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  • Steve Kaufmann here.

  • Um, today, you know, I'm going to, first of all, I wanna say that I did, um, a, a

  • webcam interview with Luca, the wonderful Italian polyglot, and, uh, we are going

  • to put it up here at my YouTube channel.

  • But I'm waiting until I'm away because while I'm away, I can't do any videos.

  • I'm gonna be in Australia and New Zealand.

  • And so, uh, Alex is gonna put up some pictures and, uh, I think

  • we went, Luca and I went at it for about 40 minutes or so.

  • So it's gonna be 10, at least a four, uh, sessions.

  • So that's when you'll be seeing those interviews that I did with,

  • with Luca, just so that there's not a blank for a whole month.

  • Um, you know, I want to talk about today the subject of language learning

  • um, something that's kind of been running around in my mind and this is

  • what I would call the fundamental...

  • this, I, I come up with all these things that are the key to language learning.

  • And I may have used this before, I don't know, but it suddenly dawned

  • on me that, you know, the most important thing is, is it fun?

  • Do you enjoy doing it?

  • You know, uh, and, and I mentioned this, you know, in my seven secrets to

  • language learning, I think the first one was spend the time and the second

  • was to do things that you enjoy doing.

  • But the subject came up because, uh, at a forum at LingQ, someone mentioned the

  • gold list, which is a, a form of, of sort of handwritten, spaced repetition,

  • devised by David James, who's a wonderful polyglot, uh, Englishman, who lives

  • in Poland and speaks, I don't know however many languages, and speaks at

  • least five of them very, very fluently, including Russian, german, I believe,

  • and, and I'm not sure which others.

  • And he has a, a, a variety of persona at YouTube, one of which is Victor Huliganov.

  • So you can easily find him.

  • And, uh, he has a lot of useful, uh, information on language learning, and

  • I've watched some of his stuff and I agree with a lot of what he says.

  • And he has devised this system, which he calls the gold list.

  • And the gold list consists essentially of the following, and that is to, to, uh,

  • uh, maintain lists of words and phrases to write them out longhand, uh, in writing.

  • Therefore, to write the target language, uh, down one side and the

  • translated meaning on the other side.

  • Typically have a list of 25 or 30 of such words, and I might get this wrong,

  • your best to go off and see one of his videos are Google for gold list.

  • But, um, the idea is that you write these out and then forget about them

  • for 14 days, that the mere, uh, fact of writing them down is good for you and

  • then puts them somewhere in your brain.

  • Uh, if you look at them 14 days later, you will probably

  • remember about a third of them.

  • So then you take the remaining two thirds and, uh, create another list with these.

  • Uh, and then you look at it 14 days later.

  • And so what's interesting in all of this is a, that you're writing,

  • which is I think, a good thing to do, b, they're, you're not deliberately

  • trying to learn it, cram it.

  • And this is one of the points where I very much agree with David James, and that

  • is that a lot of our deliberate learning activity, forcing ourselves to learn

  • a declension table or a grammar rule.

  • Even answering questions or any of this stuff that's hard work uh, it basically

  • just puts things into our short-term memory and that's, that's what they do

  • in, in French classes here in Canada.

  • And that's why kids graduate and can't speak French, even though

  • they passed their French every year.

  • Some of them did quite well in French, but they were cramming

  • stuff into their short term memory.

  • And now, uh, 10 or 20 years after graduating, they don't

  • remember a thing, or very little.

  • Uh, so his thing is just write them down, look at them two weeks later.

  • So I decided that I would try to do this.

  • Uh, I would try, I said I would do this for my reading that I do away from LingQ

  • away from the computer in Czech, and also with some of the words that I can

  • just, you know, take a random vocabulary list from our vocab section, or take a

  • tagged list of connector words in Czech.

  • Or, you know, date of case or whatever I wanna do and start writing them out.

  • So I've started doing this and so then there was much discussion at our forum at

  • LingQ about what's effective in language we're learning and what's not effective.

  • And some people thought that the gold list was a good idea and some people

  • thought it wasn't a good idea and some people said, yeah, I've been doing

  • it and you know, basically it works.

  • And that kind of basically something clicked in my brain and I, I realized

  • that most things uh, Anki works.

  • Uh, you know, Super Memo works.

  • You know, these flashcard SRS systems work.

  • Um, probably Benny's, uh, you know, go out and walk around and talk to people works

  • at least for him or some of the time.

  • I don't know.

  • So everything can work if you enjoy doing it.

  • But there's no point in telling someone who doesn't like to do flashcards that

  • he should do flashcards because it works.

  • Because any evaluation of how well things work is, is necessarily subjective.

  • We think it works becasue we do it and we're improving so it must work.

  • Does it work better than something else?

  • Well, somebody else is doing something else.

  • So, you know, how do you evaluate?

  • The, the big thing is, do you want to spend your time?

  • Becasue in language, unless you've got unlimited time to spend on language

  • learning, most of us have a limited amount of time, unless you're a full-time

  • language learner as I was with Chinese back 40 odd years ago, most of the time

  • you've got an hour or so a day to spend, so where do you wanna spend your time?

  • And that to me becomes the most important criterion.

  • So now I've been going at this gold list thing and I quickly discovered that I was

  • not at all interested in creating a list of words that I didn't know the meaning

  • of in my reading away from the computer because it distracted me from reading.

  • I didn't wanna do it.

  • Even if there's 15 words on the page that I don't understand, I'd rather

  • just read through and have an imperfect understanding of what I'm reading,

  • rather than each time being distracted from my reading and have to write this

  • down and either then or subsequently looking the word up in a dictionary.

  • That's just, I don't wanna do it.

  • So if I don't want to do it by definition, my new definition, it's not

  • effective because I don't wanna do it.

  • So how long would I keep doing something that I don't want to do?

  • And even if you're in school and the teacher's gonna force you to do something,

  • I don't think things that you are forced to do are gonna be that effective.

  • I notice, for example, you know, another subject comes up is how

  • often should you listen to content?

  • I find it boring to listen to the same thing over and over again.

  • Is it effective to listen over and over again or should you be constantly

  • going out, going on to new stuff?

  • Again, it depends on what you like to do.

  • If it's interesting content and if it's a nice voice such as this Czech

  • material that I found here, uh, history, I can listen over and over again.

  • Whereas the news from Radio Prague, I can only listen to it

  • once because it's read in a very dead pan voice by the newscaster.

  • I, I cannot listen to it more than once.

  • So, but both are effective, you know, getting a new article from

  • Radio Prague on what's happening in Czech Republic, politically,

  • whatever it's adding to my vocabulary.

  • By the same token, listening more than once to this other material, which is

  • really making me, you know, familiar with alignment, that's effective too.

  • So again, it's whatever you find fun.

  • That's, it's kind of easy.

  • And so when you look at all of the research that's done by, uh, you

  • know, second language acquisition experts, and they study the effect of

  • studying word lists or doing this or doing that, it really doesn't matter.

  • The only thing is, if, if you're a teacher, how, what can you find that

  • the, that the student actually likes?

  • Some people, I, I must say some of the time I like flipping through my,

  • my flashcards, uh, but I own, I now do them the easiest way possible.

  • In other words, I put on the flashcard the term, it's the new word, the

  • translation into English and the captured phrase, phrase from LingQ.

  • And I just go through them, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing.

  • I don't want to rack my brain to try and think what the meaning is.

  • I would rather just expose myself to the flashcards.

  • It's a break from reading.

  • It's something I can do while I'm waiting somewhere.

  • I just open up my, uh, you know, my iPhone or whatever, and I, and

  • I just go through the flashcards.

  • And I don't look to the other side becasue I've, I've got everything on the one side

  • and all I do is change the status of them.

  • So if I move it to status four, it won't come back.

  • And if it's a status, two or three, that determines how frequently

  • it comes back into my deck.

  • But I'll just go through them as quickly as I can.

  • So, you know, uh, again, people say writing something

  • out long hand is good for you.

  • And that's one of the things that, that David, uh, James says, and I'm

  • sure that's true, and I'm, I'm going to continue with this, uh, this

  • gold list, at least for a while.

  • Uh, I have created, I created four lists yesterday and four lists today, but I

  • time myself and each list, you know, if I write 25 words down, it takes me

  • eight minutes to do that for one list.

  • So, you know, if I do four lists, because that's only 25 words.

  • So if one wanted to get up to a hundred words a day, that's four times eight.

  • That's 32.

  • That's a half hour.

  • That's a half hour now.

  • Um, I don't know, do I wanna spend maybe one third of all my available