Said Aaron Casey:
Please help me, Khatzumoto. You are my only hope.
So, I am emailing you on this fine day…to ask you what your views on scheduling are. And what I mean by that is setting aside specific time for learning.
On just about every other Japanese learning website I have been to, and even just general learning websites, they all say I should create a schedule of specific times to learn things. Example:
- At 10am do anki reviews for an hour.
- Then at 11am study kanji for an hour.
- Afterwards, read generic Japanese textbook for 2 hours.
- Then, at 1pm, do other assorted crap, etc.
And for most people, that would be fine. But I am the type who has lived my entire life unscheduled. I really enjoy being spontaneous and coming up with things on the go. I do not like living my life by a schedule.
But, as I said, a lot of educators say: “you must schedule your time or you will fail and Tkyosam will sacrifice your children to the Church of Scientology.”
Okay, maybe they don’t say that last part but you get the gist. So, I want to know if you think there are actually any benefits to scheduling your learning time versus just going with the flow.
Also, just to give you an idea of what I have been doing: I work part-time; I am studying computer science, and I am studying Japanese. So far, I have just kind of given each of my studies their own time whenever I feel it is suitable, but I don’t know if I should be creating specific schedules for each or not.
Let’s unpack this.
I am the type who has lived my entire life unscheduled.
As am I. I’ve tried scheduling, but it works as well as when gay people try to go straight.
[Do] you think there are actually any benefits to scheduling your learning time versus just going with the flow[?]
It’s not a question of which way is objectively (or even subjectively) better. It’s a question of what you’re actually going to do and keep doing. You, like me, seem constitutionally unsuited to scheduling. So don’t bother. I didn’t. You haven’t liked scheduling in other contexts, it hasn’t helped you; you didn’t learn English on a schedule. Why is Japanese going to be magically different? Your personality is not going to change and you’re not going to become a better person.
So screw it. Your choices are certainly affected by the environment, but they can also transcend it. The trick to this transcendence is not more morality. Do not become a better person. The trick is to make choices that change the environment itself — no morality required. Plus longer-lasting.
You don’t speak a language, you use it.
You don’t learn a language, you live it.
You are always using — and therefore learning — a language. The only question is which one.
Do you schedule breathing time?
Then why schedule language time?
The only “hook” or “anchor” I would use for language exposure is eating time and sleeping time. Make sure you’re in contact with your L2:
- Whenever you’re eating — throughout your meal times
- Whenever you’re sleeping — in and around (right before and right after) your sleep time, and
- Whenever you’re on the pot — because that’s where some of your best reading and thinking gets done…right now, I actually have two mobile devices — an old iPod Touch and an old iPhone (one always charging, one always loose) — that permanently live in my bathroom area, just for doing SRS reps.
But that’s not really “scheduling”; it’s “anchoring”. You don’t get good at language, you get used to it. It’s about habitual exposure — habits. You need Japanese habits, not scheduling habits. The best way to get Japanese habits is to anchor onto the habits you already have, not to try to form new habits.
Disclaimer: If you love scheduling and it actually works for you, then knock yourself out. My experience is that most people who use scheduling suck at it, suck at making themselves happy and — most ironically of all — suck at getting things done; they’re great at making plans and crap at following through. But my experience is limited, and there are exceptions to everything.