Language Learning: Vocab Relevance, MCD

In school find I learn way way way better when I am learning something that actually applies to my life. Right now I am studying psychology for that reason. I can sit in the lecture and absorb so much because I can connect most of what is being said right away to something I am interested in or find important to know. Therefore the retention is significantly higher than when I was studying electronics in college and had little interest beyond getting a job.

So how does this relate to my developing language leaning method. Well I am learning verbs first because I know that with a good grasp of those I can enjoy myself in the language. I want to be able to use any of the verbs I learned, fluently, whenever a situation arises where I could use one to communicate. However, when it comes to my ability to recall verbs on command what I find is the verbs I remember easiest are the ones I can see a use for easily. So the spanish verb to understand “entender” or the phrase “no entiendo” is pretty easy to recall for me. I’m thinking it’s because I know there are many situations where I will need to know how to say that specific thing and so the relevance makes it more important to remember. Also I get the impression that each of those situations, or just knowing that the situations are there, creates connections in my mind. Even if there is no specific situations I can think of I get the feeling my mind just says: “1) you may be talking to some girl and want to say I don’t understand 2) you may trying to get directions for somewhere and need to be able to say it, 3) you may be at a bar and need it, 4) you may get in trouble with the law and need it.” I wonder if that is what my mind does in the background and starts trying to make connections to some possible needs that are obvious enough to prepare for.

Then there are the more obscure although still apparently common verbs like “acceptar” meaning to accept. I can’t think of any glaring place I’d need that word although there probably are places where I would.

So I am developing an idea based on this theory

For each verb, I will brainstorm maybe ways I would want to use that word in my life. If nothing else I could even make just funny or silly sentences or play off of jokes I already know in English that the verb reminds me of.

ex: to appear or show up, when do I ever say something appeared(I know I do but can’t think of where), how about “a wild pikachu appeard, how do I say that?
If I go with show up I can say, iunno, a few gansters show up, or a ninja, or I didn’t think you would show up, or if you wear that I will not show up to the party with you.

Also another way to brainstorm is to look online for sentences that could jog your memory of situations where you would use a verb.

So I guess I agree that sentences are important for learning in context, not just because you learn sentence structure and learn the word as part of a chunk of information making it easy to store in memory. Also because with multiple sentences using the same word, where each sentence depicts a new situation, the mind can store that word as useful in those multiple situations.

The next idea I have, is instead of sentences, or maybe as an answer to sentence questions, or a fill in the blank, an srs card or flash card could pose a situation on the question side.

For example, what could you say in this situation,

The answer could be that verb you wan to test.

Yet another way would be when given the verb, recall a set of 5 situations where it can be used.
Or, given 5 situations, list the verb that can be used (a bit too passive a study method this last one I think)

I think sentences are important because I can study conjugation and sentence structure. However I want to make it so I am focusing on the situation not just memorizing the sentence. So I want to test the sentence but leave it so that I still have to guess what verbs I should use. So I think I’ve just rediscovered the AJATT idea of MCD, where I test on a word by using a sentence with that word left blank and I have to fill it in. The sentence is the context and because the word is not included I am forced to figure out what word is needed based on what the sentence shows the situation to be.

So new technique for me: MCD for 100-200 common verbs,at least 1 sentence for each present tense conjugation. Now that I think about it, longer strings of text, like a few sentences, that really makes it so I have to guess at the meaning of the word based on situation not just knowing the whole sentence, would work even faster! Yeah I’m pretty sure this is part of the AJATT method too but I totally see why it’s useful although I might just stick to single sentence MCDs cause I’m lazy.




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