Variety is the Spice of Language Learning
The brain wants something new, something fresh.
It's boring to always go back to the same source.
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here and today I want to talk about the importance
of variety in language learning.
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So today I have a t-shirt on.
Normally, when I go to do these videos, even though I'm wearing a, t-shirt a
grubby t-shirt for doing tasks around the house or whatever, I'll put on a nice
golf shirt or a shirt with a collar for my video, becasue I feel that that's what I
should do for all my listeners out there.
However, in fact that's not necessary.
And I decided to change things up to sort of symbolize the
importance of changing things up in your language learning routine.
Variety is extremely important.
I've mentioned this before.
I've said the brain requires repetition, but it also requires novelty.
And the reason I decided to do this video is that I was listening to some
new material in Persian, uh, about the, uh, Islamic Revolution and the history
of the Islamic Revolution in a podcast.
And I started noticing certain words and phrases that I hadn't noticed before
when they were in content that I was used to listening to, and it reminded me
of how important it is to vary things, vary the content you're listening to,
uh, vary the nature of the content.
In other words, easy content and more difficult content repeating,
uh, repetitively listening to things that, you know, tackling new material.
All of this is important.
And, uh, you know, I've mentioned in a previous video on interleaving that
that even though people feel that they can learn something by focusing in on
it and studying it hard, cramming for the exam tomorrow, in fact research
uh, on how the brain learns and a lot of it done by professor Bjork out
of, uh, California, that it's when we study a bit of this and go off and do
something else and come back later on and go back to the first item that we
were studying, that we learn better.
Whenever we block learn, we try to focus on one thing at a time in fact, we
are learning less and less every time.
Uh, if I focus back or think back on my learning of Chinese or Japanese, you know,
I used the sort of repetitive listening in order to get the rhythm of the language.
And so in the case of Chinese, I listened to these ... dialogues, comic dialogues,
even if I didn't fully understand them because the, the rhythm, the intonation of
the language sort of penetrated my brain.
I found that very useful, uh, in order to improve my pronunciation,
my feel for the language.
There was also a, uh, an audio version.
And of course in those days it was a great big open reel tape recorder on
the history of the second world war.
And I still remember
... that was like, he was almost sounded like he was talking too fast, but I picked
up on the rhythm of that, uh, phrase "Second World War" and many others.
Uh, similarly, when I was in Japan, even though I was constantly reading
new material, eventually reading the newspapers, reading different books
with vocabulary lists, glossaries that I could find in, in the, uh, bookstores
in Japan, there was one series that I listened to over and over again, even
though I didn't fully understand it.
And that was, I've mentioned this before, the sort of NHK series
on ... the history of the Showa Era.
And part of it of course, is that this audio has to grab you at some level.
And I enjoyed, enjoyed the, the main narrator's voice and the excerpts
from history and I would listen to it.
And it was all part of bringing that music and that intonation
of the language into my brain.
So that was one form of activity, but I was also challenging myself with
new material, different material.
So always this sense of variety, um, variety in terms of your activities,
uh, if you are a person who likes to do flashcards fine, I'm not a big
flashcard, as I've explained before.
But spend some time on vocabulary, spend some time on grammar.
Maybe if you're interested, uh, spend some time listening, spend some time reading.
The greater variety you introduce into your learning activity or speaking for
that matter, obviously the speaking depends on your opportunity to speak
more opportunities, if you live where the language is spoken, but you can
arrange to speak online with a tutor.
Have a deliberately, a deliberate program of introducing variety.
That's one of the difficulties in language learning at school.
Typically there's a textbook and there, they might even have a, a reader with
stories in it and you have that textbook and the reader, and that's all you do.
That's not very good because after a while the brain wants something new,
something fresh, it's boring to always go back to the same source, the same
book, the same type of exercises.
So if you are in charge of your own learning, or even if you
are in a classroom situation, try to introduce variety.
It'll help you do better on the things that you're forced to do in the classroom,
but it'll because it's gonna make sure that you improve in the language.
So I just wanted to, to remind you of the importance of, of variety,
even in terms of where you study.
Sometimes if you can be listening outside or while jogging or, uh, you know,
reading in different rooms in the house.
The extent to which you introduce variety, it's all beneficial to your learning.
So I did a video on interleaving, so I would invite you to
go and have a look at that.
And, uh, I think, you know, uh, one other relevant video, perhaps.
So that you can follow up on this subject, but remember,
variety is the spice of life.
Variety is gonna help you learn.
And if you're in charge of your learning, you set the program, you
can change things, you can decide what you're gonna spend your time on.
Thank you for listening.
Bye for now.