Capacity Limits? Learned Large Number of Words Accurately for Months


(Robert Davies18) #21

Thanks for that, I did indeed suspect “plateau” so I took the pressure off in Memrise but continued as normal with other things, then resumed the set 7 at a relaxed pace.

I’ve been using reading apps, was already watching some shows at right level in my study languages.

Memrise I only started in January, having had lessons in a school & Babbel from September, DuoLingo in December. I also let another app, reinforce stuff by regularly listening to it, as well as radio and so on. German music play lists are good and useful, but struggle to find anything meaty in Spanish, that really inspires, I’ll keep looking though.


(Robert Davies18) #22

Caspar, you need to understand, Memrise is the “sweep up” pass … it’s the consolidation and correctness of the basics for me, plus some other features.

Mouse over a word, or click on paragraph button to get a translation, but only if I want it. The less English I am forced to see/watch/hear the better!


(Casper Duo) #23

If your entire goal here is just those basic courses, and you think you’re already close to C1, then by all means start the sweep up process right now.

I don’t really get the point of the title though, in that case. Why do you speak about capacity limits?
You just have like 2500 words to cover and it seems like you already did most of them anyway.

There is no challenge here.


(Robert Davies18) #24

Oh wow! I used capacity as I doubted people would understand a more accurate term like information bandwidth over some months. Suddenly I was struggling a little, I no longer had perfect recall within a second or two, typing answers out.

If I used 90% as acceptable, I wouldn’t notice an issue, but when you go a few months only making “silly” mistakes, to suddenly find the Memrise method working less well, despite keeping up with reviews, was a concern. I’d like to understand better, what experiences others have gone through.

There is a challenge, or I would not have noticed a fall in recall ability and reduction in correctness.


(Casper Duo) #25

Normal stock reviews test anyway only very little information.
You want “correctness” you should use ALL TYPING and let it decline to 60% (maybe even lower?).

When I last seriously learned a language, few people had the Internet, mobile phones were the size of bricks … 20 words a week was a more typical learning pace, than 100 words a day or more in bursts.

I just figured you were starting to doubt yourself and wanted to find a way and assurance to continue that pace, but i guess I misunderstood your intentions.

All the best.


(Geil) #26

It’s better to be efficient than proficient, as least in my school of thought. So if you ask me, the more words you learn, the faster you learn them is better. I’d rather have 40% effectiveness with 10,000 words than 99% effectiveness with 3,000 if both could be achieved with the same amount of time.

It’s easy to get frustrated when you hit a wall and have trouble recalling all of a sudden. But keep in mind, you have this problem too from time to time in your native lang. Just think about all the times you could not think of the right phrase or word to say in a given context… it just seemed to slip your mind for what ever reason. We also all tend to use bad grammar in our native lang. and even know it half the time but are too lazy to bother.

Before you learn another lang., find out what it values. Each lang. is in most cases, different than the next. For example, in German, it values action. Machen ist used in most cases over tun where in English we use do which is closer to tun. You can interpret this as Germans view action as creation. The grammar is 90% is revolved around action or creation. The vocabulary is heavy in this regard, as it actually beats out English in having more verbs. So what is one to do(’‘make’’ of this)? Basically if you ask me, it is wiser and more efficient to focus on verbs if you are learning German, considering you can turn most of them into nouns, or adjectives. Every lang. has something that makes it tick.

and as far as walls and plateaus and what not, that’s the most fun part about learning anything. What I do is take a break.


(Casper Duo) #27

Exactly. Well said.
It seems like we attended the same school. What year did you graduate?

Cheers. :beers:


(Robert Davies18) #28

The flaw in that is that 40% of 10,000 is a self selected sample, it may not even cover basic needs.
No-one has field tested that set and it may have glaring holes in coverage. I would seriously suspect that even 99% of 3,000 well chosen words is in practise much more useful.

Furthermore the reality is, when you live in the country of target language, you actually learn the Memrise set, but a whole load of extra words for things like food, clothing & so on. Also you naturally learn words relating to things you want to talk about like sports and hobbies. Then you learn extra words, the ones that you repeatedly see & hear around by asking or looking in a dictionary. So the core 3,000 known well, is actually the key to a conversational vocab size.


(Baite) #29

You’ve gotten about 100 replies in two days - A topic that speaks to people! So I’ll be brief.

Given the logic behind the SRS, apparently the ‘spaces’ (intervals) are too long now. Most replies in fact suggest a type of review (e.g. reading, very good!). Again given the SRS logic, Memrise only should work, in which case I’d simply suggest: do lots of Speed Reviews, especially of the sections you’re forgetting (or Classic, all typing if possible). And:

‘Never let the back-log grow old.’


(Geil) #30

Native 5 year olds know around 5k words. You are not going to have any meaningful conversation with 3k(even if the 3k is top frequency), unless all you care about is ordering food, directions, saying hello, bye, and sleeping. Basically travel vocab. The magic number is 10k plus and the faster, the better, the more often repeated, the better. In fact, the more the better of anything. Even if I’m only 40% effective with 10k, at least the other 60% is passively in my head somewhere, and won’t be completely lost when spoken to or reading something.

Also, I don’t think anything compares to living in the host country. Not really fair. I could probably learn any lang. without SRS tools in 6 months. All I would need is a good grammar book to read in the between times. (with the exception of lang outside of Indo European).


(Robert Davies18) #31

I’ve had an email from an Italian who has found he cannot learn Lithuanian in Lithuania because everyone speaks English with him. This is a real problem, you need enough words to cover certain situations and something like a language interchange partner who’ll talk about a theme you’ve prepared. That guy is no mug, he’s a polyglot who programmed the Bliubliu site.

Now I’ve learnt German more than 20 years ago, with no tools, I’ve not had a lesson since 1992 and I was invited to a German-Spanish group last night after a conversation at bar with a German and today the Goethe Institute told me, “Excellent, your German is nearly perfect” on a quick & dirty placement test. I don’t agree with them, but they’re steering me to C1 or C2 level. So don’t think I don’t know anything about learning languages.

You guys who advocate pushing card count are talking a load of rubbish! Having words, vocabulary is only part of the task of learning a language.

You do have to build a passive vocabulary first, ie reading, hearing in order to speak. You have to actually activate that vocabulary by using it. You cannot activate 10,000 or even 5,000 words all at the same time.
The best way of activating stuff is to use it, recall it … and speak with basic conversations. These conversations should get progressively harder and more wide-ranging.

But you can have a real conversation by being able to choose the theme and prepare some vocabulary. Caspar who advocates non-thorough volume linked to a video about vocabulary sizes and reading. That very video explained that life long English as foreign language teachers were getting by on 5,000 words.

In fact my experience with Spanish, which had less role play and speaking from the get go than when I learned German in German due to language teaching fashion, is that more words are a handicap if speaking is neglected, because you spend too long trying to find the right one and being frustrated by a choice of almost right ones. A happy beginner with just 100 words, doesn’t worry about expressing exactly, they enjoy saying what they can say.

If you know 100 words, guess what… you use them. When you know even just 2,000, you feel blocked searching for the right one. Kids don’t learn those words, without using what they have picked up and getting a reaction.

It’s not about points or cards… and Memrise is just one tool. The Overlord who commented in this thread spoke the most sense, talking about plateaus. Guess what my recent reviews are back to 100% with the occasional mis-tap on my phone. Backing off, then building up again seems to have cured the issue.

But you’re welcome to your opinions and what works for you. Perhaps you’re more gifted than I am and can manage a massive memory load without anything else, but I need active use to motivate me. An app like Quizlet or Memorise, make bearable what for me is boring drudgery.

So, I’ve listened to Steve Kaufman’s approach and don’t think it works for me as it’s too passive, my experience is that exposure to input I can’t do something with goes in 1 ear and out the other, similarly reading. Yet I am still considering using LinkQ now, precisely because I’m getting out of intermediate stage, either B2 or C1 level, in my new language after 6 months hard work, with very many approaches. The difference is that I can understand enough to make the input meaningful and enjoyable.


(Robert Davies18) #32

It may be because so many words were already on their way to long term, that Memrise over-estimated my abilities, I certainly found it pushing me until I found a natural limit. But until it wasn’t working perfectly, it really did work amazingly well!

I have considered going back, doing Speed Reviews, but with a “I am going to let it time out” rather than be wrong because I cut corners attitude. What would be better is if Speed Reviews was not only tunable, but let you go from English to multi-choice in target language as well. Translating in both directions under some time pressure would work both directions like classic review does.

I’m not sure, just simply getting a dump of the whole course and reading back through it wouldn’t be as good. A defect of Memrise is I can’t simply use the cards like flash cards, working through a large deck of 100’s of cards. Reading through my emails may work just as well as in app review scoring points.


(Casper Duo) #33

I am not sure what advice you came here to seek, since you seem to have already figured out everything for yourself.

in my new language after 6 months hard work, with very many approaches.

How much did you study for 6 months? What is your vocab size?
Because i have studied for longer, twice that in fact, and i am not B2 yet.

Can you go through what you have done till this day in details?

But you can have a real conversation by being able to choose the theme and prepare some vocabulary. Caspar who advocates non-thorough volume linked to a video about vocabulary sizes and reading. That very video explained that life long English as foreign language teachers were getting by on 5,000 words.

This number actually specify word families and not single words.
But yes It was said that 5000 to 6000 are enough for meaningful conversation.


(Geil) #34

ja I am not sure what he is asking either.


(Amanda Norrsken) #35

Maybe he wasn’t even looking for advice :frowning:

He certainly shot down everything we suggested, as far as I can tell. Bit of a waste of our time, really, having put the question up at all, to be honest.


(Amanda Norrsken) #36

It seems he wasn’t asking anything at all :frowning:


(Amanda Norrsken) #37

Reading doesn’t have to be passive. There are many many different ways to approach reading.

It seems to me you just don’t like reading, which is fair enough, but to dismiss it as “passive” is not a credible argument.

Speaking a language with a limited vocabulary - I find - is incredibly frustrating and you feel like a total idiot. Diving in the deep end with a limited vocabulary might work for you, Rob, but it is not something I personally feel comfortable with and I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone else, either. Unless I had the impression they were very very confident people.

But I really don’t understand why you even started this thread, because all you have done is shoot down everyone’s suggestions.


(Robert Davies18) #38

You’re wrong about that, I love reading. When you live or visit other countries, you cannot hide from native speakers, nor can you wait to build up a 10,000 word vocabulary set.

In fact, I think you have to listen first, read it, try to pronounce it, then repeat until you’ve learnt it. Then you have to integrate what you know into an active vocabulary you can easily recall. Furthermore, you have to develop listening skill, as a conversation requires understand.

Excuse me if you think, challenging questions are simply “shooting down”. I expected people to talk about plateaus they had experienced and how they got through it. Not suggest that a 10% error rate is acceptable, when it very much would be a sign of failure to me, meaning Memrise had become pointless.


(Geil) #39

You are not going to be as accurate in other lang’s vs your native. You need to accept this fact. Especially if you don’t live in X, Y, Z. You are like a computer with a built in operating system and asking it to emulate another operating system at the same performance and stability. It’s bogus.

People are just sharing what works for them.


(Amanda Norrsken) #40

Glad to hear it! What kind of things do you like to read?

Do you live in a country where your native language is the main language, by the way? Just curious.

I think you might find that lots of people do actually do this :wink: Whether it is a good way to integrate into the country of immigration is another matter. But lots of people do manage to “hide” from native speakers, all around the world, and probably always will.