How to learn vocabulary?

Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
User avatar
Iversen
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1849
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:36 pm
Location: Denmark
Languages: Monolingual travels in Danish, English, German, Dutch, Swedish, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Romanian and (part time) Esperanto
Ahem, not yet: Norwegian, Afrikaans, Platt, Scots, Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Albanian, Greek, Latin, Irish, Indonesian and a few more...
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1027
x 3759

Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby Iversen » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:59 am

The rewards are already built into the learning process: first when you recognize that the mumbling you hear actually consists of words (even when you don't understand them yet), then when you recognize at least some of the words from your vocabulary studies, and finally when you understand enough of the words to grasp the meaning of the while utterance. And later on simply being understood when you try to speak should also be seen as a reward.

Well, there is one element missing in this description, namely the idea that you should learn you words by listening. But in my opinion this possibility is overrated. In a very weak language you simply haven't got the time to learn enough words on the fly since every attempt to think abut a certain word will cause that you lose several seconds. OK, if a certain word occurs often enough you will eventually learn to recognize it, but the most common words are precisely those that are syntactically most complex and most likely not to have a clear meaning. The message is that when you listen you shouldn't try at all costs to understand the things you hear. First listen for the word boundaries and maybe the most frequent words (which tend to be grammar words), but be happy just to recognize them - don't mull over the meaning of each word you have identified. If later on the meaning of single words or whole phrases pops up in your head take it as a gift from heaven. Once you have become a expert speaker you will also just rely on automatic and semiautomatic processes most of the time, and you will irritate everyone around you if you try to slow down the speech by inserting ahems, euhs and other empty time slot fillers.

The exception is of course if somebody really tries hard to explain something to you - then you should of course listen, but mostly people just babble on and on without inserting pauses for decoding and afterthought.

I once coined the expression "listening like a bloodhound" for this approach to listening. The idea is that a bloodhound will follow a trail with its nose close to the ground and - if it is a good bloodhound - without chasing hares and humans and other dogs along the way.
8 x

User avatar
reineke
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2933
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:34 pm
Languages: Fox
x 5209

Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby reineke » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:21 am

Vocabulary for listening: Emerging evidence for high and mid-frequency vocabulary knowledge

"Successful listening comprehension depends on a language user's knowledge of L2 words (Vandergrift & Baker, 2015). Words represent the lowest level of representation at which a stable connection between the form and the meaning of a word can be reliably established (Hulstijn, 2002); therefore, once words are recognized and associated with their literal meanings, larger semantic units can be built in the mind of the listener. Key to the listening comprehension process is the rapid and appropriate association of such semantic units (linguistic knowledge) with the listener's pre-existing schemata (non-linguistic knowledge).

The ability to recognize, understand and interpret strings of words in connected speech typically poses little difficulty for native speakers...

Without having encountered the equivalent degree of exposure to the target language characteristic of native speakers, L2 learners typically have sub-optimal aural vocabulary knowledge; that is learners have difficulty recognizing words in the spoken form. Learners may even have difficulty in recognizing words in speech which they know when presented in the written form...

Despite the importance of being able to recognize words from speech for L2 listening, and the difficulty word recognition causes L2 listeners (Field, 2008b; Goh, 2000), the relationship between aural vocabulary knowledge and L2 listening comprehension has received limited interest from researchers (Broersma & Cutler, 2008). Of particular interest to the current study are constructs of vocabulary knowledge shown to be strongly associated with L2 listening comprehension success; for example, constructs of vocabulary knowledge which involve “the ability to recognize the phonological [aural] form of the word, access existing knowledge of that word and produce a representation of it under time constraints...”

The ability to rapidly process language in real time is crucial for successful L2 listening comprehension (Goh, 2000; Hulstijn, 2003). As Stæhr (2009) acknowledged, any future study which examines the link between vocabulary knowledge and L2 listening “should ideally be based on a vocabulary test that involves hearing the target words rather than reading them...”

Previous research findings have made clear that the relationship between written and aural word knowledge is not fixed (Milton & Hopkins, 2006) and that knowledge of a word in its orthographic form does not guarantee the capability to recognize that word when presented in spoken language (Goh, 2000). A growing appreciation of the specificity and importance of aural vocabulary knowledge is reflected by recent research on testing this construct ...

Although few in number, previous studies which have investigated the strength of association between vocabulary knowledge and L2 listening suggest that aural vocabulary knowledge, that is the ability to recognize words as they are presented in spoken language, is more important to L2 listening comprehension than other forms of vocabulary knowledge..."

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 0532#bib16
1 x

SM11
White Belt
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:20 am
Languages: French Native
Fluent in English and Portuguese
Learning Chinese mandarin
x 29

Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby SM11 » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:45 am

I think a good way to learn vocabulary effectively is to use them precisely when you have meaningful conversations.

I've read somewhere that scientists have discovered that repeating words out loud to another person is much more effective in terms of memorization than if you say them aloud to yourself.

It shows that the more you engage actively with other human beings, the more your fluency and linguistic memory can develop. So I think it's really important to always make efforts to reuse the words you have learned with a real living, breathing person. This will definitely benefit your learning in many different ways, and it will give you more experience with new vocabulary that will strengthen your language knowledge in the long term.

For example, imagine you read an article about a topic that is interesting to you. After searching and choosing some unknown words, you can start a simple and quick conversation with your language partner a few days later. You should try to convey the content of the article to him, and try to do it by using a few new words that you have chosen and reviewed. You will be really surprised by the quick progress you made to remember them after this brief conversation.

If you want, I wrote an article about this subject https://blogfrench.com/learn-vocabulary-fast/ recently. I hope I could help you a bit with your question.

Good luck for your vocabulary learning!
3 x
articles about French language, French culture & motivation here


Return to “Practical Questions and Advice”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest