Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It's interesting to observe how learning works. J. Marvin Brown's article "Learn Languages Like Children" mentions an "incubation" phenomenon, where a student's ability in a foreign language improves after a hiatus. As a graduate student, I certainly experienced this with mathematics. As a hobbyist musician, I also observe this when practicing an instrument.

My recent approach with Thai has been simply to listen "effortlessly but with understanding". One of my staples is watching movies. It is often easy to understand a movie without understanding all of the dialogue, by using visual cues and other context. This is especially true with children's movies.

It's very interesting to come back to the same movie again after a period of time. My comprehension invariably increases without any work on my part. Clearly, this is at least partly because I am on the next iteration of hearing the same dialogue, but I wonder whether it is also related to "incubation" that occurs between subsequent viewings, when I am not even exposed to Thai.

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