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Super-fast vocabulary learning techniques

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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Farley
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 Message 17 of 255
11 March 2007 at 11:00am | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
This is just one facet of the different ways that people manage to survive: some people plan a holiday in details, but may then skip the preparations and make new plans if they get more information later during the trip. Others just buy a flight ticket somewhere and then react to the things that happens along the road.


That seems to be the big fault line for learning. It’s amazing how the pattern keeps reoccurring.

I have found a happy medium reading familiar texts without a dictionary and then highlighting half-known words in an inexpensive paperback dictionary.

BTW, Thanks everyone for contributing to this topic. It is an excellent reference.

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slucido
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 Message 18 of 255
11 March 2007 at 11:15am | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
I have read the old posts from Ardaschir (who unfortunately doesn't write here any more), and I found his warning against dictionaries somewhat puzzling.
...
Others just buy a flight ticket somewhere and then react to the things that happens along the road. I belong to the first category. I would not say that Ardaschir fully belongs to the second, but an uncritical reading of his warnings against dictionaries will only work for those who do.



I agree with you.

I like to learn words by context, but I use word lists as well. In fact, I do worlist from books I read.

I have read a lot of advice from experts against to use dictionarys,however I think to work and learn a bilingual dictionary (about 20.000 words) can be a good method. A person with a good memory training can do that and after he or she can read a reread books to reinforce all his huge vocabulary. Why I don't use this approach? Because I don't have the willpower. This is the unique problem for me.
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*Aquarius*
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 Message 19 of 255
11 March 2007 at 11:54am | IP Logged 
Both Ardaschir's and Iversen's methods of memorizing vocabulary seem worth trying out to me.
I think that it's important to adjust learning style to one's preferences.
I've tried out some memorizing methods and if I can give you a hint, I would recommend such softwares as SuperMemo. It works similar to flashcards, but it's better in some aspects - mainly because of quite well set repetition intervals.
I think that a good vocabulary learning system is pivotal, maybe not at all, but at many stages of language learning.

Besides, it's a really interesting thread!
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MeshGearFox
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 Message 20 of 255
11 March 2007 at 6:39pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
The key to the system is that absolutely NO translations either way may be written down until at least all 5-7 things in a block can be recalled at will in any order.


In effect, you're remembering the words, before remembering what they mean? I believe that I was doing this step backwards.

Anyway, I remember reading somewhere -- and I think it was brought into this thread -- that one person formed a sort of rhythmic repetition sequence based around vocabulary lists (which was then compared to the way that bards and actors and whatnot would memorize long poems and songs). I'm wondering if something similar could be applied to the word lists you use by, say, using the specific order of the words as an additional memory hook or something.
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frenkeld
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 Message 21 of 255
11 March 2007 at 7:28pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
Personally I don't like to solve puzzles, and I don't trust knowledge gained from just one or a few examples that I have stumpled upon by accident. A good dictionary is a short cut to gaining a qualified overview over the possibilities of a word ...


Inspired by this thread, I was rereading a few sections in Kato Lomb's book and realized that she was able to combine "puzzle-solving" with the detailed view of a word offered by a good dictionary.

"On first reading I only write down the words that I’ve understood, i.e., those whose meaning I was able to figure out from context. Of course, not in an isolated fashion, but creating for each one its own little context (see the chapters called “Vocabulary” and “How should we memorize words?”). Only when I am reading the book the second, if not the third, time, do I write down all the remaining words. Actually, no, not all, but only those that are relevant to me, my personality, those I use in my own Hungarian speech or those I understand well (after all, we don’t usually use all the words, or, let’s be honest, understand). And to any word that I write down, I always attach its “tree”, its “family” (the material for the “tree” can be found in the book itself or in the dictionary)."

Interestingly, it is left unclear if she would go ahead and look up in a dictionary the words she has just understood from context, but one thing for sure - her approach was not about kicking back, relaxing and just letting the context do it all. Even learning from context, she worked at it, at least in the early stages of learning.


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Iversen
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 Message 22 of 255
11 March 2007 at 7:59pm | IP Logged 
MeshGearFox wrote:
Quote:
The key to the system is that absolutely NO translations either way may be written down until at least all 5-7 things in a block can be recalled at will in any order.


In effect, you're remembering the words, before remembering what they mean? I believe that I was doing this step backwards.


I may not have expressed myself clearly on this point.

All words or expressions come from a source of some kind (a dictionary, a thematic wordlist or maybe my own notes made during active reading), where there is a translation for each one or where the meaning at least is clear. I write the words down trying to keep the translations in mind, but often it is necessary to refer back to the source several times to refresh my memory, and this is perfectly OK.

In practice the need to remember the translations is not a major problem when you are doing these lists, because you will very soon get into the habit of taking an extra careful look at each word or expression and its translation already when you select it from the source. After all you know that you will have to recall it shortly after, together with several other words. The focus is on training your memory, but in doing so you also train your concentration and your attentiveness.

The demand that you remember all 5-7 translations for the middle column is to be seen as a control (and the right to write them may even function as kind of a reward, which must please all remaining behaviourists out there).


Edited by Iversen on 11 March 2007 at 8:25pm

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Farley
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 Message 23 of 255
11 March 2007 at 9:04pm | IP Logged 
Iverson,

Just curious, do you make any distinction between active and passive vocabulary, or any special concessions for commonly used words and phrases?

Thanks,

John

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leosmith
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 Message 24 of 255
11 March 2007 at 9:24pm | IP Logged 
There's some great stuff here; thanks evrybody.

I like the idea of the poster who recommended trying one or more of these methods. I think I'll try several, using 100 words on each method.

I have a theory. When we're young, we have the potential to learn just about any way. As we go down one path, our learning becomes more locked in. Some people can learn very well taking the passive approach, while others like to break things down, analyze them drill, etc. In reality, most are probably a mixture of these extremes.

Ardaschir strikes me as a learner who has mastered the passive method, as his mind has been trained from years of practice. As I've said before, I'm very envious of his methods, because he doesn't need to drill, or take things out of context. I'm not implying that his way is right, or others are wrong, but when one has 15,000 flashcards in supermemo, one dreams of not drilling:)

Is it possible to train your mind to become the other type of learner? And if so, what would be the price? Would it be worth it?

Who knows. Maybe I'm stuck because I'm 45 and sorta set in my ways. But continuing with my theory, a young learner could possibly choose a path and train their brain to learn a specific way. Just a theory...


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