Saturday, January 16, 2010

Intentions Update and a new approach for comprehensible input

We're a little over halfway through the month, so why not take a look at whether it's possible to stick to one's intentions for at least two weeks...

This January, I have actually dug into Spanish, which comes as a tremendous surprise to me. Spanish is usually the language I study because I know a bunch of native speakers and feel as though I ought to learn it - not one of the languages I study just for the fun of it. But getting the Spanish for Travelers book I mentioned the other day got me started with it, and so I have subsequently also done discs 1-6 of Michel Thomas Spanish. If I have to PUSH DOWN on the PREsent tense and surface on the ending one more time, I may go over the edge (those who have done the program will know how he goes a bit far in emphasizing stress placement) but I have to confess that my Spanish is flowing more smoothly again.

So I have actually worked fairly solidly on one of the jump off points for my intentions. I'm pleased about that. Next month, I'll be doing Italian.

* * *

The other day, I found this at HTLAL - a short collection of tips for language learning. I put together two of them:
[W]ork your way through [your] lessons as fast as you can manage. Don’t worry about memorising it all at the moment. You are just acquainting yourself with the language for now. Don’t let yourself be bogged down by stuff you don’t understand.

* * *

[U]se the linking method to enable us to learn a useful vocabulary in record time.
Here's how I applied it with a Uyghur textbook (just experimenting). First I used the linking method to memorize the vocabulary list for the chapter. Then I skimmed through the dialogs while the vocabulary was still fresh. Then I read through the main points of the chapter. In the morning, I read through the dialogs again. All the words were still in my memory and the dialogs were easy to understand.

I've never had a lot of luck learning vocabulary from link lists - not for long term memory, anyway. But this is a little different - it's just getting the words into short-term memory long enough you can make use of them. In a sense, using this (or any other memory technique) before working on dialogs or other content in a new language provides a way to turn texts that would otherwise be a struggle into comprehensible input. If you've got one of those textbooks that is based on texts and cumbersome vocabulary lists, you might try this to lighten the load.


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