https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hermesianax

Cramming paradigms

One of the most appealing aspects of learning a language with DuoLingo is that you do not need to cram vocab and verb/case paradigms. While cramming vocab was never particularly hard for me in high school - in fact, it was one of the surest ways to get a good grade - it has never been my favourite thing about learning a language. I believe exposure is the best way to increase your vocab and general knowledge of a language; I think many understand what I mean when I say that tv and video games have taught entire generations to understand English in ways high school would have never been able to.

That being said, however, I want to make a case for cramming - a moderate bit, at least. For vocab I still think exposure is best, but for verb and case endings, I believe a bit of cramming wouldn't hurt once in a while. I suppose the word "cramming" itself isn't very appealing either: what I mean is writing down paradigms, not for hours at an end, but a bit every once in a while.

In the case of the Romance languages, I think it can be beneficial to write down all forms of one particular verb, like the strong verbs and an easy, short example of a weak verb for every group. In this way, you organise all forms you have encountered and put them together in logical orders: you begin to connect the dots in ways you have never thought of while working through the exercises on DuoLingo.

For other languages, verb endings might not be the biggest problem to memorise. But what about case endings? You might be learning German, or a Slavic languages like Polish or Russian. These and many other languages in the world use, to various degrees, case endings. Trial and error might initially be a good way to apply these cases directly in sentences, but writing down the paradigms of the German article, for example, may help you order the words you have learned in your mind.

So to conclude: I think cramming is a terrible way to start learning a new language but at an advanced stage in your learning, with or without DuoLingo, I think it can be advantageous to revise verb and case endings once in a while by simply writing them down. As such, I would advise anyone to actually do this and forget a bit about the stigmas around cramming that may have lingered since high school. But let me know what you think: do you agree that everyone should engage in this? Or is it not the right way for everyone?

November 23, 2017

6 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gabzerbinatoEng

Maybe a bonus skill for practicing in that style. I'd really enjoy it!

November 23, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hermesianax

That would actually be an interesting concept; I suppose it shouldn't be too hard to implement an exercise in which you have to write down all forms you know of a particular verb and you then get experience for it, thus counting towards your daily practice.

November 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

Romance languages have strong and weak verbs?

In contrast to vocabulary, declensions and conjugations are things that one is constantly encountering. Depending on how you're learning, you can just "subsume" a lot of it from the material. This is most relevant if it's related to a language you already know and you're listening to authentic content, reading, or what have you, i.e. you by and large understand but some details maybe aren't clear. But after some point, yes, it'll undoubtedly be worth the while to sit down and drill the things for a bit. I've had something of a hold on Latin verb conjugation, at least the basic ones, for a while, but b/c the future and the present in different conjugation patterns look so similar (to the uninitiated like me who's never memorized things like which group the verbs I encounter are in), I know I've benefitted from time spent on that in relevant Memrise courses. Often context in reading makes the tense clear, but it is nice to just know. And b/c I've been exposed to a reasonable amount of Latin, actually learning the details brings with it a joy of discovery with a more concrete basis and, sometimes, an "and how did I miss that up to now?"

Or for Italian verbs, I could largely automatically understand them, but I hadn't really realized I couldn't produce them! After a bit of conferral with a friend and some applied mental effort, lo and behold I could talk about the past! Those were some high-pay-off neuron firings :)

November 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hermesianax

Romance languages have strong and weak verbs?

French and Italian have, at least; I'm not sure about Spanish and Portuguese. What I mean is that 'Essere/être' has its own unique paradigm, while 'parlare/parler' goes according to a set paradigm for many different verbs with the same ending in -are c.q. -er. So strong verbs have their own paradigm, while weak verbs are usually classified according to a certain group: -are/-ire/-ere, -er/-re/-ir.

They are called strong and weak verbs right, haha? Or am I using the wrong terminology?

And b/c I've been exposed to a reasonable amount of Latin, actually learning the details brings with it a joy of discovery with a more concrete basis and, sometimes, an "and how did I miss that up to now?"

It's good to hear you are learning Latin! In the Western/European tradition, education in the classical languages (i.e. Latin, ancient Greek and sometimes Hebrew) tends to have a strong focus on grammar, but it's refreshing to hear that someone is learning it in a more intuitive, exposure-focused way.

Or for Italian verbs, I could largely automatically understand them, but I hadn't really realized I couldn't produce them!

Yeah I suppose I forget to mention this aspect: you might recognise forms, but in order to speak and write a language yourself, paradigms might help with remembering the endings in an orderly fashion and being able to remember them - I'd almost say, calculate them - quickly, especially in a highly improvised setting like a conversation.

November 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

I'm not 100% sure, but I think the "strong verb"/"weak verb" terminology is pretty restricted to Germanic languages. Perhaps they are unique among Indo-European languages in having such a good portion of verb inflection descending directly from Proto-Indo-European ablaut. For instance, the strong/weak terminology only pops up in the Wikipedia article on regular and irregular verbs when referring to the Germanic family. I think the more general terminology is just regular/irregular (both of which Spanish and Portuguese certainly have, incidentally).

After some false starts, I had the good fortune to re-begin studying Latin with a fellow who got his masters in Latin at the University of Kentucky, a place that I think very thankfully has had a lot of influence on Latin pedagogy recently; i.e. teaching spoken Latin is now a thing that is once again happening. If you have some interest in the topic, this video is informative and has some ideas that can be applicable to any language, such as the use of bilingual texts, a strategy I think I had stumbled upon before seeing this video (and is a large part of how I've managed to have read enough to have had the opportunity to "just understand" things like the subjunctive while starting out with a pretty limited vocabulary), but which it's cool to know has been used since antiquity.

November 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hermesianax

I'm not 100% sure, but I think the "strong verb"/"weak verb" terminology is pretty restricted to Germanic languages. Perhaps they are unique among Indo-European languages in having such a good portion of verb inflection descending directly from Proto-Indo-European ablaut.

It seems you're right; I always thought regular/irregular was interchangeable with weak/strong, but it appears there's a difference - albeit slight.

If you have some interest in the topic, this video is informative

Thank you for sharing this; it's an interesting video. I already knew of the existence of ├śrberg's method, but the speaker in this video is really convincing about its effectiveness. I also recognise a lot of problems he faced during his studies, being a student of classics myself. Especially interesting is this observation: "grammar translation methods create good translaters and good philologists, but only very rarely create good, life-long readers of Latin." I can't agree more with this, and I also agree that in language acquisition, quantity goes over quality.

November 26, 2017
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