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Vocabulary acquisition. What? How? Where? When? Why?...

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by Petite Joueuse, May 18, 2007.

  1. Here are the main thoughts some of us have been chewing over on another thread.

    With thanks to GroovyGuzi, Incommunicado, and Dodros

    Jim Milton in the ALL Journal 33 (2006) p. 76:

    Milton wrote:
    "EFL learners take B2 level exams such as Cambridge First Certificate knowing at least double the vocabulary of their British direct equivalents taking the B2 A-level in French."

    This statement is based on research he conducted for this article: Milton J. (2006) ?Language Lite: learning French vocabulary in school?, Journal of French Language Studies 16, Cambridge University Press: 187?205.

    Milton also wrote (abstract):
    "Results suggest that learners learn about 170 words per year up to GCSE and about 530 words per year in A-level study and are influenced by word frequency. On average, learners take GCSE with under 1000 words of French vocabulary and A-level with about 2000 words. These results appear modest compared with historical data and when compared with other language exams pitched at the same CEF levels as GCSE and A-level."

    Milton also wrote (ALL Journal, ibid.), contrasting EFL teaching of languages with MFL teaching in Britain:

    "EFL teaching genuinely strives to teach students the language, and this involves teaching, amongst other things, large quantities of vocabulary which is essential for coping, in the fullness of time, with the diversity and unpredictability of real language use. [...] MFL teaching in Britain is resigned to the fact that no learners will ever be good enough actually to speak the language and that the only goal learners can possibly have in studying a foreign language is to pass GCSE with a grade C or better ? probably in furtherance of the school's league table position."


    Re GroovyGuzi's Milton post....

    How can we broaden pupils' vocab? Genuine question! Other than handing them a vocab book and telling them to get on with it, what can we actually do?


    I try and place vocabulary in an authentic context as an aide-mémoire. I collect examples from the Web and from newspaper cuttings. I have posted examples of such web-based texts on my website:

    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/accents/germanvoca...

    Here are some vocabulary-building reading comprehension exercises I compiled a while ago for Year 10 learners of German:

    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/h...
    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/s...
    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/s...
    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/l...
    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/i...


    In answer to Petite Joueuse's question, there is substantial evidence, dating back to the 1980s, that using interactive computer programs can make a big difference to vocab acquisition. Sue Myles (now, sadly, deceased) did some research in the 1990s into the effectiveness of such programs. Some of the conclusions she reached were published in this downloadable article:

    Myles S. (1998) "The language learner and the software designer: a marriage of true minds or ne'er the twain shall meet?", ReCALL 10, 1: 38-45. Available at
    http://www.eurocall-languages.org/recall/pdf/rvol10no1.pd...

    It's an easy read and will give you all sorts of leads and references.

    Susan's research focused on four software packages that were available at the time:

    1. The German Master, pub. by Cosmos
    2. Vocab, pub. by Wida Software
    3. Fun with Texts, pub. by Camsoft
    4. Travel Talk, pub. by Libra Multimedia

    Only Vocab and Fun with Texts are still available. Susan's conclusions (reported to me personally) were that contextualised presentation and interactivity, as in Fun with Texts, was more effective than isolated presentation of vocab items, but when text, sound and meaning could be associated, as in Travel Talk, then retention was better, both short-term and long-term. The new Fun with Texts 4.0, by the way, allows you to associate text, sound, image, meaning and video.

    Caroline Grace, who was another vocab acquisition researcher at around this time, found that students (aged 18+) retained vocab better if they had access to translations of the vocab items when they were presented rather than trying to infer what they meant from context. See:

    Grace C. (1998a) "Retention of word meanings inferred from context and sentence-level translations: implications for the design of beginning level CALL software", Modern Language Journal 82, 4: 533-544.

    Grace C. (1998b) "Personality type, tolerance of ambiguity, and vocabulary retention in CALL", CALICO Journal 15, 1-3: 19-45.

    Heather Rendall points out in her CILT (2006) publication, Patterns and procedures: focus on phonics and grammar:

    ?So my first recommendation is: Every word has three attributes: a meaning, a sound and a spelling. Target language nouns will also have a gender. All four attributes should be presented immediately and simultaneously and repeatedly.? (p. 16)

    There are PowerPoint presentation packages available for whole-class teaching and also for individual student's home use. See Richard Hamilton's package for French, in which text, sound and translation follow on from one another. It works very well, he claims:
    http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/GCSE_PPVoc.htm

    My personal recommendation for acquiring vocab, which worked for me when I ws trying to pick up a bit of Polish, is EuroTalk's Talk Now package. It associates text, sound, translation and image - and in addition offers you the possibility of recording and playing back your own voice. I picked up and retained around 300 words of Polish in three weeks, using the package for around 20 minutes per day.


    Re GroovyGuzi's quote form Milton's research:

    "Results suggest that learners learn about 170 words per year up to GCSE ....."

    In my experience that rate of learning would apply to about the top 3rd of the ability range, maybe fewer. I doubt whether students getting lower than a grade C end up with a vocab of more than say 300 words; I stand oppen to correction of course, but I think it is an appalling state of affairs that there is no consensus as to the rate at which students acquire vocabulary, nor have any "target" in mind as to how much vocab they should acquire in any given period, according to ability.

    I spent a week on a teacher exchange in a school (a Gymnasium, granted) in Munich; the lexis aspired to in the kids' first year of learning English stretched to 900 words.

    If MFL teachers have no target figure to aim at, it is little wonder that students under-achieve in this country, when they are allowed to learn as little as they want.

    Vocab acquisition is always a hot topic. I haven't checked, but it may have come up before in this forum.

    There are stacks of research on this topic, Jim Milton and Paul Meara being prominent researchers who have published extensively on vocab acquisition. Vocab is the key to ?survival? in a language. See the VARGA website:
    http://www.swan.ac.uk/cals/calsres/varga/index.htm

    Somehow or other, MFL teachers and teacher trainers manage to ignore researchers' findings, however.

    Looking back through old copies of the ALL Language Learning Journal, I found another useful article by Mitlon & Meara, which also mentions vocab acquisition and vocab testing - 197 students aged 14-15 in England, France and Germany being the subject matter of their research:

    Milton J. & Meara P. (1998) ?Are the British really bad at learning foreign languages?? ALL Language Learning Journal 18: 68-76.

    It's a very useful article, highlighting some of the key problems we face in this country, lack of time devoted to teaching foreign languages being one of them. They conclude:

    "The British learners in this study spent less time learning, were set lower language goals and knew less vocabulary than equivalent learners on the continent. The differences are very considerable. If the British learners are indicative, then the British learners have only a half or maybe only a third of the knowledge of their continental counterparts."


    So to further this thread....
    Ideas, please! What do YOU do to broaden your pupils' TL vocab?

     
  2. Here are the main thoughts some of us have been chewing over on another thread.

    With thanks to GroovyGuzi, Incommunicado, and Dodros

    Jim Milton in the ALL Journal 33 (2006) p. 76:

    Milton wrote:
    "EFL learners take B2 level exams such as Cambridge First Certificate knowing at least double the vocabulary of their British direct equivalents taking the B2 A-level in French."

    This statement is based on research he conducted for this article: Milton J. (2006) ?Language Lite: learning French vocabulary in school?, Journal of French Language Studies 16, Cambridge University Press: 187?205.

    Milton also wrote (abstract):
    "Results suggest that learners learn about 170 words per year up to GCSE and about 530 words per year in A-level study and are influenced by word frequency. On average, learners take GCSE with under 1000 words of French vocabulary and A-level with about 2000 words. These results appear modest compared with historical data and when compared with other language exams pitched at the same CEF levels as GCSE and A-level."

    Milton also wrote (ALL Journal, ibid.), contrasting EFL teaching of languages with MFL teaching in Britain:

    "EFL teaching genuinely strives to teach students the language, and this involves teaching, amongst other things, large quantities of vocabulary which is essential for coping, in the fullness of time, with the diversity and unpredictability of real language use. [...] MFL teaching in Britain is resigned to the fact that no learners will ever be good enough actually to speak the language and that the only goal learners can possibly have in studying a foreign language is to pass GCSE with a grade C or better ? probably in furtherance of the school's league table position."


    Re GroovyGuzi's Milton post....

    How can we broaden pupils' vocab? Genuine question! Other than handing them a vocab book and telling them to get on with it, what can we actually do?


    I try and place vocabulary in an authentic context as an aide-mémoire. I collect examples from the Web and from newspaper cuttings. I have posted examples of such web-based texts on my website:

    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/accents/germanvoca...

    Here are some vocabulary-building reading comprehension exercises I compiled a while ago for Year 10 learners of German:

    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/h...
    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/s...
    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/s...
    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/l...
    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/i...


    In answer to Petite Joueuse's question, there is substantial evidence, dating back to the 1980s, that using interactive computer programs can make a big difference to vocab acquisition. Sue Myles (now, sadly, deceased) did some research in the 1990s into the effectiveness of such programs. Some of the conclusions she reached were published in this downloadable article:

    Myles S. (1998) "The language learner and the software designer: a marriage of true minds or ne'er the twain shall meet?", ReCALL 10, 1: 38-45. Available at
    http://www.eurocall-languages.org/recall/pdf/rvol10no1.pd...

    It's an easy read and will give you all sorts of leads and references.

    Susan's research focused on four software packages that were available at the time:

    1. The German Master, pub. by Cosmos
    2. Vocab, pub. by Wida Software
    3. Fun with Texts, pub. by Camsoft
    4. Travel Talk, pub. by Libra Multimedia

    Only Vocab and Fun with Texts are still available. Susan's conclusions (reported to me personally) were that contextualised presentation and interactivity, as in Fun with Texts, was more effective than isolated presentation of vocab items, but when text, sound and meaning could be associated, as in Travel Talk, then retention was better, both short-term and long-term. The new Fun with Texts 4.0, by the way, allows you to associate text, sound, image, meaning and video.

    Caroline Grace, who was another vocab acquisition researcher at around this time, found that students (aged 18+) retained vocab better if they had access to translations of the vocab items when they were presented rather than trying to infer what they meant from context. See:

    Grace C. (1998a) "Retention of word meanings inferred from context and sentence-level translations: implications for the design of beginning level CALL software", Modern Language Journal 82, 4: 533-544.

    Grace C. (1998b) "Personality type, tolerance of ambiguity, and vocabulary retention in CALL", CALICO Journal 15, 1-3: 19-45.

    Heather Rendall points out in her CILT (2006) publication, Patterns and procedures: focus on phonics and grammar:

    ?So my first recommendation is: Every word has three attributes: a meaning, a sound and a spelling. Target language nouns will also have a gender. All four attributes should be presented immediately and simultaneously and repeatedly.? (p. 16)

    There are PowerPoint presentation packages available for whole-class teaching and also for individual student's home use. See Richard Hamilton's package for French, in which text, sound and translation follow on from one another. It works very well, he claims:
    http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/GCSE_PPVoc.htm

    My personal recommendation for acquiring vocab, which worked for me when I ws trying to pick up a bit of Polish, is EuroTalk's Talk Now package. It associates text, sound, translation and image - and in addition offers you the possibility of recording and playing back your own voice. I picked up and retained around 300 words of Polish in three weeks, using the package for around 20 minutes per day.


    Re GroovyGuzi's quote form Milton's research:

    "Results suggest that learners learn about 170 words per year up to GCSE ....."

    In my experience that rate of learning would apply to about the top 3rd of the ability range, maybe fewer. I doubt whether students getting lower than a grade C end up with a vocab of more than say 300 words; I stand oppen to correction of course, but I think it is an appalling state of affairs that there is no consensus as to the rate at which students acquire vocabulary, nor have any "target" in mind as to how much vocab they should acquire in any given period, according to ability.

    I spent a week on a teacher exchange in a school (a Gymnasium, granted) in Munich; the lexis aspired to in the kids' first year of learning English stretched to 900 words.

    If MFL teachers have no target figure to aim at, it is little wonder that students under-achieve in this country, when they are allowed to learn as little as they want.

    Vocab acquisition is always a hot topic. I haven't checked, but it may have come up before in this forum.

    There are stacks of research on this topic, Jim Milton and Paul Meara being prominent researchers who have published extensively on vocab acquisition. Vocab is the key to ?survival? in a language. See the VARGA website:
    http://www.swan.ac.uk/cals/calsres/varga/index.htm

    Somehow or other, MFL teachers and teacher trainers manage to ignore researchers' findings, however.

    Looking back through old copies of the ALL Language Learning Journal, I found another useful article by Mitlon & Meara, which also mentions vocab acquisition and vocab testing - 197 students aged 14-15 in England, France and Germany being the subject matter of their research:

    Milton J. & Meara P. (1998) ?Are the British really bad at learning foreign languages?? ALL Language Learning Journal 18: 68-76.

    It's a very useful article, highlighting some of the key problems we face in this country, lack of time devoted to teaching foreign languages being one of them. They conclude:

    "The British learners in this study spent less time learning, were set lower language goals and knew less vocabulary than equivalent learners on the continent. The differences are very considerable. If the British learners are indicative, then the British learners have only a half or maybe only a third of the knowledge of their continental counterparts."


    So to further this thread....
    Ideas, please! What do YOU do to broaden your pupils' TL vocab?

     
  3. Good compilation, Petite Joueuse! Thanks!
     
  4. PierreImport

    PierreImport Administrator

    That's a compilation?
     
  5. "How can we broaden pupils' vocab? Genuine question! Other than handing them a vocab book and telling them to get on with it, what can we actually do?"

    My first MFL at school was German and I remember having to learn a whole vocabulary book one year. The teacher had divided it into three parts, one for each term. We had one test at the end of each term and the teacher would sometimes remind us of the dates, that's all. We had to know gender, case, conjugation, how to use the vocab in context... Also, this teacher's marking scheme was quite interesting: half the correct answers did not mean half the mark. He was French, after all... You would make more than 3 errors and you could be sure to get less than 10 out of 20!
    So... yes, were told to get on with it...

    I know that this example is not really constructive and does not help in this context. I agree that the lack of time devoted to our subject and the low expectations from society in general regarding languages make for the poor performance.
    Personally, I loved the magazine called 'Vocable' when I was at school. The articles were always current and interesting and you did not have to open your dictionary every two minutes. Mind you, even as a pupil, I loved my dictionary and had to check things every two minutes!

    To finish with my meagre input to this question, I would add that I find that British pupils don't seem to pay much attention to detail early in their school years. Most of the time, I find that I have to teach them how to use a dictionary properly. Even a monlingual one. They are more inclined to use thesaurus than pupils in France for example.



     
  6. The best way to learn vocabulary is just to learn it! We had to learn pages of French from Tricolore (The old one with no colour!) in a night, and just did it. I don't know what all the fuss is about.

    Good linguists use the TIHAFLI method, and it works!

    Out of interest, I learned the Tagalog for 'Nice to meet you' last night - Ikanagagalak ko kayong makilala - and realised you can sing it to the tune of the Macarena.

    Ikanagagalak ko kayong makilala
    Ikanagagalak ko kayong makilala
    Ikanagagalak ko kayong makilala
    Eh, makilala!

    Course, I was a bit ****** at the time!

    It also throws your word stress off.

    Now I've just got to go and find somewhere to use it.

    Have you ever heard the theory that obsessive language learning for the sake of it might be a form of Aspergers?

    Me mate Guzi, the 'iki jibiki', certainly has it!
     
  7. Yes, TWALT, the best way to learn vocab is to LEARN it. Learning, i.e. learning by heart, is a skill that appears to have been lost. When I was at school our teachers tested us on poems in English and foreign languages that we had to commit to memory. I can still recite great chunks of Goethe and Schiller and many speeches from Shakespeare?s plays that I learned 50 years ago.

    But now the belief is that learning happens by osmosis or by magic. Give the kids a series of PowerPoint flashcard presentations and they?ll remember the words. Like hell they do! You need to actively process new words. You need to write them down, say them, use them ? over and over again. Knowing vocab means that you can translate it in both directions and use it correctly in context in writing and speaking. Above all, vocab has to be embedded by frequent productive use.

    As for ICT, software that incorporates interactive routines in which you have to type answers or speak answers is more effective than all the currently fashionable point-and-click and drag-and-drop stuff.

    Let?s set realistic targets too. 2000 words committed to memory will get you quite a long way. 3000 words will be even better. 500 words won?t get you all that far. When I was learning Hungarian I did a test to check my active vocabulary. At my peak I knew about 500 words, but this was not nearly adequate for conducting interesting conversations. It was enough for transactions in shops and restaurants and at railway stations, checking into hotels, etc. But with only 500 words under my belt I could not say, ?I speak Hungarian?.

    I?m suppose I am an ?iki jibiki? in a limited way. I don?t think I have Asperger?s ? OCD maybe. I thought a symptom of Asperger?s is an inability to learn languages.
     
  8. Dodros

    Dodros Senior commenter

    Those with Asperger Syndrome are high-functioning on the Autistic Spectrum. The pupils with Asperger Syndrome at my school perform very well in languages, although they dislike activities that are unpredictable or require flights of imagination or involve unfamiliar social situations, such as having to shake hands with their classmates while saying "Bonjour".

    The film "Rain Man" focused on a mathematical "savant" or autistic genius. Polyglot savants also exist. One was the subject of some research, a man with considerable learning difficulties who nevertheless managed with ease to master the grammar of a number of languages. More details in the case study at

    http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/Case/Autism.html
     
  9. Thanks for the link Dodros. It was very interesting.
     
  10. What is the definition of fluency in a language? Say, for example, you live abroad and can use the local language to handle all aspects of your life but you make frequent grammatical errors and sometimes have to speak slowly....are you fluent?

    Or do you have to be able to handle rapid-fire conversations and be able to breeze through an article in a broadsheet newspaper?
     
  11. Far too much attention is now directed to learning vocabulary in lessons. Of course vocabulary is necessary, but it's just something you have to memorise - that's it! It doesn't need processing like grammar does, you just have to learn it and remember that 'chat' means' cat' and it's masculine.

    OK, admittedly, when we get into idiomatic language, we are going to see different meanings being presented, but at a basic WYSISYG level, it's just memorisation, of which scrotes today seem incapable.

    How must time is dedicated to teaching/learning vocabulary in class? You have your flash cards with weather expressions on them and you have to bounce about and change activities every 5 minutes just to keep the attention of the class. They draw and colour in pictures of weather words for homework, they come back and you do more jumping about and playing games. Then you set a homework to learn the phrases, test them and the ******* still can't remember then all and get them right! I mean, if you can't learn 8 expressions or words in a foreign language by yourself, you must be thick and/or lazy. But this is what happens!

    Of course, all the problems we've had in ESL with medthodology that doesn't work comes from ESL/TESOL - doesn't matter which acronym you use, it's still the same ****! 100% target language is a clasic example, and this obsession with focussing on vocabulary is another, because the dopes they get to pretend to teach English don't have the foreign language skills to explain anything in the native language of the students anyway. Therefore, that must be THE way to do it. Of course it isn't, but ESL is force of numbers.

    It makes me laugh when one of them wanders onto this forum, and gets all cocky about grammar, only to be shot down in flames. They usually leave in indignance, but the really stupid ones keep coming back for more. To change the subject altogether, I haven't seen massivegeoff around here for a while.

    Learning vocabulary is EASY! I've learned thousands of words in dozens of languages, and it just gets easier and easier. What's the fuss about?
     
  12. Anyone like to suggest practical activities for helping average teenagers of average ability and motivation how to extend their TL vocab?

    With Year 11 I've trained them to extract a "family" of words when they look up 1 word they need. So if they look up "travailler", I expect them to find "travailleur/travailleuse", "travaux", "travail"etc. They then record them in Fr and Eng, and the brighter ones eventually start to see a pattern and can start to "guess" words (e.g. one of them came up with "un inventeur" after seeing "inventer" in a text).

    Small steps, I know.....
     
  13. Dodros

    Dodros Senior commenter

    I agree that average, and below-average, pupils need some help and advice when it comes to vocabulary building. Able learners are capable of developing their own strategies, but they too will need some assistance when they eventually get to grips with the more advanced stages of vocabulary development with its emphasis on abstract lexis.

    Introduce English/target language cognates to build up an initial vocabulary quickly and to instil confidence. I understand this is the way Michel Thomas develops word knowledge in the early stages of learning a foreign language.

    Use mnemonics and other memory devices, particularly humorous ones, to aid recall. The BBC micro program Linkword used this technique to ease vocabulary learning. I still remember the Latin for "already" and "at last" (paene/tandem) from over forty years ago because some teacher taught me:

    1. "At last" they said when they got off the tandem.
    2. The "paene" is almost ready.

    When I did my O-level, my parents bought me a GCE vocabulary book that was topic based. This made a world of difference after years of Whitmarsh et al where the chapter vocabularies read like a random selection of words and phrases whose only common link was that they happened to crop up in a particular, anecdotal-type reading text. Topic based vocabulary lists helped me to extend my vocabulary through antonyms (bon-mauvais) and synonyms (bon-excellent). The thesaurus in Word is helpful for the latter. Challenges such as "find the French/German/Spanish for six items of fruit and vegetables" when fruit and veg first crop up can help. Use mindmapping so that extension of vocabulary beyond the basic word is visible; this can be very motivating. Pupils may well be used to mindmapping from science or they may have learnt its advantages if they have SEN. Use cloze tests as well to practise vocabulary and to make pupils context-sensitive. Cloze is one of the facilities offered by the ever popular Fun with Texts computer program.

    Just a few ideas off the top of my head.
     
  14. Thanks Dodros - that's the sort of thing I was hoping for.

    Also, I'm not a huge fan of "learning styles", but I know I learn in a particularly visual/colour way - and I do understand that other people cannot necessarily relate to my way of learning.

    If you gave me 100 Hungarian words to learn, I know what I personally would do to memorise those words - but I need a broader range of strategies for my pupils.
     
  15. I followed the Daniel Tammet link. Interesting guy!

    Yes, learning vocab is easy. The way I learned vocab while at school was to sit down at home a couple of evenings a week and learn lists of words in preparation for a vocab test the following day. Dreadful pedagogy, I know, but it worked for most of us as it trained us to use our capacity for memorising. More than 50 years on I have forgotten relatively few of the words I learned at school - and I can still use them in context.

    I remember Linkword, Dodros. It was conceived by Michael Gruneberg, a psychologist, and popularised by Paul Daniels, the TV magician - if that's a recommendation!!? Linkword is still around:
    http://www.linkwordlanguages.com

    I met Michael Gruneberg in around 1985 and I expressed scepticism to him about his humourosu association tricks to help memorise words. So he demonstrated the Greek language version of his program to me and proved me wrong. More than 20 years later, I still cannot forget that "skilos" in Greek means "dog" - thinking of a dog that has lost his ski in an avalanche - and that "papia" means "duck" - thinking of a duck wrapped in paper.

    German has a lovely word for these sorts of mnemonic tricks: Eselsbrücke = "donkey bridge" - i.e. the less traumatic route over a river for donkeys, who are known to have a fear of water.

    That reminds me of the mnemonic I used to teach my students to help them remember which prepositions in German always govern the accusative: dogwuf bis

    durch, ohne, gegen, wider, um, für, bis
     
  16. That's funny! My mnemonic for the accusative was

    FUDGEBOW

    fuer, um, durch, gegen, entlang, bis, ohne, widder


    (Interesting - its a bit different from yours??????)
     
  17. I remember FUDGEBOW

    I also remember some song or other to the tune of Neighbours - neben, gegenüber, auf und neben, hinter, zwischen, vor und unter

    and so on.

    Went on a course the other day here in Germany about language acquisition - German courses are dull as anything but in between being talked at for five hours I learnt that according to research 50% of the English German students pick up isn't from lessons.

    I agree with previous posters that learning by heart simply isn't trendy anymore - with so much coursework and so much emphasis on creativity and expression there seems to be a stigma attached to 'just get off your **** and learn it!'
     
  18. A couple of years ago (when I was in year 9) my German teacher tried to teach us the affixes that would cause verbs not to be prefixed with 'ge-' in the perfect tense, i.e. be- emp- ent- er- ge- miss- ver- zer (and verbs that end in -ieren). I balked at the thought of learning all those prefixes, until the person sitting next to me whispered to me "all that is to me is beeyumpentergemissverzer, it doesn't mean a thing!" Ever since then I've been able to remember the list.

    Also, my Russian teacher used to make us form English sentences from Russian words to help us remember vocab. Some of them were sort of odd puns, such as "Let 'em go out and play in the summer" ('Letom' means 'in the summer'), and some were just sentences containing the word, such as "Mr. Zerkalo looked in the mirror" ('Zerkalo' means 'mirror'). I actually did find those sentence-forming exercises quite helpful, although I can remember being incredibly skeptical when the activity was announced to the class.
     

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