Tuesday 25 February 2014

A clearer glimpse of fluency

Thanks to Sky Hopinka, I have been able to add subtitles to the video of Evan Gardner having a fluent conversation with him in Chinook Jargon (Chinuk Wawa) after only a year and a half of weekly language nights. (Skip forward to 01:38 for the start of the Wawa conversation.)

This has answered a lot of my questions, and frankly it has exceeded my expectations of what WAYK is capable of.

I'm impressed firstly by just how smoothly they both communicate in Wawa, particularly Sky after only a year and a half, and with no real-world immersion as far as I know. Before I'd encountered WAYK I'd have thought that was impossible, even for languages closely related to English.

As a translator, I am acutely aware of how unnatural book-based language learning can be and how difficult it can be for a foreigner who has pegged everything to "equivalents" in his native tongue to then get his head around all the nuances. In contrast with this typical situation, here we have a year-and-a-half student of Chinuk Wawa confidently criticising a translation from English as "strange", and suggesting a more "normal" alternative, as if this was nothing (skip to 04:20). This is amazing to me, and reinforces my conviction that WAYK is a fundamentally more natural approach to language learning, relying as it does on teaching indirectly by inductive reasoning based on "analogue" input (TQ: Obviously) and not directly through imperfect "digital" explanations in another language.

But I'll let you come to your own conclusions!

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