How studying every day can tank your progress!
Have you actually tried to study something new for 7 days in a row? A week of learning new information, whatever the subject is? I know I haven't, but maybe I'm just not a good learner.
What about the feeling after cramming and studying all night for an exam? That feeling of your brain just hurting and being drained? I don't know about you, but that is not how I aim to feel after learning a language. Language learning should be fun after all!
So how do we avoid this brain drain following a study session? By simply not trying to do the above, to cram our brains with new information for a week. Going back to my first email about 7 habits (It's a good read if you haven't seen it (LINK)), one of the things we need is to set goals, including both long and short term. And for your short term goals, you should have an idea of number of new concepts you want to learn per week. But why the term concepts?
Well, in order to make it more adaptable to each person. For example, maybe as I learn about verb conjugation in Portuguese, I notice that it is basically the same thing. While from English to Spanish, since it is a concept (the idea of verb conjugation) I have not seen much, it will cost me much more to understand. So maybe we cover the present tense (AR verbs, ER / IR verbs & Irregulares [3 concepts[), prepositions and animals. Boom, 5 new concepts for my week. The rest of the week should be spent reviewing and perfecting those concepts, writing sentences, reading, etc, so that the next week we can move onto new concepts.
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So what happens if you try to learn new concepts each and every day? Well, I promise your language journey will be much slower than it would otherwise. First, you will get frustrated, because you are moving onto new things without controlling the old concepts. This will cause you to get discouraged, making you skip a day or 2. Then you go back, and since you haven't practiced anything, you still can't use the language. So you get more annoyed and end up taking a week off. You come back, even more frustrated because nothing is sticking, and decide you just can't learn languages. You spent 3 months trying, but learned nothing and end up quitting before you can even start.
So here is the solution to that mistake. The first step is setting clear goals, for example 2 days for study and 3 for practice. Now on your practice days, you are going to engage in some kind of passive learning. This serves a couple purposes. Firstly, you are actually using the language in the real world, which is the purpose of learning a language in the first place, to speak and to understand. Secondly, you are letting your brain process and absorb all the new information, which will allow you to actually learn it and be able to use it moving forward. Now when we learn new things next week, we won't still be trying to understand last week. And yes, it is fine if you need a reminder or two on Monday.
Remember, the wider the base, the higher the pyramid. The more time we allow our brain to process and understand, the more we will be able to learn. And we will do it faster, and actually reach out goal.
So, let me know. What does your study schedule look like right now? For me, Monday and Wednesay are learn new info days, and the rest of the week is to practice and review. Saturday is also a study day, but I use passive learning techniques (check out this email -> LINK) to work on my other languages that just need some maintenance, like French or Portuguese, usually by watching tv or a movie with subtitles.
Be sure to hit reply and let me know:!
Looking forward to your answer!
Anthony "New Information ≠ Learning" Mullis