Power Language Learning Week 2: The Power of Coercion
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here. Today is November 11 in Canada. It's Remembrance Day. Canadians remember the many people who laid down their lives, who sacrificed their lives at very young ages in order to defend our country. In Canada in the First World War 330,000 people volunteered to fight. In the Second World War over 1 million Canadians volunteered to fight, which is an enormous number of people who courageously ended up running into great danger and in many cases they never returned. I would have a poppy if I had remembered to bring one from Vancouver. I don't have a poppy, but nevertheless I think it's important to remember people who made these sacrifices for us.
Today, I want to talk about Power Language Learning, of course. I'm in week 2 of my Power Language Learning Challenge. I set myself the goal of studying three languages every day: Arabic, Persian and Turkish. In each language I'm going to create 100 links, which means that I am going to save 100 new words. Names don't count; words in the language. Every day I save 100 of them. I can report that I have been maintaining this level. Every day I do this. Now, it does change my language learning activities to some extent because I have to begin by making sure I get my 100 links created. When I don't, I end up sitting there at 10:30 at night creating links in order to meet that goal. So it's a bit of a distortion.
I've also discovered something I think rather important and that is that coercion works. I always say we need to learn from interesting content, compelling content, the sort of intrinsic motivation, our interest in the subject matter, our positive attitude towards the language, all of these things are very important and can be tremendously motivating. However, it is also true that some degree of coercion works. What do I mean by that?
I now have set myself this mechanical goal of saving 100 links every day in each language. What that does is it forces me into, first of all, more difficult content where there are more unknown words. It forces me into content where I have trouble understanding what it's all about. It forces me out of my comfort zone, but I find that as I do that a number of things happen.
First of all, when I go back to the easier material it seems easier. Possibly, that's because I'm doing three languages, so pushing my brain a little bit. When I go back to something I have done before that's easy it seems clearer than before. I notice better than I did before or so it seems. It's also encouraging to go back to something that is easy after you struggle with things that are difficult. I find that in choosing content to study whereas before I would deliberately seek out things of interest, which I still do of course.
I listen to my Al Jazeera or France podcasts in Arabic. I have them automatically transcribed, which means that the transcription is not tremendous. I do the same with Turkish and with Farsi. So I struggle with these. I struggle with them because it's difficult to understand them. When I go and now scour our library for content that's easier or at least properly transcribed, I find that I'm no so fussy about how intrinsically interesting the material is because I'm motivated by this mechanical and very clearly defined goal. I have to find 100 new words. I have to save 100 new words. I have to create 100 new links in the language and I get a great sense of satisfaction from doing that. It's a bit like the French say, "l'appétit vient avec le manger" -- Appetite comes with the eating. As I go back to some of these perhaps less interesting items in our library in Persian or Arabic, I do them now because I want to create my 100 links and I know that the transcripts are accurate.
It's just a reminder that there are different ways for us to be motivated. For me, the 100 links a day is a self-imposed goal. No one has told me I have to do that. I've decided to do that. I've created some self-imposed coercion to make sure that I keep driving forward into new material or at least material that has unknown words in it. Now, I still go back and listen to earlier material. I still have to go back and I want to go back and read material where I have basically saved all the words. So it's full of yellow words which I still can't remember, but I find that this level of self-imposed coercion is making sure that I put more time into my language learning than I otherwise would.
I just sort of add that in because I stress it so often and, of course, I want to get to the stage where I can simply enjoy my podcast in Arabic. Now, it's early days here. It's 10-11 days into my Power Language Learning Challenge, so I'm hopeful that in a couple of months I will be able to enjoy these podcasts in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, that they will be less fuzzy, less ambiguous, less difficult to understand and in six months even easier and in nine months even easier. At least at this stage, I feel a sense of satisfaction. Even as I'm swimming in all this difficult-to-understand stuff, that I am meeting this goal that I set for myself. That gives me a sense of satisfaction and achievement and when we have a sense of satisfaction and achievement we are encouraged and we want to continue.
I want to mention one thing and that is if you are interested and you would like to receive my 10 Secrets of Successful Language Learning, this is a course in 10 emails, you can receive this free of charge by simply clicking on the link that you see on the screen.
That's it. Thank you for listening, bye for now.