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Strategy: Learn 600 words a week.

 Language Learning Forum : Questions About Your Target Languages Post Reply
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xtremelingo
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 Message 121 of 167
13 October 2007 at 8:50pm | IP Logged 
Jeff,

jeff_lindqvist wrote:
I was thinking of 300 words (50%) that you understand and use, rather than 600 words you vaguely recognise, so 300 words would be "better" than 100. I'm not even sure that the retention is a low as 50%. We could of course talk about any number of cards here. I'm only saying that challenge is good for you.


In the technique outlined in this thread. You wouldn't proceed any further, until you have 100% mastery of the words, before you proceed to the next level (decks) of cards. Your retention should be 100% by the time you complete the sequence. Of course, over the days/weeks that follow, this retention will drop (just like anything you stop).

After 100% retention, I may then put these newly acquired words into a flash-card program that utilizes spaced-repetition (after). However, this does not mean that I will ignore this word until the computer prompts me. The spaced repetition is just a 'refresher.'

If I plan to make these words learnt active, I MUST ACTIVELY use them. Not ignore them until the next scheduled prompt for the word.
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xtremelingo
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 Message 122 of 167
13 October 2007 at 9:14pm | IP Logged 
Linguamor,

Quote:

The practical problem is the large number of flashcards that would have to be used to cover even a fraction of the items that the language learner needs to learn.


Not true. Virtually anything you read can be put on flash-cards. Of course, there will be a point where paper-flash cards will be impractical, but for the boost they are very practical. Do I suggest you will learn the entire language through memorization? No.

This is why I stress the difference between memorization and learning.

To make an analogy to mathematics, think of it this way.

Lets pretend Math was a language (actually it is).

6 x 5 = 30

6 - is a noun that represents 6 units
x - it's verb
5 - is a noun that represents 5 units
= 30 - the meaning of the 'sentence'

We could memorize 6 x 5 = 30, and for the rest of our lives we will always know that 6x5 = 30, and for most people they may get by life just fine doing this.

However, learning 6x5 is entirely different. When you have learned that 6x5 actually means, adding 6, 5 times. Or adding 5, 6 times. You have learnt it. Now when you have a new 'sentence' such as 7x3, you know exactly what to do -- even if you did not memorize this pattern beforehand.

However, why do we then memorize? Well, once we have learned 6x5 is 6 being added 5 times, by *first* principles. Now we are allowed to memorize it. Because, in math later on, knowing 6x5 needs to become an automatic process when figuring out more complex longer problems; the overall understanding/solution to the problem is important than the nitty gritty details of computation (i.e. 6x5=30). This is why in school we learned the multiplication tables.

In language we have these similarities as well. Once we have learned the basis of grammar, we need to focus on getting meaning/understanding from what we wish to comprehend (the overall solution) without getting into the gritty details of computation (i.e. grammar). Knowing the details (grammar) is important, but these details will become realized through practice of trying to achieve understanding, not grammatical perfection (this will be developed over time). This is what I am trying to illustrate.

When we are reading, we are reading for meaning -- as our skills progress our level of comprehension of that meaning will excel as well.

So the beginner might read the sentence.

Beginner: The Cat walk home to eating

The expert might read it as

Expert: The Cat went home to eat.

In either case, the jist/point is understood. Even if not fluid.

The fluidity of comprehension will increase with more practice as the patterns begin to unfold as the learner continues to read more, study grammar and continues with their learning.


Edited by xtremelingo on 13 October 2007 at 9:15pm

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xtremelingo
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 Message 123 of 167
13 October 2007 at 9:34pm | IP Logged 
Linguamor,

Quote:

Apparition, like you, had seen the original French sentence, and a translation of the sentence into English. A valid test requires replicating the condition of a learner who did not understand the French sentence and had transcoded it into English words.


Most definitely. However, do you think Apparition would have interpreted the meaning significantly different if in those conditions? Maybe Apparition should answer that. Personally, I think he would have derived a pretty similar meaning either way.

I think you are missing the point. If given a sequence of these 'transcoded' words, one can logically deduce a meaning from it. With practice, the accuracy of understanding correctly will increase.


Edited by xtremelingo on 13 October 2007 at 9:38pm

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xtremelingo
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 Message 124 of 167
13 October 2007 at 9:58pm | IP Logged 
McJon,

Quote:

It seems as if people are debating the merits of flashcards and memorizing vocabulary as a stand alone method of language learning. It is not as if a person can't memorize vocabulary AND read texts in the original language.


Finally! Exactly what I mean. It is a supplement, not a replacement.

It's always good to have lots of supplements (comprehensible input).
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Linguamor
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 Message 125 of 167
14 October 2007 at 1:47am | IP Logged 
xtremelingo wrote:
Linguamor,
Quote:


In most cases it is better to get beginners speaking sooner, and in my experience this is also what most beginners want. Beginners can begin speaking almost immediately using comprehensible input and directed output techniques.


Interesting. This was one of the first things I suggested when I came to this forum. However, I received criticism for trying to promote beginners to speak sooner --


I think the main opposition to your suggestion was that people felt that you were encouraging learners to communicate without regard to the accuracy of the language the learners were producing.   

xtremelingo wrote:
and was told by other people on this forum that people should wait as long as possible to speak.


Some people believe that by waiting as long as possible to begin speaking that the language learner will make fewer errors. However, in my experience most language learners would like to start speaking sooner rather than later. Directed output that is based on comprehensible input, rather than free output, allows them to start speaking very soon without sacrificing accuracy.


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Linguamor
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 Message 126 of 167
14 October 2007 at 2:28am | IP Logged 
xtremelingo wrote:
Linguamor,

Quote:

Yes, a memorized word list, like a dictionary, can be an aid to understanding language you have not acquired.


Hmm.. When I say this, how come you find it difficult to agree?


If you say it this way, I don't disagree. Actually, let me say it more precisely, if awkwardly. A memorized word list, like a dictionary, can be an AID - something that helps, but is not sufficient on its own - you need some previous knowledge of the language - to understanding language you have not YET acquired which is embedded in language which you have ALREADY acquired, this already acquired language also providing context and help to access the meaning.
      .
xtremelingo wrote:

How different is a memorized word-list from memorizing flash-card vocabulary?


By "memorized word list" I mean the words that you have memorized. This "word list in the brain" can have been created by memorizing words from word lists or flashcards.

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Linguamor
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 Message 127 of 167
14 October 2007 at 3:20am | IP Logged 
xtremelingo wrote:
Linguamor,
Lets pretend Math was a language (actually it is).


Mathematics and a natural language are very different. Mathematics is a logical language. In fact, I think Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell demonstrated in Principia Mathematica that mathematics ultimately IS logic. A natural language is arbitrary, not logical. There is no logical reason why a Spanish speaker says 'No estoy para bromas' and an English speaker says 'I'm not in the mood for joking'. This difference in expression is arbitrary. It has to be learned. It cannot be produced ("computed") from knowledge of the individual words.


Edited by Linguamor on 14 October 2007 at 3:24am

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jeff_lindqvist
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 Message 128 of 167
14 October 2007 at 7:14am | IP Logged 
xtremelingo wrote:
Jeff,

jeff_lindqvist wrote:
I was thinking of 300 words (50%) that you understand and use, rather than 600 words you vaguely recognise, so 300 words would be "better" than 100. I'm not even sure that the retention is a low as 50%. We could of course talk about any number of cards here. I'm only saying that challenge is good for you.


In the technique outlined in this thread. You wouldn't proceed any further, until you have 100% mastery of the words, before you proceed to the next level (decks) of cards.


Of course, and I also see why. I just commented on William Camden's post:
"I think it's better to learn 200, or even 100 words a week well than 600 not so well." (while our conversation may have strayed from the original topic)

By following your example, one learns 600 words well instead of "only" 100 words. I think that those who may not believe in this method simply react at the number of words (600) instead of seeing it as smaller chunks of 10, 20 and so on. And as you've said - it's easy to adapt the number of cards to one's capacity.


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