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Passive and active vocabulary

Another note about my language studies. I’ve realized it when studying Spanish. My basic motivation in languages is to become able to read books written in it as soon as possible, and that’s why I’m enriching my passive vocabulary as fast as I can. But there is a trap. Big passive vocabulary does not mean the ability to use the words in conversations or even to remember them when you need to translate something from another language to your target language. Instead of it you have a painful feeling that there is somewhere a proper word, but you have completely forgotten it. And then you go to the dictionary again and again, just to prove that it was the word which you knew very well but didn’t remember at the moment.

So, now I agree with the professional polyglots who insist that you must use a new language actively since you started to learn it. To try, to make mistakes, correct them, and to try again. It’s the only way to make the foreign language your friend, to master it. Even if all what you wanted was to read books and nothing more.

That’s the main idea of Benny Lewis, whose book I’ve already reviewed here. But because I’m sticking to the rule “one blog post — one book to recommend”, let me present another one related to language learning: a book by Nathan Chang containing seven interviews with famous polyglots.

Алексей Чадаев

Директор Института развития парламентаризма