IWTYAL 211: Best practice for vocabulary notebooks

Aral asks: “What’s the best way to organise my vocabulary notebook?”

Episode Summary:

Housekeeping:

  • Upcoming guests
  • New French Book
  • Conversations
  • British Sign Language course

Today’s podcast:

  • How valuable is the time you’re spending organising a vocabulary notebook?
  • What’s the value of a vocabulary notebook in and of itself? Does it help?
  • The big question: Will you ever look at it again?
  • Some people recommend keeping exhaustive notebooks with every conceivable detail about the new word, organising thematically, etc…
  • I’ve tried all this before, but it’s too slow!
  • Steve Kaufmann’s thinking: How are you going to cover enough new vocabulary to make progress, if you spend so much time on each individual word?

My 80/20 of vocabulary notebooks:

  • Get your vocabulary from rich, compelling context (reading, listening, speaking)
  • Write things down if you find it helpful
  • Choose only the most useful words and learn them using your favourite process

Resources mentioned in today’s episode:

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  • Paulina

    Hello Olly! That was an interesting podcast. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I think I should start to choose only the most important words to learn, because when I’m reading or listening something I tend to write down everything and usually the list is big which is very overwhelming and it’s so discouraging I rarely look at this list again, but I feel like everything is important and I’m afraid that if I don’t learn a word I can need it in the future. I know I could learn it later e.g. from different book, but I can’t get rid of this feeling. I am interested how you decide which words are the most important. Are those the ones that are most often repeated in a text/conversation etc.? And approximately how many words do you choose to learn from the first list of all words? You said that you aren’t a big fan of writing your own sentences or stories with new words, but do you think that it can be treated as a “Try” from your ART technique?

    • Yes, it can. However, I prefer to do it in speaking, because you get to see if the other person actually understands what you say.

  • dandiprat

    This is something that I struggle with. I feel like some vocabulary review would be the most efficient way to learn as long as it doesn’t get out of control, and I think it would also benefit my writing a bit to pay more attention to looking at words, but I never seem to be able to stick with it for very long. The only thing I seem to be able to stick with these days is practicing listening. I review listening passages frequently and so I can review the words in context and often remember them when listening to this passage, but when I hear them elsewhere I often don’t remember (although I am more likely to remember them when reading them).

    • For me, that’s when speaking comes into it’s own – actively recalling the words I’m mining from my listening, which seems to deepen my understanding of them and ability to recognise.