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A better Spanish vocabulary learning tool
2013-12-03: A few things frustrated me about learning languages at school (many, many years ago), besides the fact that having been assured German was the international language of gynaecology* ("entspannen Sie sich!"), I discovered it really wasn't shortly after committing to the course.
The first was the certain knowledge that I was never going to use the German word for 'water desalination plant' anytime in my adult life.
The second was that having lived through two years of that course, when I began to think I might actually know some of the language and began to come around to almost slightly liking it, I discovered I didn't know the word for 'so' and it was the 59th most likely word to pop up in usage. When I looked at the real language, the nouns were often guessable, the verbs too. Those little joining and connecting words that gave the sentence real meaning, often I had no idea.
(And in a 2 year CSE course, you don't really touch on tenses much, that scuppers real-life things too.)
Oh, and learning vocabulary! What a drag! How to do it in the pre-Internet, pre-computer age? Prompt cards kinda worked, but they kept asking words I already knew (wasting my time) and that water desalination plant was in there (wasting my time).
What I needed was something that:
  1. prompted me more often for common words and rarely for words no-one's ever going to use
  2. only tried to teach me the words I didn't know.
Someone wrote on the Internet somewhere that if you can amass a vocabulary of 3,000 words, you'll be able to understand most of what you hear, and be able to guess the rest. Effectively, you'll have arrived, you'll be able to say you can speak the language.
So it would be nice also to know how many words you actually do know, and whether you are getting closer to that goal, and when you might reach it.
Thirty five years later, I built this free Spanish vocabulary tester/tutor.
It's very rough and ready at the moment, but I use it every day and it works for me.
If you want to learn Spanish, feel free to use it.
* my hands were too big. I turned into a web developer instead.

By John Allsopp
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