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Super-fast vocabulary learning techniques

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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Linguamor
Decaglot
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United States
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 Message 97 of 255
19 March 2007 at 3:57am | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:
Linguamor wrote:
I have used language learning materials as resources for comprehensible input.

Interesting method. Could you give examples of language learning materials that you would consider good for comprehensible input?


I would recommend any materials that contain dialogues and reading texts. Materials that contain interesting readings or a series of dialogues with an interesting storyline are always better. Graded readers are also very good for comprehensible input. Destinos and French in Action are two courses I know of (but have not used) that have been developed to provide comprehensible input. I should point out at this point that I do not consider it important that the language be understood by context. Consulting a translation, a wordlist, grammar notes, or a dictionary are all perfectly acceptable. The goal is to get to the point where you can understand the dialogue or reading text without these aids and without translating or thinking in your native language.       



leosmith wrote:
Linguamor wrote:
the way I do it is faster and more effective than the way I have described here

How do you do that?


I am the source of the comprehensible input, which I provide orally. I adjust the input to accomodate the learner's current level of understanding, and I address any particular difficulties the learner is having by modifying the input. I make sure there is sufficient repetition of vocabulary and grammar for acquisition of these to take place.



Edited by Linguamor on 19 March 2007 at 4:02am

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frenkeld
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: Russian*, English
Studies: German

 
 Message 98 of 255
19 March 2007 at 7:37pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
The point is you won't become an advanced learner without that initial heap of hard work and subsequent experience with a lot of genuine stuff.


Iversen,

I very much understand your goal of getting to the holy grail of "genuine stuff" as soon as possible, but it's not at all clear to me that this "initial heap of hard work" is actually the fastest way to get there, even for you, unless corrected for the fact that you seem to enjoy, savor, and need this "heap of hard work" to stay motivated, which, however, is not the same as saying that the method itself is necessarily optimal.

To go through 6000 words in a month, you must be doing 200 words per day. I am guessing, of course, but it would seem that just to look up that many words in a dictionary may take a couple of hours, if not more. And you are also studying grammar.

Now, for someone as experienced as you, with the time budget of several hours a day, it's not out of the question that you could get even further along towards the goal of reading unabridged texts with some facility using a somewhat different approach.

A familiarization read through a grammar book, then 3 graded readers based on 500, 1000, and 2000 words, that you could probably finish all off in a week or two, while also driving home a nice chunk of grammar. This would be followed by a more detailed study of grammar in parallel to assiduously working through an authentic text with a dictionary, copying and memorizing something like 100 to 200 words per day, which you clearly know how to do. Are you sure this course of study wouldn't be faster, if less enjoyable, than what you are doing right now?


Edited by frenkeld on 19 March 2007 at 9:14pm

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Iversen
Super Polyglot
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Denmark
berejst.dk
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 Message 99 of 255
20 March 2007 at 4:07am | IP Logged 
I don't expect to learn 6000 words in a month, but maybe half that amount, which is entirely feasible, - when I fold a sheet of paper in half there is room for at least 75 words (as my Cyrillic letters become more neat they also shrink in size), and I do at least one of these quartersheets daily, sometimes two. Even with repetition a few days later it will just take 1-2 hours.

One major reason that I have chosen to do the exercise in alphabetical order (which may have made some people lose their confidence in my sanity) is that this minimizes the time spent on searching for words in the dictionary. I still have to read through much of the dictionary in order to choose 'my' words, but even this is useful because of the examples and the remarks on grammar.

Besides I don't expect that this phase will last forever: after my Easter holiday I am going to spend less time on word lists and more time on trying to read real texts. Of course I cannot expect exactly those words that I have learnt to show up in my subsequent reading, but I know from my other languages that it becomes easier to learn new vocabulary when you already know a fair amount of words, and I don't see any reason that Russian will be different in this respect.



Edited by Iversen on 20 March 2007 at 4:14am

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leosmith
Senior Member
United States
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 Message 100 of 255
21 March 2007 at 10:09am | IP Logged 
Linguamor wrote:
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.


Linguamor wrote:
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.


Linguamor wrote:
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.


Linguamor wrote:
I would recommend any materials that contain dialogues and reading texts. Materials that contain interesting readings or a series of dialogues with an interesting storyline are always better. Graded readers are also very good for comprehensible input. Destinos and French in Action are two courses I know of (but have not used) that have been developed to provide comprehensible input. I should point out at this point that I do not consider it important that the language be understood by context. Consulting a translation, a wordlist, grammar notes, or a dictionary are all perfectly acceptable. The goal is to get to the point where you can understand the dialogue or reading text without these aids and without translating or thinking in your native language.


Linguamor wrote:
Research has shown that the language learner can learn unknown words from context if he or she knows 95% of the words on a page. Reading at a rate of 100 words a minute (average native language reading speed is 200-250 wpm), the language learner can read 6000 words in an hour. If 95% of those words are known, the reader will encounter 300 unknown words in an hour of reading. If the language learner learns 5% of these 300 unknown words he or she will have learned 15 words in an hour of reading - on average one word every 4 minutes.


Sorry about the mess; I'm just trying to understand your method, since it seems to be a really good one. So assume I've learned enough words to get up to 95%, and have started reading. I read for one hour, encounter 300 new words, and learn 15 of them. Now what? Read something different? Re-read the passage? Look up the other 285 words? Also, have I left out anything critical here?
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MeshGearFox
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United States
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 Message 101 of 255
21 March 2007 at 4:26pm | IP Logged 
Where would one go about finding graded readers, annotated and glossaried text, and whatever else is similar? I hardly ever see them in actual bookstores, and I'm not really in a position to order stuff online right now because my dorm handles mail in a way best described as "highly peculiar."
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frenkeld
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: Russian*, English
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 Message 102 of 255
21 March 2007 at 4:43pm | IP Logged 
Dover and Penguin bilingual editions can often be found in regular bookstores. They certainly exist for German, I am not sure about Russian. Also, visit your campus bookstore and look at the materials used in language courses at your university. The university library and used bookstores are definitely worth trying too.

Otherwise, a good option may be to find a friend or relative whose mail doesn't get lost and have Amazon, or some other online store, ship the books to his or her address.

As far as graded readers, http://www.continentalbook.com/ carries quite a few for German, if you can stomach their prices. You may also be able to order things directly from the countries of interest (http://www.amazon.de for German and, for example, http://www.ozon.ru for Russian).

For Russian books, I know of at least one online store in the US - http://www.kniga.com - but I've never checked if they carry any learning materials for non-native speakers. There are also several US stores with online presence that specialize in foreign-language materials (I recall Adler books, probably this one: http://www.afb-adlers.com/ , and Shoenhof's: http://www.schoenhofs.com/.)


Edited by frenkeld on 21 March 2007 at 7:29pm

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Linguamor
Decaglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6455 days ago

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

 
 Message 103 of 255
22 March 2007 at 7:06am | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:

I'm just trying to understand your method, since it seems to be a really good one.


My approach to reading has varied. My "standard" approach, the one I used with most of my languages at least some of the time, was to read with a dictionary. I used this approach most consistently with Spanish. I subscribed to the Spanish language edition of Reader's Digest and read each issue, looking up every word that I did not understand. I read for understanding, making no special effort to remember words.

I had used a variation of this approach with French. The difference being that I used a monolingual dictionary when reading French, rather than a bilingual dictionary, and I would sometimes read without a dictionary.

I used the same approach with Italian as I used with Spanish. However, I stopped using a dictionary sooner.

I used the same approach with Portuguese as I used with Spanish and Italian, but with even less dictionary use than with Italian.

I learned to read Norwegian without using a dictionary. I was staying in Norway, not sure how long I would be there, and not convinced I should learn the language. However, I was interested in the country, and what was going on there and in the world, so I began to read Norwegian newspapers, understanding what I could from context.

After I had learned Norwegian, I learned to read Danish and Swedish, reading books without a dictionary.

I decided to try a new approach when I decided to learn to read German. I read the German translations of a couple of popular novels originally written in English. I used a technique I call "parallel reading". I read each sentence of the original version in English, then the corresponding German sentence in the German translation. I read two novels this way. After that I read a novel using a dictionary, then more novels and the German edition of Reader's Digest without a dictionary.

My approach with Dutch has been to read without a dictionary from the beginning, understanding from context.


leosmith wrote:

So assume I've learned enough words to get up to 95%, and have started reading. I read for one hour, encounter 300 new words, and learn 15 of them. Now what? Read something different? Re-read the passage? Look up the other 285 words? Also, have I left out anything critical here?


The important thing is to read for understanding, and to keep on reading. I think it is usually better to go on to read something different, and then if you want to reread something, to come back to it later. The critical element in acquiring language while reading, as in all language acquisition, is ample exposure to language that you can understand.

     

Edited by Linguamor on 22 March 2007 at 7:27am

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leosmith
Senior Member
United States
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Speaks: English*
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 Message 104 of 255
22 March 2007 at 12:22pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the great post Linguamor.
Linguamor wrote:
My approach with Dutch has been to read without a dictionary from the beginning, understanding from context.

Would you recommend this to everyone from the beginning, or only those who have a strong background in similar languages to the target? The idea of not using a dictionary appeals to me, but I'm a little chicken.

MeshGearFox wrote:
Where would one go about finding graded readers

What exactly are graded readers; what makes them different from plain 'ol readers?




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