Passive vocabulary is more important than active vocabulary.

Just to be a bit of contrarian, I believe that passive vocabulary is more important than active vocabulary. Passive vocabulary is the focus of most of my active language learning. If I have a large vocabulary, the rest will come.

For me, it is more important to understand, to encounter words often in meaningful, and therefore credible contexts. I find it less useful to produce, with great difficulty, a small number of artificial phrases and sentences using my new words, at a stage when I have little familiarity with the language. This is time I would rather spend reading and listening.

I am only now at the stage in Czech where I can have an intelligent conversation, albeit with gaps and hesitations. But I at least have words, passive words, so I can understand what is said. I am also finding that I am able to retrieve more and more of these passive words and phrases when I want to speak. This is after one year.

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One thought on “Passive vocabulary is more important than active vocabulary.

  1. Hi Erik and thanks for commenting. I am not a big user of menomics. I like to flash card in association with a text, or from tagged lists of words or phrases that I have grouped together. I review examples as well. I like to flash card with the word in the target language, and captured phrase and the translation all on the front. For me it is all a matter of exposure. My mind just gets used to it. Eventually I have to use my passive vocabulary, and despite stumbling at first, it I soon am able to speak. We will see how much my five days in Prague will help me.

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