Happy Chinese New Year from Singapore!
I'm having two days off from work due to Chinese New Year holidays.
Being a non-Chinese, I don't celebrate CNY, so I'm spending my holidays holed up in my apartment, surfing the net, studying for the CFA Level II exam (which I will be taking this coming June), or otherwise just taking it easy.
The purpose of today's blog post is to share with you my thoughts on how we can boost the efficiency of language learning, with particular reference to growing our vocabulary.
The way I see it, there are two main pillars of what helps us expand our vocabulary in a foreign language, which are:
1) Reinforcement of old knowledge by means of revision and repetition;
2) Integration of new knowledge by means of importing fresh content into my study materials.
Both of the above are vitally important. If you want to achieve optimum results for a given amount of time and effort, you need to incorporate both activities into your daily learning routine, and avoid at all costs neglecting one activity in favor of the other.
Here is one example of how I put into practice the incorporation of the two main pillars mentioned above.
It's an extremely simple process, but it works well so long as I mechanically follow the rules below that I've set for myself:
Rule # 1: I will always keep three consecutive episodes in my library, no more and no less.
Rule # 2: When I actually get down to studying French, I will make sure to watch the three episodes back-to-back, in one sitting, always starting from the oldest episode first. Each episode averages about 15 minutes, adding up to a total of about 45 minutes. Given my busy schedule, this is about the utmost that I can manage per day.
Rule # 3: Upon completing each sitting of three consecutive episodes, I will make sure to download a new episode and delete the oldest one, thereby ensuring that the total number of episodes will remain unchanged, as mandated by Rule # 1.
This methodology works because it systematically ensures that I watch each episode three times before it gets deleted from the iPhone, thereby making certain that enough repetition of the same vocabulary words takes place, in order for them to be etched into memory.
In fact, repetition of the same words also occurs in watching consecutive episodes, because some news stories develop over the course of a few days (e.g. murder investigations, major accidents, natural disasters, etc.) and consequently the same subject matters might appear in the newscast over and over again.
Also, by constantly importing the new episode and deleting the old episode as mentioned in Rule # 3, I make sure that I come into contact with some fresh content everyday, thereby making it possible for new words and phrases to be incorporated into my vocabulary. Otherwise, I will be stuck with the same old content, and my vocabulary will soon stop growing.
The reason why I devised this learning method is because of my lazy personality. I'm a creature of habit, and I detest having to constantly look for some new innovative ways to enlarge my vocabulary. For one thing, it's extremely tiring, and for another, the results can be unstable at best, with no guarantee whatsoever of solid, continuous growth of knowledge.
By comfortably following an established routine, I don't even have to think what to do, and yet my French vocabulary keeps growing in a stable and predictable manner.
In order to save time, I normally write down the vocabulary words only, with no explanations, but as long as I give it a quick glance-over at the end of each podcast, I can remember their meanings anyway, mainly because these vocabulary words can be memorized in connection with a particular news story and its related sounds and images, which is far easier than trying to retain them by rote memory.
I believe that with the learning method mentioned above, I'll be able to make great headway in enlarging my French vocabulary this year. My goal is to acquire enough vocabulary such that I can read contemporary French novels without having to consult the dictionary by the end of May next year, which will mark the tenth anniversary of my French learning. It's a daunting task for sure, but I'm absolutely determined to achieve it at all costs!
For those of you who are language-learning enthusiasts like me, I hope you find the content of this blog post somehow useful for your language studies. Should you have better ideas or suggestions, please make sure to let me know!
Wish you all a magnificent Year of Dragon ahead!