Steve Kaufmann: Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary

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Re: Steve Kaufmann: Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary

Postby lingohot » Thu Jun 30, 2022 5:24 am

leosmith wrote:Scriptorium sort of counts, but the way he does it, it's more like he is recalling how to spell.


And even that is only recall from short term memory (reading out lout and then immediately writing it down without looking at the source texts). I guess it's not really the same as actively recalling vocabulary after long periods of time, and I'm afraid it's not the most effective and efficient technique... :roll:

Kaufmann's method is even more passive than Arguelles'. But keep in mind that he didn't use it to learn the languages that made him famous. He used "normal" techniques to learn Mandarin and Japanese when he was younger. He used a lot of active recall back then. The language learning that he did after he started his website is not as remarkable as his earlier learning. And even with those, he eventually did a lot of production, which requires active recall, so it's hard to credit his way of starting a language passively for everything.


Yes, and French he learnt inter alia in France where he studied, Swedish as a kid, and for his other languages, he says himself he has not reached a C-level in any of them.
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Re: Steve Kaufmann: Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary

Postby Le Baron » Thu Jun 30, 2022 8:52 am

I don't think he learned Swedish as a child. In an interview he said he can't remember ever speaking Swedish, but 'must have'. If it was the family language he was exposed to initially for a brief period, then perhaps it is deep in the memory somewhere, but with the background I wouldn't have expected it to vanish so thoroughly like that.
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Re: Steve Kaufmann: Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Thu Jun 30, 2022 4:15 pm

Le Baron wrote:I don't think he learned Swedish as a child. In an interview he said he can't remember ever speaking Swedish, but 'must have'. If it was the family language he was exposed to initially for a brief period, then perhaps it is deep in the memory somewhere, but with the background I wouldn't have expected it to vanish so thoroughly like that.




15 seconds into the video:
"I lived there will I was five... so I can only imagine that I only spoke Swedish. When we moved to Canada, I have no recollection of... sort of... transitioning from Swedish into English."
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Re: Steve Kaufmann: Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary

Postby Le Baron » Thu Jun 30, 2022 4:29 pm

I wonder why he can't remember. I remember what language(s) I was speaking when I was five.

Not just that though. People would tell you. Things like: 'oh you were speaking Swedish at first!' Or when you're at school and you have memories of interacting with the teachers and whatnot, because these memories tend to be quite ingrained, even though you might not know exactly what the language was, the fact of being in a place where everyone else is speaking Swedish will be an enormous clue.
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Re: Steve Kaufmann: Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary

Postby Cainntear » Sat Jul 02, 2022 11:36 am

SpanishInput wrote:As Confucius said, we won't go anywhere without first defining terminology.

He says language learning is not about memorization.

But At 2:18 Steve says, "I sometimes do review words in lists".
And at 2:42 he mentions he does flashcards, but with all the info on the front.

Both reviewing words in lists and doing flashcards are deliberate attempts to reinforce your memory.

I guess what he really means is that he's against both rote memorization and memorization techniques, like mnemonics, and prefers to spend time with actual content.

That would match my understanding of how the term "memorisation" is used by a lot of people in English anyway -- we memorise lists, we memorise speeches, we memorise poems, and we can repeat them verbatim from memory.

My strategy with languages when I was younger was "learn the dictionary* so you can learn the language later". *OK, not the entire thing -- that's a deliberate exaggeration -- rather I would memorise a pile of words knowing that that wasn't "learning" the language. but because it meant I had a way of looking up words quickly when I needed them (if I had anticipated the need for the word and had memorised it, of course!) and learn by using.

Memorising clearly works for some of us -- hell, probably most of us successful ones.

My issue, though, is that that step that I do to teach myself is something that many people clearly don't do, so giving a lot of advice on how to memorise isn't much use if we don't present that second step.

The problem is that Kaufmann is making the mistake of taking one superficial step that does not lead to learning on its own and replaing it with a different superficial step that does not lead to learning on its own.

He has an activity that works for some people because of something they do with the data provided, but the activity doesn't force them to do it, so not everybody does.
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Re: Steve Kaufmann: Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary

Postby SpanishInput » Mon Jul 04, 2022 1:13 pm

It seems that everything has already been said in this thread, but I wanted to quote Paul Nation:

"There are many people who criticise the use of deliberate learning using word cards and using first language translations. They argue that deliberate learning does not lead to the kind of knowledge that we need for normal language use, and they argue that first language translations do not provide a good representation of the meaning of the word. Both of these arguments are incorrect and are not supported by research. There is plenty of very good research to show that deliberate learning is highly effective and highly efficient. [...]

The criticism that first language translations do not represent the meaning of a word well is partly true. But this criticism applies to all methods of representing the meaning of words. Dictionary definitions, pictures, demonstrations, real objects, and explanations in the second language are all ways of communicating the meaning of a foreign word, and they are all only partly effective in representing the meaning of that word."

-Nation, Paul. What Should Every EFL Teacher Know? . Compass Publishing. Kindle Edition.
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Re: Steve Kaufmann: Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary

Postby Cainntear » Mon Jul 04, 2022 3:54 pm

Paul Nation wrote:Dictionary definitions, pictures, demonstrations, real objects, and explanations in the second language are all ways of communicating the meaning of a foreign word, and they are all only partly effective in representing the meaning of that word.

(My emphasis)

As a demonstration of this...
Image

Does this represent the word "car"? It embodies a hell of a lot of other concepts: sports car, supercar, luxury car, Corvette, etc.

IMO, this image represents "car" better:
Image

It's less concrete, more iconic, so it represents a wider abstract concept.

What's more abstract and less concrete than a cartoon doodle of a car?

The only thing I can think of is the word "car".

That's why logically, I find it inconsistent to accept the use of visual dictionaries while prohibiting the use of translating ones: words are the natural evolution of abstract depictions (as can be seen by the evolution of Chinese writing from pictographs to ideographs, just as has happened elsewhere in the world).
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Re: Steve Kaufmann: Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary

Postby zenmonkey » Mon Jul 04, 2022 4:08 pm

Cainntear wrote:
Paul Nation wrote:Dictionary definitions, pictures, demonstrations, real objects, and explanations in the second language are all ways of communicating the meaning of a foreign word, and they are all only partly effective in representing the meaning of that word.

(My emphasis)

As a demonstration of this...
Image

Does this represent the word "car"? It embodies a hell of a lot of other concepts: sports car, supercar, luxury car, Corvette, etc.

IMO, this image represents "car" better:
Image

It's less concrete, more iconic, so it represents a wider abstract concept.

What's more abstract and less concrete than a cartoon doodle of a car?

The only thing I can think of is the word "car".

That's why logically, I find it inconsistent to accept the use of visual dictionaries while prohibiting the use of translating ones: words are the natural evolution of abstract depictions (as can be seen by the evolution of Chinese writing from pictographs to ideographs, just as has happened elsewhere in the world).


The word “car” means “cartoon”?

Personally I prefer working with more generic representations than drawings.
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Re: Steve Kaufmann: Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary

Postby Cainntear » Mon Jul 04, 2022 5:05 pm

zenmonkey wrote:The word “car” means “cartoon”?

Personally I prefer working with more generic representations than drawings.

Well again, not perfect. The most generic representation is the word, so car=voiture is less ambiguous than [pictorial representation of car]=voiture.
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Re: Steve Kaufmann: Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary

Postby Iversen » Mon Jul 04, 2022 5:50 pm

I'm with Cainntear here.

A concrete example: I have just visited the aquarium under Malmöhus in Malmö, Schweden, and there I photographed a "Gördelsvansödla". But I want Danish (or Latin) names in my general photo indexation system, so with the help of the internet I found the Latin name (Cordylus tropidosternum) plus its English equivalent (East African armadillo lizard (Cordylus tropidosternum), and from there I found a Danish name for the critter (or at least its genus): "bælteøgle". Provided that the first identification is correct I can now update my index.

What could I have done with just the photo? Nothing. At least in this case it's nonsense that that a picture says the same as a thousand words - I can look words up, but not a picture. Likewise with cars/voitures. There may be contraptions which go under the name "car" in UK or Australia or the USA, but aren't accepted as "voitures" dans la Francophonie and inversely, but with words I have at least a chance to sketch out the different semantic fields. With pictures I haven't - they are simply too fluffy and confused if you can't name the different types. At most the images can be used as mnemotechnic 'hooks' during memorization.

The real tragedy is that we may have seen a funny object, but unless we have an idea about its name in at least one language we would have to search for ages in catalogues from producers and collections and god knows what in the faint hope of maybe finding a name for it. If we just got a word for it from the start then we could look it up and find its name in other languages - and maybe even a depiction.

Words are really smart!
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