Don't Try To Memorize Vocabulary
People try to say, well, you should try to learn 10 words a day
and really make sure you can use them and sort of nail them down.
I've never found that effective.
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here.
Today I wanna talk about learning vocabulary and why we shouldn't
try to remember vocabulary.
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I mentioned the other day that I went to visit my brother who's
not well, he's sort of bedridden.
I gave him an iPad and I tried to get him going on LingQ.
So it's very interesting for me, and I speak to him every couple of
days, it's very interesting for me to see his experience because he's
not an experienced language learner.
And so he's learning LingQ and he's getting used to learning
in his case Spanish using LingQ.
And so he said to me on several occasions, I keep on trying to remember
this sentence or this word, and I can't remember it, then it's quite frustrating.
And so I try to explain to him again that, you know, don't
worry about not remembering.
In fact, don't even try to remember the vocabulary, keep moving,
keep moving on and eventually the words will start to stick.
And I thought of my own process of language learning and, I mean,
the bulk of my words I learn them through listening and reading.
Um, I look words up every time.
Like if I'm on my lesson page in LingQ, if it's a blue word, obviously
I look it up in order to get the meaning, it's now a yellow word.
But when I come across a yellow word, even if I kind of think I know the meaning,
I'll just give another quick look.
Uh, and then of course, that doesn't mean I can use it.
It doesn't mean that I won't, again, have to look it up the next time, but it's
part of that gradual process of getting a sense of what the scope of meaning of the
word is as I see it in different contexts, getting familiar with the word, the word
getting familiar with me, and, and at some point it starts to click in and it's very
hard to predict when that's gonna happen.
And so most of my activity is listening and reading, noticing things while
reading, noticing things while listening but I also do review words in list.
Uh, and I've said that I'll sometimes pick, you know, the status three, the sort
of familiar words to try and move some to known to pad my known words number.
Uh, I'll sometimes look at them in alphabetical order just to see
the words that have the same, you know, prefix, because that can help.
Uh, if I do flashcards, I want all the information on the face of the flashcard.
It's all just exposure.
I don't try to rack my brain.
In other words, have the...
either the word in the target language on the front of the flashcard, and then
try to think what it means and flip it over, or conversely to see, say the
English word and try to remember what that is, uh, in the target language.
I don't do those things.
Some people do.
I'm not saying that it's not effective for some people, but
for me, I don't believe in it.
I, I, I feel that if I can continue to expose myself or expose these
words to my brain in different ways eventually I will learn them.
And I have noticed that a lot of the words that I learned that are added to my known
words total are words that I didn't even look up because words, you know, they
have things in common and pretty soon we know, uh, maybe a different tense or
a different person or a different form of a word that we've already learned.
And so without even looking that word up, it's just added to our known words
total because we didn't save it and so the system considers it known.
So I sometimes feel that this sort of deliberate attempt to acquire words
and what's particularly bad is, is, is if people try to say, well, you
should try to learn 10 words a day and really make sure you can use
them and sort of nail them down.
I've never found that effective.
I far rather just expose myself to as many words as I can rereading old
lessons, you know, going into new lessons, exposing myself to these words and
gradually low and behold the statistics in increase and my known words total
all of a sudden it's 10,000 words.
Granted, the way we count them at LingQ where each form of the word is considered
a different word, but the point is don't in my view, don't rely on memory.
Like a lot of people say to me, well, I can't learn languages
because, uh, I have a poor memory.
Your poor memory is probably not that poor, it's irrelevant.
Language learning is not about memorization.
Language learning is about committing yourself to a
process, enjoying the process.
Allowing the language to come into you and trusting that your brain will
gradually understand more and more, gradually acquire more and more words.
So my advice on language learning, or in, in terms of acquiring words, and I
should say, accumulating words is the fundamental task in language learning.
And so the more words you have even passively the better your
potential in the language.
So it is important to acquire the words, but you're not necessarily
gonna acquire words by deliberately trying to remember them.
Uh, a couple of videos I'll leave you with one where I talk about learning a hundred
words a day and another one where I talk about memorization and language learning.
I did these a few years ago.
Hopefully I said the same things then as I'm saying now.
Thank you for listening.
Bye for now.