese? (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by seebs on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 01:41:05 PM EST

The only languages I'm interested in boning up on right now are probably Chinese and German.  How would we do Chinese?

You can get German (none / 0) (#33)
by marcos on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 01:49:51 PM EST

Since I speak it. Chinese is difficult because (as previous comments seem to indicate), scoop doesn't support the char encoding. But I don't suppose it will be all too difficult to fix, so if a euro-language version kicks off, one can add support for other charsets.

[ Parent ]
input methods (none / 0) (#57)
by kimbly on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 11:53:51 AM EST

The biggest difficulty with chinese would be the input method. I personally find the phonetic input methods to be easiest to use, but since chinese has so many homophones (characters that sound alike), you really need a real-time interactive editor in order to disambiguate. I suppose you could require that someone type up their comment using an interactive editor, and then copy it into the web browser, but it seems a bit clunky.

Come to think of it, IE is supposed to support different input methods. I once tried installing their chinese input method, and it put a little icon in my task bar tray, but I could never get it to actually work...

[ Parent ]

Pronunciation (none / 0) (#60)
by kimbly on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 12:07:02 PM EST

People learning chinese online probably wouldn't learn how to pronounce words very well. That would be a problem since most chinese characters have some phonetic component to them. I find that recognizing the phonetic component makes the characters easier to remember, once you get past the first couple hundred characters.

By the way, zhongwen.com has an excellent technique for translating passages of chinese text -- they hyperlink each letter to a dictionary entry. (They put the feature under "search", and it uses frames, so I can't link directly to it.)

[ Parent ]

lojban. (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by BigZaphod on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 02:10:02 PM EST

I don't know why, but I want to learn lojban. Basically totally useless, but it looks like so much fun! Wierd... Anyone here playing with it?

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
Lojban (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by PurpleBob on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 04:31:47 PM EST

I've been using Lojban online for about two years now.

It's not weird that you want to learn it. Learning Lojban has given me a better grasp of linguistics in general - the reason usually given for learning Latin, but I'd say Lojban is more fun.

(Lojban is a logical constructed language, whose grammar is regular enough to be parsed by a computer.)

.i mi casnu bau la lojban sepi'o le skami ca le pu nanca be li ji'i re

ni'o na'e cizra ledu'u do djica lenu cilre ly .i lenu cilre la lojban caba'o rinka lenu mi zmadu jimpe le banske su'a kei noi krinu so'eroi lenu cilre le latmybau zi'e ku'i noi se zmadu tu'a la lojban le ka zdile

ni'o (to la lojban. logji je rutni bangu .i le gerna be ly cu kamdikni banzu lenu lo skami cu genturfa'i toi)

[ Parent ]

lojban (3.00 / 1) (#46)
by Jordan Block on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 08:01:15 PM EST

I've been meaning to learn it for some time now, but haven't put the time into it just yet

[ Parent ]
Cool, but.... (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by mingofmongo on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 02:27:19 PM EST

I would love this, but i wonder if it will have enough draw to make the money thing an issue. Studying a language takes a bit more effort than reading the news, and people don't generally like effort. I'll bet bandwidth requirements would be rather small. Maybe some small hosting company would take it on as a public service?

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion

University (none / 0) (#55)
by TON on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 11:45:10 AM EST

Companies come and go. A language instructor at a university somewhere should be able to get hosting.

"If you feel like a patient, why not dress like one?" Mission of Burma

[ Parent ]
Makes no sense to me (none / 0) (#40)
by skloogs on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 04:22:23 PM EST

There are probably plenty of sites with contents in various languages worldwide.

If people want to read in french, portuguese, japanese or arabic, they just need to go there and learn. The collaborative idea of having someone comment any sentence because he disagrees or doesn't get with the meaning/grammar/whatever won't go anywhere in my opinion.

Let's go the other way around: get the money to finance a team and purchase the necessary hardware to develop/build some system that could translate on the fly articles in a correct language. I saw on sourceforget some project for collaborative/distributed translation. There is the idea.

You write an article in english, I can translate it quickly to french, because I can understand properly most of both languages. I do it, on a collaborative way. More people enter that scheme, and then you're done: it works, in any language. everyone reading an article just need to think: can I translate that fast for the people that speak my language? yes, ok let's spend 5-10 min on it.

Forget the idea of having content in different languages about different topics on the same server/media. That won't work, it will quickly split into different servers/medias.


Nice idea, but still far from perfect (none / 0) (#43)
by cribeiro on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 06:21:22 PM EST

Nice idea, but it does need some polishing. While the concept of doing 'collaborative language learning' seems really great, I don't think that this type of discussion is a well suited to a 'conventional' weblog style site. Because of its very nature, there will be a lot of discussion regarding any corrections suggested; it may end up as a 'nitpicking' exercise, with lots of flames and plenty of quotations from otherwise authoritative sources. Very few people would have the patience to read such content.

What I do envision is a slightly different experience, where corrections may be applied to the text in a incremental way, without getting into the way of the casual reader. Actually, this is only one of the many applications that a collaborative web tool for text proofing could support.

Another point to keep in mind is that knowledge evolve as we learn (ok, at least that's expect from most people). So the interface has to be carefully crafted to allow for the enjoyment of both casual and advanced users. For instance, it should be possible to select articles based on a literacy criteria. The literacy score should not be directly related to the moderation score; the first one measures the language skill needed to properly understand the article, while the latter is a measure of the text quality, as evaluated by the community. It is very important to encourage neophites to try their language skills - even a low literacy article can be achieve reasonably high moderation scores.

I sincerely would like to see this idea implemented in practice. Not that this is the best of times to try anything new... But even then, many innovations are born in hard times, why not this one?

Consider submitting this to ShouldExist.org [nt] (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by sebpaquet on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 06:37:37 PM EST

problemmatic (none / 0) (#47)
by blisspix on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 10:49:28 PM EST

there's so many resources already available for this. check out your dictionary

how would you verify that corrections are indeed correct? how would you overcome the lack of audio along with the written word, which is an essential component of learning foreign grammar?

It's a good idea (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by inerte on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 11:55:47 PM EST

  Are you saying that the Scoop engine can be changed to allow an "e-learning" website? So we shouldn't be limited to languages. Perhaps a Scoop powered website about learning physics, math, biology etc?

  Also, maybe change the rating system to payment. Also the ability to rate users. High rated comments and users receive more money. I don't want to get lessons from someone that doesn't have the "touch" to deal with this. Teachers trained a lot to teach, it's not because they know that they can do this.

Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.

..nice idea.. (1.00 / 1) (#50)
by johwsun on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 04:19:31 AM EST

..can you present us a knowledge tree in order to describe more accurately what you want to be implemented?

A knowledge tree is a tree (actually a "forest") where all initial decisions and values of a system can be primarily presented and secondarily voted (by administrator(s) or by users)

You can post this knowledge tree into you diary, and create permanent ballots for the persons who want to express their opinion about your initial decisions and values. The permanent ballots can be implemented here is k5. You can use comments and their incorporated rating system as permenent ballots where opinion can change, or use the normal ballot where opinion cannot change.

Parece uma boa ideia (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by pedrobeltrao on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 08:02:05 AM EST

Era capaz de ficar um bocado caótico :).
It might get a bit chaotic with all the languages going about, but it sounds nice.

"The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet."-William Gibson
Leave this to professionals (2.00 / 1) (#52)
by 8ctavIan on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 08:09:49 AM EST

I think the idea of online communities to discuss events is a fantastic idea. That's what I'm doing here. I think that creating a website of this kind to teach languages is not.

I have been an English as a foreign language teacher for over 12 years. Learning a foreign language is a very difficult undertaking for most people. Even with the best of methods and the best of intentions, most people fail at it. I don't think a system like what is proposed here is going to do much good. As a matter of fact, it will probably do much more harm. Language learners need consistency and good competent teachers. The best analogy for language learning I can think of is a person trying to learn piano.

Pluse, there are also a lot of very good professional websites that are doing this already. Most don't charge anything for the service and one can come out being truly functional in a foreign language if one is a faithful user. So before you start trying to put people out of business with half-baked ideas remember that this is a very nice site, Scoop is a very nice system - but it isn't the solution to everything.

Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. -- H.L. Mencken

Some examples (none / 0) (#53)
by donky on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 11:29:23 AM EST

Can you list some of these professional websites that you mention? I've spent a lot of time searching for decent second language acquisition resources on the net and come up short. Sure, there are a lot of amateur sites for the popular languages that provide amateur language references, but professional ones I have not come across. I'd like to see what you are referring to.

As for whether teachers have to be competent, I doubt that in the light of job offers I saw fellow students accepting when I was in university. The students who wouldn't have to speak the language of the people they were teaching, only the language the learners wanted to learn. Surely there wouldn't be companies that imported these teachers if they were of little help.


[ Parent ]
You're right (none / 0) (#56)
by TON on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 11:53:41 AM EST

The ESL websites for students are generally poor. Despite the fact that they don't work very well, they still draw a lot of students. I've seen some students get a fair amount out of sites like Daves's ESL Cafe, even though the design is a dog, there is no moderation, and it's just not anywhere as flexible as scoop.

"First, I am born. Then, the trouble begins." -- Schizopolis


[ Parent ]

Not for professionals (3.00 / 1) (#54)
by El Volio on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 11:30:45 AM EST

You're right, it is a difficult undertaking. But people have been learning other languages for hundreds of years without professional instruction. I had a bit of instruction in Spanish (US high school), and that was pretty close to worthless. When I decided to learn it on my own, I spent hours studying grammar books and vocabularies, as well as getting out and practicing it (I was fortunate enough to have a number of friends who spoke it as their mother tongue). While I don't yet speak Spanish like a native, I speak and write it fairly fluently, and am usually told that my grammar is excellent (certainly not perfect, however).

If somebody's motivated enough to do the behind-the-scenes work, then practice is an excellent way to round it out, and IME "professional" teachers often make it more difficult than it really should be. That could just be the instructors I've had, and I'm sure there are some good ones out there, but they're certainly not indispensable.

[ Parent ]

Professionals? Why? (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by TON on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 12:03:58 PM EST

Leave this to professionals

Even though I am one, I do not belive that professional language instructors are the whole enchilada. Near peers are good resources for language learners. Life is a good resource for language learners. A scoop-based site as outlined might be a good reource for some language learners. That's enough for me.

So before you start trying to put people out of business with half-baked ideas

Nobody is trying to put you out of business (I don't think). The more chances to learn, the better. As a language teacher, I look at something like this as a tool to supplement what I already do in the classroom. It could make my life easier and help students. Someday it might help me work on my Japanese. It certainly will not replace what I do at work everyday.

"If you feel like a patient, why not dress like one?" Mission of Burma

[ Parent ]

Cause the uninitiated might hurt themselves :) (none / 0) (#69)
by mingofmongo on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 04:38:00 PM EST

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

The teacher will never be redundant (none / 0) (#65)
by marcos on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 01:52:41 PM EST

I couldn't understand or appreciate the simplest essay in russian, simply because I don't know any russian. I need to learn the basics before I can interact in any discusion.

That is where the teacher is needed.

But they'll come a point where I know all the formal grammar and how to read. There is nothing more a teacher can teach me. I need to interact with people to actually be able to use the language. That is where such a discussion forum will be useful.

If it were just a normal forum, or usenet, there is no real guide showing you what to discuss about. A scoop site however, puts forward a topic, and it is discussed.

In your capacity as a teacher, you can do exactly the same - you put forward a topic, and tell your students to discuss it. It saves you work, because your students improve themselves, and correct themselves.

This suggestion is not going to put you out of work. It is going to make your work more effective.

[ Parent ]

Half-Baked Ideas? (none / 0) (#73)
by Khedak on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 05:38:51 PM EST

So before you start trying to put people out of business with half-baked ideas

So, you're primarily motivated by not wanting to go out of business. This must be the case, because I don't see how setting up a website is any different than setting up a penpal or conversation partner service; only a much larger one with more chances for interaction. Seems like a great idea to me. As for needing consistency, as long as the people they're interacting with know the language, then it's as consistent as it needs to be. Part of learning to use a language is learning how to deal with the idiosyncrasies of its speakers, you know.

[ Parent ]
You still need practice. (none / 0) (#77)
by Blaest on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 01:50:01 PM EST

In my experience a teacher can only take you so far before it starts becoming tedious. Once you have learned how the grammar works and built up a core vocabulary you only really need a dictionary and some patience.

This sort of forum would be an excellent way of "brushing" up on languages and practicing ones you have a basic grasp of.

Actually learning a language from scratch is much more tricky and it would probably not be practical to aim such a site at that.

[ Parent ]

For newer users (none / 0) (#58)
by MickLinux on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 11:58:49 AM EST

There is a way that posts can be made such that newer users can read it -- but each post will have a preferred "learner's" language.

Post kiek article with some words in one language, and some words in the other language, but use the "a href" to let a person "reveal" what the word means.

A sample is done above for Lithuanian and English To try it, hold your mouse over the word "kiek" in the paragraph above, and then over "some words".

The very best way, of course, for this to be done is to have a computer do the main translation, and posters to review the translation for improvement -- especially in the case where phrases have special translations. If the computer program at the host computer then remembers the word translations and the phrase translations, it will make the dual-article job easier for the poster.

Then, when a reader wants to read the article, he can set a preference that tells the percent of the article that should be in Language A, and the percent that should be in language B. As he gets better at understanding the language, he'll change that percentage preference.

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.

Your links don't work (none / 0) (#63)
by marcos on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 01:16:58 PM EST

Is that on purpose. If so, then I don't get it.

[ Parent ]
Don't click, just slide mouse over word & rea (none / 0) (#66)
by MickLinux on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 02:35:40 PM EST

I'm not using these as links, so don't click on them. Rather, I'm using them as a way of hiding alternate text behind the word.

Just slide your mouse over the "linking" word, and then look down at the bottom of your browser, where it tells you where a link points.

When you slide your mouse over "English" you should see appear something like

/www.kur5hin.org/Anglu kalbo


Anglu kalbo

[I redid the link on this page, so you don't have to go back to try it.]

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
[ Parent ]

Better idea (none / 0) (#71)
by Funky Fresh on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 03:23:57 AM EST

A javascript OnMouseOver tag would work better, since it doesn't get regarded as a real link and such.

[ Parent ]
Do you know Tandem Learning? (none / 0) (#61)
by jwender on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 12:12:12 PM EST

The idea is to connect people speaking different mother tongues in order to let them learn each others language. This principle has been applied for several years now.

At first there were only face-to-face tandems, where you have to meet in person.

Later the idea got implemented using email.

You can find more information and ways to participate at Tandem Server Bochum

Time to polish my Italian (none / 0) (#62)
by hbw on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 12:23:13 PM EST

Ah, una possibilita che imparo Italiano più. :-)

I have discovered a truly marvelous signature, which unfortunately the margin is not large enough to contain.

Is there an Egyptian Hieroglyph font for... (none / 0) (#64)
by Humuhumunukunukuapuaa on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 01:41:42 PM EST

...browsers. It's just that I've been reading this and it'd be nice if there were someone else with whom I could discuss it.
With Fontographer, you can do it... (none / 0) (#67)
by MickLinux on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 02:39:52 PM EST

With Fontographer, or with any one of a number of shareware font editors,  you can create your own fonts.  

At least with fontographer, you just paste in a graphical heiroglyph, tell it "autotrace", set the width boundaries, and you're good to go.  

That said, though, for some things you might need to use special tables or the Equation Editor in MS Word or LaTex (Scientific Word).  I think Egyptian sometimes stacks heiroglyphs.

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
[ Parent ]

Yup, Egyptian is pretty creative with... (none / 0) (#68)
by Humuhumunukunukuapuaa on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 02:43:43 PM EST

...the placement of individual hieroglyphs and you get things like stacking and cartouches. There's a nice looking LaTeX system for doing it but to get it onto a web site you need to be able to inline images.
[ Parent ]
a (none / 0) (#72)
by parasite on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 02:39:42 PM EST

I'm interested in this...

So how about you get a Yahoo group started or SOME kind of collection of email's so those of us who are interested can make sure we can find the site if it ever does come into existence ?!

learning a foreign language. (none / 0) (#75)
by /dev/trash on Sun Jun 09, 2002 at 01:33:03 AM EST

You could do this, but to truly learn you have to immerse yourself into the culture. We as humans learn our specific language first thru listening, then thru talking. Only later does that reading and writing come.

Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
Me gusta este idea (Lang: es) (none / 0) (#78)
by samiam on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 07:16:06 PM EST

Tengo que practicar mi español. Como estoy en los EEUU otra vez, no conoczo personas que puedan hablar ni enternder el español. Por eso, el calidad de mi castalleno sufre demasiado.

- Samuel

Scoop site to learn languages | 78 comments (70 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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