Avoiding learning to fail for Language ( and other things )
I have just listened to a podcast on the Tip Of the Tongue-TOT experience.
And I would recommend anyone learning a language, that it is worth while to check it out.
It is about when you try to answer a question, and you know you know it - but it is not quite there - it is on the 'tip of your tongue' . (or if you are using sign language - 'on the tip of your fingers' ;P )
Did you know, that according to the information from these researchers, the more time you spend in the Tip Of the Tongue (tot) state , the more likely you will be learning to fail.
Yet it is not as simple as this.
For if you manage to resolve the question yourself - without someone giving you the answer - the more likely you will get it correct the next time.
So if you are given clues to the correct answer, such as it starts with "x" letter, or it sounds like "x", or it is similar to, like, etc "x", and you resolve the issue yourself - it reinforces your correct recall. And it means you will be more likely to get it correct the next time.
However if you spend a long time guessing, and you are provided with the correct answer at the end - you are more likely to have reinforced an incorrect connection, and statistically more likely to get it wrong next time. And if you keep doing this - you are teaching yourself to learn to fail.
So the good news is - the quicker you do tasks in language learning - then the quicker you will improve.
Perhaps - read some notes before you do an exercise - to refresh your memory, and then do a learning task - and do the actual exercise quickly - could be a great way to learn language more quickly. It is worth a try. To read things such as the tips and notes here, especially if you are doing it for the second time, before you embark on the exercise.
I would greatly welcome your reflections and tales of experiences for yourself. and your learning.
I find this whole subject fascinating, and there is a lot more information in that podcast. I would recommend checking it out, and see if you can tweak it to improve your own learning journey.
I have been using a similar technique unwittingly when I use flashcards. If I don't instantly know what the word is, I waste NO time trying to figure it out. Even when it takes only a second - it still goes into my "don't know" pile. I look at the word, repeat both sides, close my eyes and repeat. Then I go through the cards again. If it troubles me again, I just repeat the process until every word is memorized but I never spend time thinking about it.
Ok, that's what I do. I really don't bother spending too much time on what I don't know. I know what I don't know. Less stress.
I don't mean to be rude, but this way of learning isn't very effective. I've learned all about memory in my psychology class and what you're doing is called maintenance rehearsal, a form of rote learning that is very ineffective at transferring information from short term memory to long term memory. Of course, it CAN transfer it, but then you're only remembering the information in that one way, which makes it harder to apply the information.
The much more effective method is called elaborative rehearsal, which involves forming associations between the information and information already stored in long term memory. This can be done by making associations, relating to personal experience, gaining an understanding of the concepts etc. I will use hoofdstad as an example. If I were to just repeat "hoofdstad is capital" over and over it would take much longer than if I were to make sense of the word in a way such as "hoofd = head, stad = city, a head city is a capital".
These associations make it much easier to store and recall information, so we don't have as many TOTs (which I have also studied, very interesting stuff!).
Everyone learns a bit differently though, so do what works for you :)
+1 Sean. I remember words much better and for a longer time when I find similar associations to your example. It's why I read a lot of the discussions associated to each practice sets, since a lot of duolingo users do tell about their own tricks, or they break down words, or make a funny pun with it, and then it sticks to memory. It works nicely. Pure memorisation is very difficult for me, and I tend to forget the words after a few days. I've yet to build my own Anki deck (waiting to see if duolingo tinycards would do the trick before I do) :)
Interesting points. So maybe spending absolutely no time to figure it out is taking it too far, but you could go somewhere in between and spend like five seconds to see those associations (usually should be more than enough for that) and then if you haven't worked it out count it as wrong and just see the answer (at which point you can still pause and take note of any mnemonics/associations so that next time you'll do better with it)?
Yupp! You are right. Even better than just thinking about the word is using imagery because then it creates two pathways to the intended words. So you'd create an image of a head in a city and its better when it interacts so make the head move into the centre of something.
This is obviously true, but isn't this just a different second pathway compared to breaking up the word itself? So the first pathway is always just the pure rote memorization, direct linking between the word in source and target language (assuming we're talking about direct equivalents here). Then the second could either be realizing that a head ('main') city is a capital, or it could be the imagery of a giant head floating over the streets into the city center, right? But, oh, I guess you're actually saying "better than just thinking about the word" (emphasis added). Right.
Anyway, agreed; using many different associations/connections strengthens both storage and, probably more notably, retrieval.
Actually Sean, you're making an incorrect assumption. When I close my eyes and think of the word I missed, I do make associations at that moment. The point is though, that if you don't get it immediately right, work on whatever you need to fix that. This absolutely works for me because I don't have to make associations for every word, only the missed ones. Recall should be effortless and immediate. That's what helped me get fluent in Spanish.
Yes, actively thinking during that time is much better than simply reading and repeating, which is what I thought you were doing. The main point of elaborative rehearsal is to make information /meaningful/ (forgot how to do italics), because we remember meaningful information much more easily (eg. names of family members). As I said, everyone learns their own way, so stick with your method if it's been successful so far.
It is always a pleasure
to find those gems
that you discover
Merci, bedankt, danke, dziekuje
It is indeed fascinating. Long time ago I was playing an online game which naturally used chat. Of course, the only way to communicate was English and back then I almost didn't know the language at all. I watched a lot English internet so I knew most of the vocabulary passively. I was often in this TOT state. My brother was often sitting next to me while I was playing so I used to ask him about some words. The great thing was that he hardly ever told me the answer (not for real reason tho, he was a dick lmao). I've noticed that If I pushed myself to recall the word, I learned it much more quicker. When he gave me the answer, it's as if I still had the word in passive memory. So, paradoxically the best way for me to learn English was to do it by myself.
Btw. shoutout to all THPS3 players!
Yeah we learn that in psych, because your brain will always 'remember' the blank moment between trying to come up with the answer. That's why in learning anything you should never wait more than 10 seconds before being given the answer. Of course this does not apply in every situation. Sometimes you need to think about an issue but then its not about the specific recall rather the concept so different type of connections needed.
Interesting! Thanks for sharing and have a great day
Interesting! I have to say I've noticed a pattern myself.
I took an almost 8 month break from DL (Italian) and worried that I had probably forgotten most of it as I wasn't even able to come up with the simplest of sentences I tried to form in everyday life.
Surprisingly, I found a lot of what I had learned came back to me almost instantly, some things took an extra second or two (to give my brain the time to go juuust a little deeper it seems, hey, at my age one could suspect those connections to be a little slow but I choose to believe they're just much more extensive ;-)) and yet others took a little longer still because they were attached (at least in my mind) to a concept that helped me remember the first time.
If I don't recall a word at all and look it up right away, it will stick (somewhat!) If I run into a word I don't recall right away but come up with it within a few seconds it seems to stick better than in the first case.
If, however, I've struggled for some time (because I was just sure I would remember and didn't want to give up too soon) and yet never came up with the answer, finally looking it up, it appears to not want to connect to the original question anymore. The unsuccessful, prolonged struggle seems to disconnect the problem from its solution or even worse, at least I've found that to be true for myself, it adds confusion to future attempts!
Interesting! Thanks for bringing this up.
It sounds a little scary presented in this fashion, where trying to recall something just sinks us deeper into the oblivion of forgetfulness :)
There might be some nuances in the recall process of the brain, and what I mean by this is, in the effort put into trying to remember. There's a wide range from trying a bit for a few seconds and then looking up the answer and going "ah, yes, that was it!" to trying real hard for the 10+ seconds, setting it aside and coming back later to it.
It sounds very much to be the difference between the passive and active portions of a language we know, and trying to push passive vocabulary and grammar into the active part of the brain. I have a lot more words in my active section for English, for using it all the time on a daily basis, and therefore will not have to think at all to remember hundreds of words. Still, quite many words are in passive mode as well: I will know them when I read them, but I will not be able to use them in a sentence until I force myself to, repeatedly.
Duolingo offers both passive and active memory exercises in their practice sets. Personally, I wish it were more active than passive in terms of ratio, i.e. have to do more translations into the language we are learning, and more writing exercises in the language we are learning. This forces the TOT experience I believe. I haven't tried it yet, though I guess Timed Practice reinforces it even more :)
Hmm, I always thought why use Timed Practice when you can just take your time and make sure your responses are correct. I believed that to be the most prudent course of action , especially if you're a newbie or are starting a new skill. Now, I wonder if I unknowingly excluded an opportunity to strengthen my knowledge? I think I'll start to throw one in here and there!
Btw, I think the imbalance between passive and active memory exercises you mentioned can be addressed by going through the reverse tree.
As a matter of fact, I do recommend to anyone who will listen to do both at the same time instead of doing the reverse only after you finished the original!
I know many languages and trees are still missing. I'm waiting for the German/Italian and Italian/German trees myself.
What I'm saying is if you have the opportunity to do a reverse tree start it as you go through the 'original', not after finishing it.
This makes a tons of sense and resonants with personal experience, Thanks!
The question I have is, if you're trying to teach something and they just aren't getting the answer, what can you do to help them guess it?
I guess give hints, remind them of mnemonics they may have if you're aware of those, give them a letter if it's a word they're looking for, or mention something that is related to it in hopes it will spark something... that sort of thing. Might not always be obvious, though.
Yes, I've heard this before. I think this is why some flashcard tools, like Memrise, have timers within which you have to get the right answer: so you don't spend too long struggling and reinforcing wrong connections. Very interesting stuff, to be sure.