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one step at a time

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One of my friends learning English said he made a mistake reading English novels that were too difficult. He didn't get anything out of it and it was a waste of time. I can relate to this. >__<

Not just in language learning, but I remember a long time ago I wanted to learn python, and there was that one popular guide that honestly kind of sucked. The author started with some relatively complex program, and it was terrible for a total beginner that doesn't know how to print 'Hello world'. I don't know why that guide was recommended.

I used to play this competitive game a long time ago. There was a really popular post from a top player that essentially said, "If you're a bronze player, don't take advice from a diamond player. Take advice from a silver player, then when you get a silver, take advice from a gold player." etc.

I don't know anything about music, but I think I can safely assume it would be a dumb idea for a piano beginner to start with Liszt ( youtube.com/watch?v=Tlagfa_GHfQ ) instead of learning how to play an easy arrangement of Fur Elise.

One of my former classmates went to Korea to learn Korean. He's struggling and feels like he's not getting much out of his total immersion. The problem is he barely knew any Korean when he went. I told him he's really lucky to be in Korea and I wish I was in Japan. Just cram as much basic grammar as possible and memorize basic conversational words then practice basic sentences with one of your Korean friends every day.

It's a nice idea to start with something that is useful, interesting, advanced, but I don't think that works in practice. At least, it's inefficient and unnecessarily painful, and particularly a bad idea for a self-learner.

For unschoolers or people who want to learn outside of a school environment, they still need guidance. Even if it means googling, "introduction to ____ syllabus" and following that. Maybe seeking people who are at various stages of learning and talking to them.

Perfectionism is a huge problem here. I had to get over that to advance my Japanese. You're never going to be "ready" to have a conversation with someone. Or write something with no grammar errors. Unfortunately awkwardness is part of the process.

I used to be so worried about learning the incorrect thing, but so far my experience has taught me that unlearning is part of the process of learning. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure this is the reason why I'm so flaky with learning anything. Not just because I lose interest, but I get demotivated when it seems like I keep getting things wrong despite putting in effort.

In summary:

1. have the right attitude -

i. learning the wrong things is part of the process

ii. how smart you are is irrelevant

iii. you will never be ready

iv. you suck, but there's nothing wrong with that

2. learn a little -

i. find the sweet spot - just challenging enough to learn something new, not too challenging to be a waste of time

3. apply it

i. practice

4. assess mistakes

i. get feedback

5. go to step 2

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