- How To Speak Like A Native
- Mastery is Mastering the Basics
- Where Not To Learn Japanese From
- How To Get A Specific Accent
- How to Pronounce Japanese
- Speaking: You Don’t Have A Linguistic Problem, You Have A Humanity Problem — Why You Still Suck At Speaking and How to Fix it Fast
- Language Is Acting
- Luxurious Worries, Or: So Effing What If You Sound Like An Anime?!
- Success Story: Emotional Context Learning — Using Phrases Correctly Without Actively Learning Them Or Knowing What They Actually Mean
- You Are What You Eat, You Write What You Read, You Speak What You Hear
- Why You Should Keep Listening Even If You Don’t Understand
- If Anime Is Bad For Your Japanese, Then Nursery Rhymes Are Bad For Your English
- No Humans Necessary: Why You Don’t Need People to Learn a Language
If anime is bad for you, then so are nursery rhymes.
What is a “tuffet” anyway? 1
When was the last time you even saw a live sheep, let alone found a black one, and asked him for wool?
Do you know any masters and dames?
AND WHY DO YOU TALK TO SHEEP?
Don’t even get me started on fairy tales and immigrants.
When was the last time you were asked about your family background and started your explanation with “once upon a time…”?
Yeah, immigrants. That wasn’t typo 2. That was deliberate ironic prejudice. Picture this. Vancouver. Iranian cab driver. What mistakes do you think he made in his English? Hint: He didn’t talk like Dr. Seuss. He did, however, say “too many” when he meant “so many”. Another Punjabi guy said “can’t” when he meant “won’t”. It was the little things. The little things that, I would add, MCDs pound you on.
Can I tell you something I know about you?
Here goes, then. Here it is. The secret of the Universe:
YOU’RE NOT EFFING STUPID.
You’re not effing stupid. You weren’t effing stupid when you were a toddler and you’re no more stupid now. In fact, the only stupid thing about you is that you think you’re so stupid that unless someone spells everything out to you in excruciating detail, including all qualifiers, classifications and possible variations, then you won’t understand anything and you’ll get it wrong and start a war because of some minor verbal faux pas.
That isn’t true. But you think it’s true. And yet, at the same time, your actions betray you. Wanna know how I know? Because I know you’ve never read the Apple End User License Agreement on your iPad. Oh, you did once for kicks, but you’ve never been through any of the revisions. Why? Precisely because legalese is so explicit that it tires and confuses you. It literally wears you down. In fact, some legalese is said to be intentionally written and typeset like this, i.e. to discourage reading and comprehension.
The Japanese i[n] anime is as real as the English in books by Dr. Seuss. And as we all know nobody learned from them.
“Reading is a form of explicit learning… Video games are an example of collateral learning, which is no less important.”
You are capable of implicit learning. Yes, even from books. You are capable of unconsciously internalizing the context and appropriateness of the words you hear and see. You can tell just by the situation and tone of voice what phrases connote — often enough, you can even tell the entire meaning. You are smart in a way that computers aren’t. What you lack in linear, machine intelligence you make up for in parallelized, organic smarts.
You can learn things that haven’t been explained to you. Heck, you can learn things without even realizing you’re learning them! Arguably, most of what you learn works this way. 3 Most of your learning is not only incidental, but unconscious.
Here’s another interesting idea to ponder. One drawback of your “organic intelligence” — that actually turns out to be a blessing in disguise — is that it usually takes more than one “pass” for you to learn something, if by “learn” we mean “remember a fact to the point that you can retrieve (ouput) it”. In other words, with very few exceptions, a single exposure is never enough.
It takes a lot of passes, a lot of “hits” (a lot of “cache misses”, in computer memory terms) until your organic memory system goes: “oh, snap, this thing keeps coming up, let’s remember it”. It is this property of memory that the SRS recognizes and efficiently exploits, in order to aid (produce?) long-term retention. Of course there are other factors, like the emotional content of the memory, but even then, repetition is key to retention.
This “leaky bucket” property of organic memory ends up working in our favor, because it means that, assuming you acquire words in context (rather than from some context-free “vocabulary list”), by the time you know a word well enough to use it correctly, you’ll have been exposed to (heard/read) it so many times in context that you pretty much won’t be able to use it wrong.
And that is why you never went around using the word “tuffet” randomly, because you only ever heard it in the context of Miss Muffett, so you unconsciously knew — learned — that it was a Muffet-specific thing. But no one ever had to take you aside and sternly warn you that: “hey, kid, watch out for them nursery rhymes; that ain’t real English!”, did they? No, they didn’t. So why are you taking life advice from pompous, obnoxious forum trolls with no friends? 4 Why do you let them make you cower in fear?
In short, you’re not effing stupid, so stop assuming that you are and stop assuming that other people are and stop letting other people tell you you are. You’re ignorant; you’re noobish; you’re ugly…but you are not stupid.
You’re a duck. Don’t let trolls tell you how to fly or swim.
Turn the anime back on.
- It feels like it should have two “t”‘s on the end, but, apparently, one it is… ↩
- This was. ↩
- Exploring How We Learn with Monisha Pasupathi – Learning Revolution ↩
- Don’t worry, I can say things like that because it takes one to know one. ↩