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learning foreign vocabulary?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Eddi, Apr 8, 2021 at 4:46 AM.

  1. Eddi

    Eddi reformed crackpot

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    Does anyone have any tips as to how to remember vocabulary when learning a foreign language?

    I've found that associating images with them helps

    For instance in Japanese またあとで (which means "See you later") is pronounced "ma ta a to de" - so to remember it I imagine a toad, as "to de" sounds a little like "toad"

    I'm trying to learn four or five words a day and I can just about manage this, but I'm interested in learning new techniques
     
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  2. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    More seriously, for what purpose are you trying to learn Japanese? You should try and align your learning methods and priorities with that.
    If you want to conduct conversations in a foreign language, I would recommend learning words and statements in context of such conversations. Most beginner courses and textbooks already do this anyway. The English "Hello, how are you? - I'm fine, thank you." is drilled into every EFL student's head all across the world, for example.

    You already figured out that learning a language by rote memorization is a rather arduous process, and has its limitations. There is only so much we can memorize without it becoming both mentally and emotionally taxing. One thing that I've been taught as a language teacher is that the fastest way to become conversational in a language is immersion - to exist in a cultural environment where that language is commonplace. This is of course not practical if you're learning the language of a country or culture that isn't part of your daily life.

    But according to some specialists of the field, it is definitely possible to achieve similar results by deliberately immersing oneself in as many natural (or natural-adjacent) conversations as possible - which, fortunately, is quite possible with copious usage of the Internet. This is notably harder if you're an English speaker wanting to learn a non-English language than the reverse, but I would still recommend seeking out as many pieces of media in Japanese language that you can find. This is considerably easier if you can read some Japanese, as the Internet is still a text based medium and searching in Japanese will in my experience yield far more and better results than if you were stuck with English.

    Listening to conversations would also make it easier to understand how certain words and phrases you've already learned are being used in natural language, and ideally also pick up some adjacent cultural context that could help you figure out usage and contextual meaning. I realize that this is hard for a beginner, of course - in my experience, it takes a little bit of a 'critical mass' of words until one can figure out a conversation on one's own.

    Subtitles on videos or movies can be a mixed blessing - on one hand, they help you figure out quickly what's going on without needing to understand every word, and you still get to listen to the language in use, but on the other hand, they tend to draw away an audience's focus from listening and towards reading the subtitles instead, so you may not want to rely too much on those once you're past the 'beginner' phase.


    As a general rule of thumb, language is something that's best trained by usage - reading, writing, listening and speaking - rather than learned.
    When talking to my students about their learning process, I tried to liken it to swimming or riding a bike - something that you mostly learn by doing.
     
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  3. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue The gentle embrace of twilight has become my guide

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    I try not to think like an adult. Watch a lot of kid shows from other countries to pick up on linguistics and take the same steps that you did learning your natural language.
     
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  4. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
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    I am studying a not that easy language....Russian right now. :)
    I think learning vocabulary is pretty awkward since a big amount of words do not remind of either Latin or Germanic words. But there really are many words that do...so it's automatic and fun to learn them when they do remind them.
    For example the verb to eat in Russian is est' (which reminds of essen in German). Or duck is gus'.
    But the verb "to learn" is izuchat' in Russian. It is really Slavic vocabulary.

    A trick I use it is to write many times that word...using it in sentences, and then I slowly assimilate it.
     
    #4 Estro Felino, Apr 8, 2021 at 6:42 AM
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021 at 8:20 AM
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