How to Review Vocabulary
Any learning activity, reviewing activity, should be easy, as easy as possible.
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here and today, I want to talk about flashcards.
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So flashcards uh, activities.
We have them on LingQ.
It can be simply, you know, you see a word and you gotta remember the meaning
of that word, say a target language word.
What is the meaning in your language?
Or you can have, um, clozed tests where you fill in the blank with a word.
Or multiple choice.
There are different kinds of activities that can be forms,
ways of reviewing vocabulary.
And I'm gonna tell you what I think of these and how I think they, these
different ways of reviewing, reviewing vocabulary are most effective.
A lot of people use en key or some other, uh, spaced repetition system where uh,
you review words and depending on whether you get it right with the flashcard,
like you see the word and you don't get it right, then it generates sort of a
response within this, uh, algorithm.
So that new words are put in front of you, uh, based on, you know, some
assumptions or some evidence on how quickly we forget things and how
often we need to see things again.
And so forth and so on.
So right up front let me say that I have never been a user of Anki and I'm not a
big user of flashcards at LingQ, but I use them to some extent, and I'm gonna tell
you Steve's approach to flashcards and to some extent lists and what I think is the
most effective way to review vocabulary.
Now, remember most of our vocabulary we pick it up in, in reading and listening.
We see it in an actual live meaningful uh, context or we hear it after having read
it, or we read it after having heard it.
And so gradually these words start to stick.
It's not a matter in my opinion of memorization.
However, some deliberate review of words can be helpful.
Here is what I think are the sort of basic rules of useful
flashcard or vocabulary review.
Number one: do it as soon as possible after you have come across the word.
So in my own case, uh, and here I'm gonna mention LingQ because, and some people
don't like it, but that's where I study.
A lot of people use, uh, LingQ and that's what I refer to when I talk about my
own experience of language learning.
So when I'm in LingQ, especially now in Persian, I use the sentence
mode, um, particularly if, if the content has come from YouTube, where
there is very accurate time stamping.
So I deal with a sentence 8, 10, 12 words.
And within those 8, 10, 12 words, there might be three or two or
one or four that are yellow.
In other words, I've seen them before, but I still don't know what they mean.
Or there might be one or two blue words that I'm seeing for the first time.
So what I do is that sentence, when I finish that sentence, I will do
a review, usually either in a list or some form of flashcard, which I
will get to, but the most effective time to do that review is immediately
after I've seen the word in a context.
That's point number one.
Point number two: in my opinion, we should never do more than a handful,
max 10 flashcards at a sitting because after a while, we're no longer learning
anything it's becoming tedious.
We're more and more divorced from meaningful content
from a meaningful context.
So typically if I'm in sentence mode and I've got 6, 8, 10 words
to review, that's very effective.
I've just seen them in a meaningful context.
Some of those words are new.
Some are words that I'm starting to get to know.
Some of them, I decide I already know this word and I move it to known,
but I'm dealing with a handful of words so immediately, or as soon
as possible after coming across the word in some content or context.
Second of all, not too many.
Max 10, preferably 4, 5, 6.
Third: any learning activity, reviewing activity should be
easy, as easy as possible.
No scratching your brain.
No trying to remember.
So obviously a list which has it all there is a very quick review.
Uh, I use lists for example, to move the status of a word to known,
but it's also a very quick review.
What I find quite effective now is these new matching pairs that we have
at LingQ where you are presented with a total of three words, target language
and your language or the language you know, and you just have to connect them.
And if you go to the wrong one, it goes red.
And if you go to the right one, it's blue, it's very easy to do.
It's a good review.
You get the text to speech of the word.
And so I do three.
And then if there's another three, I do another three and then I
do another three, but it's easy.
I'm not scratching my brain.
All the time spent scratching your brain trying to remember
something to me is not effective.
It's more a matter of exposing yourself to this vocabulary again with a minimum
amount of effort as quickly as possible.
So as soon as soon after having come across it in a particular source of
content, such as a sentence in our sentence view at, at LingQ, uh, easy.
And what else?
And not too many.
So those are the conditions.
And on that basis, it's very effective.
Each sentence, you do a sentence, you review the words
that came out of that sentence.
Some new, some words you're still trying to learn, and then
you move on tothe next sentence.
So you stay in the content item.
You don't lose your thread in the content item.
Uh, it's not like, uh, reviewing hundreds of words in flashcards where
you're now divorced from any content.
And I have found that not only is it tedious to do that, but, uh, as I've
said before, even in Persian, I have 30,000 words that I have saved and
I only know 10,000 of those words.
And so I have lots of words that I'm in the process of learning.
If I were to review all of those in some kind of a space re repetition
algorithm, I would spend a lot of my time just reviewing words.
I prefer to stay in meaningful content.
Now another form of review, which is very effective is
where that review has a purpose.
Part of the problem with reviewing, you know, long lists
of flashcards is I never am that confident that I'm really learning.
um, I'm reviewing, scratching my head, whatever, but I'm not really
sure that anything is sticking and I'm divorced from the content.
However, if I review at LingQ my status three words, so I go to
my vocab section and I filter for just those words that are familiar.
We have three statuses, new, kind of starting to get to know it,
and now it's kind of familiar, but you're not totally sure.
So I have lots of these words in LingQ.
If I look at my vocab section, I have each, I, I don't know if there's 25
or how many words there are in a list uh, but I have like 45 pages of these.
So I have a lot of words that are status three, familiar.
If I go to that list and start going down them, I find a lot of
words that I actually know now.
So therefore I have a sense of purpose.
I am actually increasing my known words total while I'm going through this list.
And of course, as I'm going through them, I'm looking at the other words
that I'm not yet totally confident about.
And I will find x, whether 20, 25% of these words that I can move to known.
So this improves my score, my known words total, uh, keeps my streak going.
So I feel as if I'm achieving something.
So I think that's the fourth element, rather than just sitting there and
going through flashcards in the hope that some of that is gonna stick in
the hope that the algorithm is somehow gonna help you learn these words,
which I have no confidence is the case.
Other people do they swear by them.
We can all do what we like to do, but I'm talking about my approach to flashcards.
I prefer to stay with the content one sentence at a time, review the words
right after the sentence, as close as possible to when I've, you know,
been able to hear it and read it.
Uh, I want the activity and I want no more than say six to 10.
I want the, the review activity to be as easy as possible, either
a list or, uh, matching pairs.
And finally, if I am gonna deal with a longer list, then I wanna have the sense
that I'm actually achieving something.
I am adding to my known words, total, I'm maintaining my streak.
I'm, you know, generating the number of coins that I want to generate for that.
So on all, uh, for all of those reasons and in that way, I enjoy doing flashcards.
So I know many people have different approaches, which is fine.
I look forward to your comments.
Thank you for listening.
Bye for now.
So I will use Catalan, which is not a language that I know and show you
how I would attack this new language.
So this happens to be a sentence out of a mini story.
So because the mini stories are timestamped I can hear this sentence
... so I can hear listen to it again if I want.
Now here I have some yellow words that I've seen before, and I have
some blue words that are new.
So I might look at, I might, first of all, do that ... okay.
So ... baby ... will be.
And I presume this is subjective content, ... with ... so now I will, because my rules
for flashcards are right away after having encountered the word, uh, easy and few.
So here I have five.
So I study the sentence.
...is a baby ... okay.
He, she is, uh, ... in other words, ...so it looks like the E is like ... they
um, with, okay, now I don't do this.
We have this, uh, dictation thing, which chance to your pronunciation,
this all comes out of a, sort of recent, uh, version of the app,
which soon will become available to you on iOS and on, um, Android.
Uh, if I go to my, uh, where are you?
Persian And, uh, familiar, I have a lot of words.
I have 40 pages worth and I don't know how many items there are in here.
And I will find words in there that ... I might give myself credit for
that ... um, so maybe I'll take that.
And then I work myself down.
... this comes up all the time now with the Iranians and drones and stuff
and, and I will normally find a lot of words there that I can move to known.
So there I do my review in a list, but I do it with a purpose.
The purpose is moving words to known.
So there you have it a quick, uh, review of how I use flashcards.