Learning vocabulary is a very important part of learning any language. The more words you know, the more you will be able to understand what you hear and read; and the better you will be able to say what you want to when speaking or writing.
So many videos on YouTube and articles on Internet with catchy names:”100 words a day…tips and tricks how to learn 200 words a day” that it stats to sound absolutely real. To begin, let’s look at what we mean by this expression to learn words.
If for you to learn words means just knowing the translation of a word in your own language then mindlessly memorizing 100 words a day will be a feasible task. But the benefits of such a study will be insignificant and short-lived. After all, if we focus on the number of words learned and not on the depth of their understanding, new words will never pass from short-term memory to long-term.
New words can be considered learned if:
- You know how to pronounce them correctly (stress and all sounds);
- You know how write them;
- You understand its meaning (not just knowing how to translate it);
- You understand what part of speech it is (noun, verb, adverb, adjective);
- You know how it collocates (what other words are often used with it);
- You can use this words to build sentences.
Native speakers learn these things about words by hearing them and reading them again and again. This is the best way for you to learn them, too.
However, you will need to use other methods as well:
- Write the words in a notebook (with their translations or definitions);
- Say the words many times (if you have an electronic dictionary you can hear how the word is pronounced);
- Make associations (in pictures or with other words);
- Use the words in your own speaking or writing;
- Learn words from context.
Many students put a tick or cross in their dictionary next to every word they look up. The next time they turn to a page with a marked word, they quickly check to see if they remember the meaning of that word.
In all of the above ways, you are doing something with the words. It’s usually not enough to just read through a list of words with their definitions or translations and try to remember them. Way better is to try and learn the word in a typical combination with other words. Often it is easier to remember, but you are also learning some very important information on how the word is used.
If you yourself choose the words that you need to memorise, you should consider that, in any spoken human language, there are thousands and thousands of words that you could potentially learn.
In Russian language, there are thousands and thousands of words that you could potentially learn. With so many words, should you worry about having to learn them all? Of course not!
Every speaker of a language has both an active and passive mental lexicon that is unique to him or her. Though any two speakers of a language might share a majority of active vocabulary in common, it is likely that each individual knows several thousands of words (or more) that the other does not.
The active vocabulary of a farmer is very different from the active vocabulary of a car mechanic. The passive vocabulary of an Olympic athlete could be completely different from that of a rocket scientist. Even if all of these people speak the same language.
In general, native speakers acquire vocabulary that meets (at minimum) one of two key characteristics:
- High relevance– Words that are likely to be used often in daily life, by both the individual native speaker and the native speakers around him.
- High interest – Words that are connected to the individual’s passions, desires, and personal interests.
What is relevant and interesting to one person is not necessarily what will be relevant and interesting to the next. This is why speakers of different languages can have large differences in their individual vocabularies.
As a language learner, you should specifically aim to learn only the words that are the most relevant and most interesting to you, personally.
To put this in a way that most learners will relate to:
If a beginner’s language textbook has an entire chapter dedicated to learning the names of zoo animals, but you personally have no desire or intention to ever discuss zoo animals in your target language, you do not have to learn those words.
Instead, find something that will teach you words that you are interested in. Words that have to do with your life, and your experiences.
In the same way, you don’t have to strive to understand every word of a text, a video, a song, or a conversation, if you don’t ever intend to pursue that topic again. Over the course of your language learning, there will be lots of words you only ever hear once, and will never encounter ever again.
Your goal should be to be as comfortable and confident as you can be in the situations that you’re likely to find yourself in. You don’t need to be a walking dictionary or phrasebook. Learn the words that you care about, and the words that you will use. It’s that simple.
To summarize, it is your personal business to chase the number of words or study the word in detail, bringing your knowledge to perfection, the main thing is to enjoy the learning process, you can enjoy learning Russian language with me at: http://russianwitholga.com