Here is part 2 of how I organize my studying, or my system for lack of better words. In the last post, I explained why I divide my time between Input and Output. One thing I failed to mention was why I spend a week on input and the next on output. What I have found by experience is that using smaller time frame, such as a day, meant that you would cut the learning short just as you start getting on a role. Longer periods of time also make it so you get bored with learning just one part of the language. One week I have found was enough to keep you interested, yet not cut of your learning too early.
Step one is to gather as many resources, paid or free, into a big giant pile. These could be courses you found/purchased. Tutoring session or language exchanges. Talking to the wall, which is one of my favorites, or translating TV are examples of activities you can do to increase your language ability. If it is used to help you learn, then put it in the pile.
Once you have your pile you need to first divide them into input and output based activities/course. There is not a course out there that will say it is input or output based. You have to decide for yourself. Maybe go through the first lesson or two to figure this out. Here is my simple test. If the activity has you listen mostly, this includes those that show you how to speak and then have you repeat after them, than it is an input based course. If they course emphasises speaking, especially if it has you speak the word’s phrases first and then shows a correct version after, than it is an output based course.
Is that it?
Not quite, there is still a few more steps. Just dividing the activities into input and out is not enough. Language learning can also be divided another way as well. I wrote a whole post about it, but to summarize: Language activities can be either structured or unstructured.
Structured activities are activities that never go beyond what you already know. As new words are taught, they are always in the context of what you already know. Unstructured is pretty much just saying natural use of the language. Listening or using it in a situation that isn’t preplanned or pre-thought out. Natural. Both are important activities to use in your language learning.
How does that fit into your system?
So step two is to take your two piles and you divide each of them up into structured and unstructured activities. While you are at it would also be good to organize them into beginner, intermediate or advanced activities if they are not already done for you. The rule for this is that if the activity required spontaneous use of the language then it is unstructured. If not than it is structured.
We are almost done, but not quite. In my next post I will be going over the final thing you do to start using these activities. Until then I would love you hear your comments on what you think of my system so far. I welcome critiques so tell me what you think.