2 thieves that steal your learning time

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6 Comments to “2 thieves that steal your learning time”

  1. Christine says : Reply

    I myself am surprised by how effective writing many sentences that are meaningful for me has been. I think there are several reasons. (1) I write by hand every day about what I am doing, did, will be doing. Not only is subject matter relevant to me, but I am also creating a physical and visual memory of the words as I form the letters and combine them. (I print because the majority of what I will read will be printed so I am reinforcing Russian letter combinations by writing them.) Writing by hand creates neurological pathways in my brain for the new vocabulary and grammar. For example, I know that there is always a soft sign after the “l” in an adverb and I know what vowel follows a “k or “sh” because I have written it a lot. Also, when I write by hand, I am sounding out the word in my head which does not happen when typing on the computer. There are studies that show that children who write by hand know and use vocabulary more creatively than those who use computers all of the time. (I didn’t find this out until I had been writing in Russian for many months.) (2) I always break things down into small pieces when first learning something and practice these bits a lot before learning something new. I learn what I understand and can handle without getting confused. For example, when learning prepositions that use the genitive case, I wrote sentences with TWO that I wanted to use. When I could use them without thinking, I chose two new prepositions that I especially wanted to use. I didn’t learn all of the prepositions that take the genitive because I have no need for some of them at my present stage. When I want to learn them, I will. (3) Regarding vocabulary, generally I learn related vocabulary. For example, last summer, I wrote about working in my garden so I learned compost, mulch, seeds, planting, growing, greenhouse, etc. and had conversations with myself as I was in the garden. I was also practicing the prepositional case — locating things in my field because I was accurately describing what I was looking at. (4) I have also learned that when I look up a new word, that there is frequently a “root” or “core” that is shared with other words and I can simultaneously learn related words. I pick one or two that I want to learn at this stage of my learning — e.g., common, practical words and/or expressions. It is easier to remember a word if I learn its “core.”

    I generally do not review what I wrote but instead write new sentences. It doesn’t matter whether they are the same or different. If they are the same, I should be writing them more easily — that is, faster, without thinking. When I can do that, then I add something new — whether new vocabulary, change the case of the word, make it plural, or change the grammatical construction. The point it to actively USE the language.

    I will look and see which of your videos was hacked. I think it was one with English subtitles because the words were coarse that didn’t match what you were saying.

    I really appreciate your speaking clearly and slowly by the way. I find Russian subtitles extremely effective. Thanks so much for making the videos!

    • Christine says : Reply

      I never used/use flashcards because I learn everything in a context. I write lots of sentences with the new word or grammar that are true for me at that moment. I never write the English translation. Because the sentences are things that are true for my life and what I want to say at that moment, it is easy to remember the meaning of the word(s) later. The next step is to say out loud what I wrote without reading it (this was very hard in the first few months but now not a problem because I have internalized many features about the language so remembering anything is easier). The third step is for me to have a conversation with myself about something else that uses what I learned. This reveals whether I really know it well enough to use it spontaneously in a conversation. If I don’t, no problem, I write more sentences. I never actively try to memorize anything yet the amazing result of this method is that I DO remember and can think/write/speak in Russian WITHOUT translating in my head, something that took me much longer when I learned other foreign languages using traditional methods.
      BTW, I have found that anything I have learned through a video — which has the added visual association, for example when Elena turns the lamp on and off — is MUCH easier to remember so her videos are extremely helpful! I do need the subtitles, though. Elena, some awful person has hacked some of your subtitles so they come out with stupid/coarse words that are clearly not accurate. VERY annoying. Perhaps there’s some technical protection that can prevent this.

        1. Elena says : Reply

          I’ve got a million questions for you Christine 🙂 It’s a pleasure to read about your learning process. Especially I like your “no problem” mindset when it comes to forgetting.

          I’m wondering how you manage retention. Do you review previously written sentences from time to time and use them in a conversation? Or do you follow through these 3 steps once, internalize new words and grammar, and all this just sticks?

          As for video subtitles, I checked my videos randomly and they seem to be fine. I’d appreciate if you could point to the one with non accurate subtitles.

          Congrats on your progress with Russian and thanks for sharing your experience.

        2. Marine says : Reply

          Hello,
          As Darcy and Damion, I spent a lot of time adding words and sounds to my Anki deck. Usually I used it everyday but if I lose tracks and have hundred of cards due to review I always choose to delete and create a new deck. Fresh start is often motivating.
          Now, I don’t use Anki anymore to learn language. I found a website https://lingvist.com/. It is the same principe than Anki (interval repeat) but the words are always in a sentence. It’s useful to practice grammar, conjugation… You can’t add your own words, it is not a problem for me but I understand it could be an issue for some people.

          • Darcy says : Reply

            I have used Anki and spent hours and hours adding new words, sentences and sound files to flash cards there. I was very dogmatic in my approach in the beginning and really used them every day. But…. there was a gap of 3 months in using Anki and then when I come back it was very hard to get back into the swing of it again. I never really worked out the system and the cards I already knew and were supposed to appear in 5 years time would show up next week.

            So, I lost interest. Just for fun I opened up Anki again now and it says I have 738 cards due to review. I also noticed the app has become a lot more sophisticated with graphs and statistics etc….Maybe it is worth another look 🙂

            I use Memrise for flashcards also. I like the various methods they use there. It is also a modern layout. It is really easy to look at when you have 10min sitting on a bus or something.

            I really like your thought on “recall” though. I have found that I can race through a deck of flashcards and get them all right. Then when I have to find that word to use in a conversation I don’t really know it. It seems the link for that word is stronger to the flashcard than it is in real life conversations.

            So I believe that flashcards have helped with my reading and understanding a lot. Also, for my grammar study as well I guess. However, for conversation I need to use the “listen and repeat” type of study. It is only when my eyes are removed from reading that my “thinking in Russian” is truly engaged. 🙂

            • Damion says : Reply

              When I first started out..I used a lot of flashcards. I also put construction paper on my walls with cases and vocabulary. The flash cards left, but I’m still lining my walls with Russian:)

              Anki required a little more work than the simplicity of flash cards and the interface is pretty dull. (Although, there are pre-made lists of words you can download into your phone).

              I stopped trying to learn single words and focused on patterns and phrases..

              Flash cards are great, but song lyriсs are better ^_^ I just learned “Я Схожу С Ума” over coffee this morning 🙂 For me, singing hits multiple areas at one time..”Memory, pronunciation, meaning, context, etc” One song can have 300-500 words and they repeat continously in other songs.

              There’s my rant for the day..lol Спасибо

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