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Friday, February 12, 2016

A Way to Quickly Learn Foreign Vocabulary

I have done around 19 pages of my French grammar book (small hurray!) and I realized I am facing a problem with vocab.

Each topic starts out with a vocab list, this is one of the lists of verbs: 
How am I going to learn all of it and stick it in my memory?? And then repeat this for every topic? I'll probably spend more time memorizing verbs than anything else. 

So I remembered one of my own tips: Keep it easy. 

Now this looks more manageable. I choose 5 verbs from each list, small enough to seem easy, and many enough to make it a little bit challenging. I write them on a sticky note and I transfer them to each chapter I advance to. 

How do I choose the words? I set some simple guidelines: (always keep it simple!) 

1. It must be a word I am likely to read or use. So the word 'tordre' (twist) is out, but 'attendre' (wait) is in. I am more likely to use 'attendre' in a sentence than 'tordre'.

2. It must be a word that I cannot understand easily. Some words in French are close enough to their English equivalent that translation is not really necessary. You don't need to learn French to guess that 'descendre' means 'to go down', but you may need to know that 'pretendre' means to claim. That puts 'pretendre' in my list. 

3. Very common words that I have encountered before are out. 'Manger' (to eat' is a word I have seen many times. So are 'je', 'tu', 'il' and 'elle', so I won't bother with them. 

Lastly, as a motivation, 
4. I want to learn positive words. 'Perdre' fits all the criteria mentioned above, but has a negative connotation. I'd rather learn 'gagner' (to win) first. That is a much more positive meaning to learn! 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Idiot's Guide to Keeping Resolutions

We always have personal goals in our life we want to accomplish. And we always have obstacles that get in the way of those goals. 

One of my ongoing obstacle is work. It takes up so much of my time and energy that when I get home, all I want to do is fall on the sofa and do nothing more exerting than reaching for the remote. That's when a lot of my goals start falling by the wayside. At the end of the year, I feel so sad when I think of what I could have done and didn't. 

I'm thus interested in reading articles about goal achievement, and after reading a few, I think I have managed to narrow it down to something easy that I can keep to: 

This is a super-primitive note to remind myself how to keep going. In these few words, however, are some powerful takeaways.

1. Plan. 
I do this well already for the gym. I will plan the days I will go and pack my gym attire the night before, thus ensuring that I actually carry out my gym plan the next day. It's not foolproof, because there are times that coffee at a cafe is that much more appealing, but 9 out of 10 times, I do carry out my plans. So why not apply that to the other stuff I want to do, like French? Plan a time to do it and stick to it. Look at the day and see where you can schedule in time for work, time for gym, time for cooking and time for hobbies.

However, I also know that time is really short on some days, especially with marking and gym and cooking, so this comes to my next point:

2. Keep it Easy.
I know I'm kidding myself if I say I want to be 100% fluent in French in 2 months. Not only that, but if I set myself a big goal and I don't reach it, it can be discouraging and I may not try again. 
So I keep it easy for myself, especially when I know I have heavy markloads. Maybe I can't finish 10 pages of French grammar *horrors* but I can do one exercise a day, which is maybe half a page? That's a small step that is accomplishable and it's not that daunting that I will be put off by it, but yet it brings me one small step closer to my goal of learning French. 

The last part is one of the hardest in keeping resolutions, which is to

3. Keep to it, already. 
Now I have a plan. I've made it so easy even a child could do it. Now the hardest part is just to stick to it. 
The problem with this is distractions. TV is a big distraction. After all, TV requires no effort out of me other than to flick the remote towards it and choose a programme. But TV also gives me nothing in return other than entertainment and a TV belly. Learning French is harder and will drain my brainpower, but the sense of accomplishment is unlike anything that TV gives. 
So I have to stick to it. When I switch on the TV after work, I can stay there for one episode and then I have to do something else already or risk vegging out totally. When I watch one of my taped episodes, I have to remind myself of what else I'm missing when I'm sitting there. When I'm flipping channels, I remind myself that there is more I can be doing than just this. 
And this is the weird part: When I stopped watching TV after a certain time, I realised that there is actually so much time in the day for other stuff. (caveat: I can only do this because I don't have kids yet.) By the time I finish washing up all the dinner stuff, it's usually around 830pm. That's around 1-2 hours I have before getting ready for bed! I then have a choice: Watch TV or Do Something. I know which is the better choice. 

That's my Idiot's Guide to Resolutions. Of course, talking about it is always easy than actually carrying it out, but by typing it out and writing down even that little scrap in my journal, I take the effort to solidify my motivation for my goals. Hopefully, by the end of 2016, I will have more success to blog about.