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You Don’t Have a Biological Problem, You Have a Sociological Problem

November 19, 2012
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You don’t have a biological problem, you have a sociological problem. Specifically, a logistics problem. And logistics is a function of infrastructure.

So any issues an able-bodied, sound-minded adult is going to have with learning (getting used to) a language will be entirely due to infrastructure, not linguistics, not biology.

Why?
Well, because even minor inconveniences add up.

For example, a minor SRS annoyance is going to cause major issues, because virtually everything you do on your SRS, you do hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of times. Reps alone are going to be a 5~6-figure proposition. Each rep takes multiple clicks…you can see how things add up.

Similarly, being unable (or under-able) to operate a PC is going to put someone at a disadvantage in that they’ll be unable to leverage information technology to overcome borders and create habitual exposure to the language oh my gosh that was a belabored sentence

Next time you want to blame your biology, your schedule or even your character…
don’t.

You find time to text people you don’t even like, to show off your socioeconomic status to old schoolmates on Facebook, to check your email every 3 seconds instead of doing that one important thing that would actually change your life for the better.

So it’s not time, it’s not DNA and it’s not your supposed lack of discipline.

It could just be that it takes too many clicks to get to something Japanese.
How many clicks away is the nearest Japanese website? Book? Movie?

You’re far less likely to change the channel if the remote is far away.
Even once you have the remote, you’re likely to cluster around a bunch of nearby (adjacent) channels — you’re far more likely to go up and down than to jump out 100 channels; not because you like the nearby channels better, but because they’re the easiest to get to. Because they’re closeby. Because they’re there.
If the metaphorical Japanese remote is too far away and too complex to use, you’re not gonna use it.

File this one under “saying the same thing over and over again” :)

Don't donate to AJATT because I'm beautiful; donate to AJATT because your...wow...I can't even make this joke work. Dang. It seemed like such a good idea going in, you know? I, I,...dunno, man. I just feel so down about this joke. I think the only thing that's going to make me feel better about this is, like, a donation or something.

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6 Responses to You Don’t Have a Biological Problem, You Have a Sociological Problem

  1. フレヂィー on November 20, 2012 at 03:05

    Keep it close. Keep it handy. 了解!

  2. 光男 on November 20, 2012 at 04:15

    いつも勝元先生は真実とは言いますね。

  3. Strawberry Vibe on November 20, 2012 at 07:17

    I think one of my favourite things you had said was a tweet from a long time ago, which this article partially echoes: “If you’re lazy like me, don’t set a goal to do the right thing (e.g. brush teeth), just set a goal to be in the right place (brush in mouth)”

  4. Thomas Smith on November 21, 2012 at 17:13

    This is so true.

    After a long day at work, I like to slouch at my desk and immerse in audio/video. But I had real trouble doing my reps because that involved **shock, horror** sitting upright to use my touchpad and pen. Sometimes I’d neglect the decks for days.

    Now, I’ve plugged in a mouse with the laser taped over, so it can just sit static over the “show answer” and “good” buttons in Anki. Click with the left hand, trace the answer on my thigh with the right, lazy as hell.

    It’s kind of pathetic, but it’s also kind of cool because now I can comfortably do more reps, and add more cards in the morning in the confidence that I’ll have the energy to review them in the evening. So faster progress.

  5. Pingfa on November 22, 2012 at 13:40

    “Even once you have the remote, you’re likely to cluster around a bunch of nearby (adjacent) channels — you’re far more likely to go up and down than to jump out 100 channels; not because you like the nearby channels better, but because they’re the easiest to get to.”
    Heh, so very true. Why do the first two or three pages of channels on Sky happen to be the most popular? Because most people don’t care to look at the others. Most people would rather watch repeats over and over on the same channel before browsing the rest of the channels.

    As for SRS reps, I eventually made this real easy for myself by not doing reps. I simply kept the tab open all day and would switch to it every few seconds, every minute or whenever I felt like it throughout the day. It was always there. If I was watching a movie and there was a silent scene with nothing happening, I’d have a quick browse through the SRS. If it was an unimportant scene there to simply stimulate the senses, I would do reps until it finished. If I was watching a talk show and they switched to a subject I am not interested in, SRS. If someone starts singing, SRS. When it goes to adverts, SRS. Or I may use these intervals to read a sentence or two from an article.
    In short, I don’t dedicate specific time for any one specific thing, I don’t set out to do something, it is just always there. There’s always something to read, something to see, something to hear.

  6. [...] echoed this sentiment by explaining how learning a language is a lot easier when you modify your infrastructure: “So any issues an able-bodied, sound-minded adult is going to have with learning (getting [...]

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