Hello my friends. My name is Gabriel. I speak some languages. Today, I would like to speak about a very interesting topic and that is how many words can we and should we learn a day when learning any language. Many people want to learn a lot of words a day. I would like to say this, often it’s going to be really important for us to focus on quality and not on quantity and what I mean by that because often we’re trying to just learn a lot of words, we’re not going to be really learning them that well. Many of these words that we’re going to learn are just going to be forgotten. Sometimes you are going to be able to recognize them when you see them but I’m really going to be able to recognize it when you hear it in quick conversation or will you be able to even use it in context. So I think that often the focus shouldn’t really necessarily be on quantity but it should be on quality.
I’m really trying to learn words quite well and eventually be able to actually use these words in context and incorporating them in our vocabulary and I think that one really important thing is actually use different resources because they think that a lot of people are just too reliant on one specific resource. So nowadays a lot of language learners are a learning a lot of vocabulary with funky for instance the flashcard and software and web site. While I think that there’s nothing wrong with funky. It’s a reviewing flashcards is great especially with the space repetition but the thing is that often people aren’t really necessarily learning with these words in context and in think that in addition to using something like Anki or using just straight flashcards. It’s going to be really important to also do lots of listening, lots of reading. So you can also see these word in context and the better you do this. The more you do this, the more you going to be able to actually or rather the quicker you’re going to be able to actually use these words as well as you speak in the foreign language.
We would be better off learning perhaps 30 words a day instead of a hundred especially if we can try to really incorporate them in our long-term memory. Really be able to understand what these words mean and what context these words can be used and so on. So I think it’s nice to have a balanced. Try to have some quantity. Of course we just don’t want to just learn three words a day or five. We want to learn more of course. But we also want to make sure that we’re really learning them that we’re able to actually use them in context where we’re able to recognize them when we hear them and I’ll give you guys an example as well. I did this challenge for mandarin in July which I did a hundred words a day through memorize the app and while I thought that this really helped me progress in Mandarin Chinese, many of the words wouldn’t be able to really even incorporate into sentences that quickly or that well and many of them have just simply forgotten without practice.
So I think that it’s good to go for quantity but at the same time keep in mind that you want to learn them quite well and if you were aiming for too many words a day, you may be a bit detrimental. So let’s say if you have time, perhaps a 30 to 50 words a day but of course it depends as well as on the method that you’re using and if you are not at the level in which you can learn them any words yet, that’s okay. Just try to build it up. Try to gauge how many words that you’re being able to introduce into your vocabulary a day while actually learning them well. So keep in mind to always use different resources. Do flash cards but do reading, try listening. That way if you’re actually exposed to the same words, through listening, through reading and through flash cards then you’re very likely going to be able to learn them well, understand in what context these words can be used and that way you’re going to be able to actually use them in conversation as well. So I hope this video has been useful to you and good luck learning in your language.
Hello Gabriel, I wanted to ask if you have any advice or tips for people who want to learn two languages at the same time, thank you!
Gabriel: Well well well, two languages at the same time. That’s something I do somewhat often, I guess too often sometimes. I think that the most important thing is to not get overwhelmed. If we bite more than we can chew and we start getting overwhelmed in either language, then it’s just a shame because we’re probably gonna get discouraged and eventually give up.
Personally what I try to do have one main language that I am primarily focusing on and then one second language that I am putting maybe 30 percent of my time into and the main language about seventy percent of my time. That way I’m getting great progress in the first language, right, that I’m primarily focusing on but I’m still progressing enough in that second language.
What else? I like to “color-code” everything, as well so perhaps let’s say that, if I were to learn Spanish and Italian at the same time, what I would do is just maybe keep everything in Italian just green – all my notes… And everything in Spanish in red perhaps, that’s specially useful if the two languages that you’re trying to learn are similar otherwise it’s going to be really easy to make a lot of confusion and that’s not good.
But if the two languages that you’re learning a really far apart let’s say Chinese and Italian, chances are you’re not really going to be really mixing them up so if your first language is English which, and it sounds like it is let’s say that you’re trying to learn Chinese and Spanish I’d recommend that you put a bit more effort first into Spanish just so that you can get a good basis, get some good progress, because it’s closer to English especially if those are the two first languages that you’re learning, and then focus a bit more on Chinese, although Chinese is of course more challenging for anglophones (for people whose first language is English) anyway.
Some polyglots think it’s a terrible idea to learn two languages at the same time, I personally don’t mind I’m guilty of it… I do it… I try to tackle a couple of languages at a time. Personally I think that there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you’re progressing enough in both of them.
I find it really nice to have that one main language you’re focusing on and then the secondary one then sometimes as you progress more in one of them you can actually switch and make the second one your “main one” so for example let’s say that I’m learning Russian and Japanese let’s say that the language that I’m putting most effort in right now is Russian let’s say that 70 percent of my time or 80 percent of the time I’m studying a language I’m studying Russian and the rest of the time I’m focusing on Japanese.
Let’s say that I made a lot of progress in Russian once I feel that I have progressed enough in Russian what I can do is essentially switch start putting more effort into Japanese and study Russian in the “background” I think that can be really successful. But the most important remember is to not get overwhelmed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed maybe just start focusing entirely on just one language at a time so you can progress more, then come back to trying to juggle both of them later. I hope this helps and good luck!
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Would you have any tips for someone who wants to learn a language but has a really busy schedule? I really want to learn French but it’s just it’s so hard for me because I work full time.
Gabriel: Well, I think you should move to France. I’m kidding… Well of course it could be awesome, however I’m just going to assume that it may not be a choice or an option. I think that this is something that you know it’s really important it’s a good question because of the fact that we’re all busy, we all have work, we all have our families… We all have things to do so how do we find time to learn a language? And I think that it boils down to building the right habits
I think it’s important to try to introduce little things in the the breaks that we have. You could use a language learning app when you’re in line for a coffee at the coffee shop or when you’re at a supermarket, and you can try to use all the breaks that you have to pick up your phone and try a language learning app, or have your flashcards ready in the morning, review them in the morning for 10 minutes when you wake up or before going to bed or something
along those lines.
One really important thing for when we’re really busy and we want to learn a language is that we should try to make things as easy as possible for ourselves so for example if you have an audio program in CDs it may be easier to just upload all your files into your phone (all the audio files) and then just have everything readily available so you can listen to them.
So making things really easy for yourself is going to really help. Because for example let’s say that you’re like “Oh, I forgot my language book in the car now I don’t want to go back to the car to go and get it to learn the language.”
So little things like that. This may sound silly but if you have everything readily available just right there for you it makes it easier to pick it up so you can learn the language, so you can study language I think that 5, 15 minutes every day can help. Whatever you can do!
Ideally you’re going to do more than 15 minutes a day but if you can’t, even if you can just, you know, pick up your flash cards or pick up your language book for 15 minutes a day or even less if you can’t really do more then it’s still okay.
Also, having passive exposure to the language also helps when we’re extremely busy so let’s say you’re at home and you’re exhausted and you’re having a little bit of a break maybe you can just leave the French TV in the background even if you’re still at a basic level but you’re getting some passive exposure and you’re learning a bit passively but it’s okay, you’re still learning a bit you’re being exposed to the language and that’s a good thing.
Of course that we want to also learn it actively you know, whatever, with whatever method you using a language textbook, you can be using a language learning app or a combination of a bunch of different things but in the end we don’t just need to do active exercises all the time passive exercises really help and then hopefully on the weekends as well if you got some time then what you can do is you know, try to spend a bit more time actively trying to learn the language.
One thing that I personally do is that because I drive a lot usually I have a lot of audio files that I just have playing in my car as I’m driving sometimes I’m just listening really passively to the content but sometimes it’s pretty good content that actually that I also have the text for. I study the text a bit at home then I just play it in the car as I’m driving that can be extremely helpful.
If you have the chance and you’re really busy and you drive a lot you can do that and perhaps you can also bring audio files for whenever you jog or you do a workout or whatever. If you build the right habits you’re going to progress more quickly and you’re going to keep going, you’re not going to give up, and you’re going to successfully learn French. So, good luck!
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In this quick video, I share a few thoughts regarding how to learn a language when we are extremely busy!
And coming to think of it, who isn’t busy nowadays? I think I personally don’t know any language learners with a lot of time in their hands… And the key to success in language learning is for us to stay motivated and be able to learn no matter how busy we are (although that can be difficult, of course)!
What are your thoughts? Feel free to post them on YouTube! 😉
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