I have a hunch: something many L2 learners are deprived of is sufficient context for words that they learn.
Schools (in the UK, at least) are very happy to:
- Give students lists of L1-L2 word pairs to learn.
- Give students grammar exercises devoid of real-life context.
- Present all information about L2 in English.
- Allow students to ditch learning activities as soon as possible, because they’re not fun.
L1 learners, on the other hand:
- Always associate nouns with pictures, verbs with actions etc.
- Learn ‘grammar’ (tenses, prepositions etc.) in real-life situations.
- Do all L1 learning using L1.
- Achieve massive repetition of words, sentence structures etc. because they’re fun.
Thus, in an effort to give myself at least some of the advantages of an L1 learner, I bought a sketchbook last month and have been busily trying to fill it. (There are currently no picture-dictionaries for Cantonese). My logic has been that if I can immediately associate words with pictures, and practice saying them more (points 1, 3 and 4 in the list above), I should be able to produce words much faster and with much more accuracy.
Anyone else tried something similar? If so, leave a comment. There’re a couple of examples below:
* Notes: I’m no artist, so don’t laugh at my drawings. You may notice that some tones are marked, too: this is to clear up confusion when memorising vocabulary.