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Proposal: Language Learning

When a proposal nears the end of the "definition" phase, the Community Team does a final evaluation to see if the proposal is ready to move forward. I'm wondering if we've arrived at the best title to describe this subject.

The site being proposed here is about the techniques and methods of learning a second language. A second language is anything that is not a native language to the speaker, and the study and processes of how people effectively learn a second language is called Second-Language Acquisition (SLA).

"Language Learning" sounds like a perfectly reasonable description if you are already familiar with the contents of the site. But if I saw a site for "Language Learners" in the site listings, I'd likely think hey, that's me…! and you're going to spend a lot of time turning away users who are learning {Hindi|Mandarin|Dutch|Bengali|…} asking about vocabulary, conjugation, and proper usage. As a matter of fact, when I first saw this proposal, I thought, "someone's trying to create a catch-all proposal to host all the miscellaneous language sites we haven't created yet." Obviously I was mistaken.

A second important consideration is that a site for "…learners" seems conspicuously devoid of teaching techniques. We have to be careful not to create a site full of students, no teachers.

I'm not entirely fixed on changing the title to this site. I'm just raising the issue to see if it rings true to folks more familiar with this subject space. Using the correct vernacular can be very important in targeting the right audience for a site. If the site seems conspicuously heavy on casual enthusiasts, it may never attract that hardened experience of a core audience. Sites lacking a core of avid expertise (folks who are going to use this site every day) tend to amble along without ever building that foundation it needs to grow.

Thoughts?


Definitions:

- Second Language (not native to the speaker)
- Foreign Language (not native to the country)
- Second-Language Acquisition (the process and techniques of learning)

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    could we use a simpler term for acquisition? – Ooker Dec 23 '15 at 16:09
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"Second Language Acquisition" sounds like a perfectly fine description of what I hope this site to become. But @michau brings up a good point, that it this name may have too much of a linguist-centric ring to it.

Perhaps SLA fits better in the description/subtitle of the site?

Language Learning

Q&A for students, teachers, polyglots, and anyone interested the techniques of second-language acquisition.

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    I would prefer "Language Learning Techniques"; since "techniques" is in the description it shouldn't be a problem. I think you need the qualifier since "Language Learning" by itself is vague. This group seems to involve how to learn, not what to learn. – user3169 Dec 21 '15 at 21:21
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    @user3169: I don't think I quite understand what you mean by "not what to learn". Several of the existing sample questions are about what to study (Does Latin help learn the Romance languages? Should you learn declination tables? Why learn Esperanto? Etc) – Flimzy Dec 21 '15 at 21:35
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    I like this. In the name of using the proper vernacular, adding SLA to the description (rather than the title) sounds like a good approach. – Robert Cartaino Dec 23 '15 at 16:12
  • @Flimzy In other words, "How does knowing Latin help you learn Romance languages?" and "How do declination tables affect learning a language?". "Why learn Esperanto?" is looking for a justification; it is not about learning a language. – user3169 Dec 24 '15 at 22:22
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    @user3169: If "Why learn a language?" isn't about language learning, I don't know what is. – Flimzy Dec 28 '15 at 8:39
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I'm a linguist and a hobbyist language learner, and that's how I'd interpret site names, if I knew nothing else about them:

  • Second-Language Acquisition - site for linguists doing research on SLA, who may or may not have language learning experience
  • Language Learning - site for people who have actual experience of learning foreign languages, who may or may not have theoretical background in SLA

I think we want the latter site - the example questions are predominantly practical. And we don't want to turn away people who are learning Hindi, Mandarin, Dutch, Bengali or anything else; the current consensus is that questions about specific languages are on-topic. I don't think that people who want to learn e.g. Polish conjugations will choose the generic "Language Learning" site over the Polish language site. But if they want to learn how to learn Polish conjugations effectively, they may get better answers here, as most answerers on the Polish site may be native speakers who never had to consciously learn them.

Moreover, the site is called "Language Learning" not "Language Learners". That means that the subject of the site is the process of learning (which includes both self-learning and learning in class), and both learners and teachers are welcome. We could of course change the name to "Language Learning and Teaching", but it sounds a bit too verbose to me. But I don't have very strong opinions on that.

Perhaps the name could be changed to Language Learning Techniques or Language Learning Methods? That would emphasise the important aspects of the site that weren't clear to you at first glance.

  • Your thoughts on the terminology sound very reasonable, but I'm more than a bit concerned that you're interpreting that link to mean folks can ask questions about the mechanics of any language that doesn't yet have a site. There are plenty of language-agnostic questions about language-learning techniques; even the broad umbrella questions relating one language to another seem okay... But if we're allowing questions like: "Is czemu instead of dlaczego considered a mistake in Polish?", that's going to be troubling. – Robert Cartaino Dec 19 '15 at 3:55
  • The premise of establishing a critical mass of users before we create a site is that folks who come here with a question should have a reasonable expectation of receiving a high-quality answer. We can amass enough users to talk authoritatively about learning techniques, but there's no way we would create a "miscellaneous language site" hoping enough folks representing some 4,000+ spoken languages happen to be around when a question is asked. Language-specific vocabulary/conjugation/usage questions, etc are going to have to be off topic. – Robert Cartaino Dec 19 '15 at 3:55
  • I agree that questions such as the one about czemu and dlaczego should be off-topic here. I simply don't think there will be many people asking this kind of questions on a generic language learning site. I haven't seen such problems in the example questions posted so far. – michau Dec 19 '15 at 4:46
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    As long as users with such questions don't see this as the default go-to site when they don't see a specific site to ask the question, I think we are on the same page. – Robert Cartaino Dec 19 '15 at 4:58
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Second Language Acquisition sounds just fine and leaves space beyond techniques or methods. Learning a second language involves also social skills and neurobiology.

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