Tag: learning

  • Music Theory, Language Transfer, and the Thinking Method

    I’ve wanted to learn music theory for a number of years, but have never found a source that’s both engaging and educating. That is, until now, thanks to Language Transfer’s music theory course. For a while now, whenever I’ve read an article or post about language learning, someone in the comments invariably praises Language Transfer…

  • Learning Languages from the Peace Corps, Diplomats and the DoD

    Earlier this week I shared language learning difficulty maps based on experiences from the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). As I mentioned in that post, the FSI courses are public domain, having been developed by the US federal government for training diplomats. However, there are two other similar language learning sources: those from the Peace Corps…

  • Language Learning Difficulty Maps

    The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) is the primary training institute for employees of the “US foreign affairs community” (diplomats, military personnel, etc.). The FSI is probably most well known for its foreign language courses, which, while sometimes a bit outdated, is still great quality and in the public domain. The FSI has has compiled “approximate…

  • The Wug Test and Language Development in Children

    The Wug Test is a foundational study in how language develops in children. It’s also a bit cute: Developed by Jean Berko Gleason in the 1950s, it’s been said that the only thing with a greater impact on the field of child language research was the innovation of the tape recorder. Gleason’s major finding was…

  • Rules of Formulating Knowledge

    Back in 2009, I posted about the SuperMemo learning algorithm, based on the tried-and-true learning principle of spaced repetition (see also). I see now that, around that time, Piotr WoĆșniak, developer of the SuperMemo algorithm, wrote about his twenty rules of formulating knowledge. The below seven really stuck out to me, with all of them…

  • Studying and Learning: What Works, What Doesn’t

    Self-testing and spaced repetition are the “two clear winners” in how to study and learn better. That’s from an informal meta study conducted by six professors (from fields such as psychology, educational psychology, and neuroscience) when they reviewed over 700 scientific articles to identify the ten most common learning techniques and which are the most…

  • The Intricacies and Joys of Arabic

    I imagine that most people with a passing interest in linguistics read Maciej CegƂowski’s short essay in praise of the Arabic language when it was ‘rediscovered’ by popular social networks a few months ago. As one who has studied Arabic (albeit MSA and only for nine months or so), the essay brought back fond memories of struggling…

  • Infants Quickly Learn to Ignore Unreliable and Silly People

    Children learn a lot from imitating the actions of adults, with recent research suggesting that infants as young as 14 months are selective imitators — taking cues from our behaviour in order to decide which of us adults to learn from and which to ignore. In a study where researchers expressed delight before either presenting an…

  • Hard-to-Read Fonts Improve Learning

    Much has been written on the positive aspects of cognitive fluency (in terms of typography, accents, and almost everything else), but a recent study (pdf, doi) suggests that the opposite (cognitive disfluency) could lead to better learning. The theory is that harder-to-process material requires “deeper processing” and that this deeper processing leads to superior memory performance. Earlier…

  • Timed Exposure Can Be As Good As Practice

    We know that deliberate practice is an important part of learning (and mastering) new skills–but what role, if any, does mere passive exposure play? Can relevant background stimulation help us to reduce the amount of effort and practice necessary to master a skill? To answer these questions Jonah Lehrer contacted the authors of a recent paper studying exactly…