Saturday, August 05, 2006

115 hours :

Earlier this year, I was surprised by the very rapid way my vocabulary was growing. I think this was partly because I had such a small vocabulary to begin with. The old AUA books and tapes where I started learning Thai deemphasize vocabulary almost completely, teaching just enough to support grammar patterns, simple dialogue, and pronunciation. When I started attending the new AUA and focusing on input, my vocabulary increased very rapidly.

Recently, my vocabulary acquisition has noticeably slowed. This is expected -I have already acquired the very high-frequency words. As I get closer and closer to the long tail of the Zipf distribution, new words occur and recur less frequently. So of course, they take longer to acquire.

I spend most of my practice time these days listening to the news. Despite my previously mentioned concerns about propaganda, VOA is the most comprehensible Thai news I've found on the web. Almost every segment has a mix of completely new vocabulary, somewhat familiar vocabulary, and very familiar vocabulary, so it's never too far from i+1.

One of my goals for the future is to understand Radio Japan news broadcasts in Thai. Radio Japan is much more demanding than VOA. The announcers speak faster, the vocabulary is harder, and the subject matter is less familiar. When I can understand Radio Japan, I'll know that I've made a lot of progress.

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