Tag Archives: memory management

Take it to the Edge and Empty Out

I believe these are cans of oxygen to get you to the last steps of the climb up Mt. Fuji.  Sometimes you need a little help as you take it to the edge.  Make positive reaches.

I believe these are cans of oxygen to get you to the last steps of the climb up Mt. Fuji. Sometimes you need a little help as you take it to the edge. Make positive reaches.

In order to have something, you actually need to leave it.  In order to remember something,  you need to take it to the point of almost forgetting. In order to listen to the music, you need to have silence.

Yep, I guess I ended up sounding Zen-ish.  But it’s seriously something that has been going through my mind lately.   In order to have something, sometimes the best thing to do is to leave it or at least have it almost beyond your reach.

The easiest way that this comes to me is in terms of flashcards.  I have a very basic flashcard program on my iPhone and iPad called Midori.   The flashcard program is very basic in my view because it for the most part studying words in isolation is not the way to go. (See AJATT on this one.)  However, I have come really try to use cracks in time and sometimes hate to waste a minute so, in a pinch, I will have some fun with the flashcards.  (Speaking of a pinch–on the iPad version of Midori if you “pinch out” a flashcard that you are reviewing you can see sample sentences.)

But is really important to remember to forget.   I make it a point to stop studying cards when they start to repeat.  If a card starts to repeat too soon, you are drilling to kill.    You are fracking your mind.  I prefer to wait, look around, have some fun and come back to the card when it is more of a “reach” instead of a mindless repetition.    Daniel Coyle, author the talent code, and many other writers speak about the effects of positive reaches.   You want to consistently go towards facts, skills, ideas that are just beyond your reach.

I also think in terms of emptying.  To get full, you need to empty.  If you want to soak up water with a sponge, you need to squeeze it out.   If you want to hear music better, you need to have silence.

Sign for cyclists on the beach.  Slow down.  I think to speed up, you need to be strategic about having opportunities to slow down.

Sign for cyclists on the beach. Slow down. I think to speed up, you need to be strategic about having opportunities to slow down.  Forget to remember.

I’ve incorporated this into my morning exercises in Numazu.   I walk out with my iPod, listening to a podcast or Japanese music.  I am staying in an area called 千本浜, and I fast-walk in a shady area filled with thousands of pine trees.   I tack my way back through the beach (don’t get too inspired–it’s concrete lined beach 🙂 ) and stop at a rocky point and do Chinese exercises called Nei Kung.  I used to listen to music, but I was starting to get annoyed and decided to turn off the music and just listen to the sound of the waves.  Or not.

I think that silence is important.  It’s another way of taking things to the edge by emptying out.  I don’t think there should be any rules or techniques about how you do this, but I think it is important to be cognizant of when music, words, and information start to be noise.

Take it to the edge.   Empty out to fill up.  Forget to remember.

Catch Your Samurai Flow!

You can't really stop the flow of ideas, money, life but what are your systems to help you "go with the flow?"

You can’t really stop the flow of ideas, money, life but what are your systems to help you “go with the flow?”

The other day, I had the rare pleasure of going to a little bar/restaurant called Lil’ Frankies with friends from work.   As a teacher and dad of two young children, I don’t get out much.   I was a amazed that I could enjoy a place with purty looking drinks and food.  At 4:30 p.m. I announced I had to go and return a library book.  “Nerd Alert,” my friend chided.  As I walked towards the library and home, the nerd alert approached def-con as I fantasized about–hold on tight–getting a new filing cabinet.

Anyone who has seen my apartment or even my man-bag would know I am not going to be your de-cluttering guru anytime soon.   But what I am getting from my ongoing experience learning Japanese, writing, and guitar is that it’s really important to have tools and systems that catch your flow.

I want a decent and beautiful filing cabinet where I can easily organize my samurai notebooks and other projects, so that creating and remembering becomes even more systematic. I already have a plastic box where I have folders organized according to topics and by months and days.  (This is an idea I got from Getting Things Done.)    But I am ready to upgrade so the folders sit up right and the whole process of getting a folder out is smoother.  I’m trying to minimize physical or mental resistance because the more organized my flow and capture systems are, the more I can create.

It’s important to “capture” ideas, money, and projects in ways that enhance the flow even more.   It’s important to create systems but not be enslaved by those systems.   Here are some examples of tools and processes I consider to be my “flow capture” systems

  • Setting a timer for 15 minutes and writing even if I don’t have “anything to write” about every morning.  It can change my whole day to create an idea where there wasn’t one just through this little move.
  • Keeping a samurai mind notebook.  Keeping a notebook with positive ideas. information, skill bits and reviewing regularly means that my circuitry is kicking around the ideas and questions that I want there.
  • I have several automatic savings accounts for different purposes.   Capture your financial flow and keep your finances in different “buckets.”
  • I use surusu, an online spaced repetition flashcard system, to remember where I am in guitar.  When I study something on jamplay.com, I create a card with a link to the lesson.   When I don’t know “what to do” on guitar, I go to this deck and it takes me to the lessons either targeting or that I’ve forgotten about and could use a refresher.

Creating these systems may seem restrictive, but it actually frees you to play more.  Suddenly, there you are with a guitar strapped around your neck because deciding what to practice isn’t this mental storm of self-hatred.  The flashcard reminds you what to practice.  You practice.  Then you play.  Just in case you are too serious to remember to play, you can make that part of your system.  Part of why I enjoyed doing Silverspoon, a Japanese immersion service is that I would get reminders to just play–in Japanese.  Play is the ultimate “capture system.”  (Sounds severe, no? 🙂 )

You have a flow.  Catch the flow.  Catch the rainbow!

Trash-Talkin’ Samurai: Deleting is Achieving

Anki, ajatt.com, flashcard systems can help you untangle the flotsam and jetsam.  But its also important to keep exploring and having fun.  Polished stones and driftwood.

Anki, ajatt.com, flashcard systems can help you untangle the flotsam and jetsam. But it is also important to keep exploring and having fun. Throw out the trash.  Explore the trash.

The other day my daughter, who is five, asked me where to find a good boyfriend.   Startled, I answered that the trash might be a good place.  Luckily, she laughed her head off.  I’m not quite ready to answer those questions from my daughter.

I have trash on my mind these days.  Some people think about the Laws of Attraction.  I have the Laws of Trash:

  1. Delete, throw out on a regular basis.   Deleting is achieving.
  2. Don’t be afraid to enjoy  “trash” on the way to learning goals.

Delete, throw out on a regular basis.   Deleting is achieving.

I recently started a drawer by drawer method of elimination.  Every weekend, I go through one drawer or section of the apartment and take store of what is there and throw out what I don’t need.   It’s a doable project given my busy life.  Two interesting things happen:   I get more free space and I firm up my connection with projects and ideas that I had “shelved.”  I’ve come up with a lot of interesting projects that I thought I had abandoned.

If you are learning a foreign language (or anything) and using electronic flashcards deletion is really key.  Throw cards out and get some breathing room for what you are learning.  Every time I delete a card I feel like I am learning more because I am making a more active choice about what I am learning and reinforcing what I really like to learn.

The day of our path can often be a little less um, scenic, than our lofty goals.  Luckily, you have a pair of crappy sneakers to help you dance above and through it all.

Our path can often be a little less um, scenic, than our lofty goals. Luckily, you have a pair of crappy sneakers to help you dance above and through it all.

Khatzumoto over at alljapaneseallthetime.com is making it even easier these days with his surusu flashcard program.  Khatzumoto has been working in his mad labs again.  I hadn’t touched Surusu flashcards for a while because my decks had gotten huge.   He added a huge and prominent delete button on the card.   When you delete a card, you get congratulated for “keeping it clean.”  Thanks to surusu for making deletion an act of joy.

Now, when I delete I may think “Yes, you are very interesting but hey maybe I will see you again in a more fun context”  or “good riddance.”  Every deletion is a review.   It may even be a fresher review because you have made a fresh choice.  Deleting adds life where there wasn’t any.

Don’t be afraid to enjoy  “trash” on the way to learning goals.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to enjoy trash along the way to your learning goals.  What are the silly games, books, et cetera that could help you learn your skill or language?   My skills and interest in studying Japanese jumped when I decided to ready trashy self-help books in Japanese.    Lately, I’ve gone back to reading “Beck,”  a manga about rock and roll.   My Japanese still sucks but I am amazed at how much more my reading comprehension has jumped.   Furthermore, some of the dialogue is review of cards I’ve studied, both deleted and non-deleted cards.   (In a weird way, at times it reinforces my continued suckage in guitar.  The other day, I just stared at a picture of the character studying the C major scale diagram.   I was “studying” but just kind of stumbling, day dreaming into part of a skill.)

Don’t lose the love for what you are trying to learn.   Put out the trash.  Look through the trash.  Think trash.

100 Secrets to Becoming a Better Player: Samurai Thru-view

There is a lot of good information in this book that can be applied to general skill development.

There is a lot of good information in this book that can be applied to general skill development.

After reading Daniel Coyle’s Little Book of Talent, I realized that I was spending too much of my free reading time in English and needed to veer back to Japanese.   I pulled out ギター上達100の裏ワザ  (100 Secrets to Becoming  Better at Guitar) by Masaki Ichimura.   Following your interests in your target language is a little something I like to call hybridizing your crack, doubling the learning power.

Right now, I am mostly interested in the soft skills and philosophy of playing guitar.  Here are just a few interesting principles that could apply to whatever you are trying to learn.  (My translations are inexact and include other context.  Take with a dash of soy sauce.)

If you practice 10 minutes a day you will accumulate 3, 650 minutes of practice.  You will make a difference in your playing.  続けたことによって発見する物事があります。基本練習を毎日10分やるとしても、1年で3,650分やる人と、やらない人で差があります。

In order to become a guitarist who looks at the audience, practice blind folded.  各席を見られるギタリストになるは。。。。目隠し練習.   This hint reminds me of The Little Book of Talent.  If you want to become better and more natural at a skill, you have to change it up.

If you take lessons, you won’t get better if you don’t practice at home.  ギター教室に通うひとは。。。自宅練習しないと上達しない  Of course this is common sense, but engaging and choosing with your skill is all part of the fluid choices that you get to make with your life.  To tell the truth, I kind of suck at guitar.  But I’m trying to practice a little bit each day, so I suck less than I did when I started.   Khatzumoto recently got all neuroplastic on us and spit it like this:  “Your mind, your body, your skills are fluid and mutable. While you’re alive, it’s up to you what you flow and mutate (?) them into; you have the power to choose.”

To Go Up in Your Level of Playing, Reach for the Next Hardest Level Within Your Reach.  上達という階段を登るには。。。。手の届くレベルにトライし続ける。Coyle would call this looking for “the sweet spot” or “reaches.”  You won’t become Eric Clapton overnight, but where is the next “reach” or do-able “stretch” in your learning?  Not just for guitar, kids.

I

Don't forget to have fun doing it your way!

Don’t forget to have fun doing it your way!

t’s Important to Do What You Like.   一番、好きなことをやろう。Reaching, stretching, etc is important but a key and often forgotten element is to do what you like and reach for what you think is fun with your skill.  Ichimura illustrates this with a wonderful cartoon of a middle aged man playing guitar dressed in his socks.  Happy feeling make happy learnings.  🙂

Tip 100:   You are the “Producer” of Your Life.  あなたは、あなた自身の人生のプロデューさーです。 No matter what age you are, you get to mix it up and do it like you want to.  You get to write the score, choose the instruments, and write the dance track to your life.   Enjoy.

 

 

 

Keep the Fire Burning, (Man)

“Keep the fire burnin’…never let us lose our yearnin'”  . . . REO Speedwagon (ugh!)

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 7.03.03 AMDo you try to have all of your breath all at once?  No.  A small steady supply feeds all your body systems and your mind.  Small keeps the fire burnin’.

Whatever you are trying to move in your life doesn’t necessarily have to move at once.  In some ways, it may even work better to go small.   I used to wait until my summer vacation and make big promises to myself to write and I did write.   These days, I have around fifteen minutes every morning to write.   I use a timer and then study Japanese.   I’m getting a lot more done than when I had “all the time in the world.”

Small works when it is consistent.  Daniel Coyle writes in The Little Book of Talent  five minutes a day is better than infrequent and longer practice period.   It is easier to link thoughts in writing when it is day to day.  With musical instruments, it is easier to keep “muscle memory” going.  Try to stop breathing for an extended time and see how much fun it is to get breathing again.  On second thought, don’t.   It will be a lot more pleasant for everyone if you keep breathing.

Fun illustration from 1分スピード勉強法。 Short term memory expires quickly.   However, through repetitions the memory can cover the distance to light the candle of long term memory.

Fun illustration from 1分スピード勉強法。 Short term memory expires quickly. However, through repetitions the memory can cover the distance to light the candle of long term memory.

Small leverages the short term to long term memory connection.   Masami Utsude describes transforming short term memory into long

Real language exposure is the best and I get that too.  However, I do a few minutes of iKnow every day.   It keeps it from getting boring and takes advantage of short term to long term memory connection.

Real language exposure is the best and I get that too. However, I do a few minutes of iKnow every day. Short periods keeps it from getting boring and takes advantage of short term to long term memory connection.

term memory.  He describes it as  a relay race.  Imagine a team of matches.  One match (short term memory) runs until almost exhausted and lights the next match, continuing until it reaches a candle (long term memory).

Khatz, over at AJATT, talks about learning languages and suggests that critical frequency, moments of constant contact with the language will help it thrive and stay alive:

A language is like a cross between food, air and a pet. You can’t just binge on it once and call it a day. You need it there constantly, no, not constantly — very frequently — and when it does go, it needs to come back soon. Otherwise the skill dies.

Don’t let the skill die.  Don’t prevent it from being born.  Keep the fire burnin’.

 

 

 

Samurai Cleaning is Samurai Learning

Still waters clearly reflect the possible.  Clearing your desk/room is one way to clear your mind and learn more effectively.

Still waters clearly reflect the possible. Clearing your desk/room is one way to clear your mind and learn more effectively.

A big snowstorm hit a few days ago and unfortunately my oldest daughter had a fever and we didn’t head out for sledding.   Before cabin fever set in, I resorted to extreme measures–I began cleaning.   I didn’t clean the whole apartment but focused on the stacks of books and paperwork that was starting to make the apartment look like New York City on the second day after a snow storm.   Before I take off on another six hundred word essay here are some reasons cleaning is learning:

  1. It’s important to throw things out.   It’s important to decide what isn’t important any more.  It’s taking up space physically and mentally. ( This goes for your flashcard decks, too. See AJATT on the importance of deletion.)
  2. Cleaning and arranging is an active way to arrange priorities.   Sorting gets you to think about what is important, inspiring, or fun.  For example, which of the 15 books around our bed do I really want to read?
  3. Cleaning is like an spaced repetition system.   Sorting and trashing is like a review of your whole life and priorities.  It reminds me of places I’ve been and places I want to be.   Julia Cameron, author of The Artist Way, suggests cleaning out a closet when you are creatively blocked.
  4. It’s a “one-minute” reading opportunity.  I get a fair amount of professional literature.   A lot of it is interesting material, but just letting reading pile up doesn’t help me.  I quickly skim headlines, headings, quotes, and ideas before I throw the articles out or selectively save.
  5. Having a clean, calm space is like having a clean mirror.  It’s much easier to see and clearly reflects your mind.  Anybody who personally has seen my classroom, desk, or room knows that I need to practice what I preach here.  However, I’ve noticed that when everything is neater, I “feel”  more capable.

    Half of the suggestions in this book are about keeping things neat.  Neatly arrange your shoes, notebook, etc.  I don't quite live this book, but when I do arrange things neatly I feel calmer and accomplished.

    Half of the suggestions in this book are about keeping things neat. Neatly arrange your shoes, notebook, etc. I don’t quite live this book, but when I do arrange things neatly I feel calmer and accomplished.

I’m not alone here.   Both STUDY HACKS and  Zen Suggestions for Simple Living call for cleaning and simplicity as way of

clearing your mind and getting better results.  Studyhacks recommends that you start any study session by cleaning your desk.  (A principle I often break. :).   Don’t wait for the perfectly organized space to pursue your dream, but remember make cleaning and organizing part of your learning toolkit.  Clean up your act!

“Don’t Give a Pluck, Guitar Samurai: “.ooooo1% is better than 0”

One of the nice things about signing up for Silverspoon, an internet Japanese immersion service, is that you get daily servings of corny motivational phrases.   After a while they start to rub off on you, and you start to believe that you can accomplish things.  (Motivational reps–resistance if futile 🙂 )  Yes, I am not completely fluent in Japanese.  (I’ve been doing/not doing Silverspoon my own way so it’s not really an issue for me.)  Yep, just having a hell of a lot more fun doing stuff in Japanese, writing more (in so-called English), and otherwise tripping the light fantastic.

Talk about life long learning.  I love that there is a book dedicated to teaching seniors how to play The Ventures.   But why wait until you retire to do what you want to do?

Talk about life long learning. I love that there is a book dedicated to teaching seniors how to play The Ventures. But why wait until you retire to do what you want to do?

 

A recent “casualty” of the corny motivational Silverspoon phrases has been my guitar playing.  I haven’t gone anywhere near my Jamplay.com  account in months.   It will expire at the end of the year.  (Check around Christmas time to New Years–they often have discounts if you are interested.  Follow the link on the bottom right of this page.)  I was doing the usual response:  avoiding thinking about guitar or silently beat myself from it.

Then I got one of the 100’s of emails I get from Silverspoon that said:  “.000001% is better than o.”  That little phrase motivated me to pick up and tune my Fender and do a little Jamplay.  Luckily, I had created Anki cards for my guitar lessons and was reminded to go to beginner lessons by Steve Eulberg.   I like his lessons not only because they are clear but also because he is cheerful, hopeful, and teaches you how to keep on learning.  I’ve been doing ten minutes before I get to bed.  I’ve been learning about the logic of chord progressions and playing them. More importantly, getting to the lessons means that I end up with a guitar strapped around my neck and often just end up playing around.

I can’t promise you that I will keep on playing.  It’s a one day at a time thing.  However, I can take the opportunity to provide you with some pithy “take-aways” from guitar to help you with any skill you want to take on:

  • don’t wait for the right materials.  Don’t fret about the “right materials” or method.  You need momentum.  Use the “crappy” materials while you find better stuff.  Jamplay is actually excellent but I found myself fretting about the dozens of materials instead of actually picking up the guitar.  Luckily, I had created an
    If you make the happiness decision then maybe you can experience more creativity in your life.  Self-loathing and criticism aren't going to help you.  I finally got around to getting out my Japanese guitar books.  Learning through love.  Trying to make the happy decisions. Two birds no stone.

    If you make the happiness decision then maybe you can experience more creativity in your life. Self-loathing and criticism aren’t going to help you. I finally got around to getting out my Japanese guitar books. Learning through love. Trying to make the happy decisions. Two birds no stone.

    SRS flashcard deck out of many of the lessons and that gave me ideas of where to begin.  Continue.

  • have some fun once the “heavy lifting” has begun.  Once I had my guitar and stumbling through a lesson, I also had the guitar in my hands and ready to play around.
  • just a little bit keeps the conversation going–when you are learning a skill or  learning a language.   A little bit each day keeps the skill in play even if not perfected.   I started thinking about chord progressions after a short re-exposure to one of Steve Eulberg’s lessons.   Light the matches until you can burn the candle.
  • put your money where your mouth is–pay for a service.   The fact that I paid X dollars for Silverspoon keeps me going.  The fact that I have to decide whether to renew Jamplay got me back to the guitar.
  • cross-pollinate your interests and “leverage” your interests.  I want to know more about music.   I could bash myself and note that I don’t know every band that Eric Clapton was in or I could just have fun.  Lately, I have been making Japanese
    This is a reference manga for the manga series, "Beck."  The manga is about a 90 lb. weakling who joins a rock band.  (I didn't end up following the manga or the anime.)   The music guide gives background to all the characters and all the real-life music influences that run throughout the manga.   If I read this, not only will I know more Japanese, I will also know more about rock and roll music history.  Amazon Japan Link.

    This is a reference manga for the manga series, “Beck.” The manga is about a 90 lb. weakling who joins a rock band. (I didn’t end up following the manga or the anime.) The music guide gives background to all the characters and all the real-life music influences that run throughout the manga. If I read this, not only will I know more Japanese, I will also know more about rock and roll music history.

    flashcards about Happy End and Harumi Hosono, some of my favorite old style rock groups.  Two birds rocking and rollin’.

A New Year is approaching but don’t wait until then.  Give it .00000001%!

The Things I Carry: A Day in the Life of a Silverspooner

I am on day 572 of 595 in Silverspoon, an internet service designed to help people immerse themselves in Japanese and become fluent.   I like the fact that there are limited days.  These past weeks I’ve passed over opportunities to immerse in English media because in the back of my mind, I am always thinking, “I only have x days left.”   Time limits good.  Goals with time limits are powerful and effective.  The “race” is on.

Some of the things I carry: headphones, Heisig cards, One Minute Study Method Book, and kanji cards designed for Japanese fifth graders. Music or podcast is usually always on. Depending on my mood and travel conditions, I may pull out any of the other materials.

Tim O’Brien wrote a very powerful book about the Vietnam war called The Things They Carried.  The novel reads more like a poem describing the different objects, memories, and stories that the soldiers carried on their tour.   In a completely different vein, I just want to take a minute to describe some of the things that I carry as I try to immerse myself in Japanese.

A quick word about the methodology of Silverspoon, or at least how I interpret it.  When I log on to Silverspoon, everyday I open up a link and follow the day’s “sprints.”  This could involve anything from making monolingual (Japanese-Japanese) flashcards about a mouthwash ad to just doing flashcard repetitions in various time configurations.   These pushes are followed by “chillax” periods where you may have Japanese in the background but you aren’t consciously pushing on the language.

The pushes are punctuated throughout the day, which is a smart way to work because of the way memory and Spaced Repetition Systems work.   It is better to space out studying over the day than drill to kill.    As the memory of a new learned fact begins to “decay”, you get the opportunity to revive this fact and move it closer to storage in long term memory.

1分スピード記憶勉強法  (Study Method with One-Minute Speedy Memorizing) uses a matches to candle metaphor  for this process.   A fact learned with your short term memory is like a match.   If you don’t do anything eventually the fact will just extinguish it.  However, if you repeat it again, you can use it to light another “match”  and then another until finally all the last match can light the candle of long term memory.   A candle burns longer and is more dependable than a match.

On the back of these cards are Japanese definitions, sample sentences, and a humorous strip to reinforce the words. A lot of times the vocabulary is beyond my grasp. I give it a read and throw the card away. My thinking is that I will have other opportunities to have fun with this word. I stop looking at these cards when it feels like a chore.

Fun illustration from 1分スピード勉強法。 Short term memory expires quickly. However, through repetitions the memory can cover the distance to light the candle of long term memory.

Most of the “heavy lifting” in Silverspoon comes in the morning, when I make new flashcards and to the longest repetitions.   There are flashcard repetitions throughout the day, but they are interspersed with a lot of “chillaxing”  (or in my case, work and child care).

The nice thing about Silverspoon is that you get links to Japanese content that I wouldn’t have thought of before. I also do a lot less to almost no movie or anime watching than Silverspoon recommends.  I just don’t have a lot of time, so the links are really helpful.

But in the meantime, I have the things I carry:

  • iphone and a Bose Headphones:   Lately, I’ve been pushing a little bit by taking fifteen or less minutes to listening to japanesepod101.com lessons on my 40 minute walk to school.  The rest of the time I listen to Japanese music.  Lately, I’ve discovered a Japanese podcast called ラヂオ版 学問ノススメ Special Edition.  I discovered it by doing an iTunes search for Kenichiro Mogi  (茂木建一廊)、a Japanese brain scientist, author, and former television host.  I don’t understand most of the interviews but I listen for the tone.   Besides “chillaxing” I use the iPhone for the spare moments on line or waiting for the elevator to keep the matches lit.  I always keep a few iPhone windows always open to anki, surusu, Japanesepod101 and random Japanese  websites.
  • a wallet full of cards:  just in case I have a spare moment and don’t want to seem completely rude I have Heisig flashcards and a Japanese 5th grade cards that have

    I bought these cards for a $1 when the Asahiya Book store closed. 🙁 They come in a book that you can tear up. On the front of the card is the stroke order and some Japanese mnemonics to remember how to write it, in addition to the Japanese and Chinese readings.

    mnemonics on the front and sample sentences on the back ….

  • a man bag with at least one Japanese book in it:   I pull this out when I can get a seat on the subway or when I am waiting at a doctor’s office.  Right now, I just read for fun and skip over words and kanji I don’t understand.   Really, relaxing and having fun with target language material is the ultimate “repetition.”  Reinforcing through fun.  Exposure to new material without that high stakes, “gotta study” feeling.
  • If I can’t get a seat on the subway or the trip is very short, I pull out the Midori flashcard app on my iPhone.   However, I’ve realized (even though it’s been drilled over to me by the likes of AJATT since Day 1) that studying single vocabulary words without the context of sentences is one of the least productive things to do.  However, it’s nice to keep moving when I have a few minutes.

Stay in motion. You learn the things that you carry.   What’s in your wallet?   What are you trying to learn?   What do you carry?  What could you carry?  What would be fun?   Keep in touch and let us know.

One-Minute Tips for Effective Studying: A Samurai Minute Review

図解 Version of 1分勉強法  Richly illustrated with graphics and drawings, I felt like I was “cheating” by not reading the mostly text version. But hey, I am learning a new language here and trying to keep it fun! Fun is an important element according to the book.  “Your ability to learn is limitless.”

I am on a “one-minute” book roll.  This weekend, I had to spend expiring gift certificates at a Sanseido bookstore in New Jersey.   So many books so little time.  Fortunately, I chose an “illustrated” version of 1分間勉強法:  One Minute Tips for Effective Studying.   If picture books work for my five and two year old as they learn Japanese and English, why not give myself a break and have a book that is richly illustrated with diagrams and drawings as I baby myself into Japanese?   Over Thanksgiving break, though I was busy with school planning and family, I got pulled into 1分間勉強法 partly because I could look at the diagrams.   Then I  read relatively small amounts of text in between the diaper changes and being challenged to sumo matches by my children.  (How do I always manage to lose?)

 

Time Magic/Color Magic [タイム*マジック」/「カラー*マジック」

This is one of those books that appears simple but where I wish my Japanese was a little higher to catch the subtle points.  Basically, Takashi says that you should take advantage of “shrinking time” and using the right brain through his “Time Magic” and “Color Magic” methods.   “Time Magic” involves speeding up the reviews of a book.  He suggests that you practice turning every page of a book within ten minutes, then five, and one.  He has very specific information on how long to stay on each page and even how to turn pages quickly.   From what I can understand, Takashi claims that a few things work when you do these quick page turning exercises:

  • You are using your subconsciousness (潜在意意識) to “read” a book just like you can use your intuition to “read” a person at first glance
  • The discombobulation that comes from turning pages so quickly creates a healthy confusion that helps you get a lot out of each book
  • The “time magic” forces you to squeeze a lot out of each reading and can also be more fun
  • Time magic also works with his philosophy of taking quick and repeated jabs at memory in order to achieve a knockout.  (Spaced repetition)  It reminds me of a recent phrase AJATT shared with Silverspoon members:  “Get started. Momentum is more precious than well-argued ideas. #immersion #SRS

    An excellent example of some of the graphics that help you understand the 1分 process. After mastering the “one minute” process of reviewing a book, the focus is on “color magic.” Basically, you organize information from the book into colored sheets. You can create one sheet for each book and eventually, review 60 books in one minute.

Once you’ve mastered this quick method of looking through a book, it’s time to use “color magic.”   According to Takashi, organizing the information from the books you have read involves right brain activity by using color.   It works like this:

  • Once you’ve finished reading or reviewing a book, take out a special colored sheet that that has red, green, yellow, and blue squares on it  …. you can download a sheet here
  • red is for the information that you feel is key, green is for information is also important, etc….blue is for interesting but not necessarily important information
  • once you’ve made this sheet you can use the one second review technique to review the book….over time you will be able to review 60 books in one minute

I haven’t totally incorporated this system but I like the idea of page turning.  There  are so many unread books on my shelves that it is intimidating.   However, just flipping through the pages and catching random chapter titles is both a learning experience and helps me develop a road-map for what I want to read.

I haven’t methodically used the one-minute review system, but I’ve found that it has really helped to get me reading again.  I do a quick “speed date” with some of the books that have been lingering in my apartment.   It reminds me of why I picked them up in the first place and gives me a preview of what I want to read for.  Then I just read in the normal fashion.

Here are my notes on the multicolored paper. Crucial information is in the red box. The least crucial information is in the blue box. I’m not sure if you make these after just reviewing a book for one minute or whether you do this after a longer reading. This is my sheet for 1分勉強法. Time will tell if I will continue with this method.

However, with Japanese books, I have given up looking up new vocabulary when I am just reading for fun.   I just enjoy meeting a new word for the first time.   I know more and more kanji everyday and can figure out the meanings of a lot of words.   I also know that I have time every day when I study new vocabulary more intentionally.

Having a mid-life reading crisis?  Don’t give up on reading.  Add some speed and a lot of color.   It’ the 1分 way!  Reading is fun for da mental!

 

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One Minute Review: Enjoy Yourself to Learn a Foreign Language

I’ve been dipping into this book by Masami Utsude about adding speed to your learning methods. He recommends learning English by watching and reading materials that you enjoy. Good advice for learning any language!

As part of my Japanese immersion project, I have Japanese books stashed all over the place: in  my man bag, by my bedside, by the computer, etc.  At the Writer’s Room, where I spend 45-60 minutes each morning studying or working on my writing, I have several books.  At the top of the pile is 1分スピード記憶勉強法: Study Method with One-Minute Speedy Memorizing by Masami Utsude.   I dip into this book every now and then because it is simply laid out, has a lot of pictures, and is inspirational.

A whole section is devoted to learning English,  but these methods and ideas can be applied to any language–for fun and profit :).  Here are some of my dash of soy sauce translations of some of the best ideas.  [I put brackets around where I mistranslated “English” into “foreign language.”]

Guarantee Improvement While Having Fun!:  One Minute English Study Method.“楽しいながら確実に上達!「1分スピード英語勉強法」”  

Unless the text is completely compelling, these days I am choosing Japanese books with pictures. 1分 has a lot of fun pictures. This one emphasizes that it is more fun and easier to learn a foreign language through quick and repeated reviews.

Utsude argues that one of the main reasons Japanese people don’t learn English is because they don’t give themselves enough opportunities to read, speak, and hear English.   The best way to actually review is to read, speak, and hear materials that you enjoy in a foreign language.

The Shortcut to Learning a [Foreign Language] is Repetition“英語上達の近道は「くり返し」増やすことに尽きる”  

Utsude explains that you wouldn’t expect to become a better swimmer by reading a book and getting into a pool once.  To become better you need hundreds of hours of actual practice.  Utsude was writing about English but you can fill the blank above with any language or skill you want.

What are the Two Walls that Keep (Japanese) People from Learning a [Foreign Language]?日本人の英語勉強を阻む「2つの壁」とは?  

  1. Your Environment:   Are you surrounding yourself with good materials in your target language?  Ajatt.com recently echoed this sentiment by explaining how learning a language is a lot easier when you modify your infrastructure: “So any issues an able-bodied, sound-minded adult is going to have with learning (getting used to) a language will be entirely due to infrastructure, not linguistics, not biology.”
  2. Your Self (自身)  Are you clear and confident in your goals and motivation for learning a foreign language?

In Order to Remember/Review Your [Target Language]  Relax and Surround Yourself With Materials You Like ラクにくり返しをして記憶するための一番コツは、あなたの「好きなこと」「得意なこと」と英語を結びつけてしまうのです。


It’s the infrastructure issue all over again.  Masami Utsude urges his readers to “review” while having fun learning from English dramas, movies, newspapers, etc.  It’s the reason that I am reading Japanese books about learning.  I have a natural motivation that keeps me motivated and moving forward.  No birds.  No stone.

 

How to Smoothly Read [Foreign Language]  Books 英文がスラスラ読める効果的な方法

  1. Read the Table of Contents First–It Gives You a Road Map and Gives You a Native Experience of the Foreign Language
  2. Relax and Read without a Dictionary
  3. Read the Titles
  4. Make Sure You Are Reading the Genres You Enjoy

Getting The Most out of Watching [Foreign Language] Television and Movies「好きなテレビドラマー映画を楽しんで観る」がコツ 

  1. Watch without subtitles.   Even if you don’t understand just enjoy the atmosphere of the movie and let it fill your heart.
  2. Repeat scenes that you love over and over again.
  3. Let yourself feel like you are part of the movie or drama.  “Shadow” the dialogue and repeat what they say.

 

1分スピード記憶勉強法 has a lot more great ideas about learning foreign languages.  If you are a follower of AJATT or antimoon, these ideas are not new.  In a way, that’s why I chose the book–because it affirms messages that I already understand and know.   Reading about these methods reinforces both the positive advice and Japanese itself.

In learning a foreign language there is a time for pushing and a time for relaxing into the language.  Both are important.  I push by making new flashcards, reading definitions of Japanese words in Japanese, and studying flashcards.   I relax into the Japanese by listening to Japanese music, television, movies and by random channel and web surfing.   I’m not “fluent” yet but I consider it a milestone that I just read Japanese books for fun now.

Don’t give up on your dream of learning a foreign language.  Take a minute to have some fun.

 

Support Samuraimindonline.com.   Consider donating towards the web hosting fees  by following the link on the bottom right.  Or visit the store and get something nice for yourself.  A small portion goes to samuraimindonline.   Remember, a samurai mind is a terrible thing to waste!   Thanks for visiting!