LEARN BY YOURSELF - FREE and EASY - Just some Discipline needed.

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  1. The method has 3 steps...

Teach Yourself - You have to anyway!

You may have attended college classes and discovered for yourself the teacher usually does not know or care whether you are alive or dead. This will not apply to young attractive members of the opposite sex, of course, but when there are 30 to 100 in a class you need a seat in the front row and then extra visits to the teacher's office to make your mark, which are neither open nor attractive to all.
So, like the 99% of the class, you have to listen, take notes, read and memorize the material and, in fact, teach yourself. I've heard high school seniors say this does in fact start well before college. From my own experience I can say this goes double for university, unless you happen to be in a rare class with very small numbers.


Teaching yourself then becomes the actual and only method available to any student. Now, the method described next is in addition to the normal study activities prescribed, thus appears as extra work. You will find however, that using this method will allow you to excel in your exams. And here's how to do it, irrespective of your age or other achievements - you do need to know how to read, however.


This method has three steps

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    o-    Write out your vocabulary in standard school notebooks as the words occur during your normal studies. Be careful to write in columns, usually two per page (the new word on the left; the meaning on the right), so you can cover the material on one side to read and learn by rote.

    o-    About once per week, when you have 50 to 100 new words and their meanings noted, read them into a recorder - your cell phone or laptop. State each new word, then leave a gap of three to four seconds, then read your written description or translation. If needed, say the new word once again right after, as - "What is xxxx".

    o-    Play these recordings, saying your answer out loud during the four-second gap. Play them until you are sick of them. When you are sick of them, you will know the words.


This works in a number of ways - (i) Writing out the words and meanings or descriptions gives a physical and visual aide-memoire. (ii) Reading your listed words is simple mnemonic studying (iii) Reading the list into a recording device is embarrassing, and, because you are embarrassed it helps your memory. (iv) Playing back means listening to your own voice, which normally causes more embarrassment and therefore more certain memorizing.


You can use a $5 microphone (or none) and a program called Audacity* on your laptop to clean up the recordings, and take care to read slowly, as you are testing yourself during the playback. These steps can result in studio-quality recordings - nothing fancy or expensive is needed.


Most young adults today have not memorized their multiplication tables, which is a serious drawback for any kind of scientific endeavor. In simplistic terms, this is why Indians (from India!) and Asians so often excel at American jobs, as each and all have learned their multiplication tables by heart at an early age. You can see the above system is perfect for this kind of study.


Now, I can hear you over-40s baby boomers (whatever that means) saying - But I am too old - older people cannot easily memorize new things - (Gosh I wonder that the GOP politicians can even find their way to their Senate seats ... and remember which corporation paid the most that they are supposed to be legislating on behalf of.) Well, perhaps there is some truth here; but while this can be used as an excuse to fail to learn, it is nothing that some further listening to your recordings will not overcome.


As well, let's distinguish between plain vocabulary as for another language and vocabulary as used in science, be it medicine or engineering.

Plain Vocabulary - This is mostly in languages, where one word usually translates to one other word, perhaps with a gender, without longer description. It's just the pronunciation that needs work, so the listener can give their answer within the three to four second time-gap before the spoken answer comes.

Scientific Terms - These can  be more complex, often requiring a short sentence to explain. The pause should be the same as before, but the item should finish off with saying the same word again, including the phrase - "What is" xxx.


Lastly, the lengths of the recordings are found to be good between 20 and 30 minutes - longer, often means interruptions before completion - shorter, means insufficient words are covered in each session. Multiplication tables are up to you - a refresher course could have six tables per session, for two sessions; while a newbie might need a maximum of two per session.


When you name these files, you can use the world's simplest system - that date. But Japanese-style, which is YY/MM/DD - and for the year, we do NOT need the first "20", as we will all surely be indifferent by the time 2100 comes around. So your file name starts with 200315 being 2020, March, 15th (or merely 2003) and then continues with your identifier. All such files will line up in the right order, even if you make changes to them later.


Those of you who like to use spreadsheets can of course write up your vocabulary in that format, and create your recordings from there. You'll experience a slight loss for the physical and visual mnemonic, but perhaps the ease of handling will make up for it.


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