The "see you in 6 months" mind trick

Guillaume Hansali
Guillaume Hansali
The "see you in 6 months" mind trick
New word, let me pass.

Learning a language is a marathon.

You need to keep running. Motivation is key.

Plateaus can be really hard to get through.

When you start learning a new language, you begin with the basics. The most commonly used words. Unsurprisingly, you will encounter these words daily because casual conversations rarely use more than a few hundred different words.

Once you reach an intermediary level, newly learned words appear less frequently in daily conversations.

Eventually, the feedback loop between the acquisition of a new word and reencountering it in a conversation becomes too long to produce dopamine;

  • Learning new words feels less immediately rewarding
  • You feel like you're wasting your time or, worse, that you suck at learning

Also, memory is selective, akin to the evolution process: survival of the fittest. The statistical relevance of a newly acquired word is inversely proportional to the total number of words you know. Words deemed less relevant have a harder time reaching long-term memory.

Solution: the "see you in 6 months" mind trick

This is more a mind trick than an actual memorizing technique.

Every time you learn a new word, tell yourself: "Alright, new word, nice making your acquaintance. See you again in 6 months."

Staying motivated is about setting realistic expectations. By saying, "See you in 6 months", you acknowledge that it will take time for that new word to be part of your working vocabulary.

Why 6 months?

Feedback loop: 6 months from now, you should have encountered the word or concept a few times and given your brain enough time to process it to long-term memory.

Survival of the fittest: If you haven't reencountered it after 6 months, it probably wasn't that relevant to your daily reality. Maybe it will someday, but in the meantime, give yourself some slack and move on. There's so much to learn!

Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Guillaume Hansali
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
You've successfully subscribed to Guillaume Hansali
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content
Success! Your billing info has been updated
Your billing was not updated