Saturday, 21 September 2013

Time to invade Korea, bombard Argentina, and annhilate China

I have come a long way since as a child I had to wait for a whole month to save INR 20 (US $0.40) to photocopy a Spanish course from the 1955(?) edition of Practical Knowledge for All. I have the internet for more than three-and-a-half years now. Despite a wealth of language learning materials available, I have failed to learn any language. I have tried Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, French, and what-not! The results have always been disappointing. So I have come to a decision: let's start a battle on several fronts, and see where it goes from there.

Learning from past mistakes, I am not going to give up on Chinese  for some other language. I have have a bad habit of quitting languages I am learning and lap for new ones. Chinese is going to stay. I am merely going to attack on the Korean front and the Argentine border. 

My goals are quantifiable - to finish Assimil Spanish without Toil before January 1, 2014. To learn all the material in Novice Korean 1 and Novice Korean II during the next three months. As to Chinese, the goal is to finish all the 105 lessons of Assimil Chinese with Ease (paid).

Overwhelming though it is, I think I can do this with perseverance. I have learnt some time management techniques from Alexander Arguelles - a hyper-polyglot, autodidact, and my new hero. He provides invaluable advice on language learning.

I have been learning Chinese using his time management techniques for the past five days, Spanish for three days, and Korean for just one day. The technique is simple - stop studying before you yawn. I am studying in intervals of 15 - 30 minutes. I woke up at four today and learnt Chinese for 30 minutes and Spanish for 10 minutes. A lesson with a native Korean speaker took three-and-a-half hours. It was an exception. I will study Korean everyday for 45 minutes, Spanish for 20 minutes, and Chinese for an hour. 

The key is to divide this time into smaller and shorter intervals. It has twofold advantages - (a) I do not get bored, (b) a bad day cannot ruin all day's study because the study period has been divided into three or four parts.

One more change that I have incorporated into my study habit is to forgo computers and turn to paper. I am writing Chinese characters, learning to put the grave accent on the right vowel, and practising the stroke order of Korean jamo. I am using this laptop only passively - I read from an ebook and practice on a notebook.

In addition to these three languages, I am also thinking of spending 15 minutes each on Esperanto, Punjabi, and Urdu. Although I am not sure if I can do that. 

As for English, my whole day goes with this language mostly reading. I will have to cut down on useless browsing, porn, self-pity, day-dreaming and sleep and focus on writing (in English), literature, philosophy, mathematics, logic, computer science, programming, and languages! I want to be polyliteratre, not just polyglot.

Finally, I will publish my weekly progress report here.