I am a big believer in discovery-based learning and I just love the Montessori education system for that aspect alone. In the Montessori system, the child is at the driver’s seat and can often choose the next thing that interests him/her. Though there is a teacher in the background with a certain plan of action, the system gives a lot of independence to the child to determine what to learn next and how long to spend on the chosen activity. When I attend the presentations at my son’s Montessori school, I am often floored by Maria Montessori’s novel ideas.
I often wish that a similar approach is available for adults to pursue their education needs, be it learning a new language or something else. When I read the Language Hacking Guide by Benny Lewis, he strongly advocates taking control of your learning from Day 1. Though I agree with his idea in general, I felt that it would be overwhelming to take complete control from day 1. So, I have decided to do a few courses in French so that I can build up a certain language core first (I heard this term from Luca, who is an accomplished polyglot, in one his videos on youtube). After trying a few courses, I settled on Assimil French with ease course as the best way for me to build up a language core in French.
Now that I have done 100 lessons in Assimil French, I wanted to start a new habit to apply what I have learnt. I am not a fan of passive learning. I love active learning – I want to apply what I have learnt so that the ideas have a personal association in my mind. When I learnt English as a second language during my school days, I have found journaling to be an extremely effective way to apply what I have learnt. When I read my own diary after a few years, I could recognize many of the mistakes that I have made and how illiterate my language was, at times. So, I have started journaling in French a few days back as a new habit to apply what I have learnt so far using Assimil.
Here is what I did: I wrote in Evernote about my plan for the day, how the previous day went, my mood at the time of writing, etc. After finishing writing, I pasted what I wrote into Google translate and also ran a spell-checker on it. Whenever Google translate did not translate the French sentences into English correctly, I know that there is a mistake there. Also, I have found a very nice proofreading extension for Google Chrome called AtD which goes beyond simple spelling mistakes and does grammatical analysis. So, with the feedback from both Google translate and the proofreader, I started correcting the mistakes. This pointed out gaps in my knowledge. So, I have googled a bit to fill the gaps in the specific areas that I needed to know and to correct the mistakes. I have done it only for a few days now, but I can attest to its effectiveness. When I look back at my full-page of written text in French, I get such a satisfaction. Moreover, I have learnt from my own mistakes which is very powerful.
Today, I came across a blog post which talks about taking control of learning grammar and it had a ton of extremely useful suggestions. It does even mention journaling as a way to apply what we have learnt. It also suggests that the right time to start taking control is not your day 1 with a new language, but after having done an introductory course in your target language.
Yesterday, I have spent a few hours reading up a lot of blogs on language learning to find some new ideas to improve my learning approach. But, at the end, I was just exhausted as I did not find anything original or insightful. But I must admit this blog post today was very insightful and it has motivated me a lot.
This advice is exactly what I was looking for. Extremely relevant; beautifully written. If you are stuck in language learning after finishing your first course in your target language, not knowing how to proceed, here is the method to follow. After finishing Assimil, I was wondering what I would do next – now, empowered by the clear thought process laid out in this article, I am going to take control of my learning.
Check out the post here and let me know whether you liked it.
Thank you Aaron – Now, I will look forward to your first mail tomorrow on your 10-week journey newsletter. This is the first mail I got from you and I must say that I am very impressed. Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed post and to create an excellent video to explain the method even more.