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Learning a new language with minimal "memory usage"


Ernesto
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This is the one thing that gets me stuck and my biggest criticism towards how teachers choose to teach languages: by hard hitting you memory, which you have so little of.

I've done 2 semesters of German at university and it went terribly. The number one reason for this failure IMO is the way they tried to teach it, by simply speaking German non-stop at class and asking each time for you to memorize by heart this giant list of verbs/words etc, that you'd be tested on later. Nothing about the logic of the language, its syntax construction etc so you have something to start with and do not end up just memorizing stuff you don't understand and re-spitting from memory it whilst you have ZERO idea about it. That is not to mention that in my world, past the age of 14, asking me to memorize anything by heart amounts basically to an insult to my intelligence.

 

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I have had a similar experience as well. Mine was at Primary school (Grade school) where we were mandated to learn Hausa Language and the teacher would just come in speaking for 20 minutes in Hausa Language.

I was always lost and barely scaled through. Not all language teachers are good at their jobs. Others use skillful techniques in helping struggling students learn the language with minimal memory usage.

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This is also one thing I have come to realize when it comes to learning, not just in language but in any kind of learning. I found that memorization is not really the key to effective learning. Understanding each concept well without having to memorize is better basing from my experience, because if you finally understand a concept by heart, you won't get lost at it no matter how it is jumbled or how confusing it can get. Memorization only twists my brain and I don't really learn anything from it. For me, there's a very big difference between memorizing and understanding, and the latter is always my preferred way of learning. :)

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Memorization, in my opinion, is part of the learning process. Memorizing stuff like nouns, verbs, and adjectives takes days or months off the learning time and allows me to focus more on understanding grammar and sentence structure. There's no way around it I suppose but there are memory helpers and tricks. Some use mnemonics (not me though). What I do is memorize around 20 words a day by visualizing. For instance, I visualize a verb and the action it indicates and allow the scene to repeatedly play in my mind.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Through high school and college that was pretty much how they taught both Spanish and French to me.  I think that's half the reason it never stuck.  Learning word by word is a tedious way of learning.  The things I remember the most were the phrases that I could actually use.  I think it's fine to memorize words, and even have a list of nouns and verbs of the week to work on.  But The next step is to put them into a sentence that you can use.  I think that's part of the reason I have such a problem with the verbal part of learning is that we never learn to write with the words I learn so mentally I'm not prepared for what I hear.  I also think words should be organized based on how much you'll use the words rather than just random ones.  

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I agree. It's actually my complaint of most academia and not just in language learning as you are expected to pass and can pass with just memorization and little to no understanding. I have actually forgotten majority of what I learned in school and I'm fairly sure it's because most of them were taught in that exact same way so I never retained any of the lessons because I never really understood them and instead just memorized the answers enough to get me through the tests. 

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