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How to Learn a Language/Vocabulary

The best initial vocabulary will probably involve the target languages semantic primitives- meanings that are represented in every language. They are the most basic communication structures for adult language learners. Note
that semantic primitives are meaning-based not wordbased, and your target language may express many of
the meanings in a very dierent way and using dierent
words and phrases from your own language.

cially when done unintentionally by bilingual speakers.

Skim the dictionary. Make it a habit to skim the
dictionary and write down a few words that are obviously part of common everyday speech.
Practice writinga lot. If your language uses an
alternative script, writing (along with reading) will
help you adapt. Repetitive writing also helps with

There are many ways of learning vocabulary. Try them

all and use what is most eective for you.

Create ashcards. The target language will on one

side, and the known language will be on the other.
Carry a reasonable number in your pocket, purse,
PDA, etc. and study them when you have unexpected free time. You can also create ashcards on a
computer with a program like Mnemosyne or Anki.

Think in whole phrases with emotions. Memorize not only words but a whole sample phrase with
the emotion felt. E.g. (Spanish) To remember the
word 'bread' -- 'pan,' memorize the sentence, 'I eat
bread with butter.' -- 'Como pan con mantequilla.'
(Imagine you are eating the bread.) Some call this
Total Physical Response.

Use mnemonics. For example, with German

prepositions taking the accusative case DOG WUF
(durch, ohne, gegen, wider, um, fr), or for Latin
irregular imperatives (dic! fac! fer! duc!) - a
mnemonic must be memorable for you, so the better
it sticks in your mind, the better it works. In other
words, when developing a mnemonic, use the fact
that humorous, vivid or shocking phrases will help
you remember.

Imagine visually the word or action. Can you

see the bread with butter in your minds eye, even
for a ash? This is a sign that your cerebral hemispheres have synched and the newly learned word
will be available without conscious recall. Include
other senses too. Smell the bread, feel the bread
crumbs, taste the butter, etc. Make those sensations
extreme. Try making the butter rotten, smell the
bread burnt, have the toast painfully hot.

Make a story. It should be animated, fun, and

based on the word. The word for bread in a
number of languages is pan, which is spelled
the same and sounds similar to the English
word for cooking pan. Imagine batting a loaf
of bread with a pan or hitting a bread monster
with an oversized pan. Including all sensations
to their extremes helps.

Repeat the whole phrase. Do so until you can say

it without hesitation, like a reexjust like a karate
move. Language is a reex. Repeating the same sentence is less use than making subtle changes to the
patterns you are learning. So change the pronoun,
the noun or some other aspect of the sentence. It
is also best to make each sentence reect your reality rather than some abstract one. That way you are
more involved in the language you are producing.

See these Indonesian examples and Thai examples for more ideas.
...Next:Speaking and understanding >>

Mix languages. Substitute from your new language

into the language you speak normally, and viceversa. This will, of course, cause fewer problems
if you conne this to conversations with people you
have notied of your strategy. You can also try to
think in your new language. Use as many words as
you can in the new language. If you don't know how
to say something, you can look it up later. The key
is usage. An example, with French is: To make a
cheese sandwich, put fromage between deux pieces
of pain. This is referred to as code switching, espe1


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How to Learn a Language/Vocabulary Source:

Contributors: Thereen, Adrignola, George Makepeace, Zedshort, AllenZh and Anonymous: 1




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