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Optimizing My Language Learning Methodology

As mentioned in previous blog posts, most of my 2019 was spent grinding language classes. Looking back at 2019, I feel like I have a ton of room to improve my learning methodology. Right now I’m kind of following the BJJ class model – that is, the class encapsulates all aspect of learning – one section devoted to learning new material, one devoted to practicing the new material, and then one for general purpose practice in real life situations. My language classes consist of some review in which I kind of incorporate new vocabulary / grammar in real world settings, with the constant reinforcement serving to improve my learning outcomes over time. Having said that, this format is a bit suboptimal because it doesn’t emphasize enough practice – ideally, I should be practicing at least twice the amount I spend learning to truly internalize new concepts. This format is a holdover from BJJ where, by neccessity free sparring is incorporated into class, because for most students, they have no other opportunities outside of class to pick things up – there’s kind of a lack of padded areas and mats for them to spontaneously practice. They’re limited to basically sparring in their gyms when they happen to be open.

Since I’m cognizant of this fact that my current class structure is kind of arbitrary, I can mix things up – instead of having these three part lessons that incorporate everything and minimize practice, I can simply start scheduling more classes that are dedicated to solely practice. I’ve been looking for new tutors on Italki to use as language partners – I don’t plan on referring to them to learn new vocabulary and grammar. In essence, this becomes a form of self structured practice arena or a safe space where I can feel free to experiment with the concepts I learned in class. Trying to practice my language skills in the real world is a bit intimidating because it’s a trial by fire – I don’t know what to expect back from random strangers. However, by hiring cheaper tutors to just talk with, we both have the expectation that I’m here for edification purposes and they will back me in that role. This is something I’m going to try experimenting with in the near future, maybe by February or March. I’m hoping to incorporate this methodology in at least one of the languages I’m studying by the end of February. Ideally, I’ll check in on this strategy in ~six months to see how it’s progressing. If it works, keep at it. If not, I can discard it. Ultimately, the important thing is that I continue to learn languages – the structure of learning should be open to change if I think I can make things better.

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