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Super-fast vocabulary learning techniques

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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leosmith
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 Message 65 of 255
15 March 2007 at 11:07am | IP Logged 
Here is an interesting article on studies showing variety helps memory. I think this also indicates adding new material helps.
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Iversen
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 Message 66 of 255
15 March 2007 at 4:19pm | IP Logged 
ChristopherTL wrote:
There is some interesting new research to suggest that semantically-oriented lists can depress the brain's ability to retain and produce new words. So for example having a list that includes 1 color, 1 animal, 1 utensil, 1 vehicle and 1 article of clothing would be more effective than any list that contained only items in one category.


There is no reason that thematic lists should be monotonous. If you made for instance a bird name list with 213 bird names in a row it would certainly be a bit boring (except for fullblood twitchers), and that boredom would inevitably lessen its usefulness. But if you included words for nests, eggs, colorations, different behaviors and other things, including some verbs and adjectives and maybe a few short idiomatic expressions then you would have a much more interesting list, and it would probably be easier to learn.

You can also ease the memorization task by including a number of simple, easy words as resting points for your hard-working brain, by choosing words from different word classes and by choosing words that you find funny.

It should be said that alphabetical lists mostly are more varied both semantically and grammatically, but an endless list of words with the same prefix can also be quite dull. Split that series op and do it over several days, mxed with other sequences, then it will feel less boring. Monotony is bad for your memorization.

I don't see any problem in learning related words at the same time, - on the contrary it should be easier to separate the meanings of the words if you have them all under scrutiny at the same time, and then you can also identify the words that you still lack and look them up.


Edited by Iversen on 15 March 2007 at 5:37pm

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johntothea
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 Message 67 of 255
15 March 2007 at 7:16pm | IP Logged 
Uhh, hey Iversen...what size dictionary do you use?!?! I wouldn't be able to do that with my Spanish Oxford Dictionary...and it's a concise one. Your strategy seems good with a pocket dictionary, or smaller sized, but how do you do it with a big dictionary, if you do??

Edited by johntothea on 15 March 2007 at 7:17pm

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Linguamor
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 Message 68 of 255
16 March 2007 at 3:48am | IP Logged 
johntothea wrote:
Uhh, hey Iversen...what size dictionary do you use?!?! I wouldn't be able to do that with my Spanish Oxford Dictionary...and it's a concise one. Your strategy seems good with a pocket dictionary, or smaller sized, but how do you do it with a big dictionary, if you do??


Most people would probably have trouble doing it even with a small dictionary. In any case, you should be capable of learning words more effectively by encountering them in reading. Assuming an extremely slow reading rate of 50 words per minute, with a knowledge of 95% of the words on the page (shown by research as a good level for learning words from context), and looking up unknown words as you go along, you will encounter 3000 words in an hour of reading. 150 of these words will be words you do not know yet. You probably will not learn them the first time you see them, but as you continue to read, you will find yourself encountering the same words again and again, and as you do so, fewer and fewer become words you've never seen before, and more and more become words you know. As you learn more words, the percentage of unknown words decreases, and your speed of reading increases, which means encountering more words per hour of reading. At least as important as the unknown words you encounter while reading are the words you already know. At a reading speed of 50 words per minute with 95% known words, you are encountering 2850 words an hour that you already know, at a reading speed of 100 words a minute, you are encountering over 5000. This is important because, although you know the words, your knowledge of them is only partial. Words have typical patterns of occurrence with other words. These patterns of occurrence are not predictable from a knowledge of their "equivalents" in your native language, and are the real, though often unrecognized, challenge in learning vocabulary. As you repeatedly encounter words in context, you are exposed to these larger word groups and have the opportunity to acquire them.



      


Edited by Linguamor on 16 March 2007 at 4:05am

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Iversen
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 Message 69 of 255
16 March 2007 at 4:43am | IP Logged 
johntothea wrote:
Uhh, hey Iversen...what size dictionary do you use?!?! I wouldn't be able to do that with my Spanish Oxford Dictionary...and it's a concise one. Your strategy seems good with a pocket dictionary, or smaller sized, but how do you do it with a big dictionary, if you do??



On the contrary, a pocket dictionary is a bad choice, both because it normally doesn't contain necessary morphological information and because it leaves out the examples and idioms that you find in midsize and large dictionaries (even the stuff that you you don't write down in the lists will be read, and somewhere in the brain it does register). I generally use dictionaries with around 25000-50000 words and a clear, uncluttered typography. If they are bigger they will be unhandy and contain too many totally irrelevant words.

---

I find the calculations of Linguamor interesting. In this thread I have mostly been writing about word lists because that's the most controversial element in my acquisition of words. But as every other sensible language learner I also spend much time on reading and listening to genuine texts. In fact a fair number of my word lists are based on the notes that I make during active reading. Unlike Linguamor I don't trust my ability to collect and remember enough words through this method, and I don't really like to fight with too difficult texts in my weaker languages. I have found out that wordlists for me is the way to get to a smooth and unproblematic reading experience as fast as possible. It is a means to reach a goal, but the goal is to work with genuine material.

I would like to ask Linguamor: what did you do when your reading comprehension was not 95%, but 5%? With 95% we agree that word lists aren't essential for reading comprehension any longer, but could you do without them even at the initial stages of learning one of your many languages?   



Edited by Iversen on 16 March 2007 at 4:48am

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Vlad
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 Message 70 of 255
16 March 2007 at 5:43am | IP Logged 
Linguamor, Iversen,

I was just thinking about the same thing and there I have a post by Linguamor that describes it:

If you read and learn the words this way (book reading)..even in early stages of language learning, you see the words in patterns, in places where they usually appear and where native speakers would use them and how exactly they would use them.

I am a little skeptical about Iversens method of learning words from the dictionaries from this point of view, because it might cause slight problems. With such an amount of words you learn, there is a great deal of those, which are used in a slightly different way then in most of the languages you know. or maybe they are used the same way, but not in your native language, but for instance in Greek, but how would you know that just by seeing the word in the dictionary? some of them have accurate explanations but some of them don't. But..I don't have a big problem with this, because even if you learn the word in a slightly modified situation in the beginning..you can always easily correct your mistake later in the learning process, my problem is only with the huge amount of the words that you're learning as isolates and therefore the number of errors logically rises. but this is only my opinion Iversen. I like your system, I'd just like to make it a little more effective, or suitable for others, that don't have as much time to study.

And as you said, it's only a means of achieving a goal, which is flawless work with genuine material, so if it works perfectly for you, than I don't see a problem.






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Jerrod
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 Message 71 of 255
16 March 2007 at 6:26am | IP Logged 
I myself am extremely skeptical of the dictionary method (though he did say this is an experiment). I think you really need something to reinforce what you just learned, i.e. reading those words in multiple authentic sources.
No one commented on my way of rapid vocabulary acquisition, but I think after reading these other approaches, at least for me, my method is superiour.
Before I started my Russian training at the university, I had used a Hugo course, but only got through the first 7 units. During that time I went to the library and used a frequency dictionary to make up about 400 cards in frequency order. I never went through the processes due to work and other things, but I think the average person may have more success with this method than using a dictionary.
This is all speculation, and I have only learned one foreign language, but it seems to me that a highly motivated person, could rapidly learn a language with the following steps:
Work through a teach yourself language course.
After this, start on a long term course.
While on the longer term course:
start working on the 500 most common verbs and 2,500 most common words.
After those words are mastered, begin working through GLOSS
That should put you at that the intermediate stage quite fast, I think. Most common words (3,000) + GLOSS levels 2 and 2+ would give you at least 8,000 words.
Comments on that approach?
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Vlad
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 Message 72 of 255
16 March 2007 at 6:38am | IP Logged 
Jerrod,

I hope you didn't misunderstand Iversens method. He never said he's learning only from dictionaries and dictionaries only. he only works with them for the first couple of weeks to give him a jump start, get familiar with most of the words and then switches to other materials.


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