Friday, January 6, 2012

Klingon and Elvish

I think I've finally cracked the code to learning stuff--any sort of stuff:

Instant feedback.

Then again, I guess that shouldn't surprise me: it's why I upgraded from film to digital, it's why I love my job (experiments either work or they don't--either way, you have an answer), and it's why I love the Code Academy.

Coding, after all, isn't all that different from learning a language: it's taking the information you want to convey, and turning it into information that someone (or something, as the case may be) else can understand. There are rules, and then there are ways around those rules. The only real difference, in the end, is that unless you're a hard-core coding freak, you get to interact with people with the one, and machines with the other.

I also think that this is why my Dutch lessons at the Radboud have been such a miserable and utter fail, and why going to them is such a chore, rather than a great way to get to know people. The lessons that I had in Maastricht, for all of their shortcomings and inability to handle different learning styles, at least had the benefit of not being so structured, and being able to exercise your newly-learned Dutch right away. Or maybe I just lucked out with my teachers there. But regardless: even though we covered less grammar in Maastricht, I still feel as if I left Maastricht able to speak much better Dutch than I currently do. I suppose it also helped that, in Maastricht, the students were better than the ones in my current class.

It's sort of like clicker-training, really, except without the treat. And the feedback doesn't always have to be positive. But it does have to be relatively quick to follow the event, otherwise you lose the limbic connection and the memory you build doesn't last.

Hey, I never said I wasn't a geek...

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