How Many Words Can You Memorize A Day?


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“A lot of language learners appear somewhat obsessed with the amount of words that they can possibly “memorize” every day. Memory and spaced-repetition flashcard apps are all the rage these days, and devout language learners who have been converted—by, in part I suppose, the high-tech nature of the tools and their promise for immediate progress and feedback—only swear by them. Armed with fancy memory techniques, more flashy apps, and textbooks that promise to make you fluent in 30 days, quite a number of people appear convinced that learning a language is, after all, just a matter of brute memorization and practice over a short to medium period of time.

You or someone you know may have gone through an experience similar as Eric’s. But what went wrong exactly? To start with, Eric set the wrong goals: he focused on output (i.e. the number of words he could memorize every day) rather than input (the interesting resources he would consult to immerse himself in the language). Eric also underestimated the finite amount of willpower (or “motivation”) that he has under his belt, and set exaggerated targets that were not relevant nor in line with the actual progress in fluency he would undergo over time. As a result, Eric quickly became demotivated and lost an interest in “studying” French. It all became too mechanical and repetitive to his liking. That’s why now he’s trying that flashy new Chinese character learning app. I’m sure he’ll do much better on that one.”

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Written by Lingholic

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