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  • Memorizing versus learning.

  • Very often people say to me, you know, I can't learn languages

  • because I have a poor memory.

  • And many people think that language learning is a matter of memorizing things.

  • Uh, it's not uncommon to see people studying lists of words.

  • Um, bookstores have, you know, the thousand words or the 5,000

  • words, you know, for TOEFL.

  • Uh, and people study these and they deliberately try to memorize them.

  • Uh, some people have, um, memorization techniques, uh, some of these

  • memorization techniques called mnemonics a date back to the ancient Romans.

  • Um, I don't use any of these.

  • I don't even use space repetition actually.

  • Uh, I make no deliberate attempt to memorize anything.

  • To me, learning is more what the great Brazilian educator Rubem Alves

  • described as a vagabond experience.

  • What I've sometimes called grazing, uh, what Robert Bjork

  • referred to as interleaving.

  • It's kind of exploring different things, seeing something over here,

  • which we then forget and see again somewhere else, and slowly we learn.

  • Uh, it is important to have a positive attitude.

  • It is important to spend the time, but it's also important to

  • be aware of how the brain works.

  • Again, I often quote Manfred Spitzer, he says, the brain

  • cannot do otherwise than learn.

  • The brain learns slowly and the brain requires repetition and novelty.

  • So with the repetition, it's not a matter of trying to repeat something to

  • yourself over and over again, or reading the same list over and over again, or

  • testing yourself with flashcards, it's more a matter of noticing things that

  • cause certain neurons to fire together.

  • So if I read a text in Persian and then I listen to the same text, the audio of

  • it, I will remember having read some of those words, especially if I'm all already

  • somewhat familiar with those words.

  • And then I hear them and then I notice them and, and then I might read it again.

  • And all of this is causing these neurons, at least is the way I see it,

  • to fire together and gradually those connections are getting stronger.

  • And because the brain requires both repetition and novelty, if you can

  • do this, you know, repeating in contexts that are of interest to

  • you, that contain new information...

  • like I listened to the news in Persian, uh, that's gonna help you remember it.

  • Uh, or conversely, because the repetition is so important.

  • Uh, you know, in fact, I see this whole repetition thing as a matter

  • of, of hooks, of connections.

  • I think there's a, an expression in this Sufi Islamic, uh, philosophy that

  • says you can only learn things that you already know, so you have to have seen

  • it once, and then you discover it again, or you hear it, and then you read it.

  • And all of this is helping to reinforce these neural connections.

  • To enable you to learn words, not through memorization, but through this

  • exploring vagabond type of learning.

  • The same is true if with grammar.

  • If you have no experience with the language and you read a grammar

  • explanation, it makes no impact on you.

  • If you have had a lot of exposure to the language and then you read an explanation

  • of a structure, it's possible that that might help you notice that structure.

  • Once you've noticed that structure in different situations, read it and

  • heard it, and been aware of it and and so forth, then because you now sort of

  • kind of know it, you can now learn it.

  • And that sort of transformation from something that you have

  • subconsciously sort of acquired to where it becomes something that you

  • can consciously use, that is a gradual process and not one that, in my

  • opinion, we can deliberately control.

  • So I think every effort to deliberately memorize something or deliberately

  • learn something is not very efficient.

  • I don't say that it's useless because it is a form of exposure, but uh, there's all

  • kinds of research that shows that if we read the same material over and over again

  • with the intention of sort of memorizing it, we are in fact learning less and less,

  • and we are better off to provide that novelty, that change to the brain so that

  • the brain can go off and look at something else and then come back and rediscover,

  • relearn something that's gonna be a more efficient way of acquiring words.

  • And as I've said many times, language learning is largely

  • a process of acquiring words.

  • So the, the language learning um, the model that I like is one where

  • I'm learning in a vagabond way rather than deliberately memorizing.

  • And I think part of doing that, and part of, uh, believing in that is, is, is to

  • accept the fact that that is how we learn.

  • Don't try to short circuit, speed it up, force yourself, shove it, shove it

  • down your throat, it isn't gonna work.

  • Believe that your brain is always learning, and if you give it enough

  • exposure in different situations, uh, some easy content, some difficult

  • content, sometimes listening to the words, sometimes reading the words, maybe

  • doing the odd, you know, matching pairs, which is my favorite form of, of, you

  • know, flashcard review, but other people have other forms of flashcard review.

  • It's all part of the exposure to the language and the greater

  • the variety of the exposure.

  • The greater the different levels of difficulty, the more we are

  • learning and the less we are deliberately trying to memorize.

  • I think in the end we enjoy the process more and we're more successful.

  • So there's my take on memorization versus learning.

  • Look forward to your comments.

Memorizing versus learning.

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A2 初級 美國腔

你無法記住一門語言(You CAN’T Memorize A Language)

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    雨小雨 發佈於 2024 年 01 月 10 日
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