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Super-fast vocabulary learning techniques

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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Senior Member
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 Message 217 of 255
04 May 2011 at 8:01pm | IP Logged 
lingoleng wrote:
Matheus wrote:
Do you know some English book which cover a good essential vocabulary?

I use this one. I think it is good, and there are other books like this, of course.

Visual dictionary? It might be a good idea to learn the substantives that I need in order to improve my vocabulary. Thanks.

@Iversen, I searched about frequency lists on this forum, and I found one of your comments. I have to agree with you, frequency lists may not be a good idea. How can they put the word "Dinosaur" out of the frequency list? It's not what I need at the moment.

@lingoleng Oh man, really thanks. A visual dictionary is what I was looking for. You solved my "noun" problem.   

Edited by Matheus on 04 May 2011 at 8:16pm

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 Message 218 of 255
05 May 2011 at 1:18am | IP Logged 
Matheus wrote:

@lingoleng Oh man, really thanks. A visual dictionary is what I was looking for. You solved my "noun" problem.

Great :-)
Btw, there are very similar books, same pictures, different languages, for Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Spanish, Turkish, and, if Iversen happens to read this:
I like these books ...

Edited by lingoleng on 05 May 2011 at 1:22am

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Senior Member
Czech Republic
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 Message 219 of 255
07 June 2011 at 3:30pm | IP Logged 
I got here through some current links in other threads but I believe noone will mind if I revive this great thread. But sorry about a long post.

To Mattheus: There is such a wordlist-dictionary being created at re

it is a french project but one can contribute with many other languages as well. The wordlists are a good start but of course there is a lot of space to improve them. The project is quite ambitious and people working on it seem to try real hard to make it as good as possible.

The thread is very interesting and while everyone agrees that lots of native materials and context are needed, some people say to not use dictionaries wordlists and srs at all. But how do you make the passive vocabulary gained through reading active then?

Let me explain on an exemple. Me and french. There is a huge gap between my active and passive vocabulary. The active one contains (I guess) three thousand words which is enough for most situations but real far from ideal, I am missing an exact word too often when speaking. The active vocab was acquired during my school years. It was taken from various textbooks and as it was basic vocabulary, I used it often and it sticked to my memory. And than I started reading. My passive vocabulary has grown immensely and my understanding is on really good level. But only a few of those words found their way to my active vocabulary. So I have started (and am very far from finishing with my currently limited free time) an anki pack based on dictionary. And alphabetical order is not an enemy, because as Iversen said, it's the easiest way how to work my way through it. And it's much easier than looking for all the various language materials I have used during last ten years.

I'd say dictionary is ideal source for SRS or wordlists for high-intermediate or advanced learner like me, since I have many means of sorting words by their usefulness now. Firstly, I take words I remember to have seen many times in L2 but still cannot fully remember their meaning in L1 (even though I guess it from the context usually). Secondly, I take words which I understand without any trouble but cannot actively use (L1->L2 trouble). And third, I try to find words Matheus mentioned. Those you won't find in a novel but might have great need for in real life.

I'd say my ideal way of learning vocabulary is 1.textbooks with the most basic vocabulary 2.reading to learn to sort and to get passive understanding 3.dictionary and either wordlists or srs (I prefer srs) 4.back to reading to learn using my new active vocab in context.

I'm not against using as much native material as possible, it is always needed, but I don't believe the recent theory told by most publishers and language teachers. Explaining grammar and learning vocabulary by more traditional ways is necessary complement to the context learning.
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William Camden
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 Message 220 of 255
14 June 2011 at 3:48pm | IP Logged 
Personally, I am fond of dictionaries. I remember getting English ones out and reading´them during school work when I was around 10 years old. I do not remember seeing other children doing the same.

My fondness for dictionaries was extended to foreign-language ones, when I began learning foreign languages.

On the subject of visual dictionaries, Germans seem to be especially fond of them, and I have encountered German ones dating back to the Second World War.    
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 Message 221 of 255
04 January 2012 at 11:39pm | IP Logged 
My strategy was/is to read books in subjects that interest me, or books which I have enjoyed in English. For example, the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. I read through them in French, circling words I don't recognise in pencil. Afterwards, I write the words out and turn them into flash cards, which I drill for 1-2 days at a time in bunches of 70 words or so.
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 Message 222 of 255
08 January 2012 at 8:26pm | IP Logged 
I haven't seen this mentioned in the last 27 pages, but please forgive me if I missed it:

Has anyone tried flashcards/lists _only_ in the target language? I.e., a short definition on one side and the new word
on the other? (Of course, this is only possible after a basic vocabulary has been acquired...)
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 Message 223 of 255
08 January 2012 at 11:23pm | IP Logged 
Lukos, flash cards are awesome, and there are free computer programs like Anki that take care a lot of the messy work for you.

If you are going to use them, I'd recommend putting your target word in an example sentence that you found it in, so that you learn it in context. Even better, put more than one sample sentence on the card (or do one sentence per card if you'd like) because this will help you learn the nuance of the word itself.
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 Message 224 of 255
09 January 2012 at 1:00am | IP Logged 
lingoleng wrote:
... and, if Iversen happens to read this:

I already have a number of non-pictorial dictionaries, so I'll not add one more right now. But I wonder whether a pictorial Latin dictionary would use pictures full of Roman soldiers in full armour or Medieval monks.

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