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Has anybody tried the Gold List method?

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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ManicGenius
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United States
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 Message 73 of 222
21 March 2010 at 2:15am | IP Logged 
Pyx wrote:
I know what you're talking about. But you may justify it by telling yourself
that you'll need a method for when you're finished with Assimil :) It's not like you'll
suddenly "know" the language after you're finished with it! ;)


No, but I sure as hell just started reading articles and books after.
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ManicGenius
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4602 days ago

288 posts - 420 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Esperanto, French, Japanese

 
 Message 74 of 222
21 March 2010 at 6:09am | IP Logged 
Bao wrote:
Which one is harder to read: The Korean, the Chinese, or the Japanese
subforum?

Pyx wrote:
Yes.


I just reread that and cracked up for a few minutes straight.
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Cainntear
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 Message 75 of 222
21 March 2010 at 6:42pm | IP Logged 
The procedure and numbers are pretty specific, so I'm assuming that Uncle Davey has published his research...? No...?

Now, as others point out, it is widely demonstrated that the brain organises memory by frequency of occurrence. Uncle Davey's talking about remembering through lack of exposure -- near zero frequency of occurrence. This isn't just counter-intuitive, it's counter-scientific.

Now I'll admit there's some truth in what he says. In high school French, I learned some words and got them right in the weekly vocab tests without having to study the word lists. However, every word presented was used in the week's lessons, and some were just easy to learn (no confusion with the week's other vocab, etc).

What I'm getting at is that language learning is not a set of discrete functions: learn pronunciation; learn grammar; learn vocab etc. No, everything interacts -- as you learn more vocabulary, you develop your pronunciation, and often learning a new grammar point will rely on learning new vocabulary. It is therefore entirely possible to waste your time on something ineffective without realising it, if something else is doing the job this is supposed to be doing.

If I'm going to actively study vocabulary, I'll try to up my exposure and up my speed of recall. I'll want a computer program that gives me a score and rewards me for my progress. It still won't teach me the words -- I'll still be relying on outside exposure for the real learning -- but it's a far better use of my time.

doviende wrote:
I think it's possible to go the other way around, though. Taking what Iverson said earlier about learning many many more words right at the start, I'm starting to imagine that one should actually do this backwards. Instead of learning the core really well and then expanding your vocab later, you could learn tons of vocab as fast as you can and then use your extensive vocabulary superpowers to read and listen to tons of native material that would help you cement the core parts.

I doubt this would be the best way to do it as it still encourages a bias towards dictionary headword form -- you know, I like "I do it yesterday", or when every noun sticks in the nominative in a language with noun declensions.

I find I'm best off learning vocabulary when you can see it in all grammatical forms so that one form doesn't become easier/quicker to recall than all the others, so I like to keep my vocabulary low while I learn a lot of grammar. This isn't normally possible, because most learners' resources use a wide range of vocabulary (unit 2, at the airport; unit 3, at the restaurant; unit 4, somewhere else where they use lots of different words).
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Iversen
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 Message 76 of 222
21 March 2010 at 11:11pm | IP Logged 
I'm not afraid of learning words by some 'headword form', as long as this form is all I need to know to produce the rest of the forms. Of course this is not always enough: with moderately irregular words or words whose quoted form isn't informative enough I may need a number of forms. I still remember the classical 3 or 4 forms of the irregular Latin verbs which I learnt in school forty years ago, and I can't see any more effective way to specify a Latin verb, apart from a few very irregular ones.

Asking for ALL forms to be presented at once is counterproductive - you will never learn a whole page of forms one by one, even though a native speaker or very advanced learner may have stored them like that in his/her brain.

---

I like the way Doviende takes my ideas about early mass learning of words totally at face value. And he is right: my goal at an early stage is to know so many words that I can start reading genuine texts (listening comes later for me, at least outside an immersion situation). And for this purpose the finer details are not relevant because I'll learn them from the texts WHEN I can read them - so it is all about getting to that point as fast as possible, and learning a couple of thousand words early by spoonfeeding is one way of getting there.

---

The thing that I find puzzling about Uncle Davey's method is that he expects people to learn more with LESS exposure. Well, there is such a thing as taking a pause and return fresh and eager to restart your learning if you have exhausted yourself. But that's a special case. Quite generally I don't believe that doing nothing for two weeks is better than doing something.


Edited by Iversen on 22 March 2010 at 12:46am

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s_allard
Triglot
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Canada
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 Message 77 of 222
22 March 2010 at 5:17am | IP Logged 
doviende wrote:
The problem with these percentages is that even if you know those 25 words, and they come up in every sentence, you still won't understand those sentences as they are spoken to you. Also, once you add in some more specific (but less frequent) words that help you in a couple of everyday situations, then the number starts to shoot upwards. Having a low limit like 1000 is a difficult task.

In principle, though, I mostly agree. There is really a core of the language that you need to master and have it always ready. If you can fluidly produce the basic things from that core, then it becomes an easy task to learn another 20 - 100 new words in a short time period in order to deal with a new potential situation.

I think it's possible to go the other way around, though. Taking what Iverson said earlier about learning many many more words right at the start, I'm starting to imagine that one should actually do this backwards. Instead of learning the core really well and then expanding your vocab later, you could learn tons of vocab as fast as you can and then use your extensive vocabulary superpowers to read and listen to tons of native material that would help you cement the core parts.
;)


I wonder if this debate isn't about quality versus quantity. I don't doubt that one needs a basic set of words to get started in a language, but the idea of studying a list of the 2000 most common words in a language as a way to start a language boggles my mind.

I believe that the mastery of the most common elements of a language allows the learner to have a good base for understanding an speaking very quickly.

The reason I'm so adamant about this is because I see time and time again that many learners of spoken French even at an advanced level get tripped up by the usage of some of the most common verb forms. French verb morphology is quite complex, but the way to approach it is, in my opinion, by asking yourself: what is really important?

The problem is not only the morphology of the most common verbs, but also the fact that these verbs also have very many different meanings. As I have said, 25 to 50 verbs properly mastered will often suffice for most conversations. The problem is that most people never get these verbs right in the first place.

I write this after hearing the speech of President Obama to the Democratic congress on the eve of the vote on health care reform in the US. Politics aside, we must all admit that he is a great speaker. The speech was about 25 minutes long, if I recall properly. I didn't do a scientific analysis, but I doubt if there were more than 1000 different words in that speech. I even guess that it was closer to 750 or less.

I was struck by how repetitious, linguistically speaking, the speech was. Of course, that is a feature of political speeches. The point here is that to "understand" the speech, only a very limited vocabulary was necessary. But, and this is a huge but, there were many subtleties and political or cultural references that can render a very simple speech difficult to understand for non-natives.

In passing, I would like to take exception to the common suggestion of reading children's books, such as fairy tales, as beginning material. Yes, there is simplified material for the very young, but a lot of so-called children's literature--again I'm thinking only of French--is not a reflection of the spoken language.

To sum up then, if the goal is to master the spoken language that tends to be highly repetitious with a very limited vocabulary, a good strategy is to concentrate on the core elements.

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Pyx
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 Message 78 of 222
22 March 2010 at 5:26am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:


I wonder if this debate isn't about quality versus quantity. I don't doubt that one needs a basic set of words to get started in a language, but the idea of studying a list of the 2000 most common words in a language as a way to start a language boggles my mind.

No, it's not. It's about the Gold list method. I think everybody here is aware of the pros and cons of learning words from lists vs. from context and has their own ways to cope with both. And if it really needs to be discussed again, there are appropriate threads for that.
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s_allard
Triglot
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Canada
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 Message 79 of 222
22 March 2010 at 1:28pm | IP Logged 
Well, I can certainly take a hint. I don't doubt the efficacy of the Gold or Iversen list methods. I always believe that people should use the method that best suits their learning style. If this gives the best results, go for it.
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Pyx
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 Message 80 of 222
22 March 2010 at 1:42pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
Well, I can certainly take a hint. I don't doubt the efficacy of the Gold or Iversen list methods. I always believe that people should use the method that best suits their learning style. If this gives the best results, go for it.

Don't take it personally, it wasn't meant that way :)


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