Learning Foreign Language Vocabulary with the Diglot Weave Technique

I just learned about a vocabulary learning method called the diglot weave technique.

The diglot weave technique involves inserting foreign words into sentences in a language you already know.

I wonder if it would be even more effective if combined with rhyming and image techniques:

“My perro chases after an arrow.” (also a visual image)

Has anyone tried the diglot weave technique?


  • Thanks for this Josh. It’s like using as much of the language when talking with native speakers as you can while you’re learning. I experimented with in emails with a friend using as many French words as I could and they did likewise. It was helpful but a little hard to maintain.

  • Would there be any benefit in being able to log in on the front page?

  • Login to the forum from the blog? I would like to integrate the whole site into something better, but it’s going to take a little bit of money. (I’m working on it.)

    It will take me about 3 months, but there will be some improvements as soon as I am able… 🙂

  • The site has a lot of great features already.

    BTW, something a little similar to the Diglot Weave, is to set one of your frequently used websites to a language you’re learning so that you see the familiar menus in foreign vocabulary. I have my yahoo mail set up in French. It doesn’t affect your content just the things the site includes like Supprimer for Delete, etc.

  • Good idea. I used to set my browser to send Esperanto language headers, and suddenly many sites sent me their content in Esperanto. This is the addon I was using:

    (It works for many languages…)

  • Terrence Reilly

    Have either of you tried the add-on WebVocab for Firefox? You need Greasemonkey for it to work — it replaces any words on a web page with the words you are learning. (http://webvocab.sourceforge.net/) So, say, if you were learning French, every instance of “word” would be replaced with “mot”. (I believe it can also distinguish between verbs, nouns, etc.)

    I’m skeptical about this technique, since it robs the words of their context. And it’s a passive way to learn. However, I think it would be cool to incrementally phase out the English words in a novel, introducing foreign vocabulary and grammar until eventually you arrive at reading it in a foreign language. I’ve always wanted to try that.

    (- moeris)

  • I like the idea. I will install the add-on now and try it.

  • On Google Chrome, you can use the “Polyglot” plugin (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/plpjkjplknknmhfhkjgcfgofclmlnine ) which translates random words on web pages you visit. It includes word replacements for English, French, Spanish, German, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic.
    I personnaly use it to learn Japanese, and it really helps, as using the context, I get a hint about its meaning (if I don’t know it yet 🙂

  • Thanks for the tip — I’ll check it out. 🙂

  • I’ve seen some Diglot weave techniques promoted before, but I’m skeptical of their usefulness if you really want to learn a language. I think that one should get away from their native language as quickly and completely as possible when learning. I think that Diglot weaves depend too much on learners feeling comfortable and safe (dipping your toes in the water), rather than recognizing that language learning is an intense and, at times, confusing process (that one must dive in to).

  • This is my first time here, and first time reading about this method; but being a native speaker and having taught for 4 years going into my 5th year (French level 2 and 3 and honors), I believe that this method (Diglot weave) would benefit more the younger age group meaning; elementary/middle school/first year high school beginners that are trying to learn the words. When you teach a language, and there is so much to learn from it like the grammar etc…using this technique is a lot of time wasted.
    Conclusion: could be a good one for elementary kids.

  • theTenthMuse

    I don’t know why anyone would want to use the Diglot weave technique to memorise vocab when mnemonics would do better. But I have found one advantage to it. I have found that when you insert foreign vocab into native sentences suddenly the foreign words doesn’t seem so strange at all. It appears almost native. It fits in very snugly with the context.

  • I see this conversation has been going on for some time, and I just had to chime in.

    The term DiGlot weave was coined by Robert Blair, and it was part of his Power-Glide methodology for home study language courses. The courses are intended for young people, but can also be used by adults.

    As used in the course, a story is narrated several times. There’s an audio track and a book. The first time the story is read, most of the story is in L1, but a few are in L2. Something like this:

    The girl opens the *ventana* and *ve* the *arboles*.

    Of course, each foreign word is used several times in different contexts within English-language text.

    The story is told several times during the class. Each time, more and more of the target-language words are substituted until the entire tale is told in the target language. This is a way to get completely away from native language without translating in your head.

    As conceived by Dr. Blair, the Diglot weave is part of a program that is put together by the developers of the instructional material. There are people who swear by this method.

    How effective it would be for a learner developing his own material, I don’t know, but that’s not how it was intended to be used by the man who first used the word.

  • I have been battling for a couple of years with Mandarin. Could this method be used for learning Mandarin?