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How many words do you learn per day?

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 Message 121 of 213
14 July 2010 at 2:40am | IP Logged 
astein wrote:
This may seem paradoxical, but I have found that my recall is better
when I learn more
words in a day. Also, I don't even mean more words for a particular language. If I
learn 500 Chinese words one day, alongside 250 German words, I will recall the German
words better than if I had only studied those, and I will certainly recall the Chinese
words better. I don't know why this is, but it has seemed to be true for me. Last week
I managed to learn 2500 cards of German and 1600 Chinese, putting in about 1.5 hours
total for learning per day, with another 1-2 hours for review.

My Anki deck is starting to get scary, though. I have around 1,300 reviews a day for
each deck for the next 10 days straight. Yikes!

When you have a bunch of reviews, I have found that a good method is to sort the deck
so that short interval reviews come first. You can get through the new reviews (which
are arguably the most important) while you still have your sanity. Then, it is a bit of
a snowball effect as you near the end, seeing as the answer should be completely
automatic once you have an interval of 4-5 months. By the way, I never, ever rate the
cards at 4 "very easy", as the multiplication effect can take the interval way to high.
I like to keep it so that I can go through at a very nice pace, even if it means more
cards. I know you can change the multipliers, but I am simply to lazy to figure out
where they should be.

That is amazing. I wish I could learn that many words. I wish I had your brain to be
able to learn words of the bat like that.
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 Message 122 of 213
17 July 2010 at 4:52pm | IP Logged 
After having mastered intermediate-advanced Polish grammar enough to begin concentrating on vocabulary acquisition, I could only start with 50 words (I always learn vocabulary actively, rarely ever passive). As days passed it increased to 80, then to 100, and then to 150. When it's a Sunday, I can do 800 words, unless of course I decide to practise some of my listening, writing, reading, and speaking skills on that day, wherein I reduce to around 300 words. But to make sure that those words become stuck in my long-term active memory, I have to revise most words 7 times for the course of 1 month. But I noticed that the larger my vocabulary is in the language, the easier (way easier!) it is to acquire even more vocabulary. I have gotten to the point where I can memorize Polish words much more easily than Spanish (which I just started), and sometimes occassionally some words that I just happened to glance at just somehow stick to my memory without further need for revision.And it becomes more so the more words I learn.

Edited by Antigrav_7 on 17 July 2010 at 5:05pm

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Senior Member
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 Message 123 of 213
17 July 2010 at 6:03pm | IP Logged 
Antigrav_7 wrote:
When it's a Sunday, I can do 800 words

Antigrav_7, what goes into 800 words in a day with your approach?

For example, when using flashcards or a notebook, besides the time for memorization and review, one has to meet the word, look up the meaning of the word, record it, and only then one is ready to memorize and/or review, which also takes some time, of course. I would imagine some of these steps must be absent if one is to process 800 new words in one day. What are your source(s) of 800 words on the days you go up to that number?

Edited by frenkeld on 17 July 2010 at 8:27pm

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Senior Member
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Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: German, Russian, Dutch, French

 Message 124 of 213
19 July 2010 at 1:00am | IP Logged 
About 15 words for each language.

AT LEAST 5 words a day. so at least I'm improved. I don't go to bed without studying :)
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 Message 125 of 213
20 July 2010 at 8:10am | IP Logged 
frenkeld wrote:
Antigrav_7, what goes into 800 words in a day with your approach?

the sources of those words range from those that I meet when I'm reading a Polish novel, or those unknown words or expressions that I've come across when chatting online with Poles. And every now and then, when I'm looking up one word, a word/expression on the same or opposite page in the dictionary will catch my eye, and will cause me to write it down. I list down my vocabulary lists on Microsoft Notepad, or in my personal small notebook.

For example, for the word 'zaostrzać/zaostrzyć' (after I noticed 'zaostrzyłybyśmy' in a page I'm reading, I wrote it down)
1.) I write down the word, and look it up in both my Oxford and Collins Dictionary
sharpen, tighten, exacerbate, toughen.....etc.

2.) Since I've learnt that it's a better idea to associate a word that you're learning to a visual image, rather than to its English translation, here's what I do:
for 'sharpen': ZAOSTRZAM patyk (I'm sharpening a stick)
for 'tighten': bezczelny ojciec ZAOSTRZYŁ moją dyscyplynę (my insolent father has tightened my discipline)
for toughen: ZAOSTRZYMY przepisy przeciwpożarowe (we shall tighten the fire regulations
......and so on

3.) As a result for trying to find words to connect with zaostrzać/yć, I was able to learn even more words (I didn't know what patyk, bezczelny, and przepisy przeciwpożarowe meant, I simply chose 'stick', 'insolent', and 'fire regulations' as a 'word partner' and looked up the Polish translations for them). I have many techniques for this (and am also aware of the possible weaknesses, but have also devised some strategies to get around them)
. In the 'sharpen' part, I didn't use the word 'pencil', since I already knew the Polish for that word anyway (but sometimes I have to make do with a word that I already know). So as a result,not only did I get to learn the synonyms, I also managed to learn some other nouns and adjectives in the process. So, instead of
having words on my flash cards, etc., I have sentences instead. I found that using context, even ridiculous ones, has helped me remember and recall better - even as ridiculous as the Polish translation for - 'the hitman committed suicide on account of the Holy Bible' >> Płatny zabójca popełnił samobójstwo ze względu Pisma Świętego (in the process I learned 'hitman', 'to commit suicide', 'due to/on account of', and 'Holy Bible'). I've also been applying some ideas that I've found in this very site.

4.) And of course I do revisions. I make sure that each word list for that day is reviewed
- within 20 min, and then after 1 hour, and then after one day, after six days, and then after one month (thank you, Mr. Ebbinghaus!)
- I made an experiment on 3 word lists (consisted of really unfamiliar, barely used words, since I was only trying to experiment), and found that after one month of reviewing those words (following the above system), I've only forgotten about less than 5%. Of course everytime I review, I recite the word out loud,action it out, and translate two-way, visualize it,etc.
- of course I keep track of how many times I've reviewed that particular word already (I put the dates at which I reviewed the word)
- Of course, since the amount of words that I have to review will pile up, I only do an 800-word regimen on a free day. And if I'm really overloaded (too many wordlists, or due to cramming for exams in uni, I go back to memorizing 50 words a day, but it almost never happens, as long as I'm not too lazy, and always make sure I engage myself in each word. This is quite effortless anyway for most of the words ('płatny zabójca popełnił...' isn't exactly hard to picture, and feel). On a free day (not working, no classes, and with studying for my course devoted only in the evening) I can deal with 800 new words, without getting bogged down by numerous word lists (or rather sentence lists, as that's how I memorize words), and at the same time manage to review all of my previous word lists according to the Ebbinghaus learning curve.

Doing all of the above was at first quite time-consuming, but after a while I've gotten used to it, developed my own tricks to get around the weaknesses of this way of memorizing words, etc., streamlined it, stole some ideas from this site, etc. But it felt quite a hassle trying to find new words to connect with other words to make into a sentence, especially when a word I'm learning has got a lot of English equivalents, and thus need so many 'word-pairs' (and I don't simply choose them randomly),etc. In the end though it made everything somewhat so much easier for me, being a pure visual, contextual learner. In the very last phase of reviewing a particular word list, I have no trouble automatically recalling the translation of the sentences (I sometimes even modify the sentences quite a bit, get random words from random sentences, etc.). All that time spent on finding the right word-pairs/trios,etc. have paid off, finding the simplest sentences with the simplest ideas, etc. And I have gotten so used to it, that somehow my brain supplies me with the right words, etc. I found that memorizing and recalling a word by itself makes you have to pause in-between words, so yeah. A sentence of 2,3 or 4 words that have to be memorized somehow works for me better. 10 times better.   

So, yep....that's where my words come from:D and how much time/effort I put in revising them. Okay, maybe I've told you a lot more than that:D...sorry, I was writing in the flow:D

Edited by Antigrav_7 on 20 July 2010 at 10:00am

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William Camden
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 Message 126 of 213
20 July 2010 at 3:39pm | IP Logged 
In my case, it's highly variable. Sometimes it's from a new language, sometimes it is already learned ones I am trying to maintain. If I am reading a text and discover a word I don't know, I often note it on a Post-It or in a notebook and then look it up.

20+ words of all types would be a reasonable average estimate per day - but sometimes less than that, sometimes much more.
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Super Polyglot
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 Message 127 of 213
24 July 2010 at 3:49am | IP Logged 
astein wrote:
This may seem paradoxical, but I have found that my recall is better when I learn more
words in a day. Also, I don't even mean more words for a particular language. If I
learn 500 Chinese words one day, alongside 250 German words, I will recall the German
words better than if I had only studied those, and I will certainly recall the Chinese
words better.

I have made the same experience. It is like my memory gets more 'sticky' and accepting of new words when I have been doing wordlists for at least a quarter of an hour. And when I then want to have a change after an hour or two, the effect continues when I switch to doing (or revising) wordlists in another language. But at some point I want to do something substantially different, such as watching TV or reading or copying a text, and therefore I'll probably not have learnt 750 words in one day - but half that is quite possible.

However I have been thinking about the counting methods we use. I have done a couple of rounds of systematic word counting for all my languages, and then I simple use sample pages from a dictionary (I have of course tested the validity of this method by checking my lists over known words at a later time, and it doesn't seem that I'm cheating myself). However my daily word intake is a combination of the words I learn from wordlists and from other sources. I can quantify the former because I write in columns of around 30 words, and normally I do at least two, but sometimes up to eight columns in one go (= one folded sheet, 4x2 scolumns, not counting repetitition columns, - the system is described in my Guide to Learning Languages elsewhere on the forum). The words I learn from reading or listening can't be counted, and those that I get for free as derivations from newly learnt words are not quantifyable either. So the total number per day is a fuzzy notion indeed. Those of you who use SRS systems (Anki etc) must have the same problem.

Edited by Iversen on 24 July 2010 at 3:51am

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 Message 128 of 213
29 July 2010 at 2:05pm | IP Logged 
That is especially true for agglutinative languages, like German (to a certain extent). I could learn one word and be able to form 5-10 more. For an easy example, if I were to learn the word "Baum", and I already knew "Kirsche" oder "Pfirsich", then I have automatically learned a couple more.

I also like to learn some of the derivative forms on their own, however. Sometimes it is hard to know whether you would say something is "-bar" or "-lich", so it helps reinforce my knowledge by also learning these. It might also be a good idea, because sometimes these derivations have meanings that aren't immediately apparant from the relationship, for example "Aufmachung" vs. "aufmachen".

I try not to count words that I pick up passively, because I know they will one day be in my Anki deck, even if I already know them. That also helps boost my number of words per day, because I find that I generally already know a large proportion of the words by the time I learn them (when I am at an advanced level), or the meaning at least makes a great deal of sense. So, I might add 1000 new flash-cards one day (500 as they are front->back and back->front), but only have 500 or 600 that I actually need to focus on learning.

Once you get past 15,000 words or so in a language (completely random figure, but my Anki deck has around 20000 separate facts, so I'm going to guess), the words come almost automatically. Except for a very small number, you can simply remember them after seeing them once, and then you only need to review them infrequently until they are completely memorized. It gets a little difficult with all of the synonyms (for example, I know something like 10 different ways of saying "now and then" in German), but the words themselves are quite simple. Just something for those of you beginning a language and thinking that you could never learn so many words. Until you really get used to the sound and structure of the words, they will be very difficult to learn. They will, however, become easier and easier, and what was once only enough time to learn 30 words will soon be enough to learn 200. Übung macht den Meister.

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