from Beginner 2 to Intermediate 1: unknown word count

musicserver77 ca Canada

Hello Steve,

I'm having difficulty finding materials in Bulgarian to help me move from the Mini Stories to an Intermediate 1 level. I notice that the unknown word count for the later stories (50-60) that I haven't yet completed is around 25-35%, whereas new material that I find is around 55% and above, and this makes for rather difficult reading. I have three questions about this issue.

1) Is this typical in moving up a level, and do you encounter this same issue? Is this just an inevitable challenge that I have to plow through? I had hoped for continuity, and I imagine that in languages with more content this is possible.

2) Word frequency and unknown word counts: The mini-stories contain much basic vocabulary, and it would be interesting to begin the language again with 0 known words, and see how the unknown word count of later stories decreases as one makes one's way through the early stories. This seems to be an interesting way of charting one's progress.

For example, I uploaded the text for Pipi Longstocking, apparently a favourite of Bulgarian children and wonderful to read in any language (Fifi Brindacier en Francais). When I began the book there were over 60% unknown, but now, having covered a chapter or 2, the remainder is at around 50-55% unknown, and I imagine as I move further through the book the percentage will decrease.

3) I found reviewing lingqs in the mini stories to be very helpful, but in these texts there are so many unknown words that I find the task of reviewing lingqs a bit daunting. Do you think it best that I just continue to plough through the Pipi stories without reviewing the hundreds of words and just see if I start to acquire the vocabulary in this fashion? Is this how you would proceed at this level?



June 10 at 13:38
  • aronald us United States

    I’ve never reviewed any words and it’s worked great for me. I would probably find some texts with less unknown words but that’s just me. I’m sure a lot decrease for unknown words in Pipi Longstocking is from proper nouns and very specific words for that text. In general you’ll see the unknown words start decreasing at a slower pace the further into the book you get.

    Yes I think there should be more continuity between levels. Really there isn’t any real edge to a level since they are all arbitrary anyways.

    June 11 at 16:29
    • musicserver77 ca Canada

      I'm interested to read that you don't review words and that it works for. What do you do about unknown words, just pass over or do you lingq all unknown words? If I did I would have almost 50% of the words yellow--I'm open to trying but not sure how it would be helpful if I never review: on the other hand there would be far far too many to review.

      A appreciate hearing about your experience.

      June 12 at 12:34
      • ftornay es Spain

        Yes, many Lingq users (myself included) almost never review vocabulary. . Even most of those who do, do not strive to strive to review all yellow words or even a tiny fraction (that's Steve's case, for example).

        We do lingq all unkown words. In fact, you can say that that's the "standard" way of using Lingq. The main way to learn vocabularay is by reading, which ensures that you'll come across the most frequent words again and again in different contexts. And yes, it does work beautifully. All other activities simply complement this.

        If you are interested in maintaining a convenient set of words to review, I would advise you to:

        a) Lingq all unknown words

        b) Tag those that you're interested in reviewing, e.g., with a "review" tag.. You can select that tag on your vocabulary page by clicking on "filter"

        June 12 at 18:44
        • ftornay es Spain

          For comparison, Steve declares himself a "sporadic" flash carder

          And he doesn't care if he only reviews a small part of hi Lingqs or whether those that he reviews are more frequent or "important". He explains his position here in this video:

          June 12 at 18:55
          • musicserver77 ca Canada

            Thanks for the advice, I'm going to push ahead and just keep reading. What's the worst that could happen? I'll enjoy myself and learn, I imagine!

            June 12 at 20:05
      • aronald us United States

        Yes I do exactly as ftornay does. Just keep plowing ahead and you should start getting more comfortable and start to FEEL the meaning of the word subconsciously. I don’t know how this process works but I do know that it starts to become much stronger the more you read. Do not take more than 1 day off per week and try to read more than an hr per day.

        June 12 at 23:25
    • Cinderela il Israel

      It's hard for me to agree. I study Russian and move from story to story in the mini stories. The words in each story in most cases are not repeated in other stories. Without a list of words and repeating them, I would not remember anything. I tried to learn without repetition for a whole month and no success, especially in Russian where its words are very long and without repeating them' they can not be accurately remembered.

      June 12 at 22:58
      • aronald us United States

        Cinderella, I never did the mini stories in Russian but I’m guessing most of the words are very common words, and you’ll definitely be seeing them again soon. The thing about Russian is that even though the words have on average 1-2 more syllables compared to English, the core part of the word isn‘t more than 2-3 syllables by itself. In a lot of situations a prefix is added and then you have case endings which make the words long but don’t make them anymore difficult to remember once you get comfortable with all the cases. You’ll start to realize this over time. The prefixes give directions or make small alterations to the meaning of the verb. My only advice is to read a lot. Just doing 30 mins a day may be enough to slowly make progress but it seems that 60 mins per day is better than 2x30 mins, and 90 mins is better than 3x30 mins. Eventually that pattern breaks down. I think most people don’t even attempt to read enough per day and also be consistent with it to realize this.

        Also, have you ever spent considerable time learning a musical instrument? I feel like the process is exactly the same. Give the work a good honest effort everyday and don’t worry about trying to control every little thing. The brain knows what to do. Let it go, get some good sleep, and when you keep bringing it back day after day things will keep getting easier. The progres is not always linear.

        June 12 at 23:44
      • ftornay es Spain

        @Cinderela. I remember when I started learning Russian. It was before I discovered Lingq. I used a variety of resources, e.g. Assimil, which as a similar approach to the mini-stories

        It was incredibly difficult to remember vocabulary. To the point that I could not repeat a word I'd read a few minutes prior because I kept mixing up the syllables, etc. It seemed an impossible task.

        Now I feel rather comfortable in the language and I can talk about most any topic. Just keep going and you'll get the hang of it but don't be surprised if takes a bit and you feel absolutely puzzled for some time. Btw, at the beginning I did try flash-carding (memrise, e.g.). At the end of the day, it didn't make a lot of difference. There's no getting around the adaptation period.

        I wish you success

        June 13 at 00:26
  • JDHallKY us United States

    This may vary from language to language, but I have never found the "unknown words" number to be very helpful in Korean. I have almost completed the "Advanced 1" level and I still rarely encounter a lesson with less than 30-40% known words. That's because there are so many forms a word can take in Korean, so it means in each lesson there are lots of words I know but that I just haven't encountered with exactly the same ending. So, I just dive in and let the actual difficulty determine whether I continue with something or not. Again, with Bulgarian the number might be a lot more meaningful.

    You are right that the unknown word count will decline just by going through the Pipi stories because there will vocabulary used repeatedly throughout. And you will learn those words very thoroughly before you're done.

    I never review LingQs outside of reading unless I"m just bored and want to run through some flashcards. I've never found it very helpful at all. If a word is common, or important in an area of interest to you, you will encounter it again and again in your reading and listening.

    Just my two cents, if my thoughts are worth even that much! :-)

    June 12 at 17:35
    • musicserver77 ca Canada

      Thank, very valuable advice. In fact my music teacher does much the same with me: after working through some particular fingering and bowing issues in a particular piece, I asked if I should work on these and perfect the piece. She said no, not at all, just continue on to the next piece in the collection, I'll encounter the same issues again and again throughout all music that I play. So this seems also to be the way many people on this site operate, and I must say I find it a very attractive way to proceed, very liberating from there drudgery of review.

      Thanks so much for your comments!

      June 12 at 20:09
      • aronald us United States

        I think the underlying idea here is that there is only a certain amount of progress that can be made on one musical passage in a given day and that our brains must have time and sleep to digest that pattern before being able to improve on it. A layer must be built sturdy before you can built another layer on top of it. Imagine that you’re hammering a nail into a piece of wood and that in a given day you can only move the nail so much no matter how hard you continue to hit it. Then the next day it‘s easier to move some more. The same thing happens with memory whether it’s through reading on LingQ or doing flashcards. I used to be an avid flashcard user before discovering LingQ and I could easily commit 50 words to active memory per day using flashcards (native language to target language). The prcoess that I used was basically to flip through all 50 words 4-6 times per day for 10-15 mins each session trying to remember them, and before I went to bed I made sure I could remember every word no matter if it took 5 seconds or 30 seconds. If I could do that then I knew that the words were in my head and that when I reviewed them the next day 90+% would be remembered easily and then the others would just be hit hard again that day. These words would then keep getting easier and easier every day while constantly adding more words. My point here is that it didn’t matter if I spent 2x more time trying to pack these words better into my head the same day that I initially memorized them, they would always be kinda shaky. It wasn’t until several days passed and a few review sessions later that the same words really started to solidify. So there is only so much you can do in a day on one set of words and sleeping has a huge impact on this process.

        Ps, I stopped using flashcards because I realized that reading develops an intuitive sense of the word and that’s much better than rote memorization (which is pretty much useless for anything other than very specific nouns). Plus reading teaches grammar at the same time while also being interesting! It’s not even a close comparison anymore. I wish I would have discovered LingQ earlier.

        June 13 at 01:18
  • Moderator
    steve ca Canada

    Sorry to be so late in commenting. In many if not most languages there is a shortage of intermediate content. Also, the frequency with which words appear drops off very rapidly, so that it is not possible to have a gradually transition from easy content to the next level. At some point you just have to take on difficult material and keep going until the language becomes easier, the context more familiar and the learning experience less challenging. I don't think there are easy solutions. Varying the learning activities or difficulty level can help. I don't do a lot of flash card review. I do it occasionally, after a lesson page, or just to very my form of exposure to the language. Just keep plowing on, creating LingQ without worrying about what you retain and things will eventually improve. The intermediate stage in language learning is the toughest for that reason.

    June 14 at 18:10