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Developing Ardaschir’s work capacity

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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KSaku39
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 Message 1 of 26
11 November 2006 at 2:48am | IP Logged 
From Ardaschir:
"My monastic existence:
During my Korean years as a language monk, I rose at 2:00 AM and immediately began studying. At the crack of dawn, I would go for an hour�s run along the beach, during which time I would simultaneously listen to a language tape, and I would do likewise as I ate breakfast and got ready for the day. I went to my office at 9:00, so I got in seven hours of solid study before that. Preparing for and teaching my classes also involved language work, as did my research projects such as compiling a dictionary and writing grammars. I would go home at 5:00 and study on my own for another three hours until I went to bed at 8:00 PM. On a few occasions I was studying one language (Russian or Persian or Arabic) exclusively, and at other times I was reading a particularly engrossing book, but for the most part I divided my time into segments and adhered to them. One hour time blocks are too long for efficient concentration because you are right, the brain can only take in so much at one sitting. I used 15, 20, or 30 minute segments. I did work continuously, without breaks in which I did something other than study. Switching between various languages was enough to keep my brain fresh and stimulated. On weekends I would not go to my office but would only study at home. Sometimes I could study straight from 2:00 AM to 8:00 PM, but sometimes I would need to stop around 5:00 or 6:00."

Does this amaze anyone else? Studying up to 18 hours a day? There are similar tales about Mezzofanti. Also, both Ardaschir and he only slept three hours each night.

I re-read this old post from Ardaschir and decided to see how long I could study. Switching subjects every half-hour helps, as he says. I managed ten hours before I could no longer concentrate.

Has anyone read the essay "Genius and Creativity" by the creator of Supermemo? He talks about the "rage to master" and how prodigies spend hours intensely focused on one subject, often obsessively. I think this has something to do with that feeling of productivity that some activities can give us. It's difficult to describe but if you've ever played an RPG you know what I'm talking about : RPGs are so addictive because of the constant accumulation of power and wealth that gives one an artificial sense of productivity (which some psychologists have rated as the highest form of pleasure).

If one has talent in a particular area, one feels this same productivity when studying or working in this area. I personally could never study human languages for 18 hours straight, but could conceivably do so with computer languages.

Anyway, have any of you ever dedicated yourselves to something so completely? And how do you impose discipline on yourselves?


Edited by KSaku39 on 14 November 2008 at 12:47am

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Walshy
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 Message 2 of 26
11 November 2006 at 3:04am | IP Logged 
I study engineering at uni, so study sessions of upto 8 hours a day are fairly routine, I suppose I could study for longer if the subject matter were particularly interesting, but I won't know until I finish this semester before I can get back to studying German (only a week left to go).

By the way, 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. gives six hours of sleep, not three. Not that I would sleep so briefly even if I could, sleep deprivation would eventually kill the benefits that the extra waking hours would grant me anyway.
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Keith
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 Message 3 of 26
11 November 2006 at 4:28am | IP Logged 
Some people are just superhuman. Where do these people find the self-discipline? Do they lack the need for rest and relaxation?
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lady_skywalker
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 Message 4 of 26
11 November 2006 at 4:37am | IP Logged 
I don't think I could ever dedicate myself THAT much to learning languages or any other subject, for that matter. I think I would end up going mad if I spent 18 hours a day focussed on any particular task. Even when I was doing my studies at university, I couldn't manage more than 8 hours a day as I felt that boredom and mental exhaustion would ultimately be counterproductive. Perhaps some people can keep up their interest and energy for 18 hours but I definately not one of those people. I'm pretty sure that such people are probably in the minority anyway.

While I don't enjoy sleeping for many hours (I average on 5-6 hours per day), I can't see myself devoting my waking hours to learning a language. Most of all because it's highly impractical. The majority of us have to work and some of us also have families or significant others that we shouldn't ignore. I know I would not be happy with myself if I ignored my partner and life in general in favour of becoming fluent in Dutch or any other language. I admire anyone who DOES have the determination to do so but I feel life is a bit too short to focus merely on language learning. ;)
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KSaku39
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 Message 5 of 26
11 November 2006 at 6:00am | IP Logged 
"By the way, 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. gives six hours of sleep, not three."

Hmmm I missed that. Ardaschir did say in another post that he slept only three hours a night during this period. From what I've read, a low need for sleep is mainly genetic.

Studying 8 hrs a day is still quite impressive. I just studied two and a half hours and now look at me : writing posts in a forum.

"Most of all because it's highly impractical. The majority of us have to work and some of us also have families or significant others that we shouldn't ignore."

Ardaschir solved this problem by marrying a Korean lady, thereby making spending time with his partner a way to study his most difficult language. Multitasking, I guess.
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rafaelrbp
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 Message 6 of 26
11 November 2006 at 8:33am | IP Logged 
KSaku39 wrote:
From Ardaschir:
I re-read this old post from Ardaschir and decided to see how long I could study. Switching subjects every half-hour helps, as he says. I managed ten hours before I could no longer concentrate.


I think it's possible to increase this 10 hours with practice. Like an exercise (ex: running), the more you practice, the more you can do. And you need motivation too.

If I could manage to study 10-12 hours a day, once in a month, this would be great for my language learning experience. It would be like an "immersion day". I'll try to do that until the end of the year.
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Kubelek
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 Message 7 of 26
11 November 2006 at 9:13am | IP Logged 
To consolidate the amount of information from such "immersion day" I think you'd need a similar amount of repetition afterwards, unless you're planning on simply flooding your brain with new information hoping that part of it you'll retain. Then comes the question whether the intensive two hour session wouldn't bring similar results.

Ardashir, by studying the way he did must have learned to retain it also. He probably hadn't started with eight hours or more of study a day, but increased the length of a session with time, as his abilities rose.

That's only my theory though.

edit I reread my old post and I noticed a couple of mistakes. Not that it's perfectly correct now. Or particularly useful.

Edited by Kubelek on 24 September 2007 at 12:31pm

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gidler
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 Message 8 of 26
11 November 2006 at 11:09am | IP Logged 
KSaku39 wrote:
If one has talent in a particular area, one feels this same productivity when studying or working in this area. I personally could never study human languages for 18 hours straight, but could conceivably do so with computer languages.

I have a simple way of "generating" that motivating feeling of productivity. I divide my goals into tiny subgoals, set achievable but not too relaxed deadlines and carefully track my progress. This may or may not work for others; we're all different.

(I also have that "rage to master" you mentioned, but it tends to rage inconsistently for everything between heaven and earth. Just yesterday I had serious trouble keeping myself from starting Russian.)


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