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Question on wordlist methods

Posted: Thu Oct 01, 2020 3:31 pm
by YoursTruly
I'm reading the Learn Any Language Fandom/Wiki and on the article about wordlists it says "Another basic tenet is that you should learn the target language words with their translations first, but immediately after you should practice the opposite connection: from base language to target language."

Is there any reason why this is true? Is there evidence that learning from native to target translation sticks better than target to native translation?
I guess I understand the idea of securing that connection in your head in both directions, but the way this is written it seems to suggest that learning N -> T is 'better' than the other way around. Is that just me misinterpreting what the article says or is there evidence to support that?

Re: Question on wordlist methods

Posted: Thu Oct 01, 2020 11:24 pm
by Kraut
You misread it, further down in the text you can see what is recommended: ... rdlist.jpg

Re: Question on wordlist methods

Posted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 9:20 pm
by Iversen
In my three-column layout the first column is in the target language, the second contains translations into a suitable base language and the third is a replica of the first one in the original language. The reason is that I see the purpose as teaching the user as many words in the target language as possible as fast as possible, and the translations are just a tool to achieve this purpose, they aren't important in themselves - you are supposed already to know the base language. And if I make wordlists directly based on dictionaries, I always use the direction from the target language into the base language - never the opposite. Why? Well, I have tried, but the attention is then misdirected towards the words in the base language, and that's not the purpose of the exercise. And having two columns in your own language and just one in the target language in the lists would of course be even worse for the same reason - diversion of attention away from the foreign words.

If you want to learn the equivalents to words in your own language in order to use them actively then it might seem not only tempting, but logical to go in the opposite direction: choose some words or expressions in your own language, find out how to translate them and then memorize all the pairs. And for some cases that may indeed be a reasonable tactic - like when you learn some basic tourist words before visiting some place abroad. Or finding parallels to the most common 'connectors' in your own language in order to use them in conversations. But to 'fixate' the newly found translations you need to use them, and activation is not done with wordlists - better study some topic, learn the relevant words and then try to formulate summaries or pose imaginary questions to yourself about the topic and start a stream of thoughts in the foreign language, using the things you have learnt during the session (maybe using some kind of wordlist or SRS) ... in short, collecting elements from the target language is a simple harvesting activity, but learning to use the language is more like taming an animal or learning to perform some kind of acrobatics.

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Re: Question on wordlist methods

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 12:51 am
by Montmorency
Iversen wrote:



Is the Akrobatik picture your own work Iversen? Either way, I like it.

(I can draw a bit, but don't think I have the visual eye to be able to create that sort of thing myself, although I love to see them).

(I liked the text in your posting as well, BTW :-) ).

Re: Question on wordlist methods

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 12:24 pm
by Iversen
The acrobatic lady is definitely my own work. I was quite active as an amateur artist from the mid 60s to the mid 90s, and the vignettes and paintings (marked 'Kunst') in my own log and (sometimes) other threads are all from that period. The photos in my own log which are marked F-something are also taken by myself. I truly believe in "do-it-yourself", but I don't have a suitable atelier so I have stopped painting. I could in principle produce more vignettes, but I made them for an evening school and and for the cultural 'House in my town. where I made most of my paintings, and right now I haven't really got time nor motivation to do art work again. And because I'm not part of the official art scene this forum is the only place where I can show them and you can see them.

As for the wordlist system I think it is important to see a word with its translation first, then see something else (like other words) to get distracted, then recall the meaning of the word and soon after check that you actually have learnt it by going in the opposite direction. And then it should be revised at least once soon after, for instance one day later. And those are the elements I have built into my layout, which is explained in detail in my language learning guide, chapter 2.6.

I have not checked this in an experiment with thousands of participants, and I don't claim that everyone will be motivated to using it (a certain amount of obstinate nerdiness won't be an obstacle here), but it has worked for me.

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