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
Personally I think flashcards are a reasonable system but they’re not an ideal system. In fact you can get there with less time involved by using the Goldlist method. Flashcards still involve repetition of things you really already know, which is not efficient. Also you can only learn what is in the pack, whereas with Goldlist you learn any material you like the look of. In addition learning off the phone while travelling depletes your battery and you cannot do it in a sunny park as you cannot see the screen. Having a small writing book is a better way and turns out more ergonomic than trying to do every single part of life through computer screens and telephones.
Flashcard systems like Anki and Supermemo are built on the work of Ebbinghaus, the father of the area of psychology that looks at memory, in fact they reflect Ebbinghaus’findings even more closely than my system, which is only an approximation, but they still don’t eliminate waste.
- Anki vs. SuperMemo (thewayoftheronin.wordpress.com)
- Review Anki Flashcards (howtoedtech.wordpress.com)
- The Genius of SRS (gengoblog.wordpress.com)
One of the followers of the video content on YouTube, Dennis, wrote asking about the question of aspects. I answered as I could and also as you will see got his permission to share the conversation so that more language learners would be able to take advantage of the topic.
Conversation started Thursday
Thank you so much of the add. I’m honored!
I’m a very big fan of your youtube videos concerning the Russian language. I use them in addition of my Russian language course and I ust say that they give me a headstart of the rest. So they really help!
I was wondering however if you could tell me which video talks about the time aspect ( поличать vs поличить) if you know what I mean with that. We talked about it yesterday in class and most people (including myself) find it very difficult.
I hope you can help me out with this one.
Thank you so much in advance!
Dennis Meurders Read the rest of this entry
In various places I have heard people comparing the Goldlist to flash cards and saying that for them, flash cards are preferable.
I am not saying that flash cards are all wrong, certainly you can build yourself a manual SRS with paper flash cards. However, unike the Gold list they do give people the temptation to look at words they really memorised on the first day far too many times and this they create time wasting and drag on the learning process.
Even in the course of making the flash cards, if you make them yourselves, which is a job like setting up your headlist, you are making cards, and using cardboard on words, and 30% of them you memorised the first time you wrote them. So that’s a waste of paper for a start.
But the biggest negative for flash cards was brought home to me by Mike Lin on the comments on this blog on the Goldlist Method page – he says he prefers the compactness of the Goldlist to fumbling with a high pile of flash cards. That’s what got me thinking. I had exactly that problem in University trying to make enough cards to manipulate the vocab I was trying to learn.
Im Goldlist, one piece of paper has 25 words going through various stages of distillation. A single notebook just 2 cm thick can contain a headlist of 5,000 words going through the system. Let’s consider how thick a flashcard system would be that had 5000 words in it – each piece of card is about double the thickness of a page of writing paper in a book, so if a number of words written 25 per page half as thick is 2 cm deep, the pile of flash cards doing the same would be about a metre high! A 15,000 word challenge containing three bronze books and a silver book needs 8cm of shelf space, whereas flash cards would need 3 metres! You wouldn’t fit it in most rooms, you’d have to lay it on its side. Which is just as well, because of it fell over or got blown by the wind the time you’d need just putting it back together again would be another big waste. Along with the money spent on buying all that card.
I understand about the need to replenish the carbon sink, so maybe I shouldn’t be so discouraging to these flash card fans, but really – if you intend to do a big language learning project then just do the maths. Linguists who can count too will almost certainly agree that the goldlist is a far more efficient and manageable manual system than flash cards. If you just want to learn 500, then it’s not such a big deal, but still you’ll get there in less total time applied with the Goldlist method.
- Math Practice Flashcards for Android Phones (freetech4teachers.com)
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I am only now coming to answer a query that has been waiting for eight weeks, as things are so busy at work. The following letter came to me on YouTube on 2nd May from Mr K.M.
Hello sir, (Apologies, I truly don’t know how I should address you (Mr. Huliganov, Uncle Davey) anyway, I must firstly say that I greatly admire you as a person and am so happy that I discovered you. Quite a while ago, you were nice enough to translate a video in Russian for me (just a note for later: I’m not learning Russian) which I greatly appreciated.
Now I come to you seeking more serious help with something. Language learning with the Goldlist system. The problems I’m having with getting started with the Goldlist system are directly related to organizational matters. Now, just what do I mean by that? Well, I feel that it might be prudent to learn words through variety but with some type of organization (nouns, verbs, prepositions…) Is this even necessary? I’m sorry if I haven’t seen a video or read an article or blog about what I’m asking. Do you think I should just go through my dictionary to pick words and leave it at that? Overall, how should I easily select and organize words? I’m dead serious about learning with the Goldlist system, it’s just those first few steps that are the hardest. Getting started. Really getting into it. I sincerely thank you for your time.
I then sent this gentleman an email as follows:
Perhaps you could tell me what languages you know, what you are learning and what your objectives and targets for this language are. Then also some words on what your materials are that you have chosen in order to learn it. That way, I’ll be able to explain how to get the most from my memory method in those circumstances.
The response from 4th May was as follows:
Well, I am a fluent English speaker, and I’m learning Deutsch. Just for the sake of telling you more about myself as as a person, as you and I most definitely share a love for languages (me on a much less professional and scholarly level than you however 🙂 ), I have learned a fair amount about other languages (what group which language belongs to, the overall sound of it as a language, as well as multiple aspects of the grammar etc…) But anyways, I am most serious about learning Deutsch. My family is from Deutschland, and most of my family still lives there, so I’ve been going my whole life to visit family etc. After much time and thought, I am now seriously considering moving to Deutschland.
You may now be wondering, why don’t I already know Deutsch? Well the reasons are simple, My father has traveled quite frequently throughout my childhood for work, allowing less time for him to teach me, and my mother comes from a Scottish family. Luckily, my father travels less now, which gives he and I more time to practice pronunciation (which I am good at because of the fact that I’ve been listening to it my whole life). That’s the main thing I’ve been practising with him, reading, and allowing him to correct me. And more recently, both of us taking turns reading the passage(s), and he, on his turn, translating. So he is certainly a good resource that I have for which I am incredibly thankful. However, (and I’m of course sure you’ll understand) I do not regard him as a resource that is consistently dependable and overall best for myself. Please do not however think that I want to completely dismiss him as a resource. I’d just like to learn on my own as much as I can for independency-related reasons (I’m sure you know what I mean). I still will always ask him a question, etc.
As for what level of fluency I’m serious about working to achieve, I’d like to work towards the following things as my goal:
– natural flow in speech and pronunciation
– ability to freely expound on anything that gets brought up in conversation, or what I’d like to speak about
– a fair-sized vocabulary
– a good understanding of the grammar
– reading skills that are almost better than I possess in English if not better
Perhaps completely fluent would be the shorter answer. Now I ABSOLUTELY MUST clarify that I see the above goals as long-term and strongly feel that I’ve thought enough about it all to say that I don’t think I have unrealistic expectations. But it’s as simple as this: I am very serious about it, who knows where my studies will take me…
As for written materials, I have the following reference books:
501 German Verbs by Henry Strutz
Cassel’s German-English/English German Dictionary Two copies, one new one, and an older one from 1965 that belonged to my grandmother while she was learning English
As well as Coversational German of Cortina Method
I also have various Deutsch books spanning many genres such as poetry, history and classic literature (Herman Hesse etc.) just lying around the house which I can use.
So, there you are. Work your magic! 🙂
Once again, I sincerely thank you for your time
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a great deal of time, but quite rightly Mr K.M. reminded me that I had promised an answer and so here we are with the best answer I can give to this worthy query.
The question is not entirely dissimilar to some things asked by Cheryl in the video which you can find by searching on “Cheryl” within this blog. However, what I will do is add to this and give a full strategy for learning German from English at the position you appear to be now.
I would make the assumption that your German grammar could do with a refresh from the start so I would work through the Donaldson book and goldlist that. You might kick off before everything else by just working through the Michel Thomas audio course – it won’t take long and some things will be plainer to you after working through that and for that you don’t yet need to put pen to paper.
In my opinion you don’t need to goldlist all the verbs book or even start goldlisting the dictionary. Just go through the Donaldson book and then try some literature. You can either use google translate for a quick translate or better still buy or download an English translation of the literature. You mention you have Hesse lying around. Well, Siddartha and a few other novels by Hermann Hesse in English is available as a free of charge epub on feedbooks if you have an Android phone with the Aldiko bookreader. You can save dictionary time, which is boring, by using the translation.
It works like this:
a) you first read a paragraph or two of the German paper original with a pencil or other marker in your hand. You underline the words you don’t know,
b) you then transfer these words to the left side of a new Goldlist (“headlist”),
c) you then read the translation, noting the meanings of the words in the translation, and adding them to the right of the German in the headlist,
d) read again the German original, understanding it fully now that the words are in place. Always seek foremost to enjoy the original literature, don’t treat it as a memorizing exercise or it will cease to be one. Seek to admire the use of language by the author, and be enriched by it.
e) you can consult the dictionary if there’s something more you need to know about the word. For German you might need for instance to be sure of some of the following
– for nouns, the gender, if that’s not clear from the shape of the word
– for verbs, where they are separable or not, whether they are declined weak or strong and what the past tense and participle are if strong, as well as any umlauting in the second and third persons singular of the present tense. This is where your verb book comes in.
– for prepositions, what case they are governing in the sentence and why.
f) if the sentence has word order you don’t understand, you can write out the whole sentence and its explanation as a line item. You are also able to take out quotes or expressions you like and want to memorize as line items into the headlist
g) afterwards, progress the headlist as normal, which means to distill it at the most frequent after a two week break.
h) whenever you wish to have more fluency and “activate” the German, either go to Germany or have German speakers nearby so that you wake up and activate all your German in just three days. Resist the temptation to judge your progress by how conversationally fluent you feel. That’s about degree of activation, not depth of knowledge.
Good luck, and please let us know how you get on.
- Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Let Your Android Help (brighthub.com)
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- The Importance of Language (reporterreflections.wordpress.com)