The moment has come. We have discussed the Perfect method, the Good Method, the Better Method and now we are up to the Best Method. At this point you are wondering, “huh? What are these methods about?” Good question! Let me remind you.
This is the fourth article in the series about methods for identifying and selecting words to learn. The Perfect Method for identifying words to learn involves using a device that can look into your future to identify the words you will need the most in the future and then noting them down and learning them. It’s obvious why this method is perfect.
The other methods, (i.e. Good and Better) involve identifying useful words to learn by analysing datasets of recordings of speech. The dataset could consist of all the episodes of your favourite television series or a recording of all the conversations your sister had with your grandmother last summer. It’s obvious that the Better Method is the one that involves a dataset that is more relevant and more similar to the environment you will find yourself in. That’s the recap, now let’s get to the Best Method.
The Best Method simple involves improving on the Better Method. In the last article, we analysed the example of Ana who was learning Spanish so she could talk to her grandmother who only speaks Spanish. Ana identified the most useful words to learn for this purpose by analysing (pun not intended) recordings of conversations between her sister and her grandmother. The Best Method involves improving on where this method is weak.
One of the ways in which Ana’s method is weak is in how it only involves one set of recordings. If in addition to analysing the conversations of her sister and her grandmother, Ana also analysed the conversations of other grandmothers and their grandchildren, this would improve the method.
The other improvement is an improvement that should be made with great care. There are many things about the future which you cannot control nor predict, but as someone who is guaranteed to always exist in your own future, there are some elements of your future that you can control. Another way you can improve on the Better Method is to incorporate into it words related to topics you will make a great effort to talk about. For example, If Ana’s grandmother was a teenager in the sixties and the sixties are a period that Ana is very interested in, she can choose to make it a topic she will make/encourage her grandmother to talk about. At the top, I said this improvement should be made with great care. The reason I say this is that if you select a topic that you don’t end up talking about, instead of it being an improvement, it will be the opposite.
To summarise everything, the Perfect Method is an impossible method but the Good, Better and Best methods are possible but imperfect. The method which is best, is the one that is closest to the Perfect Method. Put differently, the best method is the method with the least amount of error between it and the Perfect Method.
As far as what’s the best method for measuring error? That’s an article for another day.