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Iversen

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dlb
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 Message 73 of 107
09 March 2009 at 11:25am | IP Logged 
Iversen,

I am new to this forum and have read through your thread with fascination. What impresses me the most is how you can start with a very analytical approach and convert that knowledge relatively easily into communicative results. I am sure you’re aware that language teaching methods have moved away from solely analytical approaches to approaches that emphasize communicative context. Asian cultures, I’m most familiar with China, still seem to prefer analytical methods, translation and words lists, and generally produce terrible communicators. I myself started with more analytical methods but found I just couldn’t understand what was being said to me. By no means am I doubting your success. I am simply wondering how you have made this transition and do you think you have an exceptional talent or is there something missing from traditional analytical teaching methods?
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Fasulye
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 Message 74 of 107
09 March 2009 at 12:00pm | IP Logged 
That's typical for me that I need the communicative context to assimilate the language and therefore can't learn languages with translation or other purely analytical methods.

Fasulye-Babylonia

Edited by Fasulye on 09 March 2009 at 12:01pm

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Iversen
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 Message 75 of 107
09 March 2009 at 11:30pm | IP Logged 
fanatic wrote:

I think I have had these moments with Russian especially because Russian has given me more trouble than any other language.


Me too. In hindsight I should have listened to a lot of spoken Russian much earlier, and I should have started to write it earlier - in spite of the errors that are inevitable when you haven't got a feeling for the idiomatic side of the language. But trying to write even simple texts you discover all your weak points with much more punch than just by reading through some books.


To Chung: thank you for the concrete advice concerning dictionaries and other books about the Slavic languages. I have recently bought several of Routledge's "Essential grammar of.." series - though I haven't had time to read them yet. I also have a big fat Polish grammar from Slavica, plus an even fatter dictionary from Langenscheidt, and I have also stocked up on other Slavica in the last couple of months. It is definitely an area that I will take up soon.
My priorities for the Slavic languages right now are: 1) learn to avoid stupid errors when I write in Russian (and learn more Russian idiomatics), 2) probably have a closer look at Bulgarian, followed by either Serbian or Croatian, Polish and last, but not least Czech and/or Slovak, - and this program will certainly take several years to complete.
In the meantime I have to confess that I yearn to continue with Tagalog, now that I have spent hours on analysing its very interesting verbal system (cfr. my multiconfused log). And if I do learn Tagalog then it wouldn't be too farfetched also to have a look at Bahasa - but so far I try hard to limit myself to the Indoeuropean languages.
The stress in Russian isn't as much of a problem for me as it has been - probably because I have consistently been writing the accents in my word lists and I have also been using at least one book with accents marked in the text.

dlb wrote:
...how you can start with a very analytical approach and convert that knowledge relatively easily into communicative results. I am sure you’re aware that language teaching methods have moved away from solely analytical approaches to approaches that emphasize communicative context...... I am simply wondering how you have made this transition and do you think you have an exceptional talent or is there something missing from traditional analytical teaching methods?


I think that both traditional analytical methods and communicative methods should be used, but I'm fairly critical about most things I see and hear about both. For me the point is that analytical methods are taught in a very confused and very passive way in the text books I have seen. The obvious solution is not to say "learn this page" or "make your own implicit conclusions", but instead to say that grammar is a way of making knowledge conscious, and by making things conscious you learn them. Therefore you should see your grammars not as God's own words, but as imperfect descriptions of a system that you want to understand. So be active when you study grammar.

On the other hand the word "communication" makes most teachers and authors think in terms of silly dialogs and fictive strangers who accidentally meet at lot of native speakers and immediately starts to talk to them in their vernacular. For me communication starts with thinking silently, and I prefer to keep it like that for quite some time. In the beginning I may only think in single words, then in short fragmentary thoughts, which develop into full sentences. It doesn't matter that this stream of thoughts is riddled with errors and structures borrowed from other languages, the important thing is to get this process running smoothly, and then you can start cutting down on the errors. But try to find a teacher that would accept that kind of 'communication' without censoring all the time ... which is my main reason for keeping as far away from teachers as possible during my current language learning craze.



Edited by Iversen on 10 March 2009 at 10:18am

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Iversen
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 Message 76 of 107
10 March 2009 at 11:04am | IP Logged 
Thuan wrote:
.... How and when do you review your wordlists? 10000 words (20000 words in Italian) are quite a few wordlists. Do you just review it once and hope that this will do it? Your description makes it sound like that.


I have written a lot about my use of word lists earlier, so I will just make a quick summary here: divide a sheet of page (folded once for easier handling) into columns, where each column eventually will be subdivided into three columns (1,2,3): target, base and target language, - use different colours for the two languages. Always work with groups of 5-7 words: write the target language words in column 1, check that you know the translations and then write them all in column 2 in one go. If you have forgotten one translation, then do something else before you write it down - never write the solution right after you have peeked. Then cover column 1 and check that you remember all the original words. When you do then write them all in column 3 in one go. Proceed to the next group of words.

I have made one change in my method since I invented it in 2007: at that time I folded the sheet once (A4 into A5), and then I divided the page into 3 equal parts. Later I would make the review on another sheet, but sometimes I didn't bother, sometimes I forgot to do it or only did part of it. So now I make 4 columns, roughly corresponding to 30%, 30%, 320% and 20% of the width of the folded sheet. The first two columns are like they always have been (i.e. subdivided into columns 1,2,3 as described above), but to two remainings columns are now reserved for the review, and here I only use two columns: one for the base language and the other for the target language (let's call them 7,8). I copy the base language words from subcolumn 2 -one group at a time- to subcolumn 7, and my task now is to reconstruct the original words in column 8. When I copy I have a peek at the original words, - this isn't cheating, but part of the learning process, but of course I cover them up while writing column 8.

This change in the method shouldn't change the number of times I go through the words, but it serves to keep things nice and tidy. Basically each word is studied at least three times while writing the main columns (those that are subdivided into 3 subcolumns): first when copying it from some outside source, and then one time more in each direction while writing columns 1,2,3. And during the repetition twice: first when copying the translation from column 2, and then again when writing column 8.

When I have been trough all this the words are almost certain to have entered my passive vocabulary, - sometimes also the active vocabulary - but to get a feeling for idiomatic uses and things like that it is still necessary to read and listen a lot, and to make passive words active you have to use them. The word list method can only be a preparation for 'real life'. I may occasionally read through an old word list, but not on a systematical basis.

And now I may have utterly confused everybody, so here is the halfsheet in graphical form (T=target, B= Base language):

First round ********* Second round ****
| 1 .. 2 .. 3 | 4 .. 5 .. 6 | 7 .. 8 | 9 .. 10|
| T .. B .. T | T .. B .. T | B .. T | B .. T |




Edited by Iversen on 10 March 2009 at 11:50am

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Fasulye
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 Message 77 of 107
10 March 2009 at 11:09am | IP Logged 
I would assume that your wordlist method only works for people with a good memory. Since birth my memory has been very weak, this is my intellectual handicap. By using for me adequate learning methods I have to take this into account.

Fasulye-Babylonia

Edited by Fasulye on 10 March 2009 at 11:10am

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Iversen
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 Message 78 of 107
10 March 2009 at 11:31am | IP Logged 
Answer to Fasulye: no, the word list method doesn't demand a good memory, but rather an ability to find words interesting outside a communicative context. The problem isn't whether you can do these lists, but rather whether you get bored while doing them - boredom isn't conducive to learning.
Apart from that: it is always more difficult to learn vocabulary in the beginning (at least beyond the first few scores of words). When you already have learnt a few thousand words, the new words won't look like incomprehensible and impronounceable nonsense any more, but instead they will remind you of things you already have seen and heard. It is still OK to make associations in the form of puns or images, but associations within the language itself are better because each new word then in itself will make it easier to add to the collection later.

----

Something about word counts:

I have seen messages from people who equate the number of their flash cards or the length of their Anki lists to estimate their vocabulary size. This is a bad idea because it presupposes that you know all the words. But sometimes it is better just to move on instead of battling with maybe 5-10% stubborn intractable words. Besides you also learn lots of words outside those flash cards, computerfiles or word lists, and how would you get these into your calculations without counting them?

Advices for counting words:
advice no. 1: don't be too worried about those numbers, they are good for measuring your progress, but there is more to speaking a language than knowing a lot of words passively - and word counts primarily show passive words
advice no. 2: use a midsized dictionary (30-50.000 words) from the beginning, and use the same dictionary for all your counts in a certain language. The number you get is very dependent on the size and organization of the dictionary, so it is basically meaningless to quote any number without saying how you got it.
advice no. 3: choose a dictionary where the lexemes really stand out from the background, - otherwise you can't avoid reading the translations, and then all your counts become worthless.

Method: write down the number of pages in your dictionary. Take a sheet of paper and two pencils of different color. Choose right or left AND a number. Now open the dictionary somewhere, look right or left as chosen before. Write down (in a long column) all the words on that page that you are certain that you know, leaving out those that you're unsure about and those that you can guess but didn't know beforehand. Exclude proper names, except in cases where the word is utterly different (such as Londres in French for London). If you see a word that you would like to remember for later then write it down in another color than the one used for counting known words. OK, count those words and write the result. Now go the chosen number of pages back or forth and count another page - don't be tempted to count any other page than the one you have calculated to be the next. Do like this for at least half a dozen pages. Sum the sums, divide by the number of pages used and multiply with the total number of pages - that's your estimate.

Personally I find it most rewarding to do these counts in the phase where you really struggles with your vocabulary, and even there they should be used sparingly. If you can see that your counts have grown from for instance 2.000 words to 5.000, then it is probably a sign that your knowledge also has grown proportionally in other, less easily quantified areas. And for some people - not all - it is beneficial to have some benchmarks, even if they don't tell the whole story.


Edited by Iversen on 10 March 2009 at 11:49am

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Fasulye
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 Message 79 of 107
10 March 2009 at 11:45am | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
Answer to Fasulye: no, the word list method doesn't demand a good memory, but rather an ability to find words interesting outside a communicative context. The problem isn't whether you can do them, but rather whether you get bored while doing them - boredom isn't conducive to learning.


As I know myself, I would rather need the communicative context, as I wrote before.Otherwise I would really get bored, that's the point. I do work with vocabulary lists, but I try to learn whole expressions as well, as far as it makes sense.


Fasulye-Babylonia

Edited by Fasulye on 10 March 2009 at 11:52am

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Iversen
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 Message 80 of 107
10 March 2009 at 11:48am | IP Logged 
Know thyself, as the text ran (in Ancient Greek) at the entrance to Delphi

Edited by Iversen on 10 March 2009 at 11:52am



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