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Category: Language Learning (page 2 of 2)

David Mansaray: How to Use Motivation Effectively

How to Use Motivation Effectively

How to Use Motivation Effectively…

Has this ever happened to you? You are busy thinking the same ‘ole thoughts like you always do, and then someone comes along and changes your head around with one of those “ah, hah!” moments.

That’s exactly what happened to me this week when watching David Mansaray’s video: How to Use Motivation Effectively.

Please watch his video (so that my explanation below makes perfect sense).

In the video David took “the minimum dose needed to have the desired effect” and combined it with “becoming motivated”. His idea is for us to motivate ourselves just enough to propel us to do what we plan to do, but not enough to use up all our energy before we get there.

[ insert “ah hah!” here ]

Now, I’ve been worried about my lack of motivation to learn languages for a good long while. I eventually came to the conclusion that I was more interested in researching how to learn languages, than actually learning languages.

Researching all the different language learning methods gives me a high; an energy that pulls me forward. Seriously, I can spend hours going from one theory to another, often writing posts on what I find.

And just like David explains in the video, by the time I got to my studies, I’m done. I’m zapped out and my enthusiasm has wained.

But, after listening to David’s explanation, I realised that’s not 100% the case. What I was actually doing was using up my energy and motivation to study before I could get to my studies.

So instead, if I just follow what David suggests and harness that energy before it’s consumed, then my natural excitement for languages will be transferred to my studies instead. See?

And guess what? It works! As soon as the rush of David’s “ah hah!” hit, instead of searching for similar motivation resources, I went off to study. For hours. Fantastic.

If you too are having motivation issues, please give David’s idea a try and let us know how you get on. Ok?

A little about David Mansaray…

I’ve been following David for quite awhile, on his blog and on twitter. What first attracted me to David was his interest in learning languages.

Do you remember The Polyglot Project with Claude Cartaginese? Since then David and Claude have teamed up for the informative The Polyglot Project Podcast. Prepare to be inspired.

But David’s overall goal is the exciting Big Self-Education Project:

I’m going to challenge the status quo. I decided to drop out of university to pursue self-education. Over the next few months, or perhaps years, I’m going to teach myself a number of different skills and I’ll share my journey. How much can we learn and how far can we go without an institution or qualifications? That’s just what I’m going to find out!

I’m here to teach you how to learn more quickly and effectively. I share actionable steps and I also explain the science that holds it all together, because understanding why something works increases the chances of you actually doing it.

Site: David Mansaray
Twitter: @DavidMansaray
YouTube: davidmansaray
Facebook: davidmansaray

Thanks David. Your ‘Big Self-Education Project’ is certainly working for me. More please.

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How Do You Declutter Your Language Learning Focus?

How Do YOU Focus on Your Language Learning?

How do you focus on learning Thai?..

During the past week my Internet connection has been getting weaker, to the point that I could no longer code. And I had a big, fat, overdue post to finish this weekend, the February edition of ‘Who’s Talking About Learning Thai’. Ouch.

But it’s not just the posts that are overdue. Projects are piling up and my Thai lessons are disgracefully lagging behind. I’ve always been bad organising study time and life keeps digging me a bigger hole.

Now here’s the thing. My computer holds all my stuff. Loads and loads of stuff. Photos, books, dictionaries, software… I’m sure you have stuff too so you might know what I mean.

Bottom line: On my computer I have a mountain of work needing to get done… and my Thai lessons. And both are fighting for equal attention.

My Buddy Scott came up with a solution – buy the nifty new iPad and transfer my Thai lessons over. Bingo. Problem solved. And well, ok. That was boldfaced lie. He didn’t come up with the idea but he did get me thinking about an excuse to buy even more digital kit. But… the iPad is already in the US but it won’t arrive in Thailand until goodness knows when – October? – and I need a solution now.

And I believe I found just the one…

Do you have a Mac? Well, if you go up to System Preferences >> System >> Accounts >> and click that little plus on the bottom left you can create what is basically a new start in life. And that’s exactly what I did. It wasn’t totally smooth sailing because getting used to switching between two accounts slowed me down. But this morning while my Internet was chocking and then going cold stone dead, I was busy creating a home away from home in my very own home.

Just check it out… below is what my regular desktop looks like (and please don’t say to clean the mess up because I NEED all that stuff at my fingertips).

How Do YOU Focus on Your Language Learning?

And here’s what my new learning Thai desktop looks like (I’ll change the background photo later).

How Do YOU Focus on Your Language Learning?

There is no twitter, no Facebook, no emails, no blogs to read, and no folders full of jobs to complete. By clicking the Finder I can see the folders on my work machine but I can’t edit anything. In the shared folder are my Thai lessons, all ready to go.

Going from left to right on the bottom bar: The Finder, Chrome (for downloading software updates and naught else), Word and Excel (Thai lessons and vocabulary lists), Audacity (listening to sections of Thai audio), iTunes (Baroque music and Thai audio and podcasts only), Anki (for the odd vocab list), BYKI (growing bulk of my Thai lessons), L-Lingo (review), TypeTrainer4Mac (for needed typing practice). And the rest on the bar are functional necessities.

To switch between accounts I just log out of one and into the other. And while it’s a simple switch, it’s a big enough pain to make me think twice about getting distracted, away from studying.

So from now on there will be no more answering emails, writing posts, reading blogs, and doing projects first thing in the morning, only to resurface when most of the day is gone. From now on it’s Thai lessons first, and the rest of my life later.

I don’t have a clue how PC’s work or if they have something similar to this. Do they? And one more question – do you have any tips for keeping your computer life uncluttered? Enough to get to Thai studies? I’d love to hear them if you do.

Edit: If you know of someone coming from the US… I’m still game for an iPad ;-)

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How Do You Overcome Mind Block During Language Study?

How Do You Overcome Mind Block?

Tips and suggestions needed…

Last week I received an email asking for help:

Question: I’m currently an exchange student living in Thailand. I’ve had an issue where I can’t seem to learn any more Thai, and when I try my minds strays and I get tired very quickly. I was just wondering, do you have tips to help overcome this mind block I’ve developed?

I took a stab at the answer, and then went one step further: I put the question to those interviewed in WLT’s Successful Thai Language Learners series, and more…

Tips and suggestions to overcome mind block…

Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Paiboon Publishing
Interview: Benjawan Poomsan Becker

He/she should find a girlfriend/boyfriend who can’t speak English. That will help expedite the learning and the mind won’t stray.

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand | Retire 2 Thailand: Blog | Thai Language Thai Culture
Successful Thai Language Learners: Hugh Leong

You don’t really have a mind block. What you are experiencing is what we call a “Plateau”. This is a very normal experience with all learning and especially with language learning. Basically, your mind is telling you that it has had enough input for a while and it needs time to process what it has taken in (which is one reason I hate language testing).

Plateaus can last for a considerable time, or they can be quite short. I once plateaued for more than a year. It all depends on how much and how quickly your mind processes all that stuff it is storing. But it is no reason to stop studying. You may want to focus your studies differently, such as using what you already know to develop a fluency at that level, or simply practice your tones, or if you have been speaking mostly then change to reading, or vice versa. That way you’ll be using a different part of your brain.

Here is the good thing about plateauing. There is always another, and higher, plateau up ahead that you will eventually get to if you don’t give up. There is another interesting experience in language learning that I call “quantum leaping” where one day everything just seems to click and you instantly know so much more than you did yesterday. It’s like a dark veil has been lifted. It comes from all that studying you did while you were sitting around on your plateau, and your mind telling you, “OK, processing complete. More input!” Those days are fun. Just have patience, don’t give up, and wait for those “quantum leap” days ahead.

David Long
AUA Language Centre | twitter: @auathai
Successful Thai Language Learners: David Long

In fact, most of us have low limits when it comes to benefit from study. We quickly reach that point where we’re forgetting old things as fast as we’re remembering new ones. We then patch up our feelings with a new course, or extra effort. So you’re not alone.

For me the important thing is to assess what you’re doing. Below is a list of areas to assess with some goals I find helpful for myself.

What do you consider learning to be? With language, we must gain exposure to its natural use. The problem for many of us is that it’s very difficult to find Thai used in understandable contexts. So when we don’t understand, we tend to tune out. We may also believe that if we don’t study, we won’t learn anything.

– Goal – realize that life is the classroom – soak up what’s happening around you every day without being too focused on what the language is. You’ll begin to see and hear much more.

What are your expectations for yourself? Often, we can be very cruel taskmasters to ourselves! :) It’s important to set realistic expectations.

– Goal – children are the best language learners ever and they don’t even have expectations about how much they’re learning. Develop a child-likeness on the inside. You’ll be a lot happier and releasing yourself from these expectations will open the door for you to really learn.

Are the practical things you’re doing to learn the language fun? – Study can be very hard work – and language study is one of the hardest sorts of study there is for most of us.

– Goal – Quit the study, and learn to play. Have fun with the process by turning every situation you don’t understand into a guessing game. Through watching expressions, body language and with the understanding you already know, make guesses about what’s being talked about.

Do you have Thai friends you talk with? Usually, Thais want to learn English, and foreigners want to learn Thai. This can turn into very boring exchanges that are focused on language.

– Goal – Turn your conversation to things you enjoy, and let the language be there. Use what you know, and find other ways to communicate what you don’t. They need to develop their English skills so use English with them. Encourage them to use Thai with you. Because language acquisition is input based, you need to hear Thai and they need to hear English. This makes for the perfect combination for improvement.

Peter Montalbano
Successful Thai Language Learners: Peter Montalbano

It’s not clear what this person is studying, or at what level. But it sounds as though the formal studies are not in the Thai language, as she/he seems to be going the self-teaching route here. In that case, I would suggest that she/he take a real course in the language, with homework, the whole nine yards . . . having a teacher looking over your shoulder is a great incentive to get past the mind-straying stage, and also having other students to interact with and compete with. As I noted before, the Chula course is a great one, and you test into it and get put at the appropriate level from the beginning.

Chris Pirazzi
Slice of Thai | Thailand Fever | Word in the Hand Inc.
Successful Thai Language Learners: Chris Pirazzi

Certainly an abrupt change of environment, especially to one where there are even fewer people who can speak English (where the student will need to speak more Thai for everyday survival) would be effective for resetting the student’s enthusiasm/motivation, if possible.

Josh Sager
Let’s Talk Thai (formerly Learning Thai)

Go back to basics.

Every January in my martial arts class is “basics month.” We cover only the fundamentals and refine our foundations specifically to start over and work with a fresh perspective.

Try reading and speaking for fun for a few weeks. Don’t TRY to learn anything, just enjoy the language for the sake of communication. Absolutely do not force it. Plateaus can only be broken in their own time, not by force.

My thanks for their tips and suggestions go to: Benjawan Poomsan Becker, Hugh Leong, David Long, Peter Montalbano, Chris Pirazzi, and Josh Sager.

As an insomniac, I fight similar battles studying Thai. When I got bogged down last year, my 30 Day Thai Language Trial in January eventually injected what was missing. You see, I had to keep studying no matter what, or fail. Potential embarrassment. Yeah. Along the way, I found the needed reserves and a few new tricks too. A language challenge might not work for everyone, but it worked for me.

Note: If you too have questions, just drop me a line via my contact form, and I’ll see what I can do about getting someone in the know to share some tips. And while I’m at it… if you are a successful Thai language learner and would like to answer a few questions, please let me know (and I’ll make it so).

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