One word appears only in one sentence?

  • My son (3rd grade, 3 years into learning English based on Estonian) has been using Lingvist for a while now (about 6 hours total, 600+ new words) to improve his English. I've heard the words and sentences he is learning here and it seems to me that the words always appear in exactly the same sentences. Based on the discussions with him, he tends to associate the words with specific sentences. I'm a little concerned about these associations as it seems to me this is not what learning a language is about. This might be good on the phrasebook level, but not necessarily for general learning.

  • works@Lingvist

    @Karel-Kravik I think the example fits perfectly here! Yes, we completely agree with you – we'd show the same word in the same meaning also in different sentences. So for example, you'd see someone in its initial sentence first and in different ones after (Someone called while you were out, Someone threw a stone at his car etc)

  • @Kärt - I don't even mean different meanings of the same word (which is an important aspect too), but rather associations between the sentence and the word instead of word and its translation. For example, if the student sees 15 times the sentence "There's _______ at the door." then he immediately recalls that the answer is "someone", instead of reading the word in his base language and thinking how to translate (it in a way it matches the context).

    I think this would be different if there was some variation of the sentences where the word "someone" is used.

    By your name I'd assume you're Estonian, so most probably you have taken the driving license exams and have also practiced the tests. After 3-4 rounds of the same question, you don't solve it with your knowledge and logic any more, but recall the right answers just by picture. Sorry if this is not an applicable example 🙂

  • works@Lingvist

    Thank you for bringing this topic up, as it's a subject that we have been discussing in our company for quite some time. We agree that always seeing the same word in the same context limits the word to only one of its meanings. As one combination of letters can mean many things, it would be better to see the word in all of its most common combinations. For example, the French word plus is used in many very different ways, which are all as important as the one we're teaching actively at the moment.
    @Karel-Kravik , @maksim You'll be glad to know that we're already preparing to test alternating sentences in the French course, and if we see that users like it and it improves their metrics, then we'll add the feature to all of our target languages.
    @dev_temp Don't worry, you will not be obliged to see a word in five different sentences if you don't have an issue with that particular word – the feature will only apply to words that keep returning to your repeat stack.
    We haven't decided on all the details yet, so if you have any ideas, let us know!

  • @dev_temp I thin k it would be very beneficial because it would ensure that the word is associated with the idea of a certain context or range of possible contexts rather than a certain set of 'cue words'. It would be great if this existed as a learning tool, whether its worthwhile to Lingvist to do it is a different question.

  • So, what do you suggest? Creating 5 - 10 cards for every word for 5000 words would make a hell of a task to complete the course and I'm not sure that it will be much more beneficial. From my experience, the words that you can recollect the best are the words from live language. Lingivst is good to make a first acquaintance with the most popular words, but if you don't meet them anywhere else, they will fade quite fast no matter how good Lingvist's learning algorithm is. You should not account on Lingivst as a single learning tool. Buy your boy a book or a cartoon, help him to find an english speaking friend. Different language sources make learning more fun and much more effective then just adding more cards to SRS.

  • It would definitely be ideal if every word had many context sentences, rotated at random. In a way, the cloze sentence approach is inferior to standard flashcards, due to this association effect. On the other hand, I think that after having gone through thousands of words, the context sentences tend to be forgotten, and the deciding factor tends to become whether or not you remember the word by its definition. Quite a lot of words on Lingvist already effectively have multiple contexts, because different forms of words have different cards (although I’m guessing this applies less so to English). It’s also true that it’s useful to learn some words in close connection to a context, because this teaches us about their usage.

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