You must have come across words that you never seem to be able to remember. Why is it that you remember some words better than others when learning German? The answer is word frequency.
Word frequency analysis is not new and dates back over 100 years to 1898, when Friedrich Wilhelm Kaeding published a frequency dictionary. Kaeding devised his frequency dictionary not because of an interest in teaching German but because he was interested in developing a new stenographic shorthand system for German. Despite his intentions, his frequency list has enjoyed regular application when teaching German as a foreign language. The basis for the lexical frequency list is a corpus, a structured collection of language texts intended to be a rational sample of the German language, for example, newspaper texts, literature, radio and TV broadcasts. When learning a foreign language such as German, vocabulary can be learned randomly, i.e. as it occurs in a natural, authentic setting, or systematically, as is usually the case in a structured language learning environment. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. But it can be said that lexical frequency information can be helpful for the learner and German tutor alike. In our next blog article, we will look at using word frequency when learning German.