Friday, October 27, 2006

You are what you practice

There's a saying in English that goes, "You are what you eat." However, I don't write about food here. I write about languages. So I have to modify that saying to, "You are what you practice." There is a saying that goes, "Practice makes perfect" but I didn't coin that one, so that's why I have to make up my own. My saying is, "You are what you practice." Practice is important in language learning. If you want to become an expert, you cannot just stop practicing when you become perfect. You must keep practicing, past perfection. That's what this article says. But the most interesting thing the article says is, experts "attribute their success to practice and to the ability to maintain concentration during long practice sessions (Ericsson, 1996)." So, you can see that concentration is a very valuable skill to develop! I wrote a little about how important concentration is, a month and a half ago. I said I was going to work on my ability to concentrate. Well, I still find my attention wandering quite easily. Concentration is really difficult to sustain! It's hard to not think about something else and to just focus on one sentence for a minute or two. Some other idea or concern will just pop into my head and I find myself thinking about that instead. But I know... I can feel that while I'm concentrating on that one sentence and listening to every word clearly, that it is really sinking into my brain. I just need to keep working on the ability to shut everything else out and stay focused. This is really hard to do in the listening-only stage. I think in the next stage it won't be as difficult. The imitation stage. I'll be very busy imitating the sentence I'm hearing and working on the rythm. I don't think there will be much room for my mind to wander.


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