Saturday, January 24, 2015

More Fun

When we compare the amazing learning ability of kids to adults, we are often comparing thousands of hours of patient, wide-eyed, listening, playing and trying to tens or hundreds of hours in a classroom or listening to a CD on the way to work. Listening to an adult learning a language can sound to a native speaker like a beginner violinist. When young Jamie Boy learns the violin, it is cute. When James senior learns the violin, it is a case of killing me softly. You may have to wait till he becomes Grampa James, when frankly, he doesn't give a damn and will do whatever he wants.

I have always listened with a sceptical ear when people wax on about kids learning abilities. The little monsters have a completely unfair advantage since besides being surrounded by cheerleaders - they aren't busy. Learning is their full time job. Some have full time servants, sorry I meant parents, monitoring their well being. They are eating right and sleeping right. They have someone monitoring how much time they spend in front of the TV and how much time they play outside. Worrying only seems to come in the teen years. Till then, it is outsourced to Mom and Dad. I would love to outsource my worrying. I reckon that if I could recreate the environment and support a kid gets I would kick their ass. Me vs. a 5 year old. Hell, make her 10. I am not scared of you little girl. Gabriel Wyner points out that adults possess gifts of their own. 'We're very good at spotting patterns and we've developed better learning strategies than toddlers and preschoolers. Take that, kids'.



Besides trying to undo the damage of years at a desk and bad eating habits, my main learning focuses at the moment are writing, piano and French. The writing is a case of just do it. Every day. Piano too, which has been a lot of fun. It has been great being able to prioritise stuff there is very little chance of me making any money out of, and that isn't the point. I have kept up about an hour a day for the last 4 months or so. French got interrupted, and now I have lost momentum. I have a similar thing with exercise. If I am doing something regularly, and then can't do it for a few weeks, it becomes hard to get back on track. The thing is, it isn't really hard in the sense that there are actual obstacles in the way. I was just learning 10 new words a day and then stopped. I can do that, and perhaps writing a blog post on it will inspire me to start again today. I think the trick is fun. My approach to improving my diet is to try add very tasty, healthy meals rather than forcing myself to stop eating things I enjoy. If there is a better option, I will take it. I think that is what will happen with the French. The 'Fluent Forever' approach is to learn the 625 most common words first. That covers something like 80% of spoken French so you can start to have fun. You can learn by listening to music, watching TV series and reading entertaining books. Kids learn best when teachers make it fun. At the end of the day we are all really just big kids. When in doubt, choose the more fun option.
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