part one: Skinner Box; part two: Big Mistake

I love learning Mandarin. Love it, love it, love it.

I felt a little sad today, when I realized it would end next month. So I thought about getting the Rosetta Stone program, because sometimes spending money makes me feel better. A friend of mine called it ‘the best marketed program out there.’

Well, I let the kid at Northgate Mall give me his best Rosetta Stone pitch, but I left without buying it. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong.

I realized on the drive home what it was; it was all just a bunch of fancy operant conditioning. Dr. Skinner would be so proud.

Eventually, though, the end result of operant conditioning is not language acquisition; at best, I would become really good at the Rosetta Stone task itself. Maybe it could support the language acquisition that’s already happening, but there is no evidence that anything could help (or even have any impact at all) on the instinctual process that takes every human child from zero to relative clauses in six years with negligible explicit instruction.

You better check out Other One Spoon if you think that explicit correction and teaching has any effect on language development.

——-

Today I bought a bagel sandwich for breakfast. One of them looked like wheat, so I said, “Is this wheat?” and the lady said happily, “Yah, but they’re so good, you can’t taste that there’s any wheat at all!”

Anyway, you know how I feel about bagels, but it was that or no breakfast at all.

Mistake.

I do have to admit that the post-diahrreah relief and euphoria was acute.

3 thoughts on “part one: Skinner Box; part two: Big Mistake

  1. our library has a subscription to Rosetta Stone as part of our online databases. perhaps a local library in your area does too.

    Like

  2. That’s interesting on Rosetta Stone.
    It’s weird, there is all this fancy technology now, but the way I have always learned languages best is by:

    a) watching real movies and tv, with and without subtitles, sometimes, if I’m lucky, with the movie screenplay in book form so I can read what I do not understand;

    b) writing little stories;

    c) having little conversations in the target language with a teacher or tutor.

    Of course, doing a few grammar type exercises doesn’t hurt, or playing a few games, and that is where something like Rosetta Stone would come in, I guess.

    Like

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