Look into my heart and tell me what you see.
Have you ever looked into the heart of a sunflower?
Take a look.
A close look.
And tell me what you see.
Sunflowers have always been my very favourite of flowers.
Ever since I can remember.
I was fascinated to discover this flower which would turn its head towards the sun all day long.
I mean how cool is that!
A smart flower!
And it didn't stop there.
As I grew up I discovered its full versatility and plethora of uses.
And then one day I discovered its heart.
Look into the heart of a sunflower and what do you see?
First you see tightly perfectly packed seeds.
And then when you look even more closely you see lines and actual spirals.
So you go and read up about it and discover those spirals are spirals of nature, following an exact pattern, an exact ratio, ensuring a maximum of seeds can safely be fitted into that exact space.
It's almost like smartness on steroids!
They grow at exact angles to each other, ensuring maximum efficiency when it comes to seed production, leaf spacing and petal formations.
My question though, as I look closely into the heart of the sunflower, is how can we recreate such efficiency in our learning processes?
How can we fit all the learning processes together so we produce a maximum of results?
In this article I'm going to reveal to you one way to maximise learning output on a minimum of input.
And to do that we're going to focus in on that tiniest of components: the seed.
Exploring the concept of a seed in language learning
Recently I was talking with a group of language learners.
I had just been invited to observe their class and a new learning technique that was being tested. The premise of the technique I agreed with, but I had also observed several missed opportunities to really give the students something they could take away and use.
And just like that, I started talking to them about seeds.
You see, when we are in a learning environment, each new thing we learn can be likened to a seed.
And the more we learn, the more seeds we get.
Almost as if we are collecting seeds.
Lots of seeds.
Some of us have a pocketful of seeds, others have a sackful.
Knowledge is that seed.
And while seeds can be highly nutritious just as they are, their really beauty and worth shines only when you let them grow.
The question is: Do you want to let your knowledge remain a seed or do you want to let grow into a victorious tree, a versatile sunflower or even a mouth-watering watermelon?! :)
Most of us leave our seeds to jingle in our pocket, thinking if we work hard enough and keep collecting we will have enough to be fluent in a language.
If only I know more vocabulary. I just need more technical grammar. And then find ways to practice, practice, practice, practice…
That’s what everyone will tell you.
But what if you were to focus on what you already have and learn how to build and grow that knowledge?
Instead of having a handful of seeds, through careful, well-planned growth we can have thousands of seeds!
Let me show you how.
Learn this ONE technique and you can learn any language
It is very important to use this technique as early as possible in your learning journey.
When I was learning Chinese, I used it from day 1.
This is what I did.
I'm going to pick up with one of the sentences I showed you in part 4:
It basically means: Would you like to drink a cup of tea?
So let's break it down and see how we can build on it. How we can make it grow.
I learn one sentence in Chinese.
That's like gaining one seed.
Then I see how I can make it grow based on what I already know.
Let's say the week before I learnt the vocabulary for a few different drinks in Chinese:
The Chinese word for water 水
The Chinese word for soda or fizzy water 汽水
The Chinese word for milk 牛奶
The Chinese word for coffee 咖啡
And this is what I come up with:
Now, instead of having knowledge of one sentence and four names of drinks in Chinese, I have transformed it into FIVE fully functioning sentences.
And this is just the beginning.
Check out what I do next.
By swapping out one single word, in this case the verb 'drink' 喝 for the verb 'buy' 买， I now have TEN fully usable sentences in Chinese!
How about we try that again?
Let's swap out another word.
Once again, by swapping one word, this time 'want' 要 in the place of 'would like' 想 we automatically double the number of sentences we can go out and use. And I say use because to build them you are using words you already know!
This brings the total to TWENTY sentences just from using one sentence and six words in Chinese!
How awesome that is!
Just imagine being able to double your returns in business so easily! And it just got real for learning!
And that isn't even scratching the surface!
Try this swap out:
As you can see here, by simple swapping ONE pronoun in Chinese, we now have FORTY sentences!!!
Swap out five pronouns and you have ONE HUNDRED sentences!
Swap out five more drinks and you have TWO HUNDRED sentences!
All that from learning ONE single sentence in Chinese and swapping it out with as many words as you have fingers on your hand!
What it really means to be fluent in a language!
Can you see how instead of having ten seeds in your hand, you now have a forest?
And in learning this way, I guarantee, from the very beginning, everything you will be learning you will be using, and you will be using it fluently!
Now multiply the process across every sentence you learn in Chinese and even with a minimum of vocabulary you can become fully fluent in Chinese.
Or any language!
This is exactly how I grew my Chinese so quickly, and even started having conversations with people when my vocabulary was only at around 100 Chinese characters.
Yes, it is completely possible to start communicating with people with only 100 Chinese characters, and the coolest thing about it, is in learning this way and gaining fluency at every stage, they will never believe you only know around 100 words in Chinese.
So get out there and start testing it and check in to let me know how you are getting on with it!
Any questions, let me know!
And subscribe so you are sure not to miss parts 8, 9 and 10 coming soon!