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Language learning

I've been interested in languages and language learning since 2005, even though I've had the luck to live in a multilingual environment since I was born.

Languages I've learned or at least explored:

Random thoughts

Sometimes, I think that learning languages is the most stupid and hopeless hobby ever.

However, I'm still willing to do it and I enjoy it nevertheless. It's better than much of the other stuff I could waste my time on.

Vocabulary learning

I wish I could remember a word and it's meaning by only reading it once. Unfortunately, memory doesn't work like that.

Difficulties of vocabulary learning

  1. Too many words.
  2. Homophones.
  3. The relationship between sound and meaning is arbitrary.
  4. You must recognize every single word at once in order to be proficient in a language.
  5. Rare and obscure words are plentiful. You may encounter then once but when you encounter them, you'd better know them.
  6. Words with abstract meanings are difficult to learn.
  7. Words tend to acquire different meanings that are somehow synonymous in the native speaker's mind, even though the relationship between these meanings isn't clear for non-natives.
  8. Every single word is a world of its own.
  9. Learning words amounts to learning an extremely vast array of topics.
  10. Slang.
  11. Inflection makes words unrecognizable.
  12. Words always acquire new meanings.
  13. Some adverbs are hard because they don't designate a thing but rather trigger a mental process in which clauses are emphasized, compared, softened, conditioned, etc.
  14. The ability of creating new words.

What can or should be done in order to learn words?

Context, context, context. Use the world in real settings.

Eagerness for words

I want to all know words. Even the useless ones.

I want to know how you say “plough” in your language, even if I haven't even seen a plough in my life, in any language. I want to know, because knowing what the word for “plough” is, how it declines, where it comes from and what its phonetical structure is, tells me something about your language, and about you, native speaker of the language.

Words I don't know are ugly, words I know are beautiful

Repetition is good for learning words. You can call it the mere exposure effect.

language_learning.txt · Last modified: 2012/09/08 20:24 by monkeypuzzle