I’ve thought about learning languages for quite some time, and one of the things I’ve realized is that there are four modes to learning a language. The first three modes form a loop with the final mode at the center. Because I like alliteration, I’m calling it the Language Learning Loop.
The Language Learning Loop
In this mode, you’re recording information to study later. Maybe you’re creating a new deck for Anki, or maybe you’re just writing down notes. If you’re skipping the input mode, you won’t new things quickly.
Practice is important. Practicing is about trying out and perfecting the things that you’re learning. That might mean, writing out characters, or composing sentences. It might also mean memorizing words and phrases, and trying them out.
This is why we learn languages: to use them in the real world. We learn languages so that we can talk to people, write emails, listen to songs… to communicate. If you’re doing these things in another language, you’re in live mode.
Kaizen is a Japanese word that means to improve, or improvement (（改善 gai3 shan4 in Chinese). In language learning, kaizen refers to continuously improving how and what you learn. I placed it at the center of the loop because the a language learner needs to continuously work on improving their input, practice and actual usage.
Another Learning System?
You might be wondering: Is this just another learning system? It’s not. No matter what system you’re using, no matter what materials, you’re going through the Language Learning Loop wether you realize it or not.
In order to make consistent progress, you have to keep going through the loop. Skipping or neglecting one phase will lead to getting stuck (and perhaps baldness). That’s why this loop is so important.How important? It’s so important, I even made a graphic for this post! If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.