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Vocab drill using parallel corpora, plus classic spaced-repetition drill
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Some crude hacking on memory-training software. deck-player/: SuperMemo-2 algorithm on a deck in Anki import format deck-builder/: Tries to build a good deck automatically out of an aligned parallel corpus. Germ of a more specialized language-learning tool which maybe I'll tackle someday. Notes: What's great about Anki: * Useful learning in 10 minutes/day with no special effort. Beats TV! Shortcomings of Anki: * I tend not to learn a card well enough in its session, because it's taken out of the rotation as soon as I recall it at all. So then by the time it next comes up, I've forgotten it, instead of *almost* forgotten it. Wozniak's scheme seems better. * 'Flat' sessions (e.g. consider what happens if you try learning 200 new cards/session). * Contributed decks are often ill-structured ('ashtray' first instead of the most frequent & useful words). * Flashcards aren't much like the real-world tasks you're training for. I don't know if this is a shortcoming, in net -- maybe the greater focus of practice makes up for the greater abstraction -- but other more contextual schemes seem worth a try. * It has no way of knowing when I tend to confuse two words. In such cases, I could use focused practice on distinguishing them. * Next showings 'in N hours' probably not useful, compared to daily sessions. * Lumpy schedules -- later repetitions should get spread out over a few days. * Not obviously well-engineered. (E.g. a huge directory of backups of DB files. Thousands of lines of Python, not counting the UI. It's hard to find the core logic in all that code.) * Someone has to build the decks. * It'd be helpful if it could notice when you're going about learning in a suboptimal way, and advise you. For a start, it could extrapolate your performance to your expected items/year per minute/day, and compare to a benchmark. Likewise for forgetting rate. http://firstname.lastname@example.org/msg00243.html So can we test this theory? E.g. how much Spanish vocab could I learn in 4 hours by adapting sm2.py and my parallel-corpus deck? Then what's needed for retention? http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1603562 http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2007/11/07/how-to-learn-but-not-master-any-language-in-1-hour-plus-a-favor/ ~/prama/python/darius/guesslanguage/parallel-corpora/leipzig/unpacked/se100k/words.txt http://llt.msu.edu/vol5num3/pdf/stjohn.pdf > I'd like to see a program or website for learning a reading knowledge > of French (or whatever), assuming you've previously learned a > different foreign language like Spanish and don't need > elaborately-structured lessons -- where you just allocate it, say, 15 > minutes a day, and it grows your vocabulary, etc., adaptively according > to the time you give it, starting with the roughly most important > stuff so you can get some benefit no matter how far you take it. Have > you seen anything like that via your class? You could make a start at > this sort of thing with a corpus of French text to get word > frequencies, plus a French-English dictionary and an adaptive > flashcard program. Of course that leaves out grammar and idioms and > conversation.