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Making Language Work For Your Life

Lesson 21 from: Become Fluent in Any Language

Gabriel Wyner

Making Language Work For Your Life

Lesson 21 from: Become Fluent in Any Language

Gabriel Wyner

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Lesson Info

21. Making Language Work For Your Life

Lesson Info

Making Language Work For Your Life

I wanted to dedicate this segment to motivation in time management and how you fit this into your actual life. Because that's kind of the point. I mean, we have this flash card system, we have all this stuff. But how does this actually work on a day to day basis and so let's jump in. Um, I want to talk about what makes a good plan. We'll make something. What makes a plan that is more likely to be successful than another sort of plan. Like I will lose a million pounds and become really fit. You know, how do you choose the language goal that you think you can probably actually succeed at? And so there's this sort of three ingredients to this, um, the first isn't setting your goals effectively. What I mean by effectively is strategically there's a certain strategy to setting goals that will make it so you're more likely to succeed it. Them, uh, just by how you word those goals to yourself, just kind of meat. So let's jump in there is this idea called self determination theory. Self determ...

ination theory there was a body of research where professor sort of messed around with college students again always college students uh and one of these test friends does that gave them these cubes thes soma cubes it's the puzzle where basically you show what shape you want these cubes to form and then you have to kind of mess with the blocks until they look like that there's someone blocks I think they're called and what they found is that college students like playing with blocks weigh all like playing with blocks uh and they will do this without being prompted. We'll do this without any sort of if you just put a college student in the room, you say wait here five minutes you have blocks on the table and have a little design that says what the block should look like they will play with them because blocks are fun and why wouldn't you play with blocks? And so they would do this? They would time how long they would play with these blocks, then they would say, okay, we're back you know, we've come back from break now, by the way, the rocks on this table for a specific reason I want you to play with these blocks and make a cz many of these shapes is you can and I will pay you for them we'll pay you for every one you do correctly and then they start making do the play with the blocks a lot and then they leave the room and they find out the students aren't interested in playing blocks anymore we're not getting paid for it they started out really, really interested then they got paid for and they're like, I'm not doing this anymore and so they threw these sorts of tests and through a number of other sort of test they started figuring out what why're we motivated to do anything because sticking in this sort of external things like money, for instance, takes away motivation. So they found out that three things are involved in making a goal that actually is worth sticking to and something that you will naturally stick to and the first one is competence. What you want to do is pick a goal pick some way of knowing that the thing you're doing you're good at what you want is this feeling of I did it. I succeeded in this it's one of the reasons why when people talk about weight loss it's actually valuable to keep track of your weight maybe not on the like minute by minute basis but if you can see your progress if you can see okay, I am losing weight I am doing this then you have this feeling of success, of competence and so when we're choosing our goals here in terms of language, learning what you want to have is some sort of sense of that some sort of feeling of success one of the nice things about this system sort of the way it's just designed anyway is that your flashcards are kind of that experience all the time you keep looking your flash cards were like yes, I did yes, I did it fact ninety five percent of the time ninety two, ninety five percent of the time you will remember what's on your flashcards and so you actually get this whole competence thing in there, but also you want to have some sense of your own progresses you wanna have some later measuring this monkey actually gives you statistics about this, but I wouldn't actually look at them that often. It's it's, what you do when you really need is the fact that your vocabulary is getting bigger all the time and you should be aware of that. Um, competence is something that's kind of taking care of ahead of time with just the way we're doing this, but not all of them are connection is a big one we stick to goals that give us connection with other people if you can figure out why you're learning a language and you can say, well, I'm learning a language because, for instance uh it will make me have five to twenty percent more income that's fine, but how does that connect you to other people? You know, thomas in your case you're looking you're learning italian in order to you know, go to seminary and stuff like that but how that is a fine goal it's a career goal and stuff in what way is this going to connect you with people? Um well, if ever went to rome really I can't talk to people there. Okay, um if I ever need to talk with church officials within the vatican that only speak italian for instance there now be able to do that if I ever need to read transcripts of speeches that aaron italian uh by the pope then I can do that as well. So, uh I guess there's a lot of ways it's gonna make you a better priest. Um yeah help me it's just a tool. I mean, it'll help me make it more useful uh, more useful for the church and helpful for the diocese of san francisco for example, does it make you more helpful to the people are going to that church? I mean, is it making more knowledgeable and more yeah, I would say that yeah, so make sort of a better of better at your job that makes you better at connecting these people right actually thinking about these sorts of things and just saying them out loud gives you a better chance of actually succeeding at this goal knowing why this will result in you having a better connection with your diocese better connection with vatican better connects with all these parts of what you want in your life and these people in your life that will be in your life where that are in your life that makes you more likely to succeed at learning it going as far as you want to go it's one of these things that you can do and it just takes a minute you tell you just think, well, why do I want this what am I doing this for and how is it going to bring me in connection with someone else you know, deep in your case you're talking about french being something for you like french because it's this language of cinema and stuff but how does it bring you in connection with someone else? You know, I also I enjoy traveling and I have a lot of friends to speak french as well and I think part of it was also I'd like to travel on my own um and just be able to interact with locals in their language and I think I mean exploiting that way is very um it's just interesting to see what could happen in that regard and said, yeah, great the third sort of component of self determination theory is autonomy er, which is tricky um what they mean by this in terms of autonomy is who are you doing this for? This was this whole soma block thing, which was that if you start paying people to do something and you stopped paying them, they're not interested if you stick in an external source of of why I'm doing this because I will get paid more, I'm doing this because someone else will like me more and it's not about you, it's, not about your own growth about what you want. Uh, you're much less likely to succeed at your goals. Uh, jamie, why are you learning mandarin again in terms of what? What is how to relate to you? Because I derive a lot of a lot of fun from from learning a new language um and it's it is, um what I've learned to love about being bilingual already that I that makes me want to learn other languages because since I already speak spanish and english, I can speak to a lot more people and understand more jokes when they're said, like people don't have to explain me some of the jokes and, uh also like, go to the movies and enjoy music so it's it's all about the connection that's built and that is exactly what I have in a very subtle way it's very difficult to explain actually all the joy that I derive from from having more than one language in my repertoire and you want more than that you're more than what you really have and that's that's perfect I mean this idea of saying okay, well this will bring me more joy in life because I will have a more sort of rounded sense of of understanding of what's going on in my own head it's going on what other people are saying this kind of thing the's air good reasons for learning languages and you can actually choose thes reasons you know, if you are in fact choosing to learn spanish because it will actually give you a better career option that's fine that's not a problem it's not like you're doing it for the wrong reasons stop but you can also reframe that such that it's also for you it's not just okay well this is because my employer says I have to but yes, my employer says I have to but also I realize that this will connect me with these friends I have who speak spanish this will give me that connection and this will also make me a more rounded person I will be able to think in a new way I will be challenged and have fun while doing this process I will enjoy this process and I'm doing this for me also it's not that you can't do this for someone else said you need to also do it for yourself now, this is kind of how you figure out the why and how you reframe the why such that it makes you more likely to succeed you figure out how is this going to make me feel clever and smart and accomplished? How is this going to connect me with other people? And how is this going to make me a better person myself? This is how your reframing or why, but also you want to start choosing goals that you can visualize, you want to be able to see yourself succeeding. And so, christina, what does it look like for you to succeed in your japanese girls? Um, it looks like me going into a japanese restaurants and being ableto understand of what everything is, uh, without having to ask for translation. It looks like me going online on to a japanese webpage and understanding what it's about understanding in the links and that's. What that looks like me cool and what does it look like for you to get there? Because you're trying to actually there's actually, two different sets of goals is the goal of where do you want to go, and what of the steps look like? And so what he steps looked like I mean what how does this fit into your life in terms of what you know we've been discussing these flash car systems and stuff like that what does that look like on a day to day basis what does it take to get to that spot where you're in the japanese restaurant um well it would take a maybe thirty minutes or forty five minutes a day just reviewing what is reviewing look like where you reviewing um probably on my computer or my kindle and uh um uh and doing if reviewing it and free time and uh repeating the sounds and the pronunciation and making people around me think I'm crazy for talking to myself that's what yes good excellent more you can make people feel that you're crazy the better than you cd seriously clear subway cars it's also people like those crazy guys mumbling a hungarian it's great uh it's lots of privacy is one thing that's also helpful in terms of preplanning is is being realistic about this uh there is there's something to be said for saying this is gonna be really easy uh and that is uh that yes it helps you in the moment it helps you the mobile to say there's gonna be just a city show I'm not gonna have a problem I wanna be flown three months and done and then I'm gonna pick up six more languages this year um that's great for today that will help you feel good, but tomorrow that will be problematic when you want us to be very realistic about this thing. This is a fun process. This is a process that I love. I'm doing this at this point in hungarian for fun like no one's talking to me in hungarian. They will eventually, uh, my grandmother, I will attempt to convince her to start talking to me, but in hungarian, she talks meaningless. Um, but this is a fun process, but it is it is it takes effort and there'll be days that you were tired, there'll be days that you're like. Well, I don't want to read another french book and I don't want to read it. Watch another video. I'm tired. I just want to go to sleep and play video games, and you need to actually be really realistic about that. The idea of just charging in and me like this is going to be a cinch. Well, yes, this will be easier than it then. The other things you've encountered, you can succeed in this in a way that at least in my experience I have not succeeded in other ways, and I have succeeded in this way. So, I mean, this is a path that works, it is a path that you go over there, the steps, and it gets you there and it's enjoyable, but, uh, is this a cinch? Isn't easy? Is it just you cool in your sleep and you wake up in your fluent? Now, this takes some effort it's, enjoyable effort, but still takes effort, and there'll be days that you're tired and being more realistic about that being realizing that. Okay, this is a process. If I want to learn mandarin that's like a year and a half a two year process, you'll have to stick through every single day and all the way through there, and you miss a few days that's fine, but you should be realistic about that, and that will also help you succeed more. The last thing in terms of setting those goals effectively isn't taking baby steps. I have a lot of students who email me and they say I will learn french. I wanna learn japanese, I want or whatever, um, and I have six hours a day to do it, so I'm gonna do six hours a day every day. How many flashcards couldn't do in six hours? You do three hundred sixty flash cards a day, I guess. I mean, I would spend about half that time making those flash cards you're talking about a hundred eighty flash cards a day at that rate you should be floating like two months. Great. Uh, don't do that. I don't care if you have six hours a day. Uh, you want to take baby steps? You want to do this slowly and you want to do this lowly? Not because you know it's gonna be too much on your brain is gonna explode. You want to do this slowly because you want to continue having the feeling of success in the face of real life. Yeah. Doesn't like, is it even possible to do that? Because I know that you can be a very digital far a very diligent farmer, for example and you can work all you want, but a plant will it will not healed fruit in three days. I think you can jam a lot of information in your head very rapidly in terms of my own experiences with immersion, for instance and german, uh, I learned very, very rapidly. I mean, very, very fast. I mean, at this point I got to see one german, which we'll talk about later the levels, but I got a very, very full fluency in german in fourteen weeks in the end I mean I did two seven week programs and by the end of it I was fluent that's because I was spending sixteen hours a day working in german they would had I think four hours of class four hours of homework I spent the other time talking in german the whole time I even dreamt in german after like three weeks so is spending like somewhere between sixteen and twenty four hours a day germany in my head and it got me to fluency in around three months and it totally works and you can just jam information in your head but you know we have a life we have work we have people family we have stuff we can't actually speak german all day because we have to speak in english with other people in spanish with other people um were you so the answer questions yes actually you can jam information you had very, very rapidly but in the context of actual life when you want is this experience of can I do this? Yes can I do this when I'm tired yeah I can I can I do this when I'm sick? Well yeah I can because I'm only doing twenty minutes can I handle when I skip a day? Can I go on vacation come back and still recover? Yes if you keep having these experiences of succeeding in the face of life then you start getting the confidence you need to really stick to it and that's what this part is about is about taking a small bite at a time and then if if you have this six hours a day and you have the determination to use every one of the six hours a day to learn french fine fine start with a half hour stick to that for a few weeks bump it up to an hour see how that feels then bump it up to your six hours I mean that's fine ramp it up but in the beginning you need to have this experience of success success, success, success and then finally you're like okay, fine I'm gonna do more this part is easy sticking to one hour french days easy I'm going to do six that's fine but don't start with six the next set of ingredient in terms of making these goals really work eyes to prepare ahead of time for obstacles this is called mental contrast ing the idea is that you are visualizing success you're watching yourself in that japanese restaurant going through that menu and being like I know what that is and then like talking to the waitress or whatever in ordering japanese and she's like oh that's amazing a thing like this whole thing you want that experience like you want the like wow! I can't believe you speak japanese experience you want that in your head you want that feeling of success? You want to watch yourself on your couch like going away on your ipad like I'm learning? Look at me learning japanese you want to visualize yourself succeeding on your computer look at all these flash cards I'm making you want to watch yourself watching movies all of these successes you want in your head you want to visualize these things, but you also wanna visualize challenges you want to visualize when things are not going the way you want them to so that you could prepare in advance so they don't trip you up when you get there. There are a set of challenges that you will all basically encounter um one of them and the most important one is scheduling there are going to be times when you miss a day or two, they're just our if you have a half hour a day flashcard habit and you have one hundred twenty reviews that are coming back every day and then you miss a day tomorrow you have two hundred forty reviews to do, they're just going to happen because those of the cars that are old enough that you're the flash card program has decided it has knows that you're about to forget those words you need that stimulation so that's not just goingto fall out of your head and so now you have two hundred forty words to look at and then you're on the next day and you also were just you were sick you came down with a cold or a terrible flu or you're in surgery or something like that and then you skip two days in a row now you have three hundred sixty flashcards sort of dead what do you do about this? You need to know that this is going to happen to you and so you need to come up with sort of a plan of attack for this sort of problem generally what I do in this case because this happens to me all the time busy mean I thiss has been crazy crazy year in terms of the book in terms of the kickstarter terms of everything I have had tons of days where I just have not had any time to study uh the creative live workshop has been one of those excuses I have not worked on my hungarian in two days I have a debt of probably two hundred flashcards to do and that's fine what I do actually is I set up a limit because the idea of sitting with my flash cards for two hours or something and this is doing hungarian sounds painful and I don't like things that are painful and so what I do is I set up a limit and I say okay hunky I realize I have to do one hundred twenty reviews a day roughly and right now I have three hundred views or three hundred sixty or four hundred so instead of showing me one hundred twenty reviews today why don't you show me a little more show me one hundred sixty every day let me work off that debt at an extra forty cards a day it adds with that money cards it adds another eight minutes to each study session on average and so every day I worked through an extra eight minutes of cards and it takes me about a week to get through my debt and then I'm back to normal this is the sort of planning planning ahead that will help you handle it as soon as you miss a day because otherwise you miss a day and you're like whoa oh two hundred forty cards arm done drop it or you think I don't want to deal with two hundred forty cars you wait another day now is three hundred sixty cars and you really want to drop it and so setting these sort of review limits which we'll talk about at the end of this session which is how do you know where is the setting for this how do you set it so there's a limit because I don't want to just look at three hundred cards I want one hundred sixty there's your settings for that in donkey that are really handy but preparing ahead of time for this is really really handy um, there's a few more I wanted to talk about one is focused what happens when you just start getting distracted and sort of listless when you look at these last cards. I've encountered this every once in a while with hungarian I really encounter this when I got addicted to google images because the google images is fun, you're looking all these crazy hungarian ways of saying things you're looking all these hungarian internet means you're hilarious, you're looking hungarian swear words which are hilarious. They're amazing hearing swear words are amazing. I will not be able to talk about them here, unfortunately, but they're hilarious. Look up hungarian swear word on google, you'll find amazing things. Um and so I found in all this wonderful stuff on the internet, and I found that really, really addictive and it's fun. And for whatever reason, though, when I was reviewing my flash cards, I found I kept losing focus. I kept being getting distracted to not wanting to get all the way through, and, oddly enough, the solution to that turned out to be writing. As soon as I started writing some journal entries, uh, and some personal things, my flash cards became a lot more personal. And so interspersed among all these hungarian internet means and swear words and things that are funny I found all these stories about my own life that I had written myself and gotten corrected and it made me much more engaged my flash cards it made all the internet means more funny it made me more interested in what I was doing and so there there is sort of a blend between the amount of yourself you want to have in your flash cards in the amount of the outside world you want to have this you need to find that balance if you start finding yourself getting listless when you're using your flash cards I highly recommend writing I'm gonna recommend finding stories about your own life and putting them in writing them in and having them in your flash cards it it sort of puts this laser focus into your studies makes that much more interesting now the third is forgetting you occasionally will find that your words are just like that just not sticking something's not right uh this this shows up when you start trying to bite off more than you can chew you start using really really advanced vocabulary that you can't quite handle uh and it's just too much um what I do for this generally when I find the words that are hard and they don't seem to be sticking as I find other words that connect with them if I'm having a really hard time with you know the word for goat or something chef or something and it's just not sticking my head that I will find some other story about a goat and I will learn another word in that sentence I will search on google images for sentences with chef goats and I will find some other sentence that talks about you know the chef was eating the goat was eating cem cem can and I learned that word in cannes and then I learned also eating from that same sentence I'll have extra flash cards that happened to include the word that I had a problem with and what I will find this that that having networks of words learning not just this word in isolation but learning this word plus another word that has that word in the same sentence what's another word that has that same word in the same sentence uh tends to make all those words a lot stickier so that's sort of troubleshooting thing you can do as soon as you run into any sort of challenging words that don't seem to stick and in terms of don't seem to stick I mean that after a few months you looked at this word for two months and then it just keeps dropping out of my head and I'll find some other sentence that includes that same word and put it in um in terms of the four skills these are reading, writing, listening and speaking you will occasionally run into this is in the later stages this's really the next few sessions where we talk about what do you do when you're able to play what do you do when you get the whole grammatical system in your language on you really get to start reading things in writing things and talking to people? What do you do when that doesn't work because every once in a while you are going to run into a situation where you show up in an italian train station and you're trying to explain you're trying to ask where to rent luggage I rent luggage storage that's happened to me in venice and your brain just dies you tried to start speaking, you're like that the person switches into english and then the italians really gone because they're speaking in english with a thick italian accent and you just like what I did and they then you just you two switch into english and you give up on you and then you leave that situation you're like I just failed like I knew italian, but apparently I don't and I was terrible at this and you even you feel really terrible you're like I just failed like I thought I knew something and I didn't and you need to know that this is gonna happen and you need to picture this you need to picture yourself in this train station failing to speak italian and then recovering from it and saying you know what I was tired and that's okay and tomorrow I'm going to get up and I'm gonna go out to that restaurant and I'm gonna order some delicious food I'm going to an italian you do picture this thing you need to do the same thing with your writing you try to right some journal entry and the response is you get back or just like what are you talking about? I don't just can you say it in english please you know you start listening to a movie and you can't pick up a single word these experiences will happen occasionally and it's fine you just need to sort of get up and realize ok well language is a lot of information language is a challenging thing fun as it is it is a challenging thing and there will be times that it goes over your head and you're just like too tired and you can't handle it and that's fine you need to know that these will happen and then you need to be able to picture yourself getting up and saying okay that was terrible and that's fine I can do this this is mental contrast ing this idea of saying I can picture myself succeeding and I can picture myself failing and recovering from that failure that helps you succeed in the long term, the last sort of ingredient for making a plan that will stick is making a habit, and this is really essential. Um, the way you do this is by picking up a trigger, you pick up a trigger that says when I blank, I will blink, and in this case, I will review my flash cards when I put on my clothes after taking a shower says my trigger right now you have added a new trigger is one thing that I feel like I've really lost actually from from living in europe is that I used to have a one hour train commute every single day I'm sitting in a subway, I have nothing to do. I have my cell phone with the whole french language that I've built into it, I have nothing else to do. I mean, I can either stare out the window or play my french game and learn french and french always won, and I learned a lot of french that way, and I learned a lot of russian that way, and then I moved to los angeles and I've lost my commute I cannot study my flash cards in a car, at least when I'm driving and I can't do when someone else is driving, I'll just get carsick. And so I've lost this thing and I've lost my trigger and it actually has made hungarian substantially harder than the other two languages because I lost my trigger I'm starting to add one back in uh I'm even starting to have like, plan b's to what I'm saying okay, well my trigger is that I will take a shower I'll put on my clothes and I will study but I don't always have time to do that so when I do not study then the other thing I will do if I cannot study is I will come up with plan b I will pick another trigger in the day I know that after I will do the thing I'm doing I'm gonna eat lunch eventually so lunch is gonna be my new trigger for today but the general is going to be putting on clothes after a shower um christina what kind of trigger could you pick in terms of something you do on a daily basis that could trigger you to pull out your phone and start playing with your um my lunch break at work perfect jamie what about you? I actually I actually have ah one hour, fifteen minute commute by train lucky I had my commute to commute nowhere at this point I'm just gonna go I should just take a trade union station for no reason then come back you um after a morning coffee or something that's a good one that's a good one do you have coffee every morning uh right now I'm drinking matey those counts yeah eso but you do that that is a daily sort of thing that's perfect about your uh bart commuters well so it's perfect oh, lucky all you people commute really like you like that I'm one of the interesting things about these habit things is that for one you want them to be positive uh the idea of just saying uh I will not watch any more tv and I will study instead uh is actually not quite what you want what you want is when I want to watch tv I will turn the tv off and pull out my cellphone and study the sense of being a lot more successful than I won't watch tv and I will study you want the thing that you were going to do which is turn off the tv and pull out your cell phone on the other thing you want is they should be visualized you don't want I will become when I take a shower or when I put on my clothes or whatever when I drink my morning coffee I will become better at french what is becoming better at french look like no you will pull out your cellphone you will pull out your laptop and you'll go tap tap tap and get better at french that way and the last thing is actually kind of interesting. You wanna have no reasons, and you don't want to say, which is weird, kind of kind of productive, counter counter intuitive you don't want. When I, uh, drink my morning coffee, I am going to study my flash cards on my phone because I want to become better french, because I like the process. All those reasons, all that stuff is stuff that you should have set up separately in your head. You should know why you're doing it. It should not be part of your habit, just a sort of a weird, counterintuitive thing. It's. Just a thing that the researchers have found is that if you try to keep linking reasons into your triggers, it just mucks everything up. When yu just want his robotic coffee, phone blue, blue, blue and that's. What makes a habit?

Class Materials

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Fluent Forever Quickstart Guide
English-Intl Phonetic Alphabet Deck
3 Q&A Videos
Italki Bonus Voucher
35 Example Words in 13 Languages
Analog Flashcard Schedule
Hungarian Spelling Demo
Model Decks
Anki Manual
Course Syllabus

Ratings and Reviews

Nephele Tempest

I really enjoyed this course. Gabe has a terrific, easy teaching style that's entertaining and absorbing to the point where I'm conscious of having gone through the course a little too fast. I am looking forward to going back through it a little more slowly to catch any tidbits I missed, but even without that I feel I have so many new tools to apply to language learning and I can't wait to get started. I really appreciate that he also went over how to tackle a language you've already learned in the past but have not retained to the level you'd like, as well as how to start a brand new language from scratch. I hope to do both with much greater success than my previous attempts.

a Creativelive Student

I really wasn't expecting to learn a whole lot of new things with this course but I feel like I have come away with so much more then just how to learn a language. The science on how our mind and memory work was really interesting and also very applicable to other parts of my life. Along with this course, I purchased Gabriel's pronunciation trainer which I also highly recommend. I never thought about the pronunciation of a language as a separate part and I feel like learning this first is already greatly improving my understanding of my goal language. I have tried to learn another language many times only to either give up from frustration or get bored with the program I'm using. This course and Gabriel's method of learning a language have me so excited that this time will be the time I succeed. I can't wait to start using the word list once that is available and to start creating my own. Thank you so much for such a great course.


Worth every penny. Despite the title, you'll learn far more than how to become fluent in a language -- you'll learn how to learn anything you want! Gabe is a great presentational speaker, articulate and captivating. The foundation of the course is about how to set a concrete and measurable goal, learn effectively, and set yourself up for success. This course addresses forming new habits within the constraints of your current life, making progress when you don't feel motivated, and how to recover from setbacks like getting off-track or when you just don't grasp a concept--these topics are often missing from other learning courses so students flounder as soon as they stray from the formula. Building on all these fundamentals, Gabe then offers specific techniques and tools for language learning. Excellent course!

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