Power law and second language acquisition

The original formulation of Zipf's law was based on naturally occurring word frequencies and their rank order in a given English language corpus. For one example, merely 135 words accounted for 50% of the total word frequencies. This could be extended to phrases as well. For foreign language learners, this means that there is some limited set of words and phrases which account for a large percentage of word and phrase occurrences.

If we leverage the mnemonic tools previously discussed, we can spend time to create a set of entry level learning tools which will be extremely relevant (and therefore worth the time in creating).

Suggested tools

For given words and phrases identified

  • Phonemic imagery
  • Iconic images (simple drawings)
  • Canonical script, including for alphabet
  • "Town language" Roman room mnemonic, extended as a metaphor via the Pattern Language of Christopher Alexander (at the level of vocabulary, and eventually as grammar)