5 A Day
I am going to set myself the ambitious target of learning 5 day; but should I learn 5 verbs a day of 5 nouns / adjectives ?
Which increases one's vocabulary more quickly ?
I don't want to discourage you, but...
Let's assume that you have a perfect memory, and you never forget a word, no matter how long you don't use them for: On average, you need to master at least about 5000 words to be fluent.
You learn 5 a day, and you never miss a day, not even in Christmas or your wedding day. Still, you are going to need 1000 days, which is about 2 years and 9 monts.
But let's come back to reality: you need to practice those words in context, and no matter how good your memory is (unless it is photographic), you are going to forget at least a third of what you learn, unless you practice it all the time. At least. Now the forecast is 4 years and one month, and it is still based on the assumption that you will retain a lot, you'll practice quite often, and you don't give yourself a break. Being realistic, we are talking about more than 5 years, and without constant practice, you'll be forgetting more than what you'd like to.
The people I've seen making the most amazing progress in Spanish were studying 50 to 100 words a day, writing sentences using them, and trying to get conversations to put them in context, plus grammar lessons, plus all the practice they could get, plus watching TV, plus reading. Their assumption was that if they could only remember 1/4 of the words out the 100 they targeted (ie. remember only 25), they'd be reasonably fluent within 6 months.
Now, you do the maths. What is your target in terms of fluency, and how soon do you expect to reach it? In any case, learning words in isolation will achieve very little, other than giving you an edge in scrabble, if you allow Spanish words when you play with your English speaking friends.
Now let me give you an alternative, and hope: I've seen people communicating effectively in Spanish ("effectively" meaning getting their message across, no matter how), with no grammar, and a ridiculously vocabulary. The trick? Imagination, and the ability to squeeze every word, every resource, every gesture, every image, use a context,... My wife learnt less than four weeks of Spanish, and she can talk to my parents for hours without interruptions. Her grammar is almost non existent, and she only know a few verbs, but she has learnt some very useful colloquial expressions to maintain feedback, and she makes use of the thousands of words that English and Spanish have in common, re-pronounces them the Spanish way (with a nearly perfect accent), and she gets perfectly understood more than 95% of the time, and even surprises people, who can't believe how precise and rich her vocabulary is. That's the way to go, I think: communication. You can always improve on your grammar and your vocabulary later.
A guy I knew who spoke nearly 20 languages pretty fluently once told me: the trick? Use everything you can, as often as you can, and no matter how little you know, always behave as if you were going to be given a $100,000 if you managed to say a sentence in the target language that it can be understood, no matter how bad the grammar and everything else, and another $10,000 every time you managed to repeat it later while waiting in a bus top, driving, or doing something else. Maintaining this eagerness to communicate is the key for effective and quick learning... plus hard work, efficient study, and all the rest, of course.
I think you should do verbs some days and nouns/adgectives on other days...just to keep it interesting. Write the verbs and other words into sentences and say them aloud.
Like Lazarus says, the greatest benefit you'll get is from using your newly learned words. I know that you have online speaking classes, so throwing your new stuff into the conversation will help you retain them.
Don't get discouraged!!! Just think about how much more you know now than you did three months ago. Three months from now you'll know even more.
It takes time -- try to have some fun with it and enjoy the journey.
Now, let's go to the question you should have asked, "How do I learn 5 words per day?"
It is very frustrating to look at a sentence, and know every word in the sentence but have no idea what it means. Learn words in the context of phrases, such as this simple example:
Trabajo por la mañana.
Teaches me two words, and the use of por in a time phrase. You can learn 5 words by simply learning 2 sentences or phrases.
Not about Spanish but English.
My older boy just came back from China and I think it was in Shanghai there is a small park that they call English Square. Every Friday Chinese people meet there and speak English with one another. Old, young, flunet, beginners just go there to speak English.
Imagine how excited they were when 40 + English speaking teenagers showed up to speak with them the other Friday.
Now, have you thought about organizing an informal Spanish speaking evening in your town ?
I have. I'm just a bit too shy to do it.
Well, I am discouraged this morning.......Not really by anything posted in this thread but rather by my experience that sometimes knowing the words isn't enough! You have to be able to understand them when you hear them.
An example: I am listening to a few "chistes" in Spanish. Let me quote the first one from my CD - (Keep in mind when ready to think me a total dunce that you are reading this! and ps, never mind ("no importa" from another thread) whether or not you find the chiste (joke) funny:->)
Perdone, ¿puede prestarme cinco mil pesetas?
Pero....¡yo a usted no le conozco!
¡Ya lo sé, por eso se las pido!
The joke does not require a large vocabulary. Nonetheless I - who listened to it at least ten times before giving up and referring to the text - just could not catch that middle sentence. I had no idea what the reader was saying:-( - very sad...those words are certainly among the first I ever learned.....
What I am suggesting is that you might want to be sure you try to learn your words hearing them spoken by native speakers in some context.
Having said that, it is exactly what I am always trying to do and yet....I reckon that until I have heard everything anyone has to say or at least heard a lot more, Español will continue to represent a big challenge.
Actually, I get over my discouragement really quickly by reminding myself of a passage from which it was intended that one learn words for family members based on Velázquez' painting "La Meninas": In that text (reading) "hasta las figuras de los tapices bostezan de aburrimientó". Back then, even after reading the words I couldn't make them out. I occasionally listen to the reading again and now all the sounds are clear. I even understand about those tapices without translating in my head.
And too, as I hinted above, that joke wasn´t so funny anyway. Aburrido!
I say focus on verbs. You can get thru about 200 of them and know pretty much all of the important verbs. So you get alot of bang for your time.
Now, what about the different forms of the verbs? Is "hizo" a different word? So, learn at least 5-10 of the most common forms of the verbs and that's 1000 words already :
Now, let's try to encourage people:
How many words you think you can recognize in Spanish without studying them? Name a figure, please!
and Lazarus still talks to **** much. he'd make you get discouraged. it's like he's trying to show you how smart he is, not how you can learn. This **** is not complicated. You wanna speak spanish? Learn 2 words a week and actually use them with your latino friends. after a year you will have the 5 hundred bazillion words you need to actually talk to a latino in a way that is normal.
Look...you can learn a whole head full of words (just like Lazarus) but you cant keep them if you. dont use them everyday. This stuff is not complicated, ok? I could show you how to play a song on the piano and if you don't practice it everyday, you are gonna lose it, plain and simple. You could carry around in your head all them words Laz and Mariane and the rest of them tell you, but unless you speak spanish every day to a real breathing human being who might just say anything to you, you wont speak spanish. so dont concern yourself about i learn 5 words a day. try speaking 5 spanish words a day to a real spanish person and then you might start learning.
5 a day? You don't think that is a bit too much?
Well I would mix and match them up so you can learn the verbs along with some vocab.
Also another good way to learn vocab. is to take a word in Spanish and the definition along with it (also in spanish) and memorize it. Make sure that you understand the definition though. Then you build your vocab. and learn to give better explanations if you forget a word.
My 'memorizing' aid is my dog. I downloaded the 100 most commonly used Spanish verbs Including all irregularities, mix them with some words from the textbook I used in school. I folded the printed page in the middle dividing Spanish and English, put the harness on the dog and started walking with words in one hand and the leash in the other. In three miles I was able to read (not memorize) 2-3 pages. After a year or so I remember most of them. It takes a lot of shoe sole (and even more poop bags). That is what helping me.
I probably would find RogerHH suggested method more helpful than anything else.
I'll guess that I know about 1,800 to 2,000 words (that doesn't include simple words like "el, la, de, por" etc.) and I consider myself to be at a intermediate level. I've been studying for about 8 months in total and practicing conversation for the past three months.
The right answer is: more than 5000... even if you have never studied Spanish, and over 20,000 if you have a very rich technical vocabulary.
P.S. Oh no! I've edited this post instead of copying and pasting Marianne's comment into a new one. Sorry!
I was planning to try and learn them during the day and then drop them into coversation in my Spanish lesson at night - but you are right without immersion the best that we can probably do is scratch the surface.
You didn't want to depress me but.....
Wife, work, kids and living certainly do get in the way.
I would go with the nouns. Think about acquiring a language when you are a child. You point and then say what the object is. You really don't learn action until later. Obviously we are not children but I believe that this same principle applies here. You do need action words (conjugated and the like) but you need the nouns first, in my humble opinion. Good luck.