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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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 Message 97 of 213
28 June 2010 at 1:54pm | IP Logged 
Kazen wrote:
Dragonsheep wrote:
I'm not sure if this deserves its own topic, but how many characters (kanji, hanzi, etc.) can you reasonably learn in a day?

It depends what you mean by "learn". If you only want to retain the shape and an English keyword you could cram dozens. On the other hand if you want to remember shape, stroke order, important readings (more of an issue with Japanese), common compounds, and how to write the character from memory the number drops precipitously.

Well, I have found that the groundwork for learning Chinese is the most important step. Learn the stroke order first, and then it will just be won´t have that extra bit to learn. You simply need to develop the ability to see the character as a whole, or as a variation of another character that you know.

Once you get to that point, it becomes very, very easy to remember the characters, because it just becomes some permutation of the 200-300 radicals. When I was first starting to memorize characters, I would find it difficult to learn more than 20 or so in a sitting, and these were easy words. Your mind starts to rewire itself in a genuine way, and it is now not terribly difficult for me to memorize 100 new characters at a time.

Also, once you get past a certain stage (this applies only for Chinese; I haven´t studied Japanses), you will only rarely need to actually learn a new character, as you are mostly just learning new words. That point came around 4-5000 characters for me. I have learned tons of words since then, but relatively few characters, and those have been of significantly more limited use (eg. the characters for crimson, dust, and so forth).

Edited by astein on 28 June 2010 at 1:58pm

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William Camden
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 Message 98 of 213
28 June 2010 at 2:34pm | IP Logged 
luhmann wrote:
My approach to learning vocabulary is to learn, then forget, then learn again... always grading generously. Words are only ultimately fixated after I begin to recognise them in real media.

It is best to learn 10% of 100 words than 100% of 10 -- because in the first you get acquainted with extra 90 words, that you may chance to recognise, and that will be easier to learn the next time.

The maximalist, as opposed to the minimalist approach.

Personally, I have achieved good results (exams etc.) from learning and even over-learning a fairly small word stock drawn from the basic vocabulary of L2s. There may be something to be said for the maximalist approach. The trouble is that learning and forgetting, while perhaps inevitable, can be somewhat demoralising. Especially if you forget en masse. Having said that, I might experiment with maximalism and see where it gets me.
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Korea, South
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 Message 99 of 213
28 June 2010 at 7:21pm | IP Logged 
luhmann wrote:
My approach to learning vocab is to learn, then forget, then learn again... always grading generously. Words are only ultimately fixated after I begin to recognise them in real media.

This may depend on the target language. For Korean, I've found that there are so many similar words, I really need to get the words I'm studying down as precisely as possible. Only by doing that I can know if a word I see in Korean media is indeed that particular word that I learned. Another benefit is that I can be sure which words I read are NOT those words I learned.
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 Message 100 of 213
28 June 2010 at 9:09pm | IP Logged 
Liface wrote:
astein wrote:
... Since then, I have built an Anki deck of 26000 cards. ...

That is absolutely INSANE (in a good way)!!!! 26000 cards! My biggest Anki deck is Spanish at just over 5000 cards, and that's over learning it for 2.5 years. Generally I only add the words I encounter, though. I don't use any wordlists.

I can sort of believe that, my Cantonese deck is now 11,000 flashcards (so 5,500 words). I've only had the deck for 22 months, but I started learning almost 3 years ago.

I went through a 12 month phase of learning 200 to 300 words a month, but I've stopped focusing on vocabulary acquisition, so now it's more like 50 to 100 words a month.

edit: sorry, I should add that is without focus on characters. I didn't start desiring to learn Chinese characters until more recently.

Edited by indiana83 on 28 June 2010 at 9:10pm

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 Message 101 of 213
30 June 2010 at 4:26pm | IP Logged 
Here is exacly how many cards I have added per day in the last 184 days, starting with the cards added in the last 24 hours:

220, 75, 115, 141, 49, 86, 70, 26, 19, 62, 53, 4, 4, 3, 1, 0, 0, 20, 52, 13, 24, 0, 3, 26, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 16, 7, 5, 1, 0, 2, 25, 0, 0, 9, 16, 88, 108, 76, 97, 104, 195, 112, 19, 27, 84, 107, 133, 36, 14, 11, 45, 46, 141, 125, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 105, 83, 60, 59, 142, 58, 3, 61, 355, 23, 88, 27, 109, 72, 103, 3, 30, 5, 10, 0, 15, 38, 21, 5, 15, 14, 147, 18, 16, 31, 40, 76, 36, 44, 28, 43, 2, 1, 0, 0, 4, 0, 0, 6, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 18, 26, 14, 21, 77, 25, 31, 1, 0, 4, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 8, 0, 0, 99, 0, 38, 27, 3, 2, 0, 0, 14, 20, 0, 9, 2, 1, 0, 0, 0, 11, 0, 0, 0, 0, 5, 18, 136, 96, 129, 113, 219, 87, 2, 477, 38, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 26, 148, 130, 102, 73, 94, 80, 106, 169, 59, 87, 111, 161

Totalling 7831 cards added in six months, an average of 42/day -- testing only for recognition.
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 Message 102 of 213
30 June 2010 at 6:37pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for posting these card counts, those are really inspiring. I have trouble with consistency, but it's great to see how doing a little each day can add up to a LOT in half a year.

It usually actually causes me to burn out when I attempt to do too many in a day, but sometimes I can handle a lot in a short time span and then go back to a "normal" rate. I try to keep reminding myself of a quote I heard somewhere, which was something like "we overestimate what we can do in a day, but vastly underestimate the amount we can do in a year".

As we can see from the above numbers, if you can manage an average of around 42 words per day, and just keep it up for 6 months (which is a small amount of time in languages), then you could have a huge vocabulary! Persistence is more important than daily achievement.
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 Message 103 of 213
01 July 2010 at 8:13am | IP Logged 
It is certainly better to be consistant, but, that being said, use your extra enthusiasm on days when you have it! There is, of course, a small chance of burning out, but it happens more often for me that I only become more interested in a language, once I have had one of those really productive days.

In my opinion, enthusiasm is not like a pool that you need to conserve. Rather, it is completely unpredictable, and it is not always easy to tell whether using some of it up will decrease the total or not. I say that the days when you have both time and a voracious appetite to learn are not to be wasted.

Luckily, Anki is a little bit like a contract. It's like signing up for a gym class or a sports team, because you are obligated to live up to the review count that you've built for yourself. So, if you go ahead and learn 1000 or 2000 words in a single day, you may be a little frustrated for the next week, but you've signed yourself up to learn them all the same.

Edited by astein on 01 July 2010 at 8:14am

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 Message 104 of 213
04 July 2010 at 2:40pm | IP Logged 
Right now I have Anki set for fifty new cards daily for each of French, Spanish and German. I may adjust up or down over time, as right now I'm at the stage of trying to create a base of vocabulary in order to start reading and listening.

However, that is not fifty new words. A given word might have cards for L2->L1, L1->L2, audio->L2, plus one or more grammar exercises that happen to use that word. Finally, for French and Spanish, many of the words are not exactly new. Rather they are being revived, as I've studied both languages in the past.

At the same time, I always have Anki set for typed-in answers. Otherwise, my brain gets too lazy. Also, I try to load certain cards with more detail - the different forms of the noun, adjective, etc. depending on gender, number and such.

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