recently I refreshed my memory on accelerated-learning & language-learning strategies. I haven’t looked at this stuff in a while. It’s been an adjustment, learning to live on my own and have a 9-5, making myself a tad more comfortable materially & financially. I don’t have as much energy as I did before when I lived at home, and on top of that I have more #firstworldproblems that a 29 year old independent female faces.
In terms of learning a language in an accelerated manner, I first applied these newly-learned techniques to my solo russian and french language aquisition beginning in 2013. I would look at the french podcast transcript many times [at the library procrastinating on my college homework] after exposing myself to the conversation sans transcription just as many times. This is spacing [exposing yourself to the material in intervals after first exposure]. Not only did I do spacing, but I did it by exposing myself to the material in different ways, with and without audio, with and without the transcript.
I would also incorporate movement into my podcast listening. I would walk from the dorms to the Main Street of Lander, Wyoming or one of the arboraceous side streets far away from campus with the foreign banter simultaneously playing in my ears. When I wished to remember a new word, I would write down the associative imagery that I created, using paper lists & paper flashcards [after coming up with an imaginative picture]. This act of molding information that’s unmemorable [in this case, foreign vocabulary words] into memorable is called ‘mnemonics.’ Using ‘location-based mnemonics,’ I would put that into a space in my mind, a so-called “Memory Palace” or “Memory Castle.” Using my newfound knowledge of this device called the ‘loci-method,’ I would write down my own personalized memory palaces by traveling physically to various places around Lander with my pen & paper [I even wrote one down in a random memorial for US Veterans not far from the campus cafeteria]. I hopped from place to place like the ‘energizer’ bunny, excited for more novelty and discovery. Using these words, I would also talk to native speakers online to get that instant real-time feedback [feedback loops being a highlight of accelerated-learning].
After reading Susanna Zaraysky’s “Language is Music,” I listened to more french & russian music, with or without lyrics, employing more audio & written exposure to the alien sounds of french & russian pop artists. I would listen to music while walking as well, on and off campus in Lander, Wyoming & Richmond, Virginia. When I wasn’t in college, I would also run on the treadmill, around my neighborhood, around downtown. A few times, I reviewed my current set of words while sprinting on the treadmill. A literal “learning-sprint” [as opposed to a metaphorical one].
One of the hallmarks of accelerated language-learning is to learn words in a non-boring way [because that is how our brain works]. That’s why my musical & auditory brain lended itself more to acquiring pronunciation through listening to poppy sounds [that also offered an escapism from my present reality]. Another hallmark is performing “active-recall.” I would do this by saying out loud the words while recalling them using my “Memory Castle.”
After realizing that these mnemonics strategies & rapid learning techniques effectively work based on my own experience, I don’t learn a language without it. I don’t drill words into my brain with the expectation that they will “stick.” I no longer learn words by rote-memorization. I no longer learn a language without practicing immediately [either with myself or with a language-partner]. Practicing the language in an intentional way, exposing the information to my brain several times and over many intervals, using the spacing technique, doing feedback loops instantly, performing “active-recall,” using mnemonics, & connecting the foreign information with pleasant memories/experiences/locations is what I choose to do now.