The Goldlist Method
@basti - here's a great link with good explanations and example pictures to explain the method:
In the method we are checking for recognition, rather than recall, to build a passive vocabulary which is later 'activated'; for this reason I do the easier thing which is recognising my Japanese or Chinese words with the English covered up, instead of translating from English L1 back into the foreign language L2.
I don't necessarily remember the same amount of words for each Headlist of 25 words after waiting 2 weeks. I might remember 28% of one Headlist, 70% of the next H, and hardly anything of the following, so it varies.
But after several pages of 'headlisting', you will have remembered a combined average of 30% or more of the total. It gets even better after further distillations.
I imagine you already know that you can do further Headlists of 25 words on the same day (as long as there are breaks in between), and on other days whilst you're waiting for prior lists to sit idle for 14 days. We can also work on other distillations if they're due.
Some people would rather spend the time listening and reading, since in theory it takes 600 hours to learn 15,000 words to the long-term memory using the Goldlist method (ie. one hour per 25 words distilled right down). In any case, we should not neglect listening and reading whether Goldlisting or not. I don't panic if I come across words in my reading before the 2 weeks are up, since they're likely to be high-frequency words I would have learned quickly anyhow just from exposure.
I want to learn to read and handwrite around 3,000 characters each in Japanese Kanji and Simplified Chinese Hanzi, so this could be a great method.
Note that David James has modified the method for those learning languages with Asian characters.
Oh that's so weird, because I actually picked up where I left off from my Japanese Goldlist again (after some months' neglect) yesterday. I've also just started Goldlisting both Heisig's 'Remembering the Kanji' & 'Simplified Hanzi', as both books arrived today. (I will experiment to see if learning both together confuses me, or cuts the learning time in half etc.)
David James (aka Huliganov) is right about 'learning to the long term memory' - even though he advises not to wait longer than 2 months maximum before distilling, I simply picked up where I had left off and found I knew significantly more than the 30%, and by the end of the 2nd distillation, I knew 80% of the original Headlists. In other words, those words really were in my long-term memory. Freakin' awesome.
I think of a Japanese word as passively "known" for myself if I recognise it easily with the English covered up.
Just as mere coincidence, this thread got bumped back up on the same day that I started my very first gold list.
I'm doing it for advanced French. I wrote out phrases, and in place of a translation I wrote grammar notes. I'm focusing on both prepositions and subjunctive use right now.
after the 2 weeks, i look at the word in my native language and try and guess the word in the language you are learning, i think if you know the words then you can just forget about it and when you need it it should be there in your "long term memory".
hi there, I have also started recently a gold list in french and some other languages. My question is, when the two weeks are over should I first look at the french words and then guess their meaning in my mother tongue or vice versa?
second question: what will happen to the 30 % of words that I know after 2 weeks? will I never look them up? or is there a list for those "known words" after a period of time?
Yes, like Kimojima, I've been remembering at least 70% of my Japanese Goldlists at first pass, instead of 30% - and I put it down to unknowingly knowing (haha!) a lot of passive words. Curiously, I couldn't remember though some words I THOUGHT I knew from my prior university study (13 week course). This is probably because they were learned during cramming for tests and exams!
I guess eventually my retention will drop to 30%.... Kudos to David James (aka Huliganov).
PS I like my Goldlists (including Chinese) so much, I don't want to tear any pages out!:) - but whatever works for you Kimojima, go ahead!:)
Just don't forget to keep working on your listening comprehension whenever possible!
Do you listen to any talk radio programs or podcasts from Puerto Rico?
Eh, if it doesn't sound like fun then don't do it. I think what you are doing now, since you find it enjoyable, will ultimately lead to not only a higher competence in your languages but also a higher satisfaction level as well. Relaxed brains enjoying the learning process learn best.
Soon you will feel like you are falling, the suddenly forget to hit the ground, and then wind up flying.
I have to admit that "Caso Cerrado" is a guilty pleasure of mine.
I spend most of my language learning time in immersion. I let my Gold Lists build themselves naturally by jotting something down every time I run into a "how do I say that?" situation. When I get to 25, that's my next Gold List. I only "actively" make Gold Lists (sparingly) for special cases where I have to bolster a vocabulary in a specific topic and I can't find any good immersion materials for it, such as preparing to visit a client working in an industry I am unfamiliar with. I usually pull this vocabulary out of technical dictionaries. Most of my vocabulary absorption comes from reading and rereading what you call "immersion" materials and listening to podcasts and the radio (and the occasional tv show. Funny how "Reality TV" is the biggest waste of time and brain cells in your native language, but can be some of the most useful content out there for understanding colloquial speech in an L2).
"Also, why is everyone so eager to try anything BUT immersion?" I don't necessarily think they are. I think people are looking for the most convenient or enjoyable tools to fit into their daily schedule. My absolute preferred method to learn vocabulary is to read a good book, in Spanish I am currently reading "Cómo Ganar Amigos e Influir a Las Personas" (which is a great book if you are looking for something to read) and in Italian I am reading "Amore e Sesso nell'Antica Roma"; however carrying books around is not always ideal, and sometimes flashcards are the easiest way to "get some reps in" throughout the day when you only have a few seconds here and there. The idea behind the GoldList is that it is a low-tech SRS system that you can easily take with you anywhere. Having done them on airplanes I can agree. I also have my GoldList notepads sitting near me on my desk at work for when I need a quick brain break here and there, or to do when someone is blabbing about something on a conference call that doesn't pertain to me. It isn't my preferred method, but it fills in the gaps where appropriate.
One last note: GoldLists are great for passive vocabulary, but I have found that the only way to increase your active vocabulary is to struggle to recall words when you need to use them: i.e. chatting and speaking.
I saw a Youtube video of a Scottish guy learning Danish using the gold list method. He'd been doing it for 3 years and admitted that he still had a long way to go before he could feel comfortable with the language. I suggest that he would have probably learnt more in a third of the time using cramming and repetition?
Goldlist doesn't impress me at all ! Long term memory still needs repetition to keep it active! If you don't use it you don't need it and you forget it eventually. Repetition repetition repetition is not a new concept it's a natural way of learning something!
I think this way of learning works better by filling your short term memory first. After that going back and repeating the process with the words you learned less frequently. This keeps the words in your memory and eventually your short term memory will naturally become long term memory but with faster results.
Besides remembering words don't mean you can communicate. it certainly helps you but thats just one small part of learning a language.
Haha your funny imyirtseshem. You keep practising and one day maybe you'll become English !!! :)))))) sorry about the bible quote ......
I wonder if this Goldlist method would be useful for learning the Chinese/Japanese characters? I mean, since it involves writing and all. And since those are so small (relative to words), you can probably fit more than 25 of them on a page.
Still, there's something not quite believable about this, in that it doesn't seem to have a limit. Let's say you were to spend all day doing this: eight hours a day, with breaks once in a while. In one day, you could write down all 2000 of the standard Kanji (the official set of them, the ones in Remembering the Kanji, or whatever). Let's say you had no familiarity with them beforehand.
So, in 14 days, if you do nothing, would you *really* recall about 30% of them (or about 700)? That just doesn't sound believable. I believe I could write down 2000 characters and their meanings in one day (if I spent all day at it), but I don't believe that doing so would cause me to recall 700 of them them 14 days later, if I didn't know any of them when I wrote them (i.e. if that was the first time I had seen them).
Still, it's easy to doubt it, and it'd be a fun experiment. I might try that out, but I heavily doubt I'd recall anywhere near 30% of them if I only saw each once and wrote each one down once. It feels intuitively like you'd need repeated exposure to etch something into long-term memory, and that 30% recall from a single exposure wouldn't work if the language is very different from one's own (e.g. no cognates).
My suspicion is that there are secret memory "hooks" inside words, so that what you are really remembering are those hooks. For instance, if you see nacht, and think "that sounds like night", and see it 14 days later, even if it was the first time you ever saw nacht, you'd probably remember that it meant night, since it's so similar in pronunciation. But if you saw 夜 once, and wrote it down, would you really remember that it means "night", 14 days later, if there's no "hook" in your memory? I'd be surprised if this 30% number is consistent, I'd expect it to be higher in languages with more cognates to one another, and lower in languages with fewer cognates. The 30% number may actually just represent the average cognate similarity rate between two Indo-European languages (and most of the languages studied on this site are Indo-European), rather than the % of everything that the brain sees that it stores in long-term memory.
30 % sounds like a determined and absolute figure to me which sounds abit daft regardless of what scientists say.People are different and have different intelligence levels which probably contributes more to ability and of coarse some people have photographic memory ;))) or some degree of it maybe ???? Of course if you repeat something you get better at it! Its called practicing ?????? To me cramming is probably a more effective method because you are in effect practicing more.Of course you force things into your long term memory the more you learn the more you remember!!!! Two week idea just sounds stupid like going to the gym once a week and expecting big results !!!! The older you get the harder it gets the sponge drys out!!! And language as no real rules its just a lot of crap made up ideas thrown together full of exceptions !!! Like the bible haha! Writing reading listening and speaking = success nothing more the rest is practice and hardwork! Like everything else!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When I was at college 20 years ago I learnt about 8 subjects by just using a repartition technique. Writing down phrases over and over again and speaking the phrases out aloud word for word. It worked and I scored distinctions in all the subjects. The information stayed in my brain for way longer than 2 weeks and i studied nonstop hours on end sometimes not sleeping that day. I had a deadline of 2 months .The knowledge stayed there for years, but I must say today I have almost forgotten everything so long term memory isn't for ever ? I agree that the hand, eyes and mouth definitely linked to long term memory... But the only effective way to learn a language fluently is to live there!!!! If you don't use the knowledge your long term memory filters out the unused and deletes it ! My English as become a lot worst because I live in Sweden and don't use it to the extent I did in England!!!!!
I have found that I enjoy the gold list immensely for physical media. I just went through picture dictionaries in 3 different languages (mainly filled with nouns of household and everyday items one will not normally encounter reading about politics, science, technology, health, etc. For example, after 3 years of Italian, I had never encountered "dog bowl" before, or even had reason to assume they would use a different word than for a human bowl.) I wrote down all the words I didn't recognize in my various headlists. Now I can just happily carry along with my distillations whenever I feel like without having to make another headlist until I have reason to, such as reading another physical book where I don't have an electronic version to LingQ.
Rank, build up your passive quickly, then the active is sure to follow! Works every time. :)
Yeah, it's probably better to work with passive recognition rather than active recall (although it'd be kinda nice to have both...)
I'm going to continue working with this method (but maybe not with Serbian!)
I'm in the middle of my second distillation, and I can sometimes recall a bit more than 30%.
Which works just fine, Odiernod, because the method is for developing good passive abilities.
I've been seeing just about a 30% retention of all of my words as well, after 15 days, which is the cycle I am doing. I am checking the "easy" way of course, checking for recognition rather than recall.
Well, the time's up and I just checked my first experimental Goldlist of Serbian nouns.
Firstly, I covered up the Serbian side, and just asked myself whether I could go from the German translations (see my last post above) back into Serbian. Result: I knew 4 of them. I didn't even have to check them - I just knew them. But as regards the remaining 21 nouns, I had not the faintest idea what the Serbian was.
So secondly I looked at the list of Serbian nouns, this time covering up their translations. On seeing the actual Serbian words, I was able to remember the meaning of another 3 words (in addition to the 4 already actively remembered.)
So on the face of it, I guess the method seems to work as per the theory - I still had not far off 30% of the original list of words in my brain. But all the others were completely gone, as if I had never seen them!
@ Rank: ein wahrer Albtraum! Salvation Army kenne ich noch als Heilsarmee. Ich wünsche Dir viele katerfreie Tage. Möge die GL sich nicht als Zeitverschwendung erweisen; mir hat sie damals Spass gemacht, vieles ist besser hängengeblieben.
@odiernod "I have known it to be popular for some language teachers to insist that their students take on new personas as that language version of themselves. A form of method acting perhaps?"
Lee Riethmiller?.. if that's not the case, could you provide some more info?
I finally started my first goldlist today. My approach was to take random Serbian nouns from the Morton Benson dictionary. (Yeah, I know that if Moody's were Linguists they would NOT be giving this dictionary a triple A rating! But it’s literally the best one in existence for this language at the present time, alas…)
I have decided to see how many nouns I can stock up on to begin with, before I start learning verbs in the context of example-sentences (which I will cull from Linguaphone Serbocroat, and from the old edition of Teach Yourself Serbocroat.)
At the moment I am not interested in word-frequency or practical usefulness – rather I just flicked through the dictionary and picked out words which seemed to attract my attention. To add a little twist, I wrote the translations of the Serbian words in German rather than English in my notebook.
I’m not too sure what a psychoanalyst would make of my first 25 words!? Even I was a little bit spooked when I saw what I had selected! Here are the German translations:
On the face of it this is not terribly useful or practical. Yet I found that I could immediately translate almost all of the words into German without a dictionary, so it must be stuff that one would eventually learn by living in the country, I guess…
Anyway, let’s hope I can keep it up! :-D
After reading this discussion thread and watching Steve's recent video, last night I had a flash if inspiration. As Lingq and Goldlist share common principles, I will combine both in my studies and use them in tandem.
I will continue to read new material through Lingq, tackling subjects that interest me. Lingq is unique, in my experience, in recording words that I already know and presenting suggested translations for the words I don't know. Then, when I come to a word for which I create a link in Lingq, I will also add the word and its translation to my Goldlist book. In doing so I will become intimately involved in this new word, writing it out in my best handwriting and noticing the spelling (especially for Russian, seeing where those dratted soft signs go).
This will keep the Goldlist relevant to my current interests, which is so much better than transferring pre-existing vocabulary lists or copying in from a frequency list. I will continue to read new material through Lingq, thus keeping up my enjoyment of the language. My review sessions will be through distillation of my Goldlist book, which I find more pleasant to do than using flash cards.
There! The best of both worlds.
I re-opened my Goldlist book today and found the last entries dated July 2010, with a lot of distillation ready to be done. Time passes so quickly! I must have been using Lingq ever since. But it is certainly true, as David James has said, that it is possible to go back to a Goldlist book after a long break. In fact the distillation that I have done this evening dropped more than 30% of words as remembered, so I must have been consolidating my knowledge of the language since July 2010.
Perhaps mouthing or saying the flashcard contents out loud while flashcarding would be more effective than normal flashcarding.
I tried out the Goldlist method several months ago, before I really "got" the idea behind LingQ, but I found that I wasn't enjoying it at all. I'd much rather spend an extra 30-60 minutes a day reading and listening than focusing on a couple of lists. As Steve has said though, this is about personal preference. I can see why it's a good idea, and I understand the logic behind it, but I'm not going to force myself to do something that I don't enjoy doing.
However, I did pick up something from the method that I could use elsewhere; it's good to output something to help cement the new word. In LingQ I do this to an extent - instead of just putting the meaning of the word in the LingQ, I will re-type it first (if it's a single word, I'll re-type the root of the word), and then put the meaning down. This isn't the same level as the Goldlist method of course, but it's a quick and painless way to add another "hook" for the word in my memory.
Thanks, Steve, for the video. I'll take a look; I've been away from the computer most of the day so far, or I would have viewed it already.
Suggestions on flashcard use are always welcome, thanks--I still keep hoping they'll work for me w/o the exorbitant amount of repetition they seem to require. You and others have mentioned what works best for you recently, in other threads, and I hope to collect these descriptions and put some of them into practice. However, I 'll return to writing vocab. out longhand again, too, and see how that works.
Hope you are not reconsidering trying the Gold List method. Your opinion about it, after trying it awhile, would be most interesting. You are right about how much time it would take: "Mr. Huliganov" estimates that to work on 100 words a day (of which you would only "reap" 30 on the first pass) would take over an hour each day. That's why I think most people, maybe including me, will not give it enough of a try to see how well it works. Yet 30 words a day--really learning them, rather than just foggily recognizing them, as I have been doing of late with new words--is better than my average w/ electronic flashcards, so far.
On another subj.: did you see evgueny40's three new lessons on aspect in Russian? They are really good. This kind of material is great, and having it w/ audio is even better. Before starting to use LingQ I could not have listened through all this w/o out reading it too, whereas now there was very little that I needed to check the text to verify.
[Addenda, after listening to your new video.
[Sounds good to me. I'm in this for enjoyment, too. Now, I'm a quite nerdy type, and I _like_ studying . . . :)
[Concerning you and Gold List method: you replied in advance to my question. You might consider interleaving each of your 3 sessions w/ other activities (as Mr. James suggests, too), treating them as a change of pace when your efforts at, say, listening to Czech start to flag.
[The comments on "activation" are hugely interesting. But this note is already far too long. Another time.]
Ernie, I think that those things that are worthwhile doing are the things we enjoy doing, since our time is limited. I find that my reading and listening at LingQ, and especially seeing my little yellow friends over and over, is both enjoyable and effective at building up my vocabulary. When I do flashcards, I find it most effective to put the Term, Hint and Phrase on the front of the card and go through them as fast as I can.
It takes me 8 minutes to write out 25 words or phrases with the English in my Goldlist, and this just copying from a vocab list in LingQ. If I wanted to do this 4 times a day to get to 100 words, this would take at least 30 minutes. I am not sure that this time is better spent this way than in my more traditional activities at LingQ.
I think these things depend on what we enjoy doing, and I just did a video on that subject called "The most effective language learning method" if your are interested.
Steve, You're right. That isn't really pertinent, and I haven't yet read the entire other paper I indicated. Sorry to waste your time w/ that first article. I've amended my note by removing the references. Guess I shouldn't "rush into print." Wish I could find the original BBC broadcast that I heard last fall, as it was directed at language learning. I'll keep looking.
> I don't doubt that writing is good for you. The question is whether it is necessary to devote time to it, if we would rather be doing something else, like reading, listening or speaking.
For me it may be worthwhile, if not necessary, to devote time to it. I've almost totally given up on electronic flashcards. LingQ's are just the last in a series. I'll go back to what has worked in the past. I can see writing out vocabulary in my "finest hand." Sounds like fun, actually.
By the way, The listening provided / encouraged on this site is super. It is immensely helpful. Thanks for making it easy to do.
It is "possible" that writing engages more "muscle memory" and therefore helps you remember, but I think, if handwriting does indeed help you learn better than typing, its because handwriting forces you to spend more time on each word, paying attention to every letter.
I read the article in the first link you left here. The study refers to learning letters. I can agree. I doubt that I could have learned Chinese characters without writing them. On the other hand I never write Japanese and essentially never have. Nor do I write Russian. I think I learned both languages fairly well.
I don't doubt that writing is good for you. The question is whether it is necessary to devote time to it, if we would rather be doing something else, like reading, listening or speaking.
Elric, (about writing-out by hand) There's been recent research that claims writing by hand boosts learning. I heard a report on the BBC awhile back, about this. [*** removed reference to an article that really didn't support my point ***]. If I find it, I'll post it on this thread.
As mentioned earlier in this thread, for me, anyway, writing out by hand has always been effective, whereas flashcards or electronic flashcards have never worked particularly well, much as I _really_ wanted computerized flashcards to work. I've always written out 3 times by hand, but it sounds like maybe only once is needed (per session). It was a sort of spaced-repetition method--the next day, two days later, a week later, in two weeks. Sounds like w/ the goldlist method this might be streamlined, which would be nice, as it was pretty grueling.
I agree. It may be that almost any learning method (within reason) could be made to work - provided that one were able to keep it up for a long enough period of time. And what works well for Person A may not work so well for Person B - and vice versa.
I also suspect that it is a mistake to look at things in terms of 'either/or'. In language learning it is probably no very bad idea to combine different approaches at the same time.
This issue is not what works, most things we do in language learning work, and any statement on what works better than something else is usually quite subjective. What matters is what we enjoy, and where we want to spend our time. Time is the bottleneck.
I prefer to just read and listen. It takes a bit too much effort to read lots and lots of lists.
I think the real issue is how to lose the "cramming" mentality. Following G-List is a good formula for that. But I am sure there are others.
One difference about the two methods is that with the Goldlist you need to actually write words, and the creator of this methods believes (no science behind this, I think) that it works better than just reading words on a screen. Another difference is that you don't review the words everyday, like you can do with lingq if you wish to, which means you can potentially learn more words with less reviewing and no cramming. I'm not doing it on fancy notebooks either, but it still works.
Well even if there is, there is nothing innately special about the G-List's way of putting the theory into practice in comparison to LingQ. But I still think it is a good alternative or, as I said before, stepping stone to LingQ. No moleskines for me though :)
I understand that there is some fairly serious research to back up the 30% claim?
(But the proof of any pudding will always be in the eating, I guess...)
Ok, if you accept the 30% on first writing theory as true, and the GList as a valid way of operationlizing it( For example, I wonder how the theory predicts 30% on the second writing?), then you just quickly discard the 30% you know when you flashcard... just as quickly as you would with the GList. As for the "fake-known" ones, well you will have ample opportunity to re-study them if you have moved them to < level 4. Or if you just come across them in a text you can see it and downgrade.
The theory is this, the long term memory automatically acquires 30% of what it sees, so when you write out an initial list your ltm has captured 30% of those words, while most or all of them will be in your short term memory. You now wait a period of at least two weeks to make sure nothing is still sitting around in your short term memory and have another look at the list, doing your first distillation. The 30% of the words to discard are the words you remembered after no exposure for 2 weeks, so these are the words that you truly know. The remaining 70% had not been acquired in the ltm the first time, but now another 30% of these words will be since you are looking at the list again.
The problem with the flashcards is that 30% of the words you review you already know from the first time you encountered them, and within the other 70% you may be seeing words that you "fake know", i.e. still sitting in your short term memory, if you change the status to "known" on a word still sitting in your short term memory, you may forget it once it clears out of your stm and now you have words marked as known that you actually do not know.
How do you know you know them? Anyway, you are not studying the words in any normal sense with GList. You are just writing them out. The flashcards should be approached the same way. You are not "trying", you are just reading the word, perhaps the phrase, checking the hint, and if you really feel you know it you move it up and out of your session.
But then at least 30% of the words you are studying you already know...
I don't know if I want to buy moleskine notebooks :) http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2009/02/24/122-moleskine-notebooks/
I think the major positive of the Gold list is that it suggests people value their learning.
It also emphasizes vocab and encourages people to simplify by enforcing a 30% discard rule. I am not sure this is a really special technique. I would rather just import the words into LingQ learn to run through Flashcards quickly.
In one of the Huliganov-videos (I think it was the one that Peter posted a link to) David suggests using a translation of a literary text as a kind of 'free flowing' dictionary - i.e. reading the original text, but using a translation to find unknown words.
I am going to join those who are giving the goldlist method a trial run, but I haven't decided on the language to use yet! The choice is basically between Italian (where I have a rusty B1/B2 level) and something totally new (maybe Serbocroat?) We'll see...
I think that combining the goldlist method with that type of reading (which I also do) would prove to be beneficial. By the time you go through the book a second time, many of the words will hopefully have been learned through the distillations. I'll try it out with my Yiddish and see how it works. (I've got an 800 page book here on a topic I'm very interested in but it's at a rather high level (history at an academic level)).
I do underline with a pencil but I never go back to look up those underlined words. Mostly it tells me where I am in the book. But now I am reading the book for a second time and I know some of those words.
He says a minimum of 14 days, Steve.
What I'd do for taking words from books is to read and underline lightly with a pencil. It's very quick so it doesn't really slow you down at all and can be erased later.
I started my gold lists.
I thought this system would be great for my reading away from the computer. However, I found that I am not prepared to stop my reading and write down the words I do not know, let along look them up. It just distracts me from reading, and turns the pleasant task of reading into a chore.
On the other hand, I was more skeptical about writing down words from LingQ. However contrary to my expectations, creating a gold list from a list in LingQ was easy and pleasant to do. I created my first list of 25 words, which I have now put aside for review later. I can't remember how long I am supposed to leave the list before looking again, does anyone remember?
From time to time I will add lists to my notebook, maybe more than once a day. I will do this until I lose interest, or until I can confirm that it either helps me or not.
Not only is it useful to practice writing these words, it is also a pleasant task. Also, by just writing down what I see on a LingQ list, I am not interrupting the flow of my reading, and I have the meaning right there.
We will see how it goes. It introduces variety in my vocab review, at the very least, and I think it will have other benefits.
Steve, I think it depends on what sort of materials you have, what sort of devices you have to use them on and what other activities you engage in in your life.
Most of my materials are digital and those which aren't, I digitalise them for use with LingQ (beginner and short intermediate materials). I don't have (or want) an ipad and don't use my mp3 player except when I'm travelling somewhere or walking in the park. I do most of my study here at LingQ (for those which I can) and that fits well with my habits. Of course, one should not feel that they are restricted and should be only using one or the other to study languages.
Thank you rambles for your comments. I would add that even with LingQ you should not let the computer govern your learning process. I think that even with LingQ it is possible to spend most of your time away from the computer, listening, reading books, and on a mobile device, not to mention the chance to get out and talk when possible.
I am going to try the goldlist for the reading that I do away from the computer or my iPad.
Good point. Goldlist is a kind of a stepping stone to LingQ in my mind.
I had a go at David James's Goldlist Method and through him I found syzygycc's Polyglot Project, bought and read the book from cover to cover and through that discovered Steve Kaufmann's Lingq. I think that Goldlist and Lingq have a lot in common. From what I understand, most of the underlying principles of Goldlist can be found in Lingq:
1. Don't get worked up and distressed about how much you are NOT learning but just do something interesting with the language. The long-term memory works subconsciously and will pick up knowledge by itself but it is not under our direct control. Enjoy the language and avoid doing anything that seems like a chore. So:
With Goldlist you write out vocabulary and phrases and anything you want to remember in your best handwriting in the nicest bound notebook that you can afford, so that you enjoy crafting a language learning masterpiece.
With Lingq you read interesting articles and books, anything in the language that takes your fancy, and get your enjoyment that way.
2. Review from time to time but don't bother reviewing anything you already know.
With Goldlist you distil out only the entries that you've forgotten and then you enjoy writing them out again in your very best handwriting.
In Lingq you can review old lessons or tackle something completely new - it doesn't matter which. The words you don't know are automatically highlighted for you in blue, or yellow if you've "lingqed" to hints. Words are re-reinforced by appearing again and again with their natural frequency in any new material that you read.
3. Don't spend more than 20 minutes at a learning session without having at least 5 minutes break because the long-term memory gets tired. This is easily implemented in both Goldlist and Lingq.
4. Use a computer for reference but don't let it govern your learning process. Now here is a main point of divergence between Goldlist and Lingq.
So, I'm grateful to David James, syzygycc, and Steve Kaufmann for encouraging me. And I'm also grateful to all those people who have uploaded lots of Russian learning material onto Lingq, so much that I can keep on reading new material with little chance of getting bored.
Thats a great idea steve, I think I will implement the gold list method mainly for physical books and things that I can't import into LingQ.
I am going to start two Goldlists and write 25 new words a day in each. I will start one for the book I am reading in Czech away from the computer, and one based on words that want to remember in LingQ. I will report back on how it works, and if I stick with the plan.
David makes a lot of sense in what he says about language learning.
走起路来 means "to walk along the street" but "walk" is a beginning Hint to the meaning. In order to get a sense of the particular connotation of this phrase, you would have to see in many contexts, and hear it from the mouths of natives, and thereby become confident of the meaning. The dictionary explanation is just a start, and if you do not have any context, or point of reference, the explanation or definition is only just a beginning hint of the meaning, in my experience, and has little credibility or resonance. So I do not get hung up with the accuracy of any dictionary definition, hint or whatever. I know that in a while the meaning will become clear.
I tend to change or add to my Hints in LingQ as I go along and become more familiar with the words.
I see it as a sliding window, every day you create a number of head lists (first lists), in my case 2, and then you check your dates on previous lists to see if any are more than 2 weeks old and need another distillation. You distill any lists greater than two weeks old that you have the time for and then you are done for the day. The next day, you make your next head lists and then continue with any distillations you can get to which are greater than 2 weeks old.
During the first two weeks, you just make new lists. As soon as you start doing the distillations, it might be too hard to find the time to do these AND still write down new lists, so I personally would advise doing a lot of lists in the first two weeks, then cut back down on the number of new lists so you can accommodate the distillations in your schedule. However, when you get to the third distillation, it gets much quicker to do each list, so you can increase the amount of new lists again.
But the short answer is yes you can do both distillations and new lists after the two-week mark, IF you have the time.
Those CANNOT be his own eyebrows.
Re the reinforce-within-3-days idea, I've noticed that sometimes I'll LingQ words in a lesson, then a few days later I'll move them to known because I was able to understand them the next time I saw them, only to then have to move them back to unknown when I came across them again later.
I'm going to try to get my head around this method properly, and then try it as a supplement to my other activities (mostly LingQ).
I'm a bit confused about how it works, though, for example in the below scenario.
I choose 25 words, and make my first list. The same night, I choose another 25 words. So now I have 50.
I do this every day and (if I choose to) after two weeks I go through them again to see what I have remembered. 14 x 50 = 700 words.
What I don't understand is, at what point do I start making new lists, or is the idea to keep working through the same lists (created during the first two weeks) until I am happy with my results? Then start creating new lists.
Or is the idea to keep making new lists every day, thus adding exponentially to the time I need to dedicate to the method (writing out the remaining words from my previous lists, as well as writing out the new lists)?
Indeed, Ernie. The discussion about morphemes was launches after an inquiry into how he counts words.
As to the video, it's a shame that this guy can ramble a lot sometimes, because he's got some good things to say. I found the video which I put up explained it clearly to me and I don't need any other videos to describe it any further. It's actually a very, very simple method.
Imyirtshesem, The link I gave, the one that Peter mentions, was in re the Goldlist study method, not in re morphemes. Without a referent it looked to me like a comment on the morpheme discussion, when I glanced at it this a.m., which it was not at all.
Peter, It does seem to me that "Huliganov" at first leaves out articles aplenty, as a part of his "accent," but by the end of a discussion they're back in.
And yes, his whole attitude about active vs. passive knowledge is fascinating, especially the idea that 3 days of immersion will activate one's knowledge. (I'm about there w/ Russian and definitely there w/ French . . . maybe I should start something else, rather than continuing to concentrate on Russian, and perhaps a 3-day trip to Paris is in order?!)
I wonder about how his 30%-retention-after-2-weeks idea relates to the reinforce-within-3-days idea that anki and other phased-repetition schemes mention. Both methods are purported to be based on research. Mr. James does say somewhere that such phased-repetition sorts of schemes are a bit more efficient than his, but he holds that his is easier or more sure. Sorry that I don't have any references for this
I'm amazed by his ability to stay in character! One hour and fourteen minutes and I think I only heard two or three words slip out with an English accent.
He has some very interesting things to say about active ability, from 54 minutes onwards.
I should add that an "unbound morpheme" cannot be broken down into smaller units. In fact, any morpheme can't be broken down into smaller units.
So, I should rephrase my sentence above and say, "If you can say it by itself, and it has been meaning, and it can't be broken down into any smaller units, then it is an unbound morpheme." "Happiness" can be broken down into 2 smaller morphemes, although "happy" (at least in modern English) cannot.
Of course, 'happy' was once unbound+bound.
From Middle English hap (“chance, luck”), from Old Norse happ (“chance, good luck”) + -ig (which we find in other Germanic languages as an adjective ending). In English, g often became y (compare Dutch gisteren, Frisian juster? English yesterday from Old English geostran dæg)
Thanks for going into it further, Bortrun.
Well, nothing I said was particularly complex and there's a minimum of information content. You've only got to read it and think about it - you can ask questions so that you can clear things up.
The concept 'word' is not complicated and it suits its purpose, but also terrible inaccurate in many cases. In the context discussing word counting, it's actually one of the least suitable words to use. It just muddies the water instead of clearing them up.
Imyirtseshem, This has a good deal of information, too. It is quite long http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwOhS3e2iL4 .
The easiest definition for "morpheme" is "the smallest unit of meaning". Sometimes the meaning is a thing or an object or an action or whatever, like "book" and "run" and "happy", but sometimes the meaning is grammatical, like the "-s" that means "plural", or the "-ed" that means "past tense".
"Unbound morphemes" are what people generally mean when they talk about words. If you can say it by itself, and it has meaning, then it is an unbound morpheme, ie a word. "Book" has a meaning and can be said by itself. The "-s" that means "plural" cannot be said independently, and therefore people don't consider it a word. "Morphemes" like "-s" that can't be said independently are called "bound morphemes" because they need to be "bound" (or connected) to an "unbound morpheme" (a word that has meaning in and of itself).
So "happy" is an unbound morpheme and "-ness" is a bound morpheme. Happy is a word, and "-ness" is not a word. But "happiness" is also a word.
The easiest definition of a word is probably the definition people intuitively understand - it's something you can say which has a meaning. "Book" is a word. The "-s" that comes at the end of "books" is not a word.
The more technical definition of a word would be an unbound morpheme, which may or may not have bound morphemes attached to it.
Oh my... that is way too much information for me. I think my brain started going into auto-shutdown procedures when I ran across the fifth or sixth mention of morphemes. For some reason this reminds me of when a bunch of scientists realized we never actually defined what a planet was even though we've been using the term all this time. Then they all got together and kicked Pluto out of the club. Now we have a complicated definition for something most people didn't think was so complicated before.
By the way, I found this vid more informative (there's a second part too): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH6FERpM5fQ
On the definition of 'word':
In linguistics there is the concept of 'morphemes'. There are 'bound' and 'unbound' morphemes. They work like this:
'talk' is an unbound morpheme because it can stand freely. '-s' is a bound morpheme because it can't stand freely. It needs to be 'bound' to other morphemes' for it to be functional. Therefore, the word 'talks' consists of one bound and one unbound morphemes. In Chinese and languages similar to it, I guess that there are no bound morphemes. I know that there are 2+ character words in the language, but I believe that they are entire words in their own right. It's more a situation of combining bound morphemes than them being bound. So, talk and talks are indeed two different words but they are of the same lexical group "talk", which includes all words which fit into the semantic range - talking, talked, talks.
In English, there are a number of bound morphemes which include things like -s, -ly, -ed, -er, -ship (which has a homonym which is an unbound morpheme), -ize/-ise, -ing, and others. Overall, there are not very many of these in English, so it's not very inflected. Russian, for example, is far more heavily inflected and the list of these unbound morphemes is much larger.
There is another factor in all of this and that's morpheme stacking. Think of the word 'friendships'. Here we have 'friend-ship-s' which means we have one unbounded followed by two bounded. This is generally the limit to which we can stack bound morphemes onto an English word (they can go at the beginning of words too 'un-' and other languages on the inside). In everyday speech we can make up words which have more than 2 but they are usually playful and certainly not accepted as serious words.
So, in some languages we have further levels and different types of bound morphemes. In English we have them for nouns and verbs mostly. For languages like Russian, they can be found on most types of words. For other languages, there entire structure of a language can (almost) be bound morphemes.
At the end of the day, the concept 'word' is pretty meaningless outside certainly language structures. Outside of that, the distinction between word and sentence is arbitrary or confusing.
I'll definitely watch the video and look into it more. I suppose i should give it a go at least for a little bit. It certainly works for that fellow.
Anki can be boring, but I limit my sessions to 5 minutes. Sometimes I'll do 2 sessions back to back, but often not. There aren't too many useful activities you can do when you've only got 5 minutes.
It seems we're all different. I agree with Hape that production makes a lot of sense. Writing words instead of just looking at them passively (I'm pretty sure no-one stares at them with 100% focus).
I haven't watched the Goldlist video so I don't know his definition of a "word", but if one counts each and every inflected version (like the LingQ system), I'm not surprised that Steve doesn't want to write 318 words.
For me, a Chinese character doesn't stick until I've written it a dozen times. If I'll never write it, and only see it ~10 times during the 1, 2, 3 and 4 status updates (and never again!), I'm quite sure that it'll never stick (unless the design is very simple). One could of course argue about the value of forcing yourself to remember such rare words...
I'm guessing that Chinese may be an especially hard case?
(And as they say: 'hard cases make bad law'...)
"So "being less concerned with knowledge about the word" (or expression) may result in no or wrong understanding."
I am not concerned with that. If I am guessing wrong the first time it will eventually become clear by seeing that combination again in other contexts.
Looking for precise meanings is not cost effective for me because meanings are not all that stable across contexts anyway. So I will spend a lot of time working on one meaning in one particular context, never to see it again. I'd rather have a fuzzy well contextualized idea than a clear idea of limited validity.
Just an example:
If you come across these for simple Chinese characters within a sentence:
... 走起路来 ...
you may translate them character by character
go - rise - road - come
But can you now really understand this?
The whole 走起路来 is translated by Google Translate: "walking" - is this correct? No.
You have to analyze it in more detail:
走路 = go on foot, walk
起来 = get up, start, ... as if
both are "intermingled" in this expression.
... and 走起路来 means something like "walks as if"
A similar construction: 看 = look, read / 看起來 = looks as if
So "being less concerned with knowledge about the word" (or expression) may result in no or wrong understanding. The gist of a word will also not help here ...
Example taken from this Beginner-2 (!) lesson:
I think "lazy" carries negative connotations. That said, I have discovered that being less concerned with knowledge about the word and more concerned with getting the gist of a word the first time you see it is key to my progress. The less thinking _about_ the word, the better, for me anyway.
I've been working on an onion-layer approach lately. So when I first encounter a word I lingQ it and learn it, in isolation. After I've learned it I look out for it in short phrases, and lingQ and learn them. I aim to end up with the same word in maybe half a dozen lingQed phrases, finishing up with whole sentences. I figure that's what it will take before I am really comfortable using that word actively.
I just click on google translate and if I suspect the translation is not appropriate I open the dictionary. I prefer the faster approach because I feel that I can only learn the word if I see it in context often enough. The dictionary definition is only a hint, just a small part of learning how the word is used. What you think is important for you is not necessarily important for others. I tend to agree with David James that deliberate learning, thinking about a word, is not all that useful. Seeing it often is more important to me.
I did NOT say "lazy people use LingQ" or "other students are lazy".
I only wrote: "if you are lazy, you use Google Translate and do a "QuickLingQ".
You may create a LingQ - as I did last year with 8,000 LingQs - by looking up all the details of a word in an online dictionary --
or you may just click on Google Translate and use that (which is wrong quite often).
Both methods take a very different amount of time and amount of thinking about a word.
Maybe "lazy" is not the best word for the 2nd and faster "method".
I prefer the first and slower method because I think it's important to create correct LingQs.
But it's also important to THINK about a word or expression, not only create something that roughly may fit.
@timroof Yes, I do know all of what you can do with Anki and its portability on smartphones and the like. I was very excited about it for a few months or so before I decided it wasn't working out for me how I had hoped. I still save phrases and sentences through LingQ of course, however I learn them differently now than I did with Anki. To me, Anki was just boring, and it took up too much time to fiddle with the computer to get my decks how I liked them (and this is coming from a software engineer). At any rate, I already proved I can learn a language to fluency without anki, therefore I don't believe that I will be returning. I may find the same with the gold list after a while, who knows.
It just goes to show that we are all different. That does not necessarily make those who use different approaches lazy, Hape. In fact I spend a lot of time on language learning
However I see no advantage in a system that forces me to do something that I am simply not going to continue to do, in other words look up words and write them down. I would not do this more than once.
In order to get through the quantity of reading that I do, QuickLingQ is very useful. I clean up the unknown words, very often using Google translate, which I find very convenient, and then I go back in and read, either on the screen, adding phrases, or on the iPad. I then listen. I want to cover as much content, as much input, as possible. Looking up words, fussing about how accurate my dictionary definition is, writing things down on a list, etc. would significantly reduce the amount of time I have for reading.
In fact, now I find that in order to review my flash cards more quickly, I set the front page to show the Term, Hint and Phrase. I use the numbers on my keyboard and go through them as fast as I can just hitting 2,3,or 4 as I flip through them. I mean I have to be practical.
The lesson I am about to start in Czech is a 25 minute radio discussion in a wonderful series on Czech history entitled "Rambles through the Czech past". This episode I am about to start is number 844 in a series that starts with the Celts and takes us to modern times. I started in the 19th century and am working my way back. After learning about famous bandits in the 19th century, details of the life of Bedrich Smetana, the Austro-Prussian war, the awakening of Czech nationalism, and I am now learning about the establishment of the National Theatre in Prague amidst tensions between the Germans and Czechs in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Lots of reading and listening.
As I open this lesson there are 392 saved LingQs and 318 new words, although this latter number includes a large number of names that I will delete in QuickLingQs.
I could not possible do all of this and write all new words down on paper. We just have to make choices and find the method that suits our interests and habits the best. But lazy, Hape, is not a word that I would use to describe the study habits of others.
@Sirob11 I agree 100%. The Goldlist worked ok for me, and I did it diligently for 1 year in Russian. However, after having done it, I found there were words that I still would forget.
@odinerod Yes, ANKI can be boring, however, I find that if I really want to remember words the best method for me is to use Russian words in sentences....thereby, learning in context. I have thousands of Russian phrases, sentences and connectors that are in my long term memory. You can also record a the native speaker speaking those phrases, making it much more effective than simple reading of the cards. You can also use visual cards if you like for nouns or verbs if you like. ANKI syncs easily with my computer, my Samsung Tab and my Android phone. It is has by far the least glitches and hangups that I have seen with a SRS/Flashcard system.
I forgot to mention, I am getting my "vocabulary" from my list of not yet known lingqs, sorted by oldest created date. I am then taking care to only pick words that do not require too much context to understand, i.e. words that describe concrete concepts such as physical objects.
Anki is a great idea in theory, but I find the work of making the decks cumbersome and actually reviewing them ungodly boring. I've been doing this goldlist now for two days, and even though its too early for me to tell it already feels more comfortable for me than Anki. Only time will tell...
I tried the Goldlist method some years ago. I filled two notebooks with Russian words and made four and five "destillations". In my very personal case it didn't help me too much. There are words, specially in Russian, which you can't learn only by reading 5 or even ten times. Not even when you write them down you will remember them easily. Personally I prefer to work with ANKI. This program has become part of my daily routine. Every morning at six o' clock I sit in front of my sreen with a cup of tea and check my Russian flashcards. That works. ....I'm sorry Huliganov.
Compared to LingQ, the GoldList method has one big advantage: you have to WRITE the stuff you want to learn, and you have to write the stuff that doesn't stick AGAIN. Within LingQ you only click, click, click the words, if you are lazy, you use Google Translate and do a "QuickLingQ". This may be fast and easy going, but will it stick in your mind? Mostly not.
During the last months I did a modified GoldList method. I read a book that is not available on the net and wrote sentences with unknown words in a notebook. I only used my electronic dictionary app on my iPod touch to look up unknown words. Every day I read for about 45 minutes, and I wrote one page with sentences with unknown words in context. Later I transfered these to my SRS and repeated them as usual. My observation: this stuff seems to stick much better than the stuff I did on the computer ALONE, e.g. within LingQ.
The writing seems to have a major impact on the learning. And I like to review my written sentences in my notebook WITHOUT computer. Sometimes I try to avoid sitting in front of a computer to learn: too many distractions, and typing words or clicking seems inefficient to me.
I didn't know about Mr James' contribution to the polyglot book before Sebastian pointed it out in his post yesterday. I spent several hours last night reading most it, and I agree it makes pretty interesting (and unusual) reading.
I liked the way he describes learning Italian in classes at school, while teaching himself Russian at home using Linguaphone and the older version of "Teach Yourself". The result: he got a top mark in the 'O Level' Russian Exam, and a lower mark in the 'O Level' Italian exam - leaving his Italian teacher entirely perplexed! :-0
His recollections of having a little run-in with the KGB while on a student exchange in the old USSR during the 1980s is also quite funny in the telling (although the actual experience of a KGB-third-degree was doubtless anything other than 'funny' for a student 19 or 20 years of age!)
When I read David James's contribution to The Polyglot Project last year it appealed to my nerdy side. I promptly rushed out, bought beautiful notebooks, filled my fountain pens and started a 6-months long regime (French advanced vocab).
I was able to get ink in four colours and it all was great fun for a while. I loved writing the ever-decreasing lists and the vocab seemed to stick much better than usual. I was able to speak with much greater confidence/fluency, but just couldn't keep up the lists after a while. So I returned to simply reading and listening which seems the easiest thing for me to maintain.
I may return to the Goldlist method for a while for another language - after all we have enough vocab and definitions within LingQ - if ever I return to serious language learning.
What I do is open my frequency list file on the computer and have an online dictionary ready in another window. I go through the frequency list and as soon as I find a word I don't know, I look it up in the dictionary and write it down on my notebook along with the meaning. Repeat until you've got 25 words or your 25 min run out. I can usually get 20 words down this way.
You're supposed to do it in a relaxed fashion, enjoying yourself and the whole process.
This method is supposed to be used in conjunction with other methods, of course, and I personally think it's best suited for the more advanced vocabulary that you don't see all the time, though it works with any vocabulary.
Of course, just doing this method alone would seem pointless to me, so it can be easily combined with extensive listening and reading. Underlining words, adding them to goldlists and working through them. You'd have a dictionary lookup session every day, making as many lists as you felt like doing, and the rest of the time doing input activities mixed with a little grammar here and there. Sounds like a solid system to me.
Agreed Imy..everyone has their own favourite way of learning, and LingQ reflects how I learned languages even before LingQ with a major effort on listening and reading and learning words from that content. I am sure the goldlist method works, David is living proof. I think I would use it for a language for which resources were not readily available.
Steve, I think that LingQ would be more effective. However, the goldlist method is certainly a good method and it might suit some people better.
For me, I am going to try it for two of my languages because I can't do them here at LingQ. Without being able to use LingQ, we need to be able to use other effective methods and I think that this one could be effective.
It may be a good technique, but I know that it's something I'm unlikely to do. I use my SRS when I have short, 5 or 10 minutes periods of time during my day. I actually set my session time limit to 5 minutes. I have Anki on my computer and on my iPhone. I mostly use premade decks featuring sentences. I never study just word alone. For the sentences that aren't premade, I took them out of textbooks. I use Anki mostly for Japanese, and just continue it because I've been doing it a while. I have something like 15,000 or more sentences in the system - many of which I haven't seen yet. It's also good reading practice as the sentences are in Kanji, and the hiragana is in the answer field.
Mostly I do Anki because I can't think of anything else that I could do during these short little 5 minute spurts of free time I sometimes have during the day. Often it adds up to 20 or 30 minutes by the end of the day.
If I were to sit down for 20 minutes or 30 minutes, I'd probably prefer to do a lesson in LingQ, or read a chapter of a book or something, rather than maintain this wordlist. And I know, just based on my personality, that maintaining this system on a daily basis is something that just wouldn't happen.
Just to add a different perspective, here are my views.
I listened to a bit of David's video. I agree that a lot of deliberate learning only goes into short term memory and does not stick. This applies to words, to declension tables and even grammar rules. I still do these things, because in my experience they help me notice things. However, the vast majority of my learning time is spent on reading and listening. Since I only have an hour or two a day to spend, I really don't have another hour for a list or SRS work.
However, reading at LingQ achieves much of the same. As I read, and LingQ new words, and ignore words I know, and check the odd yellow word which I have forgotten, and move these LingQs up in status on my page, making my pages lighter and lighter in colour, I am actually reading and reviewing mostly high frequency words, and words that have appeared often in my reading. At the same time I am increasing my familiarity with the language through reading and listening to the same material.
How many words per day can we learn in this way? I don't know for sure, but it is a lot, certainly over 100 I think, in Czech. If I import newspaper articles today there are only 10-15% new words, including names. There used to be a lot more.
I agree with David that writing things out long hand helps us learn. I certainly did that in Chinese. However, computers are so convenient today, and perhaps I have become lazier, I just do not find the time to write things out. I could never maintain a gold list. On the other hand I am very motivated to bring in new content in Czech, read, LingQ and listen, and my vocabulary just grows.
I suppose it would take a bit of time to do. Let's say you've gone through your frequency list and you've now got fifty words. You would still have to look up all of those words and choose the meaning you want to assign it (or translation). Then you would be able to actually start writing them, assuming I've understood it correctly.
Thanks, odiernod. I had already done the sums. Assuming this method works, to learn 25 words a day (or so), one would spend an hour spread over at least an hour and 40 minutes each day.
Study, wait until short-term memory has faded, see what is left in long-term memory, and go on from there. It's very elegant.
And writing out definitions longhand is the way to learn them, in my experience. At least for me flashcards and electronic flashcards have only been good for checking progress, rather than making it. Took me years to figure that out. Fortunately for me, writing out longhand was the way I started out. Unfortunately for me, I tried using flashcards, instead, for a long time in the middle.
This method sounds good. It would be nice to see how paradigms are written down, how words are combined in a distillation, etc.
Peter, you can google frequency lists for each specific language, and start with those. In my case, I got a 10,000 word list for French and one for German, and started going backwards from least frequent to most frequent, skipping words I already knew. I suppose when I get to the two or three thousand top words I'll just stop working with it because they're the most common words in the language, and I already know them.
Come to think of it, I might as well just take lists of words from my vocabulary section on LingQ...
I wouldn't mind trying this for French or Spanish, if anyone has any more advanced or topic-specific vocabulary lists, please let me know :)
You write the meanings of the words on the right hand side of the page, at least that's what I've seen from people showing their implementations of the method on Youtube.
I may have missed something already mentioned in this thread, but are you meant to write the meaning of the words as well, or just the words themselves? What will you gain if you just "learn" the words without knowing what they mean (at least in the beginning)?
@odiernod: David James plays this Viktor Huliganov role just if he speaks English. I can't imagine how this could possibly help his Russian pronunciation. I guess he speaks Russian so good, because he has been learning it for more than 20 years, lived in Russia and has a wife from Belarus.You can read more about his language learning journey in "The Polyglot Project ".
A side note on David James, Sebastian mentioned that he speaks Russian practically without a foreign accent. Do you think the fact that he takes on this "persona" of Viktor Huliganov helps his pronunciation? I have known it to be popular for some language teachers to insist that their students take on new personas as that language version of themselves. A form of method acting perhaps?
That's exactly what attracted me the most to this method. It gets quite exciting when you start doing calculations. If one could, as I said, write down 100 words a day for the first two weeks, that would be 420 words learned before you even started the distillations.
But real life often gets in the way, and two or three lists a day is much more feasible, and I personally don't get enough time to do the distillations and new lists everyday, so you really have to balance it out.
Ernie, your are correct, you only learn 30% of the words you write down, but the theory is that your long term memory guarantees that without effort you WILL remember 30% of the words you write down. So the trick is to write down a crap ton of words. 25 a day for 30 days is 750 words. 30% of that is 225 words you will learn with little effort. The next month you will learn another 220 words from the head lists plus 30% of the remaining first month's remaining 525 words. So the second month you will learn 383 words with little effort. Using the same pattern, with the second distillation the third month you will learn about 500 words with little effort, and so on. It may not be "lightening fast", but learning over 1000 words in three months without any deliberate memorization is an attractive proposition.
Of course, if you do multiple head lists a day and shorten the distillation cycle from 1 month to two weeks, the number of words you learn will increase much quicker than that (providing that, as Uncle Davey suggests, you take a 10 minute break every 20 minutes to give your long term memory time to rest and congeal what it has learned.)
Rank, I'd add to your description, which sounds right to me from the descriptions I've now read, that writing out longhand the words that are to be learned is vital to this technique. Flashcards and electronic flashcards don't seem to be part of it.
And note that only 1/3 of the words reviewed will be learned in a 2 week period, and then only 1/3 of those in the next period of two weeks, and so on, so that it is not a lightning-fast method.
Thanks for mentioning this method. I'd never heard of it before.
I have been using the Goldlist method since last December, and it seems indeed that on average I remember 30% of the words in each list. I have only done the first distillation so far, but it seems to work indeed, and it is faster than an SRS protocol.
I got two frequency lists for German and French, and I have written down about 1500 words in each language.
In theory, you could learn, say, 30 words each day very easily, if you have the time to do five lists of 20 words (which is what I did in the beginning). As you start to do the distillations, it gets a little time-consuming to do new lists AND the distillations, so I'm currently not doing any new lists, but I intend to start all over as soon as I have more time.
I do think I'll give this a shot, I'm just not sure in which language I'll start it with. One thing to keep in mind with this method, you give up a bit of control to your long term memory over which words you learn first. As in, you have 25 words you want to learn, it seems that your memory gets to choose which ones you learn now, and which ones you learn a month from now...
I'm not so worried about learning thousands of words in a few months, although that would be really cool if I did! I'm just going to take it easy by doing 2 or 3 Yiddish lists of 25 words and 1 Navajo list per day. Not massive gains but for me, it's a nice way to work on 2 of my less active languages. I'll raise the stakes a little after a month and try doing 4 Yiddish and 2 Navajo.
Good luck to all those trying it out! :)
If I have understood the 'goldlist' method correctly, it differs from SRS (or let's say, "normal SRS") in two ways: firstly it is meant to be geared entirely towards the long term memory; secondly it eliminates review of any information which really has entered long term memory - thus using time more efficiently.
Apparently there is a lot of serious research to show that a person's long term memory naturally assimilates about 30% from any set of information, while around 70% of the information will eventually get forgotten - even if it was all put into the short term memory. Apparently you have to be able to remember something after a period of 14 days (at least) has passed by without any review of the material, in order to be sure that has entered long term memory. But after this there is no further need to review the information.
This is, at any rate, my understanding of the method. On the face of it, it does have a slight feel of the "too good to be true"...
As an experiment I may try learning words from some randomly picked language that I don't know (Czech, Croatian, or something) and see whether it really IS possible to learn many thousands of words in a few months.
(It would certainly be a massive breakthrough for me if it did work!)
For me, I love writing and believe strongly that writing words down, especially ones in different scripts, helps me to learn them. Another thing is that I do so much work on the computer that SRS work is just a pain in the backside. More typing, copying and pasting, deleting, editing...man, enough! hehe
I'm going to give this method a go for Yiddish and Navajo. We'll see how well it works. If I persevere, I think it will work very well. Plus, I can't do either of those languages with LingQ anyway, so I've got to try something. :D
I'm not really sure how this is much more beneficial or time-saving than just using an SRS. Perhaps I need to examine it more closely.
> anybody got any ideas?
Perhaps a combination of vocabulary tags - one tag per date - and the built-in SRS - press level 4 twice and select 15 days.
> Also, you think this would work with phrases?
The guy in the first video uses it especially for phrases.
I think I'll stick to the built in SRS system here. I've been a heavy SRS user before for many years and had great success. This time I'm trying to adopt the don't worry about forgetting approach and get my "reviews" through extensive reading. Less vocab and more reading.
I seem to remeber Huliganov does use it with set phrases and such. Sometimes with grammatcal notes too (gender, case triggering etc).
I really like the idea of this method, before discovering LingQ I did something similar. Here are my thoughts: not having context really sucked on some words, and I spent a lot of effort memorizing a "word" without the slightest idea on how to use it. However, I could learn a crap ton of other words. Its a simple fact that some words work better as isolated "word list or flashcard" words that others. If I do start up a "gold list" I will limit it to concrete objects which need no context for understanding: such as ball, drain spout, french tickler, computer, couch, etc. and verbs which express a clear action, such as kick, eat, etc. Verbs with a hundred different meanings will be left to being absorbed through reading and listening.
This method sounds like it could be integrated with LingQ study somehow, anybody got any ideas?
Also, you think this would work with phrases?
Thanks for the playlist, Sebastian. ;-)
(I'm thinking of trying out this goldlist method myself.)
He impersonates not just the Russian Huliganov, but many persons from different countries (Count von Weytzentrenner; Pierre Delauney, Peter Paczek, Thomas P Jameson III and so on). Some of this videos are funny, some aren't. I wouldn't call it madness. If I remember right he recorded his first Huliganov-video, because he was playing with his new webcam. The youtube viewers liked his performance, so he continued. You can watch the impersonations-playlist here:
By the way: He doesn't speak German and Russian just fluent, he speaks both practically without any accent. And he also doesn't claim fluency in 20 languages. He wrote once: "I speak 5 languages fluently, and then there are another 15 which I speak from fairly comfortably right down to a couple of sentences only."
I see that David James actually claims fluency in no fewer than 20 languages!
He really seems to be quite an interesting guy. Many of his Youtube videos are made "in character" as a phoney Russian called Viktor Huliganov! I can't understand why he does this? Perhaps he is simply living proof that human genius and human madness are very close together!?
(But then again, it probably takes one madman to know another one...:-0)
It's seems that it works well for him and others, and I have started such lists a few times, but could just never keep going with them long enough to see if they worked. And since the actual learning of the words occurs between writing them in the first places, and the series of later reviews, it just seems like more of a record of words you do or don't know : /
I figure I either know the word or a don't... keeping up with the lists didn't seem worth the time vs. amount learned.
I tried David's Goldlist method a few years ago with Russian and found it definitely more effective (and less time consuming) than using flashcards (I had used ANKI before). Compared to flashcards, the Goldlist method has the advantage that you simply kick out ("distill") all words which you already know. So you don't have to review them again after 4 weeks, 4 month or a year. Nevertheless I stopped using this method at some point. (I learned Russian at that time mostly through interactions with people, movies and literature, what made it inconvenient to use Goldlist).
However, I will use the Goldlist method again, if I start a new language.
UPDATE Mr James himself explains the method here: