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emuboy

Struggling with maintaining vocab/use

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emuboy

I'm finding I've got this ongoing problem where I can't draw on the word I'm wanting to use when I need it in conversation. These are words that I know most of the time, and are often really simple e.g. I forgot the word for apartment earlier and looked like a total moron. Now at this stage I'm beyond the point of caring whether or not I look like a tool but I'm not sure why I'm struggling to remember vocab.

I've recently changed up how I'm doing my lessons to try and address this, instead of 4 lessons with new content I'm now doing 2 with new stuff and 2 where I just give my tutor a list of my new words and we discuss them, not sure how effective this is at this stage. I've heard reading is also a pretty solid way to keep the vocab up to scratch but I'm pretty limited in my time and I'm focusing heavily on listening skills right now. Did people just get over this with time or is there another approach I should be taking?

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大块头

Have you tried SRS?

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imron

My guess is SRS is the problem, because SRS repetitions usually don't accurately test the skills you need for using the word in real life.

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艾墨本
25 minutes ago, imron said:

My guess is SRS is the problem, because SRS repetitions usually don't accurately test the skills you need for using the word in real life

 

First of all, I always encourage students to shift from the idea of "remembering" and move towards "recalling" in that you don't want to just remember the word but what to be able to pull it out of your memory on demand at a fast rate and with some relevant association (context, word-pairs, etc.). This is a process of conscious repetition and contextual encounters.

 

SRS is not the end-all, but it is the first step. It also depends on how you structure your SRS. If you are using Pleco, do you have it show audio only and reveal the character and definition, or just show the character and reveal the audio or some other combination. This will affect what aspect(s) of a word you are learning. But this should never be the last stop (freely producible vocabulary) but rather the first stop (passively understandable vocabulary).

 

Due to the special-ness that is Chinese, when working on oral production, I first ensure I understand the Characters when heard by way of using Pleco's notecard app and only "showing" the audio (it just plays the audio) to which I have to accurately differentiate the tone and sounds I hear and recall the meaning only (don't do too much at once). Later, I show just the character and I have to recall the pronunciation, tone included. Regardless of which direction you study, always say the word out loud as that helps with retention (as evidenced by research).

 

It's best to use decks that you have created of two-character words because this way synonyms will be less of a distraction. Perhaps you know that there are two words with the same sounds but because you created this deck you know it's A and not B and if in the future you add B as well, you are able to say well it could be A or B (which is great to be able to do!).

 

SRS successfully removed how long new things are retained from the equation due to the forced repetitions (assuming you stay up to date), but does not account for other factors like interest in particular vocabulary, etc. (see Laufer's Involvement Load Hypothesis which draws on a lot of relevant research in this area).

13 hours ago, emuboy said:

I forgot the word for apartment earlier and looked like a total moron.

In experiencing this, you are actually fulfilling all of Laufer's theory in which the greater students feel "need" (you desire for the content, i.e. "damn, I need that word to express my idea") "search" (the process of obtaining the information i.e. "it has a hand radical, has an "t" in the pronunciation but what was the rest of it? I'll go look it up") and "assessment" (the process of being assessed, "they don't understand me"/"they won't understand me unless I can see this properly").

 

 

13 hours ago, emuboy said:

and I'm focusing heavily on listening skills right now


 Graded Readers like Chinese Breeze have audio files. No reason you couldn't listen to it and not read it. I also like putting the audio files from whatever textbook I am using on my phone and listen on repeat (text audio and vocab recordings) and will shadow them while going about my day.

VocabAcq The construct of Task Induced Involvement - Laufer.pdf

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imron
3 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

First of all, I always encourage students to shift from the idea of "remembering" and move towards "recalling"

Yes, this is passive vs active recall, and I agree that active recall is one of the skills that needs training.

 

3 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

at a fast rate

This is something often overlooked by many people when doing SRS, because for real world usage it's not just about knowing a word, it's knowing a word and being able to process it at speed conducive to conversation, watching TV and/or reading.

 

Anything less than instant recognition/recall should trigger either a fail, or at least special attention to address why it was slow (and then a fail if you notice it was slow too many times).  I say instant because that's often the standard that's going to be needed to meet a large number of real world usage needs.  Yes there are exceptions to this, but if a large number of cards that you 'know' in your deck require you to pause to think before you can get the answer, then you'll find you are often let down in real life.

 

'Instant recall' is a high standard, but you are at most the standard that you set for yourself.  Yes it balloons out revision time, and the solution I have for that is regular deleting of decks 🙂

 

When I do flashcards, I tend to average around 30 seconds per card, but that's misleading because most of them will be instant, and the ones that aren't I stop and spend time on analysing and drilling and going over in my head to make sure it will be instant the next time, and doing that for a few cards skews the average significantly.

 

3 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

It's best to use decks that you have created of two-character words because this way synonyms will be less of a distraction

I agree with this.  Even if I come across a single character word that I want to add to my flashcards, I will always try and find a 2 (or more) character word that embodies the same meaning and add that instead.  This dramatically reduces uncertainty caused by homonyms.

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roddy
49 minutes ago, imron said:

This is something often overlooked by many people when doing SRS, because for real world usage it's not just about knowing a word, it's knowing a word and being able to process it at speed conducive to conversation, watching TV and/or reading.

When I was doing remedial work on tones I was going through flashcards at the rate of a 1,000 an hour - which is plenty of time to look at the characters, say it with the correct tones and tap onto the next one.

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emuboy

Hi guys, thanks for the replies.

 

 

On 11/27/2018 at 9:36 PM, 艾墨本 said:

SRS is not the end-all, but it is the first step. It also depends on how you structure your SRS. If you are using Pleco, do you have it show audio only and reveal the character and definition, or just show the character and reveal the audio or some other combination. This will affect what aspect(s) of a word you are learning. But this should never be the last stop (freely producible vocabulary) but rather the first stop (passively understandable vocabulary).

I do use Pleco and I have it set up so I have 3 sets of repetition: 1 for listening, 1 for recognition of the characters and 1 for being able to recall the word given the definition. I have over time also found that having cards with only a single character is quite useless because there's so many homonyms and it's impossible to differentiate without context, so I only add >=2 characters now.

On 11/27/2018 at 9:36 PM, 艾墨本 said:

Graded Readers like Chinese Breeze have audio files. No reason you couldn't listen to it and not read it.

That's true, I did actually buy one of the Breeze readers and I found it extremely boring. I've been using Chairman's Bao lately a fair bit which I think serves a pretty similar purpose (although one of the problems is that simple words that appear in convos are substituted for fancier ones).

Quote
  1. Two studies appear to provide evidence that external incentives, in the form of financial reward, increase performance in learning a list of vocabulary items.

Perhaps I need to reward myself with gifts 😉

@imron started trying to do the instant recall on the deck yesterday, I think this is a solid idea.

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imron
On 11/29/2018 at 10:15 AM, emuboy said:

I think this is a solid idea.

Just remember not to do it blindly.  The purpose for doing this is to replicate as close as possible the conditions needed for use in the real world, and your 'pass' or 'fail' should replicate the standards required for a 'pass' or 'fail' in the real world.  For reading, this is more or less instant recognition.

 

Also note that a 'fail' doesn't necessarily mean failing the card, it might just mean spending 30 seconds going over it and cementing it in your mind before going on to the next one - or if you're using pleco with the paid flashcards module, you can set it to show all failed ones at the end and go over them then (I use a mix of both - going over it if it fails *and* going over it at the end)

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Yadang
On 11/27/2018 at 7:18 AM, imron said:

When I do flashcards, I tend to average around 30 seconds per card, but that's misleading because most of them will be instant, and the ones that aren't I stop and spend time on analysing and drilling and going over in my head to make sure it will be instant the next time

 

Is there a specific method that you follow when you analyze/drill in your head? 

  • Good question! 1

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imron

See here and here.  While doing that I also think about the part that I got stuck on - maybe it was the pronunciation so I spend extra effort in my mind when going over that.  Maybe I couldn't quite remember part of the character, so I spend extra attention on that part.  I also like to create false memories of me remembering the word correctly the next time I see it (see halfway though this post for more detail).

 

@Yadang, note:  You've read all those posts before :mrgreen:

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