Vocabulary acquisition gets easier after some thousands?

I don’t know if I’m imagining this but I’m finding vocabulary acquisition getting easier. Before I was having to beat it into my brain and it took tons of tries. Now at 5,000 some according to anki (and 11,000 some according to LingQ), I’m finding it’s getting way easier.

If this is a real effect and I’m not imagining it I wonder if your brain gets “used to” the sounds/syllables etc and it becomes easier to hang onto them. Dunno, But whatever it is, awesome. I feel like I’m within a couple months grasp of the grail finally…

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I believe it’s a real effect. I experienced it starting probably around the 5-7,000 known Lingq range. Maybe earlier. In some cases you’re just seeing variations of words you’ve encountered before, but I think meanings of words begin to get easier to deduce as well, either from the context, or the root of the word is similar to a word you know.

Also, I think in the beginning you’re kind of hopping from word to word and not really “getting” the sentence as a whole as you try to gather meaning from the individual words. Once you know more words you are starting to grasp the sentences as a whole entity and words you may see frequently together help to reinforce words you’re learning and words you already know. i.e. it’s a lot easier to recognize the words within phrases and groups of words than it is from the word alone. There are MANY words I wouldn’t be able to give the meaning of the word in isolation, but I’m pretty sure within the context of the sentence or phrase the words meaning pops right out again.

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Yes, I think there are many different factors. The one you mentioned about the whole sentence is indeed quite clear to me with German. At the beginning I wasn’t able to grasp the entire sentence, now that I’m able to focus on longer sentences I can start understanding prefixes and other things.

It’s a natural process, our brain can’t focus on too many things at the same time. The good thing is to leave our brain do the work, it’ll make it.

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Yes there is absolutely a compounding effect of the more you learn, the easier it is to learn more. I think Steve says in some of the videos he tries to get a “toe hold” in the language and build from there.

I think of it now like a sheet of ice blocking your way path and on the other side is comprehension. Well each word you learn is like melting a minuscule hole in the ice. Those holes are small, but they increase the total surface area of ice and as they grow it gets easier and easier to melt more of the ice.

Eventually it gets to a point that the challenge becomes trying to actually melt the remaining ice instead of simply ignoring it, because the way is no longer blocked.

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If I told you my barfugle is on the fritz, you’d ask me what the heck is a barfugle. I’d tell you, and you’d probably remember it because you’re not struggling at all with the rest of the English. You gradually build towards that type of capability with your target language, it seems to me.

If you’re talking about your experience with Russian, I know that you also start to internalize all those prefixes, making it easier to make sense of new words which use them. It also seems to me that Russian uses native roots more consistently, making it easier to recognize many words. If you know enough Russian it’s easy to recognize the roots of противоречить, for example, whereas you won’t with English “contradict” unless you know some Latin or a closely related romance language. I can’t say from experience, but I’d expect this to be the same for many languages that are not as much a mongrel as is English.

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Makes sense. Thanks.

LOL. Good analogy. Thanks.

I think you might be right. I’ve noticed I’m able to pick some words out of context, I have to guess but I’m right half of the time. Thanks.

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Yeah having an idea what prefixes mean helps a lot definitely.

I would say as well that the more words you know the more you will be able to read in a shorter time span. It gets easier to collate more words as you expand vocabulary and therefore the word count should exponentially increase

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It’s literally Krashen’s comprenhensible input hypothesis in action - the more words you know, the more input becomes comprehensible, the more acquisition takes place. It’s a lot harder to ‘acquire’ new words when there’s a new one in every sentence; according to the hypothesis, this is because the sentences aren’t comprehensible enough for optimal learning (acquisition) to take place. Makes sense.

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Yes being able to guess accurately from context in sentences or “scenes on TV” is 100% working.
What is also interesting, however, is just learning isolated words is also getting far easier. Before I struggled even to hold the sounds in my head.
But yeah I guess thinking about it, I’m able to decompose individual words into components and guess their meaning also. Especially words with “ni” or “bis” at the front - these are often opposite words of words I already know.

it’s a real effect. your brain is combining information that it has learned and allows for new words to require less memory. now instead of remembering separate letters, you’re remembering separate syllables (due to “chunking”). this idea then extends to phrases where you’re remembering separate words (that you already know) instead of separate syllables.

these improvements have a huge impact on listening comprehension as well. it was said by TraceyG a while ago that a big part of listening comprehension is auditory memory (in addition to actually knowing the word and hearing the word properly). if you can remember the sounds of several words spoken in sequence then this helps listening comprehension tremendously because you’re not requiring yourself to quickly “translate/interpret” each word in real time. Sometimes you can let the meaning come to you after the entire sentence/phrase was spoken. I notice this happening a lot more with me as my listening comprehension improves.

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Yes! I can remember an entire phrase now even if I don’t know all of the words. The human brain is amazing.

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That is how Comprehensible Input works. With enough reading and listening, your subconscious mind acquires language. It’s magic.

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it definitely feels like magic. Languages are complex codes and then we can magically learn to understand them by sound at crazy fast rates. Still to this day it boggles my mind.

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Right? I was having a conversation with another language learner the other week and speculating that we could use e.g. Japanese Kanji for English. Or whatever else we wanted and that the symbols are just arbitrary. Yeah. Boggles the mind.