What makes it so hard to learn languages?
They have their own logic, but it takes trial and error to figure them out.
What if there was a shortcut?
Here’s a simple tip: Learn example sentences rather than memorizing words individually and out of context.
In other words, sentence mine.
What is sentence mining?
Sentence mining is learning languages by collecting, saving, and reviewing sentences.
Look up the phrase “sentence mining” and you’ll find a community of hardcore sentence miners who get into passionate debates.
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 start sentence mining?
Here is an effective way to sentence mine:
- Find a resource that can provide a steady supply of accurate sentences, like FluentU. This program teaches languages using hand-picked videos from authentic native sources, and it’s a good place to find high-quality content (such as movie trailers and news clips) for sentence mining.
- Select simple sentences that demonstrate a word’s meaning. If you’re using FluentU, there are interactive captions and flashcards accompanying each video lesson which let you see examples of how the word is used in sample sentences and in other videos.
- Save those sentences in your notebook or flashcards.
- Periodically review. FluentU lets you review with both flashcards and personalized quizzes.
So however you choose to approach it, sentence mining can take you to the next level of your language learning journey very quickly.
Good luck and happy mining!