Threshold learning

August 28, 2009, 10:20 AM posted in General Discussion

Hey, first post here! Guess I had to start somewhere...

English is my second language so I might make some mistakes along the way ;-)

I've started experimenting a little with what you might call "threshold learning", which is based on a very natural principle involving the constant push of our limits outside what we might consider our "comfort zone".

Just think about running 100 meters. Run it once and time yourself (you don't actually have to do this...).

Then run again, but with weights strapped on your legs...sounds like a strenous task with very little payback. Actually it does pay back big time, since you might find out that running those 100 meters after having removed the weights not only takes less time than it took with the extra takes even less time then it took the first time you ran. And that's a convoluted way to talk about "threshold". You push your body into unfamiliar territory and it has to when the normal conditions are restored, your body finds more room to breathe, and actually performs better.

So I'm not here asking you to run a marathon wearing a jade armour...but I'd like to make you think about using this principle when you study chinese...

For me it boils down to three things:

- having access to audio material (thank you CP)

- using a playback software to play the material (for me it's winamp)

- implementing a tool that can accelerate the tempo without distortion of the audio material (for me it's the plugin PaceMaker for Winamp)

So you have a first pass at your audio material, then for the second pass you crank it up a notch (maybe a 20% faster), then you go back to the normal speed, and behold your listening skills skyrocket. Repeat as needed.

It's pretty simple but, to my knowledge, very powerful. I learned about this principle via speed reading, but it is applicable in almost every possible field...

Steve Pavlina talks about audio acceleration to save time while listening to audiobooks...but I think this might be another good use of the technique.

So confuse yourself a little...then comes clarity.


Profile picture
August 28, 2009, 10:37 AM

Hi Francinico,

You really increase the speed of the advanced and media lessons to make them 20% quicker ? That's impressive !

To improve your skills, you can also decrease the volume of the audio by 20% ... see Audio complaints. ;o)

Profile picture
August 28, 2009, 10:41 AM

Even faster...that doesn't mean I'm understaning everything they only means that I'm straining my brain to keep up the pace...and then I ease up again and find everything much clearer than before...but don't take my word for it, try it yourself!

Bonne chance!

Profile picture
August 28, 2009, 11:32 AM

Interesting, I have heard of this technique used before in areas like your example of sport but I haven't thought about giving it a try whilst learning chinese before.

I'll give it a blast.

Thanks for the tip