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This is a follow up article to the one titled, The perfect method for selecting word to learn. In that article, as titled, the perfect method for selecting words to learn was discussed. To recap, the perfect method involves a crystal ball. You use the crystal ball to look into your future and identify the words you will need the most in the future. The method is perfect because it identifies the words you will definitely need the most. Though perfect, it’s an impossible method. The method requires a device that allows you to look into the future and no one has one of those. 


Since the perfect method is impossible, a person trying to identify the most useful words for him/her to learn has no choice but to pick from one of the imperfect ones. The question then is, what is the best imperfect method? Before answering that question, I’ll direct your attention to another question.

How do you know that a method is the best method? The answer is simple, we compare it to the benchmark method. The best imperfect method is the method which is closest to the perfect method.

Good to Perfect.png

Since the title of this article is “The Good Method”, by analysing a good imperfect method and improving on it, let’s see if we can’t get close to the perfect method and thus discover the best imperfect method.

Method  A


Use a frequency list compiled from analysing a publicly available collection of speech.


I use the term “speech” loosely. For example, a collection of all the magazines published by Time magazine would count as a collection of speech. Another example, a collection of all the episodes of the TV show Friends counts as a collection of speech. What about a frequency list, what is that? Once you have a collection of speech, if you were to analyse the collection and then order the unique words that are in the collection from most common to least common, this would be a frequency list. 


Back to the method. Using a frequency list compiled by analysing a publicly available collection of speech is a good way of identifying words that are useful for you to learn (first). This is the Good method but it’s “goodness” for you is limited. It’s OK to be selfish. You are looking for a good method for YOU. Though a publicly available collection of speech (e.g. all the episodes from Friends) will be very good at identifying words that people commonly use, the collection is not personal enough. A method that would be even better is one that is personalised and tailor made for YOU. 


Method A is a good method, but Method B is better. What it Method B? That’s an article for another day.

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