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30-Day Challenge

30-Day Challenge: Day #4 – Prime your brain for greater memory retention

Inspiration: Josh Kaufman


Today’s inspiration comes again from the Personal MBA.

audiHave you ever been interested in a particular type of car, only to start notic­ing them everywhere? I certainly have—it feels like someone suddenly un­loaded hundreds of the exact make and model of the car you like all over the highway.

That’s not true, of course—the universe isn’t playing tricks on you. The cars were always there; you just never noticed them before. Before you decided you were interested in a particular type of car, your brain filtered those cars out of your awareness.

Once you became interested, however, your brain stopped filtering out that information, and you started noticing every time that particular car drove by. In a sense, you programmed your brain to notice certain things about the Environment around you. All it took was becoming interested in something specific to remove the filter.

Priming is a method of consciously programming your brain to alert you when particular information is present in your Environment….By taking a few moments to consciously decide what you’re interested in and what you’re looking for, you can program your mind to alert you when it notices something relevant. Some people call this intuition—Priming is how you consciously put your intuition to produc­tive use.

One of the ways people “get lucky” when they’re working toward a par­ ticular Goal is via Priming. One of the reasons Goal setting is useful is be­ cause it’s an easy way to Prime your brain to look for things that will help you get what you want…

Take some time to consciously Prime your brain to notice what’s im­portant to you, and you’ll inevitably find it.

How this is relevant for Korean language learning

By this point in the Challenge, Priming is probably something you already unconsciously do. But it helps to be consciously aware of it anyway. Actually, every day when you read the Challenges like “use 3 new words or phrases today” you are mentally preparing your brain to be alert for every opportunity to use those new words or phrases. And mentally preparing yourself to use them also mentally prepares you to hear them.

You’ve probably noticed by now that by reading the daily Challenges, you’re much more consciously aware of the Korean around you, and you’re much more alert in conversations or while listening to music and watching TV. Your mind is automatically trying to do what’s called “Pattern Matching” (another concept in the Personal MBA) which basically means observing patterns in the world around you and matching those with previously stored patterns in your brain. This is generally how languages are learned.

  1. You study
  2. You observe
  3. You store those patterns and words in background memory
  4. Then when you become aware of them again, your brain recalls them to the forefront of your memory
  5. You compare what you’re currently hearing or observing with what you’ve previously learned
  6. You make any needed adjustments
  7. Then you file those away again until something new causes you to pull those patterns from your memory archives again
  8. Over time, the patterns you’ve observed and stored in short-term memory become committed to long-term memory and you can say confidently that you’ve learned a new language or skill

All of this tends to happen subconsciously. But priming is useful because it helps you become consciously aware of what your mind naturally does. And by doing so, you can effectively “hack the system” to more effectively and quickly learn a language.

How to Prime your brain for Korean

The following are 6 tips for priming your brain from Scott Ginsberg (the 7th tip here is from Gizmodo):

  1. Maintain an expectant frame of mind
  2. Make space in your own mind (You can’t learn anything new if your brain is already full. Journaling, exercising, and going out with friends can all help clear your mind to be ready to receive new information.)
  3. Operate on multiple planes of consciousness (language learning happens through Listening and Speaking, Reading and Writing)
  4. Perpetually hunt for insight
  5. Write it down! (Scott says, “Writing is the basis of all wealth. And if you don’t write it down, it never happened.“)
  6. Open your eyes, Observe patterns, Organize your thoughts (he calls this “softening your eyes”)
  7. Make (or review) a word or phrase list


Today’s Challenge is about combining study with practical application with awareness. Priming your brain for practical application of language can be done with study and deciding in your mind to pay attention to certain things. So, today’s Challenge is:

#4: Pick a Korean book to start reading (level appropriate). Read through the book (or a chapter of it) and pay attention to any new words and phrases you find. Write those down and learn them. Then, go out and try to use those new words and phrases 5 times today in a real-world setting with a native Korean speaker.

Today will mark the first day of reading for the Challenge. Reading is helpful because you can:

  1. Learn new words and phrases in context
  2. Prime your brain to be aware of those new words and phrases throughout the day
  3. Study Korean in a comfortable yet also new and more interesting way

Hashtags for today are:

#k2k304 #brainpriming

Feel free to take a picture of you book or notes and post it here on on our Facebook Wall (we are currently looking at getting

This is my first book to start reading.
This is my first book to start reading.


If you don’t have access to Korean reading material at an appropriate level, here are some places to look:

  1. Naver Junior Study (Kindergarten level)
  2. Naver Junior Study (animated kids books)
  3. Naver Webtoons (Beginner – Intermediate level)
  4. Chosun Ilbo Kids (Intermediate level)
  5. Naver News Stand (Intermediate – Advanced level)

Have you primed your brain for Korean today? Do you know of any OTHER good resources for practicing reading Korean online?

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