How to most efficiently learn new vocabulary? This is the big question, especially for those of us with a long list of languages we want to learn. And seriously the most boring for me!
But what to do? Without memorising the words, it is impossible to learn the language… and yet, what a major SNOOZE!! Even DuoLingo becomes boring after time… I kept it up for 3 months as I restarted learning French, but after they changed to the crowns system, all the beautiful golden circles that had kept me motivated disappeared *sad face*!
So I am always looking out for ways to shortcut the process. Manually writing out flash cards… hmm no. I write about 20, never revise them, and waste those beautiful index cards for no reason. Flash card apps… yeah, not too bad. But because I learn in such an eclectic fashion, word lists produced by others are either half already known, or not interesting themes.
And then we have this terribly inspiring comment from Michael of Renewing Truth…
An attainable goal is 25 words per week. If you’re really ambitious, go for 50 words a week. That’s 10 words per day with a weekend break for just review.
Enter… the Gold List! (*trumpets sounding*)
The Gold List is a fairly unique approach to vocab learning. It’s a variation on the Spaced Repetition System method of learning, and much more passive than your typical flashcard approach to acquiring vocabulary.
In short, you write a list of 25 words, date it, and then wait at least 2 weeks. Apparently around 30% of the list will be wired in your long term memory, so you scrub those, rewrite the list, and go away again for at least 2 weeks. Keep reiterating until the list is down to three, then transfer to a new notebook and off you go again.
(Obviously this is not an exhaustive explanation… for that, go and look at “Uncle Davey’s Gold List Explanations” on the method’s creator’s YouTube video playlist. And for the short version, check out GOLDLIST METHOD for Beginners | Christopher Huff)
Now obviously you write other lists on the days in between, or this would take months to learn just 25 words. In fact, many users are writing up to 100 words per day in four lists of 25. (Extreme users sometimes write 200!)
But… does it work? I mean, really? Write a list, go away, come back and you will already know 30% of it? Well, many well known polyglots and language learners (not to mention “Uncle Davey”) are using the Gold List method… which says something for its efficacy. And these are people who like to learn a language well, not just for reading, and not just to add a string to their bow. People like Lýdia Machová, a conference interpreter and well known polyglot from Slovakia.
So I figured, what the heck? I may as well give it a go!
So last week I got started with a few notebooks. I have a few languages I want to start off and give myself a bit of a passive knowledge and headstart in… German, Biblical Greek… I figured it would be good to fill in a few holes with French and Dutch too.
I’ll let you know how I go 🙂