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The Three Laws of Language Acquisition, version 4.0

0. Zeroth Law: Compare yourself only to yourself. And to newborn babies.
1. The Prime Directive: Have fun.
2. The Promise: Show up.
3. The Triple Path:

  • Don’t learn: get used to.
  • Don’t improve: suck less.
  • Don’t binge: nibble often.

  8 comments for “The Three Laws of Language Acquisition, version 4.0

  1. December 29, 2011 at 11:16

    In the past 2 weeks of learning Japanese, I have come to these EXACT same conclusions myself.

    0. Zeroth Law: Compare yourself only to yourself. And to newborn babies.
    Why? Because there will always be someone better/smarter/faster at learning a language than you. If you try to compare to others, you seek out these people and compare yourself to them. Most of the time this results in feeling bad about progress, which is actually good. You do however, need something to compare yourself to so to be able to ‘see’ the results. Comparisons are where differences can be seen and where self efficacy is born from. Newborn baby = zero ability, and you today is generally > you yesterday. Always motivating.
     
    1. The Prime Directive: Have fun.
    Why? If it’s not fun, it feels like work. If it feels like work, and there is nobody “making” you do it, then you won’t do it. Not fun = not sustainable. Not sustainable means you won’t do it everyday. Ask any language learner who studies in class why they are having trouble, and they will likely say something about how they should study everyday. But they don’t, because their method isn’t fun. It’s painful.
     
    2. The Promise: Show up.
    Why? When the cake is in front of you, it’s one hundred times easier to eat.
     
    3. The Triple Path:

    Don’t learn: get used to.
    Don’t improve: suck less.
    Don’t binge: nibble often.

    Why? Learning feels like work and having the goal to learn all too often results in study focused methods, and not ‘game’ focused methods. Also, it’s less sustainable and implies things should be done in large chunks of effort.
    Trying to improve all too often results in comparing yourself to others who are better then you, and focusing on the ‘end result’ of ‘perfection’ which will actually never come to fruition, you will just get very very close to it, but you will never actually reach it – it’s like infinity. You still aren’t perfect at your L1, so how do you suppose you will reach perfection in your L2.
    Binging is never sustainable. And having that mindset will result in perceiving many time spaces to be too short to be doing Japanese. Nibbles are much easier to fit in to a busy schedule.
     
    If I were to add another law to the list it would be:
    4: You are your own mentor
    Why? Everyone’s situation is different, one persons methods may not work for everyone. If you consider another persons methods to be far superior to your own you may be limiting yourself.

  2. December 30, 2011 at 00:44

    Don’t learn: get used to.

    I think this is especially true. Language Learning isn’t like scientific research, where you need to learn loads of facts and then creatively use it to formulate a research paper. Language Learning is like playing sport. The more you do it, the better you get. Learning a few words is useless, getting used to the words and knowing how to apply them is golden. 

    Don’t improve: suck less.

    Somehow, I always think these two as the same thing XD. If you suck less, you’re improving. Anyone care to tell me the difference?

    Don’t binge: nibble often.

    Take this like eating a pig. If you try to eat it in one serving, you’ll most likely choke. Many small servings, although might be less time efficient, will be definitely more effective.

     

    • December 30, 2011 at 02:07

      >Take this like eating a pig. If you try to eat it in one serving, you’ll most likely choke. Many small servings, although might be less time efficient, will be definitely more effective.

      That’s a slightly disturbing analogy… I like it O.o/

      • Routine
        December 30, 2011 at 06:12

        Kinda like with Khatz comparing learning a language to murder. 

        Liked that one too :p 

  3. December 30, 2011 at 07:45

    4th law: てめぇ~!絶対許さねぇ!
     
    No? No? *stares at the mostly silent crowd*

    • デイヴィッド
      December 31, 2011 at 09:11

      百戦錬磨まで諦めねーぞ!

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