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"All I need to know is 2500 words"

 Language Learning Forum : Language Programs, Books & Tapes Post Reply
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czech
Senior Member
United States
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 Message 1 of 32
22 March 2005 at 9:55am | IP Logged 
I am sure most of you have heard this from the numerous "studies" that show we use 2500 different words per day. Pimsleur uses this idea to sell their programs, but as I think about it, they probably don't teach you a quarter of that.

With 90 lessons, they would have to teach you almost 28 words per lesson. The courses
I have seen teach me about 4 words per lesson.
So this would leave me with a vocab of 360 words and a wasted 3 months, right?
Why is Pimsleur so great?
Your thoughts on their method!

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victor
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 Message 2 of 32
22 March 2005 at 11:00am | IP Logged 
Pimsleur's major purpose is not to teach you words per se, but to teach you convesational skills. By the end of each lessons, you will have learned a sentence structure or a phrase you can use in a conversation.

And what those 2500 words are is also very important. Some words are more used than others but it may be useful to you. Personally I don't really think 2500 would be enough. I just read a statistic that high school students know 3000-4000 words. I think we should at least aim for that much.
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czech
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 Message 3 of 32
22 March 2005 at 2:46pm | IP Logged 
Yes, I agree completely, we don't think the same things daily and how are we supposed to be fluent if we can't understand what other people are saying?

Somebody needs to make a program for the dedicated learner, someone who wants to work hard, and not just listen when driving and repeat a few phrases. I do not know of any programs for dedicated learners though.
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victor
Tetraglot
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 Message 4 of 32
22 March 2005 at 3:14pm | IP Logged 
Frankly, not many "dedicated learners" are in the publishers' "market". I slack off a lot and I like my material to be simple, to the point, and features major grammar concepts in an interesting way.

Personally I agree with FX that vocabulary has to be built from context, such as from books and TV. Just stuffing words into your brain won't work - eventually you will have think about that word for a long time, remembered that you once stuffed that word, have to try remember its meaning, than apply it to context. Why not get them from the context from the beginning?

Edited by Malcolm on 23 March 2005 at 5:32pm

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souley
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 Message 5 of 32
22 March 2005 at 9:42pm | IP Logged 
What is meant by context, from books articles etc? Because you still have to bank them in to your head one way or the other.
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ElComadreja
Senior Member
Philippines
bibletranslatio
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 Message 6 of 32
22 March 2005 at 10:16pm | IP Logged 
Well, I think about how I learned new words in English. I would be reading a book come across a word, have no idea what it meant, but could kind of guess what it was anyway. When the word pops up again (and it usually does in the same work) you now have different examples of how the word is used.

You can reach a point (that 2500 mark sounds like it might be a good target) where you can do this in your target language, although you most likely won't be able to give an exact translation.

Right now there are words in Spanish that I recognize in a sentence (inclinarse/bow) but can't use myself. Like tonight in karate class for I actually bowed, said the equivalent of "do this", the other guys says "you mean bow?" Otherwise there was no loss for words.

So you see, I think I only need about 2500 to communicate, but I have to know lots more when I hear them. When those word become part of daily life I start using them myself.


Edited by administrator on 23 March 2005 at 4:54am

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mahyar
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Canada
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 Message 7 of 32
23 March 2005 at 1:28am | IP Logged 
Think of learning words in context like when you learn a new word in your native tongue. You look it up in the dictionary(maybe) or infer the meaning from the conversational context. Then by encountering the word in everyday activities (reading, speaking, blabla), you 'practice' and learn the word with effortless ease.

Edited by administrator on 23 March 2005 at 4:53am

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Eric
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Australia
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 Message 8 of 32
24 March 2005 at 3:40am | IP Logged 
I'll address this in two parts:

1st - The "2500 words" issue:

According to Michel Thomas in CD 1 of "Learn Spanish with..." program, he said a major New York newspaper established they used only 600 words on average in their newspaper daily.

I'm not sure if this is true but for argument's sake lets say it is, when you think about it, could you get through your day with 600 words if you had to?

Ofcourse, for many professionals, they could not, but if you lived a relatively 'simple' life, I think 600 is more than enough to be understood and make adequate conversation daily.

Also remember realistically that a human isn't 'closed programmed' we are always open to new things, so if you went out tomorrow with 600 words I guarantee you you'll come back with at least 601 ... that's just one day, repeat, 602, repeat, etc.

2nd - The "Pimsleur: Great or not?" issue:

I'm currently on lesson 14 of Pimsleur Spanish I, and also doing Spanish at University, so I get to see and experience two totally different teaching methods in action.

Method a) = Pimsleur.
Method b) = University (class) environment.

Method a) is highly functional. It is somewhat similar to a phrasebook by drilling phrases into you, but they are very flexible with the sentances subject, object, or quantities changing frequently.

This method I feel is a great starter because the dedicated student can go out and roughly speak 'spanglish' pretty quickly, and if always consulting a dictionary and chasing up the new words and knowing why they are used that way in that lesson, I feel advancement comes quick and easy in the Spanish program. (for me at least)

Method b) is totally different. My teacher does not like translating, she rathers speaking and writing Spanish and using it in context and giving quite humorous illustrations.

This way works too, it's very different from Pimsleur and I would err on the side of Pimsleur being better in the short-term as I feel the class way takes the 'scenic route' to your destination whereas Pimsleur is the 'crash course/be understood' route.

Good things about a class is that you can ask questions and do many written activites that you later have to read to the class so I feel you get more practice to free your inhibitions when speaking a foreign language which is very important to me.

I think the best method is Method c), which is a + b, yet I feel from what I've experienced so far from Pimsleur that if one only had Pimsleur and a dictionary they wouldn't go too wrong.

My 2c.

Edited by Eric on 24 March 2005 at 3:58am



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