A question on the Goldlist Method


Français : A small list of common Louisiana Fr...

Français : A small list of common Louisiana French words different from normative French. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nice to see there are still all the time more and more people discovering the method online and finding out about it. One viewer asked me today:

Hello, in the last few days I’ve spent a few hours watching Your videos about the Goldlist Method. They have answered most of my questions, but one. Which is; as You’ve said, it is not a language course, or language learning method, but a way of learning vocabulary, so to learn a language the student also needs a book about the language. But how to use the course, if I’m using the Goldlist method? I mean, to make sure that the words I’ve learnt, I remember with the long term memory, I should not have contact with them for at least two weeks, but I would have if I were to use the course. Should I actually use the course (the way it’s meant to be used) after I learn all/most of the vocabulary contained in it? That would mean spending quite a few months learning the vocabulary, and not being able to really say anything in the target language. Or should I read enough about the target language’s grammar before? Though, that would mean spending some time learning the grammar, without knowing too much vocabulary to practice it with.

When I choose a language course, I try and find one that has vocabulary given in each lesson (as well as an index at the back, and graded grammatical explanations in each lesson. So I copy over the voicabulary items as single line items, and I copy over the grammatical paradigms as well as the explanations in summarised form as line items, just like noting things out of the book. I don’t need to write out all the dialogues and I don’t then usually need to do the exercises.

The fact that common words will inevitably be met again while I’m working further on the course is not an issue. These are the words which are so common of course you are going to learn them if you learn also the uncommon words, but in fact you shouldn’t panic unduly about seeing the words again, you just shouldn’t revise them again, but press on forward.

Even if you end up writing a word or grammar point more than once because you forgot you met it already, and only discover this on a later distillation, it’s really no big deal. Goldlist is quite a long project even though it’s probably the quickest way to learn in terms of total time spent, and these small inaccuracies will all come out in the wash.

Hope that helps.

About David J. James

53 year old accountant who loves languages, literature, history, religion, politics, internet, vlogging and blogging and lively written discussion. Conservative Christian, married to an angel, we have three kids, and live in Warsaw, Poland. I can help you with company set-up, bookkeeping, payroll, tax, audit and due diligence all over Poland and the region.

Posted on 24/09/2012, in Answers to your questions, Gold List Methodology, Languages and Linguistics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Montmorency

    Dear Viktor / Davey,

    Some random thoughts/points:-

    1. Thank you for your reply (in another thread) regarding writing.

    2. It’s for the long-term: indeed. I’ve only really just started and I’m not expecting to see “results” for at least 6 months or more. In fact, starting slow has its advantages. I’d misunderstood an aspect of the numbering which I only realised on reading some of the comments and your replies to them in various articles. At this stage for me, easy to correct. I think the words are more important than the numbers of course, but if I’m going to try this method, I might as well do it correctly.

    3. As an old time computer bod, used to number systems (e.g. computer memory addressing) starting at zero, I think of your 25-word headlists as “distillation zero” or D0, and label them accordingly. 🙂

    4. While I don’t disagree with the method – I am sure it works if you let it work for you and don’t try to force it – I do wonder about your use of the term “short-term memory”. From all the articles I’ve read, modern memory researchers appear to believe that what they call “short-term memory” only lasts about 30 seconds.

    They do not appear to differentiate between memories that last only about 2 weeks, and those that last longer, i.e. long-term.

    Common sense would seem to suggest that there is such a thing as “medium term memory”, which would cover timescales like a couple of weeks, and “immediate memory”, like remembering a phone number long enough to dial it, but not necessarily longer.

    5. I know you are familiar with HTLAL. Have you ever looked at Iversen’s Word List method? It is very simple, and paper based, and I believe has some things in common with GL, although also some differences. In fact, I adapted it to make use of hardback notebooks before learning about GL, and moving to GL was natural for me. I haven’t abandoned WL, but I don’t use them for the same words.

    With best wishes,
    Montmorency / Mike

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