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Advanced Learners’ Literature Drill (“Advanced Drill”) with the GoldList Method.

I have mentioned this technique for advanced learners in earlier articles on Huliganov.TV, but today I wanted to make one article explaining who the Literature Drill is for and how exactly to do it, and incorporate it into a full learning programme stretching from complete beginner to near native.

Who should do the Advanced Drill?

In a sense this is about the most advanced drill that can be done, it is already intended for people who have completed all the grammar that is currently used and who know the top 5,000 frequency words – they have probably studied already exhaustively such excellent learners’ material as the “Using French” series from Cambridge University press, the Mot-a-Mot series or some similar, the Essential Grammars and the Frequency Dictionary series that are produced by Routledge. These in turn sit on top of having studied through a goof introductory course or two like the ones provided by Teach Yourself, Colloquial series and Living Language – some swear by Assimil and also there is a very good resource made by my friend Mike Campbell called the Glossika series. Each of these resources can be placed into your Goldlist. Prior to Goldlisting I tend to recommend front-loading audio only (though that’s not necessary with the Glossika method as there is audio for all of it and audio is part of the method intrinsic to Glossika) and so for most learners I would recommend going through whatever is available on Pimsleur before they even start the Goldlist phase and prior to Pimsleur for the few languages in which they are available, I recommend taking the very first steps using Michel Thomas method or Paul Noble for the three languages he does. Since all of these audio-only courses are not about writing this is all pre-goldlist stuff but helps to have an “inner voice” and a knowledge of how to pronounce the language which would be missing if we went straight into goldlisting a language form grammar books which we didn’t know how to pronounce. For classical languages that’s all there really is, I suppose – you can’t do audio only before Goldlisting Wright’s Gothic Grammar.

So I basically just went backwards along a list of things which a learner would be advise to do. If you don’t recognise the steps I just mentioned and can’t say that you know the sort of examples I gave for French in whichever language you are studying then probably the Advanced Learners’ Literature Drill I am going to talk about in a moment isn’t for you. Not yet, anyway. You’ll get there. Carry on doing the kind of steps for now that I’ve outlined in reverse order above.

However, if you are someone who has basically run out of learning material and you don’t know what to do next short of goldlisting a 20,000 word dictionary (which has its merits, too, quite a few people have done it to good effect but is a task not to be undertaken lightly). After all, most learning material is for beginners, there is some for intermediate learners and some for what they call advanced learners (usually the choice gets smaller the further you get) but for anything beyond the most popular languages you are going to encounter a dearth of learning material at the right level and instead you are going to have to “go live” with your languages, reading the same classics of the language which the natives did in school which will strengthen your cultural link with them and greatly enhance and deepen your feel of the language.The easy way in to using literature is graded readers. Read the rest of this entry

The promised activation article…

Today since I finally have half an hour of free time in peace and quiet, I would like to come back to the very good question posed by Fintan (I won’t say his surname as that would identify him, I’ll leave you guessing which Fintan it is) several weeks ago already (sorry about that), and in particular the second part of his question where he raises the issue of activation and asks what I think about things like “full circle method” by Luca Lampariello.

The first thing I want to say, is far be it from me to detract from what any accomplished polyglot, be that Signor Lampariello (who is a capital fellow on top of being a great polyglot) or any other of the well-known polyglots who do follow some form of activation. I make the assumption that these people know what they’re doing, and that they do what they enjoy and what works for them.

If continually activating during the process of language learning is something that keeps you motivated in which you enjoy doing, then it’s valuable. Anything which keeps you going in the marathon of learning languages, is your friend. Anything which you find demotivating which detracts from the pleasure of doing it, is not your friend.

And in the above I said the most important thing that needed to be said. Having said that, I will now go on to explain the core of my own approach and philosophy with regard to the question of activating language knowledge in the whole course of study. Read the rest of this entry

The Four Basic Linguistic Functions Analysed


Today, I am just uploading this for your perusal. I will start commenting on it and explaining it and drawing conclusions from it during the week, and hopefully what I will have to say will be quite useful for language learners. For today however I just wanted to let you take a look at the picture and you are welcome to give your initial thoughts in the comments.

There is actually so much that I could have to say from this simple diagram that I don’t worry that discussion before I have started to show what it is all about could “steal my thunder”. On the contrary it would be interesting to see what interpretations people would place on the diagram as it stands.

Questions from Kahnkanter about activation and Hangeul.

The word Han-geul in Han-geul. Hangeul is read...

This is how you write Hangeul in Hangeul!

As mentioned in the last post, I also received a couple of questions from another YouTube viewer this week, and this time it was channel name Kahnkanter.

Hi David,

Thank you for sharing your method. I would like more information on two things:

1. Activation. How does that happen? You have mentioned that it takes a maximum of 3 days, and uses the passive long term storage of vocabulary in that language. But how does one ‘activate’? By simply being surrounded by that language?!


When I talk about activation taking three days, I am referring to the case where someone learns a language in a country where it isn’t spoken, and has the problem that not everything they learn is on the tip of their tongue. I explain to people that actually that is not a problem. As long as they know something passively (ie, they immediately remember and know the meaning of the foreign word when it is presented to them, would notice if it were misspelled or mispronounced or used in a wrong context, etc) then the fact that they are having trouble at five minutes notice to be able to put themselves into the language they learn well enough to have their whole vocabulary at the tip of their tongue is normal, is part of the economy of the mind and is there to actually enable us to learn and know more without having a consiousness overload.

People talk about the back of one’s mind and the front of one’s mind, but those are old ways of talking about it and don’t necessarily equate at all to where the physical synapses are. I never worried too much about left brain, right brain frontal lobes, medulla oblongata or all of that as I never had, and still don’t have, any plans to perform brain surgery on anyone. So when I talk about these things I am talking about them in a push-button-user’s way. Don’t even ask me what the physical mechanisms are.

I know it takes three days because I have travelled a lot and spoken to many other linguists who say the same thing. It just means being in an environment where you can sense that you need all that knowledge and it all comes to the fore pretty quickly. Three days probably evolved as you can get by in extremis even without water for three days, but after that things start to get rather nasty. You need all your linguistic mental resources to be completely focussed on a given situation within three days, but you don’t always need them immediately. 

Now I think I understand right that you are living in Korea but you are not Korean. You want to learn Korean and you are either in Korea now or about to go there. In this case you will not experience becoming activated until you leave Korea for more than three days and become unused to learning the language. Especially if you have to think into using a different language that also is foreign to you in that period. When that happens, wait till you go back and see how at first you have to think for a bit before finding some words, but you don’t have that any more after three days, even for words which didn’t come up in conversation or your reading in those first three days back.

In short, if you learn in the country, you won’t experience the strange but fascinating “miracle” of three day activation that people learning at their desks away from the country can get. You’ll be activising as you go because you live there. You’ll just get a mini version of that if you leave and don’t speak Korean for some weeks before going back.

2. I am hoping to do this for the Korean language. It has its own script and so I wanted to know whether I put a word in its own characters (most of which I can read) plus its romanization on the one line, then continue for another 24?



I think that as far as using the Hangeul / Hangul is concerned, it’s not an unduly difficult thing and so I recommend starting to rely on it and not romanise as soon as you can manage it. I would not necessary be saying the same if you wanted to learn Korean kanji, but since not every Korean even knows Korean kanji (it drifts on and off the syllabus in the education system there, sometimes it skips generations, like an embarrassing mental illness)

In the time before using the Goldlist I would have just played about with Hangeul by writing out all the ways they transliterate Western personal names and place names, then go on to recognising, (if you want to be ultra rational, in population order) all the names of cities as they look in hangul. This would be like a pre-Goldlist just getting used to the script, and enjoying its uniqueness, cleverness and exotic feel.

Then for the Goldlist proper I would put everything from the first thousand words in Hangeul and romanisation in the head list, but only use the hangul in the D1 distillation unless there are any you didn’t remember in which case you could keep those Romanisations on the line by way of exception. That’s what I would do.

Hope this helps, and please let us know.

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