This is my
final next post about what I am doing to learn a new language. This was originally going to be a one post update, but some how this thing expanded into two and now three posts. A summary of all this information is found on my system page.
So a quick update on what we have done so far. We have gathered a list of activities, courses, and other materials to help us learn a language. We have separated them into two piles of input based or output based activities. We then separated each pile into structured and unstructured activities, or what I often call Yin and Yang activities to make it easier to say. Now what?
The Tony Horton style of Language Learning
I could have called this the Cross training style of learning or the Exercise routine style of learning, but The truth is I got the inspiration for this from watching an infomercial by Tony Horton so it only seem appropriate that I name it after him.
I think many people have probably heard of Tony Horton and his line of Exercise DVDs. The most popular one is called P90X. In all of his programs he emphasizes that importance of doing different work out routines every day. If all you do is run every day, then your body eventually gets used to running and the effectiveness plateaus. The emphasis is that you can still work your arm 2 or 3 times a week, but don’t do the same arm routine every time. Switch it up, pull ups one day and push ups another.
Ok I am not a physical trainer and I am not the best person for fitness advice, but the principal applies. If the only thing you have is your software program or your language podcasts that you downloaded from the internet, then you are going to get bored fast and your improvements will plateau.
So how does this get applied?
On each week, input or output, take two Structured activities at your level and two unstructured activities. Then every other day, 6 days a week, you emphasis that activity for the day. In your commute to work or your 15 min break or even your two-minute drive to the grocery store. All those little cracks of time that you can study in the language do it. Don’t worry if you don’t master something in one activity by the end of the day, you are going to be doing a bunch of other activities throughout the week that will help you when you come back to the activity again in a few days.
The point is that I want you to remember is EMPHASIS. You will have to adjust this slightly for each individual person’s schedule. If you eat lunch in a busy place you probably don’t want to be practicing saying “the red car is mine” over and over again in a loud voice. If you have an opportunity to converse with a native/fluent speaker then you take it. You don’t say, “sorry I would like to have a language exchange today, but today is my structured language practice day.”
An example of how this is applied.
You have a mini goal to learn all the rooms of the house and to be able to describe them. Monday maybe you would translate an English script about your house and start memorizing it. The next day you would pretend to show the house around to a non=English speaking native using only the target language to speak around words you may not know. The day after that you could use language course x and just learn what ever it teaches in that lesson. Then the next day you could do the same tour around the house, but this time you use the English to fill in words your don’t remember and then you go back and put those words in a SRS system to help you review them later. Then you start over again and go back to the memorized script activity.
In that example you will notice that not every day was used to push toward that goal. That is OK. In fact it’s often better for you to do “unrelated” activities once in a while. You would be surprised how learning to talk about ovens would help you learn to talk about door and windows. So don’t be fussed about making sure EVERY activity is related to your mini goals that you are trying to accomplish. Doing a plain boring course or activity can still be beneficial to you, just like doing sit ups can help you be able to do other exercises better.
Tha’s the system. I hope this helps you as much as it has been helping me. If you have any comment or advice on how to improve the system I would love it. I don’t pretend I know everything. Your experience can greatly help me and everyone else. Send a comment and I would love to know how I can improve.