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Vocalulary learning
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For me, retaining vocabulary is becoming the most difficult aspect of learning languages, especially distant ones. In fact I am starting to think that the usual estimate of 2000/2500 words for basic fluency is very short.

Provided that you have learnt the basics of the grammar or at least read a grammar / course book on a given language, and that you have no chance of visiting the country where it's spoken, which methods could you use to learn and retain a large vocabulary of about 5000 words? Here are some strategies that I can think of:

1. Making a dictionary (e.g., in Excel) with words you come across, but it's important to note down full phrases / sentences, and not isolated words, along with irregular forms, and occasionally review that file. I can confirm that this has been useful for me.

2. Doing translations (both to/from target language). The help of Google Translate can be useful, but I think it works better when you have at least an intermediate level. And the texts that are available online are usually difficult (eg, newspapers, though maybe interviews can be more interesting because it is more related to spoken language). Translation is usually discouraged by modern approaches to language learning, but I personally like it.

3. Just browsing random pages of a dictionary (ideally, a learner's dictionary which is visually attractive and which includes example sentences, grammar information and, when necessary, pronunciation/transliteration). I actually like doing that sometimes, although it seems to be totally discouraged by modern approaches to language learning.

Other strategies that are usually proposed:

4. Absurd memory associations. I admit these can be useful, but I find them stressing and time-consuming in the long term. (Examples: if I cannot remember the Greek word "syncharitíria - congratulations" I can think of the Spanish phrase "sin carretera" - 'without a road', really silly; or for "diakopés - holidays" I can think of "días cortados" (cut days)).

5. Using flashcards. It sounds appealing, but I doubt if it really works in the end, or for large amounts of vocabulary. Words in a context seem to be better learnt (and for verbs context is very important because of the 'collocations', in English they 'break the law' but in Spanish we say 'infringir / violar / vulnerar / quebrantar la ley'). Related to this, it is strange that I can still remember exact phrases of the first chapters of the Ass*mil Greek book, the first things of modern Greek I read... However, flashcards would seem the fastest solution to me if they worked.

6. Acquiring the basic vocabulary, and starting to read a lot (especially topics that are interesting for you). This assumes that you can guess many words by context. Especially interesting for this are bilingual books or magazines.

7. Forcing yourself to think in your target language. The problem is that you cannot take a dictionary every moment.

8. Writing and reading lists of related words (semantic fields), which seem to be better learnt that way.

...
What do you think it's better / faster?, or do you have a special strategy that has proved useful?

Ponape
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Yên bình một cõi dấu yêu ơi!good luck
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