I need info about you as a language learner (even if you know only one)

I’m an author who found a conversation in one of these forums about my first book, Um…: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean. Given the high quality of the discussion, I thought I should reach out for assistance with the book I’m working on now, a pop nonfiction book about language superlearners and the upper limit of the ability to speak and learn languages. You can read more about it at www.babelnomore.com.

I sought and received permission from list moderators to post links to two surveys that were set up to collect more complete information about language learners.

One survey is for people who do not consider themselves bilingual/multilingual, and who don’t have significant experience with a second/foreign language besides their mother tongue. Maybe you studied another language, but only starting in high school or later. The survey is here.

The other survey is intended for people who speak six languages or more. The definition of “speak” is up to you; you’ll be able to report your level of abilities in each language. This survey can be found here.

On the last page of each survey, you can send me a note to enter a drawing for a free copy of the book and to receive the results of the survey.

Some more about me: I write mainly about language and linguistics, and my articles have appeared all over. I’m also the father of a brand new baby (hence the dark circles under my eyes, and the smile).

Thanks for any help! I’ll be hanging around, and happy to answer questions.

Michael Erard

So if you speak, say, three languages at native level and can make yourself understood in half a dozen more but forget about “heavy discussions,” it counts as “speaking six languages”?

There’s no predetermined cut-off. As I wrote, there are questions in the survey about levels of ability in each language. To put it another way, I want to find out, if someone says they speak six languages, to what level of proficiency do they speak all of them? You can only get that info if you don’t disqualify an ability for not being “enough.”

Yeah…I speak two languages very fluently but not six or more! But I definitely consider myself bilingual. I’d like to take your test, I am just not sure which one to take.

Take the second one. Those answers are still valuable to me!

Hey, Michael, welcome! Wondered where you’d disappeared to, after you’d gotten the permission to post information about the survey. Guess the baby is a good reason – congrats! (Boy or girl? Name?)

I’m the person who read Michael’s book and mentioned it in a couple of places – started a poll based on something he said in it., and also gave it a thumbs up in “Whatcha Readin’.” (Sorry, Michael, it didn’t make my “top five books of 2009” list, though – Mark Abley beat you out for my favorite language book this year with Prodigal Tongue. :stuck_out_tongue: )

off to fill out the survey for the monolingual

Do you want us to steer you folks for the survey; if so, do the survey takers need to be American?

Good question. I have a friend who’s daughter picks up languages like I pick up cat hair. She was born in Poland, but moved to the states when she was 8 or 10, and is now in her 20’s.
Let me know if you want me to send her to the survey…and the link(s).

Well, now I am confuzzled. If people like me who only speak four languages answer the survey then they are not people who say they speak six languages, yes? I am just confused, not trying to argue – I don’t see any reason to screw up the survey results when I am surrounded by people who may fairly be said to have actually learned 6 or more languages.

This is cool. I’m going to forward this thread to a few multilingual people I know. (Actually, most people I know are at least bilingual, but these guys are even more so. :slight_smile: )

However, it seems you’ve left us merely bilingual people out of the loop. Your first survay would have been good for me up until ten years ago, when I was a moniolingual English speaker with only the exposure to French that every English-speaking Canadian gets (translation: can read cereal boxes).

Your second survey might be good for several people I know who speak six languages (I’m not sure how well they speak them, though).

But what about people like me? I speak a second language fairly well, and am learning a third, and have had exposure to a fourth.

Edit: re-reads thread. I’ll look at the second survey.

Ok, took it!

Email sent, with a link to this thread. :slight_smile:

Bilingual Hebrew+English, with a medium-fair command of French. Took the second survey.

Question #7 is an issue - it assumes that all people are either HETEROSEXUAL!!! or HOMOSEXUAL!!! with no option for anyone else. Those who identify as bisexuals, for one, but also people who may identify primarily as straight but have had same-sex relationships in the past, or those who may have been happily married but realized that they needed to explore the other side of the fence.

Not everyone has had a monolithic sexual/romantic history!

I may be a “polyglot,” but sometimes I feel lucky to express myself to any substantial degree in my own native tongue. :slight_smile:

So I took your second survey and felt embarrassed since saying I’m Level 1 in most languages I’ve studied is rather a stretch. I haven’t had the opportunity recently to practice many of them. I kept my levels pretty conservative as a result.

Anyway, welcome! I will bookmark your website and look forward to reading more about your SLA (second language acquisition) musings! FYI, I teach Spanish at a high school for students with learning challenges such as ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, etc. This is my first year teaching, but I love it and am proud at how much/how quickly most of my students are learning the TL; in many regular ed schools, these same students would generally be allowed to waive out of FL programs, sadly.

Took the test - the 58 pages seemed daunting at first but it’s only 8 pages plus however many languages you speak, and since I don’t speak 50 languages I was done quicker than I thought. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more information and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the free copy of the book!

I disagree about this - all it assumes is that there are people who are not strictly and exclusively heterosexual, which I believe is a fair assumption to make. It asks whether you have ‘homosexual preferences, behaviors, and/or orientations?’ which leaves the door open for many different things. Also, given the hypothesis that the OP is trying to test by asking this question, there does not seem to be a reason to make the question any more specific. After all, the function of the question is for the researcher to gather information to answer whatever research questions he might have - it’s not there to allow the test taker to tell the story of his or her life.

I’m a bit confused, too. I started learning Chinese in high school but I’m basically fluent in conversation, though I only speak Chinese and English and not any other 4 languages. I’ll just take the second test

Not bilingual, but ‘‘Maybe you started another language, but only starting in high school or later.’’

What if you’re both? I started seriously studying Spanish in high school, majored in Spanish as an undergrad and am now functionally fluent. Does that count as ‘‘not bilingual’’?

Or those who are very much in one end of the spectrum but occasionally fantasize about the other end. Or who like pr0n or fic from the other end. Which includes, for starters, any female straight fan of Anita Blake and a bazillion straight guys.

olives, based on the test’s questions, you very much count as bilingual. The “not bilingual” is for people who (having ever studied a second language or not) only ever use one language. My seven words of Greek don’t count as speaking Greek, nor does my high school Latin, but my “what did you do with poor Grammar there” French counts.

I’m confused now. So the second survey is for anyone who speaks more than one language, or just those who speak six or more? :confused: