In most grammar classes and textbooks, you learn words ingroups. You might learn about animals on one day and fruits the next. This is comfortable, both for language teachers and students. Your teacher gets to have a clear lesson plan (today is about numbers), and you get to accomplish something (today, I learned the numbers!).
But is this the most efficient way to learn vocabulary?
If you look at the research on vocabulary acquisition, you’ll find a surprising result: weirdly enough, learning groups of similar words (apple, pear, banana) is significantlyharder to learn. You’ll be much better off if you either learn words in unrelated groups (apple, dog, red) or in groups that form stories (apple, sweet, to eat).
A few months ago, I realized that I had forgotten a great deal of my French. My book was taking up 40-50 hours of every week, so I didn’t have extra time to study, and I didn’t really want to study French, either. This year is my Hungarian year, and what little time I have, I like to spend on that language. Languages benefit from focus, and so I try to avoid studying two of them at once.
I needed some way to bring back my French without actually having towork at it, and I found it in the form of television. Continue reading →
When learning a language, eventually you’re going to need to actually talk to someone. The internet makes it stupidlyeasytogetintouch with new people (both for language exchanges and for conversation in general), but what are you going to talk about?
“I’m learning Russian.” “Why?” ”Blah blah blah…” lasts for about 5 minutes. Then what?