The future of language learning?

Might very well look a lot like this:

“Unit of three frogs at the southwest corner,”

If only that had read unit of tree frogs.

Cheers J.P.


That looks . . . intriguing. But I’d better not even start to go there, or I’ll never have time for anything else!

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Don’t do it, it’s a trap! :wink:

Lots of fun and an utter utter timesink!


What language is the article in?

It looks like English, but I can’t understand any of it.

I’m reading a very interesting book at the moment which queries the whole ‘it’s a timesink!’ guilt thing about gaming. Extremely intriguing…

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I could do with a book like that! What’s it called?

‘Reality is Broken’ by the rather brilliant Jane McGonigal… :sunny:

When I first started learning programming (in another era…not quite Turing era, but quite different to nowadays), I tried to write a program to play a simple game, very primitive by today’s standards. When I’d got it basically working, I played it for a bit, and soon got bored with it. However, I could spend all day and night programming and debugging this kind of thing and never get bored. Different kind of time-sink I suppose.

I’m already interesting as you’ve mentioned gaming earlier … (partly I’m a gamer and my son is a gamer in deed) :slight_smile:

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Nope, fundamentally the same! - we’re at our happiest when we have something we want to achieve, which is difficult enough to stretch us but not difficult enough to seem impossible, when we get fast feedback on our efforts, and when we can shrug off the inevitable failures on the way. If you look at it like that, gaming and coding have a lot of overlap… :sunny:

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“Flow” isn’t that what they call it. That kind of concentration that is a bit tiring afterwards but utterly engaging at the time, even or especially if what you’re doing is of the good sort of difficult.

The “hard and almost but not quite beyond what I can do but I can see I’m making progress” sort of difficult.

Like… ohhh… SSIW language learning, say! :wink: Or programming or music or gaming or crosswind landings…

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There’s certainly crossover with the whole concept of flow - one possible thought is that good experience design (that combination of goals, feedback, funny failure, achievable success, plus social) gets people into flow massively more quickly (where Csikszentmihalyi started off looking mainly at people who’d achieved huge levels of expertise in their fields)…

I was exactly like that!! We got a new computer at work… in the days when computers were great big things with a whole floor of a building all their own!! It came with some games programmes from the US. or at least some sort of package did!! They had an open day to show us all the sort of things this beast could do, and I saw enough of the games to realise they might be addictive. I suggested to the powers-that-be that they be placed in a separate directory (user-name) accessible only during the dinner hour and before and after work. It was not part of Radiation Safety to run this, but I got asked. I soon found that I got bored with the games but had huge fun sorting out the programmes and running the thing. I ended up doing a lot of prgramming and programme-hacking for friends for their work!! I realised, to learn something you need a goal. I learned Lisp because I had a definite purpose, I never learned more Fortran than was absolutely necessary for minor tweaks!!!

Wait, who has failures while they’re coding? :wink:


Heh heh…well my “career” started in 1970 on a KDF9 and an ICL 4/70 (which was an IBM 360 lookalike (see what they did there?).

Then in late 72 I joined an IBM shop…a 360/195, one of the only 3 in the country. Later on, we acquired one of the other two. They had a massive 2MB each! Mostly used for particle physics analysis. However, on one glorious weekend, it was used to stage a then state-of-the art chess program - man against machine. I think this must have been sponsored by IBM, and presumably our employer thought there must have been some sort of kudos attached to it. I’m not sure if the exercise was ever repeated. We also played host to an earthquake-prediction analysis expert, and he very kindly treated us all to a highly alcoholic party as a thanks. We all had strong livers in those days…Because those beasts required large teams of people to keep them fed and watered, and we worked shifts, there was great cameraderie, and I still occasionally meet up with some of the survivors (sadly shrinking in number now).

Indeed! I did eventually become something of a whizz at 360 Assembler and the macro language, although must admit, I struggled with the floating point instructions.

Much later on, I graduated to the almost equally obscure Korn shell…surprisingly powerful considering it was “only” a scripting language.