Language chunks to ease language activation

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MorkTheFiddle
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Re: Language chunks to ease language activation

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Mon Aug 24, 2015 10:13 pm

jeff_lindqvist wrote:This thread?
Conversational connectors

The initial post points to this link which is a seemingly empty spreadsheet, but there are entries if you check the revision history.


Yes, that is the thread and the link I meant. Thanks, Jeff, for finding and posting them.
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Re: Language chunks to ease language activation

Postby lusan » Tue Aug 25, 2015 12:41 am

MorkTheFiddle wrote:
jeff_lindqvist wrote:This thread?
Conversational connectors

The initial post points to this link which is a seemingly empty spreadsheet, but there are entries if you check the revision history.


Yes, that is the thread and the link I meant. Thanks, Jeff, for finding and posting them.


I went to the link and I saw some of the sentences. Though many are short enough to be useful, some others are so long that have no appeal to me. I believe, as soon research showed, that we remember best no more than 7 items at the time. Very long sentences fail in that respect.

Any way, today I began creating my own list that I will use with Anki. It looks like this:

Czy ma pan coś Do you have anything
Niech mu pan da give him
Niech jej pan da give her
Niech im pan da give them
Chcę mi się I feel like
Nie wystarczy mi I do not have enough

They are blocks to build sentences. I suspect that FSI method depends highly in this strategy.
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Re: Language chunks to ease language activation

Postby sctroyenne » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:06 pm

Chunking is exactly how I started building up my Irish knowledge. And the book series I was using (Gaeilge gan Stró) seems to believe in the importance of chunks as well. The main difference between the beginner and intermediate level books (which share almost all the same content) is that the dialogues are all fleshed out with language chunks and clauses. I started taking some of them and tacking them onto rudimentary sentences which helped me a lot to develop some flow when speaking.

One thing to watch out for, though, is that some of these chunks will trigger grammatical changes when added on to a basic sentence (subjunctive, reported speech, etc). I found that practicing some of these that I selected from the text's dialogues before encountering the grammer formally helped to make these structures seem natural and familiar. And it's a good way to practice conjugation in context. But just be careful if you're trying to construct your own sentences.
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Re: Language chunks to ease language activation

Postby Expugnator » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:46 pm

I usually learn chunks after a few months of exposure to native materials, which I start at a middle A2. For some languages, like Russian, chunks are all I can say because they stick through repetition and I don't have to worry about cases as I memorize the phrase as a who.e. So, I don't get down to studying those fillers on their on because after some exposure to native series they start popping up in my head all the time.
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Re: Language chunks to ease language activation

Postby reineke » Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:07 am

"According to Lewis (1997, 2000) native speakers carry a pool of hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of lexical chunks in their heads ready to draw upon in order to produce fluent, accurate and meaningful language...

[Lewis] makes a helpful summary of the findings from first language acquisition research which he thinks are relevant to second language acquisition:

Language is not learnt by learning individual sounds and structures and then combining them, but by an increasing ability to break down wholes into parts.

Grammar is acquired by a process of observation, hypothesis and experiment.
We can use whole phrases without understanding their constituent parts.

Acquisition is accelerated by contact with a sympathetic interlocutor with a higher level of competence in the target language.

Schmitt (2000) makes a significant contribution to a learning theory for the Lexical Approach by adding that 'the mind stores and processes these [lexical] chunks as individual wholes.' The mind is able to store large amounts of information in long-term memory but its short-term capacity is much more limited, when producing language in speech for example, so it is much more efficient for the brain to recall a chunk of language as if it were one piece of information. 'Figment of his imagination' is, therefore, recalled as one piece of information rather than four separate words.

In our view it is not possible, or even desirable, to attempt to 'teach' an unlimited number of lexical chunks. But, it is beneficial for language learners to gain exposure to lexical chunks and to gain experience in analyzing those chunks in order to begin the process of internalisation. We believe, like Lewis, that encouraging learners to notice language, specifically lexical chunks and collocations, is central to any methodology connected to a lexical view of language."

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/arti ... roach-look

Does anybody use the chunking technique?

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Re: Language chunks to ease language activation

Postby luke » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:28 am

reineke wrote:Does anybody use the chunking technique?


Isn't that the idea behind Glossika Mass Sentences?
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Re: Language chunks to ease language activation

Postby reineke » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:29 am

Hi Luke, that was the title of a previous thread about chunking where you'll find some criticism of the chunking approach. Glossika's terminology includes spaced repetition, muscle memory and memory anchors.

https://glossika.com/blog/memory-anchors/

From the previous BC document:

Lexical Chunks (that are not collocations)

by the way
up to now
upside down
If I were you
a long way off
out of my mind

Lexical Chunks (that are collocations)

totally convinced
strong accent
terrible accident
sense of humour
sounds exciting
brings good luck

See also:

Chunking Language
"What: Miller (1956) introduced the concept of “chunking” in his paper entitled The magical number seven, plus or minus two. Chunking refers to a strategy for making more efficient use of short-term memory by breaking down large amounts of information into smaller chunks. Chase and Simon (1973) suggested that the capacity of short-term (working) memory is limited to seven items, or chunks,
hence the formula 7 ± 2."

"Even though it is believed that short-term memory is limited to seven items only, the notion of vocabulary items or chunk varies. Chunking can mean both the breaking down of large amounts of information as well as grouping small chunks into larger categories. It does not necessarily mean that our mind can process only seven words at a time. A chunk can represent seven sentences, seven verses, or seven lines."

"Why: The ability to break large language chunks into smaller ones, and to group small chunks into larger ones extends the process of retention of information and allows for greater compression of information in working memory (Kalivoda, 1981). Such compression enhances the limited capacity of working memory and allows the learner to retain more information."

"How: Arranging vocabulary into semantic clusters of seven to ten related items rather than presenting a list of unrelated words in isolation will enhance retention. For example, when introducing vocabulary in preparation for a reading text, students should receive a list of vocabulary words that are related (e.g., carpenter, wood, tools, building, saws, construction) by content or context. Students quickly associate the words with a theme or context and more easily store the vocabulary in long-term memory."

The Essentials of Vocabulary Teaching: From Theory to Practice
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Re: Language chunks to ease language activation

Postby neofight78 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:34 am

I think a combined approach is good. That is, working on:

  • Individual words and grammar as the "nuts and bolts" of the language
  • Learn sentences that are typical things that *you* want to say.
  • Learning collocations

I'm personally not convinced that trying to identify learn these "connecting phrases" up front necessarily helps with activation or fluency particularly, although I'm sure others may have a different experience.

For me the key is just to speak/write a lot, notice where you get stuck or mess up (native speakers can help here). Add the missing knowledge or corrected content to your study routine (I use flashcards). Sometimes these missing bits or corrections will be individual words, sometimes grammar, sometimes collocations, sometimes whole sentences etc. For me it's this repeated practice and removal of roadblocks and errors that works. For example if someone has a small vocabulary or doesn't know how Russian cases work no amount of "chunks" or "connectors" will help.

As a general comment on this topic, it seems to me people often conflate the idea of chunking (what your brain does) and collocations (patterns in the language). Not all people use all phrases and collocations and every person has his own set or favourite words, phrases, constructions and even scripted speeches. A lot of these chunks do not correspond with universally recognised collocations or phrases. To me learning predefined connectors seems like putting the cart before the horse.
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Re: Language chunks to ease language activation

Postby reineke » Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:41 am

neofight78 wrote:I think a combined approach is good. That is, working on:

  • Individual words and grammar as the "nuts and bolts" of the language
  • Learn sentences that are typical things that *you* want to say.
  • Learning collocations

I'm personally not convinced that trying to identify learn these "connecting phrases" up front necessarily helps with activation or fluency particularly, although I'm sure others may have a different experience.

For me the key is just to speak/write a lot, notice where you get stuck or mess up (native speakers can help here). Add the missing knowledge or corrected content to your study routine (I use flashcards). Sometimes these missing bits or corrections will be individual words, sometimes grammar, sometimes collocations, sometimes whole sentences etc. For me it's this repeated practice and removal of roadblocks and errors that works. For example if someone has a small vocabulary or doesn't know how Russian cases work no amount of "chunks" or "connectors" will help.

As a general comment on this topic, it seems to me people often conflate the idea of chunking (what your brain does) and collocations (patterns in the language). Not all people use all phrases and collocations and every person has his own set or favourite words, phrases, constructions and even scripted speeches. A lot of these chunks do not correspond with universally recognised collocations or phrases. To me learning predefined connectors seems like putting the cart before the horse.


Lexical chunks are used all the time. Tens of thousands of them are very common. Close to half of what you wrote are common lexical chunks.

Kato Lomb: Never study isolated units of speech. Write down phrases and use them as prefabricated elements.

The Lexical Approach:
"Fluency does not depend so much on having a set of generative grammar rules and a separate stock of words - the 'slot and filler' or open choice principle - as on having rapid access to a stock of chunks"

"The basic principle of the lexical approach, then, is: "Language is grammaticalised lexis, not lexicalised grammar" (Lewis 1993). In other words, lexis is central in creating meaning, grammar plays a subservient managerial role. If you accept this principle then the logical implication is that we should spend more time helping learners develop their stock of phrases, and less time on grammatical structures."

Based on the lexical approach individual words are NOT the nuts and bolts (hey, a chunk!) of language. Lexical chunks should help you understand how Russian cases work. In fact, prefabricated chunks will likely be many a learner's first correct connected utterance in Russian.

As I see it, the only way to swim in a "pool of hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of lexical chunks" and gaining exposure to meaningful semantic clusters is through massive input.
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Re: Language chunks to ease language activation

Postby neofight78 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:59 am

I didn't say they weren't. I'm just highlighting the difference between chunking as something that the brain does and patterns that are present in the language, they are related but different things. Yes, chunking must occur for fluent speech to be possible, but that is not the same as learning a list of connectors up front.

I've encountered the effects of ignoring Russian grammar and the results are more often than not awful. A purely lexical approach without grammar or vocabulary study doesn't work in all situations for all people.
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