Tony Marsh
Professional Teacher
What's the most important factor in language learning?
Apr 10, 2017 8:10 PM
Comments · 49

Then I watched the video of Mario Vergara’s first Arabic lesson and was utterly shocked about the way you teach Arabic. In another recent post you write that you are interested in phonology, but why then don’t you get Arabic phonology right? You just type marhaba, aydan and ustaz and also pronounce it that way and that is just wrong. If you pronounce أستاذ with /z/ in the end and not /ð/ you should make clear, that this is Egyptian and not MSA. Teaching with a total disregard for the proper pronounciation, the wrong pronounciation of your students will fossilize.

Also, I guess, several people will dislike the fact that your are trying to sell a simple method that is easily found in textbooks and phrasebooks as some new and miraculous method. I don’t think that professional teachers feel threatened by you. Why should they? 
April 15, 2017

@Tony<o:p></o:p>

Ok, I read your profile and watched some of your videos and got an idea, why some people might dislike you. Well, certainly a lot of people dislike self-promoting posts, but I don’t think that this is the main reason. First of all, after reading your profile I wonder why you need italki for making a living. If your method is that great and you had the FBI, Navy and NATO as customers, you should be covered. But anyway, after watching some of your videos, I guess that there might be users who think that you are not honest about your language proficency. You claim to have C2 level in Arabic, but you make so many mistakes in your videos and posts, that even beginners can spot easily.<o:p></o:p>

I watched the beginning of your video „Arabic for lawyers“. First of all, you should make clear that this is not Standard Arabic, but dialect. For instance „you“ is „anta/anti“ in MSA and not „inta“. Then you transcribe أيوه as “away“. That doesn’t make any sense.<o:p></o:p>



April 15, 2017

I do agree that a teacher doesn’t need to have native-like proficiency for guiding a student in his/her language learning endeavour, but by claiming C2 in Arabic, students on italki do have high expectations regarding your proficiency. Also, as an Arabic learner myself, I’d really like to know which Arabic you are teaching. Just saying „Arabic“ isn’t enough. It does make a difference if you’re teaching MSA, Egyptian or Levantine. You can’t deliberately mix standard and regional variants. <o:p></o:p>

April 16, 2017

@Tony

Thanks for your thorough reply and your kind offer to give a free sample lesson, but I'm going to pass on that, because I am not a total beginner in any of the languages that you are teaching, so I don't really see what I could possibly gain. You are not the only one, claiming to make the people start speaking faster than anyone else. Benny Lewis is also making people start speaking from day one, also with no regard to grammar and phonology (his so-called "Tarzan language"). I think there is nothing wrong with speaking from day one, but with butchering a language from day one. When you teach English do you also write and pronounce "ze" instead of "the" and "sri" instead of "three" because knowledge of the correct pronounciation of "th" could hinder students from communicating? You posted some sample sentences in Chinese the other day. How could that method possibly work for Chinese? If a student has no idea of the proper Chinese pronounciation, he/she can recite as many as memorized sample sentences as he/she likes, but people just won't understand him/her.

I'm also using the languages I learn from day one, but as I have only little time for language learning, I need to be very efficient and in my opinion it is more efficient to learn things correctly from the start, so later I don't need to re-learn something that I learnt incorrectly before. I'm not afraid of making mistakes, but I prefer to understand a language, rather than just memorise it.

What I find interesting about your reply that you write about "my NATO student", who "had only one month to prepare for a job interview". In your profile you call yourself "teacher for the FBI, Navy, NATO". If you taught one student, who prepared for a job interview and happened to work for NATO, you can not rightfully claim that the NATO hired you. The way you phrase it in your profile it looks like you were doing several inhouse trainings for the NATO... 

April 16, 2017

@Tony

I saw plenty of your videos already. They're pretty much all the same. I don't think that it'll make any difference, if I tried it out myself. You're missing my point here. Even though your kind of spreadsheet style teaching method isn't my cup of tea, I'm totally fine with it, if it works for other language learners. There is no one-size-fits-all language learning method. My point here is, that you pretend to be on C2 level in Arabic, but you don't even pronounce or spell very simple words correctly and you don't seem to care teaching your students proper pronounciation. Your students trust you that you have a high command of the language, but honestly I don't see it. I'm not looking for perfection. That is impossible, even in one's own mother tongue. But I'm looking for accuracy. 

April 16, 2017
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