I am an infomercial junkie.  I love to watch infomercials.  Why?  I don’t know.  I don’t believe half of whats promised, but for some reason I will watch the whole half hour infomercial just like I would watch an episode of Glee.  So anyone who watches infomercials at all will definitely know who Tony Horton and what his famed product, P90X, is. 

I thought this was a blog about learning spanish?

It is, but I love using something I learned from one thing and using it to help another thing.  So here is what I learned.  Tony emphasizes the use of “muscle confusion.”  That way your body doesn’t have time to adapt to one workout. What this translates as doing differen’t work outs every day and every few weeks, those work outs get changed.  One day you will do yoga, then the next day you will do strength and abs, and then the next you will do cardio the next, and then some more strength for the legs and back and so on.  Then just as your routine becomes normal for you, the whole routine gets scrapped and your start over again with a new routine that is similar, but not the same.

Ok and…..?

 Language learning has got to be the same way!  Switch it up and if you feel like you are getting into a rut…..Tweak it so its not the same anymore.  First I recomend devoting a day to Input or Output.  There are so many tools and podcast and courses(free and paid) that you can feel overwhelmed with how much you can do.  This is especially true when you start filling in your gaps with language learning.  We have all been there….you call up customer service and the recorder messages say “you are….22nd….in the que”  or you go and you are driving/riding public transport to work 25 minutes away and you, with your new found desire to learn a language, want to do something to fill in your time with language learning.  But then you realize you could read a book, go through use your Anki app for SRS learning, or listen to a pod cast or……AHHHHHH!

This helps narrow down what you should be doing.  Does this mean that, should the opportunity to speak presents its self on an input only day, that you shouldn’t take it?  NO WAY!  This is more as a way to help you focus your language learning for the day so your don’t do alot of little things that don’t seem to be going anywhere. And as I said in a previous post, when you practice input you also improve your output and vice versa.

Ok that cuts my it down to half, but there is still so much I can do!

Switching it up everyother day is only half of it.  The next thing is to not do the samething two times in a row.  If you listen to a podcast, for example, instead of going on to the next podcast in the series you should pull out some other form of input and finish that.  After you finish those two, then go to another form of input and complete that.  I am emphasizing complete what you are doing with one thing before you go on to the next. This keeps your brain from getting stuck in a rut of langauge learning.  I suggest making a list of all the possible Input activities and Output activities that you can find.  Stick them in some kind of order, and then do one activity from each in order.  Once you have done an activity from all of them, then start over and do it again.  If you do this, you will never be stuck wondering what you should do that day.

Is that it?

Just three things more to help.  The first is to always have a plan B.  Where I work I am a receptionist.  I can’t listen to Ipods or read books at the desk.  I am the face and voice of the company.  I need to look presentable and be able to greet people/answer phones at a moments notice and not do it looking like they didn’t just interupted me.  That said, I have heaps of time sitting at a computer that no one is looking at.  So I can pull up spanish speaking chat rooms and eaves drop. This is a great input device because if I get up at any second and greet somone or answer a phone and I don’t have to feel like I have left someone hanging mid sentence.  On output days, I have a conversation with myself(in my head) and try and talk to an imaginary person.  Once again, since I am talking to myself I shouldn’t think it rude if I just stopped mid sentence.  If I did then I need to see a doctor.

The second thing is that you never let yourself get bored.  If you wake up one day and you just don’t feel like doing your routine that you have setup then don’t!  Use that day to recover.  Don’t do nothing though.  Go find something strange and weird to do in your language.  Try and keep it consistent with your input/output day.  Make a goal to describe your entire family, in detail, to a stranger by the end of the day or watch a movie in your language you want to learn with out subtitles or writing any of the words or phrases down.  I don’t care what it is just find something different to do that day and ignore your routine for the day.  Then go back and you will find that it is alot easier to go back and do it.

The last thing has to do with my post about being flexible. Sometimes you find lots of extra time and you push through 3 or 4 activities in one day when you normally only do 2 or you may not even finish one activity the whole day.  This is ok.  Don’t use those days as an excuse to do two extra input or output days.  No matter how much you do that day go on and switch days as normal.  The important thing is not trying to give equal time to one or the other, the point is to keep your mind active with new things.  This will maximize your language learning.

Do you have a list of activities you do?

Here is my list of activities I do in the order I do them(order doesn’t really matter I’m just letting you know what they are)

Input: Notes in Spanish podcast, 30 minutes of LingQ podcasts, Rossetta stone audio companion(just one lesson worth), *Rocket Spanish*, *Rossetta stone software*.

Output: Learning spanish like crazy, a lesson of FSI Basic Spanish, Synergy Spanish System Master Classes that I got as a free bonuses for buying some of the synergy spanish systems.

I already told you my Plan B’s for the various days already.   As you will notice, I put a star around Rocket spanish and Rossetta stone.  This is because they both have an output and input component to them.  For Rocket spanish, it is so small that it really can’t be counted as an output based course.  I still do the output even though it may be an input only day just because it doesn’t really matter. 

Rossetta stone does have a speach recognition system, but I turn it off.  Its useless.  I said a word over and over again and it kept saying it was wrong and then I sneezed and it said it was right.  It is probably advanced, but not advanced enough to help you speak.  Also, since Rossetta stone is software based, I don’t actually keep it as part of the regular rotation.  I do it when I get the chance.

There you go.  I hope this helps in your journey to become a polyglot.  It sure is helping me in my spanish.

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