I would like to describe my current “busy-persons” learning method for Japanese. I call it the Word Web. Please let me know if this is similar to existing methods. It is pretty simple but effective for me.
I think it is quite conducive to LingQ, but could be applied in many learning situations, even just with paper and pencil.
First a few notes about my learning:
I spend about 60 to 90 minutes a day in study, mostly on the train on my smartphone using a well known free flashcard app.
Although I love LingQ, as it made me believe that I could learn something as an adult (it inspired me to refresh my French and Japanese to new heights), I did discover some personal pain points with which my method addresses.
LingQ Pain point 1:
Although I can see the benefits doing it, I quickly get bogged down and bored with flashcarding. Word targets seem too disjointed and disconnected from text as a whole.
LingQ Pain point 2:
I cannot always be patient with listening or reading long texts with only a sketchy grasp of the overall story or argument. Furthermore, it is sometimes difficult to find really interesting content. To be honest, I am not even that avid a reader in English. Reading for me in English or any language is mostly a tool for learning, usually not really a pleasure in itself, unlike music or a movie.
Word Web addresses these pain-points simultaneously by making the flashcarding a more interesting challenge, and by reducing the standard “text” to one sentence to be mastered. I do not have to fight my wandering mind. In addition, it engineers the incidental review of recent target words while looking at new words. Finally, the memories it creates are not only of words, but of how they mesh together in sentences.
First I generate about 100 or so vocabulary from just random browsing on the internet, LingQ or anywhere.
Then, using a dictionary, I make a flashcard for each word. On one side, the word, on the other side, I have the hint (definition), maybe some pronunciation notes, and as many example sentences as I can find (at least 3-4)
When i review, I review not only for the hint or meaning of the word, but for the sentences. That is, I must feel confident of the target word meaning AND that I can read each example sentence with a sense of easy understanding, as if they were being voiced by a native speaker in my imagination. If I fail in any respect, it goes into the “review soon” pile, IF I succeed, the “review later” pile. I will only review the latter when there are no more of the former left.
If there are words in the example sentences that I do not know, I create more flashcards for each one, with the same criteria: at least 3-4 example sentences for each word. In this way, the words branch out via sentences, to create a web.
The advantages of this method are that it treats the sentence as almost the equal to the word as the basic memory target. The sentences literally tie the words together. When you read the sentence that is an example for the target word, you may be inadvertently review other words that will be targets not only for meaning but for how they fit in grammatically. Also, for me, I “feel” more successful when I master sentences, rather than waiting for the elusive aha moment when everything just comes together.
Let me know what you think!