Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Iversen Method

The Iversen Method is a wordlist method for tackling vocabulary acquisition in language-learning.

I am working on the modified Iversen method for Japanese. As a trial run, here is what I have done.

First of all, the paper. I used printed paper with squares neatly arranged like graphing paper. The squares are 5 millimeters. It's really small and I did not think I would be able to write in the complex characters in them, but somehow I managed. The paper has 44 rows and 30 columns.

Without getting too detailed, I put one entry per line which ended up in the following order: Kanji, Kana, English, Kanji.

The first day, I did 6 at a time. I felt I had to do some memorizing before writing them on the paper because when I do write them down the first time, that is when I need to make my mental notes about the characters so that later, I can recall those notes and reproduce the Kanji in the final column. Without doing some work to memorize the reading and meaning before writing the words in the initial column, I would have nothing to attach it to in my brain.

So I went through the list before writing them down until I knew the readings and the meanings. Then I wrote the Kanji words by first carefully looking at them and then trying to write them from memory. If I could not do it, then I knew which part to give more attention to and I made mental notes. I also repeated the reading and meaning once when finished with each word.

By the time I finished writing the 6 words, I could still remember all the readings. I did a quick run through in my mind to make sure and then I proceeded to write down the readings in hiragana for each word.

After that, I would check my recall of the English translations. Usually, no problem. So then I wrote down all of the English translations. After that, I double checked to make sure I hadn't left anything out.

Finally, the fourth and last column. This was the challenging part because I had written down the readings and the English since having written the actual Kanji words. Just glancing at Kanji is not enough of a review to be able to write them. So it felt like some time had passed since I had written them. I covered up the first two columns and went through the English column. I traced the Kanji with my pen but no ink as I reconstructed them from my memory. Many times I closed my eyes to get a better look at them. This helps to remove any visual distractions from sight so that I can concentrate on the characters from memory. I recalled my mental notes that I had made about which characters were used and what those characters consisted of. If I got stuck, I tried my hardest to remember it. Only when I had felt that that wasn't working would I finally resort to looking at the answer. If I failed any one word, I would repeat the run through again. Once I could go through the list with no problem, then I would actually write them down in that fourth column.

Like I said, the first day I had done 6 at a time (42 total). I felt that this was too easy and that the exercise was over too quickly.

So the second day I did 11 at a time. Naturally, this was more challenging but still easily attainable. The less familiar I was with a particular Kanji the more difficult it was. On the final two sets, I noted the time it took. Each set of 11 took about 32 minutes. Both times, the first 6 minutes were spent learning the words before I wrote that initial column.

So to fill up a page with 44 words took me 2 hours plus rest time in between sets.

I'm thinking if I use a dictionary or vocabulary book, I can leave out the 2nd column which has the readings. I could look them up easily later if I reviewed them a month down the road and forgot some. This would allow me to get twice as many words on a page. Plus, it would be easier to review since the readings wouldn't be on the page. I would know for sure that I had learned the readings if I can still read them with out having to worry about covering up the readings before I accidently see them.

Each night was a lot of work. I'm not sure I could keep this up. I was exhausted when I finished. I would have liked to have done more. But it was tiring so I could not. I suppose I will try with the 3-column version instead of four columns.

Follow these links if you want to see images of the pages I wrote.

(1.5 MB each)
page 1
page 2


  1. Links are working. See page 1 and page 2 links there? Right below where it says (1.5 MB each)

  2. no, no. i meant like a link to a site where i could BUY the paper/notebook.

  3. I don't know of a site where you could buy this notebook. Do I need to open an online store?

  4. i don't know about a personal online store... but if you had a temporary one with just that notebook, it would be nice to buy 2.

  5. Perhaps you would like this one?
    Composition Notebook. It's for writing essays.


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