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Super-fast vocabulary learning techniques

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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luke
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 Message 33 of 255
12 March 2007 at 6:10pm | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:
I'm talking about the 10,000 sentence method.

There's a lot of powerful tips on the alljapaneseallthetime attitudes and techniques page. I particularly like his "ten ways" and "no speak English" blogs. In fact, I'm installing international support on my PC right now, and will start carrying a handy monolingual pocket dictionary.


Edited by luke on 12 March 2007 at 6:15pm

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MeshGearFox
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 Message 34 of 255
13 March 2007 at 1:31am | IP Logged 
Okay, first, to Iversen. I've played around with the word lists a bit and noticed something interesting. Doing the three columns and memorizing the words in groups seems to be the main keys. Actually HOW you memorize the word groups between writing the columns seems quite variable, and I'm guessing this is another advantage. The whole system should mutate relatively easily to accomodate any specific needs the user has, and I'd also imagine that if used enough, the best method for each user would become apparent. Case in point, the two misinterpretations of your methods I had -- simply memorizing the words in a list, and associating them with their specific order, and then memorizing the words, and then retroactively figuring out what they meant, but seemed to work relatively well for some reason.

So, here's some probably wrong guessing on my part. I'm assuming that your lists allow the user to... more transparently associate the words. You're not brute-force matching two equivalent words in two languages. You're memorizing one set of words, a set of equivalent words, and how they all line up just seems to sift out in your mind. So by the time you're writing the translated column, you already sort of just know, intuitively, which is which.

So, as an experiment, I bought one of those student edition plays in German, with the notes and the glossary in the back. I'll work alphabetically through the glossary using study cards for a week or so, then read the thing. I'm assuming that a week vocab drilling, followed by reading something which will use the words I just learned, SHOULD reinforce them quite well.

Now, for something else.

http://www.epsbooks.com/dynamic/catalog/series.asp?seriesonl y=2431M

Wordly Wise. My school used those to teach us spelling and vocabulary for our native language: English.

They focused on a smaller, and I believe thematically organized, word lists, which were easier to memorize for both reasons, and they also had a lot of exercises. I'm wondering if there are foreign language materials that have a similar set up. Vocab drills, followed up with narrative sections with focus words. I imagine something nice could be set up.

There was another completely asinine exercise which, in retrospect, was probably quite helpful, and reminds me of Iversens word lists, slightly. It was called Three Times Each. Predictably, it involved writing the vocab words we were learning three times each. Annoying and dull, but really, after doing it, I hardly ever forgot the spelling.

Anyway, I'm going to get slightly off topic and bring up something which I think is an ineffective method.

In comparison to that, the average lesson in a foreign language class is rather long and covers a lot of topics and words. I'm thinking it might be preferable to break the lessons down. One topic per lesson, 15 new words, and exercises which focus solely on the new topic and the new words. By dealing with less at once, I'm assuming the student will be more likely to actually remember it.
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MeshGearFox
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 Message 35 of 255
13 March 2007 at 1:48am | IP Logged 
(New post. The old one is getting sort of long and unreadable).

Three's another concept I was wondering about. Using a word in context is probably the best way to solidify it. However, I'm finding that my need for vocabulary and rate at which I can learn it is outstripping my grammatical ability. Therefor, I started wondering. Would code switching do more help or harm?

For instance, let's say I'm just starting out in German (when in reality, I've had it for four years and I'm still completely terrible at it). Let's say I didn't grammatically know how to write something like, "I'm going to the store to sell some bread." Now, let's say I wanted to learn the words to sell, bread, store, and going.

So, instead of trying to hack out a grammatically correct sentence, you just end up saying, "I'm *gehen* to *das Kaufhous* to *verkaufen* some *brot*."

Ideally, though, you'd be conjugating verbs and applying cases and just ignoring word order and prepositional and idiotmatic stuff, but this is one extreme.

I know that this won't get you used to the underlying grammatical features of a language, or hearing the words in context of said grammatical features, but the meaning of the sentence would, undeniably, be understood by the person making it up, and they'd probably have enough of some sort of context to get the words.

I guess I'm thinking something like the reverse of those phased texts.
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Linguamor
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 Message 36 of 255
13 March 2007 at 3:29am | IP Logged 
If the language learner learns words in the ways that are being discussed here, - word X in the target language equals word Y in the language learner's native language - then he or she has not learned how to use the words in the target language. Let me make this clearer. The language learner has learned the one thing that a native speaker of the target language does not need to know in order to use a word, and has not learned what the native speaker does know, and what the language learner needs to learn, - how to use the word in combination with other words to communicate various meanings. Having memorized target language and native language "equivalents", and not knowing how the words are used in the target language, the language learner has no option but to fall back on his or her knowledge of how the native language words are used, and to use the target language words in the same way. The results are not pretty.



Edited by Linguamor on 13 March 2007 at 4:18am

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Sprachprofi
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 Message 37 of 255
13 March 2007 at 3:53am | IP Logged 
MeshGearFox wrote:
In comparison to that, the average lesson in a foreign language class is rather long and covers a lot of topics and words. I'm thinking it might be preferable to break the lessons down. One topic per lesson, 15 new words, and exercises which focus solely on the new topic and the new words. By dealing with less at once, I'm assuming the student will be more likely to actually remember it.


You're taking the words right out of my mouth. I always wanted to see short and easy lessons, also because you might have to stop in the middle, leave with an incomplete understanding and come back to it later if the lesson is too long. I developed a concept I like to call "bite-sized" language lessons, which involves short grammar and vocabulary sections, but also a section of "optional" vocabulary that you can learn selectively if you are in the mood and have the time. This section means that I won't ever put comparatively unimportant words like "Algeria" in the vocabulary section of a lesson, but students from Algeria or with an interest in Algeria can find that word in the optional vocabulary and study it. The other students are right to ignore it until they are at a much higher level. Because this is also something that I find annoying with commercially-available courses: quite often they teach you words that you know you will never use, e. g. I found the word "dasology"(forest studies) in the 5th lesson of my Greek coursebook. In a bite-sized approach, that word *might* figure in the optional vocabulary along with a list of popular study subjects, but people could safely ignore it without suddenly finding them unable to understand the next lessons or complete exercises.

You can see this short German course I wrote as an example of what I mean. I have also used this approach for other languages, especially an Esperanto course that should allow you to achieve reading/writing fluency in 3 months maximum.    

Edited by Sprachprofi on 13 March 2007 at 6:18am

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Iversen
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 Message 38 of 255
13 March 2007 at 4:00am | IP Logged 
I have been reading the latest post by Meshgearfox about the methods to memorize wordlists with great interest. The main point for us all is to find out why a certain technique works, and if it does work to isolate the factors that play a role. Then these elements may be combined in new ways to give a larger spectrum of methods.

It may in fact be true that having 5-7 words from each language rotating freely in your head trying to make contact with each other is one of the factors that make you remember them, and it also shows how little the method in fact depends on a strict on-to-one dependence between the foreign words and their translations.

For the moment I'm speculating about two other things. One is that it should be possible to combine a learning process based on word lists (based on short blocks and 'memory training') with a consolidation process based on flash card techniques (including computerized techniques). The problem is getting the words transferred.

The other has been nagging me since yesterday. As stated by Sprachprofi there may be a point in word lists based on native language words (or expressions) that are used as memory crutches to help remembering target language words, instead of the inverse.

I still think that memory lists based on dictionaries should be based on the foreign words, both because the alphabetical order in itself is a help for the memory and because the examples and idiomatic phrases that you accidentally see during the process will be those in the foreign language, and they will contain the words you might put into your word lists. With a suitable diactionary you may learn some useful idioms this way.

I also think that word lists that serve to consolidate the words found during active reading have to take the foreign words as their base. After all they are plucked from a foreign language text, and that text is where you find the actual context.

But the third category, the word lists based on thematic considerations, could well be based on series of 'native' words that with the use of blocks and memory techniques are coupled to the foreign words. It may be harder to do, because you don't write and see and learn the combination of foreign word + native word before you have to deal with the much harder combination of native word + foreign (and still not learnt) word. But I see no reason that it shouldn't work.

In addition you get the possibility to make multilingual thematic word lists as part of the experience (at least for fairly concrete themes, where every word has one or maybe two, three translations in each language). You could for instance have four columns: native - L1 - L2 L3 , where the L1-3 for instance could be the three Iberoromance languages (Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese). We have discussed the usefullness of such lists before, but personally I never really got around to do them. Now I see a possibility to let them be the automatic outcome of a standard learning process, and then things may change.


Edited by Iversen on 13 March 2007 at 6:32am

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Iversen
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 Message 39 of 255
13 March 2007 at 4:17am | IP Logged 
Linguamor wrote:
If the language learner learns a word in the ways that are being discussed here, - word X in the target language equals word Y in the language learner's native language - then he or she has not learned how to use the word in the target language.


In everything I have written about word lists I have stressed that the translation words are meant to be crutches that you can throw away when you have truly learnt the foreign word, and I have stressed that the reason for learning all those words is to make your reading and listening experiences more rewarding so fast as possible. At least in my experience it is easier to absorb the usage of words and constructions in a written or spoken text if you don't stumble ower unknown words all the time.

Whenever I really have had the feeling that things were running my way in a foreign language it has been in the situations where I have been able to take a new text or listen to a TV program or talk to a native person and from the beginning understand everything. On the other hand, during my active reading sessions I have also been working with texts where I had to fight a hard battle to get through, looking up words, checking grammars and then rereading (and making notes along the way). It was worth doing, but not pleasant.

And then I have the depressing knowledge that in those cases where I just have absorbed a foreign language or dialect (Norwegian, Swedish, Low German, Dutch and Portuguese springs to the mind) it has resulted in purely passive languages that I don't dare use because I don't know what is really part of the language and what is just my own guesses. I intend to weed out those passive languages by learning them properly, but it will take time to do it. Without those languages nagging me I might have been more positive towards 'learning by doing', but as it is I prefer using a large amount of structured learning.


Edited by Iversen on 13 March 2007 at 4:33am

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jeff_lindqvist
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 Message 40 of 255
13 March 2007 at 5:16am | IP Logged 
Sprachprofi wrote:
(...)You can see this short German course I wrote as an example of what I mean.


The link seems to be broken (or doesn't work right now?). I had a look at your website which has at least one broken link (the contact info on the introduction page). You may want to fix that, as well as the short German course (which I very much would like to see).


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