What’s the hardest part of learning languages?
They feel arbitrary.
They have their own logic, but it takes trial and error to figure them out.
What if there was a shortcut?
A way to learn from your mistakes before making them?
Here’s a simple but useful tip.
Learn example sentences rather than memorizing words individually and out of context.
In other words, sentence mine.
What is sentence mining?
Google “sentence mining” and you’ll find a community of hardcore sentence miners who get into passionate debates.
Sentence mining is learning languages by collecting, saving, and reviewing sentences.
The more traditional approach is to memorize long lists of vocab words individually.
Why does sentence mining work?
Sentence mining works for several reasons.
First, it helps you create mental associations with what you already know. The sentences give you a “place” in your brain where you can attach the new vocabulary.
Second, it exposes you to the vocabulary in different contexts. This accelerates your learning in the same way that you would get to know a person faster if you see them in multiple social settings.
Third, vocabulary is nuanced, like people. Just like you don’t truly “know” someone by knowing their name, you don’t truly “know” a word just by knowing its definition.
Sentence mining lets you master a word more quickly.
How do I do sentence mining?
There are 2 ways.
The Traditional Way
First, I’ll tell you the traditional, painful way:
- Find a resource that can provide a steady supply of accurate sentences.
- Select simple sentences that demonstrate the word’s meaning.
- Save those sentences in your notebook or flashcards.
- Periodically review.
As you can imagine, the traditional way is a test of your discipline and organizational skills.
If you enjoy challenges, have an iron will, and are very meticulous, go with the traditional way.
If this sounds like too much work for you, there’s an easier way.
The FluentU Way
With FluentU, you’re able to see multiple examples of any word.
These examples are all high quality.
They either come from authentic sources like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks…
…or they’re created from scratch by native speakers, and written in a simple way that still clearly demonstrates how the word is used.
The words even come with representative images.
Take a look at the FluentU iPhone App to see what I mean:
FluentU lets you learn any video through a fun, multimedia quiz. And at any moment in the quiz, you can swipe left or write to see more examples for the word that you’re being quizzed on.
(If you’re an Android user, we haven’t forgotten about you—sign up here.)
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.