Any way of turning passive vocabulary into passive vocabulary?

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Any way of turning passive vocabulary into passive vocabulary?

Postby ryclassic » Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:59 am

I was checking my smartphone today, and I saw a lot of French learning books I had downloaded at the moment I've decided to learn French, and some are vocabulary-focused books.
There a lot of words there I'm sure would be helpful for me, some basics like objects, animals, adjective, and some more complex. And I'm sure that if I learn all these words, the great part of them will become passive and not active vocabulary.
Is there a way to turn this passive vocabulary into active? How do you guys do to increase your active vocabulary?
So far, thanks you all!
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Re: Any way of turning passive vocabulary into passive vocabulary?

Postby SamT » Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:45 am

Yes. Speak. The absolute best way is to do chats in that language with a native partner.

Also, you can do content creation drills like FSI. Or you can make Anki flaschards that ask for a phrase/expression, and you have to "create" it, i.e., pull it out from the depths of your mind.

The words you can pull out of your head under time pressure are the ones that are active. The only way to expand that skill is to force yourself to pull those words out -- under time pressure.

Texting can be a good way, too, but the time pressure is so little that these words may not be as easy to retrieve during speech.

My understanding of languages so far is there are essentially 4 skills:
1) Speaking ("producing" words in speech -- this has the highest time pressure)
2) Listening ("understanding" words in speech)
3) Writing ("producing" words in writing)
4) Reading ("understanding" words in writing)

I think of this as a four square grid (essentially almost like a line graph) with the x-axis being "Producing/Understanding" and the y-axis being "Written/Speech".

All four of these skills are necessary in a language, and all of them must be practiced separately. Which every skill you practice the most, you will be good at. The one you practice the least, you will be bad at.

For instance, I used to have a Korean girlfriend -- in Korea. I texted her, and she texted me, day and night. Most nights we would chat at night, me speaking Korean and her speaking English, for practice. Which skill got left behind for me? Listening!

So I was in this strange situation where I could chat happily about just about anything (with a great accent!), but I literally couldn't understand anything beyond basic sentences that were spoken to me. I'm actually still trying to repair this deficit, and with my Chinese I am actively trying to avoid the trap.

Anyway, I'm rambling. But if you want to activate your vocabulary, writing and speaking are the only two ways. Either you can write (text) or speak directly to someone, or you can do drills (either written or out loud) like FSI or some sort of anki flashcard
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Re: Any way of turning passive vocabulary into passive vocabulary?

Postby ryanheise » Wed Jul 15, 2020 4:15 am

I'm convinced that there is a critical period between learning something and putting it to active use.

Memories will be more readily available sooner after you learn them, and thus there will be this initial period of time where it will be easier for you to actively apply what you learned, and I think it is worth taking advantage of this period while it lasts.

Even for a forgetting curve that is augmented by spaced Anki reviews, those reviews become more and more spaced over time. This is often touted as one of its advantages of spaced repetition because you can do the "minimum" reviews necessary to remember something, BUT what that really implies is that the best time to transfer this vocabulary into active use is not when your Anki reviews are so spaced out that you hear a word once every 3 months, but rather when your reviews are much, much closer together, when you're hearing them multiple times per day.

One thing I have found influential is reading through old posts on this forum about over learning, which involves getting huge amounts of repetition early on to the point of mastery, and then not worrying about the forgetting curve. If you can take advantage of that initial period during which you're over-learning, and actually try to apply what you've learnt, I think this combination will assist in making that difficult transfer into active.

Another thing I found influential is Mike Cambell's video talking about the difference between his Glossika repetition system vs the traditional Supermemo-style spaced repetition, where Glossika focuses more on initial mastery rather than merely reviewing just before you're about to forget:

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Re: Any way of turning passive vocabulary into passive vocabulary?

Postby tommus » Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:22 pm

Those suggestions are very good. Active speaking using words and sentences that you have not yet mastered is very effective. It sounds like an oxymoron in that how do you speak something that you don't yet master. Well, initially you read it. And then repeat it again and again. I like the idea of building "language islands" based on topics or situations that you probably could often use or find useful. Practice those language islands until you really do master them. When they become really well entrenched in your mind, you can start to use extensions of those islands by adding new words and sentences while you are speaking because you have a good mastery of the foundation.

Those language islands connect well with the Glossika repetition system. In other words, repeat each language islands a lot of times during a short time period (hours up to a couple of days). In Glossika's terminology, upfront mastery rather than the SRS forgetting method. For example, I watch the evening news daily in my L2. First time through, I get most of it. If I watch it again right away, I get more out of it. If I'd only watched it a week or so later, I'd only get the original amount. I know that such immediate repetition can be boring so you have to do it with material that you find very interesting. A similar thing occurs reading books. Some people read several books at the same time (alternating between them). Or they read a few pages with long gaps in between. But a whole book offers a lot of built-in repetition so I find it beneficial to read the whole book over a short period of time. You don't have to reread the book (although that would help) because within the book, there is a lot of built-in repetition, both subject material, words, expressions and style.

Something I'm contemplating doing but have not yet done is to create immediate language islands from material I have just listened to or read. So I could make a brief summary of the most important parts of the evening news or the book I've just finished, and do a few repetitions of speaking the summary language island. That will probably be especially effective.
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Re: Any way of turning passive vocabulary into passive vocabulary?

Postby 白田龍 » Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:56 pm

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Re: Any way of turning passive vocabulary into passive vocabulary?

Postby kelvin921019 » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:24 am

I activate my passive vocabulary by texting with others, sometimes when I am trying to figure out how to say something the passive vocab suddenly pops up in my mind. I also use dictionary when texting with others, sometimes a vocabulary that I have learnt passively pops up in the definition and this "Ah-hah" moment somehow turned the passive vocabulary into active vocabulary
Last edited by kelvin921019 on Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Any way of turning passive vocabulary into passive vocabulary?

Postby tarvos » Sat Jul 18, 2020 3:53 pm

Just as an aside, the title of this thread is misleading. My answer would be "do nothing", but given what you actually meant:

Practice is the key. If you want to be a good cyclist, you have to hit the road. Well, if you want to be a cunning linguist, you've got to work that tongue!
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Re: Any way of turning passive vocabulary into passive vocabulary?

Postby IronMike » Sun Feb 21, 2021 1:09 pm

tarvos wrote:Just as an aside, the title of this thread is misleading. My answer would be "do nothing"...

OMG, thank you. Was wondering if I was the only one...
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Re: Any way of turning passive vocabulary into passive vocabulary?

Postby Flickserve » Sun Feb 21, 2021 3:56 pm

I have turned my MP3 Glossika material into an anki deck.

It shows the written English sentence and I am trying to recall the chinese sentence. The answer card has the chinese sentence and the audio (repeats the spoken sentence about eight times) and I try to repeat it. It was pretty difficult - I have done about 500 sentences

Would having the spoken English sentence instead of the written sentence as the prompt would be useful??
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Re: Any way of turning passive vocabulary into active vocabulary?

Postby Iversen » Sun Feb 21, 2021 7:42 pm

There are many good proposals in the messages above, so I'll just mention that I include translation in both directions in my three-column wordlist layout. It is simply not enough just to learn to recognize words as you do when you a presented with a word and has to come up with a translation (and multiple choice is even more worthless and idiotic in my opinion). So the least you can do when you have shown that you know the meaning of a word is to prove that you also can produce the word from the meaning (ie. from the translation into a wellknown language). And then you of course have to do one or more repetitions later to consolidate your new acquisition.

And now I wonder what Anki users do when they have been presented with a card and guessed the meaning correctly. Do you then just congratulate yourself and expect the word to pop up in your materials later, or do you immediately try to use it in practice? When I do wordlists I normally don't do this, but at least I do a minimalistic sort of retranslation. It might be worth trying to play around with at least some of the words, but unless I have trouble with a certain word I just hammer through the whole list in one go and leave it at that.
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