Evergreen organized vocab list - any thoughts?

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lavengro
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Evergreen organized vocab list - any thoughts?

Postby lavengro » Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:55 am

Have any of you created on an ongoing basis an evergreen, thematically-organized list of words when learning a new language, and if so, was it productive for you or did it not represent a good return on time investment?

My usual practice is to keep a notebook in which I write down new vocabulary or phrases as I come across them, and I try to review from time to time or use the notebook as a reference if I recall having written down something previously that I need to access. Generally, depending on the source I may have been working through, this will result in little clumps of subject-related words or phrases (for example, a number of words for various colours all wind up on the same page or adjacent pages of my notebook if I am working through a unit that deals with colours) and then pages of unrelated words, but if four weeks later I come across additional colour-related terms, they will wind up much later in my notebook, either as one-offs or another little colour-related clump.

I am thinking of trying out keeping a cumulative, living list of vocabulary (likely in an Excel chart) as I go so that I can keep like with like. Is that something that any of you may have tried, or have some thoughts concerning? I am keen on avoiding inefficient learning approaches and I am not sure that this approach is a good use of time, but on the other hand I wonder whether going through that exercise will result in an improved memory of and facility with related vocabulary. Just to be clear, I am not proposing to search out all words related to, for example, colours to organize them in a list, and then go out to search all, again for example, body part names to list them, etc. Instead, it would just be a matter of adding words/phrases as they are learned through my various language materials to the appropriate place in the list.

Apologies if this has come up before but I have not seen it, and I don't see any relevant discussion in the Wiki. Thanks for any thoughts!
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Re: Evergreen organized vocab list - any thoughts?

Postby StringerBell » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:56 am

I have played around with a variety of ways to keep track of new words and expressions over the past year. Eventually I came to some conclusions for myself:

-In general, if something seems really useful (an expression I repeatedly hear, something I'd likely want to say myself), I sometimes jot it down in my notebook, but most importantly I try to use it myself a few times. The act of actually using the word/expression a few times is what makes me remember it.

-Attempting to organize my notes by theme or in anyway at all becomes tedious and eventually I start messing up and in the end it's not worth the attempt (for me).

Since I've been learning Italian and Polish using massive comprehensible input, the important stuff tends to repeat a lot, therefore I tend to remember it without writing anything down. In the beginning, I was feverishly writing down everything I heard in conversations but then I kind of chilled out about it and started writing down only things that seemed particularly useful or interesting.

Now, as I'm reading something (like a blog post), when I come across a new word or idiom that is particularly interesting to me, I cut+paste it (along with the whole sentence) into a Word document. I look up the definition and add that next to the sentence. I also color code the words/expressions. Then at some point I attempt to use that new item when I'm speaking to see if I've got a handle on how it should be used. Periodically I glance over my document and when I find something that I forgot about, I remind myself to use it again. Some I let fall by the wayside until I come across them again.

If organizing a notebook in a particular way seems appealing to you, I say give it a shot. You might have a different outcome than I did. You won't know unless you try.
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Re: Evergreen organized vocab list - any thoughts?

Postby Ani » Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:50 am

Eventually your Excel sheet will become a dictionary. The phase where that would be useful is pretty short for an easier language. I learned 2000 words in my first three months studying French. Browsing 2000 words for a refresher is awkward... Browsing all the words I've learned over the last three years would be ridiculous.
If you really wanted to keep a list, I'd recommend Anki. At least that way easy cards could be pushed way into the future. You can use your Excel list to populate Anki.
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lavengro
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Re: Evergreen organized vocab list - any thoughts?

Postby lavengro » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:05 am

Thanks StringerBell and Ani for your comments.

I forgot the proper sequencing: first think things through, and then post.... What I was suggesting would not be efficient for me, and would evaluate the notebook/list project into an end rather than a means to an end. I am already driving in the vocabulary through SRS, multiple exposure within the same learning source, cross exposure across a number of different sources, etc. The synthesis that would result from organizing related words into a thematically-organized list is what theoretically my brain is already doing (while also hatching evil plots, thinking about squirrels, etc).
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