Why I Hate Language Blogger Debates And Arguments

Do you want to see what happens when one language blogger tells another language blogger his opinion? Get ready, because it's going to be no holds barred, non-stop, uncensored language-learning debate action!

Except for one thing: there won't be any of that on my web site. Not here.

Enough of the nonsense

Lately I there have been a lot of language learning debates going on. One person's method pitted against another. One person's opinion defended against another.

So much disagreement! Such drama! Relationships lost. Enemies made! It's like watching reality tv. No, it's worse. I think it would be much more fun if there were actual wrestling, or violence... then one person could prove his mind is superior to another by beating the snot out of him. Intellect at its finest!

I hate it. Why take sides? Whether you're writing blogs, or making videos, creating lessons, teaching grammar, translating, answering forums, writing eBooks, or any combination of all of those things, the end result is that we're all doing this in hope of helping people who want to learn.

Why did I start this blog? It wasn't that long ago — certainly not long enough for me to forget my reasons — I feel like I have some insights, some tricks, some unique perspectives to share with people that could help make it easier to learn a new language.

That's why we do this, right? Because we want to help people. Right? But manufactured disagreements don't help anyone. In fact, if anything, they only serve to confuse people! If two trusted and intelligent "experts" discuss their shared area of expertise at length and never reach an agreement, the only thing they succeed in doing is proving to all of their viewers that neither of them knows what he's talking about!

What's helpful about spending 30 minutes arguing about when to ignore grammar and when to learn it? What's so helpful about arguing with someone who does something a little differently than you? What is gained by attacking and insulting someone whose primary message to everyone is just to stay positive and have fun?

Several language bloggers have participated in these debates, but it seems that one in particular is always at the center of it. And if you've been paying attention, you already know that he's also the one who never reaches an agreement with anybody. By now it should be pretty clear that he does it to create drama, not for the purpose of helping people learn, but for attention.

I don't have as many readers as the other language bloggers, and I know I'm still the new guy, but I'm going to say right here and right now that you'll never see me involved in any of these "debates". My first goal is always to help you, my readers, to learn.


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Author: Yearlyglot
I'll lead you through a 12 month journey from knowing absolutely nothing about a language to having professional fluency.

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  • Yes. He-who-shall-not-be-named does actively incite conflict, partly due to his blogging/vlogging personality and also to draw traffic to his online business.

  • Good to hear. I am also of the same opinion, that it is all so unnecessary. What did any of it accomplish? Who benefited? Nobody.
    We are all here to learn languages, that's why we write blogs or participate in related comments/discussions. So we should be seeing the good things in what other people are doing for language-learning, that of spreading the word and helping each other, not picking holes or deriding people and their methods.

  • While I agree with you completely, I didn't write this to bash one person. I just want it to be known that this web site will be a BS-free zone.

  • Exactly! Even those bloggers whose methods I dislike (or those whose personalities I dislike) still have useful things to say, and are capable of being helpful to a language learner. We're all reaching for the same common goal.

  • Hear hear!
    I have been in touch with a lot of language bloggers to find out what the best things we can share with the world are. Endlessly arguing on the other hand might be "interesting" but it doesn't achieve much in terms of helping language learners. Too much theory - it's like a philosophy debate!
    If one method works better for you and all other methods wouldn't, and all you do is talk about that difference you aren't helping anyone - it's better to focus on the commonalities. Proving others as wrong when their goals are completely different is pointless. I got sucked into it and you can see that I got out while I could and stopped adding fuel to the fire. Glad to see you are here to contribute to positive messages about language learning!

  • Philosophy debate... I hadn't thought of it that way. I guess I can't get past the obvious need for validation that a certain unnamed debater has dripping from his or her every word.

  • Which is why I stopped subscribing to his blog. The self-promotion was unhelpful and got to be too annoying. (Assuming we're talking about the same person, but there are only so many language bloggers to choose from that I've probably guessed correctly.)

  • Have any of you noticed that he sets his camera at a low angle, so that the viewer is always forced to be looking up at him?

  • I too have stopped subscribing to the blog of "He-who-shall-not-be-named" as there seems to be too many negative vibes. I believe that embedded in the self promotion and endless promotion of his language-learning site and through the thickness of negative vibes, he has many important things to say regarding language learning. But enough is enough. Kudos to Yearlyglot for being the better person.

  • Well I wouldn't go that far. ;) He probably has a laptop, which means like mine that you're always looking down at the camera. He could of course set it on a stand or a pile of (language) books, but I guess not many people think of that. Anyway, enough about him, lets get on with learning!

  • Given that I'm happy to partake in these language-learning debates (like need to pick a side when they sit down and decide how to spend their own language-learning time. By showing them clearly what their choices are—which should, by necessity, include contrasting our own approaches with those of others—we do more to help them than by refusing to acknowledge differences or always seeking agreement. I don't have any reason to believe that our readers will have any trouble deciding which of two or more options is best for them, so I can't buy your argument that this leads to confusion.
    Indeed, if you think someone's taking language learners down the wrong path, is it helpful for you to keep quiet and let them continue to go down that wrong path, without at least letting them know that there are other (possibly better) options out there? I'd argue that this is exactly the opposite of helpful, which is why I'm happy to engage in debates.
    My first goal is to help language learners—whether they're the readers of my blog, the readers of the blogger I seem to disagree with the most, or anyone else—to learn, and I think that's best done by making clear the choices they have.

  • Yeah, I don't think I'd read too much into the camera angle. For my debate with Steve on grammar, I did actually pile up a bunch of thick foreign-language dictionaries under my laptop, but I didn't even consider whether people would be looking up at me or not. I just figured that no one wanted to be looking up my nose.

  • Oh, and on the topic of not having as many readers as other language-learning bloggers, keep at it and that problem will surely resolve itself. With content as good as yours is, it's just a matter of time before you catch up with and probably surpass a good many of us in terms of the number of readers.

  • Well stated, Randy. I, like many other language learning bloggers, have enjoyed watching the debates; I do wonder sometimes whether they do more harm than good for those we aim to help.
    Then again, the traditional approach to language learning (i.e. sitting in a classroom or with a nose in a textbook) is so entrenched that it will take a lot of voices (and a lot of time) to get more people excited about (and properly equipped for) learning foreign languages.
    Reaching agreement on grammar study and input vs. output is far less important than getting people to believe that: 1) anyone can learn a foreign language well, 2) it should not take a decade to reach fluency if done correctly, and 3) language learning should be fun (at least most of the time).

  • Not just that... but arguing every day about intput vs output is confusing and destructive!
    And I completely agree with all three points - especially the third: language learning should be fun!

  • Thanks!

  • I think it's good for "subject matter experts" to come together and discuss what they think is best, so long as that discussion stays focused on finding the best solution for the viewers, readers, etc. But when you end up with sport debate, where every debate ends with the words "well, we'll just have to agree to disagree", you're not serving anyone but yourselves at that point.
    And for sake of clarity, I'm not accusing you of that. In fact, referencing the "debate" to which you linked, it was clear that you were looking for an intellectual discussion of where grammar belongs in your learning plan, but all you got in response was a guy who wanted a platform from which to promote himself.
    Unfortunately, a truly useful discussion would be less "entertaining", and probably not very interesting to watch.

  • QED

  • Haha, you just made me look up QED.

  • Agreed!
    By the way, would be interested in doing an interview for the Foreign Language Mastery podcast? No arguments; just a forum for various successful language learners to share what works for them. Shoot me an email if you're interested.

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