Friday, March 19, 2010

Who's in charge of Your language learning?

Doviende at Language Fixation has a very nice post on one of the hardest parts of language learning: Actually doing something! As he says, we have choices in life, and the choices we make have a real impact on where we end up. For example, what if we choose to daydream about speaking languages more than we study?
I could say “I want to learn Swedish” every day for a year, but if I don’t actually take any actions towards that, then I’m not learning Swedish. And really, how much did I really want to learn Swedish if I never did anything about it? In the words of a friend, maybe it means I just “wanted to want to learn Swedish”. Can you even want to want to do something? I’m not even sure any more.
The answer is, of course. This is really just the flip side of St. Augustine saying, "Lord, give me chastity, but not yet." That is, we haven't reconciled our vision of being a better, fuller person with who we are and the changes we'll have to make.

When we seek to choose a new direction, we run into two sources of conflict: Ourselves and other people. If I were a wry old philosopher in the vein of Montaigne, I'd have a witticism ready about us being our own worst enemies or some such. But really, it's more complicated than that. Your boss wants you to work. Your company thinks it would be great if you networked more (for free, of course). Your friends feel bad that you're not around as much anymore. And lots of people wish you'd stop going on about this language fixation (with apologies) that wasn't specified as part of the package when they first met you. In the end, it's up to you, because you've got to decide what's most important to you and take action accordingly. But we're into another situation where idle chatter of willpower and dedication doesn't cut it. You need strategies to deal with human nature, which has to be massaged because it doesn't really change.

Doviende talks about the habit of sitting at the computer and reading forums instead of studying. This is one where I've got a recommendation: 1) change your homepage to point to an article on language learning, the value of study, or something related. 2) go to your bookmarks or favorites bar, and create a bookmark for the same article, making its name the same as the website you'd normally surf to. That way, when you start to type in that address you always go to, your computer will suggest where you really need to be going.

And now, I'm off to continue preparing my Gold List for Uzbek!


Blogger doviende said...

And of course, after changing your homepage, there's the firefox plugin called "leechblock", which will limit what sites you can go to at certain hours. You could then allow yourself facebook only between 8am and 8:30am or something like that.

Thanks for the link, I'm glad you liked the article. :)

5:52 AM  

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