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Monthly Resolution Status January 31, 2007

Posted by Edwin in French, Progress.

At the beginning of this month, I made a new month’s resolution to learn 3 new/forgotten French words a day. This translates to 93 words in the month of January. Here is my vocabulary list so far.

Together with the unofficial word list I made up last year, I now have 279 words on my list. Building the list is a no-brainer. I got over 93 words way back in mid-January. But how can I get those words into my head? How can I actually ‘learn’ them?

Lacking of a good vocabulary building system, I need to design my own. Here is what I do. I store all my vocabulary on a spreadsheet!

The reason I store all my vocabulary on a spreadsheet is that I can manipulate them easily. I can perform other fancy operations with my vocabulary on the spreadsheet, such as checking for duplications and matching against some other frequent word lists (like this one). The best thing about using a generic spreadsheet is that it is highly portable. This means if I find a better system later on, I can easily export the entire vocabulary from the spreadsheet and import it to the new system. I can also update my French vocabulary page in my blog with just a few clicks.

As for learning the vocabulary, I am using jMemorize recommended by several bloggers. I just need to import the vocabulary from my spreadsheet into jMemorize using its import feature.

jMemorize is a free Java application that utilizes the famous Leitner system, and combined with time schedules. Words that have been known are considered to be learned until a specific expiration date has passed. The higher the deck, the further away the expiration date is set. Here is my progress as of this morning:

jMemorize Progress as of January 2007

As for my monthly resolution for February, I am going to increase the number of words, but I don’t want to be over-ambitious. I am going to double the amount of words per day to 6, which means 168 words in the month of February.

My method of handling vocabulary list is by no mean the best solution, and surely it still requires a lot of refinements. If you have any vocabulary building tips or tricks, please feel free to share with me.



1. Danling - January 31, 2007

Interesting technique. Thanks for sharing. I’ll try that to build my Spanish vocabulary.

2. Steve - February 1, 2007

Great software! Just downloaded it. I wonder does anyone know of anything similar that can be used on Pocket PC’s?

3. Geoff - February 4, 2007

Very nice freebie software. For Steve, byki.com has something similar, but you have to buy the full version for a language. Once you do, you can make lists for any language you want on your own and transfer them though.

Edwin: On the one hand, you’re more in practice for learning new words. On the other hand, you’ve picked off a good bit of the low-hanging fruit as far as (re-)starting a vocabulary base goes. Besides the software, is there anything you’re doing to keep up the six words a day thing, and how much extra time is involved?

4. frenchninja - February 4, 2007

Good to hear you’re still on this!
As for me, I’ve decided to learn the hard way and talk to my non-English speaking relatives over Skype 🙂 no choice but to understand and be understood! Curious to know how you integrate grammar into learning new words, or will this follow later? Grammer has been my biggest hurdle but I’ve finally begun to nut it out.
Bonne chance

5. edwinlaw - February 5, 2007

Geoff, please see my new post about my vocabulary maintenance. I have described the steps involved.

6. edwinlaw - February 5, 2007

Mig, thanks for your comment.

I don’t consciously learn grammar when learning new words. I find that my high-shool-level grammar is sufficient enough to get through most of my readings. As for writing and speaking, my greatest difficulty in grammar would be conjugations. What spefic area in grammar do you find difficult?

7. frenchninja - February 5, 2007

Yep, conjugations is what I meant 🙂
I just noticed you’re learning Mandarin as well, so funny, I learnt that for three years in school… forgotten a lot of it though

8. edwinlaw - February 6, 2007

Mig. Where did you go to school? Interesting that they provided Mandarin classes.

9. frenchninja - February 6, 2007

Australia 🙂 it was a rather unusual school so certainly not a mainstream thing over here.

10. frenchninja - February 7, 2007

Hey edwinlaw, thought you might be interested in this:


Learn French by Podcast

11. edwinlaw - February 7, 2007

Thanks, Mig, for the link.

I listened to some podcasts from there a while ago. Then when they started charging, I stopped listening. The episodes are too long and the level is too basic for me anyway.

I like the ending song very much though. 🙂

12. frenchninja - February 7, 2007

Gah, they charge? I thought they were free mp3 downloads. Pfft 🙂 I haven’t actually listened yet

13. edwinlaw - February 7, 2007

Those on the page are free, but I believe they contain only hightlights of the full versions.

14. Learned Words « Tower of Confusion - March 2, 2007

[…] March 2, 2007 Posted by edwinlaw in French, Progress, Tools. trackback I committed to learn 168 French words in the month of February. Here is my February vocabulary list, and the chart below is my JMemorize […]

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