The Goldlist Method (Explanation, Resources, and Discussion)
The only post on this topic I could find was from a year ago and there was not much discussion and almost no explanation of the method.
I think this is something that Duolingo users may be very interested in for several reasons. Particularly because it addresses an important part of language learning that Duo does not: Writing (pen and paper)!
What is the Goldlist method? Simply put, it's a method of language learning that utilizes writing and long term memory .
The creator of the Goldlist method is a man that goes by Uncle Davey. I'll just say it right away, the guy is strange (but super smart and a wealth of knowledge). On all his Youtube videos he speaks in a fake Russian accent that's difficult to understand at times and is just really off putting. He is extremely long winded and confusing in both speaking and writing. It's unfortunate because there are so many great things about the Goldlist method but very few straight forward answers when questions do arise. I hope to help make this method far more clear than he has. Unfortunately I am still unclear on some aspects of the Goldlist method and cannot explain everything fully. I hope some Duo users here have had experience with it and can share their knowledge.
Goldlist Method resources:
-Uncle Davey's blog and original post: http://huliganov.tv/goldlist-eu/
-Another helpful blog post: http://languagegeek.net/2015/06/20/the-goldlist-method/
-Goldlist method Youtube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH6FERpM5fQ=PLAB47DAC8E6F4430A
-Another helpful Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj1pBFa1oH4
Even with all of that information, I still don't feel like I fully understand the Goldlist method but I'll try to briefly explain it using Uncle Davey's blog post as an outline. He gets sidetracked and starts giving tips about language learning in general, proper diet, and philosophical ideas. For the purpose of this post I will skip that stuff. I'd still encourage you to read it in its entirety if you think you want to start using the Goldlist method.
First some rules and recommendations:
The Goldlist does not use short term memory learning techniques. Do not cram or try to memorize. "No “think of a cat in a cot and you’ll remember that Polish for ‘cat’ is ‘cot.’"
Do not study for more than 20 minutes straight. Take 10 minute breaks between intervals.
Study in a comfortable place.
"Use several materials that present the content in a different way." Use books that have grammar explanations for each word you put on the list. Don't just write "to run" but ran, running, etc. IMO this in not a requirement, just something you may find helpful long term. It's up to you how you want to learn
Use an hardback A4 notebook. Currently I am using the Moleskin Professional Portfolio and it's awesome ($25, Barnse and Noble or online). I thought this was silly when I read it but it does feel nice to write in a really high quality notebook.
Write slowly, enjoy it, and relax.
Use this method on a daily basis as a supplement to your other methods.
Don't be afraid to tweak the Goldlist Method to better suit your learning preferences.
Start on the upper left hand side of the 2nd page in your notebook. (you need two full pages next to each other.)
Write the date.
Write out numbers 1 - 25 down the page. This is going to be what's called a "Headlist," the initial set of words/phrases you want to learn.
Note: Your next Headlist will be on the next left hand side page (page 4 in your notebook). That will be numbered 26-50, next Headlist 51-75, etc. Sorry if this is unclear, look at some images on Google to see what I mean.
On the left of your first page (remember: this is actually page 2 in the notebook), write your selected words or phrases. Use anything you want for your word lists: Duolingo words, frequency list words, words from a textbook, helpful phrases. Anything you want to learn and put into LTM.
On the right (same page), write out the definition in your native language.
Read the words and definition out loud once after you have written everything.
Don't look at it for 14-60 days.
After that time has elapsed, come back to it and quiz yourself to see what you have remembered best. You should be able to recall about 30%. Congrats, that stuff is in LTM, you can now retire those words.
With the words you don't remember: Write them down on the page next to your Headlist (page 3 in your notebook) on the top in the same way except this time you will only have roughly 18 (number them 1-18). This is called "Distillation." Similar to distilling liquor, you are refining your list and coming up with the words you still need to get into LTM.
14-60 days later do the same just below the previous distillation. Now you're down to 12 words or so.
Again 14-60 days later, same deal. Now write under your original Headlist. Now you're down to ~8.
At this point you've completed your Headlist and first 3 Distillations. The book you've written them in is called your Bronze book. Now you can stop here with that set of words and basically just say screw it, I can't get these words into LTM, or, you can start a new book called a Silver book. This is where things get a little weird and I am confused. I think you take those 8 words you couldn't remember still and create a new Headlist of 25 words with other new words you also want to learn. I can't really find an answer anywhere but anyway with the silver book you will do the same method and further refine your list. He explains that by the end Silver book you should be good to go but did mention a potential Gold book, Platinum, and Diamond book. ...IMO if it takes you that much time to remember a word you may want to rethink you learning methods. I am hoping only going to a Silver book is enough for me.
Alright...that's my understanding of it. There's just no short way to fully explain it I guess.
Questions I have: - More clarity on the Silver book and further books. - In his blog there is a picture of an "actual Goldlist mature bronze book," ...why is their Headlist in the 1000's and the distillations in the 700's? Am I missing something? - More information on using the Goldlist for phrases and learning grammar.
Have any of you used this and been very successful with it? I'd really love to hear your input.
In my experience I have enjoyed using the Goldlist method (for Russian) so far, though I've only just begun. I am a week away from my first distillation and have created 4 Headlists. I will typically only do 1 Headlist a day, it just feels like enough. I like the idea of not cramming and memorizing but just enjoying the language and the long term process.
That's all for now, thanks for reading.
Unless I'm missing something, this is more or less what Duo already does for you, except it hides the administrative overhead for you.
You rely more on short term memory for Duo and you also don't get to choose what words and phrases you learn. Not to mention the writing aspect. Give his blog post a read, I think you'll see the difference.
I had already done so, but I disagree on the short term versus long term memory, and all the other differences seem to be superficial process differences. In particular Duo doesn't ask you to write, but it does ask you to type. The Goldlist method imposes a burden of administration that Duo does for you, but to pretty much the same effect. That it allows you to choose your words might be a plus, but it carries a lot of risk and imposes a lot of work as well.
The way I see it, the primary use case for the Goldlist method for Duolingo users will be learning words that Duo doesn't offer in its lessons.
I think Duo's way of language learning is more comprehensive, and more inducive to actual active language use. One could possibly emulate it using the Goldlist method, but I think it would be so much work that nobody would do it. Duo makes learning a language feel like playing; I think many people here, possibly myself included, would drop out if it started to feel too much like work.
It's an accessory for language learning and so is Duo. Neither is the entire package or answer. Thank for sharing your opinion.
Thanks for this. I used a simple version of this method when I first started learning my first foreign language (Spanish) and found it to be very helpful. I still have some of those lists laying around in the mess that is my room. I'm going to have to begin these lists again, but this time for Turkish and Arabic just for the sake of a variety of learning methods. Duo, Memrise, and textbooks become dull at times. I think the goldlist is useful for jumpstarting vocabulary in the beginner stages.
Absolutely. Thanks for sharing. I'm hoping to really stick with it and stay motivated similar to Duo. Personally I have been using it to advance my Russian vocabulary. I think it has value for all learning levels.
I think each of the distillations get numbered from the front of the book onwards. So if he drops about 32% of the items each time, and continues to work on each of the headlists in order, the numbers of the later headlists get lower with each distillation. I say 32% because I think he rounds in such a way as to drop slightly more than the 30% he recommends.
I don't think the numbers are that important, other than to show how many of the original number, say 2500 words as he states a number of times, remain after each distillation - by page 100 of each distillation you can see how many words you still have on your list. - The first time through, when you're writing out the initial headlists, it comes to 100 pages if you're writing 25 words/phrases per double page and aiming at 2500 words. The second time through (first distillation) as you drop 8 words (or thereabouts) from each list of 25 you're left with 17 items on each page (68% of the original number), or 1700 words by page 100.
Calculating from the first value on the picture on the book:
first distillation 1151 * 0.68 = 783 (actual 758 - a little better than projected)
second distillation 783 * 0.68 = 532 (actual 525)
third distillation 532 * 0.68 = 362 (actual 366)
You've mentioned you're unsure what happens when a new book is started. I'll try to clarify from my understanding.
Each headlist (originally of 25 words/phrases) is now down to 9 items. Thus the first four double pages have (9 items each * 4 pages =) 36 items on them that are the ones a person is least sure of. From these 25 of the least well known are chosen to make a new headlist on one page in the new book. This sticks to 36 * 0.7 = 25 (rounded down).
If you were working towards 2500 words over 100 double page spreads, condensing every 4 headlists together should leave you with 25 double page spreads, hence the second notebook "will only need to be a quarter of the thickness of the first one" (point 19).
Thanks for that. I found it interesting to see a different approach to learning.
Wow you really were able to absorb that so quickly. Thank you! Everything makes so much more sense now. I appreciate you taking the time to write that out.
From what you said it seems that you spend 180 days to get those words into LTM?
It could for certain words or phrases I guess. Those would be some very stubborn words. I also think waiting 60 days or even 30 each time to review the word is not logical, that's just far too long. I will be reviewing every 14 days. It is a slow process but I suppose that's what it takes to get things into LTM.
So at worst on a 14 day cycle we're talking 84 days (assuming you only go to the silver book, Headlist + 7 Distillations.) I don't think that's too bad.
Personally, I think making a Memrise course is just as easy as this and it gets the words in your LTM quicker.
Maybe. I use Memrise as well. Sometimes I just like to get away from the computer. Thanks for your input.
What do you do when you've remembered more than 30%? Do you still put 70% of the words from your headlist into the second list? I'm trying this method now and excited about it. Thanks for sharing!
How do I this for genders tho. I am learning German so genders are pretty important and I must pretty much just memorise them all(I know they're methods to remember, like the endings or so, but I just memorise them). My question is wether I should put the article in front of it, and consider the words unlearned if I couldn't remember the gender, or should count it as learned and repeat the genders afterwards?