The Importance of Creating a Firm Foundation in Language Study

This is the English translation of my article about the Language Study.
I believe that it can be interesting for all language learners.
This is the link to the English version, made by Ernie Sjogren. Thank you, Ernie!

Nice article! I’ll bear those points in mind as I attempt to learn Russian. I guess in one’s eagerness to make progress it can be tempting to rush ahead. Perhaps a good analogy might be people who take up running and start doing long distances too soon and end up injuring themselves. Anyhow, certainly food for thought…

I am also just starting in Russian. Although I certainly have not mastered the main 500 words, or the main 10 words for that matter, I have a few times imported a bit of difficult text (e.g. a few sentences at the beginning of a news article) and worked my way through it. I find this fun and motivating, especially knowing that I will soon be able to read this kind of stuff. I guess this could be a problem for people if they spend too much time on this really difficult stuff and find it discouraging when they cannot understand.

This advice appears to contradict what Steve Kaufmann advises, to continually search for interesting native content, and you will absorb the language through exposure, with common important constructs and vocabulary automatically being reinforced by their frequent repetition.

@dcbaok- As far as I understand, I don’t think this contradicts Steve’s advice as it is only speaking about the beginning stage and nailing down the basics before moving on. Steve doesn’t suggest jumping ahead too soon, although as soon as possible. He often recommends use of Teach Yourself or something similar to build up the necessary foundation to then be able to get into authentic content as soon as possible. The article here is just reminding us not to be in too great a hurry at the beginning, lest we miss necessary knowledge along the way.

I didn’t expect that my article attracts interest first of all from the English native speakers and not so big interest from the English learners even though I reckoned on it…
Of course, It doesn’t contradict to Steve’s or any other method of language studying.
I’m translating into Russian Steve’s book ’ The way of the Linguist’ and the most of his thoughts are very interesting and even useful for me like for many other language learners.
But I would like to pay your attention to the fact that before our dig, our rush into a new laqnguage we have to create this ‘basic island’ in the endless sea of the foreign language in order not to be overwhelmed by a flood of new information, not to drown.
Unfortunately, I saw so many people who had a hot desire for a new language, who found a lot of interesting materials and who after a while ‘burned out’ and gave up, because they had no base and all this materials that they eagerly added and added were like ‘a house on the sand’ without a firm base and could be collapsed every moment ruining all our desires…

 What you say makes sense evgueny40, but it does seem to contradict what Steve seems to advise and what he did with Czech. Just what exactly are the main 500 words? I do agree with you that most people starting out in a language are all over the place, like I was with no sense of what I was doing. It would be nice if there was something in German with the 500 most useful words and plenty example senses on ways to use them.

I’m trying to do it with:

  1. Deutsch von Anfang an, Schritt für Schritt, Erste Dialoge, Telefongespräche, Dein Wortschatz - in German
  2. Let’s go!, Step by step, My first dialogues, Phone conversations - in English
  3. РУССКИЙ С НУЛЯ(Russian from ‘zero’), ПЕРВЫЕ ШАГИ (First steps), Простые тексты, Начинаем говорить по -русски, Полезные диалоги, Грамматические модели, Телефонные разговоры - in Russian.
    My method is to automatize your primary, basic knowledge of a new language by giving the most useful 500-600 words and grammar models (through a number of examples) - and after that you can expand your horizon in a new language, enlarge your vocabulary in all fields of knowledge, in all spheres that you are intersted in.
    I believe it’s a clear method, isn’t it?

You can find different lists with basic vocabulary and the most frequent words in a language on the internet.
2 years ago I checked my beginner course “Ab jetzt lerne ich Deutsch! German now!” and it covered about 95% of the most frequent 1,000 words. If you study the beginner lessons here on LingQ I’m sure that you’ll definitely come across the most frequent words in the language.

    Viel Dank evgueny40 and Veral. Even though my avatar is beginner 2, there is such a wealth of material in beginner one I'm going to stay there a while. Almost all of the lessons I've been looking at lately are evgueny40s "Deutsch von Anfang an" and Verals courses, mainly "Ab jetzt lerne ich Deutsch". Some lessons in beginner one are very easy and some are kinda difficult, the level they give for the lesson doesn't mean much to me, as I've seen some beginner 1 lessons harder than intermediate one lessons. Sometimes Natives don't realize how fast their talking and its hard to process it, some are too fast and I find Irene 777 a little too slow, lol, but great I guess for a total beginner who likes that. I know this is asking too much but I actually wish there were exercises after the lesson to help these lessons sink in. As much as I like lingQ, I think a person needs to supplement it with a grammar book, like essential German grammar, which I'll probably get, as I'm the curious type and has questions after a lot of lessons. 

Thanks Veral and evgueny40 for all the hard word you’ve put into making lessons. What I normally do is go to the library and search for material in the under 10% new words, there almost always in beginner 1 and sometimes 2 but there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two at with the new words. I wonder if this is the right approach as it is rather random, I’m wonder if I should stick with one writer and move along, I don’t know. I try writing too, even though I cheat using Google translate I’m wondering if I should shop using it, I’m also wondering if I should try speaking to a native via skype, I know it will be embarrassing an awkward at first but sometimes I think one needs to jump in the water to get used to it.

I’ve just added the German translation of my article about ‘The importance of Creating a Firm Foundation in Language Study’. It’s called in German: “Warum ist es so wichtig eine gute Grundlage zu schaffen?”
The translation was made by Reinhard Krenn from Austria. THanks a lot, Reinhard!
Now you have three versions of my article: in Russian, in English and in German - all learners of these languages can compare the versions.
I consider this article to be quite important for all learners of different languages because the first stage of the language study is the most difficult and the most crucial for all our victory or defeat in the language acquisition.
And here ist the link to the German translation:

I think that diversity of opinions about language learning is a good thing. Evgueny has a wealth of experience as a teacher, and has contributed outstanding content to our library.

Nevertheless, in my language learning I do, in fact, take a somewhat different approach. I find it difficult to try to deliberately nail down the basic vocabulary or basic structures of a language. I find that these basic building blocks of the language only fall into place over time, after considerable exposure. The most common vocabulary will naturally occur in my exploration of the language. Besides, the vocabulary that I need will be determined by my interests. It is not obvious that a universal most useful 500 words list exists. People have different interests. Maintaining my interest in the subject matter is important to my language learning. I may find words related to history more useful than words related to food items I might buy in a store.

I find myself visiting and revisiting the same basic grammatical patterns and explanations through regular reference to grammar books, while I continue to explore content of interest, reading and listening. I find we need novelty as well as repetition.

Yet Evgueny’s point is correct. We do need a strong base in the most useful patterns of the language and some of the most useful vocabulary. I think we need a mix of both approaches. People can choose to learn in the way they find most comfortable.

One thing I have done for Romanian and which I would like to expand to other languages is the following. I wrote out about 150 simple phrases in English which covered many of the most common patterns. I paid to have these translated and recorded in Romanian. These can be found in the Romanian library at LingQ. I am happy to share these patterns with other members. It would be great if we could offer these patterns in a variety of languages. I would also encourage people to create their own patterns for different languages.

We are working on ways to facilitate this kind of exchange and mutual help between our members. This is something you can look forward to within the next week or 10 days, I hope.


@ steve

“We are working on ways to facilitate this kind of exchange and mutual help between our members. This is something you can look forward to within the next week or 10 days, I hope.”

I don’t really understand. What kind of exchange are you looking to facilitate?

1 Like

Stay tuned, Colin.

1 Like

@steve "I wrote out about 150 simple phrases in English which covered many of the most common patterns. " Hmm… I would be interested in this list if you’re open to sharing. And if you don’t mind asking, how much did you pay someone at eLance to translate these? And was a recording included? I was thinking about doing something like this for German but I’ve been very lazy

I second a request for this list.

I recorded the English version and put them in the library. One is for beginners and one is for intermediate learners.

Fernanda for Portuguese, and Silvia for Dutch also did some I know. Here, below, are a few Forum threads on the subject. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I think it is a great way for our community to create a group of basic phrases. If we also add explanations in the Notes, that could be even better.

As I have alluded to already, we are working on making it easier for members to help each other, and to ask each other for help, so stay tuned. Promoting an exchange of patterns would be one of the first things I would want to do once this is in place. Give us another week today to 10 days or so, (I hope).

I don’t know exactly how much money I spend on this eLance. I also had radio podcasts transcribed. I have been paying about $5-$10 an hour.