The sad story of training material to learn Farsi

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The sad story of training material to learn Farsi

Gerard Meijssen-3
Hoi,
A long time ago, I have worked hard creating teaching material for
people to learn Farsi. Farsi or Persian is the language spoken in
Iran. The material was the material used by a teacher that I know.

The material was created at http://wikibooks.org/wiki/Farsi. It was in
the days when everything was still there. The original material had
one basic flaw; it was written left to right while Farsi is written
from left to right.  While working on this material, it struck me that
it is really sad that you have to create teaching material that is as
basic as this for every language.

As we were creating the concepts for what was called "Ultimate
Wiktionary" but what is currently known as WiktionaryZ, it came to me
that we should not have the Dutch words there as the translation for
the Farsi content, but that we should have the translation of the
Farsi words in the language of the student. This would mean that
everybody can use the material.

Today I was asked by someone where the Farsi lessons were, somebody
actually wants to use it.. This means that all this effort had people
use it... It meant that all the pronunciations were going to be
listened to... The material is not there anymore .. it is not useful
anymore ..

I do not doubt that the people who worked on it intended well, but at
this moment it is not Farsi / Dutch, it is not Farsi / English it is
certainly unusable.

The timing could have been worse; Brion is busy with the integration
of the namespace manager. It is therefore possible to have pages in
the fa.wikibooks that are specific for the Dutch language and pages
specific for the English language. Alternatively we could have a
namespace for Farsi content in the nl.wikibooks. This would mean
however that we should be able to have a namespace that is oriented in
a different direction from the other namespaces in a database. I do
not know if we can do this already, I am sure however that we will
want something like this for the right to left languages like Farsi in
WiktionaryZ.

Now there is one practical question remaining; what will we do with
the Farsi lessons in the fa.wikibooks that were originally intended to
teach Dutch people Farsi.

Thanks,
    GerardM
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Re: [Wikitech-l] The sad story of training material to learn Farsi

SJ-5
I don't know where to put this partly-finished text...  Three related thoughts:
1) One of the reasons given for speedily deleting Wikimania
proceedings from wikibooks without discussion was that some of the
content was not in English.  I do not think that having part of a book
intended for English-speaking readers in a foreign language should be
grounds for deletion.
2) The Farsi wikibook on the english wikibooks is just a set of links
deep into the fa.wikibooks book:   http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Farsi 
  Perhaps we just need Farsi training materials in more languages to
help clarify where to put them all?  The book isn't /useless/ where it
is now unless would-be authors can't effectively edit it in place.
3)  The Farsi Wikipedia just passed 10,000 articles.  Congrats  :-)

SJ

On 2/18/06, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:

> The timing could have been worse; Brion is busy with the integration
> of the namespace manager. It is therefore possible to have pages in
> the fa.wikibooks that are specific for the Dutch language and pages
> specific for the English language. Alternatively we could have a
> namespace for Farsi content in the nl.wikibooks. This would mean
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Re: [Wikitech-l] The sad story of training material to learn Farsi

Gerard Meijssen-3
Hoi,
The reason for the "deep linking" into the fa:wikibooks is because the
text needs to be right to left. This is essential when learning
languages like Farsi, Arab, Lori, or Hebrew. Me being the WiktionaryZ
guy, you should be able what the solution is to make this material
useful to people who speak English, Russian or Chinese ... Just add the
translations to the DefinedMeaning of for English, Russian Chinese or
whatever language.

Yes, we will need some software for that.. but given that we are slowly
but surely getting towards the editable GEMET stuff at
http://wiktionaryz.org the moment when this bit of functionality can be
written is also coming closer. This would allow us to have these lessons
just once. The "Multilingual MediaWiki" (see Meta for specs) will help
as well..

Thanks,
    GerardM

SJ wrote:

> I don't know where to put this partly-finished text...  Three related thoughts:
> 1) One of the reasons given for speedily deleting Wikimania
> proceedings from wikibooks without discussion was that some of the
> content was not in English.  I do not think that having part of a book
> intended for English-speaking readers in a foreign language should be
> grounds for deletion.
> 2) The Farsi wikibook on the english wikibooks is just a set of links
> deep into the fa.wikibooks book:   http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Farsi 
>   Perhaps we just need Farsi training materials in more languages to
> help clarify where to put them all?  The book isn't /useless/ where it
> is now unless would-be authors can't effectively edit it in place.
> 3)  The Farsi Wikipedia just passed 10,000 articles.  Congrats  :-)
>
> SJ
>
> On 2/18/06, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>  
>> The timing could have been worse; Brion is busy with the integration
>> of the namespace manager. It is therefore possible to have pages in
>> the fa.wikibooks that are specific for the Dutch language and pages
>> specific for the English language. Alternatively we could have a
>> namespace for Farsi content in the nl.wikibooks. This would mean
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Re: The sad story of training material to learn Farsi

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Gerard Meijssen-3
GerardM wrote:

>The material was created at http://wikibooks.org/wiki/Farsi. It was in
>the days when everything was still there. The original material had
>one basic flaw; it was written left to right while Farsi is written
>from left to right.  While working on this material, it struck me that
>it is really sad that you have to create teaching material that is as
>basic as this for every language.
>
I don't see anything sad about it at all.  It seems perfectly normal
that newbies to Farsi or any other subject would begin at this very
basic level.

>As we were creating the concepts for what was called "Ultimate
>Wiktionary" but what is currently known as WiktionaryZ, it came to me
>that we should not have the Dutch words there as the translation for
>the Farsi content, but that we should have the translation of the
>Farsi words in the language of the student. This would mean that
>everybody can use the material.
>
This is not a Wiktionary issue; it is a grammar issue.  It is about
deciding where the to put the line between vocabulary and how it is put
together to form a language.  These lessons should be in the Wikibook
for the student's own language, where the particularities of the target
language will be explained in a way that he understands.  As long as a
lesson is a mere word list nobody will be able to learn from it.

>Today I was asked by someone where the Farsi lessons were, somebody
>actually wants to use it.. This means that all this effort had people
>use it... It meant that all the pronunciations were going to be
>listened to... The material is not there anymore .. it is not useful
>anymore ..
>
The material is still there but most of the pages appear to have been
orphaned.  See [[Talk:Farsi]] for links when someone was asking about
what to do with the orphaned pages.  It was User 83.116.146.232
<http://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=User:83.116.146.232&action=edit>
who copied all this material to the fa:wikibooks, and re-linked to it to
create all the orphans.  His effort was incomplete as he did not do this
with the later lessons.  He has not been seen since March of last year.

>I do not doubt that the people who worked on it intended well, but at
>this moment it is not Farsi / Dutch, it is not Farsi / English it is
>certainly unusable.
>
>The timing could have been worse; Brion is busy with the integration
>of the namespace manager. It is therefore possible to have pages in
>the fa.wikibooks that are specific for the Dutch language and pages
>specific for the English language. Alternatively we could have a
>namespace for Farsi content in the nl.wikibooks. This would mean
>however that we should be able to have a namespace that is oriented in
>a different direction from the other namespaces in a database. I do
>not know if we can do this already, I am sure however that we will
>want something like this for the right to left languages like Farsi in
>WiktionaryZ.
>
The lesson pages should likely have a mixed orientation, but primarily
in the orientation of the student's own language since that is where the
instructions will go.

>Now there is one practical question remaining; what will we do with
>the Farsi lessons in the fa.wikibooks that were originally intended to
>teach Dutch people Farsi.
>
Assuming that the situation in nl:wikibooks is similar to the English
one, the situation should be explained to the fa:community.  They then
should feel free to delete them based on their own rules.

Ec


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Re: The sad story of training material to learn Farsi

Gerard Meijssen-3
Hoi,
From Ray's response it is clear that I must have expressed myself
poorly. I have the feeling that he does not get what I tried to say..
So let me try again.

On 2/20/06, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:

> GerardM wrote:
>
> >The material was created at http://wikibooks.org/wiki/Farsi. It was in
> >the days when everything was still there. The original material had
> >one basic flaw; it was written left to right while Farsi is written
> >from left to right.  While working on this material, it struck me that
> >it is really sad that you have to create teaching material that is as
> >basic as this for every language.
> >
> I don't see anything sad about it at all.  It seems perfectly normal
> that newbies to Farsi or any other subject would begin at this very
> basic level.

It is indeed perfectly normal that people new to Farsi need to learn
their characters, need to learn the sounds of the language, need to
learn to read from right to left. What is sad is that we have to work
hard to create such material for all languages.. remember there are
over 10.000 languages out there..

>
> >As we were creating the concepts for what was called "Ultimate
> >Wiktionary" but what is currently known as WiktionaryZ, it came to me
> >that we should not have the Dutch words there as the translation for
> >the Farsi content, but that we should have the translation of the
> >Farsi words in the language of the student. This would mean that
> >everybody can use the material.
> >
> This is not a Wiktionary issue; it is a grammar issue.  It is about
> deciding where the to put the line between vocabulary and how it is put
> together to form a language.  These lessons should be in the Wikibook
> for the student's own language, where the particularities of the target
> language will be explained in a way that he understands.  As long as a
> lesson is a mere word list nobody will be able to learn from it.

What I discuss is the idea to have what is called for WiktionaryZ a
"DefinedMeaning"; a word is associated with a particular definition.
This combination of a word in a language and its defintion is
translated in as many languages as possible. When the word in Farsi is
partnered with a reference to a DefinedMeaning, we can based on things
like the language settings of the user show a word like "mother" in
the user's language for me it would be "moeder" wiht مادَر.

When you look at the Farsi lessons; you might have noticed that in
every lesson a few more sounds and characters are introduced. That is
the objective of these lessons.

>
> >Today I was asked by someone where the Farsi lessons were, somebody
> >actually wants to use it.. This means that all this effort had people
> >use it... It meant that all the pronunciations were going to be
> >listened to... The material is not there anymore .. it is not useful
> >anymore ..
> >
> The material is still there but most of the pages appear to have been
> orphaned.  See [[Talk:Farsi]] for links when someone was asking about
> what to do with the orphaned pages.  It was User 83.116.146.232
> <http://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=User:83.116.146.232&action=edit>
> who copied all this material to the fa:wikibooks, and re-linked to it to
> create all the orphans.  His effort was incomplete as he did not do this
> with the later lessons.  He has not been seen since March of last year.
>

The material in the Farsi wikibooks is there because that is the way
to get right to left orientation for these lessons. They are called
from the [[wikibooks:Farsi]] page. They are therefore not orphaned
even though your wiki experience might suggest it is.

> >I do not doubt that the people who worked on it intended well, but at
> >this moment it is not Farsi / Dutch, it is not Farsi / English it is
> >certainly unusable.
> >
> >The timing could have been worse; Brion is busy with the integration
> >of the namespace manager. It is therefore possible to have pages in
> >the fa.wikibooks that are specific for the Dutch language and pages
> >specific for the English language. Alternatively we could have a
> >namespace for Farsi content in the nl.wikibooks. This would mean
> >however that we should be able to have a namespace that is oriented in
> >a different direction from the other namespaces in a database. I do
> >not know if we can do this already, I am sure however that we will
> >want something like this for the right to left languages like Farsi in
> >WiktionaryZ.
> >
> The lesson pages should likely have a mixed orientation, but primarily
> in the orientation of the student's own language since that is where the
> instructions will go.
>
> >Now there is one practical question remaining; what will we do with
> >the Farsi lessons in the fa.wikibooks that were originally intended to
> >teach Dutch people Farsi.
> >
> Assuming that the situation in nl:wikibooks is similar to the English
> one, the situation should be explained to the fa:community.  They then
> should feel free to delete them based on their own rules.
>

Last time I read some Dutch, it was indeed left to right. :)

Thanks,
    GerardM
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Re: The sad story of training material to learn Farsi

Ray Saintonge
GerardM wrote:

>Hoi,
>From Ray's response it is clear that I must have expressed myself
>poorly. I have the feeling that he does not get what I tried to say..
>So let me try again.
>
>On 2/20/06, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:
>  
>
>>GerardM wrote:
>>    
>>
>>>The material was created at http://wikibooks.org/wiki/Farsi. It was in
>>>the days when everything was still there. The original material had
>>>one basic flaw; it was written left to right while Farsi is written
>>>      
>>>
>>>from left to right.  While working on this material, it struck me that
>>    
>>
>>>it is really sad that you have to create teaching material that is as
>>>basic as this for every language.
>>>      
>>>
>>I don't see anything sad about it at all.  It seems perfectly normal
>>that newbies to Farsi or any other subject would begin at this very
>>basic level.
>>    
>>
>It is indeed perfectly normal that people new to Farsi need to learn
>their characters, need to learn the sounds of the language, need to
>learn to read from right to left. What is sad is that we have to work
>hard to create such material for all languages.. remember there are
>over 10.000 languages out there.
>
Why should hard work be so sad?  I agree that 10,000 languages implies
100,000,000 language pairs, but most of those pairs are highly
unrealistic.  Once the fundamentals of a language have been grasped only
then can you go on to extensive vocabulary building.  Lessons need to
explain the most elementary concepts like why an English adjective
usually precedes the noun while a French one normally comes after.

Hard work should not be circumvented by the belief that there is some
software magic pill that will do it all for you.

>>>As we were creating the concepts for what was called "Ultimate
>>>Wiktionary" but what is currently known as WiktionaryZ, it came to me
>>>that we should not have the Dutch words there as the translation for
>>>the Farsi content, but that we should have the translation of the
>>>Farsi words in the language of the student. This would mean that
>>>everybody can use the material.
>>>      
>>>
>>This is not a Wiktionary issue; it is a grammar issue.  It is about
>>deciding where the to put the line between vocabulary and how it is put
>>together to form a language.  These lessons should be in the Wikibook
>>for the student's own language, where the particularities of the target
>>language will be explained in a way that he understands.  As long as a
>>lesson is a mere word list nobody will be able to learn from it.
>>    
>>
>What I discuss is the idea to have what is called for WiktionaryZ a
>"DefinedMeaning"; a word is associated with a particular definition.
>This combination of a word in a language and its defintion is
>translated in as many languages as possible. When the word in Farsi is
>partnered with a reference to a DefinedMeaning, we can based on things
>like the language settings of the user show a word like "mother" in
>the user's language for me it would be "moeder" wiht مادَر.
>
>When you look at the Farsi lessons; you might have noticed that in
>every lesson a few more sounds and characters are introduced. That is
>the objective of these lessons.
>
Yes, I looked at the first "lesson", and I did see the first four lines
as referring to four letters of the Farsi alphabet.  Tying this to
Wiktionary2 doesn't help anybody.  Word lists are not lessons.  
Languages are learned in a meningful context, not by having students
memorize a random list of translated words.  There are many elementary
concepts in the syntax of a language that absolutely need to be
explained from the beginning.  When the language has a different script
many language teachers believe that introducing the script at the very
beginning is not important, but that the student should learn the
fundamental structures of the spoken language first.  That can be done
with romanized script.

It is the spoken not the written form that contains the fundamentals of
the language.

>>>Today I was asked by someone where the Farsi lessons were, somebody
>>>actually wants to use it.. This means that all this effort had people
>>>use it... It meant that all the pronunciations were going to be
>>>listened to... The material is not there anymore .. it is not useful
>>>anymore ..
>>>      
>>>
>>The material is still there but most of the pages appear to have been
>>orphaned.  See [[Talk:Farsi]] for links when someone was asking about
>>what to do with the orphaned pages.  It was User 83.116.146.232
>>who copied all this material to the fa:wikibooks, and re-linked to it to
>>create all the orphans.  His effort was incomplete as he did not do this
>>with the later lessons.  He has not been seen since March of last year.
>>    
>>
>The material in the Farsi wikibooks is there because that is the way
>to get right to left orientation for these lessons. They are called
>from the [[wikibooks:Farsi]] page. They are therefore not orphaned
>even though your wiki experience might suggest it is.
>
I did not say that the pages on the fa:Wikibooks were orphaned, but that
your original on the en:Wikibooks were orphaned when User:83.116.146.232
copied them into the fa:Wikibooks, and changed the links from the Table
of Contents.  Those original pages are still there on en::Wikibooks.

>>>The timing could have been worse; Brion is busy with the integration
>>>of the namespace manager. It is therefore possible to have pages in
>>>the fa.wikibooks that are specific for the Dutch language and pages
>>>specific for the English language. Alternatively we could have a
>>>namespace for Farsi content in the nl.wikibooks. This would mean
>>>however that we should be able to have a namespace that is oriented in
>>>a different direction from the other namespaces in a database. I do
>>>not know if we can do this already, I am sure however that we will
>>>want something like this for the right to left languages like Farsi in
>>>WiktionaryZ.
>>>      
>>>
>>The lesson pages should likely have a mixed orientation, but primarily
>>in the orientation of the student's own language since that is where the
>>instructions will go.
>>    
>>
>>>Now there is one practical question remaining; what will we do with
>>>the Farsi lessons in the fa.wikibooks that were originally intended to
>>>teach Dutch people Farsi.
>>>      
>>>
>>Assuming that the situation in nl:wikibooks is similar to the English
>>one, the situation should be explained to the fa:community.  They then
>>should feel free to delete them based on their own rules.
>>    
>>
>Last time I read some Dutch, it was indeed left to right. :)
>  
>
Nobody was saying that Dutch and English had different orientations.  
Only that Dutch and English speakers will face very similar problems
when trying to learn Farsi.

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Re: The sad story of training material to learn Farsi

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Gerard Meijssen-3
> I am getting confused about you. You do seem not to get what I write
> about the application of the data that is relational in nature. That
> or you are in denial that what I write is feasible. Software is NOT a
> magic thing as long as you keep thinking along the lines of what is
> traditional. Software starts to get its own relevancy when you realise
> its potential and start to approach things differently because you CAN
> approach things differently.


I wasn't even talking about your theories of relational data.  There may
be some truth to the butterfly effect, but I'm not about to leap into
the belief that every potential relationship of that sort can be
documented.  The only evidence that your proposals are feasible is your
own faith, and I don't believe in God.  The converse of what you state
is that if I depart from traditional lines of thinking then software can
be a magic thing; I am not about to worship that Satan.  Software cannot
and must not derive its relevancy from itself.  Climbing aboard a more
powerful vehicle simply because it is more poerful, and can take me
further faster is foolishly irresponsible, and if I take others
unknowingly with me unethical as well.

It is not our role as humans to adapt to software, but to adapt that
software to human needs.

> The things that I describe; linking to a DefinedMeaning and showing
> the translation associated with the language of the user interface is
> not rocker science. It is relatively trivial. It is not "magic" at
> all. Given the current functionality at http://wiktionaryz.org and the
> date Erik has given for a first editable version of this software,
> this software COULD be written by April time. We will do it, but it
> has to fit in with the greater scheme of things.

So do it!  If it's not rocket science, you should have no problem doing
it.  Your boasts about what it can do and when it will be available or
your vision of its connection with :"the greater scheme of things" all
point in the direction of vapourware.

> I am getting the feeling that you are being awkward because you can. I
> am loosing the feeling that you do not understand.. When you put
> lesson between "" like in your last mail you make it seem that it is
> not a lesson at all, that it has no quality. For your information the
> dead wood variety of these lessons have been used to teach /many
> /people Farsi.

I didn't really see it as a lesson at all, just as a list of
translations.  I'm sure that those who used the dead wood variety to
learn Farsi must have done so in a larger context rather than by viewing
that list in isolation.

> Your idea of using romanised script in order to teach Farsi is just
> that; an idea. Given the need for transcription and the huge problems
> associated with it, it is also a bad idea. Moreover given the subject
> it is not helpful and it is detracting. When you have a clue about the
> teaching done with this material, the discussions that have been done
> before, during and after the creation of this material on the Wiki
> your ideas might be relevant. The fact that you do not ask questions
> but only opinionate makes what you say also less relevant, certainly
> less interesting.

Ultimately language is independent of the script in which it is
written.  Iranians and Tadjikis use different scripts for this language,
but their spoken languages are mutually intelligible.  Japanese can be
written in several different scripts without any effect on oral/aural
intelligibility.  Any language could be romanized, but I would consider
cultural sensitivity before turning that into a broader suggestion that
goes beyond a simple learning tool.  You claim there has been discussion
on this before, but if I go to the Wikibooks page (which someone else
has just moved to Persian) there is no such discussion; nor is there at
the first lesson.  If your experience with using these materials for
teaching Farsi is so important and so successful perhaps you might point
to educational studies that support your POV.

So what's wrong with opinions? (There's a question for you.)  What makes
the opinions that you expressed so much more valid.  I ask questions
sometimes, and I simply question at other times.  I would expect nothing
less of students, whom I believe should always be critical of anything a
teacher sayus.

> At this moment you do yourself harm because you make me and others
> think less of you. The respect that I have for you makes me write
> this. I would think it sad when I find that I do not want to read what
> you have to say no more.

I don't say what I say for the simple purpose of being popular, and I am
not intimidated by your suggestion that others should think less of me
just because I choose to speak my mind.  There is no subject on this
list where I need to feel that I have anything to hide.

Ec


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