Goal setting and the law of diminishing return

When it comes to goal setting for language learning, people may come up with a goal like learning a specific number of vocabularies within a certain time frame. However, I like to bring up something more specific and relevant to my learning process of acquiring a new language.

I recently came across this video on Luke Ranieri’s YouTube polýMATHY, which I found pretty interesting. What I want to see is that for X amount of time that I put into this process, what the result would be for each step, and when and how the law of diminishing return comes into play.

My overall goal setting would be to improve my reading comprehension. Following are the steps for this technique, and I just thought I would share a little of my thoughts on how it’s going for me as a beginner in learning a new language.

Step 1: Read at the speed of speech
Sometimes I may have to adjust the audio to a slower speed for my eyes to catch up with the text. Aiming at lessons with less than 30% unknown words should be a good choice.

Step 2: Analyze
Lingqing and occasionally looking up grammar if I have trouble understanding the text after checking with two dictionaries(Naver, KrDict). Reading comprehension falls between 70% and 95% right after completing this step.

Step 3: Repeat aloud
Imitate the sound and follow along with the text; I find this step to be difficult because I lose concentration on the text as I go along with the audio by repeating it aloud(Shadowing). Instead, I would repeat a specific part of the sentence, which could be the last three or any lingqed words in the sentence. I consider this to be good pronunciation practice on a writing system that is still foreign to me.

Step 4: Recite aloud with a vivid imagination
Associate the text with vivid images or immerse oneself into the scene or story; this step is an enhanced version of the last step, thus more challenging. I only limit myself to a few sentences, and I will do more of this after I get more comfortable with the Korean language in terms of both the writing system and the pronunciation.

Step 5: Tell the story to a child
As good as it sounds, connect one’s emotion with the text by communicating with others. However, this is yet another advanced step most challenging for me at this stage. Uttering some gibberish from my mouth with low comprehension will bear no significance. However, this could be a great initial practice for speaking skills I intend to return to after I become more comfortable with step number 3.

Step 6: Re-Read at the speed of speech
Blend in my mind and imagination, and start to notice curious things in the text. Noticeable improvement in reading comprehension with less than 5% unknown words in the text is observed.

Step 7: Re-Read at the speed of speech SILENTLY
Subvocalization occurs unconsciously at this stage, which is an excellent tool for improving reading and listening comprehension.

Optimal learning retention takes place on the third or fourth pass of step number 3, and I have to review one more time in another setting to reinforce what I learn. It would be an S shape on the graph in terms of learning progress toward my goal.

My first goal in learning Korean is to ingrain the writing system Hangul into my mind and accustom myself to the sound of the language so that I would not feel disoriented when I read and listen to a lesson. I still have a few things to work on to achieve my initial goal. I learned that setting up small and achievable goals like these would be like a stone upon stone in solidifying a strong foundation in language learning. 

How do you adapt and incorporate a learning tool or method into your daily language learning routine?  Do you adjust your learning strategies concerning different goals and hurdles you may encounter in the language learning journey?

How to use Extensive Reading & Audiobooks to become fluent | 7-Step Ranieri Re-Reading Technique - YouTube


I’d also like to advance in reading Korean. By early 2024 I’d like to be able to read Korean by recognizing the shapes of words, phrases and paragraphs, rather than by focusing on individual characters (as I should be doing at this point since I’m learning spelling)

Native English speakers can easily read text in which all words are misspelled as long as each word contains all the characters, and starts and ends with the correct letter. I’d like to get to a similar comfort and speed with reading Korean.

1 Like

As you focus on similar word patterns in the text, you will gradually get more comfortable and consume the new material more efficiently. Indeed you are on the right path toward your goal.

I tend to focus on developing skills comparable to native speakers while honing my language learning skills. They play an indispensable part in my language learning journey that I deem worthwhile dedicating extra effort to.

Besides sounding out words effortlessly, native English speakers can also conjure sentences in written text in their minds as if taking a dictation test during a conversation. They can also concoct meaningful sentences using given words that may entail an exciting story. They will undoubtedly have a greater chance of correctly predicting the subsequent terms or missing words in the sentences. For example, guessing bold-typed words in the sentence “Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water is readily accessible for direct human uses.” with accuracy could be a good demonstration of this extraordinary feat by ordinary English native speakers. They rely more on contextual clues to comprehend text with unknown words. Last but not least, they can use a monolingual dictionary with their vast language repertoire.

Indeed, these abilities are also integral to native speakers of other languages through immersion. The idealistic goal to be native-like may seem lofty. Nonetheless, I always remind myself to be comfortable and enjoy what I do interacting with the language. Happy learning! :slight_smile:

1 Like