120 Days to TOPIK #11 – What’s the Minimum Effective Daily Dose?

Inspiration

In yesterday’s post, I started to talk about the Minimum Effective Dose of Korean work that would help you make exceptional progress without wasting an exceptional amount of your time. I thought it was such a valuable concept (and question) that it was worth returning to today.

  • What is YOUR Minimum Effective (Daily) Dose of Korean?
  • What 20% of your effort can produce 80% of your desired results?
  • What is one activity that you could cut in HALF and still get the desired results?

As Michael Hyatt writes:

We need to get to the bare essential of the bare essential.

He reminds us of a fact of life (that we all know) and that Tim Ferriss points out in The 4-Hour Body:

Anything beyond the Minimum Effective Dose is wasteful. [For example,] to boil water, the MED is 100°C (212°F) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled. Higher temperatures will not make it “more boiled.” Higher temperatures just consume more resources that could be used for something else more productive.

So, what are you wasting too much time on right now that could be put to more productive use?

Language consists of many parts. In schools and academies here in Korea, there are specific classes that target different aspects of the language:

  1. Vocabulary/Grammar
  2. Reading
  3. Writing
  4. Listening
  5. Speaking

Questions:

  1. What is the Minimum Effective (Daily) Dose of each of these that will produce your desired results and help you progress rapidly?
  2. Does each need to be studied daily? Does each need to be studied individually?
  3. Which SINGLE aspect, if you focused on it, would produce the greatest overall result and strengthen your abilities in all the other aspects?
  4. Can you combine multiple aspects into a single study session in order to maximize your results in each?
  5. How can you make your study lazy, fun, and rewarding?
  6. What are the bare essentials (time, resources, thought processing, reviews) that will produce your greatest possible rewards?

Challenge

Take some time to answer the above questions and be willing to experiment with your language learning.

Yes, it means you can’t study during that time today, but remember, we’re after EFFICIENCY so that in the long run you may save yourself months or even YEARS of time in achieving fluency.

Remember Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote:

Source: Lifehacker
Source: Lifehacker

What we’re talking about here is spending a few hours “sharpening your axe” so that your effort in the long run will not be wasted.

My Plan

As with most things, I think answering the questions above takes time, experimentation, and an openness to admitting that (1) you might not always be right and (2) the “way things have always been done” might ALSO not always be right. But still, the process of taking some serious time to…

  1. ponder the questions,
  2. make a plan,
  3. follow through with your plan, and then
  4. rework your plan for optimal performance

…is very rewarding and beneficial.

It is now my Summer Vacation from school and since the first summer camp I was going to teach was canceled due to MERS, I now have a significant amount of time on my hands. Of course, I still have much freelance design work to do as well, but I want to dedicate myself to DEEPLY (and efficiently) studying Korean throughout the summer (which is why I’ve created this new 120 Days to TOPIK Challenge).

Here’s what my plan looks like right now:

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
5AM: Make 30 vocab flashcards (1 hour)5AM: Make 30 vocab flashcards (1 hour)5AM: Make 30 vocab flashcards (1 hour)5AM: Make 30 vocab flashcards (1 hour)5AM: Make 30 vocab flashcards (1 hour)5AM: Make 30 vocab flashcards (1 hour)5AM: Make 30 vocab flashcards (1 hour)
9AM: Review flashcards, review previous Speaking book chapters, learn a new Speaking book chapter (1 hour)9AM: Review flashcards, review previous Speaking book chapters, learn a new Speaking book chapter (1 hour)9AM: Review flashcards, review previous Speaking book chapters, learn a new Speaking book chapter (1 hour)9AM: Review flashcards, review previous Speaking book chapters, learn a new Speaking book chapter (1 hour)9AM: Review flashcards, review previous Speaking book chapters, learn a new Speaking book chapter (1 hour)8AM: Review flashcards (30 min)8AM: Review flashcards (30 min)
2PM: TOPIK Writing practice - study tips, vocab/phrases, writing (1 hour)2PM: Intermediate Grammar/vocab (Korean Grammar in Use) (1 hour)2PM: TOPIK Listening practice - listen for gist, listening tips (1 hour)2PM: TOPIK Reading practice - reading tips, etc (1 hour)1PM: Actual TOPIK Practice Test (2 hours)
9PM: Read a bedtime story in Korean (30 min)9PM: Read a bedtime story in Korean (30 min)9PM: Read a bedtime story in Korean (30 min)9PM: Read a bedtime story in Korean (30 min)9PM: Read a bedtime story in Korean (30 min)9PM: Read a bedtime story in Korean (30 min)9PM: Read a bedtime story in Korean (30 min)

Minimum Effective Dose of Writing:

It seems to me that because TOPIK Writing is only 4 questions but consists of 100 points, THIS is the most significant area to “get right” on the test. This is also the area that MOST foreign test takers have trouble (because Writing is HARD).

Therefore, I’m actually looking at practicing my Writing THREE times per week, not by doing NEW Writing, but by REFINING what I’ve previously written (this is also how we learn to write English well in school – first drafts, second drafts, revisions, final drafts, etc).

  1. Friday: Get a new topic assignment
  2. Monday: Turn in my first draft, get feedback + corrections
  3. Wednesday: Turn in my second draft, get feedback + corrections
  4. Friday: Type up my final draft on my blog, get feedback + a new topic assignment

It’ll be a long summer, but I’m looking forward to it because I already have a few good ways to motivate myself:

Lemonade + good music

Over to you

What is YOUR Summer plan for Korean? What is your TOPIK plan? What is your Minimum Effective (Daily) Dose of Korean? Let me know in the Comments below or on social media using #120TOPIK.