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The Cheating & Consolidating Method

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emk
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 Message 41 of 136
02 August 2014 at 10:22pm | IP Logged 
vermillon wrote:
In the days I've started reading Mandarin, I wrote a script to do this:
-extract the vocabulary of the chapter I'm going to read (in Mandarin you even need to tokenize the sentence, since there are initially no spaces between words)
-extract the vocabulary of my Anki decks
-subtract the two sets: I could learn in advance the unknown words, and reading them in the chapter would act as reinforcement.
This resulted in much higher comprehension, much faster vocabulary acquisition and much lower friction in dictionary research => more reading.
The thing is that about any popular novel sold in China can be found somewhere as plain text, making the process trivial.

This is just a beautiful example of "cheating." Given a set of constraints, you figured out a quick-and-dirty way to get a major comprehension boost. Sure, there was some hard work involved—but that hard work was aimed at a very specific problem, and it paid off with lots of consolidation.

vermillon wrote:
Any suggestion? How do you tackle paper reading without having to pause all the time?

Here are a bunch of things. I've tried most of these, with varying degrees of success:

1. Read translations of your favorite books. If you have books that you re-read every year or two, schedule the next re-read for your TL. This works wonderfully at the intermediate level.

2. Use a very faint mechanical pencil to underline unknown words, but keep reading, Every few chapters, go back, and if the words are still unknown, try to find a digital ebook to make cards. (If no ebook is available, this is less efficient—you either need to use single-word flashcards or retype sentences.) Drawback: Involves writing in books, which drives me crazy. 3M sells some tiny, sticky arrows which you can use instead.

3. Try listening/reading with L1 text, L2 text and L2 audio.

4. If your budget and your TL permits, buy lots of graphic novels (or better, borrow them). Pictures help a lot.

5. Learn to let stuff go. If something's too much work to look up, just let it go, and focus on what you can consolidate easily. Eventually, as you consolidate more and more, the opaque text will gradually become decipherable on its own.

6. Since you're tech-savvy, look for movies or TV series with accurate bilingual subs, and feed everything through subs2srs (this may take a weekend to get working). Then "watch" the movies using Anki, making sure to delete cards very aggressively—preferably at least 80% or 90% just on the first pass. This is actually a ton of fun, and it teaches good SRS deletion habits.

If all else fails, seriously consider looking for ebooks anyway. Yeah, I'm a book hoarder, too, but my books have already expanded to fill all available space, and buying any new paper books means giving other paper books away. So the only way to hoard more books is to go digital.

rdearman wrote:
I open up the translate app, click on the "take picture" icon, and then take a picture of the page.

Sweet!

Serpent wrote:
As if extensive activities are a waste of native materials.

This description is brilliant. And brutal.

Serpent wrote:
The worst is that since all the "modern" textbooks contain carefully chosen authentic texts, teachers fail to emphasize or even understand that learners need a lot more than that.

I could understand giving A1 students short, carefully chosen texts. Assimil is good at this. But at B1 and up, skill upgrades are bought in units of 500 pages.

Serpent wrote:
Often their logic is that if your grammar is bad, you need to grind more.

Ouch. A little bit of carefully chosen grinding can be very helpful (like in vermilion's example above). But grinding is really only helpful for moving between "Opaque" and "Decipherable" on the diagram, and even there, you can often find much more efficient ways to decipher things.
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rdearman
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 Message 42 of 136
02 August 2014 at 10:30pm | IP Logged 
vermillon wrote:

In the days I've started reading Mandarin, I wrote a script to do this:
-extract the vocabulary of the chapter I'm going to read (in Mandarin you even need to tokenize the sentence, since there are initially no spaces between words)
-extract the vocabulary of my Anki decks
-subtract the two sets: I could learn in advance the unknown words, and reading them in the chapter would act as reinforcement.
This resulted in much higher comprehension, much faster vocabulary acquisition and much lower friction in dictionary research => more reading.


BTW, Are you willing to give out the source for this? I'm planning on starting Mandarin soon and that sounds like a great script to have handy.

:)
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Serpent
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 Message 43 of 136
03 August 2014 at 1:11am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
Serpent wrote:
Often their logic is that if your grammar is bad, you need to grind more.

Ouch. A little bit of carefully chosen grinding can be very helpful (like in vermilion's example above). But grinding is really only helpful for moving between "Opaque" and "Decipherable" on the diagram, and even there, you can often find much more efficient ways to decipher things.

Well but this is what I keep hearing even on HTLAL. Passive (or better, receptive) skills might be easier, but input is vital both for understanding and production. Hours of FSI can be substituted by consuming native content+SRS (including cloze deletion, of course).

Basically, a lot of people want immediate results when learning the grammar, and grinding gives them that. Especially if they need a better grammar knowledge for an exam, heh...
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Bao
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 Message 44 of 136
03 August 2014 at 4:37am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
Basically, a lot of people want immediate results when learning the grammar, and grinding gives them that. Especially if they need a better grammar knowledge for an exam, heh...

Ah ... that never worked for me. I wonder if that's a blessing or a curse?

Edited by Bao on 03 August 2014 at 4:38am

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YnEoS
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 Message 45 of 136
03 August 2014 at 5:56am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
emk wrote:
Serpent wrote:
Often their logic is that if your grammar is bad, you need to grind more.

Ouch. A little bit of carefully chosen grinding can be very helpful (like in vermilion's example above). But grinding is really only helpful for moving between "Opaque" and "Decipherable" on the diagram, and even there, you can often find much more efficient ways to decipher things.

Well but this is what I keep hearing even on HTLAL. Passive (or better, receptive) skills might be easier, but input is vital both for understanding and production. Hours of FSI can be substituted by consuming native content+SRS (including cloze deletion, of course).

Basically, a lot of people want immediate results when learning the grammar, and grinding gives them that. Especially if they need a better grammar knowledge for an exam, heh...


With Hungarian, I've found that because the grammar is so different what I'm used to, L-R and Subs2SRS don't seem as effective as when I do them with other languages. Perhaps I'd eventually see results if I kept with them, but so far FSI is the only program that has let me see visible progress in my Hungarian comprehension when I use it.

Now in this instance it doesn't particularly bother me, because FSI Hungarian seems like one of the better FSI courses I've looked at, and I have fun using it. But I'd be curious to know if you needed to use any different strategies when you using Native materials for studying Finnish.

Admittedly I haven't tried close deletion yet.
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Serpent
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 Message 46 of 136
03 August 2014 at 11:42am | IP Logged 
Finnish is where I left my ability to enjoy learning grammar formally ;) As in, I loved learning it, and after that I've not been able to enjoy it with other languages because they are such a mess compared to Finnish :P But even then I couldn't stand FSI.

I did use native materials from the beginning though. One of my main reasons to learn the language in the first place was (and is) music, and in addition to actually listening to songs I would read things like tour diaries and guestbook answers by my favourite musicians. I was desperate enough for the meaning that I looked up more than half the words.

Bao wrote:
ETA: My language classes were similar to Serpent's description, with the addition that teachers did try to encourage their students to do outside reading and other activities. I've had language teachers who would lend books to their students, for example. Also, in the last two years of English we were supposed to do most of the assigned reading at home, including written activities on the text, and in class we would discuss the text and the assignment as well as current affairs.

Yeah, we also did most of the reading at home. But there was still this false expectation of intensively reading small texts -> intensively reading larger texts -> intensively reading easy books -> intensively reading more difficult books -> getting to the stage where you look up 1 word per page -> understanding everything.
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tarvos
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 Message 47 of 136
03 August 2014 at 12:00pm | IP Logged 
I think actually the biggest take-home message about this method is that you need to
make your goals and plans specific to the problem you have, and tackle that using a
shortcut or a cheat. People talk about learning "French" or learning "Mandarin" but it
just never works that way. You take everything one problem at a time.

First you learn "when they write a k, do they mean a k, or a ch, or a sh sound, or
what?"

And then "kan jag få en smörgås?" . Etc.

I use grammar as a tool to cheat my way through phrases where it's just "why do they
say it like that".



Edited by tarvos on 03 August 2014 at 12:01pm

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Serpent
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 Message 48 of 136
03 August 2014 at 12:16pm | IP Logged 
Reminds me on this Benny post.

But consolidation is essential too


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