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Sentences vs. words

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ChristopherB
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 Message 1 of 19
19 January 2009 at 7:24am | IP Logged 
I'm at a pretty good level now in French, and I've decided to use my SRS (Anki) to improve my vocab. At the moment, I'm stuck deciding between doing sentence recognition (Antimoon/All Japanese All The Time style) and simply taking words and phrases from texts I'm reading and doing production reps on those. I'm curious what other people do, as far as SRS testing is concerned.

Edited by ChristopherB on 20 January 2009 at 5:50am

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badger2
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 Message 2 of 19
19 January 2009 at 9:07am | IP Logged 
Sentences.

You need to see the word in action.

Granted, words like "dog" and "cat" are pretty obvious, but a word like "functional"... you need a sentence to help explain the nuance.
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Cainntear
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 Message 3 of 19
19 January 2009 at 9:59am | IP Logged 
Conocer = know
Saber = know

But they are different words -- you need a sentence to tell them apart.
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josht
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 Message 4 of 19
19 January 2009 at 10:59am | IP Logged 
I must say, I think it's unfair to bring out words like "conocer" and "saber" (or savoir and connaƮtre, or wissen and kennen, or whatever), when making one's point about whether to learn words or sentences. Yes, for those words, sentences would be ideal. But I think using them as an example to imply that you should learn all vocabulary in context is taking the example way too far. There are literally thousands of words in every language that, if you have a brain and know your native language, you should be able to use in your target language with little to no difficulty.

So, do both sentences and words. Use sentences for tricky words; use plain old word to word cards for other stuff. If you find that some of the word -> word cards become troublesome for you to use, *then* add a sentence.
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darikuri
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 Message 5 of 19
19 January 2009 at 11:49am | IP Logged 
Hmmm.
I always think finding an example in use is a very good idea. I am learning Japanese words and I am not checking examples for each (because I'm churning over hundreds of words in review and it's exhausting), but luckily for me when I go to work in Japan with children, occasionally I hear a word I have just learnt in use and I think "Oh wow, I just learnt that word! So that's how you use it!"

A great example of how you can get the wrong idea;
I learnt this word "yaburu": the definition is "break, tear, violate" I was thinking this is a pretty serious word.
Then teaching Japanese children, we were using picture cards and the kids were being too competitive and tore one. This kid piped up, "yabureta!" (he tore it!)

All of a sudden the word became much less serious and it occurred to me it's a pretty common word.

You should probably try and balance your vocab and your sentence learning.
When you're in a job like a call centre for example, you learn all kinds of phrases you normally wouldn't say in a regular conversation. All those polite phrases. So, I think you should study vocab, but also look up some common phrases which you can substitute words in for practice in forming unique sentences. That way you kind of get practice in both.
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Hollow
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 Message 6 of 19
19 January 2009 at 11:55am | IP Logged 
didn't read above posts, sorry if I echo anything.

I do both: I have Anki and Mnemosyne, one full of sentences, the other of words. I generally put words I feel like I would first want to get to know more passively ( in Korean there are so many semi useless (to me) names for philosophies and manners of thinking, for example), and the sentences, invaluable, are the most important, for the words or expressions (or sometimes just sentences that I failed to say properly during a conversation) that I use more often and actively
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Cainntear
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 Message 7 of 19
19 January 2009 at 12:10pm | IP Logged 
josht wrote:
I must say, I think it's unfair to bring out words like "conocer" and "saber" (or savoir and connaƮtre, or wissen and kennen, or whatever),

Why? These are just the most obvious examples, but apart from technical words, there are always overlaps of meaning. I'm pretty certain there will be a number of languages where a dolphing is still a "fish" and a bat a "bird".

What about pies, tarts and cakes? Where one finishes and another begins is very culturally loaded.
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tommus
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 Message 8 of 19
19 January 2009 at 7:49pm | IP Logged 
Definitely sentences or at least meaningful phrases, not single words. I started with only words and every time I'd review the words, my eyes would glaze over, and I'd have trouble staying awake.

I switched to sentences (target language only) copied from my regular, mostly comprehensible reading. Now I find the sentences very interesting. I recognise them from my reading. Occasionally the residual single words (from the original word pairs) pop up. My eyes glaze over again, and I can't wait to click, and get on with the sentences.

Because I take the sentences from mostly comprehensible reading, I use sentences that have a word or two, an expression, or a way of expressing something that I find useful, and try to move them from just being readable to being available for active speaking or writing.

Very often sentences consist of the main sentence plus a subordinate clause or second part. So I put the sentence (or a reduced, essential version of it) on the top side in Anki and the second part on the bottom side. If the sentence is very short, or for just a phrase, I put it completely on one side, and try to have a related sentence or phrase on the other side. Anki works very well with sentences, even if they are very long. I so far have 650 cards of sentences. And it is really working well.

I read somewhere that if you master 10,000 of this kind of "fact", then you'll have a good grasp of the language. And I believe it. Lot of work ahead. But I find the sentence approach to be immensely more enjoyable than just words.





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