Thursday, March 23, 2023

Maintaining Momentum in Your Study of Greek

Very happy with today's workout. Despite having lifted seriously now for over a year, I still seem to have a high level of motivation. 

Weight training, like any endeavor, is subject to the law of diminishing returns. The wonder seems to fade after a bit. It can't be sustained. 

Today I'd like to apply this to those of you who are studying Greek. If you're struggling in your studies, how can you maintain or regain momentum? I would say that memory is a very important factor here. Some people have better memories than others, but in general it's very easy to forget what you learned a week ago if you didn't repeat it in the meantime. Of course, it gets easier after a while because you begin to develop an intuition about how the language works. In addition, learning Greek is easier if you already have foreign language learning experience, or if the new language is related to the language you already speak. But in general, when you learn a new language, many things you learn are completely arbitrary. I think this concept encodes why beginners often give up languages. Something that has worked for me and for many people is called "spaced repetition." Using SR can be very advantageous as well as very motivating. You know that in a short time you can get to the level where you at least have a general idea about a lot that's written in the language. The key is to make consistent progress. I'm not sure if I spend more than 3 hours a week learning Spanish, but I spread that out so I learn a little each day. As with so many other endeavors in life, doing a little each day is much more effective than doing a lot once a week. If you are a beginner, not only are a certain number of study hours necessary, but this must also be accomplished within a short enough period of time to see real progress. When you know the core vocabulary and the basic concepts of syntax, the language stops being completely arbitrary, and you can relate things you learn to the ones you already know. Yes, it takes practice, dedication, and determination, but a consistent daily effort seems far better than trying to eat the whole watermelon at once. As the learning process continues, we will reach the point where exposure to new concepts just fits our cognitive ability.

Four final thoughts if you will:

1. Tell yourself that language learning is simple even if it's not easy. You just need time and patience.

2. Don't listen to those who tell you that you can't do it. Most people around you have never learned a foreign language. You are different. You know you can become very good if you just stay consistent. 

3. Find the best textbook to learn the language you target. One book is enough. Go slowly, and do all the exercises.

4. Don't be afraid to fail. Everyone makes mistakes. We all have setbacks. Use the "fall forward" approach. Fail quickly, then listen to the correction. Failure can = improvement.

Hopefully these are some useful tips you can use in your learning. Bonne chance!