Friday, June 3, 2016

Gripe: why do they make it difficult?

Me to the textbook.

Okay, this may be a bit of a rant, and something more to do with the layout and writing of textbooks themselves than anything else, but... why do language learning textbooks always presume more than they give?

Let me explain: as I was attempting to complete a literal translation of a passage in my 'Teach Yourself' guide, the textbook shied away from delineating all the definitions of what I was supposed to translate. I scoured the unit chapter. I found some, maybe a quarter of what I needed, but only found the remaining three-quarters after going into the back of the book to find the suggested answers.

I do not like this. Call me whatever you will and accuse me of wanting my hand being held when learning a new tongue, but I find it annoying when an assignment demands you piece together aspects of the labor for yourself. Though such a format can keep you on your toes and ensure that you actually engage with the material, it also causes more frustration than there needs to be.

The omitting of such information essentially demands that for every assignment you start at the very bottom and proceed along the guidelines the author has prescribed (thus, having them cease to be 'guidelines' in the process). I am not explicitly against such a method, rather I would enjoy that the relevant information concerning translation readily be seen beforehand; if I know the basic vocabulary of what I am expected to memorize and engage with then I am able to better encode how those words are operating within the larger idea and language in general..

Simply put, I function best when I am able to anticipate the construction of a unit and have reassurance that what I will complete in the next chapter retains the same formatting as the previous. When this layout runs counter to ease of access, though, I find the affair to be less helpful than it could have been had the authors and editors simply made a few simple adjustments.

I will persevere, however; for fear not, I shall emerge as the stronger force; paper and ink will not best me this time!

The House of Islam (Notes:53)

Just two decades after the end of hostilities between the Persians and Byzantines, the Persian Empire would be destroyed by the Arabs, whil...