I have what I like to call ADADD – Auto-Didactic Attention Deficit Disorder.
When it comes to learning things I have serious trouble picking one thing and sticking to it. I try to tell myself to focus on a single thing – learning / improving my Korean for example – but then I decide I’d also like to learn to play the ukulele, and I really need to work on my handstands, and it would be fun to learn to juggle, and I’d really like to learn more programming and so on and so forth.
In the past before long I would wind up stretched so thin between all my interests I looked like Lady Cassandra O’Brien. I’d be trying to learn ten things at once and in the end wouldn’t really do well at any of them.
While you could certainly take the moral of this story as ‘Focus on one thing at a time,’ I just couldn’t handle that.
So I figured out a way to make it work.
There are two general schools of thought when it comes to language learning and grammar. The first follows a strongly analytic model focused on explicit grammar learning. People in this group emphasize the primary importance of learning grammar before and above anything else. For them, grammar tends to take the central role as the most important aspect of learning a new language.
The second group holds the opposite views. That school of thought follows a strongly deductive model focused on implicit grammar learning. People in this group think the study of grammar essentially impedes language learning and that it should be ignored – as long as you can communicate you’ll pick it up eventually.
So which way is actually more effective for language learners?
There are a lot of books out there telling you how to become a master at this or that.
Some of them are good, others not so much, but what I’ve found is that so many stop short of where I’d consider actual mastery. On top of that, in the ones I’d consider more helpful anyway, I’ve found there’s a common theme of leading people through four distinct stages.
If you want to learn something from absolute beginner to master level it makes sense then to be as familiar with these stages as possible to not only ensure you’re on the right track, but also to know ahead of time where you’re going.
Procrastination is a huge problem for a lot of people.
It was also always a huge problem for me for the longest time. Enough so that I had a Pearls Before Swine comic tacked to my office door to remind me not behave that way (protip: turns out taping funny comics to your door doesn’t do much to help productivity).
Chances are good you’re even reading this while putting off work right now, in which case I apologize for the link to the comics. That probably didn’t help you much.
To make up for it, I’d like to share my personal favorite strategy for killing procrastination and ensuring that you get a good bit of productivity out of each and every day.
I play a lot of video games.
At least, I do when I don’t keep too close of an eye on myself. I, like many others who would self identify as ‘nerdy’, have that particular combination of addictive personality and attraction to escapism that leads to looking away from the screen for a moment and thinking, “4 a.m.? Wasn’t it just 10:00 a minute ago?”
Uncontrolled this can be a problem – my bank account and productivity levels both suffer when a bunch of new games come out all at once – but looked at the right way I’ve found it actually can be extremely helpful.
The same things that make you determined to do whatever it takes and burn up entire days to finish that level, get that new item or earn that really hard achievement can also make you finally get fit, learn a language or do whatever else it is you’ve always wanted to accomplish.