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Super-fast vocabulary learning techniques

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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frenkeld
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6765 days ago

2042 posts - 2719 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, English
Studies: German

 
 Message 105 of 255
22 March 2007 at 12:45pm | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:
What exactly are graded readers; what makes them different from plain 'ol readers?


A "graded reader" is probably one in which the level, and often the length, of the stories rises steadily from the first story to the last.

I sometimes misuse the term "graded" to apply to any simplified reader, even one in which the level of material is more or less constant throughout, but this is unlikely to be correct. On the other hand, if you buy several small simplified, but not graded, readers of different levels, together they will form a graded collection.


Edited by frenkeld on 22 March 2007 at 12:52pm

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Vinnie
Groupie
England
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65 posts - 66 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 106 of 255
22 March 2007 at 6:30pm | IP Logged 
       Some damn good information here, ive been reading things i can understand and then move onto sligtly harder reading books and internet articles, and then harder and harder.
       I really enjoy reading italian because when you see improvements, and then more improvements in your reading it makes it all worth it + the motivation it gives you.
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macdad
Newbie
United States
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16 posts - 16 votes
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 107 of 255
23 March 2007 at 2:19pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:

I still think that it is important to get as large vocabulary as possible as early as possible, even if it would have been easier for an advanced learner to learn the same number of words...

...in my opinion the important thing to learn so many words (plus grammar) that you can start working with lots of real language instead of just a few short texts in a text book. Postponing this by slacking on word acquisition in the initial hard phase will just postpone the time where you can really reap the fruits of your labour.


I think this makes a lot of sense. As a preface, the only language I can speak is English, but I have been studying German for approx. 3 months using Michel Thomas, reading grammar books, studying some vocab, a little FSI, listening to the radio, etc.

The problem is that I recognize most of the sentence structures in German writing, but I don't know the words. If I had a larger vocabulary, I would be able to understand much more at this point. Before I began reading this thread, I had the feeling I needed to start cramming vocabulary, especially nouns.

I believe Iverson's approach would work really well for me. Although, I don't know if I would enjoy lists. I have been using a flash card software that seems to be very effective. I would really like to be able to understand more of what I read.
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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 108 of 255
23 March 2007 at 3:15pm | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:
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.


I have native-equivalent reading proficiency in Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish, and near-native proficiency in German. This, together with the Dutch I've learned from language learning materials, gives me an understanding of about 98% of the words in a Dutch text. If the language learner knows 98% of the words in a text, I would definitely recommend reading without a dictionary. If the language learner knows 95% of the words in a text, I would also recommend reading without a dictionary, at least some of the time.



Edited by Linguamor on 23 March 2007 at 3:36pm

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MeshGearFox
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6517 days ago

316 posts - 344 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 109 of 255
23 March 2007 at 7:12pm | IP Logged 
I've found that my recall and retention with word lists isn't any better than with a spaced repetition system using flash cards. I'm either doing them wrong or they just don't work for me. I'm gonna keep up with the dictionary lookup method, maybe writing down undown words or something. Or I might think up something really original that's hopefully not too stupid.

Bilingual weaves, honestly, strike me as one of the best ideas for me, because it's precisely the abrupt shift from one language to another, with the meaning being understood, that seems to implant the word in my brain. Even going from a monolingual sense, suddenly knowing what a word means shocks it into my memory, but it's less... quick this way. The only problem is that I can't find any, and there aren't any programs that, say, arbitrarily search through a text and replace X number of words with foreign ones.
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Sprachprofi
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Germany
learnlangs.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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Speaks: German*, English, French, Esperanto, Greek, Mandarin, Latin, Dutch, Italian
Studies: Spanish, Arabic (Written), Swahili, Indonesian, Japanese, Modern Hebrew, Portuguese

 
 Message 110 of 255
24 March 2007 at 5:15am | IP Logged 
MeshGearFox wrote:
I've found that my recall and retention with word lists isn't any better than with a spaced repetition system using flash cards. I'm either doing them wrong or they just don't work for me. I'm gonna keep up with the dictionary lookup method, maybe writing down undown words or something. Or I might think up something really original that's hopefully not too stupid.

Bilingual weaves, honestly, strike me as one of the best ideas for me, because it's precisely the abrupt shift from one language to another, with the meaning being understood, that seems to implant the word in my brain. Even going from a monolingual sense, suddenly knowing what a word means shocks it into my memory, but it's less... quick this way. The only problem is that I can't find any, and there aren't any programs that, say, arbitrarily search through a text and replace X number of words with foreign ones.


How'bout "glide" stories that gradually put more foreign words into the text? I don't think an automatic of replacing words would work because the computer won't know which foreign word is the right translation that applies in that case.
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slucido
Bilingual Diglot
Senior Member
Spain
https://goo.gl/126Yv
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Speaks: Spanish*, Catalan*
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 Message 111 of 255
25 March 2007 at 2:46am | IP Logged 
Whatching DVD movies is another good method to learn vocabulary from context, listening and reading (with subtitles in your target language).

How do you recommend to use this vocabulary resource?

http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?T ID=2911&KW=dvd

administrator wrote:
I've been watching many Italian movies recently and started writing down the vocabulary I did not understand or wanted to commit to my active vocabulary. For each movie I get about 20 words or expressions, not a lot, but these are often expressions I won't encounter in newspapers or novels. Things people say but don't write. Many are not especially highbrow, although I was delighted to pick up Io credo a l'improcrastinabilitࠤella cosa. ('I believe in the improcrastinability of the thing', not an ounce lighter in the original). Most expressions are like 'Permesso?' / 'Ƞpermesso', which by writing down and remembering the scene can be firmly committed to memory for active use.

Most of these movies I watch with the Italian subtitles on unless they are not available.

There is nothing fancy about this exercise but I nonetheless recommend it to any language learner. It gives you good conscience about watching movies instead of playing language tapes!


Vespasian wrote:
I'm doing the same thing and I think it's a very effective way to learn a language. You do not only read the words but you also hear them. And there is always a context. Not only from the story but also visually. You might also record the audio part of every film and then you can listen to it whenever you want.

I think it's very efficient because when I'm walking down the street for example some expressions from the films just pop up in my mind. If you are a beginner like me it's a bit annoying to write everything down first i.e. make tons of flashcards. But after you understand most of the film it's easy and a fun way to subconsciously learn a language.

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MeshGearFox
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6517 days ago

316 posts - 344 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 112 of 255
25 March 2007 at 4:49am | IP Logged 
I'm going to be posting several thoughts I had today on vocab memorization, and they're not really in any real order. I've seperated them with little bars (---). Some of them are odd and impractical, and I'm just throwing them out for the sake of discussion because they're interesting to me. Hopefully someone else will read them, been inspired, and actually take them somewhere.

---

I recently had a brief idea that I think came up before, and was more recently inspired about the comment on finding the root in a Russian verb in my... Russian verb questions thread, but...

Grouping related words has come up before, but I think that meant more in terms of meaning. I think for either Spanish or Japanese. Anyway, grouping words with related meanings apparently causes fatigue, so that's out.

Likewise, words derived from the roots via prepositions don't really work regularly, beyond, say, aspectual pairs in Russian which regularly change aspect, and then irregularly change meaning (Or transitivity pairs in German, which I've never seen described anywhere, so I'm probably just imagining them).

Actually expecting perfectly logical derivations, beyond, say, deriving adjectives from verbs or whatever, which does tend to work quite regularly and logically, is really then the wrong way of going about that.

I'm thinking that some sort of "free association" learning sessions are in order, although I can't think of any dictionaries that would support this terribly well.

What I mean is find a root word, and then have a dictionary that would, say, list its meaning (and aspect and transitivity and governed cases and reflixivity or whatever else your specific language would need), and then below all that, a list of every derived word, arranged categorically.

Alternatively, you could, I imagine, build your own word trees. I can't think of any software that's useful for building, uh, flowcharts like this.

This method also, of course, breaks down completely for words that aren't really derived from anything. The best guess I can have for memorizing these is using multiple languages that have cognates as memory hooks, or trying to find out what the PIE origin word was, if you're studying IE languages (Which I am).

Or I guess you could just come up with free-association lists for words that aren't derived, only instead of working with derivatives, just does something like, "When I think of the word 'Bogen,' I tend to think of the carrots for absolutely no logical reason, so Möhre will be the next node after Bogen.'

Or you can take a more logical approach and do something like.

'I eat carrots with a fork.' Let's say fork and carrots are unknown, so you make 'Möhre' the first node, think through the sentence, then make Gabel the next node. Going from this you could so something like, 'Forks have metal tines.' Fork as a previous unknown, so you repeat it in the next word list, then make whatever the other unknowns are (metal and tines, let's say) part of the new node list, and just keep dragging it out and linking stuff up until something sticks.

I doubt this is making much sense. I'll try and illustrate something tomorrow.

---

Idea 2: Memorize poetry in L2, and then memorize the translation in L1. This would probably work rather well. I'm not really sure why. I'm assuming that rhyme and meter act as additional memory hooks.

---

Thought Experiment: Taste and smell are apparently closely linked to memory, and I imagine that synaesthesia could probably be useful for memorizing words. Maybe to simulate this environment, one could, say, paint different portions of the mouth with various flavors so that the speaker could get a sequence of flavors based on where they were putting their tongue to form certain sounds. Incredibly impractical, but I'm wondering if a synaesthetic approach could be carried out in some other way, and if my assumption that it would actually be useful is correct, or if it would just be incredibly annoying.

---

I'm also wondering if written text on flashcards or whatever else textual is being used could actually act as a block for memorization. ie, you see the word, but you can't break it down into its components and encode it properly. Alternatively, the 'color' or 'shape' of a word differentiates from its actual sound, and causes some sort of gap in the mental processes. For reference, people that can't properly pronounce misspelled but readily identifiable words/netspeak, or people that, in English, insist that grey and gray feel different.

---

Loosely based on the above. When the learner goes to learn a word, typically they learn the word as a whole, or perhaps break it down into root + affixes + whatever else has been done to it. What if, instead, the learner broke the word down into its syllables and instead memorized it as a sequence of sounds instead of as a solid chunk of letters with a definition?

---

Alright, I'm also going to post some interesting links.

http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2003-January/0240 77.html

That one brings up conditioning a bit and the method sounds interesting.

http://www.teyl.org/article14.html

Sort of long. Seems to focus more on memory processes.

Edited by MeshGearFox on 25 March 2007 at 5:34am



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