For Tom and other guys:"Frequency-based wordlists"

Ameer   Thursday, March 11, 2004, 19:38 GMT
Frequency-based wordlists can help you expand your English vocabulary by telling you which word you should try to learn. These lists contain the words that are very common in English, but that you are unlikely to discover in a random or natural manner. Learning your L1 (first language), you had lots of time at your disposal, to discover all of the common words of your language and to learn them without trying. But in a second language there is simply not enough time for this to occur. Why? Because many common words and phrases are nonetheless not all that common, occurring only a few times per million words of natural text. How many million words of English are you likely to read this year? Moreover, several encounters with each word (probably about ten) are needed for stable learning to occur.
Why would you want to know all or most of the highest frequency words of English? For the simple reason that English, like any other language, has the habit of recycling a relatively small number of words over and over again, and if you know these words then your reading power can be enhanced dramatically for a relatively modest learning investment.

What are your opinion guys about "Frequency-based wordlists"? For example: the 2,000 commonest words in English, 2000th to 5000th commonest words in English and the 572 words of academic English. Can it be faster to learn English by putting these words in a supermemo collection? Or you prefer the natural way by picking up the new words from various contexts? I want to hear your opinion, please.
Pentatonic   Thursday, March 11, 2004, 21:45 GMT
You know what Tom is going to say or else you haven't read this site much :) Also, it seems that you already know the most common words judging by your post.

I tried something similar by getting the 10K most common German words. In that case about half the words couldn't be found in my dictionary because they were variations of another word; like different conjugations of verbs, or plurals of words.

It makes sense that learning the most common words inside and out would be a very good thing. On the other hand, those are the words you are likely to pick up first when studying sentences and they will be in context which should make them easier to remember.
Ameer   Friday, March 12, 2004, 02:15 GMT
Where can I find another discussions on this subject at this forum?
Tom   Friday, March 12, 2004, 23:53 GMT
Sure, learn vocab lists, whatever suits you. Just remember to focus on SENTENCES, not DEFINITIONS.

Personally, I'm not motivated enough to learn languages this way; I need an interesting text to read. Seeing a word in a text automatically motivates me to learn it -- the word becomes relevant to my life.
Tom   Saturday, March 13, 2004, 11:57 GMT
For other discussions, try the search engine (upper right corner of every page).