Basic words in a new language

Inge Wallin inge at
Sun Aug 11 17:27:16 UTC 2013

On Friday, August 09, 2013 22:38:51 Andreas Cord-Landwehr wrote:
> Hi Inge, I think that is a very good idea to start with a blueprint course
> that we can use to provide basic vocabulary courses for other languages.
> The current list really well fits to what I have in mind when thinking
> about the meaning of "basic course".

Ok, thanks.  One thing that I don't remember if I emphasized in my first mail 
is that this list was supposed to represent a useful subset for somebody who 
wanted to study a language seriously and continue learning more after these 
words are mastered.

I guess something that is also useful would be to put together a similar list 
of words and phrases that you could use to prepare for a vacation trip 
somewhere.  LIke numbers, some "touristy" words like hotel, beach, bar, 
restaurant, toilet, etc.

Something else that I didn't emphasize is that I tried to keep each lesson 
between 10-15 words so that they could be reasonably learned in one session.  
I have an app on my phone with a *lot* of words categorized slightly like this 
one but those lessons are more like 30-40 words per package and it is very 
difficult to remember the words the first times around.

> Some comments to the categories:
> * a category for relative pronouns ("this, that, those...) is missing


> * the current category "Pronouns" should better be called "Personal
> Pronouns"

Sure. It could be a sub category to "Pronouns"

> * In general there are very few adjectives and verbs, maybe add a
> categories for describing persons, describing a house, or describing
> activities (I was already thinking about verbs/adjectives needed in specific
> situations, but I think that goes beyond the scope of a "basic course") *
> for the Locations category, I cannot follow why you selected the current
> sub-categories :) IMO it would make more sense to use e.g. "buildings",
> "points of interests (tourism)", and add "Directions" (which is currently
> in category "others")

Yes, I noticed that near the end too but then it was too late to add them 
without restructuring it totally.  So I thought I'd just send it off to get 
feedback.  Adverbs are also missing, btw.

Regarding the word selection, as I said it's more designed to be a "starting 
set" as it were, rather than a self-contained subset of a language that you 
can use as a sort of mini-language.  

Regarding categories, I'm very open to restructuring that.  I have no 
attachment to the current selection.  

What I *am* attached to, though is the relatively fine-grained tree.  So I 
wouldn't want to increase the size of the lessons just because there are more 
things that would fit.  So, for example, rather than add more colors to the 
"Colors" lesson, I would create a "Colors 2" lesson.

Another thing that I haven't thought so much about is if 500 basic words is a 
good size.  Maybe it should be just 400?  Or perhaps 750?  500 felt like a 
nice round number when I started out...

> For the second step, I think it also could be an interesting approach to
> define a set of scenarios and collect word lists for the vocabulary required
> in those situations. (at least my current work book for my French course is
> doing it that way ;) And as Bèrto pointed out, there are already some good
> Parley courses that could be reused/be good starting points for that.

I actually downloaded a few but most of the serious ones were massive lists of 
words without much structure.  What I'm after is something that you can use to 
learn a set or words when you have some spare time, like on the bus or during 
a break.  That's how I use my app on my phone right now.

And rather than have one file with 4000 words, I'd prefer 8 with 500 each.

Thanks for the feedback.  Would you care to suggest an improved structure?


> Greetings,
> Andreas
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