How do you learn vocabulary?

I've just finished reading Yearlyglot's post saying that one should not study a language, but rather learn it. To some extent I have to agree, but I just can't fathom doing this with vocabulary. He says he checks up words as he is reading a book, but isn't that just the same as studying the words?

Mandarin


How does this apply to Mandarin in any case? Can one really learn vocabulary and not study them? I have to differ. Mandarin sits in the area, where learning characters just has to be done by studying them. Writing them over and over. If one is reading a book, you'll just have to sit and search each character, which will take so much time that it is, in my opinion better rather to study the words of a text first, before diving into an unknown text. I think there is a balance between learning and studying which can be achieved.

Vocabulary Acquisition


Currently my vocabulary acquisition comes from the lessons have to do in class. Furthermore I'm reading Chinese websites and when a word comes up frequently it sort of solidifies the use, but mainly I learn by studying them. I have used Anki in the beginning of the year, but I just could not keep up with it. I think it is a great idea, but somehow it just gets way too boring.

Next year I'm not going to have formal Mandarin classes anymore. How do you guys learn vocabulary? I really need to know. Please leave a comment. Maybe you guys have an interesting method.

Also, do you agree with Yearlyglot's opinion that one should not study a language? I've been studying Mandarin for three years, and yes I agree, studying formally is not the most efficient method, but I think studying can definitely advance your learning by quite a bit.