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Vocabulary learning in Assimil

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Bilingual Tetraglot
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 Message 9 of 15
24 February 2012 at 11:57am | IP Logged 
Here is how I use it and my recommendations (if I may):

Passive: I work on it until I can recognize all the words in the spoken dialogue and have a complete understanding of 1)reading it in L2 2)hearing it in L2 without refering to L1. Working on it means I listen, then listen with L1, then listen with L2, then listen and repeat with L2 until I don't need the text. No vocab work, no memorisation.

That is pass one for me.

I might, the same day or a couple of days later take the words I don't know and put learn them as vocabulary -- I'll enter a word, a phrase or a sentence into Anki and study it while I learn it.

That is pass two. It usually occurs same day, next days.

Active phase is being able to produce the L2 dialogue either from memory or from the L1 text.

Active phase is about 2-4 weeks after.

So for my German passive one takes 5 to 10 minutes max. Passive two takes about 5-10 minutes (seeing what words I don't know and entering them). In 20 minutes I can review today's lesson and the last two lessons easily.

In Arabic everything takes longer - Each passive is 10-15 minutes. Active is 10-15 minutes. (So far.)

Don't bother with memorizing vocab, right off the bat. Listen, get the dialogue, then the vocab. Do read the comments and notes, do the exercises.
But - I usually do not do the exercises or notes during my first 5-10 minute session, I'm just listening and getting the dialogue - over and over and over.

This morning (while ironing my pants :p) for the Arab lesson (18!) I listened and rewound (scrobbled? in iPhone speak) to the beginning 7-8 times before I listened to the exercise part once. I'll go back to the exercise later tonight.

Do you learn all the vocabulary and grammar of a lesson before you move on, or do you just work on it until you understand it passively, and then move on, waiting for the active phase for translating?

So to answer your question, I :
1)work on it until I understand it passively. move on.
2)work on vocab. move on. (Ankifying was needs to be.)
3)wait on active phase for production/translating L1->L2.

Edited by zenmonkey on 24 February 2012 at 12:05pm

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russoparabrasileirosRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 10 of 15
24 February 2012 at 12:38pm | IP Logged 
I don't really care much about the waves. What I do is: I like to write things down in order to fix them in my mind... so, after listening to the audio file some times and reading the translation and the original text, I copy the whole text to my notebook (actual paper notebook), make some notes for unknown expressions and finally I create a list of "new vocabulary" for that lesson.
I'm already on Lesson 34 of Assimil's Dutch With Ease and I can proudly say that I know all the words/expressions so far =)

Edited by fabriciocarraro on 24 February 2012 at 12:39pm

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 Message 11 of 15
24 February 2012 at 4:16pm | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
I've been studying for 3 weeks. What am I going to do with dill, handset, diplomatic corps, fur-lined, elk, and

I haven't used any of those words in any language for AT LEAST a month. Have you?

I have a culinary heritage from Eastern Europe. Dill is absolutely essential. On the other hand, when I buy fresh dill at the grocery store, the cashier often has no idea what it is, so you may have a point. Not too many elk running around my downtown office here, either, come to think of it.
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 Message 12 of 15
24 February 2012 at 5:42pm | IP Logged 
The way I work through Assimil in the beginning is in a very passive way. I just go
through the lessons very quickly, just so that I can recognize the vocabulary,
familiarize myself with the sounds and get the spirit of the language. Of course,
studying in this manner, I won't be able to remember the words off the top of my head
yet and neither use them actively, but I believe in the begining the imput is more
important, what matters is that I can recognize these words and that won't keep me in
the lesson unnecessarily. I can also compensate this in different ways, to get my
vocabulary active I try to create sentences on my own after I'm done with a few
lessons. After that I stop and go back to the lessons, I study them again and do
exercises as well, so with a lot of revision I start consolidating my knowledge in the

I don't care about knowing all the vocabulary at once, especially because there's a
lot of vocabulary which isn't really useful in the beginning, at least I can't imagine
me going through a situation where I would need it. I try to get the essential
vocabulary (most common words and expressions) until lesson 30 or so and then work on
this vocabulary until I'm able to use it actively (e.g. creating my own sentences) and
that has worked for me greatly. After I've done, say, 40-50 lessons I also start
looking for other materials to use parallelly and then I necessarily have to start
looking for people to practice with.
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 Message 13 of 15
24 February 2012 at 7:22pm | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
I haven't used any of those words in any language for AT LEAST a month. Have you? It's not that they'll never be useful, but they certainly aren't useful to a beginner.

If you're trying to use them actively, they're not very useful, but if you accept Assimil's passive methodology, then it is these quirky words and dialogues that make Assiml more enjoyable than the more practical style of courses. My own complaint would be that they often try so hard to make the dialogues funny, that there's hardly any relationship between one sentence and the next, making it harder to interpret from context (but that's what the translation is for of course).

It'll be interesting to see if adapting Assimil to your own style is possible.
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 Message 14 of 15
24 February 2012 at 9:22pm | IP Logged 
I have started using Assimil New French with Ease seriously for the current 6wc. I did about 7 chapters last summer, so I started with one day reviewing 1-7, and have done one chapter every day since then. I have been pretty faithful about following the passive methodology, because I think it keeps me going. I don't have to know how to produce everything, as long as I understand everything. I have had days when I thought that I would need to repeat a lesson, or go back several. However, I pressed on, and the difficult phrases were repeated in a different way a few lessons on. I expect this will be the case as I continue through the course. I must say, I am loving it more than any other language course I have used.

I follow the passive wave tasks as printed in the Dutch book (reproduced below), which I have printed out and follow pretty faithfully. This takes me about 25-30 minutes to do right. I also tend to listen through the CD while walking, to review and preview the dialogues. I am finding that I am understanding more and more of the lessons above mine each time I listen, and I think it is helpful to have a bit of an understanding of a lesson before formally doing the lesson. I also have noticed that on successive revisions, things I had difficulty with before are becoming second nature. Isn't that what is supposed to happen with Assimil? I have made a dozen vocab cards or so, but mainly to keep the genders straight.

Here are the instructions for the Dutch course passive wave. Anything in square brackets [] are my comments:

1. Listen to the text with the book closed. It does not matter if you do not understand what is said. You will gain a general impression of the sounds, hearing the pronunciation without being influenced by the spelling. [I've heard it several times already by this time, but I do this anyway, with my eyes closed, listening as intently as I can possibly manage.]

2. Listen to the recording a second time while looking at the English translation. [L-R method in play.]

3. Read the Dutch text aloud (with the aid of the phonetic transcription if necessary). Be sure you understand the meaning of each sentence, comparing it with the translation as required. [I often pause and echo the recording at this stage, before trying to read it on my own. I want to make sure I'm reading it correctly.]

4. Now read the Dutch text again, but this time without looking at the translation.

5. Listen to the recording twice, once while looking at the English translation, and once while looking at the Dutch text. [L-R again!]

6. Listen to the recording again with the book closed. At this point you should understand what is being said.

7. Listen to the recording once more. Stop the machine after each sentence, and try to repeat it aloud. [I used to do this with the book open, but I find it's better to do with the book closed, but check the book if necessary. Sometimes I have to do this step 2-3 times before I can say everything correctly].

8. Carefully read the comments several times. Examine the Dutch sentences being explained. These notes are very important. [Sometimes it is hard to wait until this point before reading the notes, but I find that they make more sense once I've struggled with the meaning of the text on my own first.]

9. Read the exercises. Repeat each sentence several times. The exercises review material from the current lesson and from preceding lessons. If you have forgotten certain words, consult the English translation. [The exercises are pretty easy by this time, although some of the fill in the blanks throw me.]

10. Examine the examples of sentence structure. They show how words and phrases are combined in Dutch, which is not always the same as in English. [It is worth taking time examining and pondering the structures.]

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 Message 15 of 15
25 February 2012 at 1:31pm | IP Logged 
I came across a good example today of why I don't think it is necessary to learn much of the vocabulary in Assimil:
The word chaque was used in lesson 6. I was tempted to put it on a card, but I didn't get around to it. But since I understood the passage in general, listening to that chapter many times over has fixed the meaning in my mind as well as if I had studied it many times on a card. Today I did lesson 22, and the word appeared again for the first time, but in a different context. That's what I like about Assimil: the most important things are repeated, and used in many different contexts.

I do study vocabulary, but from other sources than Assimil. I have found that I have done pretty well at assimilating most of the vocabulary used in Assimil.

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