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Moses McCormick and the True Path of Language Learning

Moses McCormick and the True Path of Language Learning has been transcribed from Steve’s YouTube channel. 

Original upload: 7th May, 2012


Hello. Good morning everyone. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, what’s Steve doing with Moses’ hat on? That would a good question to ask, what is Steve doing with Moses’ hat on? I’m going to tell you. I’m going to tell you why I have Moses’ hat on.


I was sitting reading Czech in the sun with this hat, which I bought when I was in Palm Springs. I bought the hat to keep the sun off my head and neck. The sun is really warm in Palm Springs. It rains here in Vancouver, but it’s sunny in Palm Springs. So I was sitting there reading Czech and I said hey, I’ve got Moses’ hat on. It’s just my opinion, but I thought that if I had Moses’ hat on I should try to do a video where I act a bit like Moses. So I thought about it and yeah, I thought I would just do that, do a video where I sort of act a bit like Moses. Not completely like Moses, but I think it’s a good idea to do that and I’ll tell you why.


Moses has his style. I mean I have my style, Moses has his style and I think Moses’ style is a very good teaching style. I’m a fan of Moses, so I thought I would pretend that I’m Moses. Why is his teaching style good? I’ll tell you why his teaching style is good. I’ve seen his teaching style before and there are a number of reasons. It’s just my opinion, but why do I think his teaching style is good? His style is good because he’s a good communicator. He has a style where he tells you what he’s going to tell you, then he tells it to you and then he tells you what he told you, so to speak. In other words, he delivers his message two or three different ways all around the same theme and I think that’s very effective.


I remember when I studied Cantonese I used to listen to a guy on the local Cantonese radio. This guy on the local Cantonese radio had a nice deep voice and he would talk about politics in China, but he would speak in Cantonese. He was Cantonese, so he’s going to speak in Cantonese. He would always tell us what he was going to talk about, tell us what he was going to say, then he would say it, then he would ask himself a few questions and then he would tell us again what he had just said and I think that’s very effective because I think the brain learns slowly.


In fact, it reminds me of when my wife taught art in the local community college. She began full of enthusiasm and taught so many things that the students didn’t understand anything, different techniques because she can do oriental painting. So she was teaching them too many things at once and they didn’t learn anything. Then when she slowed it down and taught only one thing at a time, went over it and taught it again, then people learned it and they learned an awful lot more that way.


I think we learn better from examples and stories and repetition. That’s how we learn, not from some very tight, deep explanation however brilliant it may be. I think we learn from stories and examples and Moses does that very well, I’ve always thought that. He also is obviously someone who is interested in his students and he’s patient, which is not something that I always bring to the table, so I think he’s an excellent teacher. He has his style and, sorry to disappoint you, I’m not going to change my style to become like Moses. Everyone has their own style, everyone contributes.


Moses McCormick’s approach versus mine

I also think Moses and I have different approaches to learning languages. He’s learning Czech, I’m learning Czech. I saw his video the other day and his use of different tense forms in Czech is better than mine, no question. It may be that I know more words than he does. I don’t know that, but that’s where I’ve put my emphasis is on listening and reading. As I’ve said before, language learning is such a personal thing. We do what we want to do, we do it the way we want to do it and we can all share our experiences, but there are certain common themes. It’s just my opinion, but yeah, whoa, there’s a common theme here and what is the common theme? Motivation and time and a good method, but there might be several good methods. So if you’re motivated and if you put in the time and if you’re happy with the method you’re using, you will succeed. You will succeed.  


Also, in a way, one of the reasons why I’m doing this video is in reaction to the television program that was on Canada’s Global Television Network which seemed to imply that language learners are a little bit strange. People who speak a lot of languages are a little bit strange. Moses speaks an awful lot of languages. He speaks a lot more languages than I do. Maybe he’s stranger than I am, but I don’t think so. I think we’re capable of learning many, many languages. Moses will be the first to admit that if he spends six months on Estonian and six months on _______ and six months on Czech he doesn’t achieve the depth of someone that’s spent four years on Chinese, but he does pretty well at those languages.


I don’t know if Moses is left-handed or musical or has an immune deficiency, but in this program they suggested that people who were into speaking multiple languages might have something different with their brain. I don’t believe that, so this is the other thing. I think ordinary people, like Moses, like me, like others that I have met who have motivation and spend the time and find a method that they like, if they enjoy doing it they’ll continue spending the time, they will all succeed. Some might be better in pronunciation. Some might learn some things a little faster.


Moses seems to pick up the structures faster. Maybe I’m picking up vocabulary faster, maybe I’m not, I don’t know, but it’s our own thing. Moses’ success doesn’t make my learning activity less enjoyable. Luca, who I think is the champion when it comes to pronunciation, his success doesn’t make my efforts less enjoyable to me. We all proceed in our own way and we can all get to our goals, so that’s why I wanted to do this video.


Of course I’m not Moses, sorry to disappoint you, but thank you for listening and I look forward to your comments. Bye for now.

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