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Research shows that the human brain has focused attention for only about the first 15 minutes of study. After that, if you aren’t having fun, daydreaming is likely to ensue. As such, break your Thai studies up into 15 minute periods that fit your schedule. For example, that 15 minutes you sit in the subway on the way to work every day is perfect time to memorize 5 new words. And the 15 minutes back home is perfect to review what you learned in the morning. You could also use that time to read a Thai book, listen to Thai MP3’s, or whatever. Mix it up so you don’t get bored. As you get into the habit and became more disciplined, extend those time periods a bit longer. Also, perhaps another 15 minutes before you sleep, or maybe while you eat lunch – but always stay below your limit so as to not burn out and quit.
Unfortunately many people start learning, thinking they’ll be fluent within months, and study really hard for about 2 weeks. And then they quit. They realize it’s actually hard work, and other higher priorities (like TV, videogames, a girlfriend, etc) are just more fun. They simply burned themselves out. The secret is to not study too hard, have realistic expectations, and stick to a routine that bypasses anything that you think will make you want to quit. And on those days you feel like you’ve had enough, remember to remind yourself of all the reasons that made you start learning Thai in the first place.
Scientific research also shows one learns best by learning the same thing multiple times, but in different ways each time. For example, to learn the Thai word for elephant:
1) memorize the word
2) say it out loud
3) write it down
4) listen to your friend saying it
5) watch a Thai movie with elephants
The reason this works is that you’re using multiple parts of your brain to memorize it, and creating multiple memories to access that same information.
to be continued . . .