The exploration Mindset: Making Boring things fun and feel like not a waste of time

It isn’t hard to imagine that if you go into something trying to explore, you will come up with something interesting eventually. Also, everything is connected, if you are looking for connections, you should find them…although trying to find connections can sometimes be like iunno, work? lol However, I feel like it can turn into more of a day dream once a connection or something interesting is found, so that from there it is smooth sailing.

So the technicalities. One I thing I’ve just realized, is that when I’m trying to learn something I might need to actively stop and explore my experience, instead of just continuing to try and cram my head with stuff.

Just like mindfulness when if you are in a bad mood, you can explore that mood and it becomes less bad,exploring the mood is different from just experiencing it.

So! I tried exploring and it felt ok. What happened was I started with zhongwen.com and was just reviewing, then I went onto some new characters, but instead of just going through a bunch I started asking questions about each one like “what is the main concept?” “do you have anything to add to this observation?” “can you give three observations about this character?” “does any thing come to mind that this idea relates to in your life?”

This kinda helped for the first 2 or 3. Then I came to one where I really had very little to say. So what I did was I moved on to the words it was used in, and obseverved those, then the characters in those,
and the words they were used in. So I ended up taking notes on I guess 10 characters, 7 of which are part of words. I still feel a kind of stress from this, like I feel that lump in my throat or the need to swallow…however I feel like if I can explore endlessly and voraciously, only trying long enough to
TEST if there is something interesting, befor moving on, maybe I will be able to keep some kind of interest.

Also, after that, I though, well I have a comic book I can read now I guess I’ll do that. However, then that felt like, too easy. Like, it felt like just eating candy or something unhealthy but that tasted good. Iunno. I wonder if maybe the exploration mindset is healthy, and the mindless entertainment is unhealthy, and if I can somehow switch to only exploring. It feels like, with the exploration mindset, it’s challenging yes, but it’s also like I am responsible for my own fun, instead of sitting back to be entertained by someone else. I have to find the fun, the interesting aspects of what I’m working on. This is good because if I can do this, the “interesting things” will be probably more valuable than things I didn’t have to work to notice or discover and that are closer to common knowledge anyway.

I just started a Mandarin Blog

Before I get to the Mandarin:

I’ll get to the mandarin in a second, first I wanna talk about art. I realized that when doing art and I guess music as well, I am way more motivated when working towards a goal that I will benefit from, rather than just practice. I find I learn pretty fast already and that I can learn things as I go. Practicing just to be practicing…to possible “master” something eventually, doesn’t appeal to me as much and I think that holds me back from any practice at all. So I realized I should probably focus on acquiring skills through purposeful use of them.

The Mandarin(not the restaurant…unless you are asking me out. In either case the following bracket is to close this aside, not to create a sad face with the colon that follows it):

Now for the mandarin bit, if you haven’t guessed already. I decided I should try to find a way to do the same for mandarin, and I realized one of the best ways would be to create a journal. Btw, I can’t help but notice my art ideas(a comic at least) and my Mandarin ideas (blog) are both very social in nature and I am motivated by this I THINK, but I wasn’t a few weeks ago…like back when I wasn’t on nofap. Just throwing that out there as it’s (common)knowledge that testosterone is a pro-social hormone.

Anyways, so as soon as I started making that first post I realized, wow there is a lot of review going on here. First I have to copy and paste from google translate, double checking the characters seem to say what I want to say. Also I can look at the pinyin for the words. Then I have to copy and paste the keywords again for tags. Then I have to search for keywords in the categories, or in this case add new ones as I had no categories as it was my first post.

I think  should do more of this, just immersing myself in Chinese, using it in my life. Using it to express myself.

Keep a beautiful journal in Chinese (Power of Aesthetics)

I stumbled on some motivational tips in a scientific america magazin
which initiated some pondering, which resulted in some ideas about what
I might enjoy doing in Chinese.

namingly, writing in a cool ass journal.
This journal has to be cool, and look cool, etc, as this will be part
of what motivates me to write in it.

Also the fact that I be able to show anyone who reads it, “this is the chinese
I know” etc, would mean everytime I write I get an instant sense of
being more chinese and that I am making visual accomplishments.

Also, the more I write in it, the more valuable it will become, especially
if I write observations about my day, or notes about myself.

I just hope I can learn enough through using it, instead of an Srs.
I mean, I hope I will memorize enough.

I plan is to make it like a TAG style Journal where I have a set of questions
that I answer every day for a week or so, then next week I will have another
set.

For each day I write, I’ll first write out the question, before answering
it so I at least get practise writing and comprehending the questions
I write out.

Also this structure means less burden on me to come up with things to
say on the spot when I write. It makes it more of a task based thing.

Although I can still write stuff afterwards for fun.

I also like this because it allows the artistin me to come out in a more
passive but stll rewarding way.

Just like when someone was asked how to turn toasting bread into a game
someone would want to play. The first thought was, make the toast “cute”.
Aesthetics seem to actually be that important.

I mean yeah you can see businesses where people stay on websites or
in stores or whatever based on beautiful or user freindly it is.
What I’m discussing here though is like, can you make doing homework,
more fun than going to a party, through proper use of aesthetics?
I hope to prove this to be the case.

Aesthetics seem to have the ability to add meaning to something.
Would samurias be as romantizised if their swords and armor didn’t look
beautiful. Probably not. Aesthetics might actually hold a huge amount
of power that we can use to our advantage by weighting our tasks
with aesthetic appeal so that the most important task, is made to be
the most beautiful,(and I guess most personalized (like adding your
own touches to the stuff you beautify)) so that they draw you in the
most.

I mean, Chinese drew me in because of it’s beauty.

That is also another thing. It would suck if liking chinese so much, I
didn’t allow myself to write in it and own my writing.

Also those writing prompts could even evolve into a game that
I could play with others. Like, everyone getting the same question
and having to answer in just a few words, but getting lot’s of comprehension
from the reading, etc.

Also, notebooks have way more context than srs cards, and after a few
reviews you will have the connections of a whole page for each page of study
instead of just one card.

Also, I will be able to draw on previous pages in future writings allowing
me to use more and better language the more I keep at it.

I went for a jog today, and after work as well, I was feeling pretty motivated.
I’m just waiting till tmr, though because I want to by nice notebook, probably
from coles/indigo

“following a formula get’s old fast”.
How about I decide each day what I’m going to write but I need to
write a minimum of 50 words plus reading a number of previous pages
chinese first just to see how much has stuck. Once it’s allo stuck I
leave it for a random review which I could even schedule as a day where
I pick  few pages at random to review.

Language Learning Method Developements: Sentences, Muscle memory, Fluency

So I’m almost done acquiring around 150 verbs and I’m starting to feel a bit of a platueau. Not a platueau like I can’t learn as much, but a platueau as in I can’t learn as fast. The rate of doubling of my knowledge and my ability is going to get slower and slower as I keep learning in this way. What I need the next step to keep my progress as exponential as it was when I first started. This doesn’t mean I should some how b able to learn double the vocabulary in the same space of time as when I first started, but I’m not ruling that out lol.

What I’m really looking for is a way to continue feeling like I am exponentially becoming more functional in the language. I will learn more vocab, but beyond that I’m looking for something that I wasn’t able to do easily before learning these verbs but that I can do know, and which will help me improve fast. What I think that something might be… is focusing now on producing simple but complete sentences with verbs, and listening and maybe reading of the same. What this will do is prime my brain for constructing complete sentences, with the verbs I have, and maybe a few more as needed.

Now, I’m thinking I shouldn’t even focus on making sentence flash cards or srs. Really memorizing the sentence is not what matters. Speaking in full sentences created on the spot is what is important. A post or two ago  I think I described the ability to instantly produce words and how critical that is to feel comfortable and free in a language. So I sad if I can speak 100-200 verbs with fluency where I can quickly produce them as needed I will feel a great level of comfort in my ability to express myself. yo intento tyclearo un poco espaniol por hacer me… point lol.  I said I will try to type a bit of spanish to make my point, and I did. This is what I was looking for in learning a language very quickly an efficiently. That’s a basic level of fluency in my opinion. Fluent with only 200 words.

So as I said before, what is the next step. The step that will have me improving at the same astounding rate, fast enough that I remain not bored, while still maintaining what I previously learned. So that next step for me is this. Well there are two options.

1) I will make another list for common nouns, and another for common adverbs, and another for common adjectives, and another for interjections ect. For each type of word memorize maybe 5 words. Then use them in as many sentences with as many verbs as possible. The next day move on to new words for each category but review the old ones somehow. Or, maybe better would be to build up by word category. So first learn 100-200 nouns, and be able to create simple sentences with all the nouns and all the verbs you learned, using the English translations of the word lists as a que for you to create sentences with. Then add learn adverbs and make sentences with all three. ect.

2) another way to go about this is to not even try to memorize any word lists from nouns or the other types and just take a noun list of 100-200 words and start improvising while looking at that list. Then hope at some point you will remember them but this seems very error prone.

3) A third way actually is to not even make anymore word lists but try to talk and try to write and then just look up whatever words you don’t know and hope some of them sink in eventually. The thing about this again is it will take a long time to get words into memory this way and even longer than 2 because there is less guarantee that you’ll use a given word with enough frequency to remember it.

4) A method that is proven and that I can imagine working well is to just start reading. Maybe graded readers to start. Problem for me is I want to be producing sentences sooner. I could read out loud of course. I could use parallell text which is easier in spanish that in something like chinese for overall vocab building. I could also just use sentences I find by search for examples of the verbs.

I’m wondering if development in production just has to slow down but I can make up for it by reading or something else. It seems there is no way to make the same gains I just did by learning more words the same way.

No, I have an idea. Now that I have learned 200 words, the language has really opened itself up to me. To improve now, I need and am able to, work with bigger chunks of language at a time.  I’m pretty sure this was either my last post or part of this post. What I am thinking is…

Sentences, 5 – 10 for each verb, precomposed, maybe by me, using a set number of vocab items that will come up again often in other sentences so they get hammered in. I’m thinki 100-200 of each word category in total. If I do 10 sentences for each verb I will have maybe 5 words in each sentences, on from each category assuming 5 basic word types iunno. Therefore I will be drilling 10 words from each of 5 categories for each verb I study. That means to learn 100 of each category I would only have to study 10 verbs with different words in each sentence. or 20 verbs for 200 words from each categories. That would be 200 sentences, quite a bit but I did that with just verbs and it wasn’t that hard. It’s hard because it will total 1000 new words over 200 sentences which is a lot. Here is the kicker though, that was only 20 out of 100-200 verbs I need to review so what will I do for the rest of those verbs. Well I’ll repeat the process but the same 200 words out of each other categorie for the sentences. So massive amount of review for each of those words. say I have 100 verbs. 20 is the set of 200 of each other word category. The for the next 80 verbs, so 4 more sets of verbs, I am using the same words from those other categories, just becoming more familiar with them.

Now, I still think it would be a mouthful to try and learn that many new words all at once so I could always repeat new nouns sooner in other sentences to decrease my word load and increase my reviews.

This method is cool but too time consuming for me to create perfect 1000 sentences. So I’m going to make it easy on myself and just look up 10 sentences for each verb and hope there is enough vocab and enough frequency to help me out. Also if I can see that whatever website I’m on is spitting out the same sentence with a new verb only or something like that I’ll know to be more choosy. The next thing is I’m not sure if I’ll really srs these sentences. I might want to just have pages that I can just read them off of or even better possibly is recordings I can repeat after and hear a so they move to active faster.

So I’m just looking for 10 sentences per verb, and each of those will be a block that I just read through or listen too and make sure I say it out loud.  I could also do 5 sentences instead of 10 if it will allow for more verbs in one sitting.

This is as much about getting my mouth used to speaking in full sentences as it is about vocab. This is why it is so efficient to do it this way. By the time I am used to speaking Spanish quickly which I will practice doing with these sentences, speaking them as fast as possible, I will have them in muscle memory and so I will have the vocab too! I guess I could balance the increase in muscle memory with vocab by not spending too long on each sentence getting the muscle memory all at once, but just try repeat them as fast as I can once or a few times and then move on.

So I imagine my ability to speak fast will be at part with my ability to speak in full sentences. I guess it’s like a musical instrument where if you can play scales fast and then exercises fast, it enables you to improvise fast as well.  Chose to use scales and exercises for Spanish because I don’t have a vocabulary. I don’t have any chops. Once I have chops, once I have sets of sentences and vocab in my brain that I can draw from, I’m pretty sure  will be able to and will be inspired to improvise.  Having already 150 or so verbs, I know I can do some speaking already. Therefore I don’t expect it to take till 1000 words for me to be inspired to improvise more. I think it’s more of, the more you practice the repeating of sentences and get comfortable moving your mouth in that fashion, the more you will feel comfortable and the inspired to speak spontaneously.  So it might only take a few hundred more words for my mouth to be used to speaking and then I’ll be talking peoples ears off in spanish. Also I guess I don’t have to do 10 or even 5 sentences for each verb all at once.  I could get a list of 1 sentence for each verb and practice repeating those so that I can say them easily. By the time I can say them all fast, I know I’ll have the words in my vocab because each word will be linked to a verb that I already know so I’ll have the sentence in muscle memory with at the very least a huge clue as to the meaning of the whole sentence. Then I can deduce if even necessary the meaning of the individual word.

After this, I go through the process again with a new 100 sentences one for each word, an if I feel like it, make an audio recording of the previous(bb) 100 so I can review or even just listen to it and remember the phrases. The repeat x8.

(bb): I said previous instead of first so that at the end of that instruction I can just say repeat. If I had said first instead of previous, well that would have meant for each repeat, make a recording of the first 100 sentences. With previous….yeah, u know. So I’m not saying memorize. I’m saying repeato after me, all 100 sentences, every day, and soon they will be stuck in your head.

Language Learning: Vocab Relevance, MCD

In school find I learn way way way better when I am learning something that actually applies to my life. Right now I am studying psychology for that reason. I can sit in the lecture and absorb so much because I can connect most of what is being said right away to something I am interested in or find important to know. Therefore the retention is significantly higher than when I was studying electronics in college and had little interest beyond getting a job.

So how does this relate to my developing language leaning method. Well I am learning verbs first because I know that with a good grasp of those I can enjoy myself in the language. I want to be able to use any of the verbs I learned, fluently, whenever a situation arises where I could use one to communicate. However, when it comes to my ability to recall verbs on command what I find is the verbs I remember easiest are the ones I can see a use for easily. So the spanish verb to understand “entender” or the phrase “no entiendo” is pretty easy to recall for me. I’m thinking it’s because I know there are many situations where I will need to know how to say that specific thing and so the relevance makes it more important to remember. Also I get the impression that each of those situations, or just knowing that the situations are there, creates connections in my mind. Even if there is no specific situations I can think of I get the feeling my mind just says: “1) you may be talking to some girl and want to say I don’t understand 2) you may trying to get directions for somewhere and need to be able to say it, 3) you may be at a bar and need it, 4) you may get in trouble with the law and need it.” I wonder if that is what my mind does in the background and starts trying to make connections to some possible needs that are obvious enough to prepare for.

Then there are the more obscure although still apparently common verbs like “acceptar” meaning to accept. I can’t think of any glaring place I’d need that word although there probably are places where I would.

So I am developing an idea based on this theory

For each verb, I will brainstorm maybe ways I would want to use that word in my life. If nothing else I could even make just funny or silly sentences or play off of jokes I already know in English that the verb reminds me of.

ex: to appear or show up, when do I ever say something appeared(I know I do but can’t think of where), how about “a wild pikachu appeard, how do I say that?
If I go with show up I can say, iunno, a few gansters show up, or a ninja, or I didn’t think you would show up, or if you wear that I will not show up to the party with you.

Also another way to brainstorm is to look online for sentences that could jog your memory of situations where you would use a verb.

So I guess I agree that sentences are important for learning in context, not just because you learn sentence structure and learn the word as part of a chunk of information making it easy to store in memory. Also because with multiple sentences using the same word, where each sentence depicts a new situation, the mind can store that word as useful in those multiple situations.

The next idea I have, is instead of sentences, or maybe as an answer to sentence questions, or a fill in the blank, an srs card or flash card could pose a situation on the question side.

For example, what could you say in this situation,

The answer could be that verb you wan to test.

Yet another way would be when given the verb, recall a set of 5 situations where it can be used.
Or, given 5 situations, list the verb that can be used (a bit too passive a study method this last one I think)

I think sentences are important because I can study conjugation and sentence structure. However I want to make it so I am focusing on the situation not just memorizing the sentence. So I want to test the sentence but leave it so that I still have to guess what verbs I should use. So I think I’ve just rediscovered the AJATT idea of MCD, where I test on a word by using a sentence with that word left blank and I have to fill it in. The sentence is the context and because the word is not included I am forced to figure out what word is needed based on what the sentence shows the situation to be.

So new technique for me: MCD for 100-200 common verbs,at least 1 sentence for each present tense conjugation. Now that I think about it, longer strings of text, like a few sentences, that really makes it so I have to guess at the meaning of the word based on situation not just knowing the whole sentence, would work even faster! Yeah I’m pretty sure this is part of the AJATT method too but I totally see why it’s useful although I might just stick to single sentence MCDs cause I’m lazy.

 

 

*Language Learnin Method Revised* Vary study methods + focus on verbs

In the last few posts I stated that passive vocab was not as important as active as far as fluency is concerned. Mostly I meant that as far as learning goes. My point was that if you want that fluency feeling. The functionality of being able to have a conversation, you should focus on being able to speak, not being able to listen. The reason I say this is that, just as it happens for children, building passive vocabulary happens automatically as long as you are surrounded and especially interacting with the language. Therefore as long as you can talk to someone, they can talk back and you gain some contextual understanding as well as getting your point across, functioning in the language.

In this post I want to share why passive learning, can be good for active vocabulary. My idea is learn 100- 200 verbs and be able to improvise as I learn more. However, as I learn these verbs I realize the retrieval time long and takes a bit of effort. More than I’d like. Now I’m sure that I could just drill these verbs by rote/srs for a few days and have them, but is hard, and I’m looking for easy.

What I’ve been doing is playing youtube vids of 100 verbs, one with translation and one without. I’ve started to notice some words are moving into my active vocab, and in a different way. They are moving into active and directly to the tip of my tongue when they do. I’m thinking this may be the result of a few things.

1)  am focusin on 100-150 words only.

2) I’ve created mnemonics for some, read some just on an online page, and some are on a premade srs deck.

3) I play the videos often, sometimes paying attention, like when a mysterious word I know I’ve heard before draws my attention.

I want to have around 200 verbs in my active vocab an on the tip of my tongue. I think if I can do that, it will feel better than even when I had 2500-3000 word passive vocab in mandarin with maybe 500-1000 active vocab most of which was unrelated to anything I could discuss with someone in a natural way.

So I’m thinking as much exposure as possible to a narrow range of most functional vocabulary will allow those words to be on the tip of the tongue very fast and with less effort. I can also expand on those verbs with sentences to learn conjugations ect. I think using as many different sources and types of media to expose myself to the same vocab, with active listening when possible/motivated and passive otherwise. I might watch a few Spanish dramas ror funny shows but I think I’ll keep that minimal because it doesn’t seem as efficient for my goal. It may become more important as I expand my vocabulary and grasp of complex sentence structure, but not now.

Also ever notice how when you first start studying for a test and you have all this information to go through it seems like a lot of information. Then as you go through it and it becomes organized in your mind, it seems like a much smaller amount. That is what I expect to see, and think I am already starting to see with this verb repertoire I am trying to build. I feels like these 100 verbs are not as many as they were when I started. The youtube videos seem less dense. I think this is a good sign things are working.

Also learning with varied methods keeps me very motivated. It’s like, I have a separate attention span for each form of study. I can do 20 min of srs tops, but also 20 min tops of any other form of learning I can get my hands on.

Fluency in a language (Conversation(speaking/listening) and I guess for writing, but not really reading)

Would you say the average 3 or 4 year old child was fluent in their native language. I would say yes. I say this because they are confident in their ability to communicate in that language for it to be useful to them. I think that is the definition of fluency, not knowing as many words as a university educated person, not even knowing as many words as a high-school graduate. Just being able to use the language. I think many second language speakers have a tendancy to compare themselves to native adult speakers or to their own level in their own native language. The they say, “aw man, in my first language I would be able to talk about ANYTHING, but in this new language, I can barely string together a sentence. I suck in this new language therefore.” This is a mistake. The reality is that knowing maybe 500 words, the right 500 words, of a second language is not “sucking”. That is just seeing the cup as half empty. I think in the past I have done this, and part of why is because social ability in a language is a social cue. If taken out of the context of it being a second language, having only 500 or only 100 words to work with makes a person seems less intelligent. Especially trying to communicate, for fun, genuine communication, with only 100 words. It could feel like I’m saying, I think what I know is enough, and that is why I am willing to speak to you with only these words. It’s like I’m presenting myself as someone who only needs 100 or so words or as if I am that simple minded. I mean that’s how it could look to me, when a second language speaker of English talks to me. It can often look like they are less intelligent. I mean, a lot of people are very simple minded actually, and I am really not, so I definitely feel like it would be a struggle to have my personality shine through in a second language.

So I think people are not worried about if they can survive in the language or anything as frustrating as that. It’s purely a social pressure to sound smart. Also I’ve felt like, if you speak a bit of Chinese and no one is expecting it you will seem very cool for a few days, but then people will get bored of it and think, “so are you getting any better or are you content with where you are at?”. People may not want to talk to someone who’s language ability isn’t good enough to have a decent conversation. So it’s all social pressure that most people judge their language ability on. Now, I don’t think it is wrong to feel this way. I mean, I want to talk to people and have them feel comfortable around me and enjoy talking to me.

What I think though is that the size of vocab has little bearing on how smart you come across or how fun you are to talk to. I think you can communicate a lot with very few words if you learn the most important words and can improvise with them in intelligent ways. For example if you learned the word blonde in french, you can also use it as “dumb”, I mean this is offensive and from what I’ve experienced, has no truth behind it but it’s an example. There is a lot you can do with few words and it forces you to be creative which I am hypothesizing will be more attractive and show more intelligence and allow for more conversation, than knowing more words but not feeling comfortable with them. So what I think is that fluency is not about how many words you know, but how you use those words. I think fluency is lexicon independent just as I think communication is language independent.

Another problem that I’ve even had in my first language which carried over to my second was conversation skills in general. Especially with women. Things I’ve worked on are how to keep a conversation going mainly by asking about the other person, or commenting on what I notice about them. Also just talking about things I find interesting. I used to be so caught up in goals that conversation outside of my goals was hard and seemed meaningless and fake. Now that I see it as a very good method of making a potential friend for life or even more, I put effort into getting conversation skills down. On top of this, and very important was my ability to be funny which I do often by just observing something absurd in my environment and maybe restating it in an even more funny way by connecting it to something else ect. Even just saying silly stuff, being absurd. I think if you want to learn another language you need to be fluent in your first language first, and you aren’t if you can’t use it to do the things you want. If you can’t hold a conversation in your first language, if you don’t know the mindset you need to have of entertaining yourself and sharing entertainment, ect, then doing so in another language will only be harder. Well, you can be fluent in reading a language. If that’s all you want then go for it and in that case vocab will be more important because you can’t ask the words to explain themselves in a more simple way. If you want to be fluent like holding a conversation, you don’t need to many words, just know how to use them to have an enjoyable experience with someone.

I enjoy trying to get the most results for the least effort that’s why I am researching and put together this method. So my method as it stands, is basically learn 10 to 200 verbs, plus a few common words like I you , ect, plus how to conjugate the verbs, and all the while focus on using those verbs in as many ways as possible. Learning the verbs alone using mnemonics and also through sentences to help you learn the conjugations and more words is probably optimal. hearing the sentences and especially the verbs is also important for pronunciation and comprehension.

Functional in any lanuage in one day

Learn 100-200 most common verbs and improvise with them. That is making a long story short. However I guess many readers will want the long story. The long story in which I give argument for why I believe what I believe.

I was learning Mandarin for over 2 years I did a lot of ajatt style learning, passive vocab, immersion, srs, ect. I never had a full and enjoyable conversation with a native speaker even at my peak of knowing maybe 2000 words passive where I could understand a talk show to a certain extent. I felt powerless in the language beyond being able to pick up what people said. I mean I could form sentences and speak but I just felt weak as a speaker. Did I need more words? Did I need more experience using all the words I knew? Did I feel uncomfortable knowing so much but having so little to show for it in speaking. Here is where I argue why the method of immersion and passive learning and ajatt, although it made me think, and helped me develop, should not be the corner stone of learning a language.

I’m going to be traveling soon and I’m trying to learn as much as I can in a month so I can function in a language, in a country. So I have an actual ultimatum, none of this letting it happen whenever it happens. So how do I get the most functionality in the shortest time. It is not by listening passively, at least not for me because I am an extrovert so I will want to speak a good amount. crack jokes ect. Passive vocab is far less functional far less powerful, at least in my experience, than people seem to think. People say babies learn a language passively first, it’s the natural way. They shut up until they are ready to speak. This is not so at all. They scream and cry on their very first day of life. People don’t count that as language because we as developed people would not try to speak this way. The point is, babies are “active” communicators on their first day of life, not passive. No one stays passive. You can’t survive on passive. You can’t get what you want being passive, and the human condition is such that we actively work towards the things we want. Therefore active, active communication falls under this. Next myth, babies shut up and listen until they can form words. Nope, they babble. They make sounds with no meaning, just phonemes. They just make shit up and try to be understood until eventually they say something people get. Mama, which is a word they made up but we just decide to let them have. Then Dada and a few more maybe and then they finally catch on to a few words of ours. Basically passive vocab should never be the focus. Be passive if there is something someone is saying that you want to understand, but if you want to communicate be active, say things to people. People say that 90% of communication in life is listening ad only 10% is speaking. Well let’s look at it this way, how much listening get’s you want you want, vs how mush speaking get’s you what you want. You can’t get someones attention, you can’t order food, you can’t get a date, you can’t move forwards as a social being without communicating actively in some way.

In my experience, saying shit to people and being understood is more fun than people saying shit to me. That’s a natural thing, that is why people need to be taught to listen to others because everyone is fighting to be heard. Not to say it should always be this way, just that without being able to actively communicate and do so strongly, however you do so( grunting and pointing, or talking), you will be living in-authentically in that language for the duration of the time you learn in that way. Unless you reeeeeaally like you some anime or something. The moment you can understand what someone says is not a true moment of joy in that language. It is a milestone, but it is a lonely anti-social one. You might as well be a spy or something. The moment you can be understood by another person and get something you actually want out of an interaction, that is a moment to celebrate. That is functionality.

The easiest way to develop that power is focus on the strongest part of speech, the part that does something, so you can get people to do things or understand that something is being done, or ask if something ought to be done, ect. So learn 100 – 200 verbs, and be able to use them and you will have a lot more functionality than if all you can do is point at a chair and tell someone it is a chair. Sure infants do this, but this is because verbs are the hardest for them to learn, they wish they learned verbs first.

You can learn 200 words in one day. It would take hours but using mnemonics that number is attainable. I’m not doing this much all at once but it makes a flashy headline. Once you’ve built up that repertoire, you can begin communicating using it and maybe a few pronouns as needed. See it’s not necessarily the most common words that will get you functional fastest. It’s the most functional, most useful words. Hello is not really useful. neither are months or words like a, the, ect. Verbs are the most functional category. I’m sure there are some other words that are functional that are nouns and whatever but I’m simplifying this method to make it more actionable for myself.

After you learn 100-200 verbs inside and out. Then start listening and watching tv and the verbs will help you understand context far more than anything else because the verbs are the part of speech that is most important yet least visible to the eye and so it’s hard to learn verbs from immersion but pretty easy to learn words when a character is pointing at it or looking at it or picking it up and examining it while saying what it is. You don’t even need to know the name of many of the nouns spoken in a tv show because it is a show, it is showing you nouns. If it is a talk show that is different, but a show like a drama or cooking show will be teeming with context.

O yeah, and learning words actively usually means they are learned passively as well. If for some reason this is not the case, make sure you can recognize them passively as well. Shouldn’t be too hard.

Learning a new language fast and without bordom 100 Verbs first!

Learning a language is easy actually. Just memorize a lot of words/sentences and gain a lot of exposure to sentences so that you absorb the sentence structure. The problem is, at least for me and maybe many other people is that I get bored easily and nothing could bore me faster than rote memorization for upwards of a month of information, compounding information, with no practical use. That unfortunately is how learning a language feels for me, at when learned with anything close to a traditional method. So i am learning a language so I can be conversational when I travel and I have years of trial experience with learning languages. Years of experience trying to figure out how to make learning the language not make me feel sick enough to quit. So here is my new and improved method. It will seem like exactly what I don’t like, at first, but if I get over like…a 2-4 day hump it should be smooth sails.

Intro: This method will teach about 1000 words of a language in the most palatable way I can think of. This should be enough for small conversation.

1) Learn 100 most common verbs of you target language using mnemonics + spaced repetition/flash cards/paper whatever works.
This is the shittiest part. 25 per day for four days, takes a minute to create each mnemonic and a half that time to review. Total time by day for will be about 200 min or 3hr 20 min. I am assuming that 100 verbs will be all the verbs you need. Also I am assuming verbs are the hardest to learn and best to learn first based on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/quora/do-people-learn-nouns-or_b_4192361.html and http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/infants-use-verbs-they-know-to-learn-new-nouns/ . If your target language requires conjugation, learn that for present tense only cause that’s all you should need to be understood. Learn them efficiently, if there are any patterns you can just memorize that makes some of them easier then do that.

2) This is where it gets good. For the rest of the duration of your learning, you will not be quizzed on any more isolated words. things should get fresher and fresher.  Everyday for the next 4 days, take 25 of the verbs you learned previously and learn one sentence that uses it. Shorter is better, and memorable, like funny, dirty, smart ect if possible, but common vocab should be the focus of the sentences. Record yourself saying each sentence and play them on repeat throughout the day. Quiz yourself on each sentence using first language as a que for you to say the phrase in target language. The verb in each on acts as context to help you remember what else was in the sentence in the Spanish version. If the sentence is small enough and you’ve heard the recording enough, the verbal prompt should be enough to jog your memory of the whole phrase. Because you’ve been hearing the phrases all day, you should need less study time beyond that to be able to reproduce the sentence. Obviously you don’t need to review the verbs in isolation anymore because you have sentences with them now. Now you have at least 200 words (probably more) and review time has not compounded beyond 4 days worth of material.

3) For each verb, find another sentence over 4 days. then test on both sentences for each verb as pairs of sentences.
(I’m still trying to figure out how well this might work, because possibly you wont even have to review the previous 100 sentences as some of the new vocab will be repeated in the next 100 and beyond.) Still have the recordings for all sentences learned and have them playing so you keep hearing them.

4) For each verb, find another sentence over 4 days. then test all three sentences for each verb as triplets of sentences.
(Or if you are optimistic only test the these new ones now.) Have the recordings and oh yeah, any music of tv shows in the language that you can play even just in the background will keep the language in your head.

5) Continue this way for the duration of the month and you should have at least 1000 word vocabulary with very little rote.

Even better idea, after you learn the first 25 verbs, the next time you see those verbs should be in sentence form. So 25 verbs on day 1. Day 2 is 25 new verbs and 25 sentences for the 25 verbs of day 1. Day 3 is 25 new verbs and 25 sentences for the verbs of day 2 and review the 25 sentences from day one(or even scrap all those and learn 25 new sentences). Continue in something of this fashion and see what you can express in a month and even count all sentences you can produce out of what you learned, and all words, to see what your vocabulary ended up being.

 

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