Friday, June 29, 2012

Awash in words

Chinese teachers think nothing of overloading their students with buckets of words. No sooner I write down the current word, it's definition, and a sample sentence, when I look up and see three more words written on the board.

(All definitions given by the instructor are in Chinese so if I don't happen to know the words used to describe the word on the board, I'm relegated to searching my dictionary. This makes for slow go progress.)

Added to this is the fact that we receive anywhere from 30 to 40 words a week. The teachers are merciless. That's why we pay them so much . . . to drown us in words. I'm turning blue. I'm out of air. Help!

Getting organized

So in an effort to wrap some organization around this boatload of words I've turned to technology and my handy iPad. Using the Idea Sketch app I entered a sampling of my words. The ones I didn't know got more care and feeding. I attached meanings and sample sentences to them.

Since I'm a visual kind of guy I found this approach more interesting and engaging. I stayed at it for hours, searching, comparing, and mapping the words and meanings. Through this process alone I learned a lot and was able to remember many of the words even before I created the flashcards

Creating the cards

Idea Sketch has a very cool export feature that allowed me to export the diagram as indented text. (You can also export as an importable diagram for sharing with others or as a PDF. Very handy.) Next I cut-n-pasted the results into a gdoc sheet and then used gFlash+ to build the flashcards.

Now I have all of the words I don't know in one handy place for repeatable flashcard drilling.

I have a life vest. I feel myself ascending to the surface. I need air.

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailers. -African proverb
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