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Super-fast vocabulary learning techniques

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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Linguamor
Decaglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6440 days ago

469 posts - 599 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Dutch

 
 Message 81 of 255
16 March 2007 at 11:02am | IP Logged 
frenkeld wrote:
Linguamor wrote:

'that sounds like a train'
'on dirait un train'   

'how about going out?' - 'that sounds good!'
'et si on sortait?' - 'bonne idée!'

'I didn't do it deliberately'
'fue sin querer'

'I still haven't heard anything'
'sigo sin saber nada'


These types of idioms are hardly a counterpoint to prelearning vocabulary - one is still better off approaching them after knowing the basic meanings of "dire", "querer", "seguir", and "saber".


It wasn't meant as a counterpoint to "prelearning" vocabulary. It was meant to illustrate that without extensive exposure to words in use, you will often not be able to say what you want to say. These are not idioms. They are simply the words being used in the ways that the speakers of these languages have learned to use these words to express these meanings. If you are going to speak the language the way it is spoken by native speakers of the language, you have to learn to use the words the way native speakers use them. You may think this is a minor learning issue, but I can assure you that it is the major learning task when learning a language.

    


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frenkeld
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
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2042 posts - 2719 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, English
Studies: German

 
 Message 82 of 255
16 March 2007 at 11:40am | IP Logged 
Linguamor wrote:
It was meant to illustrate that without extensive exposure to words in use, you will often not be able to say what you want to say.


Certainly, but Iversen emphasized already that he completely agrees with you that extensive exposure to words in use is an absolutely essential ingredient of learning a language.

The question is whether "heavy-handed" vocabulary memorization techniques, of which Iversen's prelearning is one (extreme) example, actually harm one's chance to learn to speak idiomatically in the long run. If they do, they are to be avoided, if they don't, this becomes a matter of personal preference. That's what I've been asking - is it known to do harm?

Linguamor wrote:
You may think this is a minor learning issue, but I can assure you that it is the major learning task when learning a language.


I don't think it's a minor learning issue, I think it is the whole point of the enterprise to learn to write and speak idiomatically, or at least to learn to understand in a nuanced way the languages one only wants to know passively.

What I don't know is whether not getting one's first 2000 words in a language in a "natural" fashion harms that prospect in the long run, or at least slows it down a lot. If I were shown reasonable evidence that it does, that would be the end of the story - I am not "challenging" you just for the sake of arguing.

The main reason I am so keen on this question is because while I like learning from context at the intermediate stage, I found courses based on "comprehensible input" anything but congenial in the early stages of learning a new language. So, before giving up on what comes naturally to me when starting a new language, I want to see some evidence that I should, and since you know research literature on the subject, I was hoping you'd know the state of relevant current research.


Edited by frenkeld on 16 March 2007 at 5:57pm

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Linguamor
Decaglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6440 days ago

469 posts - 599 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Dutch

 
 Message 83 of 255
16 March 2007 at 1:42pm | IP Logged 
frenkeld wrote:

The question is whether "heavy-handed" vocabulary memorization techniques, of which Iversen's preleaning is one (extreme) example, actually harm one's chance to learn to speak idiomatically in the long run. If they do, they are to be avoided, if they don't, this becomes a matter of personal preference. That's what I've been asking - is it known to do harm?


I see no reason why it should do harm.

frenkeld wrote:

What I don't know is whether not getting one's first 2000 words in a language in a "natural" fashion harms that prospect in the long run, or at least slows it down a lot.


Again, I see no reason why it should do harm. I do know that most people can learn to understand 2000 words from comprehensible input a lot faster than they can memorize 2000 words from a wordlist.

frenkeld wrote:

The main reason I am so keen on this question is because while I like learning from context at the intermediate stage, I found courses based on "comprehensible input" anything but congenial in the early stages of learning a new language. So, before giving up on what comes naturally to me when starting a new language, I want to see some evidence that I should, and since you know research literature on the subject, I was hoping you'd know the state of relevant current research.


How did you go about using courses "based on comprehensible input"?


Edited by Linguamor on 16 March 2007 at 3:29pm

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Jerrod
Senior Member
United States
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168 posts - 176 votes 
Studies: Russian, Spanish

 
 Message 84 of 255
16 March 2007 at 2:36pm | IP Logged 
frenkeld wrote:

Some of the 33 letters never occur in the beginning of a word, so assuming 5 letters out of 30, and assuming this means one sixths of the vocabulary has been covered, it would result in 750 x 6 = 4500 words. One doesn't have to wait 2 to 3 years to use that many words - open any unabridged book and you will need them all immediately.

Of course, needing them all doesn't make the task any easier.

frenkeld, well actually there are only 3 letters that do not appear at the beginning of a word, while that may help, the fact that certain letters like о с р п have a large number of words and most of them sound the same can be a big problem. Even he remarked about this dealing with вы.

I did make a mistake about the 2 or 3 year comment. That was in reference to most students (where a textbook may cover 2,500 words in a 2 year course). I do agree that if you actually know these words, you could read a great deal or any of the graded readers, GLOSS (his next target), etc..

I understand he has a great deal of language experiance (and you too) and that a normal approach is not one that you probably want to take. I think a few problems could pop up, especially with the verbs of motion. A quick look in my dictionary (Oxford) ПОЛЗАТЬ and ПОЛЗТИ both say to crawl. If you only have a basic dictionary how will you know one is to crawl slowly vs. to crawl on ones belly or something crawling with short legs.
Moreover, with the verbs of motion all 24 of them and there 15 prefixes, are complicated in the way they are used. Others, like the 3 "to try" verbs, or "to use" may be confusing.
I can only speak for Russian, but I would say in general, some caution must be taken with this approach. (I thought at first he was just opening the dictionary and memorizing every word) Maybe, as he stated getting down the first 500 most common words, then choosing root words, and words you find interesting might work.
I am interested in your experiment and this conversation.

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leosmith
Senior Member
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2365 posts - 3804 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Tagalog

 
 Message 85 of 255
16 March 2007 at 2:44pm | IP Logged 
Linguamor wrote:
As for those first 2500-3000 words, I have mostly learned them through comprehensible input, using language learning materials.

Could you please elaborate?
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MeshGearFox
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United States
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316 posts - 344 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 86 of 255
16 March 2007 at 2:49pm | IP Logged 
Just curious, and maybe this isn't the right thread, but what's the minimum percentage of a text you need to be able to understand to actually be able to understand it? I'm trying to remember what Ardaschir wrote -- something like 75% not being enough, but 80% being enough to at least infer the meaning of unknown words?

Anyway, for the diciontary approach with Russian, I'm wondering if this would cause any confusion with aspectual pairs. Obviously they'd be marked as perfective or imperfective, but I still imagine that this would be relatively tricky.
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Linguamor
Decaglot
Senior Member
United States
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469 posts - 599 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Dutch

 
 Message 87 of 255
16 March 2007 at 3:40pm | IP Logged 
MeshGearFox wrote:
Just curious, and maybe this isn't the right thread, but what's the minimum percentage of a text you need to be able to understand to actually be able to understand it? I'm trying to remember what Ardaschir wrote -- something like 75% not being enough, but 80% being enough to at least infer the meaning of unknown words?


Research has shown that you need to know 95% of the words in a text to be able to infer the meaning of unknown words. Of course, this doesn't mean that you can never infer the meaning of a word without knowing 95% of the words, but to do so consistently, you do need that many.





Edited by Linguamor on 16 March 2007 at 3:41pm

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Linguamor
Decaglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6440 days ago

469 posts - 599 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Dutch

 
 Message 88 of 255
16 March 2007 at 4:28pm | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:
Linguamor wrote:
As for those first 2500-3000 words, I have mostly learned them through comprehensible input, using language learning materials.

Could you please elaborate?


I have used language learning materials as resources for comprehensible input. This means that I have read and listened to the dialogues and reading texts in these materials until I could understand them without having to look at a translation or look up the words in a vocabulary list to understand the dialogues or reading texts. I continued to listen to many of the dialogues until they became so familiar that I could use the grammar and vocabulary to speak. The reason for using language learning materials for comprehensible input is that language learning materials normally contain high-frequency words - the words you need most to be able to speak and begin to read. I have used many different language learning materials because several resources will contain more words than any one resource, and because encountering words in a variety of contexts makes them easier to remember, and provides more information about how they are used.

This is not the only way to begin acquiring a language through comprehensible input. I teach languages by providing comprehensible input, and the way I do it is faster and more effective than the way I have described here, but this was the way most suited to my situation in most of my languages.
       

Edited by Linguamor on 16 March 2007 at 4:32pm



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