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Super-fast vocabulary learning techniques

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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Senior Member
Russian Federation
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 Message 241 of 255
25 November 2013 at 2:54pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
Recently, I've adapted this technique to French by making two cards for each word, each blanking out one half of the word. This is proving quite pleasant and effective, and it neatly works around the synonym problem.
Reminds me on the joke about a mum being proud that her kid learned the names of all months:
(with mum's hints):

(works better in Russian, heh)

But jokes aside, that's something to try when I go back to Anki after the Super Challenge ends.
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EnglandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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Studies: Swedish

 Message 242 of 255
25 November 2013 at 9:07pm | IP Logged 
I have nothing of value to add to this, i'm just glad i found it and will work at some of
the methods described. My main motivation in actually writing this is simply so that this
thread will now show up on my user CP and won't get lost. Apologies.
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Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 6419 days ago

9753 posts - 15779 votes 
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Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 Message 243 of 255
25 November 2013 at 9:47pm | IP Logged 
Below the "reply" form you can click "watch this topic for replies".
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Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 6419 days ago

9753 posts - 15779 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 Message 244 of 255
25 November 2013 at 10:44pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
In principial you could mix different languages in the translation column. It is just a series of memory crutches, that you shouldn't need when you have learnt the foreign word.
Challenge accepted :D
I hadn't done Iversen-style wordlists for years (since 2009 or 2010 I think), but reading this thread made me want to do it again. I guess I should always remember the difference between just doing something and doing it regularly.

But this made me wanna do a Danish-based wordlist with translations in all sorts of languages. So the translation column is also learning, heh. I could only manage groups of 5 words, I did 25 words total. That's not something I would advise as a daily thing, but once in a while why not?
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Super Polyglot
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 Message 245 of 255
26 November 2013 at 11:17am | IP Logged 
I have never ever stopped doing wordlists, but I try to make small changes here and there to check new ideas or to take heed of specific problems. Sometimes I just do those things once, or the effort peters out for some reason, but 'mixed' translation columns is one thing I have kept doing for a number of good reasons - although never to the extent that that column became truly Europantic.

The simplest way to remember a foreign word is to memorize at least one translation of it (preferable a core meaning), there is a trade-off here: I know from myself that I remember words from a known language better than words from a new and shaky one. So I don't try to write translation columns consistently in languages where I still haven't got a sizeable vocabulary.

However there are things that can make me use several languages. First and foremost I often use dictionaries in English or German or other languages, or I make bilingual texts with other translation languages than Danish just for fun. Then it isn't a big step also to make translation columns in those other languages, but interspersed with Danish words. And sometimes it takes two words to cover one in your target language, but language X has a word with a similar semantic structure, or you know a splendid translation somewhere which avoids a nasty pitfall presented by the most obvious word in your own language. Or you know a good translation in another language which actually is built on the same root as the word in your target language, which makes it easier to remember it. And then I switch languages. But I don't do it just to have fun.

Btw. I follow a similar rule in my hyperliteral translations, where the aim isn't to make pretty translations for those lazy bums who are unable to read the original, but rather to help myself to memorize a structure or pattern in the same way as I would memorize a single word. And then I sometimes have to use tricks that include inserting single words from other languages to remind me that this word isn't to be taken literally.

For instance Indonesian has a connector "yang" which covers not only the role of our relative pronouns, but also is used to attach adjective-like words to substantive-like ones (word classes in Indonesian are somewhat fluid). So I have developed the habit of putting English "which" in my Danish translations whenever "yang" is used in the original (here illustrated in the English version by inserting a Latin word): "Wikipedia adalah ensiklopedia yang bebas disunting" (Wikipedia er encyklopædi which kan editere-s" (Wikipedia is encyclopedia QUID can be-edit). In a wordlist "yang" might appear with the 'translation' [connector], simply because there isn't a single word in Danish or English that plays the same syntactical role. And then you have to use another kind of memory hook.

Edited by Iversen on 02 December 2013 at 10:20am

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Senior Member
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Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin
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 Message 246 of 255
02 December 2013 at 4:39am | IP Logged 
Learning words & phrases at a high speed is fine. At the same time you need to balance it during the week by
watching videos, listening to news broadcast on TV, radio or online during the week to improve your listening
skills. This would help you to learn to use words & phrases in the proper context of the language. Otherwise you
might end up writing something that sounded OK in English but when translated into your target language isn't
quite correct.

Recently I came across someone who typed a paragraph in Chinese. The meaning was understandable but some of
the text isn't correct in the context of the language. Essentially you wanted to end up being fluent in conversation
as well. I know people who have a good Chinese vocabulary but when it comes to communicating with locals they
get the tones all mixed up and the conversation becomes difficult to understand.

Edited by shk00design on 02 December 2013 at 4:40am

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Senior Member
United Kingdom
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 Message 247 of 255
02 December 2013 at 1:35pm | IP Logged 
The premise of this thread seems to be that learning words fast is necessarily a good
thing. It's an old thread, and I haven't read through it all (at least not recently),
so I don't know if this premise was seriously questioned (probably it has been). Would
it be too simplistic to say that something learned quickly is also forgotten quickly?
Probably, yes, i.e. yes, that's too simplistic, but at the same time, perhaps we should
be careful of making speed alone our reason for learning in a particular way.

Obviously, and hardly needing saying, cramming for tests and exams is one thing:
learning for life is another.

I like to think I'm reasonably open to new ideas, and also very happy to revisit old
ideas that I haven't paid enough attention to.

Parallel texts is something we often talk about on here, and I recently posted a link
to Aglona Reader, which is a means both to read parallel texts and also to produce them
yourself (given that you have an original and a translation in text form already). I
was impressed when using it as a reader, and I'm also impressed when using it as a
parallel text creator, although I'd have to admit that the creation is potentially a
rather slow process.

However, (and this is the relevance to this topic), I'd first thought parallel text
creation as just a chore to be got through in order to get on to the "fun" of using it
as a reader/learner. But I've now realised that it's a very instructive process in
itself, especially doing it the Aglona Reader way, since you basically have to read
each phrase in both languages. The process is semi-automated, i.e. Aglona Reader will
suggest to you phrases to pair together (based mainly on punctuation), so that very
often you can just hit the space bar or click the mouse to accept AR's suggestion, but
you do have to be on the alert, so as to avoid mis-pairings, or less than optimal
pairings, and sometimes some re-editing of the punctuation is necessary, and
occasionally of the translation (if you allow yourself that liberty...depends on who
it's ultimately for I suppose).

From my experience so far, it seems that you really need a pretty high level of
comprehension of the structure and a fair amount of vocabulary in order to be able to
use AR to produce parallel texts, although Yanis, the author, thinks that it can still
be done at a relatively earlier stage.
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Senior Member
United States
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 Message 248 of 255
21 February 2014 at 11:27pm | IP Logged 
I just wanted to kick up this old thread for the invaluable information in it. Also, it is amazing what I have taken from this thread.

I am adjusting my schedule. In addition to Assimil and Anki:

1) Start doing word list like Iverson does to learn initial vacabulary

2) I will focus on an additional several hundred verbs I do not know (3-500)

3) 3,000 Additional Nouns

4) Then take on more advanced native material

After taking these steps, I will feel better about taking on native materials. I have attempted to take on native materials but spent more time mentally trying to translate "almost known words" than listening to all the words. The speaker moves on and it becomes a REALLY passive excercise very quickly. As far as reading, most of my time is looking up vacabulary which becomes slow to the point of "Why am I doing this?".

One thing that has struck a chord for me is TheElvenLord's comment many pages (years) ago;

"For example, I think, instead of "Moes means Table" i think "Moes is another word for Table""

This makes sense. If I say table in English I easily and without thinking produce a mental image of a table. So I went back to a few words I had struggled with the night before in Anki. Vidrio is another word for glass. Hierro is another word for iron.

So what happened in my head is that I used MY OWN mental image of iron or glass verses the image I borrowed from ANKI. What I don't understand is Why does it work with "Another word for" and does not work "Means". The answer is that I have no freaking idea.

Here is what I do know. I feel very confident that those words are now MINE. I own them and can use them when needed. I will use this word play with both the word list and my ANKI sessions.

I am in the middle of a very liberating experience. Thanks for the years and info in this thread.

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