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How many words do you learn per day?

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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William Camden
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 Message 73 of 213
02 November 2009 at 10:49pm | IP Logged 
At school, I took a little over two months (probably not as much as three) to work my way through 1,000 German vocabulary cards (Vis-Ed). That was 10 or 20 cards at a sitting, and with lots of review. That established the basis of my German.

I do a certain amount of sentence collecting, especially for new words in a foreign language. I often put the word into Google search and see what examples of it occur on the Internet.

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irrationale
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 Message 74 of 213
06 November 2009 at 8:42am | IP Logged 
Splog wrote:
These high levels of vocabulary acquisition always humble me - since I am sure I learn close to zero words most days, and on better days I seem to half learn a few words and only remember them after coming across them many times. Any attempts at memorizing lists has always failed miserably for me.

But for those with the great ability to learn 200 to 300 words per day, does that mean they could take a book like "501 Spanish Verbs" and absorb the whole book in two days? That would be a tremendous achievement - of which I am mighty jealous.



Anyone with reasonable intelligence can "learn" 200 to 300 words a day with various methods, mnemonics, category grouping, SRS, tons of free time, etc. I think this is sort of trivial.

The important thing is which words you learn and if you know how to use them, or if you are essentially treating them as new L1 words because you have no idea.    
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cathrynm
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 Message 75 of 213
06 November 2009 at 10:39am | IP Logged 
I'm just in awe also -- maybe not so much 200/day, but then learning 1400 words per week, and 6000 words in a month? Is this possible? Even without any ability to use the words, still, I assume this would make a huge difference for passive understanding.

Somehow I need to figure a way out of beginner purgatory.
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William Camden
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 Message 76 of 213
06 November 2009 at 9:14pm | IP Logged 
I think 400-500 words in a month might be a reasonable level to go for. You will certainly find words learned at that rate easier to remember.
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Lizzern
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 Message 77 of 213
06 November 2009 at 10:12pm | IP Logged 
irrationale wrote:
Anyone with reasonable intelligence can "learn" 200 to 300 words a day with various methods, mnemonics, category grouping, SRS, tons of free time, etc. I think this is sort of trivial.


That's bound to sound really discouraging to a beginner. Or, frankly, just about anyone.

If people are learning at a rate that they're comfortable with and that keeps them going, the amount of words is going to vary from person to person. Maybe we can all make little improvements here and do a little better, but that's a really high number... But I would have doubts about the retention rates of 200-300 new words a day, unless you spend hours and hours just reinforcing it with input, well I know my brain would leak like a sieve and I'd forget most of it.
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doviende
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 Message 78 of 213
06 November 2009 at 11:41pm | IP Logged 
I have a personal goal of adding 600 new anki cards per month (each card contains one sentence from a book I'm reading). Each sentence has at least 1 new word, sometimes 2. I have great recall on these. This works out to 150 per week, but that sometimes jumps to 300 per week.

memory is a skill like any other. you can practice and train it to be better. I think the main limitation for me in this regard is (as always) motivation and spare time. If I have some context for the words (like they're from a story I'm reading or a movie I'm watching), and if I repeat them enough (problem solved by using an SRS), then the memorization part of it is basically solved. I would conjecture that I could do upwards of 2000 new words per month if I had more spare time and big motivation, but I really have no idea what the upper limit would be. I'm pretty sure it's high though, because previously I learned several hundred digits of Pi in less than a month, and they're effectively random (unlike vocab words).

Regardless of how many words someone can do in a month, they'll be making progress as long as they're getting a little bit better every day. Of course people get better at learning the more they practice, but that's no reason to feel bad as a beginner.
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cymro
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 Message 79 of 213
07 November 2009 at 12:04am | IP Logged 
cathrynm wrote:
I'm just in awe also -- maybe not so much 200/day, but then learning 1400 words per week, and 6000 words in a month? Is this possible? Even without any ability to use the words, still, I assume this would make a huge difference for passive understanding.

Somehow I need to figure a way out of beginner purgatory.


Use an electronic flash card program. I use jmemorize and a home made similar program on my pocket computer. If you can use something like this it makes it much easier.
I encountered someone only yesterday who said exactly the same thing to me. She was in awe that I could do 100 or more words a day. I explained that with a Language like Spanish or Latin this is easy because of the common roots.

I haven't been doing it for a while as the courses I was taking have finished.
I am doing the advanced Latin next so I am preparing to learn more vocabulary.
Fortunately I had lists of vocabulary provided in a convertible electronic form.
I can learn 100 new Spanish words, which will later require revision in about half an hour. I do already speak French which helps. Latin takes about 45 minutes because I have to memorise verb types or declension types.

I should say that other people's mileage may vary as I am lucky and have an aptitude.
It only took me six months of a Welsh learners class before I was able to do a TV interview.

I go to a coffee morning held in Welsh regularly and there was someone who I hadn't seen for a while. She had progressed well by reading simple books that are specially written for learners. I estimate that she had a 4-5000 word vocabulary in just over a year which is ten times what is taught on the courses. This is enough in Welsh for goodish fluency. (Because everyone is bilingual even natives slip English words in sometimes. You can translate almost any complicated verb into Welsh by adding an "O")
She was amazed when I said I can do 100 words in half an hour but was more accepting when I showed her my pocket computer. I actually learned most of my Welsh vocabulary by reading Harry Potter bilingually.




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shapd
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 Message 80 of 213
09 November 2009 at 2:32pm | IP Logged 
People actually grossly underestimate the number of words they can memorise in a seesion. IPS Nation quotes some old studies in one of his books which tested learners to destruction. One had subjects learning word pairs all day. Many could learn several hundred for immediate recall, and interestingly the efficiency of memorising did not decrease even after several hours' work. They got better at it if anything. The percentage recall after several days was not very high, but quite reasonable and they learned much more in total than if they had only learned a small number each day with revision.
Another report was of a man who had taken a crash course in Italian but had never had the chance to use it. On testing several decades later, he still remembered the bulk of the words passively!
I suspect many of us have very high criteria for "knowing" a word. At first sight, all you need to be able to do is recognise its base meaning. The connotations, idioms and grammatical connections can come later as you meet it repeatedly in real usage. Knowing a word is not an all in one event. If you read a newspaper in your target language, even not noting anything down and learning it formally, I defy you not to have picked up dozens of words by the end of it. You may need weeks to fully assimilate them, but they will be there in your memory.
Just to make all of us feel inferior, Stu Jay Raj claims to learn 2-3000 words in the first fortnight of study of a new language to lay the basis. Having heard his language skills, I believe him.


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