Word Clouds Help You Identify Common Words
As some of you may know, there is a great lack of resources for my target language, Albanian. So I have to get creative. I can’t use a site like LingQ for reading and keeping track of words, but I can still do something similar with a Word Cloud! Surely the ability to consume more volume of material through LingQ is preferred, however, there’s a lot to be gained from doing the work yourself rather than having an app do it for you.
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The gist of this method is to help you learn words through context, which has been shown to be more effective than drilling flashcards. More specifically, by identifying and learning the most frequent words in the article, you will have an easier time with understanding your reading even if you don’t know all the words.
If you’re a complete beginner, this is also a way to learn what the most common words in the language are so that you make sure you know the basics. I recommend beginners do this with multiple articles across different topics (without reading them) to get a feel for the most common words.
- Find an interesting article in your target language (don’t read it yet!). If you’re using Chrome, you can translate the whole front page of a news site to decide on an article if you’re lost.
- Paste the text into a Word Cloud generator. It will create a Word Cloud like the one above.
- If any words you already know pop up, filter them out and regenerate the Word Cloud (I left common words in above so I could make sure I know some of the most common words).
- Look up some of the new, more frequent words (they show up the largest in the cloud) in a dictionary or translator to create a primer vocab list.
- Try to read the article. On the first pass, don’t look anything up. Just read. Say it out loud or use text-to-speech to also train your speaking/listening.
- Read the article again, this time looking up words you don’t know. Print out the article and mark it up if you prefer it! If you don’t know most words, try translating individual words and whole sentences (see below).
- Read the article one more time to test your comprehension.
- Repeat as many times as you find helpful, going paragraph by paragraph with your own translation if you need to.
- Type up a list of words from the article you now definitely know (should ideally include the common ones) and filter them out next time you make a Word Cloud so you are always learning new words!
- Don’t stress about memorizing all the words! Just try to understand.
Here’s an example of my dissection for an article where I didn’t know most of the words (Insta):
I hope this helps!