It’s the most important thing for a language student to acquire and make their own. Vocabulary! It should be learned in volume and then sort out the finer details grammar later. At least that’s the conclusion that I’m at. Mnemosyne is the tool I’ve been using for about a year now to further my spanish language study. It has been the best utility I’ve ever used. My vocabulary has literally exploded and I’m confident that I have greater than a 3000 word Spanish vocabulary. Every new Spanish word I run across goes into the database and I review it. Within a week or two I’ve really learned that word and any others entered around the same time. Sometimes I’ll slip and get two mixed up, but with software like mnemosyne I know eventually I will own the word.
To tell the truth I’ve even become a bit bored with my study of Spanish because there is not quite the challenge that there once was. For that reason I started review my German which has languished for 13 or more years now. In accord with my new ideas on language learning I’m making vocabulary my first concern. I’m skimming the old textbook of course to get an idea of grammar. I’m not going to let myself get bogged down in declension immediately though I’m simply going to focus on expanding my vocabulary enough to have a way to read and acquire more vocabulary and will learn declension as I pick up examples in my reading material.
My goals are admittedly different than with Spanish. There’s not much use for spoken German here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Most of my reading material or listening material will need to be online sources or at least purchased online and so I suspect my satisfaction with my progress will be limited to understanding what little I have at hand and basic communications.
Anyway, due to my search for German language resources, there will be some additions in coming days to my German Language section here. I have so many things that I ought to do for and with this site. Hopefully in coming months I will be making more time to develop this site a bit more fully.
In the last week I’ve also learned the Cyrillic alphabet. I don’t exactly recall why or when but I had run across a great guide to the cyrillic alphabet distinguishing the characters that translated well from English, the imposters, the greek characters and then the truly unique characters. It really hasn’t taken long to be able to make my way through wikipedia in Russian and at least find cognates to words I know, or sound out names of people that are written there in the cyrillic alphabet. Anyway…. I saw a primer on it and then downloaded a deck of cards for mnemosyne on it and am now fairly comfortable (if a bit slow) with sounding out things I find in cyrillic. That’s something I NEVER imagined I would really do. For some reason the different alphabet had always struck me as a big obstacle to learning Russian or any other language with a non latin alphabet. In reality it is much easier than I would have thought especially with the help of mnemosyne to review the characters that I’m fuzzier remembering.
I cannot say enough about finding at least 10 minutes a day to review your deck of flash cards with software like anki, supermemo or mnemosyne. It is the single most important language learning tool that has made the last year such a big one for my improved understanding! At times it has felt tedious to be basically a word collector, but thanks to that tedious work my reading is so much more enjoyable. Reading a Spanish language book is almost on par with reading an English language book as far as comprehension goes. There are still probably more unknown Spanish words, but I’m much better able to make educated, contextual (and common stem-related) guesses than I was previously. I can’t say enough for that daily 10-30 minutes!