Why Can’t You Draw The Face of a Penny? Understand the Reason and Learn Spanish Twice as Fast

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Allow me to explain using a related problem.

Vocabulary lists in a run-of-the-mill Spanish textbook usually look something like the below, taken from real-world sources I won’t shame by naming:

  • La mano – the hand
  • El arbol – the tree
  • Las muñecas – the wrists
  • ¡Nos vemos mañana! – See you tomorrow!
  • Mande? – Sorry? Pardon? What did you say?
  • Ahorita vengo! – I’ll be back in a minute!

Pretty typical, right?

Sadly, this format is also priming students for failure.  Two reasons:

Spanish is listed first, so we’re training recognition.  If you want to be able to speak (produce) Spanish, you should list English first, then Spanish: cue and target.  For at least the first month, you will be translating from English in your head before most speaking.  Have your materials mimic this process, or you’re working backwards.

Incredibly, almost no textbooks get this ordering right.  If you train for recall, you get recognition automatically; if you train for recognition, recall is terrible, or as slow as molasses.

Think I’m exaggerating?  How many times have you handled or seen pennies and quarters in your life?  Tens of thousands of times?  Millions?  Try and draw both sides of either from memory.  Recognition does not = recall.  You have to train specifically for the latter.

A fixed list equals inflexible recall.  By illustration, answer this: what number is the letter “L” in the alphabet?  5th, 14th, which?  What is the third line of your national anthem?  Slow, isn’t it?  The answers depend on order — on the pieces before them acting as cues.  If you learn words in a fixed list, the preceding words act as a recall crutch for your target word.  You’ll eventually get it, but it’s plodding and haphazard.  This is a major problem.  This is also why, 10 years later, I can still sing (poorly) a few entire songs in Italian, but I could never recall those words independently for conversation.

We want RAM—random-access memory—where we can pull any word from memory quickly.

Mixing up flash cards accomplishes this, as does a software program like Anki or Duolingo (I advise), which does it automatically.

If you have a textbook with a fixed list, just practice doing them backwards and also in evens, odds, every-third item, etc.

¡Mucha suerte, ché!

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If you like these shorter posts (as opposed to my longer, monster posts), please let me know in the comments and I’ll do more of them!

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 14: Sam Harris, PhD on Spirituality, Neuroscience, Meditation, and More

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Sam Harris, Ph.D.

Sam Harris, Ph.D.

Listen on iTunes, download, or stream it in the below player now:

This episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is sponsored by Bluehost, which I used for my first WordPress blog, and I still use them for sites today. Click here for a special offer!

Now, on to our guest… Sam Harris.

Sam Harris is a neuroscience Ph.D. and the author of the bestselling books, The End of Faith, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, and Lying. His work have been discussed in The New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and many other journals.

In this episode, we explore the science of lying, uses and types of meditation, psychedelic drug uses and risks, spiritual experiences, and more. It’s really a discussion of the human experience, and how to optimize it without harming others.

Click here to subscribe/listen to the show on iTunes.
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

If you have a second, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests. Thanks!

Once you’ve listening to this episode, let Sam (@samharrisorg) know on Twitter what you found most valuable or compelling.

Enjoy!… Read More

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Not-To-Do Lists, Drugs, and Other Productivity Tricks

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This is a short post of things you may have missed.

First, three short (<15 minutes) podcasts I recently published:

The 9 Habits to Stop Now — The Not-To-Do List (iTunes or stream below)

Drugs and the Meaning of Life (iTunes or stream below)

Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me) (iTunes or stream below)

Second, I’ve put up about a dozen highlights from other episodes — 1-3-minute clips on my YouTube page. If you enjoy them, I’ll put up more, so let me know in the comments!

Here are a few to start with:

Third, below are some podcasts with friends.  I had a blast on all of them, and all of them are different:

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 12: Dr. Rhonda Patrick on Life Extension, Performance, and Much More

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Dr. Rhonda Patrick

Dr. Rhonda Patrick

This episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is sponsored by Bluehost, which I used for my first WordPress blog, and I still use them for sites today. Click here for a special offer!

Now, on to our guest…

My guest this episode is Rhonda Perciavalle Patrick, Ph.D., who works with Dr. Bruce Ames, the 23rd most-cited scientist across ALL fields between 1973 and 1984 (!).

Dr. Patrick also conducts clinical trials, performed aging research at Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and did graduate research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she focused on cancer, mitochondrial metabolism, and apoptosis.

What does that all mean? Time is precious, right? Long podcast needs to be worth it, right? Here you go…

Whether you want to extend life, inexpensively buy a stem-cell “insurance policy” (hint: related to the Tooth Fairy), or guard against cancer, she will have a surprise insight for you.

In this episode, we cover a lot:

  • Are there simple methods for extending lifespan? What looks most promising?
  • What are the easiest ways to minimize your risk of cancer?
  • What are the dangers of taking certain common supplements? What’s worth it and what isn’t?
  • How can diet change the expression of your genes? How can this can be passed on to offspring?

…and much more.

Click here to subscribe to the show on iTunes.  This is most helpful to me and the podcast, even if you listen elsewhere!
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

Or stream the show in the player below:

If you have a second, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests. Thanks!

Show notes and links are below, and please find Rhonda on Twitter to say hello or ask questions. She’s very responsive.

Enjoy!… Read More

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 10: Brian Koppelman, Co-writer/Producer of Rounders, The Illusionist, Ocean’s Thirteen

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The writing duo: David Levien and Brian Koppelman

The writing duo: David Levien and Brian Koppelman

This episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is sponsored by Bluehost, which I used for my first WordPress blog, and I still use them for sites today. Click here for a special offer!

Now, on to our guest…

“Everyday, it’s about building a practice that enables you to try and forget that you’re afraid.”
– Brian Koppelman

My guest in this episode is Brian Koppelman.

Brian is a screenwriter, novelist, director, and producer. He is best known as the co-writer of Ocean’s Thirteen and Rounders, as well as a producer of The Illusionist and The Lucky Ones. He has directed films including Solitary Man, starring Michael Douglas.

In this episode, we explore how he got started, how he handles rejection, his big breaks, his creative process, and much, much more.

How does Hollywood work for writers?
How did he finally break through?
How did he discover singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman?
Will there be a movie for The 4-Hour Workweek?!?

His lessons and principles can be applied almost anywhere.

Click here to subscribe/listen to the show on iTunes.
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

Or stream the show in the player below:

If you have a second, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests. Thanks!

Show notes and links are below, and please let Brian (@briankoppelman) know on Twitter what you found most valuable or hilarious. He’s a good dude and loves to teach.

Enjoy!… Read More

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Need to Borrow Some Strength Today? Watch This.

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People often ask me, “Who inspires you? Who do you look up to?” One immediate answer is Kyle Maynard.

I’ve been blessed to spend time with Kyle, who encourages you — in the most powerful, unspoken of ways — to do more, be more, and help more.

How do you compete in wrestling or MMA without arms or legs? How on earth do you climb Kilimanjaro on, not your hands and knees, your elbows and knees? How do you face the challenges no one thinks you can?

Life can be overwhelming. Hope can be lost. Whether you’re facing a little self-doubt, an extended depression, or the darkest of thoughts, I suggest you watch the above video.

Thank you to BJJ Caveman for reminding me to put this up. Damn, it’s powerful stuff.

Good luck, everyone, with whatever battles you’re fighting inside or outside of you.

You are not alone.

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 8: Chase Jarvis, Master Photographer

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This episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is sponsored by HipDial. I use them personally, and you should check them out.

“Art is a subset of creativity.” – Chase Jarvis

Now, on to our amazing guest, Chase Jarvis!

Chase is a master photographer and the CEO of CreativeLIVE.com, where this episode was filmed.

Chase is the youngest person ever to be named a Hasselblad Master, Nikon Master, and ASMP Master. Since opening his own studio, Chase has photographed for Nike, Apple, Columbia Sportswear, REI, Honda, Subaru, Polaroid, Lady Gaga, Red Bull, and many more. He is known for a hyper-kinetic style and an emphasis on sports and portraiture.

CreativeLIVE, where he is CEO, is an online learning platform that broadcasts live, high-definition classes to more than 2 million students in 200 countries (!). All classes are free to watch while live and can be purchased for later viewing. They are amazing. Teachers include Pulitzer Prize winners, business luminaries, and beyond.  Check them out here.

This is my first video podcast test, and I’ve also included a transcript of this episode for my hearing-impaired friends (Click here: Chase Jarvis – Tim Ferriss Show – Transcript). Hope you enjoy!

In this episode, we explore:

  • Chase’s personal story
  • The most important choices he’s made
  • Common mistakes of “creative” professionals (or people in general)
  • How he reached the pinnacle of his industry
  • And much, much more…

His lessons and principles can be applied almost anywhere.

Click here to subscribe/listen to the show on iTunes.
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

If you have a second, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests. Thanks!

Show notes and links are below, and please let Chase (@ChaseJarvis) know what you found most interesting or valuable.  He’s a good dude and would love to hear from you.

Enjoy!… Read More

66 Comments / Leave a comment or question