How to learn vocabulary?

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Cavesa
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Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby Cavesa » Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:37 pm

Iversen wrote:I looked at a number of research reports about vocabulary learning up to the Novi Sad conference, including some that specifically tested for the effects of extensive reading and/or listening without any other support techniques. Most of these reports used multiple answer questionnaires to gauge the effects, but those few reports that used both multiple choice and 'open' questions consistently showed that multiple choice exaggerates the effects ... so taking that into account, it seems that just reading and/or listening without any specific attempt to learn new words isn't very efficient. Tests using multiple choice only test passive knowledge - and even passive knowledge with an outside help source. 'Open' questions are much closer to testing active knowledge, even though some variants (like cloze questions) do provide you with a context.

On the other hand we know from other sources that heavy readers have larger vocabularies than those that never read a book or something more demanding than SMS messages or street signs. How come? Well, the point could be that if you do read with your mind set to sucking up new words and constructions then you may also get something from extensive reading or listening. If you just read/listen to get the gist and let the concrete words fly through your head without any attempt to retain anything, then you probably won't learn anything new about the language in question - which doesn't preclude the possibility that you may remember some information about the topic. But you could also end up having a hard time even remembering what the topic was .. like when you forget you dreams unless you deliberately try to remember them.

There may be individual differences insofar that some persons are better to remembering ephemeral tidbits of information than others, but I personally have to get things down on paper and repeat them a couple of times to make them stick. And that includes new vocabulary. And I prefer wordlists because I there also can control how and when I do my repetitions. SRS programs would make me feel like a human dartboard.


Yes, I am obviously one with very good ability to remember the "ephemeral tidbits" (too bad it doesn't apply to medicine), but I don't think that is the only reason why it works.

I have read some of the papers on intensive vs. extensive reading. And they all had the same flaw: they did too little extensive reading. Yes, one hour of each will prove intensive is better. Ten pages of each will prove intensive is better. But several years with each activity have never been tested. 200 hours (that may be something like 8000 extensive pages or 800 intensive) have not been tested. 10000 pages extensively have never been tested.

Extensive doesn't mean reading just for the gist. That is so just in the first book, or the second, but not the whole time by far. The words are being learnt in the context and they are being encountered repeatedly. Gradually, the reader understands more and more. And the knowledge of the new words improves with the new examples we find them in.

Extensive reading and listening works, we have various examples of Super Challenge progress here on the forums. It works the best when associated with other kinds of studying.

I really think it is a matter of personal choice AND realistic expectations. Just as it is not realistic to expect results of extensive reading after 20 pages, it is also not realistic for many of us to believe we can get through a whole book while damaging the immersion by dictionary use and writing stuff down all the time.

Also, I believe the other benefits of extensive vs. intensive reading are being widely underestimated. I have no problem believing that as far as vocabulary goes, intensive could prove more efficient, if a real research was made. That means one giving extensive reading a chance. But intensive reading simply doesn't force people to think in the language, to absorb the examples for the "this looks correct and this doesn't" sense that we have in our native languages. That is much more than "passive" knowledge. That is the base of actually speaking or writing.

The choice of extensive vs. intensive depends on the learner's character and type of intelligence (yes, type. not IQ.) and on their goals. Extensive reading can be an extremely awesome tool (I had to gain a large vocabulary for C2 French and I would never have achieved that without extensive reading and listening). But if you are in a hurry and don't want to look for several methods to combine, the choice of intensive reading is pretty clear to most learners. If you have limited resources, than intensive reading is most probably the better way to use the only books the learner has got.
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reineke
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Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby reineke » Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:13 pm

"Unlike non-book readers who read primarily for information, heavy readers tend to say they read for pleasure (Cole & Gold 1979, 61-2).

"I just choose from some inner stimulus. I don’t know what prompts me to choose. . . ."

This confidence in their ability to make satisfying book choices is likely to be both a result and a cause of prolonged and continued engagement in reading... Being able to choose successfully among materials is an important skill that is never directly taught but is learned by readers who teach themselves, beginning in childhood. For example, one critical lesson for pleasure-readers is that, if they don’t like a book, they aren’t required to finish it; they can abandon an unsatisfying book and pick up something else. Each successful book choice makes it more likely that the beginning reader will want to repeat the pleasurable experience by reading something further, and each book read contributes to the bulk of reading experience that increases the reader’s ability to choose another satisfying book.

When reading experts such as librarians or teachers challenged the choices of these self-confident readers, these readers as children generally wrote off, ignored, or worked around the reading experts and followed their own choices.

We can expect problems in finding satisfying books to happen more often among average book readers than among the readers in my study, who were chosen for their intense involvement in reading.

For many experienced readers, the process of selection seemed almost intuitive because it depended on a broad familiarity with books."

Readers, Reading, and Librarians
By William A. Katz
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Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby sketchc89 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:48 pm

I believe that learning through sentences is more effective than learning single words because by learning sentences you can pick out common collocations. Collocations are common chunks of language used together. For example, even though strong and powerful are fairly similar in meaning, one would say strong coffee and powerful computer rather than powerful coffee and strong computer. I also think that learning these chunks of language makes it easier to speak, since you can store only store so much in your limited working memory and these chunks would allow you to store more in each slot. I haven't done the research to know whether that last point is true.

Anthony Lauder goes into this a bit in one of his talks at a Polyglot Conference. Research has also been mounting that collocations are useful

Over the years, there has been a growing realisation that the key to efficient and effective L2 learning may well lie in shifting our focus from single words to phrases and formulaic multi-word expressions. Though interest in these lexical phrases, idioms and the more formulaic aspects of language use go back at least 40 years (Bolinger, 1976), it is thanks to both the corpus linguistic revolution of the early nineties and the cognitive turn that was taking place at the same time that the lexicon and aspects of L2 vocabulary acquisition got into their own.


De Ryker A, "Encouraging Collocational and Colligational Fluency: Pedagogical Chunking, Word and Verb Mapping, Pause Reading and Other Strategies" Journal of Interdisciplinary Research in Education 4-1 11-26 (2014) link

I use Anki a lot (190k reviews of 11k cards that I haven't deleted). In my personal experience, learning single characters for Chinese was not especially useful. I'm constantly choosing the wrong word when trying to translate what I'm thinking to Chinese. I switched to using sentences only and I think its gotten better.
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Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:00 pm

Cavesa wrote:(I had to gain a large vocabulary for C2 French and I would never have achieved that without extensive reading and listening).

I learned thousands of words of German and tens of thousands of words in French and Spanish using first LingQ and then LWT. With those apps it's a matter of looking up and recording a word. The next time you see the word, if you don't remember its meaning, you hover the mouse over the word and see the definition you recorded earlier. You can use SMS systems with either LingQ or LWT, but I very quickly stopped using them because they seemed nothing but a nuisance to me.
Extensive reading did not work for me with Latin because for me almost (I say, almost) all Latin literature is a bore, and it does not work for me with Ancient Greek because Ancient Greek does not have enough texts. Just today I discovered that the word βεβώς (transliterated as, I suppose, bebws) occurs but seven times in all of Greek literature, 6 times in Euripides and once in Sophocles [using tools at perseus dot org]. Ancient Greek has no Proust or War and Peace or Harry Potter or Steig Larsen, so I have to use intensive techniques, including Iversen's word lists, as well as vocabulary apps like Cram and Study Stack to "engage with the language," as Kaufman puts it.
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Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby Seneca » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:08 pm

MorkTheFiddle wrote:
Cavesa wrote:(I had to gain a large vocabulary for C2 French and I would never have achieved that without extensive reading and listening).

I learned thousands of words of German and tens of thousands of words in French and Spanish using first LingQ and then LWT. With those apps it's a matter of looking up and recording a word. The next time you see the word, if you don't remember its meaning, you hover the mouse over the word and see the definition you recorded earlier. You can use SMS systems with either LingQ or LWT, but I very quickly stopped using them because they seemed nothing but a nuisance to me.
Extensive reading did not work for me with Latin because for me almost (I say, almost) all Latin literature is a bore, and it does not work for me with Ancient Greek because Ancient Greek does not have enough texts. Just today I discovered that the word βεβώς (transliterated as, I suppose, bebws) occurs but seven times in all of Greek literature, 6 times in Euripides and once in Sophocles [using tools at perseus dot org]. Ancient Greek has no Proust or War and Peace or Harry Potter or Steig Larsen, so I have to use intensive techniques, including Iversen's word lists, as well as vocabulary apps like Cram and Study Stack to "engage with the language," as Kaufman puts it.

Wow, that is so interesting. Is it known what the total word count of available "genuine" Ancient Greek is?
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Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby Iversen » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:11 pm

You could try the translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone into Ancient Greek by professor emeritus Andrew Wilson - it's quite long and probably easier to read than the poems of Hómēros. And you can use Mrs. Rawlings' alternative version to guide you through the more obscure passages.

As for the total number of words: "The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is the English translation of Franco Montanari’s Vocabolario della Lingua Greca. With an established reputation as the most important modern dictionary for Ancient Greek, it brings together 140,000 headwords taken from the literature, papyri, inscriptions and other sources of the archaic period up to the 6th Century CE, and occasionally beyond."

I have also seen a fat Ancient Greek-Danish dictionary (some 6 or 7 centimeters thick) from 1885 by Carl Berg, but it only claims to contain around 50.000 words and 11.000 expressions, which nevertheless brings it on a par with dictionaries for modern languages in the same series. Since I only study modern Greek I haven't bought it ... yet. And yes, I'm impressed with the energy and tenacity of these old lexicologists from the 19. century. Nowadays people think that they can get machines to do all the hard word, but just try to imagine the work that mr. Berg had to do to compile a dictionary using only his fountain pen and innumerable pieces of paper!

PS: I have absolutely no idea about the total number of words in preserved texts in Ancient Greek, and I doubt that anybody else has a serious estimate.
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Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby reineke » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:30 pm

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone – Ancient Greek Edition
By J.K. Rowling
Translated by Andrew Wilson

http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2005/2005-08-07.html

Re: sentences

"While a sentence obeys specific grammatical rules, the coherence of a discourse is instead dependent on the relations between the sentences it contains. ..."

Sentence and Discourse
Edited by Jacqueline Gueron

Also worth researching: suprasegmentals
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Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:25 pm

Seneca wrote:Wow, that is so interesting. Is it known what the total word count of available "genuine" Ancient Greek is?

According to The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG®) maintained by the University of California, Irvine,
Today the Online TLG contains more than 110 million words from over 10,000 works associated with 4,000 authors...

(Source: The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG®), http://stephanus.tlg.uci.edu/tlg.php, accessed 3 November 2017) Only individual or institutional subscribers can access the full database, but I am not a subsciber*, so I can't say who the authors are or what the works are. Ancient Greek writing begins with Homer and includes both literary texts and technical treatises (Euclid, Hippocrates, for example), the Bible, and patristic writings. The number of words in the Perseus collection is 13,507,448 words. Obviously "words" in both corpuses means individual words, and equally obviously a lot of those words will be very frequent words like the Greek equivalent of "and," "the," and so on.

* Subscriptions for individuals are $140.00 for one year or $400.00 for three years. https://stephanus.tlg.uci.edu/indivaccounts/signup

Iversen wrote:You could try the translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone into Ancient Greek by professor emeritus Andrew Wilson - it's quite long and probably easier to read than the poems of Hómēros. And you can use Mrs. Rawlings' alternative version to guide you through the more obscure passages.

As for the total number of words: "The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is the English translation of Franco Montanari’s Vocabolario della Lingua Greca. With an established reputation as the most important modern dictionary for Ancient Greek, it brings together 140,000 headwords taken from the literature, papyri, inscriptions and other sources of the archaic period up to the 6th Century CE, and occasionally beyond."


Ancient Greek nouns can have as many as 11 forms, adjectives 23 forms, and verbs 740 forms. (Don't bet your life savings on the accuracy of my numbers, but they're close). That having been said, 13,000,000 words, after taking out the most common words which will make up 75-80% of the total, can easily be generated by the number 140,000 that Iversen cites for the headwords in Montanari’s Vocabolario della Lingua Greca.

As for the Harry Potter novel that Prof. Wilson translated into Ancient Greek, if I had the slightest shred of interest in fantasy, children or otherwise, I would take it up. But I do appreciate the suggestion and the reference:

reineke wrote:Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone – Ancient Greek Edition
By J.K. Rowling
Translated by Andrew Wilson

http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2005/2005-08-07.htmls
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Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby DaveBee » Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:07 pm

Cavesa wrote:Extensive reading and listening works, we have various examples of Super Challenge progress here on the forums. It works the best when associated with other kinds of studying.
There was a lecture recently about how babies learn language. If I recall correctly the current theory is that they store huge chunks of speech they have heard in their memory, and then use statistical matching to isolate words and phrases from that.


lecture: Comment se fait l'acquisition du langage chez le bébé? [EDIT: 43 minutes into the video]

Sharon Peperkamp (lady giving the lecture)
Last edited by DaveBee on Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to learn vocabulary?

Postby Carmody » Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:43 pm

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