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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Why Can't I Remember That Word?

It happens often to language learners that there are some words that don't want to be remembered. It could be a simple word or a complicated one. For some reasons, we just can't remember them. Different people will have different group of words which fall into this category.

There are some similarities between a newly acquired language and the language you have already spoken. A science article Why your brain just can't remember that word gave some insights on tip-of-tongue experience, especially for people who are bilingual. And I believe it applies to language learners as well. From the article:
One possible explanation is that similar-sounding words compete for our brain's attention. Since bilinguals know twice as many words as monolinguals, there's more chance for tip-of-the-tongue experiences. Since bilinguals, by definition, speak two languages, they are bound to use many individual words less frequently than monolinguals.
The key issue is right there. If we use a word less frequently, we tend to have this experience. And it applies to language learning. When we use a newly learned word all the time, and even it is a rather complicated word, we will remember it. But for less frequently used words, they are easily forgotten.

To activate a second language is to use it as often as possible, even when you are talking to yourself.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Studying Grammar

Grammar is a very important part of every language. It is important for both native speakers and non native speakers.

For native speakers, learning grammar can help him gain full awareness of the language. While for non-native speakers, it's the path to true proficiency.

Luckily for Chinese beginners, Chinese grammar is over overwhelmingly simple. Word orders, verb conjugations (there is no verb conjugations!) and sentence patterns are made so logical and straightforward.

The grammar part of Chinese is definitely a blessing.