Exposure to 10,000 words a day – seriously?
During August of 2017, I decided to expose myself to about 10,000 German words a day for 28 days! I had a lot of mixed feedback for this challenge with a lot of people mistaking the challenge as ‘learning 10,000 words‘ rather than simple exposure to 10,000 words either via audio or written sources. A lot of people thought that the challenge was impossible, but lucky for me I don’t have a ‘can’t do‘ or even a ‘can do‘ attitude I have a ‘go do‘ attitude and surprisingly this is what happened…
Why introduce 10,000 words into my study routine in the first place?
As babies, we are subjected to the raw workings of a language in a natural setting. However, the way we are taught to learn languages at school is very different to the natural acquisition that our brains seem to prefer. Although 10,000 words do sound an awful lot this is actually a very realistic target that isn’t as hard as it initially sounded. Prior to the challenge I had done some research and found that on average, a film contained approximately 10,000 words (unless it’s a silent movie of course). So just one film could potentially get me to that target. An average blog post is about 800 – 1000 words. So reading a dozen blog posts or so over the course of the day could get me to that target.
Further Reading: Exposure to 10,000 Words Daily Challenge
So How did one do?
I am going, to be honest, some days I was nowhere near target, but other days I may have actually reached if not smashed this target! Unfortunately, I wasn’t counting each and every word. So how did I measure this? Well, I did some basic research on the averages of words used in movies, series, podcasts, music and written words in books and blogs.
I must admit the challenge was easier on weekends when I was able to watch a couple of German movies (with subtitles in German too – double exposure a little hack to getting more exposure to German words).
I started to feel more comfortable with the language and although I wasn’t initially attributing meaning to the words I was hearing I did start to recognize the sounds of words. This helped when I was using language apps as I was better able to remember the word once I knew the meaning.
I like to video record my progress as I go. My very first video recording in German got slated by a few for my poor pronunciation. That was okay because I am a complete beginner in German and we all have to start somewhere. I never opened my mouth as a new born baby and said in the Queen’s English accent “Hello Mummy and Daddy I am delighted that we have finally met after 9 months“. Interestingly after only a week, people commented on a noticeable difference in my German accent. I had not really been learning anything new just using deep exposure to the language.
The weird and peculiar outcomes of language exposure
When speaking in my native English tongue I have started to pronounce my ‘W’ as a ‘V’ which at times can be rather hilarious. In addition to this, I have started to dream in German. In my dreams I appear rather fluent and can seemingly understand what has been spoken, however, once I am awake I am more like “What was I going on about?!?!”
I would recommend a complete exposure program for about 28 days but in addition to your study plan. It does not have to be for 10,000 words written or spoken, but having a target number really does help to keep the focus.