How many vocabulary words do you learn per day?
When learning a language, how many new vocabulary words do you - yes, you - learn per day'
A good help is the vocabulary section on this site. The flashcards are really a good help and ti it's much easier to learn words like this.
Yeah my brains would melt
That's a subjective question - I think it depends on how determined you are to learn a new language, and how often you get to practice that language. Truth is, English wasn't my first language, but I speak it fluently enough to deceive people anyway. Indonesian was my mothertongue, as I AM a born-indonesian, after all, but strangely enough, my English skills exceed my Indonesian skills by a hundredfold.
When I moved to Malaysia, I suddenly felt a desperate need to learn English to communicate. It all began in my first grade - that was the very first year I was introduced to English, an alien language to me at that time. I was really shy and timid, but I was more than determined enough to muster all aspects of English. Having a sharp brain (I'm not bragging here - kids naturally absorb more than adults) I learned a hell lot of words per day, but I didn't know how to string them together to form a coherent sentence. My grammatical skills came later - in the second grade. Eventually, by mixing with my peers and constantly making a fool out of myself, I began the slow road to fluent English.
Somewhere along the way, I began to develop an interest in Japanese - from the anime and manga I literally glued my eyes to - and I began to learn Japanese. It wasn't very tough, as I had already laid on the basic foundation from my obsessive watching and reading. However, I didn't know how to practice my newfound knowledge, so I forgot words very easily. I think I learnt an average of ten or fifteen words per day, with haphazard grammar.
Demo ima, nihongo ga wakaru yo! My grammar's still a little bonked up though
And now, I'm beginning to create a new challenge for myself - Spanish. Again, I admit, no one in my school - or country even - feels the need to learn Spanish. However, I love learning new and completely foreign languages, and there isn't an urgent need to muster the language (unlike first grade), so I think I should take it up sloooowly. This is my second day in Spanishdict.com, and I think I'm averaging at approximately 7 - 8 words per day. Meaning to say, I should have learnt around 14 words by now. It's a long and winding road, with many pitfalls and booby traps along the way, but I think I'll get there in the end. : )
Like I said above, learning a language depends on two factors: your level of determination, and how often you get to practise the language. You can live in Britain for a million years and still be illiterate in terms of English, and that is because you probably aren't determined enough to learn the language, or have been mixing with too many peers speaking your native language. You can stay in ... say ... Turkey, and still be able to speak near-fluent English, because you are interested in the subject and want to learn more about it.
I learned English quickly because of my surroundings AND my determination. I learned Indonesian even quicker because I have been exposed to that language since birth (I'm still not very good at it though, since I refused to speak anything other than English), and I learned Japanese quite slowly, since no one I knew could speak Japanese, but I had the drive to succeed. As for Mandarin, I learned that at snail-like speed, since I hated that language and refused to study it. And now, for Spanish ... I don't know. Maybe I should wait a month and figure out!
Cheers! Bye! Zai jian! Ja ne! Adiós! Da da
That is a brilliant method James. I'm going to start doing that tomorrow.
I forgot to add an important part of the routine I followed. I tried to use new words and phrases in conversation as soon as possible. because that really helped cement the words in my memory. This was sometimes difficult, with words such as grenade or flea, but it was kind of a game for me. I had all these words bouncing around in my head, and I tried to find ways to use them while talking. I'm sure it made me seem kind of strange at times, but when you're learning a foreign language, you have to check your pride at the door.
You might be interested in an old book called
"The Quick and Dirty guide to Learning Languages Fast"
If you find a cheap second hand copy, you'll get some handy advice there (not necessarily God's word, but interesting advice, though).
It would be unfair to portrait me as the hero here, because I've never done such a thing, but let me give you tell you a story of what a foreigner who came to Spain to learn Spanish did (among many I've met):
1) From the Czech Republic: First day we didn't know how to say "hello", literally. One week later he knew some salutations and small talk sentences. On the second week he was asking me questions. One month after that he was establishing a rather rich conversation, despite some pitfalls and wrong words. After 3 or 4 months he asked me to check a letter written to a bank - most natives wish they could write like him. Within 6-8 months he was rather fluent.
Trick? I asked him, and he said that his aim was 50-100 words per day (I can't remember exactly, but I think he said 100). He said that, even if he only keeps 20% of what he studies, in 6 months he'll have about 3600 words, which will allow him to talk. Roughly, you need at least 500-600 words to express the basics and get understood, about 1000-2000 words to express yourself reasonably well (but not good enough), 4000 is generally enough for most conversations, and 6000 means you can hold a typical conversation in most topics well enough. Over 10,000 you can make some natives feel silly at times, and above that, your vocabulary suddenly stands out. Truth is, a hundred words per day, even if you forget 2 out of 3 words, it means that in 6 months you have a fully functional vocabulary (I've never done such a thing myself, I warn you). I've seen many people mastering Spanish within a year (and I mean, scarily perfect Spanish), but I'm sure that it wasn't without hard work.
Another thing is passive vocabulary. You may be able to understand hundreds of words, but not be able to use them. That can result in a gap between your ability to understand and your ability to express yourself. This depends on how much you practice your communicative skills, and your natural talent for it.
Give yourself a more down-to-Earth target, and you'll be able to get a reasonable estimate, and remember that different people use different methods. Watching TV could enhance your vocabulary without you realising it, as so can daily life talk and reading. You won't know until you try.
Naturally, it will depend on the person, but when I was living in Japan, I carried a little notebook and pencil with me all the time. Every day I would look around at things, and as soon as I saw something whose name in Japanese I didn't know, I'd write it down in my notebook. Later, I looked up the word and wrote the Japanese. I added five new words every day, and kept that page until I could say look at the English and say all the Japanese words without hesitation. Then I ripped out that page.
Five a day doesn't seem like much, but it adds up very quickly. That's 150 a month, and 1800 a year. Of course, living there, I also learned lots of words that I didn't write in my book.
Try out my method and let us know how it works for you!