IWTYAL 155: How long should I study with same material?

Clay asks: “For how long should I use the same material?”

In this episode:

  • One of the most destructive language habits is jumping from one material to the next
  • Usually, my advice is to stick with ONE thing, simply to guard against the “butterfly” problem
  • “Don’t let the great be the enemy of the good”

When I’m studying, I usually have a few different strands to my learning:

  1. Speaking on a regular basis
  2. Flashcard review of vocabulary
  3. Study time

In my study time, I tend to do one thing over and over, until I get bored.

  • I wonder why you’re asking this question?
  • You should know deep down if the activity you’re doing is productive or not
  • If you feel it’s productive, keep going!
  • You will certainly lose motivation to do it sooner or later… wait till that time! (For me it’s usually 3 weeks)
  • If you feel it’s not productive, stop immediately and try something else
  • Try to avoid FOMO – providing you’re speaking, learning vocabulary, and doing other holistic activities, you won’t be missing out on anything!

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

  • Sprints” – My 3-week approach to studying language material

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  • dandiprat

    Thanks for answering my question. It was weird hearing my own voice. I had no idea my question had two possible interpretations.
    Actually I was primarily thinking mostly about how long I could stick with one dialogue and how I know when material is too easy for me. I subscribe to two series of Vietnamese language learning podcasts and episodes come out every week. One is elementary and one is intermediate. I kind of like this because it gives me an artificial deadline to try to finish the episode before the next one comes out. I do go back to older episodes a lot too and the intermediate dialogues I probably listen to many dozens of times before over a few months, although the elementary ones I don’t feel the need to as much as they are much less challenging.
    I’ve been doing this a few years with Vietnamese (and before that Cantonese) so I was wondering if I’m doing something wrong because I was hoping to find them easier by now. In fact, they are somewhat easier, but I was hoping for faster progress because I still have trouble understanding them initially since there are always new words I’ve never studied before in each episode. My goal for 2017 is to try to use your memory course to remember more of the words from the podcasts.

    • dandiprat

      I very much agree with your advice in the article you sent that you should focus on process over product. It’s much easier to say I’ll study for 10 minutes a day than to successfully word 10 words a day.