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How many words do you learn per day?

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
213 messages over 27 pages: << Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 26 27
Joined 2640 days ago

81 posts - 73 votes 
Speaks: English, Macedonian
Studies: French, Mandarin, Greek
Studies: Shanghainese, Uyghur, Russian

 Message 209 of 213
15 December 2010 at 2:52pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
slymie wrote:
2. For Russian - Meh. I think my level is still low to really benefit from the lists. Some words just won't stick out of context. I may still do the lists but only from words taken from lessons or podcasts. Maybe I just haven't trained my brain to memorize Russian words yet? Sir. Iverson, at what level do you think word lists should be incorporated?

I have had exactly the same experience, and therefore I mostly use words from texts I have studied when I'm dealing with a new language where almost all words look like nonsense syllables. As you say you can then at least use the context to assist in your memorization. But at some point I get tired of all those scattered words, and then I start doing wordlists based on a dictionary - and always a dictionary from my target language into Danish or a language I know really well (like English or German).

At some point looking unknown words from genuine texts up in a dictionary and maybe taking notes will be enough to make me remember them, and then I stop transferring words from my notes to formal wordlists. But once in a while I still do a dictionary based wordlist in one of my better languages. If I 'run out of dictionaries' (like Slymie seems to have done with Chinese) then there are still things like bird guides and other specialized sources. But then it is more a question of studying a subject than adding even more vocabulary. How many farm implements or flower names do you need to know?

I memorized about 1500-2000 words with word lists since I started in this thread (In mandarin) and that is with working some days on, some off (I have pushed Chinese to the side as I'm quite satisfied with my level and prefer to concentrate more on other languages) the way I was so successful was that well, once you know most of the hanzi Chinese words are incredibly simple to memorize. And in the dictionary they are piled up in order so you only have to really remember the second hanzi and most are very obvious.

for example (sorry those who can't understand Chinese.) if I show this word to someone who has just begun to learn Chinese:


they might have to spend a quite a while memorizing the meaning, hanzi, tones, ect. Perhaps a few mins over a few days to really get it to stick - because all they see is 3 symbols, maybe recognizing the fist but not the others.

Now someone with an advanced level of Chinese, but who is not yet familar with the word, can break it down

自 zi (oneself)
驾 jia (Drive)
游 you (Travel)

Meaning of the word is pretty obvious, just means to go traveling by car, driving yourself. Like if the word in English was Self Drive Tour and you were already familiar with the three words on their own, you would only have to hear it once to remember it. Going through the dictionary in blocks I was able to remember most words just from reading the description once and writing it down.

For example, an exert from one of my lists:

冲 means to make a swift action,thrust towards, ect. it has a few meanings but most are obvious, we will go with 'thrust' to simplify.

(brackets is the general meaning of each hanzi, and beside is the actual dictionary translation)

冲程 - chong1cheng2 - Engine Stroke ( thrust course)
冲刺 - chong1ci4 - Make a dash for the finish line. (thrust stab)
冲淡 - chong1dan4 - dilute (thrust, low density/plain)
冲动 - chong1dong4 - impulse (thrust movement)
冲犯 - chong1fan4 - Offend
冲锋枪 - chong1feng1qiang1 - sub-machine gun
冲击波 - chong1ji1bo1 - shockwave (thrust hit wave)
冲浪 - chong1lang4 - surfing (thrust wave)
冲力 - chong1li4 - thrust (measurement) (thrust power)
冲量 - chong1liang4 - momentum (thrust measurement)
冲破 - chong1po4 - breakthrough (thrust break)
冲天 - chong1tian1 - soar up (thrust sky)
冲撞 - chong1zhuang4 - collide (thrust crash)


So as you can see this list above to the advanced learner will be very simple to memorize, yet maybe extremely difficult for the beginner.

The only problem is, recently I have been recalling and using some words I learned this way only to get a confused face "what?" I repeat the word and write it down and they still don't understand. I then got a Chinese friend of mine to try my anki deck and she didn't know about 1/3 the words in it. (all ripped from the dictionary.) Problem with the dictionary is many words might be out of use, only in use in certain dialects or just bookish, ect. But when you can learn this many words this fast, I think it never hurts to have the meaning down in your passive vocabulary.

Senior Member
Joined 2558 days ago

159 posts - 35 votes
Speaks: Portuguese*

 Message 210 of 213
28 December 2010 at 11:14pm | IP Logged 
I´m without Flash Cards, but when I use it, it´s common to learn thirty languages per
day - I must buy.

Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 2321 days ago

2151 posts - 1796 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Hindi, Ancient Greek, French, Sanskrit, German

 Message 211 of 213
20 June 2011 at 10:12pm | IP Logged 
Deji wrote:
Alas, it doesn't work! Thank you for the effort. I was all excited at the thought--and probably could copy Bengali
words from the internet--but if I copy them from my list this is what I get: bèMglA. Not this বাংলা. I CAN type
Bengali into anki. Just not with the older, superior font layout that I use, which has most of the combined letters.
If I wanted to retype the entire list into anki, though, I could do it. But at the end of the day, anki is just a better
database than my simpler database.

All font layouts are not created equal, and I really need to find someone Bengali who has a mac. Actually, I might
just try using anki with Shubhamay Ray's dictionary. A Bilingual Dictionary of Words & Phrases (English-Bengali),
one of the best resources. Thanks for the suggestion-- much appreciated.

I have been creating a Hindi wordlist on Excel for about 10 years. It totals about 7300 entries. I started out using a Hindi font (Shusha), but soon switched to unicode, and retyped about 1000 of the entries in the unicode font. For a while I put the entry in both fonts, but eventually began only entering unicode, especially as most of my online sources use unicode (e.g.

I just did a test, and the unicode words copy over and work perfectly in Anki, but the font based words do not. I would recommend using unicode for all of your alternate script writing, if at all possible. It allows the script to be used anywhere in the OS (and I'm certain this applies to Mac as well), such as filenames for saving files, internet searches, etc.

One suggestion which might help is to get a concordance programme, copy tons of text over from, keep only the highest frequency words, and use them in Anki. If I was making my list again, I would have done it this way. It would have taken me a few hours instead of hundreds. (Of course, by building my list slowly, I am at least familiar with most of those words).
3 persons have voted this message useful

Pro Member
United States
Joined 2852 days ago

115 posts - 64 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Hindi, Bengali
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 Message 212 of 213
22 June 2011 at 1:25am | IP Logged 
Does your suggestion mean looking up each word in a dictionary (eg book) ? I tried copying a word from
bengali into Obhidhan (an on-line Bengali "dictionary" but it wouldn't accept it.

United States
Joined 141 days ago

9 posts - 0 votes
Speaks: English*

 Message 213 of 213
22 September 2017 at 6:55am | IP Logged 
When I was learning Spanish, I targeted 10 words per day. Some words are similar to
others and it's important if you learn them together in one day to avoid confusion.

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