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Polyhistor

How did you move from studying books to reading books?

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timseb

My few cents here are just that, a few cents, since compared to most I'm still a rookie when it comes to reading, but still. My recommendations are therefore not especially for @Polyhistor but for all who are still not reading a bunch of novels every month.

 

I would argue the amount of words one knows is the most important thing, there is no way getting around that. You're not going to grip all grammar just by knowing the words in the sentence, but it's definately tougher gripping the sentence structure without knowing the words in it. After that, on @PerpetualChange's point, I would argue the second most important thing is consistency. If there is too much time between either vocab drills if you're doing that, or reading if you're doing that, words are going to take longer to drill in your head. If you encounter the same word a few times per week, it's going to burn itself in your head, but it won't if you only encounter it a few times per months or even less (at least the chance decreases).

 

Now, the amount of words does not have to be amount of words on flashcards, it can be by immersion to, and I would argue each to his own here, the important thing are the words themselves. I know imron recommends just a few words per day, and considering his reading ability, who am I to say that's not a good idea? I have been going for 20 new words per day for about a year know. I started reading my first novel earlier this year, but took a break because I hated reading on my computer, and instead ordered a lot of real books (here I agree completely with @imron, real physical books are better practice). I finished reading my first Harry Potter book in July (I think) and next week I'm planning on having finished the third one. I have just began reading two chapters per day. It's all pleasure reading, and even if it's not the same as reading something totally unfamiliar, I'm happy with the progress so far and it certainly drills all the important sentence structures, characters etc. I personally wouldn't have been able to do this without the "boring" part of actually drilling vocabulary every single day, no days skipped since I started off. If you have the stamina to actually study what you read (intensive reading) then I appreciate that can be just as good. I can't stand intensive reading, others can't stand flashcards. I think it's all about finding what works for the individual, and actually sticking to it.

 

Whether one should do cloze cards, sentence cards or just plain vocabulary cards is, I think, still up for debate. Do what you prefer.

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Lu
38 minutes ago, timseb said:

I know imron recommends just a few words per day, and considering his reading ability, who am I to say that's not a good idea? I have been going for 20 new words per day for about a year know.

I think you need to separate two things:

- how many words to look up while reading (no more than 1 per page, less is better, because looking up words slows you down and turns reading into studying); and

- how many new words per day to study (as many as you sustainably can, key word being sustainably). You clearly manage to sustainably study 20 new words per day, hat's off to you, keep at it.

 

But these two things meet where it's important to learn words with some context, because usually the context of how a word is used is vital in learning it. (There are exeptions, such as lists of countries or animals, where context doesn't matter much, but these are exeptions.) And the easiest way to ensure you have context is to encounter the word in the wild, such as in a book. Ready-made example sentence, memorable scene around it: perfect. But you can also see a word in a vocab list and look up an example sentence on the Line dictionary or Wikipedia or your textbook, it's just one extra step.

 

2 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

Pretty much because any time I had a minute to study, I wanted to dive straight back into the book 😂

At least, initially. After that, the deck just grew and grew, and become too cumbersome to consider studying in a day. You're right, I should blow it up, and limit it just a few words per day. I do think that I am not content with what I've done and would like to work some flashcard review back into my routine.

Imron will probably tell you to delete the whole deck. That is an option. You can also decide to just work through it at your own speed. I am very much not a deleter of decks, partly because I build my own cards (no one-click ready-made flashcards for Chinese to Dutch exist that I know of), and over the past few weeks I worked my way over a glut of several hundred cards that had built up during a slump. Some days I only studied a few cards, some days dozens, and now I'm up to date again.

 

I'm sure there are moments in your day where you could more easily study a few flashcards than read. While waiting in line, or on the bus, or while waiting for the food to cook, or in the bathroom... Such dead time is perfect for flashcards, and then you keep the more focused study time for reading.

 

I'm sure there are moments in your day that

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timseb
31 minutes ago, Lu said:

I think you need to separate two things:

- how many words to look up while reading (no more than 1 per page, less is better, because looking up words slows you down and turns reading into studying); and

- how many new words per day to study (as many as you sustainably can, key word being sustainably). You clearly manage to sustainably study 20 new words per day, hat's off to you, keep at it.

 

But these two things meet where it's important to learn words with some context, because usually the context of how a word is used is vital in learning it. (There are exeptions, such as lists of countries or animals, where context doesn't matter much, but these are exeptions.) And the easiest way to ensure you have context is to encounter the word in the wild, such as in a book. Ready-made example sentence, memorable scene around it: perfect. But you can also see a word in a vocab list and look up an example sentence on the Line dictionary or Wikipedia or your textbook, it's just one extra step.

 

Anki flashcards aren't meant to fully understand a word, there is no way to do such thing. They are for creating a simple link between the word and your memory. To fully understand it you need to encounter it several times in several different contexts. This is even true for English (see research by Paul Nation, one-to-one flashcards are better than people think), and it's even more true for Chinese I would argue (thanks to the characters). There are *very* few words I have learned through my flashcards that I don't understand at all when I encounter them later in context.

 

The first point I don't understand, I made the distinction between extensive and intensive reading. I don't see how you would do extensive readign without having done either flaschards or intensive reading for a long time. Sorry if there is something I'm not getting.

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PerpetualChange
1 hour ago, Lu said:

I'm sure there are moments in your day where you could more easily study a few flashcards than read. While waiting in line, or on the bus, or while waiting for the food to cook, or in the bathroom... Such dead time is perfect for flashcards, and then you keep the more focused study time for reading.

Of course, you're exactly right. I can work 5-10 minutes of PLECO cards in per day. I will give it a try. 

 

And I'm with you - I don't like blowing up decks. In PLECO you can make multiple decks, and words that are already in one of your decks will show up with a box around them, regardless if it's the deck you're actively studying. I like that, when I look up a word, I know right away if I've seen it before or not. And if I have, it definitely gets put in my study deck. Because that is basically how I priortize whether I want to add a word to my deck to begin with. 

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imron
6 hours ago, timseb said:

I know imron recommends just a few words per day, and considering his reading ability, who am I to say that's not a good idea? I have been going for 20 new words per day for about a year know

Lu hit the nail on the head with regards to sustainability. 20 words is great if you can do it, but you’re better of doing 5-10 words a day every day than you are doing 20 words a day at the beginning and then giving up after the load (including the review load) gets too much.  Likewise, you’re better off doing 30 mins of reading and 20 mins of vocab drilling rather than 20 minutes of reading and 30 mins of vocabulary drilling (choosing content at the appropriate level is important for this also)
 

Balancing those things will depend on the individual learner and their current reading ability and also the amount of time they have each day for studying.
 

The important thing (in my view) is to make sure you go at a rate that you

 

For me, I’ve found 5-10 a day is a good amount that works, but the important thing is to go at a rate you can continue at daily for a sustained period of time, and to spend more time on reading than you do on vocabulary drilling. 
 

4 hours ago, timseb said:

I don't see how you would do extensive readign without having done either flaschards or intensive reading for a long time

I think the trick is to choose content at the appropriate level.  These days there’s plenty of content available (even at the lower levels) that even if you have a vocabulary of only a few hundred words there is still stuff to read. 

 

3 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

Of course, you're exactly right. I can work 5-10 minutes of PLECO cards in per day

One of the great things about Pleco is it’s mobile, so you can do it almost anywhere. You can also stop halfway through a session and it will remember where you are and kick off from there the next time.

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imron
5 hours ago, Lu said:

Imron will probably tell you to delete the whole deck.

If you’re not going to review it, why keep it around?  Maybe because Pleco will show you that it’s in another deck and you can prioritize it, but if you then don’t review that deck you’ll just be collecting words.

 

You’ll be better off starting a new book with a new deck, and then actually reviewing it regularly. Then you won’t have to put off reviewing due to the huge review queue. 

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timseb
13 minutes ago, imron said:

For me, I’ve found 5-10 a day is a good amount that works, but the important thing is to go at a rate you can continue at daily for a sustained period of time, and to spend more time on reading than you do on vocabulary drilling. 

 

I think we're both saying the same thing (sustainability), but with some tweaks, depending on what works for the person in question. I didn't read anything for my first six months, if I could go back in time I actually wouldn't change that. Drilling vocab has given me 8000 words (with two characters or more, since I have a deck specifically for characters) with minimum effort. And without those word's I wouldn't have been able to improve my reading so quickly (from the time I started reading, that is) - that as well with not much effort. But once again: I think if one finds flashcards to be a chore, or wants to speak with his friends early on etc, it would be horrible strategy and that person would surely drop out along the way.

 

It should also be said I chose my strategy knowing I would only be actively studying Chinese for about a year, so the marathon way was never viable for me. Also speaking has never been important to me, if I can't do it in a few years, it's not a problem.

 

13 minutes ago, imron said:

I think the trick is to choose content at the appropriate level.  These days there’s plenty of content available (even at the lower levels) that even if you have a vocabulary of only a few hundred words there is still stuff to read. 

 

That's true. I would bring up the Krashen "compelling" argument here, but since I know that's far from confirmed (or even debunked nowadays), and since I don't disagree with you per se, I won't. Personal preference in the end, I would assume. Many language learners (not just Chinese) enjoy the short stories on Linq, so I think you are right that this will work for a lot of people. I could never stand it. A lot of learners like text books, I never opened one.

 

I think we agree on the most important point: do something you know you will be able to keep doing without dropping out a long the way.

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imron
45 minutes ago, timseb said:

I think we're both saying the same thing

Agree, and that’s what I meant to get across in my post.  The number of words is not that important. Sustainability is the key, and people need to experiment and assess what works for them.

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roddy

Question for @imron, and apologies if I've missed the answer. 

 

It sounds like you're making judgement calls as you go through a book on what's worth adding to flashcards. Presumably the ideal measure of that is how frequently the word appears in the book, and in the language. What I don't understand is:

 

Why not use the frequency information from CTA to identify those words in advance and preload the flashcards. I'm not suggesting you spend two weeks learning X hundred new words before reading, but unless I'm mistaken you could estimate a book will take you 20 days, set a sustainable goal of 10 words a day, then clip off the... wait, let me see if CTA could do this... yes, take the 200 most frequent new words ordered by appearance in the book ( Words: unknown, Sort by: Frequency Descending, Rows: 200, Sort by: First Occurrence Ascending. )

 

That gives you the 200 most useful words, in order they appear in the book. Review the first ten before you start reading, and those should be (give or take) the ten you encounter in your first day's read. If you end up reviewing some that won't appear till tomorrow, or you need to look one up because you didn't review that far, that's no big deal. You'd be stopping to do dictionary look-ups less often, and while you could still (and would sometimes need to) check a definition, you could also skip a word confident it's not going to appear seventeen times in Chapter 19. 

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jannesan

@roddy 

that's exactly what I do, I always prelearn the new vocabulary for the next chapters before reading. Depending on how many new words there are I go for only words that occur 2/3/4 times in the whole book. Worked out pretty well so far for me, I rarely do lookups and I really get into a flow of reading. Only in the first chapters the amount of words is quite high, which is why I try to stay ahead a few chapters with the prestudying, so I can already learn the words of a new book while still finishing the book before.

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imron

@roddy it’s mostly a function of my reading/studying habits being well-formed before the creation of CTA, and already having a good feel for what words I should add.
 

What you suggest is definitely a practical use for CTA, I suppose the other thing though for me is that I prefer to encounter the word first in context as that provides extra memory hooks that help with remembering the word.

 

 

 

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PerpetualChange

 

On 8/24/2020 at 9:50 AM, PerpetualChange said:

Sadly, I never once reviewed this deck, until now. I just ran through all 280 cards, and got about 90 correct... so roughly, I've retained 1/3rd of the vocabulary. I think I would have gotten another 3rd of the words in context, but came up blank when I saw them independently. So... not so bad, I think. In 2 months I've increased by vocabulary by 90 words and maybe a looser vocabulary of recognizable words by the same amount. Over a year's time that would be 1000+ new words. I'm pretty happy with that. If I can take an extra 5-10 minutes per day to review my deck, maybe that amount doubles...

 

On 8/24/2020 at 9:58 AM, Lu said:

On re-reading, it looks like you're actually content with the 90 words that you have learned. That's also fine. In that case I recommend just skipping making the deck next time, since you didn't need that.

 

Alright, update on this exchange. I had 192 cards for my next volume of the novel, and just ran through them all, getting 49% this time. 

Basically, I did all the same things as the first time around. As I read, I added words that I felt I had seen more than once or that I felt I should know into a deck. Except, instead of ignoring the deck, this time I set it up in Pleco so that it would randomly pull 10-20 cards so that I could do brief reviews. These reviews usually took about 2 minutes, tops. Sometimes I did them 2-3 times per day, but rarely more than that. Anyway... a 16% boost in words learned for 2-3 minutes per day is pretty good, I think! I feel a lot better about it now, and maybe for deck three I'll tinker with some of Pleco's SRS settings so that the study is even more efficient. 

 

...I should mention that I still get the tones wrong on a number of my "learned" words. I should definitely start policing myself better on that. 

 

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imron
2 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

I should definitely start policing myself better on that.

"The standard you walk past is the standard you accept".

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Lu
11 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

I should mention that I still get the tones wrong on a number of my "learned" words. I should definitely start policing myself better on that.

Yes, that would be a good idea. Tone wrong = word wrong.

 

Other than that: you clearly made progress and you are clearly happy with it. Well done! Keep at it!

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PerpetualChange
8 hours ago, Lu said:

Yes, that would be a good idea. Tone wrong = word wrong.

Yeah, for such a long time I held the opinion that my tones would always be terrible and so that I would just hope pronunciation got better over time through conversation practice. But I think clearly, that is not the case. I really need to make sure I have learned the tones or the issue will just compound. 

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PerpetualChange
On 9/21/2020 at 4:17 PM, PerpetualChange said:

Alright, update on this exchange. I had 192 cards for my next volume of the novel, and just ran through them all, getting 49% this time. 

Basically, I did all the same things as the first time around. As I read, I added words that I felt I had seen more than once or that I felt I should know into a deck. Except, instead of ignoring the deck, this time I set it up in Pleco so that it would randomly pull 10-20 cards so that I could do brief reviews. These reviews usually took about 2 minutes, tops. Sometimes I did them 2-3 times per day, but rarely more than that. Anyway... a 16% boost in words learned for 2-3 minutes per day is pretty good, I think! I feel a lot better about it now, and maybe for deck three I'll tinker with some of Pleco's SRS settings so that the study is even more efficient. 

 

Yet another update - while reading the final 集, I moved to daily PLECO SRS reviews. My final deck had 133 words in it and I did a big test at the end and scored correct on 122 of them for meaning (still fuzzy tones, but much better than before since I did not allow myself to "pass" during my daily reviews if I had tones wrong). This time I used Pleco's SRS function every day, which was the right move apparently. 

 

So, in summary, here is how I "tested" at the end of each reading:

 

No daily reviews: 33% correct

Daily "randomly drawn" reviews: 49%

Daily Pleco SRS review: 88%

 

Guess I've got not choice but to be a believer in SRS now, and will continue to use it in the Pleco SRS feature in the future! 

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Lu
On 10/17/2020 at 6:36 PM, PerpetualChange said:

No daily reviews: 33% correct

Daily "randomly drawn" reviews: 49%

Daily Pleco SRS review: 88%

I have to say these results are not very surprising (daily practice brings results... yes, that's how learning works), but I'm glad you have experienced it yourself now and that it has been useful. Keep up the good work! And good that you're doing better with tones as well.

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