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How many words to speak?

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emk
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 289 of 309
23 September 2014 at 10:52pm | IP Logged 
One more fun data dump. (I have cool tools; this takes almost no time.)

Can you read Harry Potter after 50 Assimil lessons and 50 days of Anki?

Harry Potter à l'école des sorciers

Total words: 91,771
Total words after removing capitalized words, numbers, etc.: 83,164
Unique words, using tweaked Lexique data with most inflections removed: 4,684
Unique words which appear more than once: 2,979

The 500 most common words in Harry Potter (this is fun, look for words specific to the book):

Quote:
de, avoir, être, la, que, le, à, et, il, un, en, les, d', l', pas, ce, dire, se, s', une, des, qui, dans, ne, pour, lui, du, sur, son, faire, je, plus, vous, au, aller, sa, ils, pouvoir, mais, avec, y, tout, on, me, bien, voir, elle, tu, par, ses, savoir, t, chose, même, professeur, leur, si, demander, nous, ça, quelque, prendre, grand, comme, tête, porter, fait, là, essayer, vouloir, jamais, petit, oncle, très, sans, où, deux, alors, air, main, répondre, devoir, vers, peu, oeil, entrer, regarder, voix, moi, aussi, rien, temps, aux, autre, fois, autres, te, élever, falloir, sorcier, venir, monde, devant, toi, cette, trouver, toujours, premier, quand, encore, tous, penser, croire, avant, arriver, coup, salle, eux, sembler, nouveau, ton, tomber, sortir, rester, déjà, seul, maison, parler, jour, vu, tante, courir, lorsque, magique, lettre, gros, garçon, mettre, entendre, laisser, derrière, baguette, as, pendre, soudain, ou, regard, puis, balai, partir, passer, année, moment, contre, commencer, quelques, sûr, noir, donner, visage, tandis, montrer, livrer, heure, tenir, instant, dragon, côté, beaucoup, sous, jeter, cape, attendre, trop, trois, toute, sourire, mon, ouvrir, long, lancer, dessus, pièce, chercher, aussitôt, nuire, mère, école, ces, mal, maintenir, ici, couloir, vraiment, non, train, tourner, leurs, hibou, devenir, dernier, autour, sentir, quoi, paraître, nom, lire, sol, pousser, or, mieux, enfin, bras, tour, tard, soit, passé, équiper, compter, retrouver, retourner, rendre, point, mur, jusqu', homme, votre, tabler, serrer, père, miroir, famille, celui, arrêter, vieux, remarquer, parvenir, murmurer, mot, ma, gens, entendu, dû, comment, placer, moins, boire, réussi, magie, chez, silence, pied, personne, jambe, comprendre, revenir, question, leva, dont, depuis, bouillir, bon, souvenir, rire, présent, nez, jumeau, géant, donc, ci, bruire, troll, ruer, près, plein, écrier, cheveu, appeler, toutes, suivre, presque, monter, espérer, acheter, ta, répliquer, perdre, œil, ni, manger, idée, exclamer, droit, connaître, chemin, chambrer, argent, vie, surpris, quatre, pris, pocher, peur, paquet, moindre, match, intérieur, forêt, envoyer, chapeau, après, apercevoir, vrai, face, étrange, escalier, douter, château, voler, trouvé, terrer, soir, robe, matin, fenêtre, endroit, car, ami, travers, reprendre, minuter, garder, feu, direction, cœur, chat, cesser, bas, semaine, parent, marmonner, doigt, crier, cri, chien, chance, cet, bonne, besoin, adresser, vert, tes, tellement, simplement, réveiller, raison, parce, marcher, longue, haut, glisser, frère, former, expliquer, chaque, briller, boucher, avancer, attraper, ajouter, voiturer, tuer, signer, mort, mauvais, jouer, également, classer, bibliothèque, arrivé, aimer, précipiter, importer, imaginer, fou, célébrer, aujourd'hui, aucune, asseoir, apparaître, accord, sort, servir, reste, raconter, pourquoi, licorne, impression, furieux, cabane, boîte, assis, apprendre, aider, vider, sang, quitter, placard, loin, jeune, hurler, femme, empêcher, continuer, cinq, cicatrice, attention, interdit, fin, ciel, cas, beau, autant, aucun, sombrer, poindre, oreille, joueur, glacer, finir, écrit, dormir, dès, demi, cuisiner, celle, assurer, an, valoir, traverser, potion, poser, peiner, lieu, juste, hâter, éviter, énorme, disparu, disparaître, difficile, clé, cela, carte, balais, teint, tailler, serpent, rouge, ressembler, renvoyer, pâle, oui, occuper, envelopper, éloigner, effet, crapaud, aura, anniversaire, vite, tirer, tendre, suffire, regardant, refuser, promener, possible, plumer, perdu, passe, passage, papier, observer, gobelin, fondre, échapper, corps, contempler, commune, collège, ailleurs, terrain, souffler, secret, posé, plutôt, notre, lendemain, journée


Text coverage by vocabulary size, using Harry Potter frequency list:

Quote:
500: 81.1%
1,000: 88.9%
1,500: 92.8%
2,000: 95.2%
2,500: 96.8%
3,000: 97.9%

After this point, all remaining unknown words appear only once in the entire book.

For readers lucky enough to have the Romance cognates, it looks like the book becomes pretty readable at around 1,500 words of HP-specific vocabulary:

Quote:
Mr et Mrs Dursley, qui habitaient au 4, Privet Drive, avaient toujours [[affirmé]] avec la plus grande [[fierté]] qu’ils étaient parfaitement normaux, merci pour eux. Jamais quiconque n’aurait imaginé qu’ils puissent se trouver [[impliqués]] dans quoi que ce soit d’étrange ou de mystérieux. Ils n’avaient pas de temps à perdre avec des [[sornettes]].

Mr Dursley dirigeait la Grunnings, une entreprise qui fabriquait des perceuses. C’était un homme grand et massif, qui n’avait [[pratiquement]] pas de cou, mais [[possédait]] en revanche une moustache de belle taille. Mrs Dursley, [[quant]] à elle, était mince et blonde et [[disposait]] d’un cou deux fois plus long que la [[moyenne]], ce qui lui était fort utile pour [[espionner]] ses [[voisins]] en regardant par-dessus les [[clôtures]] des jardins. Les Dursley avaient un petit garçon [[prénommé]] Dudley et c’était à leurs yeux le plus bel enfant du monde.

So this basically says that Harry Potter contains 4,684 unique words, 2,979 of them repeated, but if a student tuned their vocabulary very carefully, they could probably read it with a vocab of only 1,500 words—assuming they knew the story and liked guessing.

A proposed recipe to apply Krashen's "narrow reading" to Harry Potter, from scratch

1. Do just enough Assimil to get the hang of French grammar. 50 lessons?
2. Make Iversen's green sheets (or buy this).
3. Learn 30 well-chosen sentences/day for 50 days with Anki, deleting as needed.
4. Start reading Harry Potter with a pop-up French->English dictionary. Keep the English version around for a chapter or three, just in case.

With the right Anki deck, it looks like you could be reading Harry Potter with a nothing but a popup dictionary after 50 days of Assimil and 50 days of Anki, starting from scratch. Not bad! If it doesn't work, I promise you a full refund for this post. :-)

Wouldn't it be cool to see some really offbeat courses/decks/apps build to support these sorts of strategies? It's obvious that there are ways to ramp up to B1 pretty quickly if you only need a couple of the four skills (reading/writing/listening/speaking) or a few subjects.

Edited by emk on 23 September 2014 at 11:06pm

6 persons have voted this message useful



Bao
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
tinyurl.com/pe4kqe5
Joined 4249 days ago

2256 posts - 4045 votes 
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin

 
 Message 290 of 309
23 September 2014 at 11:48pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
That's normal because he doesn't know much Swahili. Someone who knew
Swahili well could do a lot with 300 words.

Someone who knew Swahili well and then consciously decided to restrict the vocabulary they wanted to use for a certain topic to 300? Or ... what?
5 persons have voted this message useful



rdearman
Senior Member
United Kingdom
rdearman.orgRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3719 days ago

881 posts - 1812 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French, Mandarin

 
 Message 291 of 309
24 September 2014 at 12:15am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

But I have a new woodchipper and I didn't get to try it yet! :-)


I do like your woodchipper. Pity you don't have an Italian brand woodchipper. I could you 5000k headwords there too!
1 person has voted this message useful



luke
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 292 of 309
24 September 2014 at 1:02am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
Your method/model is overfitting for teaching English/French in Canada ;)


What surprises me about his postition is that his inability to understand one word has created a 37 page
thread.
2 persons have voted this message useful



luke
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5688 days ago

3133 posts - 4350 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 293 of 309
24 September 2014 at 1:49am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
Now that I've finished knocking some sense into the heads of the poor students


That charismatic cadre of cadets has knocked you over the noggin with the notion that they don't need to
know no words they're not going say.
3 persons have voted this message useful



robarb
Nonaglot
Senior Member
United States
languagenpluson
Joined 3542 days ago

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Speaks: Portuguese, English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, French
Studies: Mandarin, Danish, Russian, Norwegian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Greek, Latin, Nepali, Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 294 of 309
24 September 2014 at 2:29am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

Serpent, you rule. I think we've established the DELF B1 reading samples are too hard for people who lack the
Romance cognates.


I've felt this effect quite strongly. In European languages, where I get the Romance and Germanic cognates, I can
generally understand news articles and straightforward nonfiction books at a comparable level of vocabulary
coverage as when I converse about everyday things. In contrast, my Mandarin vocabulary is basically adequate for
casual conversation, but not even remotely close to covering news articles or nonfiction books.

That said, I don't agree that the DELF readings are too hard or biased against people who lack the Romance
cognates. Being able to recognize cognates isn't an unfair advantage restricted to the test; it's also a real
world
advantage that boosts the reading skills of people who enjoy it, something a reading test should reflect.
As long as the readings aren't more full of uncommon but transparent-to-Western-European words than
ordinary French texts, it seems fair.

Now, it's possible that the DELF is simply too hard for the suggested correspondence to the CEFR guidelines.
However, given that a 50% score is enough to pass, you need to account for the fact that people might be able to
pass the test even if a lot of the content in the passages is incomprehensible. Nevertheless, I do agree that the
HSK is too easy.
1 person has voted this message useful



Bao
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
tinyurl.com/pe4kqe5
Joined 4249 days ago

2256 posts - 4045 votes 
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin

 
 Message 295 of 309
24 September 2014 at 3:24am | IP Logged 
luke wrote:
Serpent wrote:
Your method/model is overfitting for teaching English/French in Canada ;)


What surprises me about his postition is that his inability to understand one word has created a 37 page
thread.

I would rather think it's not exactly inability.
3 persons have voted this message useful



s_allard
Triglot
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Canada
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Studies: Polish

 
 Message 296 of 309
24 September 2014 at 1:28pm | IP Logged 
After some serious brainstorming a buddy, who runs an awesome website for learning to speak French, and I
decided to build some experimental examples of 300-word sets as study aids for C-level speakers. We had come
to the conclusion that a 300-word threshold set for starting to speak would not be the same as a 300-word set
for very advanced speakers.

What we are noticing in the C-level set is the emphasis on vocabulary necessary for abstract thinking and
reasoning. For example, we see the equivalents of problem, situation, question, scope, thinking, crisis, solution
etc.

Since I'm not interested in the French set, I've concentrated on a Spanish version that I'm testing against a series
of TED conferences that provide a wide variety of subjects in spoken presentation Spanish. I'm also looking at
examples of actual debates illustrating interactive formal Spanish.

When I'm done in a couple of days, I'll put a version up on the site for those who might be interested.


2 persons have voted this message useful



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