Methods used to memorise a new language

Amatire   Fri Mar 03, 2006 12:33 pm GMT
How do you go about memorising words in a language you are learning?

What methods have you tried and found useful or more or less useful than others?

When listening to Calon Lan - a song in Welsh - on the radio, a little girl came up to her mother and asked "why are they singing about Afghanistan?"

Well she was baffled, until the girl sang the song in her own words - imagine a thick yorkshire accent:

Gallon lamb, a clown die only,
teck ash eww a lily dross (teck=take)
toys on't gallon lamb Afghani (on't=on the)
canny teeth and candyfloss

The original Welsh words were:

Calon lân yn llawn daioni
Tecach yw na'r lili dlos
Does ond calon lân all ganu
Canu'r dydd a chanu'r nos.

Well the kid's song was gibberish, but she memorised all the words - as they sounded to her at least - very quickly, because she associated them with words in her native language that she understood.

I've heard people using something similar to memorise words; imagining a picture of something that sounds like the foreign word in your own language and superimpose the actual meaning on the original picture so that the two are now associated in your mind. I would have thought that this kind of word association would work best when learning a language that has similarities to your own, so another Indo-European language for those whose mother tongue comes under that catagory already, because then the images and the actual meanings of a word are close or the same.

For example the Italian word Caldo = hot. So imagine someone SCALDING their hands under hot water. (bit vicious, but also a vivid mental picture).

Would it work as easily with languages that have nothing, or little in common? I mean how do you associate the Chinese 'Fang' with the English 'House'? A house with fangs? Perhaps that's not so difficult, but that's because the chinese sound is similar to an english word. What about something that has no English equivalent like, 'Hua Duo' = 'flower'?

Are there other methods for learning words/phrases that work better in widely differing languages?

What methods do you use?
Tremmert   Fri Mar 03, 2006 5:02 pm GMT
That's a cute story about the Welsh song :)

My personal opinion is that memory tricks can give you an initial boost, but the words you'll remember in the long term are the ones you read/hear/write/speak often. So if you want to remember a word, read/hear/write/speak it. Often!

Knowledge of how to use a word (in all grammatical forms) is vastly superior to memorising its base meaning.

But I do think that visualising a house and thinking 'fang' is better than trying to remember the words 'house' and 'fang' just as sounds. That way you're remembering the meaning (house) rather than the translation ('house').
Ben   Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:29 pm GMT
You mean like this?:

"In language learning there are two things you can't to without :

* Willingness to work : You have to want to learn the language, not just wish. It's no magic power of the will, just that you will have to stuy on your own for some months, and everything will rest in your hands. For example, a speaker of a romance language (french, italian, spanish, portuguese, romanian, ...) can learn another in less than 200 hours. Yet he has to work during these hours, and if he's weak-willed he will probably stop after 30 hours, then go back, then stop again and never finish.

* An intelligent method : Many people study a language for years and cannot order a pizza in this language. If you think I exaggerate, ask someone who studied a language at school. So the second most important thing is to work intelligently, so you don't lose neither time nor energy. It' written nowhere that language learning must be painful, but it can be if you study stupidly."

Personally, I've found probably the most effective way of learning vocabulary in a foreign language is to use flashcards. Also, lableling everything in the language helps. Go to the fridge, and you can't help reading all the labels. You then associate the object directly with the word. I think this is one of the biggest problems in learning a foreign language - the act of actually translating it to the language. This is why people have difficulties in speaking fast. If you want to say 'fridge' in Irish for example, and you're not a native speaker, you first think of the object, and it's name in your native English, and THEN you try and remember what it is in Irish.

Ghuji_Ghujo   Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:18 pm GMT
1. Repeat words
2. Try to write and talk, take care about grammar
3. Talk to natives and just order the fucking pizza ;)
JR   Tue Mar 21, 2006 10:39 pm GMT
If the language you are trying to learn is similar to the one you already speak, try to find ways (or rules) in which the foreign word is related to the word you know.

For example, I'm a native Spanish speaker, and to try to learn French, I tried to find ways in which the two are connected. Like...
(Sp) Pluma = (Fr) Plume. (Sp) Reina = (Fr) Reine.
Wow... So the "A" endings in Spanish are turned to "E" in French.
(Fr) Espagne = (Sp) España, (Fr) Lasagne = (Sp) Lasaña.
So... GN = Ñ in Spanish... Wow
(En) Heretic = (Fr) Heretique, (En) Fantastic = (Fr.) Fantastique
And "IC" endings in English are "IQUE" in French.

Once you get these rules, you will be able to understand the other language much better, and be able to write it as well. There's always exceptions to rules such as those, but you'll find those along the way.

Hope that helps ;-)
a.p.a.m.   Tue Jul 11, 2006 6:57 pm GMT
If you are learning a Romance Language, or a Germanic Language, you can usually use word association in English to determine what type of word you are trying to memorize. Romance Language: mar, mare, mer-English Language: marine, marina, marinate, maritime. Germanic: haus-English: house. Germanic: hund- English: hound or dog.
LAA   Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:10 pm GMT
English is like the common mediator between Romance and Germanic languages. It's sort of a middle ground in terms of vocabulary, and that is very helpful.

I would suggest buying the Pimsleur Language Program. It is similar to the method of immersion. You learn by listening and repeating, the same way a young child learns his native tounge. It works very well, and it's designed to reinforce your memory, and it was scientifically formulated for the way the human brain learns language. It's very interesting stuff. They come in CDs, in thirty minute lessons per day. You practice conversing in the foriegn language, while learning new words and grammar as you go.

I used Pimsleur to learn Spanish, along with talking to my family members who only speak Spanish.

If I get enough money one day, I'm going to invest in the Pimsleur French lessons. For now, I want to focus on improving my Spanish vocabulary.
Tiffany   Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:37 pm GMT
I don't know if this will help anyone, but this is what I do:

Almost every sentence I say in English, I try to translate into Italian. I have the added benefit of quick access to a native speaker so that I can check how correct my sentence was, but after awhile, certain phrases just start coming to you naturally. I, of course, started with short phrases, such as "Let's go" and built up from there.

I really advise trying to find someone to talk to, especially in real time. I supplement my conversations with music and books. With books especially, I usually begin by reading a book I've read before in English - so I can try making sense of the sentences together. I also try to read things like gossip magazines so I can get a hang of any Italian slang. Music I try to listen to intently. The chorus always helps because they repeat it so often. And of coruse you can replay a song and find the lyrics easily. When I learn a new word or phrase, I try to use it at least a few times during the day.

What this comes down is that I really advocate interactive learning. I know many of you have had success with Pimsleur, Italian learning books and whatnot, but for me, I need the motivation and confidence speaking in real time gets me. This goes beyond just memorizing words, but I thought it was on topic.
james   Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:54 am GMT
<I mean how do you associate the Chinese 'Fang' with the English 'House'? A house with fangs? Perhaps that's not so difficult, but that's because the chinese sound is similar to an english word. What about something that has no English equivalent like, 'Hua Duo' = 'flower'? >

I don’t know if your windows software could show Chinese characters correctly .房 (Fang)is a combination of two parts: the up part is 户(hu),which means ‘a family’;the down part is 方(Fang),which represents the pronunciation of the character.

花(Hua) is a combination of two parts too: the up part means,it is a kind of plant ;the down part is 化(Hua),which represents the pronunciation of the character。

朵(Duo)is a combination of two parts : the down part is 木(mu),which means,it is a kind of plant ;the up part has the shape of a flower.the whole character is more like a picture :a bud is growing on a flower branch.
Geoff_One   Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:16 am GMT
<< I mean how do you associate the Chinese 'Fang' with the English 'House'? A house with fangs? >>

Think of, or picture Count Dracula's house. Count Dracula, the vampire,
has fangs.
Pauline   Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:50 am GMT
<< What methods do you use? >>

for me, to make word associations would be bad because i would fidn this confusing.

my method is first, make a decision : ''I will rememebr immediately every word''.

then, when there's a word you must learn, disocver what it mean, how to spell and pronounce it. then write down the word or see it in your mind (written). for a minute think about this word, put it in some sentences in the language you learn. say this word to you.

for me this is a succesful method, and i've noticed that i never forget after i have learned a new word.
Guest   Wed Oct 04, 2006 11:33 am GMT
<< << I mean how do you associate the Chinese 'Fang' with the English 'House'? A house with fangs? >>

Think of, or picture Count Dracula's house. Count Dracula, the vampire,
has fangs. >>

How can you know?
Aldvm   Fri Oct 06, 2006 6:00 pm GMT
It is NEVER too late to learn a language- actually, you just have to be VERY dedicated and study a lot.

Start taking classes now and continue in college...also, start by reading, maybe even childrens books in that particular language, and the Newspaper...listening to music...watching tv. You need to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible.
André Mutenta   Fri Sep 14, 2007 1:25 pm GMT
After reading the methods ued to memorise a new language I'm very interested to your explanation by the fact that my work is dealing with learning strategies to acquire a new language the case of Ndembu and English. Ndembu is one of the language spoken in Katanga specialy in North.However what I nead to anderstand is Pimsleur language programme. Could you please explain me? In addition is there a specific method can we use when learning a new a language?