- Forget: forget what you’ve already learned, forget anything that’s not urgent or important, and forget your limitations
- Active: be active in your learning
- State: ensure that your mind and body are in a conducive state to learning
- Teach: learn with the intention to teach
All of these are important tactics when it comes to trying to learn something faster, but I was particularly interested in active learning. Since school, I’ve found that it’s been difficult to learn things (that aren’t directly relevant to work) not passively because there hasn’t been a means of assessment afterwards. Usually when I try to learn something new, I’m just absorbing information: watching lectures, reading blog posts or books. I usually don’t take notes, though it tends to help retention significantly.
One notable exception has been my Chinese studying over the past year, which is likely because I had an opportunity to chat with a Chinese teacher a few times a week over Skype. I took a more active role learning here even outside of the lessons by reviewing lesson notes and making flashcards. In September, I stopped taking lessons, and since then, I’ve noticed that my Chinese feels terribly rusty even though it’s only been a few months.
After listening to Jim’s podcast today, I thought about how I could keep my Chinese language sharp (aside from starting up lessons again, which I’ve already planned on doing). The idea I came up with was translating some of the thoughts that I’ve written here into Chinese. It’d be easier than creating content from scratch; I find it difficult enough to think in English, but it’d give me an opportunity to express reasonably complex thoughts in Chinese (and learn how to set up a bilingual website!).
Keep an eye out for a Chinese language versions of this post in the future.