Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

Strategy: Learn 600 words a week.

 Language Learning Forum : Questions About Your Target Languages Post Reply
167 messages over 21 pages: << Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 9 ... 20 21 Next >>
furyou_gaijin
Senior Member
Japan
Joined 4432 days ago

540 posts - 631 votes 
Speaks: Latin*

 
 Message 65 of 167
09 October 2007 at 8:48am | IP Logged 
Linguamor wrote:
I am saying that if you are learning target language > native language and native language > target language word "equivalents", you are not learning how the words are used in the target language. Words have an "instructions for use" and you cannot simply take the instructions for a word in one language and use them for a supposed equivalent in another language. Learning the vocabulary of a language means learning the words in context, and for many words, especially the most commonly used words, learning them in dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of different contexts, because expressing what you want to express in the target language involves using target language words in different ways, and in different combinations with other words, than their "equivalents" are used in your native language.


Actually, I will align myself with xtremelingo for once. I can certainly see the point of learning in the context and how that applies to a large number of word categories, such as verbs, adjectives, etc.

However, I find contextual learning overrated when it comes to nouns denoting physical, easily identifiable objects: soap, door, pencil, honey, milk, car, cat etc... It makes little difference for the eventual usage if one learns them in context or not.

En outre, I honestly can't see the point of using flashcards with European or any other alphabet-based languages but that's a matter of individual preference... :-)
1 person has voted this message useful





Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 4749 days ago

9084 posts - 16476 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 66 of 167
09 October 2007 at 8:53am | IP Logged 
Linguamor wrote:

It seems there are still people who believe that learning a language involves memorizing target language > native language and native language > target language word "equivalents". Learning a language means learning to express meaning in a different language. Languages are idiomatic - the way meanings are expressed in a language cannot be made up by the language learner based on how the language learner's native language uses words.   


The assumption behind wordlists, flashcards and things like that is not that two languages are 100% connected on a word to word basis, - and you would be hard pressed to find anybody who seriously believe that. The purpose behind such systematic learning tools is to familiarize people with enough words to get through genuine texts without stumbling over unknown words all the time. The meaning that is associated with a given foreign word is for practical reasons its approximate translation into another language, which may or may not be the native language of the student. But it could also be a drawing or an explanation in the target language or a translation into a third language if there is suitable term there. The important thing that you get just enough feeling for the meaning of the word to understand it when you meet it in 'real living language', and having a dictionary translation (with examples, if necessary) as a background is much safer than believing that you know all about it just from seeing it once in context. Many things in language are idiomatic, but it doesn't imply that languages are purely idiomatic. It is still valid to note that a English horse is the same as a French cheval, even there are idiomatic expressions with both words that can't be translated directly.

Linguamor apparently finds it strange that anybody would want to use wordlist and flashcards in spite of languages being so idiomatic. My position is - and will continue to be - that languages are not purely idiomatic, and therefore it is perfectly legitimate to use tools that ultimately are based on translations. In fact, I find it strange that there are people who are unable to or refuse to use such tools. But we are clearly different, and everybody should use the methods that work for him or her. In the end we all expect to get to a situation where we use the target languages without translating mentally, - we just can't agree on the choice of methods at the early stages.


Edited by Iversen on 09 October 2007 at 9:02am

2 persons have voted this message useful



frenkeld
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4989 days ago

2042 posts - 2719 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, English
Studies: German

 
 Message 67 of 167
09 October 2007 at 11:38am | IP Logged 
furyou_gaijin wrote:
I can certainly see the point of learning in the context and how that applies to a large number of word categories, such as verbs, adjectives, etc.

However, I find contextual learning overrated when it comes to nouns denoting physical, easily identifiable objects ...


This criterion may be unnecessarily conservative - there are plenty of adjectives and other parts of speech with straightforward meanings. The percentage of words that map well enough onto their English equivalents may vary from language to language, so an operational criterion of some sort may be more helpful here, which would allow one to decide on the spot if there is any point in putting any given word on a flashcard in isolation.

Based on my ongoing experiences with reading German, I think one can get a pretty good idea of how "fuzzy" a word is by simply noting whether one had a hard time pinning down its meaning using a dictionary. With many words, you look it up in a pocket dictionary, and you are done. With others, you look it up in a pocket dictionary and can't quite figure out what to make of it. You then go to bigger and bigger dictionaries, with lots of sample phrases, and even if you kinda sorta figure it out, you are still left with a funny feeling that you still haven't really grasped what it stands for in the text you are reading. Chances are, the next time you see it, you will be reaching for a dictionary again, until you finally realize that you will only nail down its meaning over time from context. Putting such a word in isolation on a flashcard is close to pointless.

Whether a given word is "flashcardable" may also depend on whether one is only interested in the Target->English flashcard review or whether one also wants to drill the English->Target part.


Edited by frenkeld on 09 October 2007 at 11:43am

1 person has voted this message useful



leosmith
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4596 days ago

2366 posts - 3804 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Tagalog

 
 Message 68 of 167
09 October 2007 at 11:39am | IP Logged 
furyou_gaijin wrote:
I honestly can't see the point of using flashcards with European or any other alphabet-based languages

And why not, pray tell?
1 person has voted this message useful



Linguamor
Decaglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4664 days ago

472 posts - 602 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Dutch

 
 Message 69 of 167
09 October 2007 at 6:17pm | IP Logged 
furyou_gaijin wrote:

However, I find contextual learning overrated when it comes to nouns denoting physical, easily identifiable objects: soap, door, pencil, honey, milk, car, cat etc... It makes little difference for the eventual usage if one learns them in context or not.


Words like these are not typical of most of the words in a language. Neither do people speak in single words. As soon as you use these words in utterances, word for word translation to produce the utterance often no longer works, e.g. "on a changé de voiture", "tu as donné à manger au chat?", "pense à prendre du lait".



Edited by Linguamor on 10 October 2007 at 1:52am

1 person has voted this message useful



Linguamor
Decaglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4664 days ago

472 posts - 602 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Dutch

 
 Message 70 of 167
09 October 2007 at 7:23pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:

The assumption behind wordlists, flashcards and things like that is not that two languages are 100% connected on a word to word basis, - and you would be hard pressed to find anybody who seriously believe that.


And yet I have corrected hundreds of student essays written by students assuming that they could express their thoughts by substituting target language words for native language equivalents that they had memorized from wordlists. In many cases I would not even have understood what the student was trying to say if I had not known the student's native language.


Iversen wrote:

The purpose behind such systematic learning tools is to familiarize people with enough words to get through genuine texts without stumbling over unknown words all the time.


My objection is not to the use of systematic learning tools, but the learning of isolated words as translation equivalents. Many people do seem to do this with the expectation that they can learn words this way for productive use.

You can memorize lists of words as an aid to understanding words in authentic texts, but it is just that, an aid, like a dictionary. The real problem with this is that most people find rote memorization of thousands of words difficult.
   
Iversen wrote:

Many things in language are idiomatic, but it doesn't imply that languages are purely idiomatic. It is still valid to note that a English horse is the same as a French cheval, even there are idiomatic expressions with both words that can't be translated directly.


Languages are largely idiomatic. Authentic target language utterances cannot be produced simply by slotting in native language word "equivalents". Looking at single concrete words, especially concrete nouns, obscures this fact. Learning isolated words ignores this fact. Look at real utterances used in real communication, in real contexts, and it becomes glaringly obvious.


Edited by Linguamor on 10 October 2007 at 1:59am

2 persons have voted this message useful



thirdearthinker
Diglot
Newbie
Hong Kong
paulie.nomadlife.org
Joined 4302 days ago

12 posts - 13 votes
Speaks: English*, Mandarin
Studies: Cantonese

 
 Message 71 of 167
09 October 2007 at 9:47pm | IP Logged 
Just a couple of ideas to pick up on some key threads in this conversation

Re: learning lots of new words ...

A guy from New Zealand is doing some really interesting stuff with visual memory hooks to help build your vocab. His program is called "200 words per day" ... and there are a number of free sample words on the website that you can check out to see if you like the idea. Google "200 words a day" if you want to learn more.

Re: identifying most commonly used words ...

An education centre in Kansas, United States, has researched and published the 1,000 most commonly used words in English. On their website, they have broken them down into the 1st Hundred, 2nd Hundred etc. It makes for interesting reading (and it's free!). A Google search on "English First 100 Words" will find it.
1 person has voted this message useful



frenkeld
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4989 days ago

2042 posts - 2719 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, English
Studies: German

 
 Message 72 of 167
09 October 2007 at 9:48pm | IP Logged 
Linguamor wrote:
And yet I have corrected hundreds of student essays written by students assuming that they could express their thoughts by substituting target language words for native language equivalents that they had memorized from wordlists.


This problem can be solved by allowing only Target->English wordlist review/memorization, as an aid for reading texts, while eschewing the English->Target memorization of individual words.

Some words can't be usefully recorded even for the Target->English memorization, but such words don't seem to be particularly numerous as the percentage of the words one meets in reading, at least when one studies the main West European languages.


Edited by frenkeld on 10 October 2007 at 3:02am



1 person has voted this message useful



This discussion contains 167 messages over 21 pages: << Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 810 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21  Next >>


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.2813 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2019 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.