Lesson Transcript


Chigusa: Welcome to a special Inner Circle Audio Lesson! I'm Chigusa and I'll be your host. My co-host today is the founder of InnovativeLanguage.com... Peter Galante!
Peter: Hi everyone! Peter here.
Chigusa: In this Inner Circle, we’re talking about... How Peter’s 30-minute commute turned into 45 minutes of language learning. And you’ll learn...
Peter: One: How Routines Grow Stale, and Two - How to Reprogram Your Routines &Learn More...
Chigusa: All so you can master your target language and reach your goals!
Chigusa: Listeners, welcome to the Inner Circle.
Peter: Last time, you learned how to ease yourself into a language learning routine...
Chigusa: ...with the help of assessments...
Peter: Life assessments, routine assessments, and language assessments.
Chigusa: So, if you’ve been struggling with sticking with a routine... we showed you how to find time...
Peter: ...and how to start learning, without overwhelming yourself.
Chigusa: And last time, Peter, you also set a goal of 3 minutes... and 10 RussianPod101 lessons?
Peter: Well...Chigusa, I’m not quite at 3 minutes. I missed that goal, but I did do all the lessons.
Chigusa: Oh no... How could you miss it!?
Peter: I think there are 2 reasons. The first reason is, let’s go with one that will be good for my self-confidence. I think I had a structural change in how I view progress. In the past, many times, we used “the amount of spoken time,” which is kind of easy to measure... easier to measure, and it’s so... let's be honest, it’s kind of the most fun part when you’re actually practically using the language. But these days, I have a bit of a more holistic approach, so I spend time on reading, writing, quizzes. So it’s just not about the speaking and especially with a language where it’s a non-roman alphabet. It takes a little more time to get your head wrapped around to learn the alphabet. The second reason is... I had a bit of a change in my routine this past month... so I didn’t hit my lesson goals. I didn’t have a chance to practice speaking with my teacher as much.
Chigusa: I guess that’s okay. But, what kind of change, Peter? What happened?
Peter: Well, before the pandemic, my routine was pretty much set for 3 years. So I would walk to the train station, take the train to work, walk to the office. And same. Rinse, wash, repeat—same thing for the trip home. So my commute was fixed, and this routine was fixed for 3 years. With the pandemic, that routine got shook up, and that was the first glimpse I had into ...wow, when I first started my commute to the office, everything was new and exciting, and I actually was kind of productive. I was paying attention to things on the street; I was very alert. But by the third year, I was so used to where everything was going; I found myself surfing Netflix, not studying anymore on the commute, not making the most out of that commute. So when we moved to the home environment, I had an hour that I could be productive... and it led to me re-evaluating some of the routines. So as I’m getting ready to return to the office, at least on a limited basis, I’ve managed to become productive at home; I want to re-evaluate how my routine for going to the office can make me more productive.
Chigusa: So you didn’t get to practice speaking. But It’s interesting how you actually were more productive than usual... usually, it’s the opposite...right?
Peter: Right. Oftentimes, when something changes in our daily routines... everything else kind of collapses. Like if you get sick. Or if you get busy. If you usually go to the gym, you’ll stop. If you usually read, you’ll stop. Things can fall apart and collapse.
Chigusa: Yeah, like when the pandemic first started... I think most of us had to stop our hobbies and goals.
Peter: Exactly. We touched on that just a second ago, right? But... Chigusa, if you yourself change up your routine... you can actually boost your productivity... learn more... and master more of your target language faster. And this is why I was able to hit some of my goals...and keep my momentum... by taking lessons I've learned from the pandemic. When a routine collapses, it’s an interesting chance to rebuild it in a more productive way.
Chigusa: But how can you boost your productivity...with a new routine?
Peter: That’s a great question. We kind of touched on it, but it's the topic of today’s Inner Circle... and we’re going to get into some really interesting details about that.
Chigusa: How Peter’s 30-minute commute turned into 45 minutes of language learning.
Peter: Okay, let’s get into part one.
Chigusa: Part one: How Routines Grow Stale.
Peter: So, Chigusa, here’s a question for you. Do you have ... any routines that you’ve been doing... for years? Maybe on the weekends?
Chigusa: I usually take my dog on a walk and then go to a cafe on weekends.
Peter: Okay, that’s a great one. How long have you been doing it for?
Chigusa: Hmm, a few years now.
Peter: Now, think about your order. Do you usually get the same drink?
Chigusa: Mm hmm.
Peter: I have an actual similar routine. I do some of my language learning at a cafe as well... in my neighborhood. And because I go there so often, I know the baristas, and they know me...
Chigusa: And do you also get the same drink?
Peter: I do. Macchiato. So, I order that. When I first went, I could actually order it myself in the target language. Now, what do you think happens when I walk in?
Chigusa: THey ask you in English?
Peter: No, they know my drink! It’s already prepared. So there’s no more verbal communication. You know, when I first walked in, I would talk, and after... I get my drink without saying a word. My conversation with the barista, which usually would take a little while, is now condensed because I know so much about the person/the people. I sit down in my usual seat... I check Netflix for a bit, and then I get into my study. And it’s a nice safe routine, but here’s the thing, I’ve been doing it for a while, and I feel comfortable.
Chigusa: How long have you been doing it?
Peter: Chigusa, years. But you know, once you’ve been doing a routine for years... There are pluses - the fact that I’m doing it is a plus - but there’s also minuses...
Chigusa: Like what?
Peter: Well, for pluses... as I mentioned, you stick with it. At least I’m getting to a cafe and opening a book. I go there on weekends, and I put in time learning a language. And it pushes me forward towards my goal.. for the most part.
Chigusa: That sounds good to me, though. What are the minuses here?
Peter: Well, here’s an example. The first time I came to that cafe... it took 100% effort. Your heart’s racing. You’re going to get the order right. You don’t know anyone. I had to learn what to say...I had to learn how to order... I tried the different things until I got to the point I found what I liked. There were so many new variables. It was exciting, and it was a complete learning experience.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: But now that I’ve been doing this for so long... the conversations become more formal and familiar. I’m not really trying to say anything new in my conversation. You know, every once in a while, but it’s hard when you have the same conversations again and again. And I’m not practicing as much because I’m using the same words, the same vocabulary again and again.
Chigusa: Yeah, now you got comfortable with your routine.
Peter: Yeah, let’s say that one more time. Comfortable with your routine... it can actually decrease your productivity and because I’m comfortable... I’m no longer really pushing hard. I don’t try to go the extra mile. I just do what I do. I feel comfortable enough, sometimes I even find myself watching Netflix first, checking emails, then studying my target language, and my language learning progress... ends up plateauing.
Chigusa: That’s true. It’s easy to make a lot of progress when you start learning. But when you’ve been at it for a bit. And you get used to it... you start coasting along. Actually, I think this happens to intermediate-level learners a lot.
Peter: Exactly. Yea, intermediate and advanced especially. Think about some of these world-class athletes as an example. They work hard ... when they’re moving and perfecting their craft to get to the top spot... They’re working every day, all day. But when they get to the top, all of a sudden, there are new opportunities. People calling them to be in movies. People calling them to come out. So their Friday night that they spent in the gym training is now spent going out, eating, talking, and that next hungry person is coming for them so... it’s kind of interesting in a way... that way you work so hard... and at some point, many of us...for many other reasons - whether family, work, our time gets divided a bit, and we take our foot off the gas. Especially with advanced learners like myself with Japanese, living in Japan. I have a very good vocabulary of what I need to get by, but I never... but I rarely push myself in learning something new. I stay in that zone of familiarity.
Chigusa: So then... if you feel like you’re not making any new progress with your language learning... what would you do? And what did you do this past month?
Peter: So, I came across this by pure chance. The pandemic gave me a bit of insight and helped me to basically come to the conclusion that the best thing you can do is put yourself into a completely new routine. Here’s what I mean. When I walk to my usual cafe, I’m kind of on autopilot. I know how to get there, so it’s almost like muscle memory. Chigusa, Imagine going to the store in your neighborhood while you’re walking your dog. How many times have you done it before?
Chigusa: Like a thousand times?
Peter: Right? You know the directions. You know the walk. Your brain just kind of tunes out. You’re on the train, or you’re walking down the street, and you know where you’re going, so your mind kind of starts to wander, so you’re not kind of locked in, right?
Chigusa: Right. So how would you change it up?
Peter: I kind of did the opposite of what I do on my commute to work. I took my commute to work and what I did was I picked a completely different train station to start and stop. And it’s completely out of my way. It actually adds 30 minutes to my 30-minute commute.
Chigusa: Are you saying your commute is actually longer by 30 minutes? Like twice the time?
Peter: Yes, that’s what’s so crazy about this strategy. But, on my 30-minute commute before the pandemic, I spent maybe 10 minutes studying a language every other day or twice a week. Now my commute takes 1 hour, and I'm actually studying 45 minutes during that commute. So, it sounds so counterintuitive, but by taking myself on a longer commute in a completely unfamiliar environment, I'm actually studying 75% of the time, which is really high.
Chigusa: But how is that different from just going to your cafe?
Peter: Well, you’re kind of laughing because it makes no sense. We’re supposed to optimize things, and we’re supposed to get the times down, get faster, get quicker. But think about this. Because you’re in a new environment, in a new station, on a new train, with new people, all of your senses are on. Everything is new. So you’re not on autopilot. Your brain is kind of locked. The new cafe that I found, again, completely new. I don’t know the order. I don’t know the people. The seats are different. And since it’s not my usual spot...I’m out of my comfort zone. I'm not familiar. I don’t know the wifi password to access Netflix. So ordering is a challenge. Getting to the cafe is a challenge. I'm testing the different cafes in the neighborhood, and when I sit down, I’m straight into language learning.
Chigusa: Ah I see. That makes a lot of sense. It reminds me of moving to a new city. When you move, you don’t know anyone... so you’re pretty productive because you have nothing else to do but be productive.
Peter: Yeah, productivity due to isolation. But once you get those new few friends...all of a sudden, your calendar fills up... your productivity goes down. Like that athlete. They’re not in the gym on a Friday night. And the same thing with language learning. You get into a routine, and once you get into a routine...
Chigusa: ...your language progress goes down.
Peter: For the most part. There are the exceptional few who can keep it turned on all the time, but that’s not me. So by changing up the commute ...which used to take me 30 minutes to an hour... finding that new cafe, I was able to reprogram my learning routine... From the ground up. I took the bad habits, all of the things, that zone of familiarity, knowing the wifi, just a little more Netflix, let me wrap this up, and I took all of those bad habits and removed them, and I took the good habits with me. The fact that I’m doing it. So, while I wasn’t able to practice speaking this month, I worked on my reading, my listening, and my writing. And on the way back home to the train station, I’m listening to RussianPod101 lessons... whereas normally, I’d just be on autopilot walking back home... thinking about something during the day or thinking about home or something else.
Chigusa: Alright, now what about our listeners. What can they take away from this?
Peter: Listeners, let's get into part 2.
Chigusa: Part 2: How to Reprogram Your Routines &Learn More
Peter: Listeners, if you’ve gotten comfortable with a routine...
Chigusa: ...and if you feel like you’re not learning as much anymore...
Peter: The easiest thing you can do is... change up your routine. Go to a new place. A new cafe. A new library. Another part of your home. A park. Somewhere where you haven’t been before.
Chigusa: When you get comfortable with where you are...
Peter: ...you tend to not learn as much... and you can plateau.
Chigusa: But, by going to a new place... somewhere where you haven’t been before...
Peter: ...you’re forced out of autopilot. Your neurons switch on. You have to pay attention. So if you’re in a new cafe...
Chigusa: ...you’ll make better use of your time.
Peter: It’s like moving to a new city. If you know no one there, you have no choice but to be productive. I don’t know if that’s the best example, but I think we can all relate to being out of that zone of familiarity, but once you get too comfortable, your productivity can go down.
Chigusa: Now, it doesn’t always have to be a change of scenery...
Peter: ...although change of scenery does work.
Chigusa: With our learning program, another thing you can do is...
Peter: if you’re taking our Absolute Beginner lessons and you’re understanding most of it...
Chigusa: ...go up a level. Try Beginner level lessons. Suddenly the learning curve goes up. Suddenly, you have to work hard again...
Peter: ...which means you’ll be learning more again.
Chigusa: If you haven’t tried learning with a teacher yet... then try and get one. Put yourself in that new situation.
Peter: Exactly. If you’re a Premium member, try out Premium PLUS... or find an in-person tutor. The whole point is to shock yourself with a new routine... Where you have no choice but to learn. Chigusa, one thing I like to do is go to restaurants... so I visited a Russian restaurant here in Tokyo.
Chigusa: Oh, how was it?
Peter: Again, it’s so motivational to hear the language being spoken. It can remind you why you’re working so hard when you’re doing those repetitions of learning the vocabulary, learning the alphabet, so it's super motivational.
Chigusa: And I bet you end up learning more Russian phrases as a result. Just by putting yourself into a new place and new routine.
Peter: Exactly.
Chigusa: Alright, Peter, now what about your next goal? You missed 3 minutes... but you seem to be doing well otherwise.
Peter: We’re going to increase the goal to 5 minutes of Russian. So because when you’re putting the time in other places, it can lead to very good results when you have the conversations. So, let’s set that goal for 5 minutes.
Chigusa: Sounds great! Deadline?
Peter: March 31st.
Chigusa: Sounds good. Listeners, be sure to set your own small monthly goal.
Peter: And let us know. Do you have a routine that you’ve gotten used to? Do you feel like you plateaued? If you have, were you able to break out? Email us at inner dot circle at innovative language dot com.
Chigusa: And stay tuned for the next Inner Circle.


Chigusa: Well, that’s going to do it for this special Inner Circle lesson for this month!
Peter: Bye everyone!
Chigusa: Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.