Unconventional and fun learning practices

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I am a procrastinator.
I have always been one and I think I will continue being like this all my life.

When I was little, I postponed homework until late at night and I was so sick of studying. I wasn’t a night owl, just a procrastinator. At some point in my school life, something changed and I started to work additionally. I was still a procrastinator, but studying wasn’t so bad. In high-school, I started studying languages as a hobby even if our school system already required too much. I don’t know if this is what overzealous means, but not knowing on what to focus, not being taught what matters and being scared of the future made me do all of these additional things that became one of the causes of my later-to-appear burnout.

Step by step, studying and learning became a routine, better said a lifestyle. Actually, we all do it, we all learn everyday, but we don’t realize. In a way, I am still that overzealous student, or better said a jack of all trades and master of none. Not necessarily a bad thing, but adult life is sometimes an obstacle in the way of my love for learning.

Working a full time job already requires a lot of time and concentration. Adding studying to this routine is in itself something that really makes me proud and motivates me when I am down. I am not very consistent when it comes to routines or habits, but in regards to studying I am pretty consistent. This was the key for me actually. Even if it takes me a lot of time to become good or better at something, consistency always shows the results.

When I started working, I realized that the adult life is so different and that there are more things that you must do than the ones that you want to do. However studying and learning must be there. You can’t do the things that you must do without doing a few of the things that you want to do. Balance is the key here. But how to do them both? Learning is not only something that I want to do and that I love, but also something necessary for progress. The easiest method for me is to learn while having fun. This is not always possible, but I try to use this method everyday.

Soooo, at the middle of this post, I am letting you know that I will talk about some fun and unconventional learning practices I use everyday and that actually worked for me.

Let me share with you some of the techniques I use (as a procrastinator and a lazy person) to learn while having fun. This is mostly related to languages, but I use it for other topics as well.

  • Learning vocabulary with series, books and webtoons.
    This technique is what helped me even with Korean grammar, so I use it a lot to learn expressions and words in context. When I decide to use entertainment for learning purposes, I take a notebook and a pen and I write down words, expressions that I want to use later with my tutor, or I look up new words in the dictionary and write them down. Sometimes, I rewatch series or movies without subtitles to test my understanding in other languages (mostly in Korean). When reading books or webtoons, I look up the new words, write synonyms or write the translation in English or French ( this is when I decide to do a mixed study which I use as a challenge).
  • Reviewing historical events and figures with Korean dramas.
    I am sure you know by now how much I love Korean language, culture and history. Historical movies and series became some sort of a motivation and this is how I started to read again research papers and books on Korean history, something that I neglected since finishing my academic studies. So if I watch a new drama portraying some king and the reforms he adopted, I will do some research and go deeper into the subject. Having a fun visual content as reference, the information stays with me for a longer period of time.
  • Improving writing using journaling or movie/series reviews.
    This is a technique I’ve started using since last year. What I usually do is to write a journal page in the desired language or a review about a movie or a drama that impressed me. Writing about something you like makes you stay consistent and you won’t feel like studying at all.
  • Improving speaking with monologues.
    It might sound strange, but I do this a lot. I was always shy and I found it difficult to talk to natives, so I started using the monologue in other languages as a technique to improve my speaking abilities. While this is not as efficient as talking to natives and it is also different from talking to real people whose reactions, vocabulary usage and way of thinking you can’t anticipate (as in the case of a monologue, where you are the one who prepares and thinks the whole situation), talking to myself helped me so much to improve my speaking and become more confident in real situations like interviews, presentations or conversations with natives.

These are some of the unconventional learning techniques I use almost everyday, if not everyday. They are actually practices that used frequently can help you achieve what you want. I hope my tips will inspire you to find you own practices or that you will practice in my way no matter what subject you are interested in.

Happy learning.

My 5 tips to find inspiration and start writing

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I am this kind of person. I need to feel inspired in order to be able to create something good. This is especially valid when writing for the blog. However, even before my decision to start this blog, what I wanted to build the most trough this blog was consistency. I really want to do this for a long time, but only for as long as I feel joy.

The truth is that I mostly write when I am inspired to write. But in order to be consistent, I know I have to find a solution to keep myself inspired more often. Fortunately, I have discovered that this is possible in my case. Yes, I can find inspiration from simple things and I can make myself stay in front of the screen and write passionately even if I didn’t woke up feeling inspired. Inspiration doesn’t fall from the sky. You have to continually search for it. At least, this is how it is in my case. Thus, you could call it progress. Every time I search for inspiration, I learn something new.

I believe that the things that inspire us the most are the things we like and the things we naturally have an interest in. For example, I love music and I find comfort in music. Thus, listening to music is often a powerful weapon that helps me find my inspiration. Once you know what you really like, you will have found the perfect way to keep yourself inspired and grow. It doesn’t have to be something big. You might find inspiration in the simplest things, but that is the beauty of it.

I always try to stay organized when I try to build a new habit, in this case, the habit of writing regularly. But it could be anything, even meditating daily or exercising regularly. You need to build a plan, a routine. When it comes to writing, I follow a few steps that help me be consistent. If you like lists, here you have it, a list of 5 important steps that work for me when it comes to writing and staying inspired.

1. Keep a list with ideas. I have to admit that I don’t have the time to write every time when inspiration hits. Fortunately, I keep my phone with me most of the time. Thus, when inspiration hits, I always write down that idea in a list on my phone. The advantage of keeping such a list is that if you keep doing it every time a new idea pops up in your head, you will have in no time a bunch of ideas that will be your plan B for when you have absolutely zero inspiration. At the moment, I have 17 new ideas in my list, so I won’t have to worry for a long period if I don’t feel inspired.

2. Declutter your working space. In my case, every single object on my desk is another thing to worry about. Thus, before starting to work, I like to clean my desk in order to feel I am creating a new atmosphere for me to concentrate in. However, there are people out there who feel totally relaxed when they work in complete mess. If this helps instead, just let your messy desk be your cozy nest and start doing what you have to do.

3. Listen to your favorite music. As mentioned above, music is what helps me in most of the difficult periods. Sometimes, I could concentrate on writing even while listening to music with lyrics. Other times, I only write with ASMR or instrumental music in the background. As I was writing this article, I could concentrate perfectly while listening to my favorite Korean songs with beautiful lyrics. I felt I was writing at my favorite café where I could also choose what music to listen to.

4. Watch a YouTube video you like. I love watching YouTube videos, and, as I wrote in my previous post, I use YouTube as a source of learning and inspiration. Whenever I have a bad mood, or when I feel like rewatching the videos I like or watching new ones from my favorite youtubers, I go to YouTube. This winter I regained my good mood with videos filmed during spring or summer for example. I missed so much the green grass and trees that I started feeling better even after watching videos on YouTube. Even if I don’t necessarily have a bad mood, if I feel I want to recharge my inspiration storage, I go to YouTube and take energy and inspiration from beautiful people around the world. People can become other’s people strength and inspiration.

5. Just start writing. You don’t know what a beautiful and creative article you might write until you start writing the first word, the first line, the first paragraph. I only had the idea for this article and a few words written on a piece of paper when I started writing. I didn’t really know what shape I should give to this article but after the first line and with the help of these steps, my article came to have this form and structure, and I feel quite satisfied with the result. Starting writing means you’re already closer to the end.

This is it for today. I really hope this article can be your source of inspiration for the next time you might feel uninspired. Also, if you have built your own writing routine, please feel free to share it with me in the comments. I am always willing to learn from others.

Stay inspired and I will see you around.